July 16, 2013
Hey Mom and Dad,
Okay, so first. It's really hard for me to send pictures because I honestly have no time to take them in the first place. Here in the MTC, I don't have very much free time. And when I do, I usually spend it reading the BoM in Russian, studing Russian or my scriptures or something. I'm always doing something. I barely have enough time to even write in my journal at the end of the day because when we get home to our "дом" (dorm room), all I really want to do is get ready for bed and fall asleep because I'm sooooo tired. So I'm sorry to report that I don't have any pictures to send. But I'll try my best to take more this next week to send to you next P-Day.
Anyway, I love receiving your Dear Elder letters. They really do make my day feel better. The one that you sent this last Friday, it almost made me cry. (In a good way, don't worry.) It really touched me and made me think... I really do love the investigators that my companions and I are teaching. This Saturday in fact, the day after I received your first Dear Elder letter, we met with another one of our investigators (who are really just our teachers role playing). But anyway -- we were supposed to meet with Nikita, but instead we met with Igor instead. But let me back-track a little bit first. Earlier that week, we were given the new investigator profile from Brat (Brother) Rutter named Nikita. He was described to us as being late 20s, arm-sleeve tattoos and looked rough around the edges. He was a street contact and we agreed to meet with him the next week. Well, when we knocked on "his door" this past Thursday, his friend Igor answered. Igor was drunk and said that Nikita had left to go to the store and said for us to come back later. Well, we came back later that week (Saturday) and Igor answered. He wasn't drunk this time, and Nikita was at work... but Igor agreed to let us in and teach him the first lesson. And can I just say... WOW. The lesson that we had with him... it was one of the best lessons we have had with our investigators. It was better than all the lessons that we had with Katiya and Lena combined. The lesson started out like any other lesson; we got to know him, what his hobbies were, etc. We learned that he had lost his job the day before we first came to his house to see Nikita which explained why he was drunk. He seemed really sad and bummed about that. And well, anyway. We asked if we could start the lesson off with a prayer and he kind of looked hesitant, but he agreed. We said a prayer, and afterwards, he commented on the fact that we didn't read our prayer from a paper or anything. (Those of the Russian Orthadox church read their prayers from a paper... I don't know very much about it, but I've noticed that it's kind of like the Hispanic/Latin/Mexican Catholic church; Russian Orthadox members pray to saints, etc.) Anyway, we said that we didn't... and I can't remember how the rest of the conversation went, but we somehow got to the subject of him not really knowing or wanting how to pray because he wasn't worthy to pray to God or anything. His babushka (grandma) was the saint of the family and she did all the praying. So, it was then where just this surge of love started to grow inside me. It was the Holy Ghost and I just looked at him and said in my broken Russian -- and with help from my companions -- that it's okay that he's sinned. God still loves him and thanks to Jesus Christ and His Atonement, you can be forgiven of all your sins. And of course, I started to cry a little bit because I've noticed that that's something that I do when I feel overwhelmed by the Holy Ghost. I forgot to bear my testimony about that to him and stuff, probably because I get too wrapped up in trying to think and translate simple sentences of what I know how to say in my head... but I think what I said to Igor really changed the mood of the lesson. I had never really felt that way before and I really am glad that I listened to the Spirit. He actually agreed to pray at the end of our lesson after we showed him how and everything. We don't have a baptismal date set yet or anything... but I'm sure it'll come in due time. But back to why this story relates to the Dear Elder letter you sent me... if you hadn't of sent that to me... I don't know why, but I hadn't really been connecting very well to Katiya and Lena. (I'm convinced that it's probably because Igor seemed to be more open and talkative and give us more to work on than Katiya and Lena has... but that's probably just because that's just Brat Rutter's personalitiy. Sestra Jackson doesn't seem to be as talkative and open and it's hard for me to relate well to her investigators because she doesn't give us much to work on. Maybe it's our teaching style; we're not sure. We're trying to fix that though.) ANYWAY -- the point is... thank you for sending me that letter on Friday. It's probably the best letter that you've sent me yet.
So... onto different topics...
In other news, I think that you would be proud of me to hear that I am running at least a mile when I have gym or exercise time. Though, if I may be honest, it's a bit of a struggle for me to run here in Utah since I'm up at such a high elevation compared to Texas. But I'm working at it. I'm so glad that I've got patient companions who are willing to walk with me when I need to catch my breath. I even call Sister Garff (the one who is from West Jordan, Utah) my little iPod because she likes to sing to me, haha. I've noticed that I've lost some weight because my jeans are starting to feel looser. And besides, I was told that I would loose a lot of weight in Ukraine because they eat so healthy and I'll be walking everywhere. But... I don't know what I did, but I sprained my ankle this past Thursday. I don't know what exactly I did... but I got it looked at by the trainer on Friday, and they said that I had stretched some scar tissue... so remember when I sprained my ankle really really REALLY bad when I was up in Idaho? Well, that's the ankle that I've sprained again. I've been icing it every day and I was given a compression wrap... and the swelling is just barely starting to go down. I'm going to probably buy an ankle brace at the bookstore to wear when I exercise and stuff. Especially before I leave to Ukraine. I don't want this injury to flare up anymore and give me any problems in the future.
Ugh... there's so much more that I want to say... but I only have about 10 more minutes left for e-mail time. I guess that I'll try and fit it into a handwritten letter or something.
And I didn't really write a blog entry this week... so I guess that you could use some stuff from this e-mail??? I dunno... some of it feels too personal to put on my blog. But I'll let you decide.
Anyway -- I love you guys. I'm almost halfway done with my stay here at the MTC. This next Sunday will be the halfway mark. The Russian is coming along and I've basically made a pact with myself to S.Y.L. (Speak Your Language) 24/7 -- or as much as I can anyway. I started yesterday and it's been going okay. I'm still learning.
I'll try and take more pictures and actually write a blog entry for you next week.
Oh, and do you mind forwarding me the e-mails that Ian, Eric, Chantelle, Laura Tedford -- and any other missionary (Ramsey, Jared) -- I know, to me? I'd love to read their e-mails home. :)
I LOVE YOU!