Hello family and loved ones! So this is a little difficult to type because I'm using the senior couples iPad but wow....I think that just about sums up my feelings right about now and concerning the last week. This past week has literally been the craziest week of my life. I've probably never felt so scared in my entire life so I know that this has been a huge leap of faith and probably the biggest trial of faith I've ever had. I've left the comfort of America, the MTC, my district, and my companion to come to a place where there is an overwhelming feeling of tensionin the air. I felt it the second I got off the plane in the Moscow airport. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything but just say how I feel. The flight to Moscow was only about 10 hours but I didn't sleep the entire time because I couldnt. We had to run through JFK airport to make our next flight by there was only an hour in between so I didn't really even say goodbye to America. I didn't really have any chance to talk to anybody on that plane by I was sitting next to sister welch in my district who I love. But it was crazy by I suddenly realized we were surrounded by Russians but it didn't feel strange bc I was with 5 members of my district. After we arrived we went through passport control-which is harrowing bc they don't even talk to you or smile at you or look at you barely. Presidente and sister Sorenson picked us up and we spent a couple of days at their house which is basically little America and in a compound gated neighborhood. I'd never felt so tired in my life and we stayed up the whole day but then went to bed around 7 and when I woke up I felt lime I'd been hit by a bus. Little miracles did happen along the way though-like sisters at the MTC helping me and sister carver with our suitcases and I didn't have to check my third carry on bc I shuffled everything around. We did some training at the central office and then we went to red square and met up with our companions. My companion is named sister polis chuck and is very sweet and kind and funny. She's from Ukraine but only has two transfers left in her mission. And speaks perfect English bc she's had a lot of American companions. So I'm blessed bc she can help me with the language and still understand. Each other but it's hard not to talk in english. We actually stayed in Moscow an extra day bc we had to fly to ukraine on Friday so she could renew her immigration card. So we didn't actually get to our area until late Friday night. We're in a city called Nizhny novgorod which is the secind or third largest in russia and is actually divided into two branches and we're in the lower one that is seven hours away but we took a really nice train that only took 4 hours. So we had a whirlwind first could of days. It'd really crazy how much the church does to make it possible for us to be here with the visas trips since they only last 3 months. But apparently they might pass a law which will make it possible for us to get three year visas if Putin gets around to signing it. The flight to Kiev was probably one of the single scariest experiences of my life. We flew on a Russia airline and a smaller plane that wasn't a Boeing. I felt nervous when we took off because it was making creaking noises and was rough and even my companion was nervous and she'd taken that trip about 8 times over her mission but usually not a Russian airline. I remembered dad telling me about how the Russia airplanes were the worst and a hockey team died on one and my companion told me afterwards that they used expired airplanes because they spent more money on their train systems. I said a prayer but was still on the verge of a nervous breakdown but my companion shared with me that she had also felt afraid but after she prayed she felt impressed to share with me that she felt heavenly father said that we were in the palm of his hands and she knew everything would be okay....and it was. So i was grateful heavenly father answered my prayer through her. The plane back was a Ukrainian. Airline was better and used a Boeing so I wasnt scared as much. I'm having a hard time....I'm terrified here and intimidated and it's painful to look around me and wonder why was I born american? Why was I born with the gospel? My companion has had a really hard life. Her mom is estranged from her, her dad lives in Canada, and she joined the church three years ago. She's Ukrainians but also part Jewish and had a really hard last transfer and apparently there was some scary stuff that happened in our apartment before it was blessed by the elders....she said that it was okay now but I felt scared after she to,d me. She said that it's because Russia is a cursed land with a lot of blood and Americans usually haven't had experiences like that bc we are from the promised land. So you can imagine I've been making quite a few adjustments. People in public don't smile or talk but stare. I always try to smile back and talk but it's hard. One woman today on the bus was super friendly and I gave her an invitation to church. The branch is great though. I got to give a talk yesterday and basically just bore testimony. Everyone is very kind and says that I have really good Russian. We had a couple of lessons with a recent convert named anastasia who is a young mother who is absolutely gorgeous and very kind and sweet! With also had a lesson with her frend Sergei who is scared to read the book of Mormon but came to church yesterday and is a very kind and good man so we think he's ready now and is going to start progressing. We also met with babushka inna, a 91 year old woman who is a member and had done all the temple work for her family. She is in a lot of pain bc she broke her hip but she is very sassy despite her condition. She didnt seem impressed with my Russian or that I was from Texas....haha....but I told her I studied in Utah which she liked because the elder who baptised her is from Provo.
I'm intimidated by a lot of people and it's hard because I feel like an outsider looking in. But my companion is very supportive and kind and undatands what I'm feeling bc she's had many American companions and knows that it just takes some adjusting. She's has a hard time bc her health is bad and has gotten worse on her mission and the doctors in Ukraine are not very good. It's crazy to realize the difference of the standard of living and how much I just wish these people could live in America, even though it's not perfect either. Its crazy b/c it reminds me a lot of what Anna experienced and witnessed on her mission. Althougb probably not to the same extent but its insane how different even from the rest Of western euorpe It is. My companion is not sure what she will do after her mission. She has no support besides the branch back in Odessa and can't afford to come to America but I'm sure the lord will bless her and provide for her after serving him.Our apartment is really nice! A senior couple that left lived in it and it has a really amazing shower and air conditions g and modern furniture. We're not sure how long well live there but it's nicer than any place college students live so I feel pretty spoiled. I'm grateful for it but I also know I shouldn't get too used to it bc it wont be like that the rest of the mission.
I know everything will be okay but it's just hard right now. I miss sister carver and my districts alot.I am surprised by how much I can understand and that people seem to be able to understand me but when we get going real fast its incomprehensible. Its not what I expected though that's for sure...please pray for me and keep emailing. This is the hardest thing I've ever done.....And right now I don't see how I will be able to do it. But I'll try, I'll give it shot, and trust that this is what the lord wants and I know that it's what the people here need. Id always read about enigmatic Russia and its history and knew how they'd suffered and that it was a different mentality. But witnessing it firsthand is a whole other ball game. I want to love it tough, and love the people and try to be proactive to bring the hope of the gospel first hand as a messenger of christ.
I'm glad everyone is well. Mom for my birthday I don't really want anything. Maybe you can try to send peanut butter.
Btw our address
Russia Moscow mission
Muravskaya street building 143
Love you all! And please don't freak out about this email, sorry it's a bit of a downer. But I'm really okay!