Hello family and loved ones and happy (belated) Halloween!Austin and Cessily: congratulations on your new baby boy! Love you guys and miss you and please send pictures!
So as you've all probably heard, this past week in Mocow, there were protests against the church.
Finding people to teach is always a strugge but those protests actually didn't seem to be a big deal. In Russia, organizations will actually pay people money to hold signs and picket. One of the members told us that on tv a reporter asked the group of people that were protesting in Moscow what they were protesting and they said "I don't know..."
How ridiculous is that?!!
Podulsk, the city I'm in has always been pretty hard though. We've been doing a lot of work with the members and inactive members, working to strengthen them and help them get active again. Tonight, we're going to visit a less active family of three generations of women, and they're showing us how to prepare borsch, which we're super pumped about! The youngest, Veronika is super sweet and is pretty active and usually comes to church. Her mom has epilepsy and can't work, so she takes care of their great grandma who is in the hopspital so she can't come to church on Sunday. Then the grandma has to work on Sunday to support the family. So they have a really hard situation, but they're the sweetest family and they have this really cute dog that gets excited every time we come over!
Finding new people in Podulsk is pretty hard. When people hear that you're not orthodox they think you're a cult and that you were for money or something. But not everyone. Usually younger or more progressive people are more open and interested. We've actually had a lot of people ask us questions when they find out we're mormon. A lot of them say, "Hey mitt romney, who might be your president, is mormon!"
So that's actually been a good thing.
So we actually have a couple of really good potential investigators that we're working with. One of them is a fourteen year old girl named Natasha, who is really shy and sweet. We've been meeting with her every week for a little over a month and doing 30 minutes of English practice, and then 30 minutes of a spiritual thought or short lesson. Her dad is also meeting with the elder and comes to english club every week. I'm not sure how happy of a home situation they have though. We actually gave Natasha a Book of Mormon last time we met with her and she actually read the introduction and the testimonies of the witnesses! She actually seems to have a fairly good understanding, and actually prayed with us the last time we met with her! We've been taking things slow with her since she's so young and shy and we don't want to overwhelm her, but she seems pretty open to everything we've taught her so far!
So we're actually planning on inviting her to church this next week, because transfers are the week after and we're pretty sure it will be either me or sister Johnson's last Sunday, since we've both been here for about three months.
How are things going with the election?!!!! When is the actual day that it's decided?
I love you guys and I'm glad to hear that you're all doing well!
This past week was Halloween and it was COLD-below freezing-and it snowed and there was about an inch sticking to the ground! People here don't celebrate Halloween. But they all know about it. Halloween was Wednesday, the night we have English club, so our senior couple the cooks brought candy and decorations and we talked with them about what we do on Halloween and it was fun. Apparently in Russia, they celebrate Christmas on January 7th, according to the orthodox calendar, and they actually call it "New Years". So they celebrate Christmas and New Years on the same day. They have a santa clause and Christmas trees also, but the kids will actually go around and knock on people's doors and sing Christmas carols and then people will give them candy. So its almost like News Years is a three in one holiday kind of thing.
During English club on Halloween Wednesday, we actually had three new girls come to English club and they all stayed for the spiritual thought. 2 of them were teenage girls, and one of them was really sweet and polite but her friend kept coming and going during the spiritual thought. We got the nice one, Tanya's number. There was also a woman named Liliya who came because she found the English club invite at her work. She's 24, an engineer, and seems to be looking for friends because she only moved to the area two months ago. She can speak a little bit of English because she has American friends, and she wants to travel. She was super sweet and I got her number and she also stayed for the spiritual thought! She ended up texting us on Saturday and we met with her to do 30 minutes of English practice and 30 minutes of a spiritual thought. The 50/50 deal is a really good way to ease people into investigator status because it helps you to befriend them and meet with them and then over time they can become more interested in the gospel. We felt so bad, because she was thinking that we could maybe go into Moscow, but we had to explain to her that we can't leave our area and go to Moscow unless we have special missionary conferences or are getting mail. We talked a little about movies, and I felt so bad because she said "Maybe we can go see the new Twilight together!" So we also had to explain about how as missionaries we only watch church movies and only use the internet to email our family once a week so we can stay focused on the work. We actually found out that she's Muslim, but she's not very devout. We gave her a brief overview of the restoration and she actually asked us how we pray, so we got to explain to her how we pray directly to Heavenly Father using our own words and in the name of Jesus Christ. She's planning on continuing to come to English club and hopeully meet with us. We're thinking of asking one of our young-single adult members Katya, who also comes to English club, to invite Liliya to F.H.E. in Moscow and to other young single adult activities so she can make friends.
Love you all!