Hello loved ones! I can hardly believe its alrady October!
So this is officially the last week of my second transfer in the fireld and the last week of my training, meaning that I've been in Russia for 3 months! Crazy!
I found out from President Sorenson that me and Sister Johnson will be staying here in Podulsk for another transfer, which is a relief because I get to stay in the same area and I'm not training, which gives me more time to learn the language.
This week I also have my first visa trip. Our visas are only good for three months, so every three months they fly us to Latvia and back to Russia and have us swap our passports and get a new immigration card. I'm a little nervous about the trip because I remember how nervous I was when I flew to Kiev and back with my last companion. The first plane we took was a Russian plane that wasn't a Boeing and it seemed a little shaky and creeky. Please pray that we will be safe and that the plane and the pilot will be safe and guided! I know that I just need to have faith and that the Lord protects his missionaries, but it still makes me a little nervous...
On Saturday when we were out contacting, we went across a bridge here in Podulsk to this area that looked like a park, which actually turned out to be where Lenin's summer cottage is. So that was an interesting surprise.
Our zone leaders came down to Podulsk on Thursday and helped our district with contacting and It ended up being a very effective finding activity and Sister Johnson was able to get a contact from a woman named Lena, and we also were able to give the elders a contact we received from a man.
This past week we've been trying to get in touch with all of our investigators to meet with them, and we called and got in touch with a couple of them. Our investigator Zhenya-Jane-who used to come to English club but is very much into Hari Krishna is busy right now with univesity, but we've been trying to call her regularly to let her know that we love her and haven't forgotten about her.
We were able to meet with a girl named Natasha again this week, who's the daughter of one of our English club attendees-Vassilly. We did 50/50 with her again and had a short spiritual thought with her. She is orthodox and very sweet but shy, but we're working on befriending her and having her become more comfortable with me and Sister Johnson and easing her into hearing about the gospel. So time will just have to tell.
This past week we also were able to meet with one of our inactives named Sasha. We were alarmed when she called us and told us that she couldn't go to church because she didn't have lots of money, so we met with her Thursday night to help clear up her concern and help her understand a little bit better about tithing and the other commandments and that she doesn't have to pay to come to church. We had a member, Irina, come with us and she was super helpful because they're friends and have both been members for years. So we were able to clear up her concern and she said afterwards that she was happy we came over and that she felt better. We're really happy with Sasha because each time we meet with her, our lessons have gotten better and better and she seems to understand more and more. We just have to keep visiting her and inviting her to come to church on Sunday and still plan on reteaching her the lessons and getting her active again.
On Sunday we had branch council and after church we were able to meet with Irina for a spiritual thought and to discuss some of our investigators who she's helped us with on lessons. She's very stalwart and very enthusiastic about missionary work and we're very happy that she seems to have finally forgiven the branch president for something that offended her, because she came to branch council and has been coming to church every week and been more involved. We are planning this week on phoning an old investigator named Alexandra, who met with the missionaries a couple of times and is a Jehovah's Witness, but seems open to hearing about the gospel.
We also have this really young single adult named Katya who's really awesome and always wants to help us on lessons. She's one of the members who knows English, and she actually stayed with us after church on Sunday to help us with Russian and pronounciation, which was suuuuper helpful!
I feel like I have developed a lot of good friendships and relationships with the branch members and love our little branch here in Podulsk. This upcoming Sunday I'll be teaching gospel principles and the branch president has also asked me to speak in church on October 21, which I am more than happy to do, but please pray for me that I will be able to have the gift of tongues!
On Saturday night I had a really amazing experience while we were traveling on the bus. I was sitting and a man noticed my name tag and read it out loud to a woman who he was with. I said hello to them and he started asking me and my faith and what we believed. It turns out that he is actually a pastor or priest of some sort and we ended up talking for about 20 minutes! I gave him a restoration pamphlet and talked to him about the Book of Mormon, and he actually has a friend who is LDS and serving a mission in Ukraine! We had a really amazing conversation and he said that he respected that we were out preaching the gospel. I explained the apostasy to him, which he agreed with, and then he asked me some questions about the godhead and about when I think the second coming will be. I had him read Moroni 10:3-5 and tried to give him the Book of Mormon, but he is convinced that you only need to read the Bible. I told him about the church website and about how through Joseph Smith and living prophets we have continued revelation, which he was interested to hear.
His name was Nikolai and he was with his sister named Nona, and they were both very nice and friendly. It was a miracle because I felt completely comfortable and literally felt like my tongue was loosed and that I was able to talk to him in understandable Russian. Sister Johnson was nearby listening and said afterwards that she was praying the whole time that he wasn't a creep and that I would feel comfortable and have the gift of tongues.
I invited them to church as well as to English club, but didn't get his number before we got off the bus, so we're hoping and praying that they will call us.
So I was very grateful for that experience and tender mercy.
. Even though things have been pretty slow in Podulsk, I have been feeling pretty happy lately and know that the medicine has been helping. I'm still working on developing the faith to work miracles and to notice all of the blessings I am surrounded with, and me and Sister Johnson are definitely unified in wanting to be perfectly obedient and to work hard.
Thank you for everything that you do for us as always and for taking the time to read every letter.
Sincerely, Sister Schmidt