Hello to all!
I'm sorry I didn't send an email last week! Everything is fine, I just ran out of time! But, the weekend before this past, we got to watch general conference in English up in Moscow at the central building. Was conference amazing or what?!!!! I'm pretty sure it was the best conference I've ever listened to. I loved how many speakers talked about Christ and his apostles, especially Elder Holland's talk. I loved how he talked about how Christ asked Peter three times if he loved him. After Christ's death, Peter and the apostles had no idea what to do, so they just simply went back to fishing because it's what they were doing before. It made me think about the things in life that aren't important or other silly distractions or "nets" that I don't want to return to after I get back from my mission. So conference was amazing.
Can you believe it's almost Halloween?!!! Crazy! We're planning on having a Halloween party for district meeting next week with our senior couple, and we're planning on talking about Halloween during English club. Russians don't really celebrate it here, so it will be fun to try to explain it to them!
So yesterday I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting on the Atonement! I got through it and everyone told me I did a good job afterwards. The hardest thing about Russian (besides the cases) is trying to make sure when you speak that you put the right stresses on the right syllable, and without an American accent. If you don't put the stresses in the right place, then people don't understand you. Which can be frustrating, especially when you feel like you can understand a lot more than you can say. But the language is coming along.
This past week me and Sister Johnson actually had a lot of success with handing out Book of Mormons. We found a woman while contacting yesterday who told us that she had heard that Mormons live a clean and pure life and that she didn't know we were in Podulsk. She accepted a Book of Mormon, and I tried to get her contact, but she said she only had her husband's number. She was completely lucid and seemed very open-minded and reasonable and actually had a conversation with us instead of lecturing us on why Pravoslavni is better. I have faith and hope that she will call us and we'll pray that we run into her again!
Me and Sister Johnson got to go on a split this past week with Sokolniki sisters in Moscow. I was able to help Sister Savchuk (she trained my MTC companion Sister Carver) teach a lesson to their progressing investigator Liliya, who has a baptismal date! She's apparently known about the church for years but thought that you had to be BORN to Mormon parents in order to be Mormon! So she's amazing and soooo prepared! We taught the Word of Wisdom and some other commandments and me and Sister Savchuck were suprised when we found out that she doesn't drink any coffee or tea and that she only drinks water! She is super prepared and it was such a tender mercy to have a lesson with an investigator who is progressing, especially considering how slow things have been in Podulsk.
Me and Sister Johnson had another little miracle this past week. We went into Moscow on Monday to listen to Sister Lawrence (she's the wife of area President Lawrence and was giving a talk on the godhead) . While we were at the train station waiting for our train, we ended up running into Jane (Zhenya), one of our old investigators who has been busy with school and hasn't been able to meet with us or even come to English club! We were able to talk to her for a bit and just let her know that we love and miss her and would love to visit with her whenever she has time. So that was a pretty neat litte experience.
Me and Sister Johnson met with Natasha to do 50/50 again on Friday. For the spiritual thought, we watched the Restoration film. The elders also met with her dad in a different room and gave him a Book of Mormon. When they were getting ready to go, she saw the Book of Mormon and picked it up! So she is definitely curious and a very sweet girl. We're going to try this next week to talk more about the Book of Mormon and see if she would be interested in meeting with us as an investigator for a lesson.
We also met with some less-actives, a young mother and her daughter-Sveta and Snyezhana. Sveta has been a member for 10 years and has a very strong testimony and a sound understanding of the doctrine. Her husband is also a member who's from Spain, but right now he has to live in Spain to get his documents sorted out and to learn Russian. So right now they have to live apart and it's a HUGE trial for them, but they're very committed and have a goal of getting sealed in the temple despite their obstacles. Sveta is wonderful and speaks English and wants us to try to help her daughter with English as well. We met Saturday and talked about the importance of keeping convenants and to talk about General Conference.
She has to work some Sundays, but was going to church while she was in Spain with her husband. Apparently she's been offended by some of the members here in Podulsk who have said some things to her that she found hurtful and insensitive when she said she couldn't clean the branch. We told her in a very loving way though that it's more important to keep her convenants and that she can remember the goal she and her husband have of going to the temple and that she needs to be going to church and taking the sacrament. She ended up coming on Sunday, which was wonderful and even participate in relief society. We're going to continue trying to meet with them each week!
So apparently the church has the addiction and recovery program here in Russia, but there's only a meeting up in northern ward in Moscow. But it's been successful and you can actually use it as a contacting method by asking people if they want to quite smoking or drinking. I've been thinking about it a lot, considering how alcoholism is RAMPANT in Russia, and especially in Podulsk where I'm serving. Me and Sister Johnson are going to try to call the Bices (the senior couple that runs the program up in Moscow) sometime this week and also talk to our ward during ward council about the possibility of having a night where Sister Bices comes and talks about the addiction recovery program.That way we can get the branch involved and try to do as much advertising for it as possible. I was also able to get a couple of service activity ideas from Sister Storm who I talked with while I was on a split in Kahovsky. There is an retirement home nearby the branch where the Storms have done service projects, so we're going to try to talk to our branch about possibly doing a project there.
We're trying to get creative and see different ways to get people to know about the church. Podulsk has certainly been a refining fire experience, but I'm grateful for this opportunity, a wonderful companion, and an amazing branch. This week Sister Johnson has the idea of possibly doing a standing finding activity geared towards families.
Shout out to Cessily-have you had the baby yet? Have you guys found out if its a boy or a girl yet? I've been praying for you guys!
Thank you Grandma Azbill for your letter and THANK YOU TONS to Mom, Dad, Anna, and Johnny for all of your letters! I always feel so spoiled because you guys send me so many letters!
I love you all and pray for all of you! Please keep me updated on how things are back in America and with what's going on with the Romeny campaign!
Love, Sister Schmidt