Hello family and loved ones!
So that's right, I'm being transferred to the city of Veronezh! It is 12 hours away from Moscow by night train and I will be companions with Sister McDaneil, who I actually knew in the MTC! I have grown to love Podulsk and I'm REALLY going to miss the branch, English club members, our investigators, and of course Sister Johnson, but I'm grateful for this new opportunity and season of my mission! Veronezh apparently has the biggest building in Russia and has a branch of over a 100 members, which is huge for here! Apparently it would be a ward, but its not in the boundaries of the Moscow stake. I don't know if any of you have heard, but there's also a stake now in St. Petersburg! Despite challenges, the church is still going strong and growing here in Russia! I'm also excited to see Veronezh because I've heard that its a really pretty city and a lot more like Nizhny Novgorod (the first city I was in that was gorgeous!)
I'm super excited to serve with Sister McDaniel-me and her used to go running outside together at the MTC back in July and she's great so I can't wait!
This past week was one of the best we've had in months here in Podulsk, so its a bit bittersweet to leave!
On Sunday, I bore my last testimony, and was happy to see that despite no investigators being there, we had two of the three of our less-active members there that we've been working with here in Podulsk!
Sveta and Snezhana (mother and daughter who is married to a member who lives in Spain) were also there, which was their fourth Sunday in a row, so I'm happy to say they're back to being fully active! We met with them on Saturday, and did a little bit of English practice with Snezhana (who's the cutest!) and then a spiritual thought with them. Sveta is an AMAZING member and everytime we go over to give a spiritual thought, I feel like she ends up giving us one! She speaks English fluenty which also helps whenever we might stumble a bit with the language. Her and her husband have the goal of getting sealed together in the temple, which they're hoping to do in Spain in May. She said that she definitely wanted to be prepared, so we counseled her to talk to the branch president and to let him know that they're both working towards that goal and to keep going to church and staying active. So I'm super excited for her and her family and hope everything works out for them to finally be able to live together in the same country and to be able to go to the temple! I can't give myself any of the credit, but one of the things that I am happiest about my work here in Podulsk, is that Sveta and Snezhana are active and that their family is working to go to the temple together!
On Friday, we met with Natasha who we've been doing 50/50 with for a month or so. We talked about the plan of salvation with her, and followed up with her reading of the Book of Mormon, and she'd actually read the second chapter! So we're considering her a progressing investigator, although we're still taking it slow and praying to know how to go forward at the right pace. We invited her to come to church on Sunday, but she couldn't because she would be out of town =/
But she did say the prayer at the end of the lesson which was her second time and this time she ended "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." So we're really happy with her and I'm going to miss her!
We also did a spiritual thought with a woman in the branch who recently had her second baby boy. She has a toddler named Ilya who's the cutest, so she's pretty busy and her husband seems to work a lot. She's a return missionary and actually served in the Moscow mission back in 2001 and is super stalwart! We talked to her about tithing and how it blesses her family. She has a very strong testimony of tithing. She told us that they're in a pretty tight financial situation and she seems to be a little frustrated because she doesn't seem to get much help around the house. So we offered to come over and help her clean, so we went over the next day and helped her wash toys and straighten up around the apartment. I was happy to see all four of them at church on Sunday, and apparently the elders did go over and do a lesson with them.
We also met with a less-active member, Laressa. She's the grandmother of the three generation family. We only met with her because the daughter and granddaughter were gone in Moscow, but we made borsch together and gave her a spiritual thought and invited her to church and were happy to see her there on Sunday!
The biggest miracle that happened this past week happened yesterday on Sunday evening! Me and Sister Johnson were out contacting around a sea of highrose apartment buildings which we call "the sea of domes" and I stopped to talked to a family. At first, we weren't sure if they were Muslim because they had darker features and the wife had a scarf wrapped around her head, but when I offered her the Family Proclamation she immediately took it and said "of course!". We talked to them for a little bit and found out they were very believing and were provoslavni. We told them that we weren't but that we were here as missionaries from our church and had a message about Jesus Christ. They immediately, without us even suggesting or asking, told us to come by anytime, told us which apartment number was theirs, and gave us their number! They were the nicest people and said they were very excited to meet people who believed in Christ! It was INCREDIBLE and the most amazing response we've ever gotten from a family while contacting! So we are planning on meeting with them on Tuesday. It was such a miracle too because Sister Johnson and I were walking and said that she had almost considered turning around and going in the other direction, but then changed her mind. So we are very excited and hope that they accept the gospel!
This week we're also meeting with a very strong family in the branch, the Numerovwee. The wife, Marena is the relief society president, so we are going to meet with her and ask her if she'd like us to help teach in relief society. Their oldest daughter is also getting baptized this week which is very exciting for them! They have three beautiful children, and the husband, Yevgeni is a return missionary and used to be the branch president. He's very involved with missionary work and we've been trying to meet with a referral he gave us of a woman who works in his company and who's been coming to English club.
On Sunday, I told Yevgeni that I'm being transferred to Veronezh and he told me that he's from Veronezh and that his mom is a member in the branch there! And his mom and dad are both coming to their daugther's baptism on Saturday! His dad isn't a member, so he was happy to hear that I'm being transferred there!
I wish I could go to their daugther's baptism to meet his parents, but that will be after transfers. I'm sure I will meet his mother though while I'm in Veronezh and will try to see if the elders there can meet with his father!
This week I'm very excited for sister's conference that we're going to have in Moscow on Friday! Apparently I won't get to Veronezh until Sunday probably because Friday is Sister's conference and then on Saturday, my new companion will have her first visa trip. I'm very excited to get to work in Veronezh and will do my best to try to fulfill my purpose there as a missionary.
During my time in Podulsk, despite there being many trials and disappointments with invesitgators not progressing, me and Sister Johnson have been able to find a lot of joy and seen many small miracles happen! I know that the Lord truly does work by "small and simple means" which often confound the wise! During this time, I know that I've grown closer to Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and have grown to understand the Atonement more. I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers, even if its not always the timing or exactly how we want them answered. But he's blessed me with everything that I've needed during my time here.
I know that me and Sister McDaniel are both in for a challenge, as we're both pretty new into our missions and don't know a ton of Russian, but I'm going to work and study hard and rely on the Spirit to guide us!
Love you all and hope all is well!
P.S. Bummer about Mitt Romney losing but I was happy to hear that he at least won the popular vote.
Love, Sister Schmidt