I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Me and Sister McDaniel definitely did! We had an AMAZING Thanksgiving dinner with our district and our senior couple, the Craythorns. Sister Craythorns made us a huge dinner, with homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, and turkey, which is really, really hard to find in Russia!
I contributed by making green beans and peach cobbler. Our investigator Elena celebrated Thanksgiving with us which was wonderful. She was soooo excited to celebrate Thanksgiving with Americans!
That night, we were also invited to a Thanksgiving event that another English club in town was having. They asked us to come because they had promised the people that Americans would be there to help explain Thanksgiving. It actually turned out to be a really great finding opportunity, because we handed out invitations to OUR English club while we were there, and Elena also came and we had a really awesome conversation! She said that she believes that the Book of Mormon is true!
On Friday, we had English club and 47 people came! It was awesome! We had a potluck, and then we went around the room and had everyone say what they were grateful for. I was really impressed by what everyone said and there was definitely a good spirit there.
Serving in Voronezh is so interesting because it feels so different from serving in Podulsk. It seems here, that people tend to have warmer feelings towards Americans and the church than in Moscow, since the church has been here in Voronezh for 20 years. I think having such a huge branch building is also helpful, because its also kind of a community, recreational center and the youth are attracted to it because they come to English club and play volleyball afterwards in the gym on Friday nights. There are a lot of great young people and teenagers who come and who love the missionaries and the church. A lot of people also come to family home evening. It's interesting though, because here in Voronezh there seems to be a lot of "eternal" investigators and people who enjoy the social aspect of the church, but haven't committed to joining the church and being baptized. There seems to be some complacency in that regard. But I really think that the church is strong in this city and is going to take off even more!
We had a lesson on Sunday with a really sweet woman named Larissa. She's apparently met with the sister missionaries for years, has a testimony of the Book of Mormon, comes to church every Sunday, and is even involved in family history, but she hasn't been baptized because her husband is opposed to it and doesn't want her to join the "American" church. We had a good lesson with her to help her understand the apostasy better and the importance of priesthood authority, and she seemed to get it afterwards. We challenged her to pray for her husband and for his heart to be softened. So we'll just have to keep meeting with her and trying to help her progress.
I really LOVE the branch here. I got to bear my testimony on Sunday and introduce myself, and everybody was super sweet and said that I speak good Russian, which is a surprise to me. Elena came to church and sacrament meeting on Sunday, which was awesome! She had to leave after the second hour, but we're meeting with her again this week.
As far as the weather goes, it snowed for the first time here in Voronezh yesterday! I wasn't too excited because it was snowing in October in Podulsk and Moscow, but it doesn't get quite as cold in southern Russia, which I'm grateful for!
So sorry this email isn't too exciting, but it's only been three days since our last p-day on Thanksgiving, so I don't have as many updates.
But everything is good. I'm loving Voronezh, my companion, and all of our investigators. I'm still very thankful that I have the chance to serve in such a wonderful city after serving in a really hard area before.
Love you all and I hope everyone is excited for Christmas! I'm sure all the stores back home are already decked out in Christmas decorations. The stores here also already have Christmas stuff up.
Family-please send me an email this week! I didn't get one last week =(
Love, Sister Schmidt