Hello family and loved ones!
Oh my goodness, it is crazy to believe that Christmas is 8 days away! I remember it being July and getting ready to leave the Mtc for Russia! It's so crazy how time flies! Even crazier-January 25th will mark halfway through my mission!
So I found out that me and Sister McDaniel are going to be together for the next transfer which lasts until February 21st, so we're super happy!
It's starting to get cold-COLD here. It's been around 10 below 0 celcius, so about 22 farhenheit. It's funny because whenever I tell the members here that's it's cold, they tell me, "oh its just going to get even colder!".....great.....But it's really not too bad. I'm definitely missing Texas and the humidity and the heat!The coldest it will get is about 30 below 0 celcius. Me and Sister McDaniel still go running every morning in a park close by and whenever we tell our friends and investigators, they think we're absolutely crazy! I just put on two jackets, sweatpants, two pairs of gloves, warm socks, and a hat and I'm fine!
For some reason, Russia is the country where I fall ALL THE TIME! Seriously, I'm going to come home with a ton of battle scars on my knees. So I'm a little worried about winter and the combination of bad roads and ice. Last week I totally fell over and ended up taking Sister McDaneil down with me, which was hilarious!
So things are going great! I'm sad because all of our American friends, who are here in Voronezh teaching English are leaving tonight to go back to America =( It's cool though because all of our "friendestigators" are friends with the Americans here doing the i.l.p. program.
Including our friend Susie, who is awesome and has helped us on a bunch of our lessons with investigators. On Saturday we had our culture night and invited all of our investigators to the church to have a party and also because our American friends are leaving and two of the elders are leaving because one got transferred to Moscow and the other is done with his mission. So we all went ice skating together on Saturday night which was way fun and we all piled into the back of one of the little van-marschrutkas that everyone takes to get around here.
As far as things are going with our investigators, we had an AMAZING lesson with Elena, who's making so much progress and we're going to invite her to be baptized this week! The hard thing is that she works a lot, and here in Russia people will work for 24 hour shifts and then have 24 hours off, which is crazy! So a lot of times she has to work on Sundays, or she's exhausted from working 24 hrs on Saturday. So we met with her and had a really good lesson about keeping the sabbath day holy, and two of our friends-Susie and Amy-helped teach and it was amazing because they both shared experiences with her about saving up for Russia and not working on Sunday, and everything working out. So after the lesson Elena agreed to ask her boss for Sunday off and then she called us the next day saying that her boss gave her Sunday off, because she agreed to pick up someone else's shift! So that was awesome!
Another miracle this week-we got another new investigator-and this is our third week in a row getting a new investigator! A member named Gregory who's super solid and been a member since the 90's invited his neighbor to church. Her name is Zina and she's baptist and was interested in coming to church after having a conversation with him and she's already begun to read the Book of Mormon! So we met with her and had a really great, solid first lesson with her and Gregory helped us on the lesson. So we're excited for her and she's also planning on coming again next week.
Wet met with both Olgas, some less-active members, and Larissa again on Sunday and had a really good lesson about families and how we can be together forever. She's an eternal investigator who is pretty much a "dry" mormon and she's hasn't gotten baptized yet because her husband is against the church. We met with her after church Sunday and she brought a book with a bunch of her husbands paintings, and it turns out that he's this super famous painter! I told her the story about Grandma and Grandpa Schmidt, and how after years of praying and going to church by herself, Grandpa Schmidt finally got baptized when he was 85! So we're going to keep praying for her husband and that she has the courage to talk to him.
We also had a really amazing lesson with this really sweet 14 year-old girl named Paulina, who is fluent in English. We talked with her about God and we were so impressed with her because she's such a well-grounded, solid person and is wise beyond her years. So we're just taking things slowly with her step by step.
I'm almost done reading the Book of Mormon the second time through on my mission! It's so true when people say how every time you read, you can discover something new. It's helped me a lot, especially during the hard months that I spent trying to survive in my last area. Honestly, if anyone ever feels discourage or needs a boost in their faith, they just need to read about the sons of Helaman or about Nephi. I love it!
So as a zone, we're doing something called the 12 days of Christmas, where everyday we're doing something different to declare glad tidings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ! Today, we're going to call a less active member and a former investigator. So we have an assignment for each day, but on Christmas day it's up to us and up to the Lord and we're supposed to go out and find a miracle! It's really cool because I know that this is probably the only Christmas in my life, where I can just give back to God and be free from the commercial distractions and focus on what Christmas really means!
Well I'm out of time and probably didn't say half of the things that I wanted to, but I love you all and always pray for all of you!
Heavenly Father loves us, the church is true, and Jesus Christ is our Savior!
Love, Sister Schmidt