Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22, 2011

Halfway to Russia!

Hello! Happy P-Day! This has been such an amazing week! Really. Being a missionary is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I can't remember being happier, which is saying a lot.
So, I guess the week since you last heard from me started with a GREAT devotional. If you are ever in the MTC (Matt...and anyone else I guess), take advantage of the devotionals and firesides. This week we had Elder Pearson from the 70 come talk to us. He spoke a lot about truly becoming a missionary--and not just a missionary, but a full disciple of Christ.  It was so great and definitely changed my outlook. It's not that any of us here are doing bad; we're all striving to do our best. But we need to be doing better than our best. This week I've been trying to fully focus on the Lord's work and Russian, and it has made so much of a different. The devotional really just changed something inside of me, and in our entire district.
Russian is really coming. It's amazing how much we know already. I still fill in German words when I don't know a Russian one, but I think of Russian first now. I love singing the hymns in Russian. We're so much better than we were six weeks ago. On top of that, we've taught multiple first lessons all in Russian now. In the TRC, when it was our first official one, oh my goodness. It was a lot harder to teach to their needs, but we were teaching 2 really fun girls who had been mission companions in Samara. One of them even asked a question that I was able to understand and answer that was pretty complicated! It was super exciting. The best part was the Spirit--it's great how it doesn't matter what language you're speaking, the Spirit will always testify of truth. When we're praying we always say it doesn't matter if you get everything perfect, because God speaks "I'm learning Russian" and he's fluent in both that and actual Russian. It's the same with the Holy Ghost. The Gift of Tongues (Darom Izickov) is truly real, and is really blessing our lives. In addition, we Russian-ified our names for our Russian tags this week. When we get them I'll take a picture and show you, even though we're not supposed to wear them until we leave. I guess people in the MTC still want to be able to read our names or something. Apparently not everyone speaks Russian?!
After the older district left we went and stole all their nice desks, so now we are much more comfortable when we're in class. It's the circle of life. We're the older ones now--all our new missionaries come tomorrow. There are 22 of them, but only 3 sisters (one of whom is Ukranian speaking and was in my BYU ward!). There are a lot of internationals though. One of them from France is already here, but since he doesn't have a tag yet, no one can remember his name. Oopa (That means oops in Russian). We also got new District and Zone leaders. Our ZLs are in the district next door, and since our entire zone is pretty close we love them. Ct. Homer (one of the ZLs) and I always salute each other, now that he's ZL. Anyway. Yep. We are halfway done. Saturday was the exact halfway mark between when I came in and our estimated departure date. And tomorrow I'll have been here 6 weeks! Crazy. I can't believe it. Really, even though the days are long, looking back it doesn't seem like that long at all.
This week has also been a week of seeing people. Thursday I ran into a good friend from my BYU ward from Spring and Summer, Kyle Borcik. He was originally supposed to get here the week before me, but ended up serving a transfer in Florida before he came to the MTC to learn Spanish (he's off to Mexico). It was so great to see him. He came up to me at lunch and we talked for a while and we see each other at meals all the time. In addition, on Friday or Saturday, I really can't remember, we were having MDT in the middle of the day and Cectpa Clark and I had to run back to the room to grab something. On the way back to our classroom, lo and behold I saw my friend Jordan Holmes walking into the TRC with his girlfriend. He had just flown into town--I hadnt' seen him since August. It was great to see him, and tell him to tell all my roommates hi. But yes. I love randomly running into people I know while being here.
Our teachers are still great. This Saturday was Bpat Storey's last class with us--he's going to teach one of the new districts this week and will be with them. That was kind of sad, but since we're all in the same hall, it's not like we won't see him around. Also, two Italian districts have invaded our floor. Weird. Tolka pa-Ruski v korridoria! ([speak] Only Russian in the hall!) But alas, now we have Italianos who are throwing things off. Maybe I'll pick some stuff up to teach Mike though. You can tell him that Elder in Italian is Anziano.
Sunday was great, as always. Really, Tuesdays are favorite because of P-Day and letter writing and laundry and the devotional and our devo reviews, but Sundays are not far behind. Seriously, they're so great. Ct. McKinney from our district gave a great talk in Russian. Luckily I didn't have to this week, but there's a 1/3 chance that I will eventually while I'm here so I'll keep you updated. During the temple walk, the 4 of us sisters in my district, plus 2 others in our zone all had scarves, so we spent the entire time with our scarves wrapped around our heads, pretending to be Babooshki (emphasis on the first syllable, not the second like Amerikanskis usually say it), and taking pictures. I didnt' have my camera, but I've been promised copies, so I'll send a few out when I get them. They're great, and it was sooo much fun. I love the Sisters I'm serving with. Cectpa Clark and I taught the district meeting, which went really well. We talked about our calls as missionaries--talked about what it was like to receive our calls, to be set apart, what our responsibilities are and what blessings we've noticed just in the first 6 weeks. It's amazing. The Lord truly does bless his servants. The 7 months that have gone by since I started my papers have been the happiest of my life, and even more so the 6 weeks I've been a missionary. Not that they haven't been hard, but...wow. In addition, the call letter says that you will be blessed with increased knowledge and testimony of the Restoration and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is so true. I've always known this is the true Gospel, but the sheer importance, reality, and drive behind the Restoration and the Book of Mormon has really clicked for me since I've been here. Not that my testimony was weak before, but in the past 6 weeks, it has grown tremendously. Sometimes I look back and wonder how I ever knew anything before. Of course, my testimony is starting to be Russian now. Soon, my testimony will be all Russian.
The fireside on Sunday was also epic. It was lead by President and Sister Nally and we just sang hymns the entire time. We ended by actually having a basic choir arrangement of Called to Serve. That song always gets me as a missionary, singing it with 2000 other missionaries. We truly are the Lord's army. We ended it by singing the Army of Helaman. Also wonderful. I just love singing so much, as you all know, and this fireside....AHHHHH. So great. Called to Serve, Army of Helaman. There's nothing quite like it. I wish everyone could have seen and heard the Lord's army standing and singing those two songs.
Anyway, my time is almost all out. But everything here is going so well. I love it and have never been happier. Please keep sending mail. If you haven't sent the package yet, please do, and if you have, I'm sorry for bugging you about it (there wasn't any mail yesterday because of President's Day). Anyway, Love you all. Be safe. learn Russian. Serve missions. Read the Book of Mormon (Kaneega Marmona)
Cectpa Rachel

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