Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 6, 2011

Hello in English!

Hi Mom and Family!
Sorry that I haven't emailed before now. Traveling last week ate our P-Day up, so I didn't get to email, and P-Day here isn't until Wednesday, so...yes. But now I am emailing you! Wow. There has been so much that has been going on.
Just to let everyone know, the time change is 10 hours, I think. So right now for me it is about 10 to 6 in the evening. We will usually be emailing earlier in the day, but today all our time was eaten up with a nap and going shopping to get some things and yes. I am not sure how long mail takes to get here, but I do get mail every Tuesday. Well, not yesterday because no one has sent me anything yet, and I'm not sure when exactly a DearElder or letters you send me will get here (or how long it will take for a letter to get from here to there) but I do get mail access every Tuesday. It is such a blessing that our mission is so small, area-wise at least. Almost all the missionaries gather at the Central Building, which is where we pick up mail and such. It's just south of Red Square, and so it's about a 20 minute metro ride from almost anyone who's serving in the main city, and members from all over, most youth, hang out there all the time too.
We've taught a few lessons, mostly to inactive members. Right now we are working on trying to strengthen the branches here in preparation for a stake and eventually a temple here in Moscow. We also have a goal of an average of one baptism per companionship per transfer. So we're busy at work, although it feels a lot less busy than I thought it would, especially compared to the MTC. Food-wise, I've had Blini (which are basically like crepes, just a bit thicker and they eat everything on them) and Borsch and some other things. I haven't been cold. It snowed our first day here, but since then it's really been quite warm. I had to buy a lighter jacket, because my peacoat was too warm, but it's not quite warm enough to just be outside all day in a cardigan or church jacket yet. Luckily I found a cute one really cheap. Since it is warming up, all the snow is almost gone, although there's still quite a bit. A few days ago the entire city was just one big puddle. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother cleaning off my shoes when they will just get all dirty in 5 seconds when I step outside!

No, I can't understand a single thing. Okay, that's a lie. I understand more and more every day. And when people are talking slowly especially. The frustrating thing is that I can usually understand the general gist of conversations but nothing specific enough to contribute. Plus, I have also learned that I can't really speak Russian either. I can be a missionary, and I can kind of speak Russian, but in the past week when I've tried to do btoh at the same time, I have forgotten how to do both! Luckily, everyone's told me that this is all normal and that they also spent their first transfer just sitting around in lessons feeling useless, and that eventually it comes. Right now is an interesting time in the mission because there's a huge turnover rate. Remember a few years ago when they stopped sending missionaries to Russia? Well, the group of missionaries (referred to as the "first rescue") who was sent out right when they started sending them out again is going home now. Which is why there were 7 of us who came this transfer, and there are another 5 coming next, and similarly for a few months. So in just a while I will be one of the older missionaries, at least sister-wise. It will be interesting.
My companion is awesome! She is native, from St. Petersburg. Her name is Sister Khmelinina (hereafter referred to as C. X. C for Cectpa and X for Khmelinina, because that's the first letter of her name in Russian). She is super fun and cute and laughing and a great missionary who truly cares about the people here. I'll be with her for 2 transfers (part of the new in-field training thing), and then she goes home. I love her a lot, and her English is very good, which is a blessing, since my Russian is so horrible right now.
It's still really weird that I'm in Russia. It kind of feels like a normal city, except everyone speaks Russian and everyone looks Russian. I've only seen 4 black people in the entire week I've been here, and they've all been today or yesterday. One of them actually came up to us as we were walking to a member's apartment and asked us where our church was because he wanted to come. So that was cool. :) But it's just crazy. I'm in Russia! And it's normal. But really cool. I love it here. It's a city, which is something new for me, because it's not just like London where I was visiting. I'm actually living here. It's really dirty and trashy in a lot of places, but really beautiful in others. Everywhere looks the same though, haha.
My favorite part of Moscow is actually probably the metro. Underground is the most beautiful part of the city, besides maybe Red Square. The metro really reminds me of Hogwarts. It's like the tube, except each station is marble and beautiful and elaborate and pretty.

I actually haven't gotten to watch conference; we'll watch it this weekend, when they have a Russian translation here for our members. All the American missionaries will watch it together. I'm super excited! That's really surprising about the temple in Meridian, but very klassna. I am very excited for the day there's a temple here in Russia. It's coming sooner than you would think. I knew before coming here that there was lots of talk about a stake, but I have been surprised about a temple. It will still be a while, but still. I am hoping that we also get to watch the MTC documentary, because I want to look for the people I know in it. Oo-rah!

What else do I need to talk about? I don't have a list of all the cool Russian things I wanted to talk about right now. It's easier if you ask me questions. Um...I'm serving in the Kakhovsky branch, which is in the south side of the city. We ride the metro everywhere, and then walk the rest of the way. I've visited a sick Babooshki in a Russian hospital. I love it when I get to sing in our lessons, because it's something that I feel like I can actually contribute to. The members here are so cool, as are all the missionaries. Really. Everyone is AWESOME. It is great too because I am serving with one of the Elders who was in my MTC district. There are 6 Elders and then the two of us sisters serving in our branch right now.
Um, I will come back and write some more, but first I need to read the announcement email from President Sorenson before I run out of time. Okay.

Okay, sorry I am writing a novel here, but there is just so much to talk about!
Oh, address. I would just DearElder me for now (or email, because I know that I'll get that every week, but DearElders I'm not exactly sure when). Because that is cheaper and more sure. But for packages and stuff eventually, I will get you an address. I have it here, but it's all in cyrilic, so that doesn't help you at all, haha. But I am making a list of things that I want when you eventually decide to pay a lot of money to send a package to Russia. Right now the main thing I can remember is chocolate chips, because they don't have them here and we need ourselves some chocolate chip pachenye.

Oh, side note: how would be a good way to get paint out of a skirt? and also maybe my pea coat? Funny story: a few days ago we were waiting outside a store and I leaned up against the railing, which had unfortunately just been painted bright blue. It's luckily not horribly noticable on my coat, but there's a huge blue spot on my butt on one of my skirts, and I can't figure out how to get it out. Sigh. So any suggestions would be much appreciated. The worst part is that it happened in the morning, so I walked around the 7th largest city in the world looking like an idiot all day. :)
Everyone here is obsessed with looking at pictures. You have to carry your photo album around everywhere beacuse members and investigators always want to see pictures. They paint the curbs and fences green and yellow. Orthodox churches really are everywhere and they are beautiful. When I see them, that is when I feel like I am in Russia. Also, Red Square is gorgeous. Everyone smokes, but that's not just Russia. They have great yogurt. I am not sure what else to say, since I don't have my list. Ah. This is frustrating.
Um. Yeah. One day I will figure out how to send pictures from these internet cafes, but today is not that day.

I guess I will tell you a little bit about some of the people we have visited. Tatiana is one of our babyshki. She wears orange lipstick and is really awesome, even though I have no idea what she said yesterday when we visited her. She worked as like a psychic or something before she joined the church (I'm not really was in Russian with a fast translation from C. X) but then she had a vision saying that all further communication would be through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which she had never heard of. But she tracked down the Church, was baptized and now is a stalwart member who helps us out.
There is Olga/Olke/Olya (they have a ton of different names here, long form, short form, other nicknames...) who was just baptized 2 weeks ago. She is such a sweetheart and speaks very good English, so she'll translate for me sometimes or will just talk to me in English/Russian mix. She is 28 and wants to go on a mission so badly. Right now we are teaching her the follow-up lessons. Marsha and Artyom are also young adults who are very helpful with English.
Moscow is just crazy. I am finally getting a hang of the conversion rate and finally starting to not be so tired all the time from jet lag. I can also stand without holding onto anything in the metro without falling over through all the starts and stops. Today we actually were stuck on the metro for about 5-10 minutes. That was exciting, especially since I had no idea what was going on since I DON'T KNOW HOW TO SPEAK RUSSIAN! haha, that's really the most difficult part, the not understanding or being able to speak. But it'll come.
The missionaries here are all so great. I am sad so many of them are going home so soon. I will talk more about them next week, especially my district and the other sisters. I am really grateful for such a small mission, both area and missionary wise, so that I can get to know everyone so well. It is a requirement to be super cool to get called to Moscow, especially right now. Sorry if you served somewhere else. Sometimes I miss the MTC, but mostly just the people. And the understanding.
Anyway, I've got to go. English club! but I love you!


Garin Savage said...

Do we have an address for those letters yet? I'm waiting with one if I can figure out a place to send it...

Matt said...

Hey... say hi to Artyom for me, will ya?

Don't be too frustrated about not understanding. My guess is that you're like me, that's just how your mind works. I could say things in Bulgarian/Russian right off the bat, sort of, but understanding was extremely difficult for me and still can be at times. But just give it a full transfer, about two months, for the language to start clicking.

Also, you'll probably notice come spring/summer that the underground is NOT the most beautiful part of they city, but the parks are. I suggest Воробёвые горы, Коломенкский парк, and especially Царыцина, or Царицына or however you spell that one.

Keep it up! Moscow rocks.