Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25, 2011

Wow, it's been quite the week! We are all busy here getting ready for district conference in a week and a half where Elder Nelson will organize the stake here. The Lord has truly blessed us with almost 100 new investigators of our goal of 120, and many, many miracles. 

The first and most exciting news is...we have a baptismal date! Sofia, the girl I mentioned in passing last week as a new investigator, is going to be baptized on June 11! She is simply a miracle. In our first lesson with her, it was great, as she prayed and just had some of those answers where you feel like you are truly just reminding her of something she already knows. Then in our 2nd lesson after English Club on Wednesday, we taught her about the Plan of Salvation and asked her about baptism. She said that it was something she wanted but wasn't ready for yet. She felt like she still needed to repent and get ready. But we could tell it was something she was excited about and felt that she would get there eventually as we kept working with her. Well, Thursday she went to the YSA choir, and loved it and even gave the closing prayer. Friday morning, we had just finished our companionship study (The chapter in Preach My Gospel about preparing people for Baptism and confirmation) and got a phone call from Sofia. Jokingly, we were like "Oh, I bet she's calling to tell us she wants to be baptised!" Well, she told C. X. about how much she loved choir and things, and then when we thought the conversation was over, said, "I have one more thing I need to tell you. I want to be baptized!" So we gave her a baptismal date right there on the phone, and then afterwards said a very grateful prayer. She is simply a miracle. She prays every lesson, is reading the Book of Mormon and LOVING it. We asked her to read Alma 32, and she came to our next lesson with it all marked up. Although we haven't specifically taught her about the Word of Wisdom yet, she has already decided to stop drinking coffee and has asked us to go shopping with her to help her find some skirts for church. In Relief Society on Sunday she introduced herself and told everyone that she is going to be baptized. She is shy and quiet, but so excited for her baptism, and so ready for it. Other missionaries asked us what we did, and the truth is that we didn't really do anything. She's just ready, and we just invited her to English Club.

We had Zone Conference this week, and now that the weather is warmer and (mostly) sunny, we've been able to do more contacting activities, like chalk drawing. We went with most of our district the other day. Just outside of a metro station, a couple people draw a picture relating to the gospel, while everyone else passes out prigs and answers questions. It attracts a lot of attention, as people ask what you're doing, and then it also just stays there (you write the church site by it when you go) so that it's a missionary tool after you leave. It's lots of fun. 

Other adventures from this past week. I had an entire heel in my nylons disappear 5 minutes after we left our apartment. It's also been a week of running into drunk men. I mean, we see them all the time, but like 3 nights in a row this week we were in close proximity (either on the metro or in stairwells, etc.) with completely plastered men. I don't understand drinking. Or smoking. Breaking the Word of Wisdom has never been tempting to me, but being here has made me definitely want to never ever deal with anything like that. First, this city would be miraculously cleaner and less trashy if there were not cigarette butts and beer bottles and cans everywhere. Second, and more importantly, it just ruins lives. 

Lastly, this week we got to go to Luba's for dinner. Luba is kind of our lawyer here. She's a member of the church, has a son on a mission, etc. and she always invites missionaries over to her house for dinner. The Elders in her branch eat there every week and when people are going home, she invites them over as well. So it was our turn this past week, since C. X. is going home soon. It was so much fun. Borsh, GREAT food, and they are so funny. It is what you imagine a Russian meal to be like. A great spiritual thought, Russian food, and then Luba's husband pulls out the guitar and their family sings these Russian-sounding awesome songs about random things (one is about missionaries) that they've written. And they're so funny. Her husband told me and the very-brand-new Elder who was there (in half Russian, half very-Russian English) that we need to learn how to speak Russian really well and then come back. It was so fun. 

Anyway, that's about it! Happy Wedding Anniversary a few days ago! Happy Birthday to Leah in a few days! I'll write more next week!

Sister Rachel

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 18, 2011

So things here have been going great! I got your package last Thusday! Whoo! Thank you so much. We made some of the brownies the other night.

It's been cold and rainy this past week, which makes things difficult, but entertaining. The great thing about being here in Moscow is that it is not weird to see weird things. For example, a few nights ago our keys got stuck in our door, so we had to wait with our door open for a while before someone could come help us get them out. And yesterday, we were walking down the sidewalk, when an SUV comes speeding down the sidewalk towards us, trying to escape from a police car that was racing down the wrong side of the road behind it. Haha, I love Moscow. 

Miracles are happening here every day. Sunday was such a blessing. We were able to have 4 lessons--3 of them with investigators and all of those with a member present. They all went really well, and Okcana even said she wanted to be baptized when we asked her about it, but then got kind of shy when we really tried to committ her and never gave us a real answer, but she just needs more faith, which is understandable since we havne't been teaching her very long and she works so much. But we had a great lesson with our other new investigator Sofia, who is simply a miracle. And we even were able to meet with Tanya (the one who comes to church, but wants to do everything on her own and not really meet with us and just have us be her friends and answer questions at church, etc.) and give her a real lesson to fill in the gaps of the Restoration! And an inactive lady we visit pretty often came to church for the first time in like 5 months, and each week I feel like there are more and more people at the branch. The Lord is truly blessing us here in Moscow. 

That's about all I can think of right now. I love being a missionary. It is the hardest, yet best thing I've ever done. Russian is still frustrating but slowly coming. I love seeing the look our investigators get when we tell them that God loves them, or hearing the members talk about the stake and praying for a temple here. This Church is so true. It is so understandable why people are scared to commit--their families are really against it, they work almost 24/7 just to survive, etc. But as somone who knows that the Gospel will help with all of that once you'e living it, you just have to gently push them in the right direction and help their faith grow. I have never learned more patience with myself and with others than I have in the past 4 months. 

Anyway, I love you all!


P.S. It's super weird to think of myself as Rachel. When people from home send me letters, it's not weird, since they always knew me as Rachel, and it is sometimes weird when they call me "Sister Ashby" but in my head, I'm Sister Ashby, and if someone here were to call me Rachel it'd be super bizarre...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11, 2011

So, first things first. Since not everyone who will be reading this talked to me on Wednesday, the really exciting news for this week is that on June 5, Elder Nelson will be organizing the Moscow Russia STAKE! The first stake in Russia! It is coming much earlier than we thought it would and is truly a miracle. These Saints have been waiting so long for this. This means the fullness of priesthood keys, a patriarch, the possibility for a temple here, independence from SLC, and so many things for these wonderful Saints.

SO...let's see...I also don't have much to tell you, since I just talked to you, but there are some cool things that have happened since then/before then that I didn't talk to you about.

Saturday there was a baptism, and miraculously, Tanya was able to come! She really enjoyed it and is really interested in the Church. She's determined to find out for herself whether or not it is true and told us that she's not ready for baptism yet (which we already knew) and that this is something she has to do on her own, so she'll read and come to Church, but doesn't want to meet with us for missionary lessons. She said that she's set aside the 3 hours of church and then English club, and that she doesn't have a lot of extra time for meetings. It seems really backwards that we need to convince someone why it's important to meet with us, while still finding out on their own. 

Monday we had a Preach My Gospel Marathon, where we ate delicious food, played games, laughed, studied, had the missionaries who are leaving on Friday bear testimonies, etc. It is crazy that missionaries are leaving. Transfers are tomorrow, and even though I'm not getting transferred, it's very crazy to think that I've been here that long already and that I'm not one of the newest missionaries anymore. After our long meeting at the Central Building, we went over to the Craythorns' (they're the wonderful senior couple serving in our branch that got here just before I did) for a lsson with Okcana (Like Roxanna without the R). She's been coming to English Club for a long while, but told us she was finally interested in meeting with us after Sister Craythorn gave the spiritual thought at English Club about how the Gospel can bless families. Okcana only has her mom, but she loves children and wants to have her own big family one day. We gave her the first lesson with Sister Craythorn and Olga both there, and it was so wonderful. You could tell she was very touched. It is just hard to meet with her because she works 2 jobs and is very busy, but we're hoping that we'll be able to. We will see her tonight at English Club, so we're going to see how the Book of Mormon is coming and try to set up another appointment then. 

Anyway, that's about it. There are a lot of miracles happening here in Moscow right now, and I'm so honored that I get to be a small part of them and help build the Lord's kingdom here. It's tough sometimes, since no one seems to have time to meet with us and it's hard to talk to people, especially in a different language, but the small victories make it all worth it. This Church is true!

Sister Rachel

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 4, 2011

People have always been able to understand me. I just can't say a lot. Taking the taxi wasn't really an adventure. We don't really have a lot of scary areas. It was just exciting because we don't take them. And I have no idea if the woman got the BoM. We usually haven't just gone around for the purpose of giving out BoMs. It's hard when your bag isn't that big and you have to be out all day to just carry a lot. So we've only given out one on the days when we have given them out. Yes, coloring eggs is a tradition here too. They color and decorate them just like we do in the states. Hoorah for Elizabeth making Chambers! Is there a final JIVE list yet? Wow. That's weird that Danny will be at Morningside, but sounds cool. And we've known that Jacob looks a lot like Danny since he was born. 

I'm not sure I understand your question about English club. It's a church-led program. We put it on through the Church as a service, and a way to get new investigators. I'm not sure where all they do it, but I know that most missions in Russia do it. We basically just split into 3 different levels. The advanced group just practices conversation, and the less-advanced groups just learn words, basic stuff. We can't really teach-teach since we're not qualified, we just put it on to help them practice.

Each week seems to go by faster and faster. I feel like not much has happened this week. We've checked lots of our branch list addresses. While we were doing that on Thursday, we had a surprise thunderstorm (well, surprise for us since we never are able to check the weather). On Saturday, we had a service opportunity. Our entire zone went to this park/forest place to help clean up. It was a pretty crazy day. We were all in 2 Marshrutkas and the one I was in got hit/hit (I'm not sure which) another car. So, even though there were only scratches on both cars, we did have to switch Marshrutkas and now I can say that I've been in a car accident in Moscow. And it was weird to be out in nature. I felt like I was at Girls' Camp or something. We saw a baby moose, picked up sticks, some Elders chopped and stacked was definitely not stuff I was expecting to do on my mission to one of the biggest cities in the world, but it was fun and really pretty. I would send you pictures, but our card reader broke last week,'re out of luck.

C. X has been sick a lot of this week. Finally on Sunday I forced her to take it easy, and after Church we went home and she slept for the rest of the day. I studied and watched Preach My Gospel DVDs all day. I don't recommend it. It's great and all, but not for like 5 hours straight. Luckily she's feeling better now, but I've been starting to get a sore throat, so I'm hoping that I don't come down with it.

People-wise this week, we've gone and visited an inactive lady we found checking addresses a few times. She doesn't come to Church because of an alcoholic husband who started being against the church about 2 years after she was baptized. And Tanya came to Church again and has now had pretty much all the first lesson through us talking with her in between meetings and the Sunday School lessons we've had. And Monday we took her to the YSA FHE in our branch, which she seemed to really enjoy. The only problem is that we haven't actually been able to meet with her and give her a real lesson yet. It's frustrating. We were supposed to meet with her Sunday after Church, but she had to leave. 

Anyway, that's about it. Love you! I'll talk to you on Sunday.

Sister Rachel