Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27, 2011


Don't worry about the slow weeks. It happens. And yes, for the most part things are really as good as they say they are. Of course it's been a little weird without C. X, but C. Mordwinow and I are doing just fine. More than fine. Yes, I miss C. X a lot (more her friendship than her leadership), but C. M and I are great friends too. Plus, she's great at Russian--she studied it for 2 years at BYU and has already been the one in charge before--she trained one of the sisters I was in the MTC with. We are getting along just fine.

Sandra, the young lady with the messy house, actually went out of town right after we helped her and she doesn't get back until the beginning of August, so we haven't met with her. But hopefully when she gets back she is still interested, but she was very interested before hand. She came into contact with us because she saw our senior couple on the metro and chased them down and wouldn't let them leave until she had their phone number and she had theirs. Also, her house was very very very far from being clean when we left. 

The big thing this week was Margaret. I mentioned her in my email last week, but I don't think I put her name. She had a few lessons with us. On Thursday we met with her and brought up baptism and left her a Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet. She called me on Friday night saying that she wants to be baptized! In the process of trying to find her a ride to church, we found out that she lives in Perovo, not Kahovski (but she's right on the border). So we passed her to the Perovo sisters, whom I love a lot, and have had a few lessons together. Although she orginally wanted to be baptized this next Satuday, she's not quite ready, so we're hoping next Satuday. But anyway, even though we had to pass her and she's technically not ours anymore, she's hopefully getting baptized soon! Whoo! I'm so excited for her! 

Had some run-ins with a few interesting people this week. Two cute young moms at a fountain. They had the cutest babies and were interested, but we either wrote their phone number down wrong or they weren't as interested as we thought and they gave us a wrong number. :( On one of our lessons with Margaret, a homeless man named Fyoder started to listen and then tried to tell us why Provoslavni/RUssian Orthodox church is the right one. ANd then Sunday we were also stopped by a young boy, probably about 12, who is training to be a Provoslavni priest at the church right by our church building. He wanted to ask us where in the Bible it says that "John" Smith is a prophet. So it's been kind of interesting. :)

Other than that, just going. I never want to leave! Luckily I still have a year left. Love you all!

Sister Rachel

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20, 2011

So. Hi! To be honest, it has been kind of a difficult week. Not discouraging, because I was expecting weeks like this coming into the mission and Sister Mordwinow is so wonderful and we have fun, but it's been tough. 

It started off with C. Hmelinina leaving, which was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be, probably because it happened so fast. I gave her a hug and then I turned around and the van had already driven away. Afterwards, C. Mordwinow (hereafter referred to as C. M) and I were sitting in the lobby of the central building just kind of thinking..."Whoa...okay. This is it." It's been crazy--she speaks Russian super well, because she studied it for 2 years at BYU, but she did forget a lot in between her year off and the mission, and of course, I'm still learning a lot and can't remember words, so we just get by. She is an awesome missionary, and trained one of the girls I got here with, but really, we're still both young on the mission (She is at her 9-month mark today, so she's been in Moscow 6 months), and she doesn't know the area that well, and frankly, neither do I because I was so out of it language-wise my first transfer, and so when C. X left, we both realized how much work has to be done. 

So it's been a long week of contacting with hardly any success. People haven't even really been interested in taking English prigs this week. Usually we can at least pass them out, even if they end up not showing up. We went to a park to try to pass out some family proclamations, and we gave out 1 in an hour. Even these mothers with children told us they weren't interested in hearing about how their family can be together forever. We had some lady cross us and bless us (" don't have the authority to do that..." don't worry, we didn't actually say that outloud to her face), a lot of people just ignore us and walk away. Just pretty typical, but it's been hard since contacting is something that the two of us have a hard time getting up the courage to do anyway. Sunday was a super difficult day as well. We had 2 investigators come to church, so it should have been great--except one of them was very late, so we had to drop one off at the church building and walk back to the metro to go pick up the other one. It was raining, and on the way back we had a car (probably purposely, because it had to drive out of its way) splash us with all this water from the road. And then our investigator got upset with us since we didn't tell her to meet us early enough, when we could have been on time to the meeting if she had showed up when we agreed on, instead of leaving her house 15 minutes after that time. So we were 30 minutes late to church, and people were mad at us. It was just a frustrating day, and we both felt like we couldn't do anything right and that nothing was happening the way it should have. And then yesterday, the woman who had been passed to us with a baptismal date decided that she wanted to wait to get baptized--and not just a week or two. It's good because she wants to talk to her husband (who lives maybe in Moldovia?) about it, and she said that he might even be interested in being baptized too, but frustrating, because we have these goals for baptisms that we're trying to reach and it seems like we're just moving backwards. I know, I shouldn't be wanting baptisms just to reach our goals; I really do want her to get baptized for the right reasons when she's ready because I know how happy it will make her. I'm just impatient and want our mission to reach these goals that the Lord told us we could achieve. 

Luckily, everything hasn't been all bad, and we've been able to answer the prayers of a few people by visiting and just being there, which is always a good feeling. And there was one girl who seemed very interested in English Club, so I hope she shows up, especially since she was one of only like 5 prigs we passed out one night. And there were these 2 sisters (?) giving away kittens on our metro. The first day we saw them we wanted to talk more to them, but didn't, because there were people there who wanted to see the kittens and then we were running late for an appointment. We were kind of bummed at ourselves, because we wanted to talk to them because they were really nice, but the next day we saw them again! C. M gave them English prigs, and one of them seemed really excited, so we're hoping that they also come and are maybe interested in meeting with us. There's also another girl from English club who had some really good questions last week that we're hoping can find the time to meet. So there are some options, right now we just don't have a lot of people who seem to be interested in something besides English!

But don't worry about me. Really, I'm still happy and everything is fine. I really don't know what I'd do without C. M. She is so great. We have some wonderful companion studies. We sing together. We have a lot of fun. And she just helps make me a better person. And I got my birthday package yesterday! I was super impressed with how fast it got here. Don't worry; I haven't opened the wrapped presents or made the cake yet, because my birthday's not for another 2 weeks. But I did start using the makeup because you have perfect timing--the last of my foundation ran out yesterday and then I got the package! Whoo! And I read the cards, because I didn't get any other mail (but I got a package, so I can't really complain), so I wanted to read something. So thank you! I still haven't gotten the postcards, but maybe next week. I really want to find out who you met in Nauvoo who knows me. Wait...I think I know. I can only think of one person in Nauvoo...haha...It's so crazy though that all of these little kids are out going on missions. Weird weird weird. Anyway, that's about it on my end this week. 

I love you all!

Sister Ashby

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13, 2011

Prigging is just passing out invitations to anything, and English prigging is English club flyers. Oh my goodness, some of the things Hannah said were hilarious. It seems so weird that she is saying so much. I guess she is almost 4, but it seems like when I left she was just starting to talk a lot. I still haven't done anything with my shoes. I've just been trying to wear outfits that I can just wear my brown shoes with. Which is really tricky. I will try to send a cassette sometime, but I'm not sure when, or how well it will work, since the postal system here is crazy. I love Russian food. I am super good at flipping блины which are basically like crepes, but Russian, but I don't really know how to make the batter well. I super want to learn how to make Borsh (there's no t at the end, I have no idea why Americans do that). You should just send pictures as an attachment. I can figure out a way to get them if I want, but email is definitely more reliable. I have written Lindsey one letter, but I don't know if it's gotten to her yet. I think not, because I got a DearElder from her a few weeks ago and it said that she was wondering if I got her first one. Tell her that I think about her a lot and also tell her Happy Birthday because today is her birthday and I'm thinking about her a lot and that I miss her and that I just wrote her a letter this morning, that I'll probably send in a few weeks, I hope. (i just try to send all my letters at the end of the transfer because that way I don't have to make as many trips to the post office). ALso, about my memoirs of Russia, you should save all my emails, because I think it would be great to have them all in a book or something to go along with my journal. And we didn't really get thrown out of the subway...we were on the street and he told us to get back on the subway to leave "his territory."

Anyway. This week has been pretty crazy! So much has happened. First, please pray for President Sorenson. He is very ill. He and Sister Sorenson even went back to the States for 2 weeks. Things are still running smooth without him, but if you could remember him in your prayers that would be wonderful. 

We've met some interesting people this week. First, at English Club last week this sweet girl came for the first time after Elder Woodruff handed her an English prig on the street and started talking to her about the church. Her name is Lena, and she was just beaming and stayed for the spiritual thought and everything. Unfortunately, she left to go volunteer at a children's summer camp for a month. But hopefully she'll come back. Hopefully I'll still be here in Kahovski for another transfer to get to teach her. We went down to a kind of suburb to the south of Moscow to visit one of our members. We got there and her door was unlocked, but she was asleep on the bed with her little almost-2-year old, so we decided to go buy some bread while we were waiting for her. This crazy guy started following us around. He thought we were tourists at first and wanted us to come with him, but then even after he found out we live in Moscow and C. X is even Russian, he still followed us. It even got the point that it was kind of freaky because he WOULD NOT leave and we didn't want to take him to Nina's place, but luckily the doorguard at Nina's asked us who we were going to and we told her that the man was not with us, and she wouldn't let him in. Then we met a woman from our area book, an old investigator. She met with the missionaries on and off for almost 2 years, and they finally dropped-dropped her about a year ago, but we felt like we should go see her and when we called she was more than willing, so we'll see how that goes. We figure she was really nice, and we can go visit her once every few weeks even if she doesn't progress. But we're hoping we can maybe make some progress with her.

One of the miracles this week was that some Elders from the other zone called us and said that they have a woman to pass to us! She's getting baptized on the 23rd, but we haven't actually met her yet. However, she's awesome, the Elders say and we should be meeting her hopefully on Friday, so that we can start to finish teaching her. We also received a contact from our senior couple, the Craythorns. They don't speak Russian at all, but this young mom saw Elder Craythorn on the metro and followed him off the wagon and wouldn't let him leave the station until she had his phone number, Sister Craythorn's, and ours, and he had hers. We called her the next day, and even though we will need to pass her to the Arbatski sisters, she is super cute. She has 2 little boys, who are 8 and a half and 7 and a half named, Misha and Danil (the Russian equivalents of Mike and Daniel, haha). When we called her though, she said she didn't want us to come over because if we saw her apartment we would never want to come over again, so we went over to help her clean. It was HORRIBLE. You thought that MY room would get messy. This room had not seen a floor in 3 years, I think. And there was so much junk. It was like Grandma and Grandpa Ashby's house in Oakland except worse. Plus it's only this small 3-4 room apartment. We found moldy wood, dog poop, and a ton of other disgusting things in the little boy's room. But Sandra, the mom, who's 27ish, is tired of living in an inherited mess and with inherited messy habits and wants to change, plus she just feels stuck in a rut. When she met Elder Craythorn he described it as like she knew that she couldn't live without his number. When we gave her a Book of Mormon, she just looked so excited. Unfortunately, she also left town for a few weeks, so we'll see what happens.

Yesterday we had a great mission conference, even if President wasn't able to be there. We talked a lot about family history and how to use it as a contacting tool. There are actually so many great resources here in Moscow to use. It made me kind of wish I had Russian ancestors like Sister Mordwinow to find while I'm here. But we're going to try some of it out, because really, I think it will be such a great way to help people feel the Spirit. We also talked a lot about our mission goals and how to achieve them. Also, we had a training on English Club and how to make it better, which started with a joke with the APs and ZLs telling us that English Club was being shut down by the police at least until the end of the year. It was so believeable, because could easily happen if they came and found just one little thing they didn't like. But it was just a joke, and don't worry, English Club will go on! Hoorah!

THe other main thing is that C. X goes home tomorrow! It is so crazy! Sister Mordwinow and I had a lesson without her this week when she was in a meeting with the other missionaries who are leaving, and it went much better than I thought. I was worried that they wouldn't open up to us since they're so used to C. X. and they mostly just think of me as someone who can't speak Russian, but I've come to realize in the past few days/weeks that people will talk to me without her being there and that they love me too. PLus Sister Mordwinow ROCKS so we're going to have a great next 3 weeks, and hopefully more afterwards too. 

I love being a missionary! It's been the best 6 months of my life so far. I'm glad you had fun in Nauvoo. Please pass my message on to Lindsey. The Church is true.

Sister Ashby

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 6, 2011

Hello family! 

I can't believe that it's already JULY?! Oh my goodness. I was just starting to get used to June. Things are great here in Moscow, like usual. 

I'm glad Danny's bug bites are better. I kind of know how he feels. Our apartment is on the 2nd floor of our building and we have lots of trees outside our dome--it's the perfect mosquito place, and since it's so hot we've been sleeping with our window open. I was COVERED with bites the past few weeks, but they're almost all gone now, plus we bought a mosquito-killer that you plug in that we use at night, so that C. Mordwinow and I don't get eaten alive. Oddly, C. X has only gotten one or two small bites...hmmm....

I saw a Holiday Inn here a few weeks ago and thought of Dad's obsession with staying at Holiday Inn Expresses. Hope you're having a good time. Sounds like you are having a fun time. haha

Still kind of slow here. No new investigators, but it's not too discouraging. RIght now we're trying to find a way to contact that is more efficient. We've had a few ideas that we want to try. Of course, the usual fall-back-plan is English prigging. Which actually provided us with some entertaining times this past week. We decided to prig at a different metro station. It wasn't the best, but we were just passing out prigs, kind of spread out so we didn't keep bothering the same people (but still within sight and sound, obviously). I started talking to these two guys who were in this little guard house thing. I couldn't really understand all what they were saying, but no big. I started talking to them about English Club, because the one guy was interested, and this other guy comes up and just starts yelling at him, saying stuff like, "Why are you letting these people be here? YOu should be cleaning them up!" And then he told me that my friends were waiting for me and I needed to go join them. He wasn't too happy that we were there and had told C. Mordwinow that she needed to hop on the metro right now to get out of "his territory" or she was going to have a problem with the police. We weren't in a mood to argue with him, obviously, so we left, but it was kinda funny. We weren't doing anything wrong and that is definitely not "his territory." That same night English prigging, we also got asked where our "disco-teka" is (some probably-drunk man misread our flyer?) and C. Mordwinow received a marriage proposal. Gotta love English prigging. 

We had FHE with our stake patriarch and his wife on Monday, since he's in our ward and they wanted to have C. X over before she leaves (in just about a week! sad...). It was great. They are so awesome. 

Russian is still coming. I need to start working harder to learn words. It's kind of hard to gauge, because it's so up and down depending on the day. I can understand most things that I need to. And speaking is getting better, when I remember words. There are times where I can speak without thinking, but then I'll run into a word that I don't know--or more accurately, have probably heard and read a bajillion times and just can't remember. I've been reading the BoM in Russian since about half-way through the MTC though, and I can usually understand that (because it;s all gospel or context and I can rememer words better when reading as opposed to speaking) and I'm up to Omni already. So it's coming. It's hard to describe. I'm just hoping that by the end of the year I'm to the point where I'm mostly fluent, because I really don't have a lot of time left here, when you think about it.

Whoo! Thanks for the package! I'll hopefully get it right around my birthday. I'm not sure whether I'll get the cards of the package first--I think generally packages get here faster...kind of weird, but that's the trend missionaries have noticed. Have fun on vacation and thanks for everything! Love you!