Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011

Okay, so this might be all over the place this week. I usually right down a list of things that I need to write about, but I forgot to this morning because we went ice skating with the Elders and we were running late and I completely forgot, so we'll just be doing this off the top of my head. But it's not like you know if I miss anything, so...yeah.
Anyway. Thursday I was in Kiev for visa trip! It was SO great. We actually did get to go to the temple, we just didn't have time to do a session, so the Elders did sealings, but then they were all full, so we sisters did initiatories. It was sooo wonderful to be there in the temple, especially since we didn't think we were going to get to go. And then we saw some missionaries over in the stake center, so we went over to talk to them while we wer waiting for one of our drivers. Turns out they were having like a 2-zone conference, and I saw my dear friend from BYU/the MTC, Sister Kristin Stiles! It was a miracle. Plus, it was just so wonderful being around my MTC district. I love them a lot.
Most of the rest of the week, we've been busy preparing for the baptism. Ksusha is wonderful wonderful wonderful. She is so ready. Even if I didn't teach her and commit her to baptism, I'm so grateful to get to be a part of her life and baptism and teaching and stuff. Our other investigator who was going to be baptized on Saturday decided to wait, which we were going to counsel her to do anyway. She loves coming to church and meeting with us, she's just not ready yet, plus her husband and daughter are really protiv. Wait. That's a Russian word. Against. They're against the church, but are hopefully starting to feel better about it.
Oh! But we're also starting to work with a few people, we hope, anyway. And there's a girl in the ward who we are helping prepare for baptism. It doesn't count as a baptism for us, obviously, because she's not a convert baptism, but she is SO cute and she reminds me of Leah. Plus, this is what we're here for--to build up families so that parents can baptize their own children. I'm super excited to be helping to teach little Olya.
Oh, you mentioned names, and actually, it's a VERY Russian thing, so I figured I would talk about it. So. Here people have their given name, their ochestvo/patronymic (middle name based off their father's name) and their familia/surname. But everyone has the same given names pretty much. And each given name has a few options of "short-form" names, which are like nicknames or informal. But what is really funny and Russian about it that I love is that most "short-form" names are just as long as the long/original names. Like Kcenia and Ksusha. Or Maria and Masha. Or Natalia and Natasha or Sofia and Sonya and Olga and Olya. Some really are shorter, like Tatiana and Tanya, but it's just something that is very Russian.
Dad mentioned Conference. Of course we don't get a live broadcast, we're 10 hours ahead of you. Plus people here speak Russian, and they need to send the translation over here. So we'll watch it next weekend. So next week, please don't really say anything about conference, because I'll haven't watched it yet. :) Also, Dad, your Russian that you got from Google Translate is pretty horrible. You told me to "Speak Russia always." Not Russian. Sigh. ;)
Anyway, all here is great. I love being a missionary. Keep up the good work at home. Depending on when I come home (separate email for you coming soon), I'm pretty much halfway done. :( I'm not good enough at Russian and I haven't worked hard enough to be halfway done. But anyway. Life is great still. This Church is true! It's His!
Sister Ashby

this is me and C. M and Nastia, a great member in Kahovski who actually just moved back to her home town, but she is so great and an RM and would always help us on lesson

me and Sister Mordwinow right outside St. Basil's Cathedral

 Sofia's baptism back in June

Me at Izmailovski Kremlin--super Russian looking building ("It's a Small World" anyone?)

Hatalia Vargina, one of my favorite members (although less-active) in Kahovski
Tsaritzino park for Culture Night, with Masha, one of the girls in the stake

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011

Привет всем!

So. I'm actually emailing to you from...Moscow! Yes. It's a long story. Basically, we have zone specialized trainings this week. Our zone's is on Thursday, but that is when I'm in Kiev on visa trip, so President Sorenson told me to come to the other zone's, which was yesterday. So Sister Martyanova (from now on C. Marty) and I came down to Moscow Monday night for training on Tuesday and then we just stayed here for P-Day since I have to be back here tonight for my visa trip tomorrow, so it's been kind of a crazy week. So I've been in Moscow almost as much as I've been in ZGrad since transfers, and tomorrow I'll be in Kiev.

Zelenograd is awesome! It is just the change that I've needed. The actual transfer process was pretty crazy, mostly because the Elders were late to help me take my bags to the metro, so Sister Mordwinow and I got them to the stanzia all by ourselves. Who needs Elders anyway? But we were about 10 minutes late to transfer meeting, so we missed most of that. But otherwise, things went really smoothly. My new apartment is really nice, with a great view, and a roomy study area, which is super nice. We didn't really have one of those in our last apartment. But ZGrad is so nice. It's still a pretty big city, kind of a suburb of Moscow, but it's like an hour train ride away and has a couple hundred thousand people I think. So still bigger than Twin. But I've been out and doing a lot. It doesn't take too long to settle in when you only have two suitcases and a backpack. :p You can't really take a lot of time doing stuff like that when you're a missionary anyway. But it's so nice. There are trees everywhere. I still have no idea where I am half the time, or how to work the buses (no metro, just the bus). But it's awesome The ward is great, and the town just feels...special, like home. It feels like I'm supposed to be there, plus the work is great, and it's been a nice change from the slow past few months in Kahovski. I can't say what a great blessing it's been so far. 

C. Mart is awesome! She is from St. Petersburg and is super sweet and funny. After we had been companions for less than 3 hours, she already knew all of my siblings' names. Michael is her favorite, because he looks like (and I told her that he really is) a hooligan. She loves to laugh, and has a super contagious laugh. She is also a great missionary--I have a lot to learn from her. She's been out on her mission about a transfer or two longer than I have, but she just came straight to Moscow instead of going to the MTC, so it's kind of weird, because she's been here longer. She's been helping me a lot with Russian, but being in ZGrad has actually made me realize how well I actually am doing with the language. But I'm hoping that with her, I will be able to really get all the little nuances down pat and learn more words. Basically vocab is my main problem.

Yes, sometimes (rarely) the STEERING wheel for Emerson would do that, but not often. You just have to keep trying to wiggle it and turn the key. I can't believe I remember all that though...It feels like forever since I've driven a car. It kind of has been. You can go ahead and use my iPod, just please don't make sure that any music gets deleted off of it. One of the reasons I didn't bring it is because I wanted to make sure that I still had all of my music, just in case my computer was dead-dead. (How is my laptop doing, by the way? I hope it's working and that it will still at least be alive enough to get stuff off of it when I get home).

Anyway. ZGrad is awesome. We are working with two people who are getting baptized on the 1st of October. One of them is a 17-almost-18 year old girl named Ksenya (Ksysha for short) who is a miracle and whom I absolutely love. There are a few crazy (but fun) people we're working with. And every few days we go visit a babushka in the ward who can't leave her house and we read the BoM with her outloud, which is great practice for me. Plus she is just wonderful. We have a lot of really great potential investigators who we are hoping we can turn into really awesome actual investigators soon. Our goals that we set for this next week were kind of ridiculous, but in an awesome way, but we know that we can make them with hard work and the Lord's help. The only problem is that we weren't up in ZGrad yesterday because of training. But C. Mart will be up in ZGrad tomorrow while I'm in Kiev with Sis. Rasmussen. She's companions with one of the sisters I was in the MTC with and served in ZGrad a few transfers ago, so she's going up there with C. Mart. But anyway, we're hoping all of our goals are at least mostly achieved and that we can see a lot of miracles this next transfer.

Random side note: every once in a while this computer does spellcheck underlining on every single word that I type and it's getting pretty obnoxious. But it only does it about every other paragraph or so.

Basically I think the only thing that is left to tell you about is the musical fireside! Saturday afternoon we went down to Moscow, so that I could get some practicing done with a few people before the actual fireside. Sister Mordwinow and I were kind of freaking out, because 10 minutes before the fireside was supposed to start, there were really only missionaries there, not a lot of people. Oh, not to mention that 3 people bailed on us either that day or the night before. We were so worried that it wasn't going to be good. However, you have to take into account Russian standard time, mixed with Mormon standard time, and realize that a lot of people will show up 10-15 minutes late. In the end, there were quite a few people there--it was almost full and there were quite a few investigators or non-member people from English Club and such there. Not to brag or anything, but I think all in all it worked out really well. And Sister Mordwinow and I rocked "For Good." A lot of people said that it was their favorite. I know that C. Martyanova took a video of it, so maybe next week when I (finally) have the ability to email you pictures I can also email the video.

Anyway. Life is SO WONDERFUL. I love my mission--both as a mission that I'm serving and as a group of people and an area that I'm working with. I love this Gospel. I love my companion and my other sisters and my district and my ward and my investigators, old and new.

Oh! Speaking of old investigators. Here's a little miraculous story for you. Remember Sofia, the girl I taught who got baptized in June? Well. One, she's awesome. Two, C. Mart. served in Kahovski right before I did, and she was actually the one who first met Sofia. Sonia wandered into the Central building and C. Mart could tell she was special and got her phone number, but was never able to get in touch with her or meet with her. So fast forward a bit and C. X calls the number not knowing who it is, just feeling like she should invite her to FHE or English Club. We start teaching her and all these miracles happen and she is baptized, despite disappearing for like 2 weeks due to work and all that jazz (you probably don't remember everything, but it was super miraculous, everything about her). Anyway. Back at the ranch, C. Mart is wondering about her, thinking about her and what happened to her. A few days before transfer she even was thinking about calling us in Kahovski and getting her phone number so that she could call her herself. So we're on the metro and C. Mart asks me how the Sofia I taught is doing. I answer great. And then we're at the musical fireside and C. Mart runs into Sonia, and realizes that it's the same Sofia she met months ago and that she's the same Sonia I taught and baptized! Man. So cool. I love missionary work.

Well. Yep. That's about it. Next week I'll send pictures from the past few months, I hope. I love you all! Remember to post stuff on my blog. :) The Church is true! Пока пока!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14, 2011

Hello everyone! 

Yep, this is my last day here in Moscow. It hasn't been a very eventful week, but we had a good day yesterday as a nice way to end the transfer. As far as I know, things up in Zelenograd are very similar to here. It's just a smaller city, but we still have English Club and do things pretty similarly. I'll let you know more next week once I've actually been there. I'm very excited though--I've only heard great things about being up in ZGrad. Meaning that everyone who has served there LOVED it and tells me how awesome it is. But yes. Normal schedules are basically the same everywhere in Russia, as far as I understand. During the summer when it's warm, people go to their dachas (cabins, country houses, whatever), or leave on vacation to the south or whatever. And now that school and work are back up, and it's getting colder, people are back here in the towns.

Haha, you still have a long time before you and Mom can go on a mission. Good luck waiting that long, but all of the senior couples here are awesome, so you'd fit right in. HAHA--you'd be a "senior couple." ;) We won't talk about how old I'll be in 18 years...

My feet are just fine. I haven't had any problems besides the blisters I had when breaking in my new shoes, and that was a long time ago and now they're more than fine. 

That's great that Lorinda and Scott live up by Boise and that they're coming to Twin for the temple. I have a visa trip to Kiev next week, but I won't get to go to the temple this time around. However, I'm still excited to see more of Kiev, especially with my MTC district.

If you want to look up things on Google Earth, I have been living on Kolomenskaya metro station for the past 6 months. That's about as specific as I want to get, since this is going on my blog...But we also are on Novokuznetskaya all the time, because that's where the central building is. And Kantemirovskaya. If you want to just go and look up all the meeting houses in Moscow and then take the area that's in the south between those two church buildings, that's where I've been. I will for sure keep you updated on the new happenings on my end of things--there will be a lot of them next week,I'm sure. 

Other than that, things here have been slow, as usual. We had as many meetings yesterday as we did all of last week total. Most of that was going to members I wanted to see before I left the ward. There are so many great members I will miss so much. We don't have a lot of investigators right now, but the few that we do meet with I will miss. It's weird to be packing up, to have had my last Sunday in Kahovski, to think that I won't go see Tatiyana Karpushena every week anymore. Have I told you about her? She is an AWESOME babushka in our ward. Mostly, though, I'm ready to leave. There are a lot of people I will miss, but it's time for a change and I know that I need to be in ZGrad. 

Um...sorry I don't really have anything super exciting from this past week to report. I will definitely let you know how everything is going this next week. It will be a big one, between moving and the musical fireside and ZGrad and whatnot.

Love you all!
Sister Rachel

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 7, 2011

Sounds like everything is crazy back home with the first day of school! Michael emailed me about how BYU won against Ol' Miss! Whoo! Go Cougars!

Random Russian stuff: There was a fire in our trash dumpster the other night. No worries, it's pretty far from our actually apartment and wasn't too big, but it was kind of funny. We helped a girl move--a bunch of plastic bags on the metro; residence isn't the most permanent thing here. Today Sister Mordwinow and I went inside St. Basil's Cathedral and ended up running into a guy from Salt Lake on Red Square. It was so bizarre. He asked me if we were missionaries and I was like, "Wait...he's speaking English to me. Wait...he knows missionaries" Don't worry. It's not weird to here people speaking English to me--it's just weird to here people out on the street who I don't know speaking English to me.

There's not a lot to write about this week. Things are back on the rise--now that summer is over and people are back from their dachas (cabins/country houses) and people have a more set schedule things should get better. We had more people at English Club (including a few new people) last week than we had the last few weeks combined, I feel, so hopefully it's a good sign. We've had more lessons lately, too, and have a few people who might become investigators soon. There is a girl my age from English club who we have been getting to know, and who really loves her family and she said she would be interested in coming to church this next Sunday, so we'll see where things go with her. 

After a really frustrating lesson with one of our few investigators (but not progressing) that was more of an argument sadly, we went back a few days later, not sure how much longer to meet with her. But it ended up being a great lesson on the priesthood and authority and, surprisingly, she said something to the effect of "I think there should just be one church that everyone can believe in and follow," which was surprising, since she usually says that she thinks all churches are good and true, which they are...just not fully. So hopefully things will be going up there too.

And our musical fireside is going great! We'll have 10 numbers, mostly missionaries but a few members, and almost all of them we've been able to get a hold of and confirm that they'll be playing. If we can rent some trumpets, we have 3 Elders who will be playing a trio, but they're kind of expensive so we're not quite sure. A couple people singing, a sax player, some pianists, a guitar duet...Sister Mordwinow and I will be singing For Good, and then I'm also accompanying another Sister when she sings. But it should be great! We're so excited for it, especially since other people are excited for it and we feel like we're doing something useful. :)

But actually, all of these beginnings happening here in Kahovski aren't really relevant. Important, of course, because every part of missionary work all of the world is important. But yesterday I found out that in a week (from tomorrow), I'm getting transfered! Yep. After almost 6 months being here in Kahovski, I'm leaving. I'll be going up to Zelenongrad. It's one of the few places in our mission that isn't the city of Moscow itself, and they usually don't have sisters down in Podolsk. I'm really excited, and I'll be companions with Sister Martyanova, one of our native sisters! So that will be awesome. It's bittersweet--I have had so much fun with Sister Mordwinow and I love her so much, and I love our ward so much, and there are so many people I will miss, but at the same time, it is definitely time for a change. 

Anyway, more next week! I'll still be in Moscow then, and then off to ZGrad!