Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31, 2011

It's Halloween! Weird. Russians don't really do Halloween. I mean, there were some ads on the streets for crazy Halloween parties, and the youth/young adults are doing a "halloween/fall carnival" thing this weekend to celebrate, but it's not big like it is in the US. So I kind of forgot that it was about Halloween time, however, at English Club on Wednesday we talked about Halloween and I got to teach the people in our group some of the Halloweens songs we'd sing in school as a kid. So, transfers are this week, and Sister Marty and I are staying together up here in Z. No surprise there. I think this will be her last one here though--it'll be her 5th. Also, this next transfer ends a week before CHristmas! How is it Thanksgiving and Christmas time already? Also: please send me Christmas CDs ASAP and get them here as fast as you can, because I really want to listen to some Christmas music (especially MoTab and the Forgotten Carols and maybe some other Christmas music, I can basically listen to any Christmas music that we have at home). Best part of this week was little Olya's baptism. It was so special. We missionaries sang "I Like to Look for Rainbows" (in Russian, of course) and helped get some things ready, and there was just such a sweet spirit there. It really made me miss Leah. You're waiting until I get home for her baptism, right? :) Olya is just so cute and such a special little girl. This week also had a scary moment. Have I told you about how we go visit an older sister in our ward who can't leave her house? She is awesome, the best, and we swap off visiting her with the Elders to read her the BoM and the Elders will also take her the sacrament on Sundays. Well, this week, it was our off day to go visit her, but we get a call from her, and she had had a heart attack while her girl who lives with her to help her and her husband and her son (who has some problems) was out running some errands. She heard the Elders ringing her doorbell and somehow managed to get her medicine and call emergency help, but her helper girl still wasn't back, so she called us so she wasn't alone if something else happened. So we ran over there as fast as we could. By the time we got there, her helper girl was back, but it was very scary and it was a miracle that it wasn't worse than it was and that everything is all right. This past week I realized what a slow learner I am. See? I'm even slow to realize that I'm a slow learner! It took me 22 years. Man, I am 22. That is WEIRD. Time goes by so fast, which is bad, since I'm such a slow learner. My mission will be long over by the time I learn everything I want and need to learn from my mission. I've been in Russia 7 months, and it feels like I just got here. Anyway, that's about it for this week. Life is great! С любовью, Сестра Ашби

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011

So, right after I emailed you last week, the Elders came upstairs (we email in the branch building) and say that there is a little boy crying downstairs and they need Sister Martyanova's help understanding him. He was lost and had just wandered into the branch building. After asking him what all is going on, we decide to take him back to the main train/bus station where he got lost. Then we call a member in our ward (he used to be branch president and he knows literally everyone and is the best), to see if he had any advice/could help us find Sasha's (the boy) mom. Miraculously--not only did he know Sasha's family, but his mom's phone number, and told us that his mom and his sisters were actually members of the Church! We called his mom, who told us to put him on a bus home to Mendeleeva, where he lives. We don't know if he got home okay, but he himself invited us over about 10 times ("Are you sure you don't want to come home with me tonight?") and so we're hoping to be able to help their family back in the ward. But it was just a miracle that Sasha found our building, that Roman knew his family, and that now we know of an inactive, part-member family we can hopefully work with! So that was a really cool, little miracle. In other news, we did a puppet show this week. And there was a ward activity to celebrate 20 years of the branch/ward/church in Russia! Wow. I was kind of disappointed with how many people were there, but it was really great. There were and are so many miracles taking this work forward here in Russia. So many great missionaries and members have worked so hard. It's hard to believe that before I was born, the Church wasn't officially recognized here. I am older than the Church in Russia. And yet, there's a stake here. One day (hopefully sooner rather than later), there will be a temple. I am just so grateful to be a part of the Lord's work, especially here in Russia. This is such a great place to be, especially right now. And that's about it for right now. Love you all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 19, 2011

Not much out of the ordinary happened this week. We are just trying to meet with people, get some people baptized, etc. Haha. Not really super eventful. We had a really great meeting with our ward mission leader on Sunday and we are trying to meet with every member in our area by the end of the year. Right now we're really focusing on reactivation and part-member families. And working with the ward and stake. We helped clean up the grounds around the branch building to get ready for winter the other day, and played basketball with the ward mission leader this morning (I even scored two points to help our team win! Ура! Maybe I'm not as sports-hopeless as I thought...) It's been so great to go visit members. I mean, it's something that I've done fairly often through my mission--most of my meetings have probably been with members, whether active or inactive. But they are so wonderful. On Monday, we visited an older sister in our ward who also knows some English and she made us some great food and was super funny and sweet. And she wanted to say everything in English, so that I could tell her if it was right or not. Yesterday, we also had a combined Specialized Training, so it was basically like a mission conference, just shorter. It was soooo great. Everything was just what I needed to hear, just what I had been thinking about the past week. Plus, it's always fun to take a trip down to good ol' Москва. And to see other missionaries. I love the sisters in my mission so much. I wish there was a way I could be companions with every one of them, but even if I had a new comp every transfer, that wouldn't be possible. And I got to see a few people I hadn't seen in a very long time, like Olya. She was probably my first friend here in Moscow, and after she moved out of Kahovski, I didn't really get to see her anymore, especially now that I'm up here in Z-Grad. But training was so great. There was such a sweet spirit there, and not like I was feeling bad before hand, but it just left me feeling rejuvenated. Except for the fact that then we went up to the train station and realized that all the elektrishkis were cancelled for like another 3 hours, so we went had to run around the metro to get to the bus that goes up to ZGrad...oh man. The metro is so loud and crowded and Moscow is exhausting. I love it, but I am wondering how I didn't collapse out of exhaustion when I lived there, because it wore me out on Tuesday. Last of all: first snow this week. On Saturday when we were helping clean up around the building, it started to snow. It didn't stick at all--it was really just flurrying and I didn't even think it was all that cold, but it was definitely snowing. And it hasn't snowed since then, but it's been pretty cold. So...yeah. Winter is definitely on its way. But don't worry. I can take it. I've already told Russia to bring it on and hit me with all it's got.

I love you all! The Church is true!
с любовью,
Сестра Ашби

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12, 2011

So yep. Today is a weird day. 9 months ago I went into the MTC. I'm halfway. Okay, not exactly, but istill. It's really weird. There's no way I can be considered a "new" missionary now (not that I've felt like a new missionary for a while or anything, but still). I have more time behind me than in front of me. :( Also, fun fact: a year ago tomorrow I opened my mission call. It's weird. I think back, and it doesn't seem like that long ago at all. But at the same time, I can't imagine being anywhere else but Moscow. I think back to when I didn't know where I was going and it just seems absurd to place me anywhere else. Oh, sending things. You should send me Christmas CDs ASAP so that they get here in time for me to listen to them before Christmas! Yes. Please. :) Anything Christmasy, but especially the newer MoTab Chirstmas CDs and the Forgotten Carols. Also, for general sending stuff ideas...I don't know. Warm tights? Maybe a cardigan or something cute? I don't know...I feel like I don't really need anything. Maybe just bugging people to write me letters. haha. Letters are the best. :) Anyway, um. Of course the best part of this week was CONFERENCE! Oh man. I love love love love loved it. There were so many answers to questions I had and things I had been thinking about. It is just amazing how you can receive answers to problems in a conference talk that you never dreamed would be able to be answered by a conference talk--like how to better learn Russian vocab (answer was right in Elder Scott's talk, very first). And so many of the talks I feel were focused on things that we have been or are currently focusing on as a mission. Of course, it was awesome when Moscow was mentioned--once in Elder Clayton's talk Saturday morning (which also talked about Argentina), and then again by Elder Nelson. Elder Nelson also mentioned sister missionaries. Basically it was cool that most of the international stories from conference this time around were about Argentina and Russia. :) I loved President Uchtdorf's talk, and President Monson, of course. He is SO funny. And he seemed so young this conference! I barely recognized Elder Hales though. :( But all the talks on missions, like "Are those REAL missionaries?" and the one the 70 from Japan gave were wonderful. Oh, and Elder Anderson's talk reminded me of our family. And Sister Dalton's talk was beautiful. Thanks Mom and Dad, for being awesome. One of the cutest things about conference was that little Olya, the girl we're helping prepare for baptism who reminds me of Leah, wanted to watch it with us. Saturday morning she comes upstairs and says, "My mom said that the missionaries are watching it up here, and I want to be with you!" We tried telling her it was in English and she wouldn't understand anything, but she just wanted to be with us. She wants to be a missionary one day. :) On Sunday morning, she comes upstairs again, and I try telling her, "Olya, you won't understand anything. You should go downstairs." But she insisted on staying up with all the missionaries (besides Sister Marty who was watching in Russian), because it was "too dark to color downstairs." We ended up making her a missionary nametag: Сестра Оля. She is adorable. One of our investigators has been actually starting to make progress, though. She's 15 and is CRAZY! Sometimes I think she's challening Michael's spirit, when he's the most hyper. But lately she's really wanted to meet with us, and has been paying more attention, and has even been calmer. She's called us and told us that she had a hard time with her homework, so she prayed and was able to do it. And also she called and said she wanted to quit smoking (yes. She's only 15. Kids start smoking when they're like 7 here, it's horrible. Cigarettes are soo cheap). We gave her some gum to chew whenever she wants to smoke, and she says she hasn't smoked in a few days! I look at her life and at Elizabeth and Rebecca and there is just such a difference. She's so funny and sweet, I just want her to be happy. Other than that, not much has happened. Just a normal missionary week. I set some great goals the other day, based on some revelation from Conference. It's been rainy and chilly, with the exception of last Thursday-Saturday. Apparently that always happens. Around the end of September (it was late and short this year) there's a warm, dry period again for about a week called "baba leta." But unfortunately now it's back to being chilly and wet. It wouldn't be so bad if I could wear jeans and my waterproff hiking boots. haha. No, really, it's fine. I'm not even wearing my pea coat and real tights yet, although I think it will soon be time to pull them out. That's it from Mother Russia, right now. I love you all! с любовью, Сестра Ашби

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 5, 2011

Hey hey everyone! It has been a GREAT week. :) First, I have to say, I already know about the temples. Since we have pretty easy computer access here at the ward building in ZGrad, we looked it up. I am SO excited that they're turning the Provo Tabernacle into a temple. I was so sad when it burned, and Provo needs another temple, even though that is quite the surprise. Also, when I noticed that Elder Holland spoke at the Priesthood session, I was super bummed, because he is one of my favorites. And then I realized I could just listen to it, so I did! Awesome awesome talk. I loved when he said "In this family, we serve missions." I can't wait to watch all of Conference this weekend, especially for President Uchtdorf's talk. He is always a fav. Well, Moscow IS beautiful, but not everywhere. Most of it is probably exactly how you thought it would be. :) But ZGrad is also beautiful. I love all the trees here. It has been getting colder, and has been really wet and rainy. There have been a few really cold days and a few nights ago it was almost snowing, but then a few days ago it was also nice enough to walk around without my jacket at times, so it's up and down. It will probably be winter by the end of the month though, I'd imagine. Which is kind of depressing. The fall is super gorgeous here. It gets dark probably around  7? A little later. It's really dark by 8. I have to say, I am not super excited for winter and it being super cold and short days. But I am pretty excited for Christmas to get here. Speaking of winter, I realized that I'm probably going to want some long sleeved shirts that I can wear under things for warmth. Do you think you could maybe send me some? Like white and black, maybe a brown, maybe some fun colors, but probably just 2-3 white and black one or two. (Also, while we're talking about things to send me...some good smelling bath and body works lotion and shower gel would be great presents, that I don't really need but would be nice.) Who all have I received letters from? Wow. That's a big question. A lot of people. But more people should write me. DearElder is soooo easy. It takes 5 minutes. However, I have not heard anything from the Bishopbric, but feel free to give them my emails. Anyway, the biggest thing about this past week was Ksusha! Friday was her 18th birthday, and then Saturday she was baptized! She is just a miracle. I love hearing her bear her testimony and I am so excited that she is now an official member of the church! The baptism was wonderful. It was funny--something was wrong with the water heater so after promising Ksusha that she would for sure have nice, hot water, it was freezing cold! The Elders got there early and did their best to make it warm--one of them boiled water for hours and poured it into the font trying to make it warmer. It didn't really help much, but it makes a good story. And I don't think I told you last week, but Ksush asked me to speak at her baptism. Oh man. I was so honored that she would ask me, but it was so nervewracking. My first official talk in Russian. I was so nervous, plus I wasn't feeling too great that morning when I woke up. But it all went great. I definitely had help. Sister Marty said that she was blown-away by my Russian. Gift of Tongues for sure. Everyone said I did great--I'm not sure that I believe them, but I do know that it for sure was not me talking up there. My Russian isn't completely horrible, but it definitely is very far from super great. But the Spirit is there and that is all that matters. I was just grateful to be a part of Ksusha's special day. The Spirit at baptisms is so perfect and wonderful. I think back to before my mission and I don't think I realized how important and beautiful baptism is. In other news, also involving my Russian skills...I translated for the Gronnings, our senior couple, during sacrament meeting on Sunday. Translating is super cool--because a lot of the time I only have a basic idea of what they're saying, or I miss something because I'm translating and they continue and it's hard to speak English and process Russian at the same time, or they're just talking super fast. So a lot of it is relying on the Spirit to pick up what you missed or to just kind of guess as to what they said, while still communicating thoughts to whoever you're translating for that will help them. And then Sister Gronning asked me to translate into Russian for her while she bore her testimony. I know I did a horrible job, but once again, the Spirit was there, and that's all that matters. So although I know I'm super far from perfect, I'm feeling a lot more confident in general about my Russian skills, for sure in understanding at least. I just need to learn more vocab to use when speaking. Lastly, can I just say how much I LOVE the Book of Mormon? Before my mission I knew it was true, but I think that only on my mission have I truly developed such a deep love for it. We are reading it backwards as a mission right now and I love it. I love reading it in English, in Russian, outloud or in my head, on the metro or the bus or at my study desk or in the branch building. It always brings such a special spirit and there is always something to help me that day, that moment, hidden (or pretty obviously displayed) among the chapters I read. It is the word of God, true through and through, and it is distinct proof that this is Christ's Church on the Earth today. Elder Holland said it right when he said 2 years ago, "I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days." I know it's true. That's why I'm here on a mission. I know that this is the true church, that this is where I am supposed to be. The Russia Moscow Mission is the greatest on Earth (sorry Matt. :P) But no matter where in the world you are, and whatever language you are speaking, whether in English or Spanish or Russian or German or Cantonese, this is still the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it will always be true and it will always be His. Love you all! с любовью, Сестра Ашби