Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011

It's crazy how time is. On one hand, I feel like I just wrote home. On the other hand, I feel like it's been forever since last P-Day. The same applies for my mission. I just got here, I think, but at the same time, I feel like I've been a missionary in Russia forever. I think it's because time is just a mortal thing, and so it feels funny to the eternal side of us. I don't know. But speaking of time, can you believe that I've been in Russia 8 months? Yeah, crazy! Time flies.

This week has been awesome. AWESOME. Last P-Day we went to Kleen, it's a smaller town up north, but still in our area, about a 40 minute train ride. We journeyed up there as a district to go to the Chaikovksi museum--aka his house, because turns out he lived in Klin. It was a lot of fun. I would really love to serve in a town like Klin. Just so quintessentially Russian. It was really cool. Don't get me wrong, though, I love Z and I love Moscow. It's just different. I'll send some pictures sometime, but I keep forgetting to bring my harddrive with me to the branch building to email.

So the main person this week is Sveta. She is so great! It is amazing how the Lord brings people into your path as a missionary. Sveta is friends with a rockstar member-missionary in our ward, and came to church with her last week. She's had a really rough past due to some poor choices, and she has an almost 12-year-old son. She really wants her son to be happy and she loves him and wants to have a real family. Meeting with her has been amazing. If she doesn't understand something--either in concept or why it's necessary or anything at all--she'll ask a question. I've never taught someone who does that before. She is just so open and curious and it has been so rewarding already to watch her put the pieces together in her head, seeing that not only does the gospel make sense in your heart but in your mind too. I'm so excited to watch her learn more things about the gospel, how to receive her own answers and such. Plus, she is just so fun and friendly and great. AND, after our first official lesson, she was the one who initiated setting up the next meeting, before we even had the chance to bring it up! What the?! That never happens. She brought her son to church this week, and I just hope and pray that things continue to go well and that the Spirit is able to touch them and help them fully understand and receive a testimony.

On Wednesday, I got the package of Christmas CDs. THANK YOU! Oh mad, it has been so great listening to Christmas music. Especially since I got it right on time for...

THANKSGIVING! Honestly, it was one of the best Thanksgivings of my life. We gathered at the Gronning's for an afternoon of...well, basically, Thanksgiving. Lots of good food, and my mission family. We had a lot of fun, talking, playing Phase 10...we laughed so much, and it just felt like home. I can't even describe it. I am just so grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary, to be in Russia, to be in this great district, to watch the Lord work His miracles--both big and small. I'm grateful for all the companions I've had (okay, all 3--4 if you count Sister Clark) and for all the missionaries I've served with in some way or another. All the friendships I've made here. My family, and being raised in a gospel home, and that our family is so awesome. Being on a mission has made me realize just how much I've been blessed in so many aspects of my life, temporally and spiritually. But especially, for the Book of Mormon, the Gospel, the Priesthood, modern-day Prophets, baptism, prayer, the Plan of Salvation, and my Savior Jesus Christ.

The week kind of slowed down after that, because I finally gave in and succumbed to the cold that had been trying to get at me since Sister Martyanova had been sick last week. Friday I had a babushka tell me that I was sick because I'm not dressing warm enough. (Don't worry. I've been dressing warm.) I told her that I got sick from Sister Marty and other missionaries and she told me that it's impossible to get a cold from other people--you only get it from the cold. Haha. I just kept quiet, but remembered with a smile all the times other people have given me colds, or I've gotten one in the summer when it's burning hot outside. No worries, though. I slept pretty much at every moment I could and I'm feeling a lot better now.

You all are awesome! I'm praying for you, and I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving and everything. The Church is true!

С Любовью,
Сестра Ашби

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

Привет всем!

This past week on one side has just flown by, and on the other it feels like it has been FOREVER. I think it's because I've just been really looking forward to Thanksgiving. :) Our district is going down to Moscow to eat dinner at the Gronning's, our senior couple's home. 

It started out with a great zone conference. It is always great to be in Moscow and to see the missionaries, especially the sisters, that I don't get to see very often. I even got to see Sister Mordwinow, even though she's not in our zone. I miss her a lot. But of course, zone conference was just great. It always amazes me how Zone Conferece (or General Conference, or other things like that) always touches on all of the main thoughts I've had in my head, all of the things I need help with. It was just such a great experience to receive revelation on how I can be a better missionary. We talked a lot about how often members think, "What can I do to help the missionaries?" but really, we as missionaries, especially here in Moscow right now with a still-new stake and a lot of inactives, need to be thinking, "What can we do to help the members?" 

And that's what we've done a lot of this week. This week we had a ton of service activities come up. First, we went to a smaller town about 15 minutes away to help a young couple in our ward (who are expecting a baby) clean up their new apartment and spent most of the morning sweeping and dusting and peeling off old wallpaper. We also have the great chance to help out with youth activities a lot, and we took the Elders over to an old woman in the ward's apartment because she needed their help taking some higher-up cabinets down. She was so grateful for their help. Serving the members really is so important, building relationships with them, and strengthening their faith and activity in the church.

We also had the opportunity to help an old investigator (old meaning both in age and in investigator status). She needed help cleaning out some stuff that was on her balcony. We didn't really get through most of it, but afterwards we were able to give her a great lesson on the first part of the Plan of Salvation. The spirit was very strong and she seemed especially interested in the sacrament and coming to church to partake of it, even if she said she wouldn't be able to for a while. Not to mention, she was so grateful for our help, and we'll be going back to help out some more and to continue teaching later on this week, although I will be in Moscow on an split with one of the AP Sisters.

Lastly, we miraculously were able to get 2 new investigators at the end of this week. Ksusha brought one of her friends to an activity and we were able to teach the 1st lesson with Ksusha there. Having members, especially recent converts who know the investigator, on a lesson is so helpful. Ksusha was just able to bear testimony about how the Book of Mormon and the gospel has changed her life, basically told her friend, "You know what I was like before. You can have this change too." And then yesterday at church, an awesome member (who if you look through our area book is all over the "member friend" box on teaching records) had brought a friend, who stayed for all 3 hours, seems really nice and interested and wants to meet with us later on this week. The Lord truly blesses us as missionarires, not necessarily by leading us to those who are interested, but by leading them to us.

Other than that, it's been a fairly uneventful week. Sister Martyanova is getting over a cold, and as she's the 3rd person in the district to have had one, I'm trying to not get sick either. Colds are the worst, because you're not sick enough to feel like you can stay home, but you also don't want to go out because you don't want to get more sick and you want to be running on full-speed and you're miserable. Anyway. Hopefully everyone is up to full health soon, because this week will be crazy, between Thanksgiving (and Mom's birthday!), and the split I mentioned earlier, and meetings should just be a fun, usual week here in Russia. :) Man, I will miss it when all this stuff isn't normal anymore. 

The Church is true! Have fun cutting the Christmas tree without me (if that's possible? ;) Send me pictures. I love you!

С любовью,
Сестра Ашби

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DANNY! Man, I can't believe that you are already 10!

Okay, so it really isn't all that cold. It just got cold really fast, but now I've adjusted and it's normal. Don't worry about it. I'm not that cold, and I'm not wimpy. :) And the heater in my apartment works great so far. Really, right now outside it's just about 32 Fahrenheit, so really...not bad. Some days it's colder. But it's gotten to the point where we have snow. The thing about here is that it doesn't ever really stop flurrying. And some days it snows more. For Sports Day this week we abandoned the football/frisbee stuff and ended up having a snowball fight. We've also made a snowman. Maybe if I can get the camera cord to work I'll send some pictures; it wasn't working last week. Also this week, I've started to notice some more "Christmas" decorations. Except here Christmas is on Jan 7 and it's not really a big deal. All the lights on the buildings and the "Christmas" trees are really for New Year. But it's great and is making me really excited for Christmas. 

I have a request for a Christmas package. Ksusha asked me if you could send her some Crest WhiteStrips. She had heard about them and wants some. They don't have anything Crest here. All the missionaries agree that they would make a fortune. She said she pay me for them, because they're kind of expensive. Other than that...maybe some warm tights? I don't know...

Other official business: please tell Lindsey and Amanda that I have written them, but that the letter I sent back in August just got returned to please tell them that I haven't forgotten about them and also that I need their address so that I can send them a letter that will hopefully not get sent back. Also...I need Amanda Frey's address. Basically, maybe facebook her from my account or something and tell her to DearElder me her address or something. :)

This week has been great! On Tuesday (I think) one of the Elders' investigators who was going to be baptized next week called and said that his work schedule changed and that he wanted to get baptized this Saturday. So Saturday we had a baptism! It was so great. I love baptisms, especially when it is someone who loves the gospel so much and has waited so long. There was just such a sweet spirit, and his mom who is not a member was there too. It's hard to explain the feeling that you get at baptisms as a missionary, even if you don't really know the person getting baptized. And that awesome feeling carried over into church. Yesterday the meeting was just full of such a sweet spirit of love. Valeri (Like Valerie, but the accent is on the middle syllable and it's a guy's name) received the Holy Ghost and Ksusha bore a really sweet testimony. Plus, there was a miracle--there is this CRAZY inactive member who's been calling the Elders, saying that they're the worst missionaries and stuff, and he said he was going to come to church and bear testimony against them. So Sister Marty prayed before we left that if he was there, that he wouldn't get up and say anything, and that if he did get up that he wouldn't be able to say anything. And he gets up...and just says a bunch of random nothing. It was pretty awesome. There was just such a sweet spirit all throughout the meeting, with Valeri and testimonies and then Gospel Principles was awesome, and...I just can't even describe it. Every once in a while I get this feeling at church, and I had felt it before my mission, but on the mission you just kind of see and feel things differently. It's hard to explain. I've come to find out that even as a writer, with the Spirit I usually have to just accept that I can't find words to describe it. But it does make me just so happy. :)

That's about it. I was about to say "not a lot special going on here" but then I realized that I had just written about a baptism and I'm a missionary, so everything is special. I don't know what I'm going to do when I'm not a missionary and I miss all this great stuff being normal. I love you all; the church is true!

С любовью,
Сестра Ашби

Monday, November 7, 2011

November 7, 2011

Oh man. It is SO cold here. Last night it was -7 (Celcius. It's what
we use here, plus it sounds colder. You can do the math). And it's
only the beginning of November. So sorry for any typos. My hands are
frozen. We played soccer this morning, and I took of my gloves because
it was getting warm, but then my hands slowly froze and haven't warmed
up since. What is ironic is that up until yesterday it was not that
cold. It was kind of chilly, but I was thinking it was just because
i'm always in a skirt. It's amazing how much warmer pants and real
shoes make you. I've probably already mentioned that. It was actually
rainy all Halloween. Yeah, really. I think it's the first Halloween
percipitation in my life that hasn't been snow. So that was kind of
ironic. And then yesterday--boom. So cold. Whatever I said about
bringing on the Russian winter...I take it back. haha, not really, I
just am not wanting to pull out all my really warm stuff yet, because
if I'm wearing that now, what will I wear when it's -20?

So, it's the start of a new transfer, and things are awesome here in
Z. Sister Marty and I are still t he same, but two of the 4 Elders (1
in each companionship) got switched out. They're both pretty new, and
I served with one of them my last transfer in Kahovski. So our
district is pretty young. 3 of them are starting their 3rd transfer,
and then our other Elder came the transfer after I did. And thenn it's
me and Sister Marty. It's really weird. I'm not used to being one of
the older missionaries. I don't know Russian well enough to be going
home in less than a year. One of my worst fears is that I'll be at
BYU and people who know Russian as well will be like, "How did you
live for a year and a half in Russia and still can't speak Russian?"
haha, I know that won't be the case (at least I hope not...),
especially since I can mostly communicate, but still.

This week we had a few adventures. There was one morning we had a
meeting at our ward mission leader's apartment. We hopped on the wrong
bus 2 times and then when we got to the area he lives in, we wandered
for like 20 minutes trying to find his dom, because sometimes you have
number 1 next to number 46 and you have no idea what is all in
between. Then, on the way home, we also hopped on the wrong bus which
took us out to the middle of nowhere where we had to wait for 15
minutes for another bus, and then we had to switch busses AGAIN. It
was really funny. Oh, the adventures of a missionary.

We also met with an inactive lady. She loves the gospel, but she works
on Sundays. It is such a problem here. A lot of people have
testimonies but don't think they need to do anything. Or they have to
work to live and that hinders them from coming to church. But don't
get me wrong, there are also great members and it's just like it is
anywhere else in the world, it's just a really big problem here since
the church is still so young. It's such a big problem that Elder Oaks
even spoke about it in Regional/Stake conference yesterday, but more
on that later. Anyway, we met with this lady, and her daughter who is
not a member. Her daughter has a lot of questions and is pretty
interested in finding out more. So we're very excited to start working
with them more. Only problem is that they both work a lot and the
daughter doesn't even really know her schedule in advance. I hate
work. Why do you need money to live? It hinders so many people from
finding out more. Of course, often they don't know what great
blessings the gospel will bring them, and so when they think of
picking between paying for an apartment or just some religion that
takes time, they're going to say no. Sigh. But anyway. We will
hopefully be able to meet more with this family, get the mom active at
least. That's another thing--reactivation.

We helped a lot with a small ward activity for "Halloween." It was so
cute to see all these little kids playing these games with smiles on
their faces. And then Saturday we had a zone service project picking
up trash out in this little town pretty far--we had to go into Moscow,
meet the other missionaries, and then ride another train out to this
town. But we cleaned up a lot of trash, had fun seeing our zone. There
was so much trash though. It's always fun to go pick up trash in areas
like that because you know that someone was living in this pile of
trash for a while. We found so many things of clothes, a bag of coins,
keys, I could go on. Also, on the train ride there I had a drunk man
ask me if I was really from America and then for my phone number. We
started talking about how usually if someone asked me for my number,
I'd more than happily give it to them and then ask for theirs so that
we could meet up. When you put it that way, missionary work is kind of
(read: REALLY) sketchy. But don't worry, I told this guy he couldn't
have my number because I didn't have a phone and then walked into a
middle of a bunch of Elders. haha.

And then yesterday we had a broadcast from Salt Lake. THe night before
was stake conference (the first one in Russia!) And then yesterday we
had the broadcast. Elder Clayton, Elder Oaks, Sister Thompsen, and
President Uchtdorf all spoke. It was so much what this area needs. A
lot about reactivation and church attendance, strengthening the youth
and getting them (especially the young men) on missions, getting men
to the Melchezideck priesthood and everyone to the temple, and on
marriage/family relationships (there are so many unmarried or
married-to-nonmember members). It was so cool to hear these leaders
and apostles talk to these people specifically about what they need.

Thanks for the pictures! Everyone is so grown up! I can't believe that
Rebecca is starting to drive and that Jacob is one. How is that
possible? I remember when Elizabeth was born, and now Rebecca is
driving I'm getting old. Thanks for all the ward updates,
I've already figured I wouldn't know anyone when I got back. I can't
believe the people who are getting married and everything. Not that I
can't believe they're getting married like there's something wrong
with them, just that it's weird because it's still weird to me that
people are old enough to be getting married.

Anyway, that's about it for this week! I love you all! The Church is true!

Sister Rach