Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30, 2012

So there is a Russian song called "Wind of Change" that I've been learning the past few days, and seeing how this past week we started a new transfer, and I started a new journal and this will maybe-probably be my last transfer in ZGrad (but really, who knows?) that's this week's email title. 

Basically, I decided that because I started the world's prettiest journal this week, and it's not super long, I need to make sure that this transfer is the best one ever. And I have always felt that the last few months of my mission are going to be awesome because they're the months that I wouldn't be on my mission if I had gone right when I turned 21 and I felt like I needed to wait. So...this transfer is going to be awesome, because it's not allowed to right anything bad at all in a pretty journal. :)

And we have some potential investigators that I really hope become real investigators this week! Namely, Dima and Olya and their son. They are AWESOME! Last Wednesday, we had given our branch key to the Elders and needed to show up early to get some stuff done before English Club. But since we didn't have our key, we couldn't get into the building. So we decided to just pass out some English prigs, telling people that there would be free English Club in this building in like an hour. C. X2 started talking to some people and I was kind of standing on the other side of her and saw this couple that just looked super nice and special and I wanted to talk to them. But they were on the other side of all these people and it would have been physically impossible. I was a little disappointed, but that happens sometimes. But THEN. About a minute later, they turn around and walk back to us, just to ask us what we have. They were super interested, and took both and English prig and a church prig. Then we were preparing a spiritual thought and talking with Ksusha because she was the only person who showed up for our group. And at 7:15 we here someone, and we look up and this couple is standing in the doorway! They CAME! Not only did they come, but they stayed for the spiritual thought! And they said they really enjoyed it and are going to come back this next week with their son. Of course, not everyone who says that actually comes back, but I really think they will. I had a great change to talk to Olya, the wife, a lot during English Club and they are just awesome. They asked if I could teach piano, and...I don't know. I don't want to get my hopes up until they actually come back and we have their phone number and stuff, but...I just feel different about them. I have hope that maybe they will be the family that I have wanted to teach my entire mission, the people that I have wanted to find and teach. I have never felt like this about anyone I have ever met on my mission before. They are just so good, and have so much light and I think they are ready. I can't even describe it. I just felt like they were special from the moment I saw them, and was so excited when they came and talked to us and then when they actually came to English Club. So we'll see what happens. Pray for them (and us), that they will actually come back and be interested in learning more about the gospel. It's just different. You would think that after all this time being rejected and bailed on and having people say they'll come and then not that I wouldn't believe them--we even got a contact where she gave us "her" phone number and set up a time to meet with us, and then she didn't show up and the phone number wasn't right the day that we met Olya and Dima, but...I don't know. After all that you would think that this faith is not realistic, but I just know that great things are going to happen with them. Or if not with them, with someone else that we are going to meet soon. I just really want a baptism this transfer, I want to teach people. 

Other events this week. We got a special invitation to go down to Moscow for transfer meeting (usually you don't go to transfer meeting unless you're getting transfered) because the Gronnings are going home in a week and they were bearing their testimonies at transfer meeting. They are so great. I will miss them SO much. Especially since we won't get another senior couple up here/in the office until the end of March. Who will give me Sister Gronning hugs? Oh well. We also got a new Elder in our district! He's brand new and from Germany. Unfortunately, I have realized that all my German is completely SHOT. Ooops. 5 years of studying and stressing out about German class for nothing. Hopefully I can pick it up again when I get home. Right now I need to focus more on Russian. We had splits with the training sisters on Friday-Saturday, which was a lot of fun. On Saturday, a little girl in our ward who just turned 8 was baptized. Those baptisms are always so special. Sveta (who was just baptized before Christmas) gave her first lesson in Gospel Principles, which was sooo great, and has been talking to people at work about the church. A woman in our ward who is active in her heart, but has a hard time coming to church due to her two CRAZY CRAZY little boys and a non-member husband who works a lot, has come to church twice in a row, gave a talk yesterday, and had a great missionary opportunity to talk to a friend about the church. I don't know. When I look at our statistics from the past little bit, it has been a slow transfer. But I feel like there is so much that is going to happen this next transfer. :)

That's it for this week. Trying to stay warm, enjoying the beautiful winter, having fun with C. X2, and the missionary life! Ny, vot tak. :)

Sister Ashby

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 23, 2012

So I just remembered that in the Pirates That Don't Do Anything Song one of them talks about how he's never been to Moscow. :) 

Well, greetings from real Russian winter. Here's the thing, I know that back in the Eastern part of Russia it gets a lot colder, and that it will probably get colder here. But it has been sooooo cold this week. This entire week it's been about -15 Celcius. Plus a wind chill. says that right now outside it feels like -11 Fahrenheit here in ZGrad. So...yeah, it's pretty cold. But don't worry, I'm staying warm. I found some warmer gloves in our apartment, layering, my coat is warm, always my hood or shopka...sometimes my legs get cold, but I do what I can. It's really not so bad when the wind doesn't blow. Or when you're not out on the street for hours at a time trying to contact...haha. :)

But that's actually what we've been trying to do this week. We contacted for 4 hours the other day. It was soooo cold. And we didn't even get any contacts. But we did give away 2 Books of Mormon and had some good conversations with people, so we had at least a little bit of success. There was one lady who was with her friends; we started talking to them and they originally were kind of laughing at us. But at the end of our conversation the one lady wasn't laughing, was sincerely listening, and took a Book of Mormon. She was super impressed that we would come all the way from the Urals and America on our own money for a year and half. Anyway, we are just trying to contact and build up our pool of investigators. I know that this happens, and that sometimes it's a slow build-up, but I am getting kind of baptism-greedy...we need people to teach! And I don't mind's just really cold outside. :) Plus, often the first question people (especially men...) ask is if we're married. I've gotten that question so much more as a missionary than I ever did at BYU. I don't know. I don't mind contacting anymore, I just mind not seeing success. 

Tuesday was really fun though. All the Sisters were at the Mission Home for a Sister's Conference. It was so great to be with all the sisters and just to talk and listen to some trainings and eat good food and just have a great time together. It was funny--at the beginning we divided into groups to kind companion study with new people and drew women from the scriptures to study. Guess who I drew. :) It was funny. Rachel drew Rachel. I promise it wasn't on purpose. Everyone got a kick out of that. But the Spirit there was so great. Plus, we all got earrings and a copy of the book Daughters in my Kingdom about Relief Society. That is an awesome book. I sent a picture already of Sisters' Conference. We really have the best sisters in my mission.

Wednesday for the Spiritual Thought at English Club, Elder Hayes and I sang "I Know that My Redeemer Lives." We also sang it as a musical number in Church on Sunday. It was a lot of fun, plus we got more people to stay for the spiritual thought, and after church on Sunday a less-active man who had come to church came up to me and said that that's his favorite hymn and we sang it the best that he's ever heard it. 

Other than that, not much is going on here. Just trying to find new people to teach. Trying not to freak out when people who don't really know anything about missionary work try to tell me how to do my job in a not-constructive manner. Transfers are this week--I can't believe that C. X2 (who gets more and more awesome every single day; I love her so much) has been here a transfer already! I think this next one will be my last up here in ZGrad. Of course, I don't know for sure, but 1) it's the pattern of my mission, 2) That puts me in one last area for about 3-4 transfers, and 3) C. X2 will more than be able to run this area without be by the end of it. Probably better than I can. One of our Elders is leaving--it's funny, he's one of the Elders who's been up here only 2 transfers, but I'm glad that most of our district is staying the same (plus, the one who is leaving is going to the office where he can track down my package, haha). Bundling up. Whenever I think it's cold, I just remember that I asked for this. :) So yeah. It's cold, I'm a missionary in Russia, contacting for hours on the street in the chilly wind. Maybe next week I'll attach a picture of the probably-half-inch-think frost on the inside of our balcony windows. :)

Love you all!
Sister Ashby

Monday, January 16, 2012

January 16, 2012

Week of Death.

Okay, so it really wasn't that bad. It just was super long and not very productive because I had been having problems sleeping like all week. I would have no problem falling asleep, but I would only be like half asleep all night long and have crazy nightmares (I haven't had nightmares since I was like 7...) and wake up more tired than when I went to bed. Finally I called Sister Sorenson when I woke up with absolutely no energy on Friday and she told me to call Dr. Hatch, who told me I was just stressed out and not sleeping well....haha. I already knew that. But since I called him I've been sleeping mostly better--still having weird dreams, but at least I have woken up mostly rested the past few days. But man, I thought I was exhausted and sleep-deprived in high school and college...nope. When I woke up Friday it was the most tired I've ever been in my life. It's horrible when you're so tired and just wanted to sleep, but at the same time you don't want to sleep, because you know it won't help and will actually make you more tired. But don't worry--everything is fine now. I've slept a lot better the past few nights.

Despite this week taking forever, this transfer has just FLOWN by. I can't believe people are starting to find out about transfers and that they're in like a week and a half. I think it's because it's C. X2's first transfer and I'm comparing it to my first transfer, which felt like an eternity. But the longer you're out, they just start to fly by. I was talking to her about it last night and she said that this transfer has been so long for her, so it's probably just me. Why can't time just slow down just a little bit? Ksusha was teasing me on Thursday because it was my "thousand years on the mission," but it really feels like no time at all. I mean, my first few transfers feel like forever ago, and especially the MTC, but I can't believe that I've already been here in ZGrad 4 months! 

So. This week we had a meeting with Sveta--not the one we just baptized. A different one. It's crazy because here everyone has one of like 20 names. She's a friend of Ksusha. We had our first meeting with her a long time ago, maybe like 2 months, but then she was in the hospital for a really long time, so we couldn't meet with her. We finally met with her again and had a super good lesson. Ksusha really thinks that eventually she'll join the church. However, our problem right now is that she's only 16 so we need permission from her mother. I don't think her mother is super against it, we just need to track her down, because apparently she's really busy and swings between not really caring what her daughter does or being super

On...someday this week...we went singing contacting! We first really did this a few weeks ago when we were in Moscow for Zone/Mission Trainings and we couldn't come back up home because that would be a waste of time so we were kind of stuck in Moscow with not a lot to do, so one of the other districts invited us to come singing in the center of Moscow with them. It worked super well, because we had 2 districts, so enough missionaries to have a really solid group singing and about 5 people passing out prigs and talking to people. It just works super well to attract attention, bring the spirit and plus it's just fun. SO we decided to try it with just our district up here this past week. Ksusha came with us and so us and 2 Elders sang, while C. X2 and 2 Elders contacted people. We didn't have a lot of success, but it was a lot of fun. The only problem with singing is that you don't get to talk to people, and that is something that I want to do more of. Not that I don't like singing, I just know that I need practice talking to people on the street and I have actually come to enjoy it, especially in the context of a lot of people singing so they come up to you a lot of the time. But I did get to talk to one really nice man. We were singing, and after we finished a hymn we were picking the next one and he came up and was like, "Why are you nice young people here?" We explained and he was interested in how our church is different than Baptists. Interesting. Usually people are asking you about how it's different than Russian Orthodox, even if they're not Russian Orthodox, but apparently his sister is baptist or something. I can't remember. Anyway, I explained to him a little, answered his questions, and gave him a Book of Mormon. That, unfortunately, was right as he was walking away, so I didn't really get to explain and testify much about it, but he gladly took it and seemed interested. I don't know. Maybe it's just ZGrad, but when I have gone contacting in the past few weeks, it has been so much more fun and pleasant and good than it was in the summer, even if it's not successful immediately, at least people are nice and such. I wish I had been able to get more excited about street contacting earlier in my mission. But better late than never, right?

Also, way cool. This morning we went to the post office, because C. X2 wanted to send a package and when the Elders found out we were going, one of them wanted us to send a package for him. Plus the post office here is about a million times more nightmarish than in the States, so we were there for like 2 hours. Anyway. I was reading D&C in Russian while waiting (it's my goal to read the entire Standard Works in Russian by the end of my mission. The Old Testament might not happen, but I've already done half the NT and the BOM, even though I want to also read the BOM in Russian again before I go home...anyway, I got behind in my D&C reading, so I was taking this opportunity to catch up). And C. X2 comes up to me and asks if I can help this lady in front of her fill out a customs form in Latin letters. She was an older lady and she was having a hard time with it, so I said of course I'd help her...that's easy. Side note: when you are used to writing Russian names in Russian it's actually a lot harder to transliterate them into Latin letters, especially when it's letters that we have in English but they make different sounds. For example. Her last name was Ivanova and the first time I wrote it IBAHOBA. Yeah...doesn't really work. But anyway. SO I'm helping her and she asks how much money I want?! I'm just like, "No, no. THis is easy. Just a service" She then asks me if I'm a volunteer. I show her my tag, and talk about how I'm a missionary. She was super super nice. She wanted to know my name and where I was from and how I liked Russia and said that she was super believing and goes to church all the time. I invited her to church and gave her a prig and explained a little about church and asked her to call if she needs anything or has any questions. She said she knew the area where the building was, and seemed really interested in coming. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to get her phone number or give her a lot of information...however, we might be kind of stalkerish...since I transliterated her address, I kind of remember her dom and apartment number (I hope...) and we might just go knock on her door one day. She thanked me so much and had such a lovely smile and told me that she loves me (doesn't really happen in Russia with someone you first meet), so I have hope that maybe she'll come one day or that if we do decide to be stalkerish and end up finding her that she wouldn't mind. :) She was maybe the loveliest non-member I've ever met here. 

Um...this weekend, we had another baptism! We're not super counting it as our baptism for the month to fill our district goal, since we want as many baptisms as possible, and it was the boyfriend of a girl in the ward, and she had basically already taught him everything before she introduced him to the Elders, but it was still a really great experience and a nice baptism. Satan really doesn't want people to get baptized and he does everything he can to screw up a baptismal service, but luckily, this one actually went mostly as planned. I was super impressed--the Spirit was there and the program went all as planned and the font actually ended up having mostly clean, warm water in it and drained afterwards, soo....pretty good baptism. :) First baptism towards our mission/stake goal of 80 convert baptisms this year. 

Still haven't gotten my package. I should have gotten it--we just tracked it, but it looks like it is just lost somewhere in the Moscow Post Office system, as of Dec 22. So...C. X2 told me to email the mission office and have them go to the post office to track it down, and that it should maybe take like a don't know...hopefully I get it soon?

I love you all; The Church is true!
Sister Ashby

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9, 2012

One Year.

Yep, that's right! This week I hit my year mark! I can't believe it...time has gone by way too fast.

This week was pretty crazy though. We spent two full days in Moscow, pretty much. Tuesday we had a Zone Training, and Wednesday we had a mission training with Elder/President Bennett (70 in the Area Presidency who used to be mission President of the Samara Russia mission) so we were just spent Tuesday evening in Moscow. I finally bought a shopka with fur, and when I wear it I feel super Russian. haha. However, it has actually been warm and rainy the past week. Today there is snow on the ground and it's colder again, but all last week we were even seeing green grass in between the snow and it was so wet. People have said that this is the first year in DECADES that there hasn't been a ton of snow on New Years. I mean, there was some, but not a whole lot. So part of me is glad that it's turning out to be a mild winter so far, but the other half of me is saying, "Man, if I'm going to spend a winter in Russia, bring it on!" However, I guess it doesn't matter, because when I get home I can just tell people that I served a mission in Russia and they'll think I'm super tough and they won't really know that it really wasn't that cold. Anyway. I bought a shopka (that's Russian for hat) and then we went out to dinner as a district, and walked down Arbat Street and went to Red Square. It was snowing and it was a lot of fun. Red Square is so beautiful. It never gets old. 

Our mission training on Wednesday was SO COOL, though. We talked a lot about finding, since that is one of the really hard things here. And it actually got  me really excited for contacting. I even had fun contacting the other day, which I don't think has ever happened before on my mission. But it was just great to hear all these stories and his advice and stuff. One thing he said that I thought was awesome: one missionary made a comment that we sometimes just put this barrier on ourselves because we think, "Oh man, I'm in Russia. I don't want to go contacting. This is a hard mission. It's not like this is Brazil or South America or somewhere else." And President Bennett said that when President Faust called him to be mission president in Samara, he said that when he served in the early days of the church in Brazil, he didn't see a lot of visible success. And now look at it. And President Faust told Pres. Bennett that "Russia is the next Brazil." And then....Pres, Bennett pulled out statistics. In the first 20ish years of the church in Brazil, there were 3,700 baptisms. In the first 20ish years of the Church in Russia we've had 18,000! We are totally  blowing Brazil out of the water! Yeah, it's hard, due to the Russian Orthodox Church "traditions of their fathers" and a lot of other reasons, but man, I can't wait for the day when there's a temple here in Moscow. And then for when my kids and grandkids are serving missions in Russia and they are getting 150  baptisms in their time on the mission and there are 20 temples here. It's going to be soooo great. 

We're trying to find new investigators. I've decided that I want one baptism every transfer until the end of my mission. I'm not sure if that will happen, but I'm going to do everything in my power to try. There's a woman who's come to church for the past two weeks...but I've actually never met her. She talked with Elder Hayes and said that she wanted to come to a baptism. There was a baptism from a small, kind of nearby branch in the Moscow West mission at our building the other day, but it started earlier than we thought, so she couldn't make it. And she was at church yesterday, but I was playing piano so I couldn't meet her before and then afterwards she took off before I could meet her. But if one day I can actually meet her, she might be one of those miracle people who just kind of shows up, as they tend to do here. And the Elders have a baptism on Saturday, so hopefully I'll finally be able to meet this Irina then. And, like usual, we are trying to work with some less active members! I was super excited--one of them was at church on Sunday! However, 3 others weren't. One of them really, really wants to become active again. She knows that she's having a hard time in her life right now due to inactivity and that if she comes to church and pays her tithing things will get better. However, she has a really hard time just acting on that. She called us up a few weeks ago asking for suggestions on what to read from the Book of Mormon...but when we went over for our next meeting, she hadn't read. She said that she was definitely coming to church yesterday because she has a weekend, (she works 2 days and then has 2 days off), but then she slept in. Being here has really helped me gain a testimony of home and visiting teaching. I know that if people actually took those callings (because they are callings) seriously and didn't just think that that was all the missionaries' job, that the number of inactive people would go way down.

Well. That's about it. The Church is true! 

From Russia, With Love,
Sister Ashby

Sunday, January 8, 2012

December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone! It was sooo good to talk to you on Sunday. Really weird, but awesome. This week has been exhausting. These past 2 weeks have maybe been the craziest, busiest, most stressful, but maybe best weeks on my mission yet. But things are going so well. Being a missionary at Christmas is so crazy, but wonderful.

This week we were in Moscow on Wednesday and Saturday, first for a PMG training and on Saturday for a mission Christmas party. It was great to have all the missionaries together on Saturday. The Neunschwanders, a senior couple in our mission who served as our mission president when President Sorenson was home sick (they also know the Nielsons and he was really influential in the early church in Russia because he used to be mission President in Austria), are going to be leaving us next month. They're getting "transferred" to Turkey and helping to open up missionary work there. Awesome. I love hearing about missionary work all over the world. The Christmas party was also just fun to be with everyone. Each district did a skit, and there were some great ones. But my district--our Elders had to leave for ZGrad early, so they weren't there. When it was our district's turn for a skit, just us sisters obviously didn't have anything. So I recruited C. Mordwinow and we did our "Preach My Gospel musical" for everyone. AKA 2 songs that we rewrote the words to when we were companions. It was pretty fun. We also got to watch the newer Christmas Carol that came out just like a year or two ago. It was pretty good, but it felt really weird to watch a movie. After the Christmas party was when it started to feel like Christmas. Our mission is really just the best in the world, and it was so great just to  be with everyone as one big family and eat good food and remember the real reason we're here and that we celebrate Christmas--our Savior.

The baptism on Friday was pretty good. I feel bad saying that it was only pretty good, since it was a baptism of two people I love, but I wasn't feeling super great and was really stressed out, due to not getting a lot of sleep the past few weeks. But it was wonderful. Of course, like most baptisms here, things never go quite the way you want them to, but that's expected. My favorite part was actually after the baptism, during the ward Christmas Party. It was just so great to look at Sveta--she just looked so different, so much younger and lighter (both in like a spiritual weight and brightness). It is amazing how much the Gospel affects the way people physically look. There is such a light in people that you don't really notice unless you watch the change happen in them or (I guess) you haven't really seen it before. Even better was Sunday. Of course, she and Denis received the Holy Ghost, and Denis even became a deacon! And last night we had a lesson with Sveta and it was sooooo good. She had had a great experience with the Holy Ghost and making an important decision that day, and she asked us for help understanding it. It is such a privilege to see this change and this process in her; maybe Sister Martyanova was more influential in teaching her, but I still have gotten to see these great changes in her life, and especially to hear her talking about them and see her living her life in a new way and seeing the blessings and feeling the Holy Ghost and learning how to recognize and work with is sooooo awesome. I think it's interesting how the Spirit works with different people. Sveta only had a few really spiritual experiences before she received the gift of the Holy Ghost--she's just a logical person and so the Lord worked through her more through her brain and now she's learning more and more about how to put it through her heart too. It was also way funny--she said that she hadn't understood anything she had read in the BoM for like the past 20 pages. I asked where she was, and just started laughing: she's in the Isaiah chapters. I told her to just keep reading and that soon everything will be understandable again, and that the more she reads the scriptures and learns about the gospel, the more sense Isaiah will make. :)

Other people we're working with: Halida, who is super sweet and came to the baptism on Friday (but not to church yesterday). She has some problems with her documents that she is hoping to get figured out so that she can find a job, and she has a young son, but she is really interested in the gospel and has a lot of faith in God and that He is helping her. A couple less-active families in our ward, who are starting to become more active. It is great to see people coming back to church. We also had I think 4 different families invite us over (not for a specific time, but just to drop by whenever) in the past few days. I love our members and I love being there to support them and build them up and feel their strength and their love. It really is key to have the trust and strength of the ward behind you in missionary work, especially here. One of my favorite parts of yesterday was getting to spend a long time talking with Maria, a babushka in our ward--her daughter and her grandson are members and she always points them out to you and says, "That's my daughter. That's my grandson." She has the cutest smile and gives wonderful hugs and has a cute raspy voice. She is adorable, kind of like a little kid, but a grandma. I love her so much, and just getting to spend a few minutes talking to her yesterday was so great. We also had probably about 100 people at church yesterday, and we'll have another baptism on the 7th (I think, it's one of the Elders' investigators). This makes at least one convert baptism a month since October, and we'll also have another little girl baptized sometime in January. Things here up in ZGrad are just exploding and it is so wonderful. 

But really, this Christmas didn't really seem like Christmas while it was happening, but looking back it was PERFECT. It was so great to go to church and be surrounded by people I love. It was sooooo great to see Sveta and Denis baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. We sang Christmas Carols before church out on the bus stop with a few members. It snowed lightly almost all day. On Saturday, I heard that Hawaiian Christmas song that Dad always sings in the mall here in Z. I saw a real Christmas tree on the metro, and saw fireworks from our apartment window. I listened to Christmas music, and got to talk to the family, and got to spend pretty much all day with our district. The Gronnings stayed up here for a Christmas dinner (it was kind of ghetto, and on blue plastic plates, but super good), and we had a small gift exchange, and then our lesson with Sveta. I don't know. It was just so simple and great, and so wonderful to be able to serve others as a missionary. It was just wonderful. I am kind of super sad that this is the only Christmas I'll get to spend as a missionary and here in Russia.

Yep. That's about it! My companion is soooo great. My district and area are super great. I love being a missionary. I love my Savior. 

Sister Ashby

December 19, 2011

So this past week has been one of the craziest in my entire mission, and so will this next week! I feel like I have been running around all over, and there have been so many things running through my head! There have been so many late nights and things to do this past week. It is like ever since I knew I was going to be training all of a sudden everything on the mission exploded and got a lot more stressful. haha.

So yes! It's official. I am a trainer. Sister Marty is down in Podolsk and it is me and Sister Habibullina (hereafter referred to as C. X2) up here in Z. She's 26, and so it's kind of weird that I'm training someone older than I am, but she is soooo great and a sweetheart. She's been a member for 9 years, and it the only member in her family. She is fresh from the Spain MTC, and speaks only Russian! She understands quite a bit, but can't really say much, but she really wants to learn. It's been so good for my Russian already, and I hope that I can help her learn English a bit. In the past few days though, I have gone from feeling perfectly calm about this responsibility (being a trainer, especially of a Russian sister), to freaking out and being nervous, to feeling okay, to being overwhelmed and like a failure, to being so excited...I have basically experienced every emotion that someone can feel, all in the space of only a few days. But she is awesome and has helped me out a lot. I feel like I don't really need to train her, because she is already trained. The few lessons that we've had together she has just rocked. I hope that I can help her learn something about missionary work, be a good friend/mom/trainer/companion for her, and that we can work some more miracles together up here in Z. I was ready for a change, and C. X2 is so great, so I hope we can work well together and that I can be a good trainer to her, like C. X (1) was for me. What is something really cool about training is the new training program. I guess it's not really new anymore, since I went through it when I came out, but it is super cool and super helpful. I am super excited to be training simply because it will be helpful for me personally--kind of like retraining myself, but also being trained by my trainee. Also cool--there were 2 other Russian sisters who came in (and 1.5 Elders...I say 1/2 because 1 of the 2 had to go back to England from the MTC, because he's a Brit and doesn't have a Russian visa yet) and they are being trained by Sister Petersen and Sister Bullough, the two sisters who are here who were my in district at the MTC! We are super close, and our "daughters" are super close, so it's kind of really exciting to all be in this together. It's awesome how companions can help each other learn. I just love C. X2 already and hopefully by the end of our time together she will love me as much as I love her and I will have hopefully helped her in some way, and not screwed up her mission. haha, just kidding about the screwing up her mission part. I won't do that. I hope...not on purpose...not it will be great. The Lord wouldn't have asked me to do this if He wasn't going to help me and if He didn't know that I need to, and can, do it.

Anyway, I feel super bad because the first days of C. X2's mission have been INSANE! After transfers, we just hung out in Moscow, because there was our stake Christmas program that all the missionaries were a part of that night. After getting lost on our way to this building and lots of practicing songs (that she didn't even get to be a part of since she just got here), we didn't get home with her luggage until like 11:00 p.m. because the program got out so late and we needed to go home to Z still. But the Christmas program was super great. I got to see some people I love from Kahovski, my first area, and just around the stake that I know and love, and there was good music and great company and a great Spirit. Anyway, so we got home super late. And then the next day, after studying and she unpacked and a few meetings, we went BACK TO MOSCOW, because I had a visa trip on Saturday. So she hadn't even had a full day in our area, and I took off to Kiev. 

It was so great to go to Kiev with my MTC group. Man, each time I see them, I love them more and more. They are all doing great things here in Moscow, and we're just like family. Due to the time change (that Russia didn't do), Kiev is now 2 hours behind us, and so we have to hop on an earlier flight, and we didn't have time to go to the temple. But we did have a great time wandering around Kiev. (well, we have a member of the church drive us around and show us some sights). It was a lot of fun. Hopefully next time we will be able to go to the temple, as well as see some more of the city. 

THEN Sunday morning we were coming back to Z from Moscow and I decided to take a new way that I thought was faster--and it would have been, if we hadn't had to wait 20 minutes for our marshrutka (little van-taxi-bus thing). So we ended up being 5-10 minutes late to church. Of course, I have to be coming from Moscow and be late on the day that President Schweitzer, you know, the 70 who is area President over the Europe East Area, comes to our branch. Haha. Yeah, I felt like a great missionary. However, if he noticed, he was super nice about it and didn't say anything afterwards when I was talking with him briefly. And he shared some great news with our branch, about how next month the new triple combination in Russian will be available! WHOO-HOO! This is sooooo exciting! First, we don't have a triple combination in Russian yet. I remember in the MTC we were all jealous of the Spanish and other languages, because they had these nice scriptures in their mission language and we just had the little dinky ones (I know, what's on the inside is more important, but still, it's nice to have nice scriptures!) but now all the members will be able to get a triple combination for fairly cheap! Second, it will be an even better translation! Also super important. I'm sooo excited.  It is just another privilege. First stake, first triple combination...I wonder what else will happen here before the end of my mission? First temple? :)

But despite all the craziness things are still going well. Things are still set for Sveta and Denis's baptism on Friday. I'm super stoked. We can hopefully get some other investigators progressing this week too. Life is great. I'll talk to you on Christmas (well, for me it will be Christmas!)

Sister Ashby
Me and Sister X2

Her name tag. It's in Spanish, since she was in Spain (and her Russian ones are broken), and so I thought Matt and Katelyn (I mean...Sister Hyde) might like to see it. :)

 My MTC sisters and our Russian daughters

 My MTC district aka "The Okrug" in Kiev

Monument in Kiev

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2, 2012

S Novyim Godom! 2012!

There you go, I tried to transliterate Happy New Year into English letters for you. It's hard to transliterate though. It's really weird that it's 2012, though. What was really weird is when I was talking with the Elders about making New Year's Resolutions and realized that I might as well make goals for only half the year because sometime in the summer my life is going to change super drastically. That's weird weird weird. It doesn't feel like a year ago that I was getting ready to go into the MTC. 

Well, this week has actually been pretty uneventful. A lot of people have either been working a lot or just didn't want to meet with us, due to the holidays. However, we did hear some great WWII stories (Russian POW escaping from German camps) from a member (true stories about her husband). And we also had an inactive member (mostly inactive just because she's old, but her health keeping her away from church has also affected her testimony) tell us that in the 14 years she's been in the church, and even after going to the temple, that she's never had anyone ask her to pray about the Book of Mormon! And that she thinks it's just made up but the church is still true...hmmm...

Went through the Area Books this week too. Just organized them. Oh man. There is nothing worse than a messy area book. I mean, I know I may not be the best at writing in them, but at least keep it organized! And today we cleaned the apartment. I know that I'm messy, but usually it's organized and this had gotten past the organized mess point. We also went English Prigging this week, which was my first time going prigging in a long long time. That was exciting. C. X2 was excited because it was her very first time, and we also had Ksusha with us, because we were originally supposed to have a lesson that she was helping us with, and Ksusha had never been before. It was so fun to watch them, plus it had been so long since I had gone English prigging myself that it was actually kind of entertaining and not just so mundane and routine.

The weather here has been up and down. On New Year's we had the prettiest snow. All Moscow and Zelenograd and everywhere in between looked like a fairytale. But now it's just kind of all wet and slushy outside. 

Of course, the main part of this week was New Year's! I feel like a bad missionary saying this, but it was my favorite part of the week because we got to watch HARRY POTTER 7--2! OH MY GOODNESS! IT WAS SOOOOOO GOOOD! IT COMPLETELY MADE MY LIFE! When I found out that it had actually been approved I got so excited. Sister Bullough drew a lightning bolt scar on her forehead, and I wore my Deathly Hallows charm that Sarah Snow sent me. All the sisters had gathered down at the mission home, because we had to be off the streets by 5, and so we all watched it together (in English, with Russian subtitles) with President and Sister Sorenson. It was a lot of fun watching it together, plus it was sooooooo good. Oh man. Plus, the Elders gave me the DVD that they watched on New Year's, so now I can watch it in Russian when I get home! We also ate a lot of good food, and at midnight on New Year's the Russian President always gives a speech, so at midnight, President gave a little speech/talk/spiritual thought (which he incorporated Harry Potter into...I love President Sorenson). And then after that, some went to bed, some stayed up talking, and we also watched another movie--Charade. :) Was it last New Year that we watched the movie with you Mom and Matt didn't want to but in the end he admitted that it was good? Anyway. It was fun. In the morning, Sister Sorenson had made a breakfast casserole really similar to yours Mom and it was good and then we all went home for church and stuff. Church yesterday was only 1 hour--New Year's is the biggest holiday here. Everyone is drunk and stays up all night and there  were fireworks going off all night on the 31st and yesterday. It's been really cool. 

And now it's 2012. Crazy crazy. I still can't believe it. It feels like 2011 never really happened because since I was on my mission it was just like an extension of 2010. But 2010 feels so long ago. Time is weird. Well. Happy New Year! And Merry Christmas (I can still say that, because the Russian Orthodox church celebrates Christmas on Jan 7, so it's coming up this week. Unfortunately, it's not really a super big deal).