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

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