This week has been great. Mostly because there's been lots of Russian culture. For example:
Last Monday, we went to see some monuments here in Z from the war. The Russian army held off the Germans very close to here--Kryukovo was the closest the Germans got to Moscow, so this is kind of a special place.
Thursday was Men's Day/Defender of the Fatherland Day. Which means that there were tons of fireworks. We were on the way back from a meeting at night, waiting on a bus stop and we got to watch this pretty big firework show that was going on in one of the parks here.
Friday was our culture night! We got permission to go to a hockey game, as long as it wasn't a super big one and we had a senior couple with us. We had GREAT seats and it was AWESOME! Oh man. It made me sooooo excited for football season again. But it was so cool. It was like the Moscow team versus a team from Minsk. And it was a ton of fun. And a super good game. We ended up losing in a double-overtime shoot-out 3-4. However, looking over the videos that the Elders took, one of their goals shouldn't have counted. I had never been to a hockey game before though, and it was really cool. Plus, it was in Russia. I love Russia. However, the game didn't get over until after 10, and it was clear down in south Moscow, which meant a long ride home, especially due to some incidents that prevented us from getting to the train station until midnight. And then our train just stopped in the middle of nowhere for about 30 minutes. We were SO tired, and just crashed as soon as we could get home. Poor Elders, we got home that the bus system wasn't even running, so they had to walk home (we live close enough to Kryukovo that we just walk most of the time anyway and the Elders walked us home). But everyone got home safe. And it was worth it. That game was great. There was one point where the crowd started screaming some...well, as they say in Russia, "not very pretty" words, but they were all in Russian. I can't wait until the next winter Olympics when I can root for Russian hockey. Especially since they'll be here in Russia!
Saturday some ward members had this big party--lots of members and lots of not-members--for a Russian holiday: Maslenitza. AKA Panckake Week. Basically, the week before Lent, people eat lots of blini (Russian crepes) and it also is kind of a pagan holiday celebrating the end of winter. And it is a blast. We got to dress up in "traditional" Russian clothes (dress-up version, hence the quotation marks), listen to traditional Russian music. There were hundreds of blini, with cgushyonka (sweet and condensed milk) and smetana (sour cream) and cheese and a ton of good good stuff. We played in the snow, snowball fights, etc. Tug of war. A game where you get to try to hit people off the pile of snow with bags of...something? There was a little fire, that people had fun jumping over. And at the end, they burned this effigy of Maslenitza. We got to talk to a lot of people about the church, strengthen our relationships with and serve the members, and it was a lot of fun and a great unofficial continuation of our culture night. It was such a fun holiday, and it felt so Russian--the music, the food, everyone dressed up. Afterwards, we were waiting for our ride back to Z (this family lives out in a little town) and we got to learn some dance steps from the grandma of the family and talk to her more about Russian culture and stuff. It was a ton of fun. I love Russia. I'll try to attach some pictures of me in my babushka garb.
Other fun things from this week:
- It's been warm! Only -5 on average. I even pulled out my pea coat again. Haha. -5 and -10 is warm. :)
- We stopped by an inactive woman, and after the guard at the door let us in, my companion (who is from a town where the highest apartment building is 5 stories with no elevators) just goes for the stairs. We get up one story and the guard (who is a babushka, like usual), yells up the stairs, "GIRLS! Take the lift. You're crazy to go on foot. SHE LIVES ON THE 13TH FLOOR!"
- On kind of a tough day, we visited a woman in our ward who has a hard time coming to church because of her two crazy boys and non-member husband, but she is always so great and she completely made my day. And then her oldest (he's 4) said that they were going to come to church on Sunday--usually he doesn't want to get dressed. And they came!
- Another lady took a picture/pass-along card that we had and really liked it. Hopefully tonight we are going to run a BoM to her and give her the first lesson. I hope. I have been trying really hard this past week not to get super frustrated with a lack of success in the new investigators area. I mean, contacts and BoMs are great, but if no one ever answers their phones or wants to meet with you or even calls you themselves (practically NEVER happens) then you still never get any new investigators. But we're hanging in there.
Well, that's about it! Love you all!