What a tough but miraculous week it has been. This past week has been maybe one of the hardest of my entire mission to date. But we are hanging in there and the Lord has truly blessed us with so many tender mercies, big and small.
So yeah, a tough week. And the weather hasn't helped AT ALL. Last week I talked about how it looks like spring is really coming. Well...yeah. Spring is coming. But spring in Russia means WINTER in the rest of the world. It hasn't been super cold actually. Just like -5 to 5 C. But...it has snowed so much this week. Icky. Everything is all wet and snowy and windy and gross. Especially on the days where most of what we have to do is contacting. I swear, it's a curse. On P-Day and the days where we have solid meetings that won't fig us, it's sunny, but the next day when we have planned contacting and meetings that might fall through...snow. Always. And I'm just sick of this weather. I don't mind cold, sunny days. But wet snow when it's been white and gray and brown for 5 months...nope. I'm ready for spring. Irony: "spring" in Russia starts on March 1, but based off of last year, we probably won't get spring until the middle or end of April. So...I am having a hard time believing that it's sunny and 75 in Twin, but I'm glad that at least one of our unpredictable weather places is being shined on. Russians base a lot of things like mood and health off the weather, even when it's completely unreasonable, but I am starting to do the same, because often this week when it's been bad weather I have not had any desire to go outside and contact and really to do anything at all.
So, some day this week, when the weather was horrible and both me and Sister Thrall had no mood and didn't want to spend another day outside trying to contact the people who are smart and not outside, we started Project: Area Book. It started out just as a realization that it had been a while since we had updated the area book, so we should probably get on that. I hate it when the area book isn't kept up to date and there are all these people that it's written, "Everything was great! They want to get baptized!" And no info about them and nothing about why they weren't baptized and stopped being taught after that supposedly-great lesson. So we got all caught up and then wanted to spend the day just calling people from the Area Book. Which made me think about the phone and how I don't know who a lot of the people in the phone are. And those can be super awkward phone calls. So, we started this huge project trying to synch all the people in our area book with the phone, and vice-versa and find out who everyone is. We made a phone guide, so that after we leave, people will be able to know who is all in the phone and who all from the phone is in the area book and who all is just a contact, etc. It turned into this huge project, especially since a lot of people here have the same 5 names. We are just about to start making all the REALLY awkward phone calls to call all the people that we have absolutely no idea about, and then we'll move on to people in the Area book, and I'm really hoping that we'll be able to get at least a few meetings out of it. And if not, at least our Area book and phone will be in a lot better shape for the next missionaries who come to this area.
But we've also seen a lot of miracles happen this week. I met a lady on the bus, who just leaned over to me and said, "Krasavitza," which means like...beautiful girl. I said thank you and offered her a prig, and she said that she already had one, and that I had even probably given it to her a few weeks ago! So that was cool. There's a statistic that the average person runs into the missionaries like 9 times before they agree to meet with them, so I'm hoping this was like number 8 or something. :) It's really funny, Yulia (the 16-year-old we've been working with since before I got here) acts really crazy sometimes (she has a bit of a mental problem, nothing serious serious, but it makes her strange and awkward sometimes) and she was telling me that I don't know what it's like when people just stare at you. I just laughed. Yeah, I do. I am definitely American, and I walk around wearing a skirt and a nametag all day, every day. People stare. Haha. :)
Speaking of Yulia! She's our main miracle this week. So we have been working with her for a LONG time. Sometimes it seems like she is progressing, other times we just continue to meet with her because she really, really needs love and help straightening out her life, and she won't get that at home, and really, it's not like we're super super busy with meetings with progressing investigators. Well, she's been doing really well lately. C. X2 and I helped her to stop smoking. She says she's completely stopped, and while I'm not sure I believe her (Yulia lies often), she hasn't smelled like tabacco. So she's at least gotten a lot a lot a lot better. And then like 2 weeks ago right after transfers we had a lesson with her about church, and why we go to church. She often comes, but I didn't know if she understood WHY. But the lesson went super well, and she said that she feels like Holy Ghost at church and that the sacrament is her favorite part! She didn't know why though, so we decided to do our next lesson on Jesus and the Atonement and the Sacrament and why she feels so good during the sacrament. I wasn't really thinking anything about asking her to be baptized at all when we planned. This isn't a good thing, but I had just kind of got it in my head after all these months, especially sicne Yulia was SO crazy when I first got here, that Yulia would never progress that far. But we were talking about the sacrament, and the spirit was super strong, and suddenly I just kind of realized where this lesson was going to go and I just casually mentioned baptism in passing, without even realizing it, because it's the sacrament, you talk about baptism. Then Yulia starts asking tons of questions about baptism. When you can get baptized, when we were baptized, why was Ksusha baptized when she was 18 and not 8, what happens when you're baptized. So we talked about that and then asked her if she wanted to get baptized. She said yes, and we set a date with her for the end of May. She still has a long way that she needs to go, but it was such a big miracle. I saw it coming the moment we started the lesson, but I am still kind of in shock whenever I think about it. Other cool little things about this story: after that lesson on church with her, I was talking with Elder Ayers, our district leader. This is his 6th transfer up here, so he knows Yulia, and we've been together for 5 now, and he thought it was so great how she reacted to our lesson and said, "Wow, she's going to get baptized!" When I said that I hope so, but I didn't think it would be for a while, he said, "No, it'll be sooner rather later." And then when we were setting goals for this week, I really wanted to put one baptismal date, even though we had no one progressing. I thought maybe someone we just met on the street in the next few days who started meeting with us or something. BUt nope. Yulia. :) I am so proud of the progress she has gradually made and I really hope that everything with her works out over the next 2 months to help her get ready.
Other little miracles. I love reactivating people. I think last week I talked about the family who is fairly newly reactivated and the grandson just got the priesthood. Maybe not. Anyway, they are so great, and it's awesome to think that (even though I didn't really do anything, and it was the members) this family wasn't active when I got here and now they come every week and are so great and that Nikita who was kicking and screaming and wouldn't listen at all when we first started going over when his mom and grandma starting coming back now has the priesthood and passed the sacrament for the first time on Sunday and goes to seminary. We visited them this week and there was just such a sweet spirit there. And we went to visit this woman who is one of my favorite people here--two little boys and a non-member husband and she is just wonderful. We usually drop by once a week, especially since she has some friends she is trying to get ready to met with us, as well as trying to soften her husband (his parents are both long-time members too). And this week, when we stopped by randomly, she had a friend over. And her friend listened to the spiritual thought, participated and was super interested, especially when Anzhela started telling stories about miralces she's seen in family history work. It was so great. When her friend left, Anzhela just started dancing around her house. She had been praying for a way to start talking to that friend about the gospel, and then we showed up. :) And I guess her friend wasn't planning on coming over either and just called last minute. :) So that was another cool little miracle.
We have a new senior couple here; they seem pretty great, but I haven't been able to really meet them and talk to them yet. Ksusha got her patriarchal blessing. I realized that I only need to meet 3 more of the 12 tribes. This lady who comes to church for the sacrament but who is really kind of anti meeting with us actually stayed for all 3 hours of church yesterday and Sveta taught the Sunday School lesson and just kept telling her that she needs to meet with us and talk to me. :) Things are just going super super well here, despite rough days. The Lord is truly blessing us.
Love you all,
P.S. We don't get conference until the 14th and 15th, so...just keep that in mind. I'll probably find out about temples before that though, so...whatever.
P.P.S. I got my "dead letter" this week. That basically means that they're starting to work on my flight plans. So 10-11ish of August. Yep. Uzhac.
Px3.S. Tysha is pregnant?! AHHH! Weird but happy. And no one tells me anything. i didn't even know Lorinda was pregnant.