Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28, 2012

Dear Fam Dam,

Well, it's kind of cooled off a little bit since the last zhar that was going on when I wrote you, and it's actually been cold in our apartment in the mornings. I think it's probably because I packed up my warm blanket and my long pajama pants a week ago when it was hot. But this weather is the worst--it's fine temperature wise, but it's been rainy and pretty moist, and since it's warm but not hot that means...mosquitoes. Ugh. I am still trying to understand the purpose behind them. I have at least 8 bites from just the past few days. At least it's not as bad as it was last year. But this week I did also have allergies for the first time in my life.

So, quick run down of the week:
  • Tuesday we went down to Moscow for Culture Night! Sister Thrall was super excited, because it was also her birthday. And what makes a better birthday than seeing the the Kremlin. How much more Russian can you get? It was really good too. I loved it. We didn't get home until late, of course, but I love love love Moscow, especially the center. And the balet was awesome, and there were a couple other districts there too and it was just a fun night.
  • On Thursday-Friday I had a split with Sister Horspool! This was super exciting because Sister Horspool is awesome. I mean, I am so grateful that I've served with all the sisters I have and will, etc. but I have just always wanted to be comps with Sis. Horspool. She was in the transfer after me at the MTC, so we got to know each other there, and she is just great. Right now she's one of the training sisters in Perovo, and we're switching places at transfers, and she and Sister Thrall will be training sisters up here. But we have basically been waiting to have a split or be comps or something since the MTC, so it was super fun to be her companion, if only for a day. And we all already knew about transfers, so it was fun showing her around ZGrad, since she'll be coming up.
  • Just been getting ready to go. I had my smaller suitcase ready to go by our split, and we just took it down then. I pretty much finished packing today. I don't know where I got all this stuff--I didn't have this much stuff when I moved here. Or maybe I was just better at packing it? No, I definitely have more. It's amazing how it all accumulates over time.
  • And I've just spent the past week visiting my favorite people here and things. Yesterday at church, Bishop invited me and Elder Ayers to bear our testimonies, since we're leaving and we've been here so long. (8 1/2 months for me and 10 for him). So many people came up to me and wished me luck and said they'd be sad to see me go. And SO MANY PEOPLE said that they hope that I find my "second half" and get married and live happily. Which kind of is making me freak out, because I realize that after I get home, that's the next big thing...getting married...scary. Sister Thrall and I have been freaking out about it randomly the past few days, because we realize how close we are to going home and what that actually means and we are both scared out of our wits to go back to all that stuff...anyway...I will miss Zelenograd so much. It's like my home ward. I mean, it's not like 18th all. But it feels like a home ward should feel like, to me. There are so many weird, quirky, crazy people that you just can't help but love. The next few days will be crazy, because we have so many meetings--2 tonight, 4 tomorrow, 3 on Wednesday. And there is just so much else to do and then my life gets turned all around. I am so excited to meet Sister Maxwell (my new daughter) and get into Perovo and just work work work and end strong. I love ZGrad, but I've been here too long. I'm too comfortable.
Well, the Church is true! Life is good. I love you all!
Sister Ashby

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

I really don't have all that much to say. On Monday we had some great meetings--a wonderful babushka in our ward who plays the guitar and sings, but it actually half deaf so her guitar is out of tune, but it is the best thing ever; a cute family in our ward who's twin daughters are getting baptized on Saturday (I think it's this Saturday). Tuesday we had a great zone conference. President also told me about transfers. As far as I know, only me and Elder Ayers know what is going on. I'll be going down to Perovo, it's like the border of Moscow/small outer cities, suburbs, so like half metro, half train. I'll be in a 3some for 2 weeks--Sister Frolova, she was in the MTC with me and is from Latvia, goes home super early due to some schooling problems, and she'll be leaving 2 weeks into the transfer. My other companion will be the new sister who's coming in. So I'm bascially going to be shotgun training this crazy area. Should be fun. I'm really excited, especially to train at the end of my mission, and to be with Sister Frolova for at least a little bit, and just for a change. I love Zelenograd; yesterday in church, I realized just how much I love this ward and area and how much I will miss it--it really is home, but I am so ready for a change. I've learned on my mission that I actually really need change and enjoy it, to an extent, of course. I think it's a little different as a missionary than as a real person, just because you are learning and changing so much in a short period of time that if you're in one place too long it can be not the best sometimes...don't get me wrong, I'm so grateful that I've been here in ZGrad so long, that God decided I needed to serve half my mission here. But He has also definitely helped me get ready to leave. I hope that all makes sense. So anyway, I'm super excited. It's bittersweet, of course, but it will be awesome! So this is, for real this time, my last full week in Zelenograd.
On Wednesday we took our P-day and went to this super cool cemetary down in Moscow where a lot of famous people are buried--authors, poets, artists, war heros, political leaders. It doesn't even feel like you're in a graveyard half the time because the gravestones are so huge and like sculptures, it's more like an outdoor art museum. It was super cool. We also wanted to go to Lev Tolstoy's house while we were down there, but we didn't make it in time. There is just so much that I want to do in Moscow on P-Days before I go home, and i'm running out of time. Sister Peterson and I have been talking the past few days about it, with Sister Thrall, since she goes home only 2 weeks after us, about how it's coming too soon and it's scaring us to death. At least I have plans, and kind of know what I'm doing. But we definitely are all going to go to Sister Thrall's homecoming. That's going to be fun.
So yeah, we've had some other meetings with ward members, some babushki and stuff. They're great. Life is good. It's sooo hot here. It is amazing how fast the seasons change. I'm just barely getting used to spring. Sometimes we go to an area I haven't been to in a while and I don't feel like I'm in the same area because the last time I was there the lake was still frozen over and there was all this snow. And now everything is just all green and green and hot. We were playing soccer/gatorball as a district this morning, and just dying. Luckily the branch building just got some new, great air conditioners. (I don't know why I still call it a branch building, I haven't served in a branch for almost a year...oh, by the way, Perovo is one of the branches in our stake, so that will be a change...I haven't served in that small of a ward/branch yet--even before Kahovski was a ward, it was big, since it became a ward when the stake was formed).
Well, that's it. Love you all, the Church is true!
Sister Ashby

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012

So I know that I just talked to you yesterday, but I realized that I didn't really tell you a lot about my week. It was really awesome to see you all though!
So last P-Day we had "Monument Day." Basically Sister Thrall and I wanted to see all the memorials, monuments, things here in Zelenograd, especially since they were almost all decked out for Victory Day. We walked a lot and it was a lot of fun, especially to see some areas of ZGrad that I have only seen in the wintertime. We also ended up walking around the old cemetary here.
We had some interesting things happen this week. I ended up talking to this sweet babushka while we were English prigging. She was the cutest thing. This inactive that I have been working with since I have been here and hasn't come to church in a year quit her job to spend more time with her family and coming to church, but she didn't come to church on Sunday (I saw it coming, becuase she always does stuff like that, but I still had hope since there was no excuse this time). I FINALLY got a hold of that Marina who called two weeks ago...after trying to call every day. She's not interested anymore. Bummer. But I did all I could, it's not my fault she didn't answer.
We fixed our district leader's shoes. Elder Ayers and I have served together for 6 transfers now, and he's awesome. And his favorite and more dressy pair of shoes is falling apart and so Sister Thrall and the idea to sew them up. So we took them and sewed them up and fixed them up the best we could. It was super fun. We also realized that his feet are huge--they're bigger than our heads. Maybe everyone's foot is bigger than they're head, but it was super funny.
Friday and Saturday were actually really hard for me. I was just feeling like it's been so long since I've had visible success and I was tired and a bunch of other things. But Elder Ayers and Elder Clawson (one of my MTC elders who is AP right now and was up here on a split) gave me a blessing that really, really helped. The priesthood is sooo wonderful.
Sunday after we talked was great! There was actually a lot of really cool stuff that happened! So we have started singing hymns before sacrament--the missionaries and a few members, to help with reverance. And this week we're singing and this guy comes up to sing with us--we've never seen him before and I'm wondering who the heck he is because 1) He doesn't look Russian 2) He looks like a member of the church. Turns out he's an old/new investigator of the Elders! He's actually Finnish, but has lived in ZGrad since he was 9, and met with the Elders like 2 years ago. One of the companionships of Elders found him in their area book and called, he asked if we still have sports day and said he would come. The next day they call to remind him and he had been drinking and said he wanted nothing to do with them. The next day (Saturday) they ran into him on the street. I guess he's been thinking a lot about life and what he wants and how to turn his life around and everything, and he found answers to some questions in an old Liahona he found in his apartment and so he decided to come to church on Sunday! He is awesome! We're so happy that the Elders found him. He is just a gem. AND we had a hopefully new-investigator come to church too! She got an english prig like a year ago and never came and was thinking that she should come and saw the Elders on the street and asked them if we still have English club. So she came on Wednesday (Wednesday was super cool--we had the ward party where we sang war songs, and then had a super fun English Club even though we didn't know who all would come) and we invited her to church and she came! It's really interesting--the Lord's timing. Because she didn't come a year ago, but she turns 18 on Friday, which makes meeting with her a lot easier. She is just super cute, and Ksusha even got her to stay for Sunday school. Also, we have this lady who's been coming to church for a long time, but we were asked by her member friend not to try to set up a meeting with her (dumb, I was so mad when this member got mad at us), but she's started staying for all 3 hours and has made some other friends in the ward and cried in RS and I feel like maybe soon she'll be ready to meet with us.
So yeah. Today we're actually having a working day, and just emailing home and President, because we have zone conference tomorrow and so we'll be in Moscow already and Wednesday is free museum day, so we're going to hit up as many museums as we can tomorrow. Should be fun!
Anyway. See you later!
Sister Ashby

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7, 2012

Last Monday we went and saw this cute cute family. They live out, not in Zelenograd, but in another little town, and they have 4 girls--12, 8, 8, and 6. Well, the twins aren't quite 8 yet. Their birthday is on Thursday. We're helping them get ready for baptism a little bit and so we just went to do a FHE with their family. And they're so adorable. All 3 of the little girls. We had a lot of fun playing with them (mostly them just running into the room and saying "Zdravstvuitye!", laughing and then running out again) and giving them a spiritual thought and talking and things. On Sunday, they asked us if we were going to come over again. :) So tonight we're going to see them again and give them another pre-baptism lesson. It's so weird how missionaries get kids ready for baptism here, but it's something the bishop asks us to help with...and I don't complain because they're cute.
We had interviews with President on Wednesday. He is so great. He also commanded me and Sister Thrall to take a sleep day. She especially has just been feeling so exhausted and I had also been feeling more tired than usual, and he just said that at this point in our missions, we just need to catch up on sleep, and that we needed to be obedient and pick a day (not P-Day) to just take off, sleep in, and spend then entire day just sleeping. So that's what we did on Friday. Sleeping in was soooo nice, and we just slept and slept and slept. And I have felt so great ever since. :)
Not really anything super eventful this week. Just more things from Russia: one time this week, there was all this noise...turns out that some of our neighbors were trying to break into this other apartment that no one lives in (it's been all sealed up and stuff). I was so paranoid that they were going to break into our apartment next. Later on in the day, we saw one of the guys who had been working on the door working on his own doorknob, and the doorknob was missing on the other door. So we came to the conclusion that they were just too lazy/cheap to go buy a doorknob, so they spent 3 hours stealing the doorknob from the other door. And we had a lot of coackroaches in our kitchen last night. I thought I was going to escape Russia without them, but nope. It's not that our kitchen is messy--please don't think that. We keep clean. It's that they're working on like a remont or something above us or in another apartment (we can hear it all the time) and so it drives them all out and into other apartments. It's a problem all over. I don't know...there have been a lot of little things this week that are like..."Yeah, I'm in Russia." But I can't remember a lot of them. It's just been a very Russia week.
That's about it. Not a lot of miracles in the work this week. Not a lot of anything exciting. Just normal. But we'll talk to you on Sunday!
Sister Rachel