Monday, May 20, 2013

First Week

Well, it's been a while. Sorry, I know I said I would be posting more on my blog and I haven't. I have just been too busy gulat-ing around Moscow. In the past week I have been everywhere. Here is a quick run-down.

Saturday: I wasn’t planning on fully crashing the Zone Conference that was going on, but that kind of happened. Sister Habibullina (X2 from my missionary emails aka my Russian daughter) had told me she was going to be at Central Building for this conference, and I really wanted to see her, and that was it. But then I ended up agreeing to meet Ksusha there at 2 and then I ended up getting there at 1 and it just kind of happened. But this way, I got to see some missionaries and President and Sister Sorenson! I walked in and President and Elders Brown and Roberts were right by the door talking and President smiled really big and the Elders just looked shocked and were like “Hi . . . Sister Ashby . . . Rachel . . . what . . . this is weird . . .” I met my granddaughter and my great-granddaughter (that was weird. I’m not old enough to have one of those) and saw my other granddaughter who I already knew and both my daughters! Too bad it wasn’t all at the same time, or I should have gotten a family picture. I even got to hear Sister X2 bear her final missionary testimony. I bawled my eyes out. But not as much as I did when I bore mine. But it really was such a great blessing to get to hear it. I went up to Red Square with Ksusha and then we eventually made it up to Zelenograd.

Sunday: Church in ZGrad! It felt just like coming home. Everyone there said it was just like I had never left. I was asked to bear my testimony, which was surprising, but nice, and I translated for the Suttons in Sacrament Meeting. It really was just like being a missionary again, but different in a good way. Went back down to Moscow and went to choir practice. Finally made it back to my dorm room, where I met the rest of my group. Mostly. 

Monday: Orientation. The first time our entire group was all together. I like the mix of people we have. There are only 6 of us: two girls and four guys. We talked more about what to expect and what is going on and figured things out.

Honestly, I don't really remember what all has happened on what days. But we've had class twice--our teacher is great. She pushes us and doesn't baby us, but it still nice and not intimidating. I haven't had an interview for my internship yet, but hopefully that will happen sometime this week. We have been to quite a few museums already--the Tretyakov gallery, WWII museum, etc. and have just walked around the center and other places a lot. It's nice since I already know where I'm going for the most part. 

I went to transfer meeting and that was fun to just see a lot of missionaries. I got to see Sister Nielsen, my roommate's sister who just arrived here in Moscow! And I saw all of my ZGrad missionaries who are/were still here. Lots of great people. It was nice because there were even some sisters who looked familiar, but I couldn't tell you there names because they were brand new when I left, who came up to me and remembered me, which was super awesome--kind of like I know that I made a difference in their mission, at least a little bit. Walked around the center and up to the office-area with all the departing missionaries and it was just fun. Ksusha and I walked all around the center and then halfway down the red line--not on purpose, but it just turned out to be like 7 miles. It was so nice.

We had dinner as a group with our BYU director and our RANE (the academy here) director and some other professors. We had a night in where my roommate Cheysi (the other girl) and John (he is a red-head and served in the Baltics with Zach Thomas) stayed in and just talked. Mostly it's just gulat-ing (Gulat is the Russian word for walking around as a social activity, like to stroll or something). But I love it and it's great. It's nice just to relax and be here and ride the Metro and do all these little things that I have missed and see people and take my time doing it. Old friends, new friends, old sights, new sights. 

Yesterday I went to University branch (just because of the metro/area of town, it's actually a normal not just YSA branch), which is where we're "supposed" to go (but it doesn't really matter since we're only here for 3 months). I think I will end up going there probably about every other week and spend the off-weeks in my old wards/branches (all 3 of them, haha). But it was nice. It is a great little branch, and I played piano in RS and then translated for an American woman (young, just a little older than me) who doesn't speak Russian but is here teaching English with her husband.  I have also given my number to a couple different missionary companionships--one of them asked me to help on a lesson the other day but I was already busy so I couldn't, but I gave them my number so that I could generally. It's nice to be able to serve in very similar ways but in an entirely different capacity. 

Last thoughts, that have no other place. It's crazy to actually wander and see what's above ground on different metro stops that I have been at so many times but never actually seen above. I love church in Russian. I have missed so many crazy things about Russia, and it has been crazy how much I realized that I had forgotten about. It was in my head all along, I just wasn't accessing it, so it wasn't weird coming back, but I had just forgotten. Life is exciting. I love it here. Sorry this is super long, but it's been a long week and I just didn't post it in smaller increments.

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