Sept 19, 2011
"You are in Russia now"
Oh gosh, I'm in Russia! That's just downright crazy, now isn't it?
We left Monday morning and borded a bus to get dropped off at SLC, suticases and whatnot got checked in just fine and the flight was on time. From JFK to Moscow went just fine too, save for the fact that our first plane had a wing flap problem, so 3 hours later we boarded a new plane which got us safely to Moscow.
Now landing in Moscow was where it began to get crazy. Just a ragtag group of missionaries plopped in Moscow (all of our stuff came through just fine) and not knowing quite what to do. We were able to get out of the main terminal and thankfully found a couple of older sister missionary guides to help us out. They took us by the US embassy so that we could apply for our second passports and then they whisked us back to the Moscow airport.
Before I go on, lemme just say that Russian drivers are pretty dang crazy. Blocking an intersection? No problem! Does it look like there's a space to squeeze in with a little help of the sidewalk? Go to! Bikers weave in and out all the time and driving is just crazy, I can't even describe. Thankfull, I won't be driving! All public transport and walking for this missionary, so woo!
Anyways,back to Moscow. The 9 of us going to Samara were dropped off by drivers who didn't know English and no one really gave us any instruction, so we pretty much just hoped for the best. With the help of a dictionary, we figured out which way our terminal was and got to the baggage check. The lady who did mine spoke no English, so I felt a bit like a little kid. Took a bit of time to explain I had to pieces of luggage (new word for the day there!) and such.
We all went through security just fine too, which was good, and then just waited at the airport for our plane ride to Samara. Me and my companion Elder Swartz found and talked to a couple of nice people who knew some English and helped a bit with our vocab. Afterwards we boarded the flight to Samara and arrived a little before midnight (turns out Moscow and Samara are in the same time zone, go figure!).
After some orientation and whatnot at the Mission home we found out our new companions and areas. My new companion is Elder Fearn from Canada and our area is in the town of Saratov (in the zavadskoi area) which I think is in the southern part of town, though I could be wrong. I'm his "killer" (meaning that I'm his last companion, he'll be leaving at the end of October).
Already had a couple of cool experiences while I've been here in Saratov! The first day I was here I got spit on (the guy had some pretty good aim too, lemme tell ya!). Hard to explain why, but that was actually a nice little confidence booster for me. I just smiled and my companion complimented his distance and we went on our way.
Being here has taught me that I don't know much Russian at all. Which is a bummer, but can make it funny when talking to people. I got the guts to talk to an old lady on the transport a couple of days ago and introduced myself and the church. After giving her a quick synopsis of what we believe I showed her my family (she likes you all by the way and she especially liked the picture of Brielle!). After that was all done I told here that I really liked being here in Saratov and when she asked why, my mind kinda blanked and the first thing I could think of was trees, so I told her I love the trees here (which, quite sincerely, I do. They're pretty dang awesome and they're all over the place. Nice parks too). She then pointed to a couple of girls on the transport and said "The girls too?" I thought she had misunderstood me (don't judge me too much, the word for tree and girl are kinda close!) and so I quickly said "no no no! I like the trees!" Wherein she gave me the funniest look and my companion and the people behind me began laughing. Good times! Glad she was an understanding old lady.
Gosh, it's kinda stressful being here, but everday I'm finding a lot more courage to do what's required of me. I'm getting braver about talking to people in the streets and on the transports, overcoming the fact that I most likely won't understand much of anything I say (Which can be a blessing at times, as with today when someone called us idiot Americans but I told him for about the Gospel anyways). There's such a special feeling here is Saratov and I know that there are people here that are ready to learn about the Gospel. I don't know how in the world I'll be able to fully communicate what I have within me to them, but I believe that I will. Just gotta open up my mouth and start speaking. If anyone has any particular stories or suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them (either e-mail them of dearelder them to me).
Think that's about all the time I've got right now.
Much love, as always