October 3, 2011
"He doesn't understand what we're saying, yes?" "Nope" "...then why does he keep smiling?"
Another e-mail from the motherland! Just like clockwork. Hard to believe another Monday is here. During the day it can be kinda slow at times, but looking back on it, it's been a fast week. Weird to think I've nearly been in Russia for 3 weeks! How crazy is that? Pretty crazy.
Anywho, it's been a good week! Russian is still tough, the people still wonder why there's a couple of funny Americans on the street (which technically is incorrect, my companion is Canadian!), the food is still tasty and luckily the drunks we ran into this week were happy drunks! Alls well here, save for the fact that it's getting pretty dang cold and rainy. My companion has taught me a nice way to wash pants without having to pay the ridiculous dry cleaning fees or in messing up the pants in the wash, which is way nice!
Sean had a few questions for me that I thought I'd share and answer as a whole, so here we go!
Q. Do you have cell phones out there?
A. Yessiree bob. A nice shiny red brick! Well, not a brick really, nothing fancy but it makes calls and lets me be misunderstood by the Russian people even more (kinda hard at times to talk and listen on the phone, especially in Russian. Ah well!)
A. Are you really not allowed to eat at anyone else's home?
Q. We used to not to, but a new age has dawned ever since the current President rolled into town. We've ate many times at members place and it was quite delicious! Had liver for the first time, was interesting and some members who own a restaurant taught me a couple of Russian recipes and fed us! T'was quite tasty.
Q. How do you get around your area - by bus or car?
A. Oh gosh, only by bus or by walking. I wouldn't try driving here even if you offered me some delicious Borsh (is that the english spelling?). Drivers here can be more than slightly crazy at times, though I've never once seen an accident happen. But yeah, walking and by bus everytime.
Q. How do you like district meetings? Are they held in English or Russian?
A. Both actually, and I generally understand the Russian in them now (can translate it too!). My companion is the district leader.
Q. How many native Russian speakers are in your mission?
A. We've got apparently 5 or 6 in the mission, thought I've only met one who is a sister in our zone. We need more!
Q. What do you eat for breakfast? And the food in general?
A. Mmmm...breakfast. I generally have some cereal with nuked milk (not homogonized by nuclearized, I'll die before the milk expires, which is quite a new concept for me! -well, ok, it doesn't last that long, but the milk can last for I think about 5 months, it's quite cool-). Most everything comes not in jars or in plastic containers, but rather in square plactic packets. Kinda hard to describe, though I don't know why. Ketchup, milk, Sour Cream, yogurt, everything just comes in a packet that as opposed to a bottle or container. Hope that makes sense, if not I'll send some pictures soon so that ya'll understand.
I've made some delicious pastas and soups while we've been here, though I dearly miss my New Mexican spices and foods. No one knows what a tortilla is here. So sad! A simpel tortilla recipe would be nice as I told me companion I'd makeshift him a Mexican meal before he goes home. More on food next letter I think, making me hungry!
- How long did it take to get out to your area?
The train took about 8 hours or so, and it was an overnight train from Samara to Saratov. It was pretty cool sleeping on a train! No one offered me a toothbrush with the color of my choice though (reference, anyone?). After the train got to our stop me and my companion took a taxi over to our apartment and got situated.
And that's it for question and answer time! I've got to ship out my report to President Sartori soon, but I did have a few requests. Ya'll mentioned that you were putting together a Cristmas package, which blows my mind a bit, but I guess I have a couple of requests for Santa.
Quick discourse on the importance of faith and then I'll skedaddle, promise! I've been learning more and more the importance of faith while being here. Faith is crucial here. I can tell on the days when I feel "no one wants to hear what I've got to say. I have a funny accent and people just seem to think I'm a cultist that likes to wear pink ties", and on those days most people don't want to talk to me. That's not simply attitude, but also faith. On the days, the hours and the times that I remember that I am a missionary called of God to go to Russia and to be in this area and remember that God has prepared people here to hear the Gospel, then my countenance changes. My smile becomes brighter, my spirit hightened and I'm ready to do the work. That became really apparent to me yesterday. One person didn't want to hear our message, but he smiled and talked for a bit and gave us a couple of tasty apples. Another man we met was so glad to see us and said that he wanted to know more, so we gave him a Book of Mormon and our number. Another man was a drunk, but he was so suprised and happy to meet a real American that he gave us his number and said he wanted to meet again. Two apples, a potential investigator and a happy drunk guy, and I'm so happy about that! Everyday when I have that attitude and faith, even if our success is not great in number I feel the warmth and love of a happy Heavenly Father with the work I've done.
Anyways, gotta go for now. You're in my heart and in my prayers everyday, and I love you all so much! Be good, eat your veggies, yadda yadda!
Старейшина Питерсон [Elder Peterson]