"Oh my gosh...this milk tastes like America!"
August 6, 2012
Hey there everyone!
Oh my gosh, can you believe I have another niece?! She's so darn cute too! And Brielle has gotten so big! The main picture that I show people on the street and on meetings is the one with her in a blue had and just smiling, she's gotta be only a few months old in that picture and now look at her! She's so big and smily! The same thing goes for Kaden and Brett too. I was writing my friend Rebekah today and wondering what it would be like to come back and have my nieces and nephews I barely know say my name and hug me. Pretty cool to have another addition in the family; one more awesome person to hug :)
This has been a pretty good week! I'm writing a bit late because the place where we usual e-mail back home had some issues with their internet. There was a possibility of even having us just write next week, but at the last moment we found out that their internet was back and running, so yay! On Monday we as a branch all got together and did a deep cleaning of the branch building. It's so weird. Because the work involved doing yard work and other cleaning we went over in "regular" clothes. When we're rushing to a meeting or activity and have no chance to seriously talk with people I still like to say "hi!" to them on the street. Even on a bad day, most people will at least say hi back to me, but I found that in regular clothes I looked at least partly Russian (or, at the very least, not like a missionary) and when I said hi to people, almost no one said hi back! Weird! Me and Elder Strebe had fun talking about it and wondering if people in America would say hi back if you said hi to them on the streets. We didn't know, but it's worth giving a shot! There's your homework for the week!
We had exchanges this week and for the first time I went to a place called Engels, a city that's connected by a bridge to Saratov. I worked with Elder Anderson, who is two cycles older than me and Elder Whittemore who is currently on his first cycle. It was a total blast! It was especially fun working with Elder Anderson since the last time I worked with him was when I was with Elder Rekow. We talked about how much we'd both grown and changed even in just the few months we hadn't worked together and it was incredible to see really how much stuff has changed. In working with Elder Whittemore I found he had the same concerns and worries as I did my first cycle. The same kind of thing happens when I talk to younger missionaries too. Fun to see how my view has changed over time and how my focuses and worries have morphed. Good stuff! Plus, we had tasty brownie milkshakes, so the exchange automatically was way good.
As it turned out, I did translate for President and Sister Sartori. I was pretty nervous at first since it's been something like 4 months since last time I really translated for anyone, and heck this is the President of the mission so you really have to do well, right? I learned a couple of things while translating. The first is that I know a lot more words that I thought and second that in your hard moments that Holy Ghost really does help. Translation went over really well for all three hours. I think the hardest to translate was sacrament meeting and sometimes people talk super complexly during testimonies and they don't give many breaks for you to really think about what their saying and translate super accurately. The best was when President and his wife testified and taught 3rd hour since they just paused after their thought and gave the few seconds for translating before going on. I was complimented by President on how much I've improved on the language, which was a really nice thing, though I've still got quite a bit to learn. Really though it's a miracle. Who'da thunk that a kid like me could learn Russian? Certainly wouldn't have said that when I was trying to survive in German class!
I think that wraps it up for this week. Transfers are coming up next week and there are 12 new Elders coming in (weird, it's been almost a year since I came into Russia. Wild!) and the word is going around the mission that there's going to be tons of changes. I'll go wherever I'm needed, though I certainly wouldn't mind staying another cycle or two here with Elder Strebe in Marks. It's been some seriously fun times, and time has rarely ever gone faster than it has in this past month.
A little note I wanted to add. I'm not sure who all checks out my blogs, but for any of those who do and have written me letters, would you mind telling my mom or me through facebook if you have not receieved a reply from your letter(s) yet? I'm curious as to how long it really takes for the Russian post to get my letters out and it'd be nice also to know if I've forgotten to write anyone back (so sorry if that's the case!!!). Thanks a bunch :)
I love you lots! It's always the best thing in the world to hear from you all. Everyone be sure to give a good hug to little Lily for me when you get the shot! :)
Thanks again! I love you :)