September 3, 2012
"Real cowboys don't live in Texas...they live in New Mexico!" -- President Gritchen
Hey there everyone!
Gosh, it's been a fun week! We had exchanges and for I think the 4th or 5th time on my mission I was on exchanges with Elder Anderson, one of my best friends on the mission. He's a couple of cycles older and we had a ballgame going out and doing good stuff. I had a pretty interesting experience though while we were working together. It was about 8:00 at night when we bumped into a guy on the street who had (coincidentally) told us "Go home Yankee!" the week before (as a joke, we found out today. Me and Elder Strebe nearly burst out laughing when we heard him say it). As we came to talk to him we found out he was a very nice man who knew the history of Marks (and history in general) really well. In trying to introduce him to the Book of Mormon and our message, he rejected it saying that our Church and the society that goes with it just can never work in Russia until it adapts itself to the culture. He told us that until we really figure out what's inside a Russian soul we will never succeed in our work, and to find out how a Russian live you must do what Russian does. In the end, our discussion didn't lead him to accepting anything we had, but me and Elder Anderson had an interesting conversation afterwards on how to understand a Russian.
In relation to that experience, let me tell you a story about what happened last night. We visited a rather rich former investigator the other night. When we came to his house we found that he was slightly drunk and pretty dang rude. Whenever he'd ask a question we'd try to answer but he'd then interrupt and tell us his opinion on what he thought we'd say and tell us we were wrong before we could even say a thing! We were about to leave when a friend of our investgator came in. She's a nurse and our rich ivnestigator had injured both of his feet, so she had come to apply some medicine and help him out. She got a bit interested in what we were saying, but said a common Russian saying that goes along the lines of "All of us hope on God, but we can only rely on ourselves". She proceeded to tell us how she has 3 jobs and that despite all of that she still didnt have enough money to buy her little boy a notebook for school. No matter what money she got she had to thorugh [throw] it into some kind of hole, whether it be paying for the apartment, food, etc... She teared up a bit in talking about it all, and Elder Strebe bore a sweet testimony on the power and love of God and that as we truly rely not on ourselves but on the grace and love of God, we are provided for. We taught her a little bit and gave her our number and she thanked us for the little lesson. The whole time the former investigator was swearing and making fun of it all, but it didn't matter for the conversation. Shortly after she left, we left too.
It's interesting to hear it almsot daily that we don't understand the people. Lot's of them say that to understand them we have to drink Vodka and sell your morality. So many people suffer from the effects of sin, not even really understanding what sin is or how it's messing up their lives. Families are torn apart, kids are taught young incorrect principles and it's a hard thing to find a really lasting happiness. Of course, not everyone's life is like that, but it's a widespread mentality at times it seems. It's moments though like with the nurse and with other investigators we've got that when they feel a slice of the love of God for them, there's a change, a hope in their lives that lights their lives, if even for just a little bit. It's true that I don't fully understand the Russian soul or what makes even the standard American tick, but it's a common and solid knowledge in me that everyone can feel the love of God and know that He exists, and that His existance can mean everything to us.
Of course, that doesn't excuse me from being totally ignorant of the culture! I had a fun meeting with some members this past week wherein they gave us good tips on how to contact on the street better, finding that even the way we greeted people was a bit too old fashioned and overly formal. There's still lots to learn , and I'm glad that I've got such good friends everywhere that are helping me out.
Zone conference is coming up this upcoming week and we've got a member of the 70 who is the second counselor in the Europe East area presidency, Elder Malm, coming out along with his wife. More news on how all that goes next week! :)
I'm not gonna lie, I cried when I found out that Mer died [Brian’s grandmother], but I was able to cover it up and look manly so no one really noticed I think :) I'm so glad that you were able to be there with her, Mom. You've cared so much for her and helped out tons and been a terrific daughter to my awesome grandma. I always remember those trips that just you and I took in going out to Mer and helping her out. Nothing could have been better than helping you that one last time last summer in going out to gather her things and prep the house for sale. So many floppy discs! Argh! I remember when we were cleaning up and we found a whole new cabinet full of discs and books to put away and we were just so exasperated from it all. Those were fun times :) Sean wrote me this week and told me about all the fun times we had in going there to El Paso. I remember when she had just at first gotten her computer and we were all awed as to how cool it was. I think we placed some kind of podracer game on it and just thought it was the best thing ever. I remember all the good times with Mer and her Pig stories book, which I absolutely love...gotta read those again when I come back home. A lot of time too, I find, when I'm trying to learn a new Russian word I remember Mer asking you words and what they meant and telling you cool facts. I bet Mer would have been a pro at learning Russian :) I remember on that last trip too having the blessed opportunity to give Mer a blessing. I don't remember what I said, but I remember the good feelings I had in blessing my grandma before going on my mission. I had a feeling that that'd be the last time I'd see Mer, and I'm glad that that was my "final act" with her before she crossed the veil. I know Mer and Daddyguy are together now, and it'll be a fun reunion afterwords in having Mer introduce him to me.
I'm out of time now, but thanks for your everything. You all sure are the best :)
Be good now! With love