February 5, 2013
"How old are you sonny?" "20!" "*Gasp* You said "twenty" just like an American! Ooooooh, this is so exciting!"
Hey there everyone!
Hey, no worries! I'm still alive and well here in Russia. But! I'm not where you may think I am. That's right, Elder Peterson has been transferred! Crazy news; Elder Treter will be staying there in Oktyabrsky and I got transferred to a little town called Balakovo. If you read up on the history of Balakovo, you'll find out it's just like home :) I'm serving with Elder Warkentin, who's one cycle younger than me, and he's been here for 3 cycles already, so he knows the area really well. Really cool news though! For the first time in 8 years or so sisters are going to be serving in Balakovo! One of them is Sister Kistler and the other sister is a new one! We'll find out who she is in a couple of days. Also, we have the Wings here, a senior couple that loves New Mexico! So, because the district is so big now they made Balakovo it's own district and...I'm the district leader! Ack! I've never done that before. It'll be cool to help out the sisters here and work with the Wings. Cool stuff!
This past week, when I was still in Oktyabrsky, we had a fun thing happen to us. Generally when anyone rings our apartment doorbell we almost never open the door, but this time around I saw a real timid traveling salesman, and I couldn't resist opening the door. It was really fun to talk to him. He's a 20 year old guy, and I think it must have been one of his first days on the job. When I go knocking in apartments, one of the most important things for me is as quickly as possible getting to know the people I'm talking too along with, of course, introducing the message. He was really awkward and didn't really know how to talk to a bubbly American, but he made his sale of 2 air fresheners for a great deal and we brightened up his day. It reminded me of my first days in knocking and in Russia general because I didn't know how to talk to people and my main goal was in just getting the message across. But now I've gotten to the point where I can really get to know the people and allow that to help people see the value of our message. I'm not sure if I'll ever become a traveling salesperson, but it made me giggle to think that, in short, that's kinda what I do as I go knocking to find new people to teach.
We had a real cool experience too this week while I was still serving with Elder Treter. We were dropping by former investigators and less active members. Generally while dropping by people we don't focus on talking to every single person we pass by on the street to try and introduce them to the Gospel. I always say hi to the people I pass by, of course, smile at them, but rarely ever (unless they stop us) do I try to stop them to talk about the Gospel. Well, as we were doing the dropbys I saw this woman eating sunflower seeds on the road just happily enjoying the warmer weather (above 0!) and the snack as we were walking around. As we walked by her I said hi, as always, but abruptly got stopped. The woman was pretty surprised that I stopped, probably about as surprised as I was, and as she was halfway through unshelling a seed, when I asked "how're you doing?". The woman then squinted at my nametag and said, in perfect English "woah! Do you speak English? Are you from America? Oh my gosh!" As it turns out she's a school teacher who teaches English and had lived for a year in New York with a family there. I don't know what her real name is, but the name she told us is E[ ]. We got her number and we have a return appointment (she wants to give us real Russian food!) and she has a husband who it sounds like will be pretty interested in our message.
I'm always surprised (very pleasantly of course!) how Heavenly Father guides us in our work. Sean gave me a kind of assignment this past week in reference to understanding the love of God, and after our little conversation with the school teacher I had a really cool thought. Whenever I've set a goal in my life, the Lord has really always provided a way for it to be accomplished and for me to learn and maybe even help others on the way. As Elder Treter and I had set a goal to do those drop-bys we were successful in what we had done, and the Lord had allowed us to run into someone who really wanted to meet us. Even though we hadn't expected it and weren't exactly actively looking for that opportunity, He helped us to not only accomplish our goal but to get that extra measure because we were in the right place at the right time.
Pretty cool, right :) That'll probably wrap it up today. Thank you so much for all the help and support. I really do love you guys :) Thanks! Have a great week now, alright, and I'll tell you more about Balakovo and all the stuff going on here next week!