Monday, November 17, 2014

Having a Blast

Oh man! 3 months in! I am having a blast!  Russia is great! Just one quick side note about those pictures that Ksenya sent, I was probably on my tippy-toes for 90 percent of them.... I haven't grown yet!  We see SO MANY KITTIES here in Russia:) That is probably the reason I got sent here.   I forgot to tell you, I got your Halloween card exactly on Halloween!  Yeah, it was way cool.  We had a big zone training meeting on Halloween in a city about an hour from here. We rode over, had our meeting and on the ride back they gave us our mail. That was a little bit ago.  But, when President Brinton came down from Vladivostok this week he brought mail with him. I got your Christmas package! I am excited to open it.

I had no clue that Uncle Kyle and Mr. DeValk were good friends! That is way cool.   I don't have Mr. DeValk's email, but if you have a chance could you send it to me? Or maybe you could just ask him. I would like to get a copy of the music we used in Junior Year. We sang a song that was in Russian and I want to show it to Ksenya to see if she can translate it or maybe I can even read it now.  I don't know how well I speak Russian yet.

I pulled out 8000 Rubles today of personal money. (That’s about $160 U.S.)  I bought a big coat, a hat, and some leather gloves.  It really isn’t bad here. I love the weather! We don't need anything more than a big coat and maybe a scarf, it is pretty windy.  We had some super small snow the other day! Crazy! It started snowing as we were out talking to people. That makes talking to people harder on the streets because the streets become empty around 6 pm or so every day.

I think the coldest it has gotten so far is negative 5 degrees Celsius. That should be a little below 32... so maybe... 22?  I have no clue.  They don't use Fahrenheit here, pretty frustrating. But don't worry, I know how to calculate the temperature. You just use your two points and create a linear function that intersects both points. We know that 0 Celsius is 32 degrees Fahrenheit and -40 is -40 in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Not too hard.

It is dark, like midnight kinda dark, at 7 pm every day. Pretty rough, we have to work so much harder during the day to make everything work. 

Our branch was struggling a little bit these past few weeks. But we had a big day yesterday. We had a giant 42 people at church!! That is CRAZY, but way cool!

One of our investigators, well not really an investigator, is named Max. He was a member, he went to New Zealand and met a woman. They got married and it didn't work out so he divorced her and came back to Russia. He married another woman in Russia but the only problem was he didn't fully divorce the woman from New Zealand. So he became technically a polygamist. He divorced the woman in Russia and now he is stuck. Technically he is still married to the woman in New Zealand even though they haven’t seen each other in 10 years or so. It is a dumb, dumb law and we can't get any help from the New Zealand government to do anything about it. All he has to do is contact the lady in NZ and have her sign the divorce paperwork and it can all be over. So if you know anybody who could have any pull with the New Zealand government or anything that might be able to help, please give them a call.   This guy is the strongest member I have ever met! He understands everything and has the strongest testimony but he is stuck in this stupid mess. He actually opened up Nakhodka for missionary work 15 years ago. The first Sacrament Meeting was in his living room. President Brinton's son taught Max 15 years ago, and now we get to teach him. It is a very cool experience. 

Anyways, this week was pretty rough. Not bad or sad or anything but just rough. We worked as hard as we could, talking to as many people as we could see, working on the street all day when all of our plans fell through. It was frustrating standing on the street at 6 o’clock. We were looking through all the names we had, seeing we had tried stopping by or calling every single one of them and every single one of them was busy or did not want to meet.  So we hit the streets, and there was nobody interested. Walking around for 3 hours, talking to everybody and every single person blows you off calling us a sect and stuff.   We were just lost this whole week.   It was all worth it though.  At the end of the week we looked back at our week and we got 3 times the number of new investigators we had wanted and almost reaching our other goals. It was rough being in the thick of it and writing down each night how we only got 1 lesson that day. After Church we looked back and saw that it was a pretty good week, considering everything.

Oh and one last story; we were out talking to people and when we said “Hi” to one man he looked real close at our name tags. He then stood up, backed up and shouted at us in English;  "Mormons?! You are Mormons?! Dude! That’s heresy! That’s heresy man!!"  Hahaha I was so speechless, this guy sounded just like a hippy who wanted to fight against "the man"! Pretty funny.  It put a smile on my face for the rest of the day:)

I miss you a lot! Hope everything is going good.  I love you!!  Don't forget, we get to Skype for Christmas!! Should be good. I don't have any information about that yet though. I will let you know when I find out that stuff. Oh, and also my first Korea trip is a week or two before Christmas! Weird... that will be 3 months in the country, which will be 5 months total.... which is almost 1/4 of my mission gone already. Whoa! I shouldn't be thinking like that. That makes it seem like I will be gone so soon.  Weird thoughts. Anyway, I love you!

Elder Gardner

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