Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas Morning
New Years here is the Christmas of America! It is going to be interesting in a few days when we go out to work in the mornings and see no stores open and there’s nobody on the streets. Should be fun times in Russia!

It was so cool to get to talk to you on Christmas/Christmas Eve. I was a little worried it wouldn't work out the first couple of tries, but all is well.  It feels like we aren't even that far away, we can always get a hold of each other if we have to.  It is kind of weird talking over Skype because it feels like a big party just like when I was at home. It is so weird to think I have about 19 months left. That seems like a big number but we are already about the half year mark! 6 months gone, I feel like I just left home.  I will be here in Nakhodka until the end of January, I will have one more transfer after that for sure and then at the end of February it is most likely that I will go to a different city. I don't know exactly where yet but the end of February will be 6 months in Nakhodka.  Weird, spending 1/4 of my mission in one city. It is a great city, though! No complaints!  
Skyping for Christmas!  He looked so good!
I am jealous of the Christmas lunch at Brian and Jane’s house!  We had soup, and raw onions, and weird salad stuff for our Christmas lunch:) It’s cool that you got to Skype with Ashley from her mission while you were up there.  I didn’t know if the connection would have been good enough up in Holbrook.   

I am glad to hear that Chandler is finally out and on a mission! He is going to do great.  He is a born leader!  I think that is so cool that his Uncle Trent was there at church when Chandler talked!  I totally forgot that he served in Russia, Vladivostok!   

Mom note:  Ryan told us via Skype that when he went to South Korea last week, he changed some Rubles (Russian currency) into Won (Korean currency).  He didn’t know the exchange rate, and ended up exchanging ALL of his money for the month into a currency that he can’t even use in Russia.  So, he had to pull some cash out of his home bank account to make up for it.  

I am going to use a little bit of personal money until I get another dose of Missionary Money.  I was silly in pulling out all that Won! It’s okay, I am set for the next couple of Korea trips that I take.  Yeah, it wasn't the smartest thing I have done, but definitely memorable.

Seoul Korea Temple
Burger King Ad in Korea - She is actually crying!
Ryan was impressed with how polite people are in Korea. 
He said in Russia this sign would have said "Stay Out of our way!  We're Doing Stuff!" 
There was a drunk couple that came into church yesterday and they were being loud so we had to kick them out! I was getting ready to throw down and deck a drunk dude but I don't know if that would be appropriate as a missionary:) As we were walking the drunk lady out she tried to hug me... yeah.. I got scared so I like grabbed her arms and pushed her away... haha I felt kind of bad grabbing and man handling this lady, but I really did not want that hug!  

I am so thankful for the chance to be in Russia! It is way cool! So different and such a great opportunity to grow. I love you all! See you in a year and a half,

Elder Gardner

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Language is good - food is interesting

I am so happy to be here in Russia:) I must be getting better at speaking the language because I am starting to be able to make jokes with Russian people and I have even made a couple of them laugh! We tried talking to this guy, he was really not interested in talking to us and he started walking away. Elder Sayers asked if he knew anybody who would be interested in talking with us and he said “No”; but as he was walking away I said to him "Maybe you have an enemy, we can go bug them for you!" He chuckled. We didn't talk any more after that but at least he knows we aren't scary or weird people. I count it as a victory!
It looks like they have a picture of the Mesa temple here in our church! Cool

The sun rises about 8:30 or so and sets around 5:30! It’s really weird. I remember being back at home and running around till 8 or so with sunlight left.  I definitely am starting to miss the sun! I am glad to hear Megan has been working hard! If there is something I know, it’s that Hard Work is Good Work. 
You may have heard that the Ruble is going down pretty dramatically and we check that as often as occasion permits. So far nothing really has changed. We are expecting the new year to be when all the prices change and such. The Church does give us more money to be able to buy what we need, but thus far nothing has really happened. We are still buying all that we need, all is well on the food side of things.
We have had some interesting food lately.  We ate with some locals the other day and they gave us this meat kinda thing... it wasn’t not too bad.  So, I asked what it was and they told me it was pure animal fat that was frozen.   hahaha   Then he said "I would like to make you an onion" so we said alright.  He then cut up an onion and set it in front of us. Just a raw onion... oh OK ... thank you.  Yummmm :)   They also gave us this bread paste stuff.  Imagine you took a cheese grater and a chunk of bread. You then grind up the bread into powder as small as it goes and then you make that bread powder was just bread paste.  Crazy.   
This week was a pretty good weather week.  I think yesterday was about 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Good times! The cold isn’t too bad as long as there is no wind or humidity... but here in Nakhodka we are right up on the sea... so we have both wind and humidity! Yay!

People here in Russia pull their kids around on sleds! Haha yeah its a real thing
Earlier in the week we went out to a small town about an hour outside of the main Nakhodka city. We had a great lesson about the armor of God and after the lesson we went out to wait for the bus. Because we were so far away, the busses were few and far between. We got out to the bus stop at 5 oclock and of course... it was cold! All was okay though, I had a scarf and gloves and a beanie and a hood on my jacket. We threw on everything but then the wind came. The wind was really bad... like.. really bad! It was a lot of wind and it didn't ease up at all the whole time we were standing there. Then the best part! It had snowed the day before so there was a lot of loose snow just lying around. The wind picked up the snow and in every gust of wind there was a ton of snow bits! They would hit you in the face, get stuck, melt, and then you have a wet face with more wind making it colder.  Not the best experience:) But all is well! We survived! Oh yeah... I forgot to say, too, I stepped in a giant pile of snow and some snow got in my shoe. It then melted, and my socks were wet. I had frozen piggies! haha Russia is a great place! 

I got some brown shoes:) They are way nice! But they don't help with the cold so I am going to have to wait until summer to wear them

President Brinton came into town the other day and we were riding with him in his car to a lesson of ours. He got a call on the phone and his car does speaker phone so he answered... I looked over to see who had called him... Jorg Klebingat. That is a member of the 70 who spoke at General Conference. His talk was entitled “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence.”  Ever since the first moment I heard that talk, I fell in love with it. That was probably one of my favorite talks of all Conference. It is so straight-forward and to the point and simple. There is no way to misunderstand what you’ve got to do. It is just super good! And we got to be on a call with him! So basically I was on a phone call with one of the Quorum of the 70. No big deal though. :)

I miss you all so much! I love you!



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another Great Week!

Family and Friends, 
I had a good week this week.   Some funny things happened. We were talking with one of our members of the church in his apartment hallway when a drunk guy came up to talk to us. He was a nice guy... well he was nice to me... He started talking about his life back 40 years ago and how he served in the navy and how he did this, that, and the other. He was talking with me and it is a Russian thing to talk with someone but be really close to them. He was probably a foot away from me and squared his shoulders and was not breaking eye contact, this is how we stood while he told me his story. I had this big 'ol smile on my face smiling and listening as best I could to his story. He then turned to my companion and said, "Hey you have a good friend here. He is a good kid. I like him." He then put his arm around me and gave me a big Russian hug. He reeked of alcohol, haha, such a good guy:) I hugged him back of course. Then after he let me go he turned to my companion and said "You.. I don't like you. You need to be more like this good boy here."  And after that Elder Sayers tried to have a nice conversation with the guy but he wanted none of it.  Poor Elder Sayers. 
 There was another drunk guy on the street the other day. He started talking to us about his life story, of which I understood almost none. In both of these instances the guy wasn't angry at all. Wasn't upset, just drunk, telling me about his life. But again he did the Russian thing and squared his shoulders and got real close. I mean... It was a little uncomfortable but I wasn't going to step back from this guy. I stood there keeping the eye contact the whole time, maybe I shouldn't have held my ground. Maybe I should’ve stepped back and kept an appropriate distance but I was curious how close he would get... Turns out it’s really close...  The whole time Elder Sayers was just watching me not saying anything. He just let me and this drunk guy stand there for 5 minutes or so.  Moral of the story: Drunk Russians will get real close when they want to talk to you and they won’t back up:)  
The missionary work is getting kind of rough at nights now. It is cold and after the sun sets at 6 the amount of people on the streets drops off dramatically. We had all of our lessons cancel on us the other night and we were stuck on the street for 2 hours. We talked to every person we saw... but that amounted to probably 15 people total. It is definitely cold, and there is snow everywhere, but it is all okay when we get home and our apartment is warm:) They keep the houses here really well heated:) The wind is really a killer when we are out on the streets, the cold isn't bad at all but when you get that cold wind on your face it stinks.  My ears and toes and fingers are chilly but you get walking around a bit and all is well:)

Dad, could you find a way to send me that chapter from “How to Win Friends and Influence People?” We are struggling to inspire and excite some of these people about the gospel message. I think it could help me better work if I read that chapter again:)
I got our family Christmas card in the mail this week:) Super cute! The Nesting dolls that I have are way cool! It is a 10 piece set with little kings and Christmas trees on it:) It is also pretty big I don't know how I am going to get it home! I might have to mail it home.  

I miss you all so much! I will see you in 10 days! So soon! I haven’t gotten any information about Skype yet but I will let you know:) I love you!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Starting to get a little cold

Have you been watching our weather?  We can definitely feel this temperature drop! It is rough but I am a real man;) so I can handle it.
I am so sorry I won't have time to write Conner and Kreston this week! I know their birthdays are this week! Happy birthday guys!

Dad's Washington trip sounds fun.  It's always good to talk to big wigs.  Although, you were cold at 50 degrees? That is nothing! In one town not too far away, the temperature dropped to way below zero just a few days ago:)

I have gotten a little skinnier over here in Russia:) I haven't really been working out as much as I did when I was back in Tukee. All we really do here are pullups and pushups. We have a few dumbells but nothing big going on in the fitness department:) Don't worry I am not going hungry. We eat great over here. Pasta and Burritos almost every other day. We cook for ourselves.  We eat a lot, but nothing really new or shaking it up. 

I am super sad I missed the Church Christmas party! It sounds like it was a blast:) It seems like the Worthens always do well, whatever they do:) Like that quote from one of the prophets a while back. "What e'er thou art, act well thy part."  That is definitely something I admire about them!

It is so weird to think, Christmas will be about the 5 month mark. That is almost 1/4 of the way done! I just barely got out here! I gotta get to work!

I miss you all. Nothing too crazy is happening here in Russia! At 53 rubles to a dollar, the economy is hurting pretty bad over here. I heard soon it will be up to 60 rubles in a dollar! That doesn't really affect us, we are given a certain amount of money and it is always enough:)

Oh by the way, I got the 2 packages you sent safely.  So thus far I have recieved the 2 regular packages and the 1 Christmas package. The food in the package was great!! That is so tasty! We already broke out the hot sauce can and taco sauce you sent:) Super tasty!!
I was on the bus the other day when I looked out the window to see some Russians getting into a fist fight. haha  The bus drove away though:( dang I didn't get to see who won! Mom asked if people like Russia's President. People here LOVE Putin.  They think he is their national hero or something. 
Some of these Russians don't really understand why we are here. We said to one guy, "Hey we are missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ" He told us "Sorry we aren't interested, we are Christians".... haha there's nothing you can do about that..  

I bought a giant Russian Nesting doll today. It was sweet! I also got a book full of quotes. It is a bunch of deep quotes. There are some quotes from Ghandi and Ralph Waldo Emerson and the likes. I will have to share some next week:) I miss you all so much!

New Nesting Doll

The Church is True and I Love You!

Ryan Gardner

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's December!

We had the first snow today! Crazy:) I am sad I missed the Thanksgiving party! It sounds like a big success. We had some Thanksgiving dinner with our district and the senior missionaries.  Most people here don't celebrate Thanksgiving. 

I go to Seoul on December 23 and 24th:) I will most likely pass through Vladivostok. Hopefully I can get some more mail! My companion will not come with me to Korea. I don't really know what he will be doing yet. I am going with my MTC group that I came in with.  

We will get to Skype from the church on Christmas. I might send home my full memory cards from my camera if you would like. Then you could watch all of the videos I have made. 

I love you all! All is good here, meeting lots of drunk people on the streets and always messing with them. Can't wait to see you soon:)
Love,  Ryan