Monday, April 20, 2015

Good Week

I am so sorry about last week.  I wrote a letter to the Schindele’s for their birthday and then Mrs. Schindele replied and mentioned a talk that she was going to be giving at her church soon about the parables. I started writing a note to her about the parables and what I thought and the time totally slipped away from me. I am sorry. This week will be good though.

Our week was a good one! The work is going good. The Assistants to the President came and visited us and we worked with them for 2 days. I really enjoy working with them. Do you remember Elder Jaeckel? His mom sent me the camera battery and I brought it to him. He is one of the APs and he goes home in a month!

I can’t wait for Mother’s Day in 3 weeks :) It honestly feels like we just skyped a week ago back in Nakhodka! I would have loved to go to DC with you.  That sounds SUPER cool! I could bring some friends and we could follow you around and be your crew. Beat up on the politicians who don’t vote the way you tell them to. Haha I actually really want to go. Maybe when I get back we can go and straighten out DC.  J

Beautiful Day in Angarsk
I will try to be better about the information I share about Angarsk. We aren't near the ocean but it is still pretty windy. We are not too far from Lake Baikal though, the world’s largest fresh water lake :)  The weather here is pretty crazy though. One day was hot, about 25 degrees Celsius and we were sweating all day. The next day we woke up and everything was cloudy, it was snowing hard. About an hour later it was hot again and all the snow melted, and then for the rest of the day it rained. The weather is fickle. Hard to plan for it, we normally just wear our suits and a light coat on top of it. Russians here wear big coats and hats even when it is hot outside. They don’t seem to go by weather conditions.  In their opinion if it is before June then you still should be wearing boots and coats.
Lazy sidewalk builders in Russia.  :)
There is a center part of Angarsk and it is pretty cool. It has nice old buildings, cobblestone streets and it looks a bit like old town Puerto Rico but less Hispanic haha. We normally go there to talk to people and sometimes they try to be mean but I don’t think they are mean. They are just kinda silly. This one guy told me "I am Russian so I don’t need what you are trying to tell me" Haha. All we can do is pray for them and love them anyways. Like it says in Og Mandino's book "The Greatest Salesman in the World"   Love is the key to success in all ventures. Without it I will fail though I possess all the skills in the world. There is something I can learn from every man I meet.

Speaking of learning something new... This week I started doing a little bit of studying in the Bible. Now you might say to yourself... This seems pretty late to START studying the word of the Lord... I would answer that I am now studying some passages in Hebrew and Greek. We have some study materials that are written in Hebrew and Greek and it really helps us to understand the original meaning better. Sometimes with the different translations of the Bible and what not it is hard to understand what the author meant. The older translations definitely help :) It’s pretty cool.
There is also this CD that we have here called "Defending the Faith" by Daniel C. Peterson. He is a lecturer and he gives a talk about all the criticisms the Church has encountered over the past 50 or so years and he dissects them. It is a very faith promoting CD. I would recommend it to everyone :)

In our branch we have a lot of newly baptized members. We have had about 4 baptisms in the past month. Lots of good things are happening for this small branch. We don’t have to do as much during Sacrament Meeting here as we did in Nakhodka. The members here seem to pull their own weight and that is really nice to see.
There was a wedding in Angarsk with two of our new members. They are fabulous! The marriage ceremony lasted about 1 minute 30 seconds altogether. We walked into the little wedding chapel, the bride and groom walked to the front by a table set up and a lady standing there. The lady gave a little speech basically saying "Do you promise to love each other forever and be good to each other and stuff?" The bride and groom both said yes then they signed this paper sitting on the table. Music started playing and then everyone formed a line to hug and congratulate the bride and groom. There was about 15 people in our wedding party which was a lot bigger than most other people at the Zaks (The wedding place). We took some pictures and then went to the reception at the church :) Fun stuff!  When we were taking pictures it felt more like prom than a wedding but that’s just an 18 year old guys opinion about it :)

We live 4 elders in an apartment and when the APs visited us there were 6 of us there. Fun stuff! It’s always a party. My companion is a small town country boy. He reminds me of Jared and Austin because he grew up in a high school with about 200 kids and a small town. He always went hunting and fishing and mudding in his truck. It is way fun to talk to him, he is Zone leader for the Zone of missionaries out here in the Western part of the mission.
That is so crazy, Michael is going on a mission soon! He is getting so grown up :) Please send my love to the ward and to the Hopper family!

I love you all! Hope all is going well.

Elder Gardner

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