Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hey! What’s up? It is so weird to think that my birthday is in 3 days! I don’t feel any older:)  I feel still young and vibrant! It feels like I don’t have a birthday. We are always hurrying somewhere and rushing to do something. We don’t have a whole lot of time to think about birthdays and stuff :) Haha  
Yellow water coming out of our shower.  Yuck.  :)
I am glad you liked the pictures! I haven't sent any in a while :(  The Hare Krishnas are SUPER nice people. They are definitely a force for good in the world I just don’t really know what they believe in. They have interesting beliefs but strong morals and I think that is great. I didn't know their church was a worldwide thing! Pretty cool, if you see them make sure you say "Hare Krishna" as a hello. That is how they say hello to each other :) 
I had the pop rocks in my sumka (my bag) because I wanted to give the poprocks to some Russians on the bus ride over there. They have a form of pop rocks here but it isn't the same. All the people who tried them think they are the coolest thing :) 
At the Elder Nelson conference last week we all sang a version of "I know that my Redeemer lives". "Я знаю жив искупитель мой"  or Russian/English  "Ya znayoo zheev eeskoopeetel moi". It was really pretty! I decided the day before the conference that I didn't want to be bothered reading the words off a paper... so I memorized it :) Oh and I didn't know this either but Elder Nelson speaks a bit of Russian. He could bear his testimony in Russian. Pretty awesome!
I am not too sure why Elder Nelson was in Russia. After our meeting he flew on out to see Lake Baikal with President and Sister Brinton. Luckyyy! Elder Nelson was really complimentary of us. He finished his talk and stepped down from the podium and right before he walked out the doors he said two things to us. "Tell your parents I love them, and tell them thank you for sending us the very best". At most every zone conference or big training that we have with the missionaries and President Brinton they tell us how great we are as missionaries and they tell us we are the best. I don’t know if that is a common thing in missions, where the president and wife praise the missionaries openly :) But sure does help to keep us enthusiastic about the work... I kind of like it. haha   
We made cake.  Yum.
My week was overall pretty good. We had a baptism! Kristina, the one who loves Elder Brown, got baptized. She was making comments this whole week about how she was scared of the water and how she wasn't too pumped about being under the water for a long time. We kept assuring her that it would be quick – just down and up quickly and there would be no problems. When the member who was baptizing her put her under, her leg popped up. As you know, if she isn't completely underwater then you have to do the dunk a 2nd time. The member held her underwater hoping that one of the missionaries would push her leg down.  She started freaking out and came up gasping for air. She got all the way under on the first try but also was really scared. I am sure that now she is VERY scared of water! Wonderful.  hahah. All is well, she is baptized and next week she will receive the Holy Ghost. Missionary work continues in the Motherland. 
We also had a big training thing this week for the Presidency of our branch. There is a program on the computer called MLS and it is how the church keeps track of Tithing funds and so forth. We had to set that up this week so we went to Irkutsk, got the computer, brought it back to Angarsk, set it up, hooked up the router and got everything installed and yesterday was the training. A senior couple flew out from Novosibirsk to help us but the only problem is that they don’t speak Russian. Yesterday Elder Brown and I were at the church for 9 hours working nonstop trying to set up for the baptism, do some training, work on the tithing and stuff on the computer, take down the font for the baptism and so on... All the while translating for this senior couple. They are wonderful but boy was it a lot of work :) During the training the Russian people kinda just talked over one another and we had to try to translate their questions and conversations to English for the Senior couple and then translate the answer or instructions into Russian for our members and it was pretty hectic:) I love it!! Yesterday was a really good day:) 
I just have one bit of advice to give this week. We had some news come up within our branch, and now missionaries won’t be playing games with the members each Friday. It will now be the members’ responsibility to run our Game Night. As soon as we told our members, a few of them freaked out. They got very upset that such a change could be made without their permission and they were starting to make rude comments. It was kind of sad to see how quickly people could get insulted and upset - especially over such a small thing. Another example happened when we were setting up the baptismal font. We set it out and filled it half way up with water on Saturday night. If we tried to fill it all up on Sunday we wouldn't have enough time. We would fill it halfway on Saturday night and Sunday morning we would fill the rest with warm water to keep it from being too cold. One of the members came in all upset Saturday night. They demanded to know why we were filling it up a day early. It would get cold overnight they explained to us. They asked if we were trying to freeze Kristina and it was just a bit rude how they spoke to us. When the member heard the rest of our plan, they calmed down and all was good. These experiences reminded me of 2 scriptures in the New Testament:  James 1:19 and James 3:5
I hope we always are keeping our ears more open than our mouths. I can learn something new from EVERY person that I meet. I know that is true for each one of us and I urge each one of you to remember that:) I know we can be more happy and we will avoid contention a lot easier if we listen to the whole story before we talk.
I love you all! I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true Church of God on the Earth today. I miss you all :)

Stay Frosty

Elder Gardner

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