Monday, September 7, 2015

Russian Life

Hey there:) We had a good week this week! Full of rain, and cold nights and jackets.  I have told a couple people about the microbursts that we get in Ahwatukee, and they don't seem to understand. It is pretty crazy and for us desert folk that we don't know how to deal with all the water, haha.  We have been getting lots of rain though, recently, and it is really nice. I think Summer is all gone and it will only get cold from here on out.

Oh, side note, Russian streets don't drain the water super well and I see people get splashed all the time from cars driving through puddles at high speeds. You might think that it is funny, I did at one point too until I became the victim and now I just feel bad whenever I see people get soaked. Another thing, I don’t think I have ever seen more amateur drivers drifting around corners in the rain in busy traffic in suped-up Toyota Corollas with self-welded on spoilers than here in Irkutsk. It’s fun to watch:)

Elder Protopopov in our crazy fog!
We had a good English practice where we had people split into teams and write down good conversation questions. We didn't explain the rules well enough because when we told everyone to put down the pens and share what they came up with we got weird questions. 

"Why don't you eat banana pills?" 
"How long would it take to walk to the moon?" 
"What's up doc?" 
They wrote down silly things like that. 

The rest of our week was alright. We finally found a new investigator that agreed to meet with us. His name is Maxim. He is a former Military pilot and submarine operator and now he is working for American Airlines. He seems like a way cool guy, the only problem is he doesn't come across as a super cool guy. He has ripped clothing and ugly fingernails and greasy hair. I mean I can't judge. He might have had serious trouble and that’s why he looks the way he does:) We are still meeting with him and we hope to be able to help him find a real desire to follow Christ. 

We are trying to come up with different ways to find people to talk to. Normally we come up to some random person on the street and we say "Hello we are missionaries and want to talk about God" Haha it doesn't work out too well. We started doing a survey and it helps us stop people easier. It is less intimidating when we say "Hi, we want to ask your opinion about a few things". We are trying to think of more ways though. If you think of any fun or creative ways to talk to people please send them our way. 

This week we also had a movie night. We started this tradition but it is going downhill pretty quickly. The first time we had this, about 30 people came and it was a big success. The second time about 15 people came and this last time there was 8. Maybe we will have to give the movie night a break for a while. It is such a shame that there are very few Church movies translated into Russian. We really want to see Meet the Mormons because we heard it was good, but that won't be in Russian for a long time. 

This is at Rio Grande... its kind of a Native American restaurant too pretty cool:)
I will be headed off to Korea this week and it will eat up most of my week. I will leave tonight at midnight. I am flying out by myself and will meet missionaries in Habarovsk after my 6 hour flight. Wish me luck! Hopefully I don't go to too many clubs while I am without my companion. Just kidding! I think it is cool that they trust us to fly alone. It wouldn't help if Elder Protopopov flew with me because that would just be another plane ticket to buy. President Perkinson is trying to cut down on expenses and make this mission very "efficient" (that is the word he used) He said this mission is the largest mission based on land size and is a mission that has probably the greatest capacity to be inefficient (I hope this is all making sense). It would be easy to spend lots of money flying here and there and that was what our mission was in the past. There isn't anything inherently wrong with that, but we could do better. He is focusing on "Streamlining" (another word he has been saying a lot recently) our mission and expenses. You can definitely tell that he is a businessman just from his vocabulary. Anyways, that is why I haven't been flying so much:)

I get back to Irkutsk on Friday early morning. I will work here for a day and then we are headed off to Ulan-Ude Saturday morning to do splits with the missionaries over there. I won’t have any time here in Irkutsk, but that’s okay! The work continues everywhere, not just in Irkutsk. 

One of the members posted two videos of the soccer game we played a couple of weeks ago.  Check out my skills. :)  (I am the one in the white shorts.) 

If anyone who reads this blog understands Russian, then check out this cool website that one of our members maintains. It is the website for his soccer team that he created, Baikal +.  They are pretty cool! If you don't understand Russian then I would recommend going to Google Translate and typing in the URL. It will translate the whole website for you. Either Google Translate or maybe you could just look at the pictures and not read anything... like I did with most of my school text books:) The website is 

Anyways, I’m glad you tried making that Hare Krishna cake.  It looks super tasty!  It looks perfect. I normally slather the top with jam so it isn't so plain. The options are really endless. 

Our trip to the Russian Orthodox Temple was really cool:) There are a ton of temples here in Irkutsk. Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, 7th day Adventists, Evangelists, Jewish Synagogues, Muslim Mosques are all found scattered across the center part of the city. Now all we need is a Mormon Temple:) There are really pretty paintings on the roof and walls of the Russian Orthodox temples and a cool little store inside. You can buy some candles and put them out in remembrance of loved ones or deceased people. You can buy a cross to wear around your neck, or maybe some icons that most everyone has in their house. The icons are to help people remember God and their faith. They have nice old ladies that work there too:) It's really a cool place. They also had a giant wall with an altar set up and a big gold and colorful painting on the wall. This is where the priest stands I think. I didn't take any pictures because I didn't want to be disrespectful and I don’t really know the rules there but Google Search it and I am sure you can find something.

Anyways, I am glad to be here in Russia. The people are great, the food is tasty and the Gospel is true even in Irkutsk.

I hope you have a wonderful week and stay happy and healthy:)

Elder Gardner

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