Monday, November 16, 2015

Negative 33 degrees!

Hey there! The temperature is dropping faster than the voice of a schoolboy going through puberty. It was negative 33 degrees Celsius yesterday before church! We did the math and it was somewhere around negative 27 Fahrenheit if I remember correctly. You walk outside and you can feel your nose hairs and stuff freezing... weird... I haven't ever experienced that before. We had an alright day at church. Lots of drama and people who don't respect others.  But the good news is we are having an increase of church attendance and that makes me really happy!

This week is the week that the Patriarch flies in. He is flying in from Moscow because that's where he lives. I think he is of German nationality though but I am not sure. The Perkinson’s and the Patriarch have been touring the mission giving blessings for the past few weeks. They started in the East and are working their way towards Irkutsk. They are currently in Ulan-Ude and this upcoming week is our lucky week! Lots of preparation to do in order to get ready for them. Lots of cleaning, organizing people and giving out assignments. A side note, our home teaching numbers are down. Not many members are doing home teaching in general. Next year they are implementing a new program. Anyone who wants to do home teaching will put their names on a list and those who don't sign up don’t have to do it. I am not sure that I would do it this way, but we will see what comes of it J 

Elder Tracy is teaching me to juggle
This week we will find out what is happening with transfers. We don't know yet. We did the math with how many Elders are coming in and how many will finish training and how many will need to go where. It will be a tight fit. I am not too sure how the President plans on splitting everything up. It will be super interesting. He told Elder Gray that after Elder Gray finds out the transfers he probably won't be very happy and President will probably have to take Elder Gray to Subway to cheer him up. Ha Ha  I wonder what it means! 

Elder Tracy is doing great though. He is catching on really quick. He is making lots of phone calls and teaching big parts of lessons. He is killing it. I remember I didn't call people for the first few months of my mission and Elder Tracy is already an active participant in the whole process of Missionary work. He is such a stud.

There is a mission conference on the 1st of December. Then I will be going to renew my Visa the same week!

I haven't seen any fast food restaurants here in Irkutsk (except Subway and Papa Johns).  No drive through anything. I saw one drive-through burger place in Nakhodka but I never saw anybody drive through.  J   There are a ton of small stores each run by local families. They are like the size of Circle K. There is bottled water here but not many people buy it. They are tap water fans  :) It is definitely a simpler lifestyle here.

I know that most die-hard... classic... traditional ... (I am not sure which word to use) Russians think that they are better than Americans because everything in America is synthetic and not natural. Everything in Siberia is natural and pure :) They are big advocates of doing everything naturally and with their own hands. Not a bad principle to live by.

Actual Reindeer!
We are making some homemade pirozhkis in the coming days. We need a good bread recipe. Do you have one you can send me? You just make regular mashed potatoes. Then take some dough and wrap the taters in dough and boil them in 2 inches or so of oil for 5 minutes or until golden brown, then flip and boil the other side. Pretty simple, but pretty tasty : ) 

We talked to a member about it and they said you can put anything in them - any food, potatoes, fish, veggies, hamburger meat etc. And she said regular bread would work, but you should add some extra butter to the recipe. It is hard to recommend any substitutes because here in Russia they don't have pre-made dough or refrigerated rolls widely available.

72 hour kit
This week I have been thinking a lot about the 13th Article of Faith. ...If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. I was thinking about how we need to be open and willing to accept the good we see all around us. We sometimes have these preconceived notions and ideas that really aren't that important in the big scheme of things. We should be more worried about finding truth and light than being worried defending our personal opinions. I watched that movie "Meet the Mormons" this past week for the first time. I thought it was so great that we have church members in all parts of the world. They all bring some different attribute that will be of benefit to us and we need to be humble enough to accept it instead of rejecting it because it doesn't fit into our idea of what truth should look like.   

Stay Frosty,

Elder Gardner

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