Monday, January 25, 2016

Zombie Homes

Hey there!

This week was a good week, we did lots of tracting. It is kind of scary going up into a 9 story "Zombie home" at night to go tracting but we have had some good experiences :)  We call them Zombie Homes because there normally isn't good lighting and there is only 1 stairwell that goes up the middle of the apartment building and a hallway that stretches along with all the doors. It looks kinda scary but they are fun! We have been trying to tract instead of talking to people on the street because there isn't a ton of people on the street because of the extremely cold weather.
Zombie House
I don't know if I showed you my boots that I got a few weeks ago. They are very warm but I kind of just got them for the souvenir/fun factor. They would have been nice in Irkutsk -  but now I don't need them as much.  They still help a lot and I wear them often.
New Russian Boots
This week we spent going around to all the people on our Branch List and trying to meet them. Not many were home but we left little invitations saying that we missed them and hoped to see them soon. One man is named “Iv” and we visited him and left him a little invitation in his mail box.  Two days later he showed up at the church! Crazy, it worked! Well... sort of... it turns out the Sisters went and visited him the day after we did and he was home that day. He told them to go away but then he showed up at the church anyway.  haha.   Anyways, we asked him to go with us to visit another less-active member that he knew and he agreed :) We visited “Ig” (the other guy) and it was great. That all happened on Friday. On Sunday, Igor showed up to church! He even showed up earlier than we did, and we showed up really early to get some work done before Church started. He set up the chairs for the congregation and he also prepared the Sacrament for us:) He really is a great guy, he just hasn't been coming because he had some head problems. He got hit by a car, but is feeling better and is starting to get back on his own two feet.  

My hat captures snow, too
We didn't do a whole lot this week other than try to talk to people. We had a few lessons with less-active members whom we haven't met yet. We had one lesson with our investigator “N”. He is doing good, working hard trying to take care of his family. They have a lot of kids and although the kids are mostly grown up they still live with him.  He currently works around 60 hours a week but pretty soon he will be working  7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm (yes that puts him over 80 hours a week). He is a welder and he is really a cool guy. He told us that he helped build the foundation for this new 14 floor building they are building near our house. Guess how deep the foundation is. I don't know how deep it should be, or how deep we usually make our foundations ( I really don't know anything about construction and maybe the way they do it is fine)  but he told me how deep they make the foundations two meters deep for a  14 story buildings.  That seems like a small number to me, but then again I have never seen any buildings tip over so they must be on to something :) I have never felt unsafe in a Russian building so I wouldn't worry.
Russian building under construction
The Branch here is good. For now we are seeing the same results that we have had in the past. Some members come every week. But most don’t.  I would say overall though we have a good branch. But it is really hard here. Our primary teacher lives an hour away by bus, so she has to take a bus for an hour to get to the center of town and then she has to get on another bus and take that to the church. She got sick last week and couldn't come. She wasn't deathly ill but she understood that if she went to church and got even sicker then she would be down and out for at least a week of work and their family needs the money so she couldn't afford to risk it and come to church.

Elder Siebach and his friend
I don’t know of other missionaries serving in leadership positions in the branch. They might kick me out soon haha. I think some prefer having a senior couple serve in that capacity.  It is possible that they will make a technical change with someone from Vlad but I will be the one here on the ground working with the members.  That’s fine with me.
Our eating is good, we should be getting a reimbursement soon.  With Visa trips they used to give us money for the Korea trips that we could spend there but now they don't. I am not sure why the change. Anyways last time I went to Korea I spent a bunch of money and didn't budget well haha. It was the holiday season J  Anyways we have been eating out less now and are back on track.  But for a few weeks  we were eating a lot of ramen haha :) We actually have been expanding our meal repertoires recently. We have made some salads and pasta with lots of vegetables. Here in Artyom veggies are really cheap so we are doing better about that.  I weighed myself two days ago. Now I’m 164. I was 190 before the mission. They call me the Lean Mean Preachin' Machine!

I wish I had more to write but hopefully something crazy will happen this week and I can write about it next week :) I know the Church is true and the more I learn about life and the more I learn about the way families should be run, the more and more grateful I am that I have the church.
These pictures tell a fun story. Word to the wise - don't do this.  Ha ha.
Thank you so much for the support and I love you so much :)

Elder Gardner

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