Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Visa Trip to Korea

Hey there!

This week was a great week:) Started off the week with a trip to the airport to pick up an Elder who was staying with us named Elder Nielson. He was in Irkutsk with me for a little bit. Then the next day we all left for Korea and I had more than 5 smoothies and shakes because they don't have those here in Artyom and I chose not to exercise any self-control:) We were so very blessed to be able to do 3 sessions in the temple. I wasn't expecting it and I am so grateful we had any early flight in to Korea because that gave us plenty of time to enjoy the Temple. I learned a lot.
Yes, I did get rid of all that Korean money :) However, I still have a ton of coins that I haven't gotten rid of because they are 10 won coins. They aren’t worth much.  If you want to buy even a pack of gum it will cost you around 1000 won – that is about a dollar.  So basically I have a ton of Korean pennies (if you want to look at them that way). I might just have to keep them - they will be good souvenirs.

Lunch at Zone Conference
We were walking down the road in Korea and I saw a piano on the side of the street. It was painted and decorated and I am not sure why it was there but I took the opportunity to play Hymn number 26 because it is one of the first ones I memorized and I can play it fairly well.  As I was playing a girl came up and made a video of me playing and after I finished she walked away very quickly and we didn't have a chance to talk to her. So if you see a video on YouTube of a young man in a white shirt and tie and wearing a big fluffy leather jacket playing Joseph Smith's First Prayer on a busy street corner in Korea, it is probably me.
Oh yeah, I wore my big jacket to Korea but that was a mistake. It was a bit chilly but I would have been fine in a short sleeve shirt, I was sweating pretty bad.

More Zone Conference
After getting back from Korea we went with Elder Hess to take him to the bus station so that he could take a bus back to his assigned area. We were waiting for his bus for maybe 30 or 40 minutes and while we were waiting a man came up speaking English asking if we could help him. He was dressed normally, it didn't seem like he was homeless or drunk, but we were a bit hesitant. He said that he was stuck in Russia and wanted us to get in touch with the US embassy and wanted us to help him get to America. This often happens but normally it is a Russian asking if we can get them to America. We started talking to him more and more trying to figure out the situation and he said that he was born in Korea, moved to America and grew up in Southern California. Right now he was living in Korea with his mother and came to Russia for a small day trip to see what it was like. He ended up riding the train too far and landed in North Korea where he was subsequently put under arrest. He said they treated him really well in North Korea and gave him a nice play to stay and good food to eat. They respected him but of course kept him in custody for some time to figure out why he came to their country. After a few days they let him go and he had been just wandering around the streets in Vlad and Artyom looking for a place to stay when we met him. He said he wanted to go to America but we couldn't really help with that. So we offered to let him use the church computer to email his family and get something arranged. He emailed his mom and then got in contact with his aunt who lives in Southern California.  

Within about 15 minutes he bought a plane ticket and was very very relieved to be going home. The next morning we met up with him again and took him to this good noodle shop near the bus stop and we all got some tasty noodles. Then we went to the airport and sent him off. I hope he made it all the way to California because he didn't speak Russian and had a 24 hour lay-over in Moscow before he flew to NYC. Hopefully he made the switch and everything is good with him. I am so grateful that we had the chance to help him out. We even talked with him about the Restoration of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon and gave him a copy. He was very interested and said that he wanted to come to church in California.

On our way home from the airport we were sitting on the bus going home and a guy got on the bus with a bunch of ski equipment. We started talking to him and turns out he is from Calgary, Canada and we helped him get on the right bus. He wasn't supposed to be on the one we were on. Lots of little opportunities to serve and it is such a blessing:) I am grateful to be here in Russia.
That is crazy that I already have a place to stay in Provo and I am signed up for classes. It is all becoming a reality haha. I can't wait to see Elder Riggs again, it will probably be super weird to start calling him Nick instead of Elder Riggs. I might just call him   "Фура". It means Semi-truck in Russian but could also be translated as Big-Rig!

That is so cool that everyone is doing so well with their studies. I am not jealous at all though haha I don't have to study anything expect the Gospel. The most applicable subject you can study. I never understood how learning the history of Delaware would help me in my daily life, or when I would ever need to know how to take the integral of a function. But the Gospel is applicable in all aspects of life and never gets boring:) I am a lucky individual.
Our investigator hasn't been doing too hot. We haven't seen him in over a month. He has been drunk every time we have a lesson scheduled and we haven't been able to teach anything. Ironically the last lesson we taught before this whole deal started was the Word of Wisdom.

I have been eating very well recently except for in Korea. I had lots of junk food there. I got your care package full of goodies and snacks. I have been trying to give some of the cookies away because there was plenty to share.  I know my whole district was grateful for the Girl Scout cookies!

Yes, we now have Assistants to the President again. I think we didn’t have them for just one transfer. They came back pretty quickly – I was still in Irkutsk at that time.  Everything is constantly changing but really the only constant thing in this life is change! I love you all and hope you have a successful week, whatever your idea of success might be.
Thank you for all that you do and I am grateful that I have parents as wonderful as you :)

Elder Gardner


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