Friday, March 25, 2016

It is a beautiful 10 degrees outside

Happy Spring from Artyom, Russia! It is a beautiful 10 degrees outside and I broke a sweat standing on the bus today! I guess I am finally getting used to the weather.  Pretty soon we won't be wearing coats anymore. We are stuck wearing coats though because we are trying to fit in and most people are still wearing coats. Besides, if it gets cloudy though then it can get quite chilly in a hurry.

I got a call from the pottery place that my 2 cups are out of the kiln and survived! One of the guys at the place was worried that they were too skinny but they survived and I am very happy. We are going back tomorrow to put a milk glaze on them. For all my potters out there you might be wondering "Elder Gardner, what do you mean 'Milk Glaze'?" Well my dear friend, it is an ancient Russian tradition to use milk instead of glaze on pottery. You fire your pottery once in the kiln and then it becomes hard. Then you take it out let it cool, dip it in milk and bake it in the kiln once more. That makes the clay turn dark brown and it looks like a beautiful dark wood. It is very cool:) Skim milk is bad, and won't really change the color of the pot. Use whole milk.

I am not too worried that you never taught me to skin a fish, because Elder Siebach got to teach me and now I know! I remember all the times we went fishing at the lake by our house we never caught anything. A Russian trick that I heard is to cook up some potatoes. Fry them in a pan like you were going to eat them yourself. Then take that with you to the lake and crumble it up and sprinkle it in the water to attract the fish. I haven't had a chance to try it yet but maybe you can give it a shot for me.

We didn't do anything for Saint Patrick's Day. I actually didn't even know it was Saint Patrick's Day - and I forgot to wear green. Luckily nobody pinched me! It sounds like you had a great celebration at school! I miss those days at school, they were my favorites.
This week we had some lessons with less-active church members and we also had a chance to take the Sacrament to a lady who is sick and couldn't come to church. It was a nice opportunity to spend some time with her. I miss getting to take the Sacrament each week to Kaitlin's grandpa with Chandler. That really is something special and I am a bit sad I didn't recognize it fully at that time.

I am reading right now in 3rd Nephi about the Saviors visit to the Americas. I think it is interesting how he, in chapter 17, told the people to go home and to pray for understanding. He didn't tell them to pray to know the truthfulness of the message. That is what we normally do as missionaries, we invite people to pray to know if the message is true like in Moroni 10:3-5. The Savior invited them to pray to understand the message better and I feel like if we understand the message of the Gospel better then we will come to a knowledge of its truthfulness. I have met lots of people who become disenchanted with the gospel and the church. When they explain why it often times comes from a misunderstanding or something that wasn't very clear. I have been thinking about that for a while.
I am not sure about any Russian traditions other than the typical greeting is "Christ is risen" then the other person replies "Truly he is Risen". I wish I could help, I am drawing a blank right now. Easter isn't a big holiday here, not like New Years or Christmas. Maybe you could talk about how we have our family tradition of eating peeps each Easter. Easter is all about the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ. This past month we have been talking about Prophets and Apostles and I am starting to realize how many prophecies were given about Jesus Christ and his birth and Death. I would like to think that I understand the atonement a little bit better now than I did at the beginning of my mission and I would attribute that to Preach My Gospel and the Pamphlets that we use to teach. Everything is written out very clearly and it might be useful to read those. I am not sure how well the church members understand the atonement and why it was necessary or why it had to be Christ and no other. Maybe they understand that all really well, maybe not. I hope I gave you an idea or 2. Good luck!

President and Sister Perkinson were at our Sacrament meeting and it was a pretty good meeting. 20 or so people showed up and we had a combined lesson for 2nd hour. Elder Siebach prepared a really good lesson about Prophets and Apostles. We had lots of little things to do this week that didn't include too much contacting. We had to get some new toner for the printer, a new cartridge, we had to do some expense reports and got to send some forms at the post office. We got to stand in line for an hour or so and we had an audit this week also. We just have too much fun here in Artyom! Hope you have a good week this week and stay frosty :) 
I love you,

Elder Gardner

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