Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Their testimonies are strong

This week was a good week. I really enjoyed the zone conference and learned a lot.  I am grateful for the Perkinsons, they really work hard to make sure we are on the right path and are happy. They are wonderful.  
The branch is doing good, although there weren't very many people at church this week. 14 people showed up. If we aren't counting the 5 missionaries then only 9 members. Very small. It was Fast Sunday because last week was the conference in Vlad. We had almost everyone get up and bear a testimony during sacrament meeting which was wonderful to see. But imagine 14 testimonies taking up the whole sacrament meeting hour. There were some big gaps between testimonies where people were just sitting there in the silence waiting for someone to get up. I am grateful to those who got up. Even though we have small numbers in this branch their testimonies are strong.
Thanks for your concern about the motivations of some single girls.  Thank you for calling me cute, but I really haven't had any problems with this. There have been a few times when girls giggle at us on the busses and say hello in English, but that's really it. I can't recall a time when this was a problem :) But I will keep my "Joseph in Egypt" shoes with me from now on! Don't worry about me.
We met some new people and got behind some walls. I am excited to see what will happen from here. We finally found a place to do some pottery and we took our lunch hour the other day to go make some pots and make some friends in the process. The place is called Istoki and we met a guy who works there named Evgenii. He was really interested in us as people and why we were in Russia. We didn't try to push the gospel on him, but he seemed to enjoy talking about it. He speaks English pretty well and has traveled around Asia doing pottery. He believes in God but doesn't really do anything to worship him. I was able to show him some pottery tricks and things that we did at my school and he showed me some things that I didn't know and it was a good learning experience for both of us. We are inviting him to English practice tonight, hopefully he can come.

Our lesson with Nikolai was a really nice lesson. We were not able to visit him on Thursday like we had wanted, but we were able to go on Friday instead. Little did we know that Friday was the day that the sisters were going to visit Looba, his wife. It wasn't a problem though because we just sat in different rooms and didn't bother one another. I feel kind of bad for him, he tries to be a good father and help his kids do the right thing but he isn't sure how to do it, and even when he does good sometimes his wife gets upset at him for punishing the kids. We were talking to him about his sons who were drunk and he was pretty upset that they were always drunk. We talked to him about the importance of family and having a loving atmosphere at home. We talked about if he had a hard day at work he could go and get drunk and that would calm him down, but that's really not a good way to relieve stress. Or if he had a stressful day at work he could come home, play with his kids and spend time with his family and that would be such a more productive way to deal with stresses in his life. Then we told him that he was the head of the house and if he wanted something to happen then he would have to set the example. A little bit later he said "Well drinking a little bit really isn't that bad". Oh Nikolai No! We testified about families and the Word of Wisdom and hopefully he gets it a little bit more. He's a great guy but needs more support to change into the person he wants to become.
We had another good experience with tracting the other day. We met a guy who was pretty young and said he knew the missionaries in the past. He wasn't super interested but we asked him if he needed any help with anything. He asked if we knew how to skin and clean fish. I said no, but Elder Siebach knew how so we came in and talked with him for a little bit while Elder Siebach cleaned some fish and showed him how it’s done. He was pretty grateful and we made a new friend. It’s pretty easy for us to make friends right away but getting a second meeting with these people is hard. I am not exactly sure what to do, it's frustrating sometimes.

I gave my self a haircut.  What do you think?
The thing about the Russian sense of humor is true. They have a really weird sense of humor. I learned a few jokes that Russians really enjoy but I don't think they are very funny:
1- A woman came up to a lake and saw a man in the lake swimming in his jacket. She says to the man "Why are you swimming in your jacket?" and he replies "I am cleaning it". She says to the man "That’s not needed I have a washing machine at home you can use". The man answers "No that would never work, I would get too dizzy".

2- A man was with his wife one night when she told him that she wanted to have snails for dinner. He went to the store to get some snails and while he was at the store he saw a group of his friends who invited him to go drinking with them. He said no, but after some coaxing they got him to come. "Only one drink" he said to them. Next thing he knows, he wakes up in a strange house a week later not knowing where he is. He eventually finds his way back to the store only to find that all the snails are gone, they only have live snails to buy so he gets those and runs home. He sets the snails down on the ground in a row and then rings the doorbell of his home and his wife comes to the door. When she opens the door he says to the snails "Hurry up! Are you going to take another week to get into the house too?"

I don't find those super funny but Russians laugh their heads off :)
The high of my week was having 2 Oreo milkshakes. Yum. The low was that I tried to do a workout the other day and I couldn't pick the weight up off the ground and it was pretty embarrassing :(

Thank you for all the support you give me, I love you so much!

Elder Gardner   

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