October 13, 2014All is well,
Here's what happened this last week-
Monday- We wake up, have studies, and then hustle to the internet cafe as fast as we can! Dima is the one who runs the internet cafe and he is so kind to us. He helps us when we want to send pictures home, and he always says, "the usual?" which is 2 hours :) we have unlimited time to write home, but really 2 hours is enough! After writing home we go get groceries. I always buy a HUGE bag of apples and they are gone by the end of the week. Sister Haroldsen taught me this recipe, mom you got to try it! You'll love it. You take a grater, and grate an apple, some cheese (any cheese really, actually maybe more mild) and then grate a clove or two of garlic, then about a tablespoon or two of mayo, mix it all together and then put it on some bread. It's so good! It's my favorite snack. Also there is this stuff here called me-you-slee, mhyuslee. It's cereal basically. We buy the healthy kind of it and then put plain activia milk in it. I'll eat that for breakfast or oatmeal. Also my new companion sister Martinez has some taco seasoning so we make taco soup too, oh man it's so yummy. We do lots of cooking on Mondays! Also I'll cook up some banana bread, I am famous in this branch for it ;) after groceries sometimes we'll go to the reenock. I actually bought a coat last week, but I don't think it will be thick enough for winter. It was only 500 rubles, and WARM, I wore it the other night when I could see my breath really easy and I was even hot in it! But if it was only 500 rubles it can't be that good of quality. We are going up to Samara tonight to have a visa trip, so I'll probably get one of the left behind winter jackets from one of the sisters there.
Then on Monday nights we have FHE at Sister Cv.'s, she is my Russian mom :) I love her so so much. Her daughter is N. is such a sassy 18 year old girl, gotta love it. The elders get so annoyed with her hahaha. At FHE we start with a spiritual thought, then we play a game, then we eat WATERMELON, every time. For some reason Elder Wall just always brings watermelon, it's tradition now. Actually a man came to FHE last week that no body really knew, and afterward while everyone was eating and talking, I went and sat next to him and asked him about his religious beliefs and what not. He talked about how there are so many churches on earth, and how each church claims to be the true church, and he's just confused. I gave him a big smile, and jumped right into the restoration. We sent him on his merry way with a Book of Mormon. He called us today and asked if he could come to FHE again tonight and bring a friend with him who is also interested in this church of ours. I am so sad that we are leaving tonight for our visa trip... but Elder Wall will take care of him. I could trust that elder with my life, he feels like a brother, he's such an amazing missionary. And he's staying in our area!! (I actually wrote president begging him not to take him out of our area and president wrote back saying, "Well sister Wilson, looks like the Lord heard your prayers, Elder Wall is sticking in Balakovo.")
Speaking of which, I hear that Elder Graf is with his MTC companion and they are serving together as zone leaders. I was so happy for him when I found that out hahaha. He's probably having the time of his life. I am sure that I will serve in Toliatti sometime, and when I get put over there he'll probably get booted out and put as a zone leader some where else :) haha I'm not too worried about crossing paths with him. God's in charge of the work and he's going to be really smart about where we're both serving. If I stay in Balakovo my whole mission I'm sure I'd be happy. I love this city.
Tuesday- We went and said goodbye to a lot of people because sister Haroldsen was getting transferred early. Lots of tears from her :) On Tuesday nights we have "film night" at the branch building. Usually there's only like 3 people who come, but this time it was SO successful, at least 11 people came! LOTS of less actives and LOTS of investigators. We watched mobsters and Mormons, I didn't understand basically the whole movie, but apparently it's really funny because everyone was laughing the whole time. Nothing better than being left out of the loop hahaha.
Wednesday- My dear trainer left me! Sister Haroldsen will now be with my MTC companion in Saratov. My new companion is sister Martinez. Oh man I love her. She is SO sweet and selfless and soft spoken. She has been out for 6 months. And has a really wonderful gift of being able to speak under the influence of the spirit. Whenever she opens her mouth you just know she is speaking from her heart. I can't wait to get to know her more, we really haven't had much time to just sit down and talk, but we have a long bus ride to Samara today, so I will get to know her a little more hopefully :) We have lots of the same desires and goals, so I know that we are going to see some AMAZING miracles here in Balakovo. That night she wanted to get to know the city a little better so we just went contacting and knocking.
Thursday- We have weekly planning from 11:00 to whenever we are done. As missionaries we like to call planning war counsel :) and it really is war. We have to take this time very seriously, because it is just as precious and sacred as any proselyting time on the streets. President Schwab actually brought up something funny at our last Zone conference, he said, "imagine being in a war counsel like in the days of the Nephites, and one of the generals walks into the counsel, starts taking off his armor, puts his feet up on the table, and pulls out a bag of chips. You would think, 'Dude, seriously? What are you doing...?'" It's the same thing with planning. Every night we come in at 9:00, we don't eat, we don't dress down and relax, we get straight into war counsel! Thursday nights we have English group, which is so much fun, depending on how many people come, which ranges from like... 4-15 people. Just depends! It's fun hearing everyone speak English in these beautiful, thick accents.
Friday- We have district meeting at about 12:30. It is only supposed to be and hour and a half, but somehow it ends up being longer than that every single time... We have Elder Wall and Serino as the elder in our area and I love them both :) they are like brothers to us! During district meeting we talk about our investigators and give each other advice. And we do role plays, which really is so insightful. Friday nights we usually have lessons with investigators, and if we can't find any investigators we meet with members, build them up and remind them how perfect the gospel is, and then ask for referrals. It has been going really well actually.
Saturday- we will contact or have lessons until 6:00, and then we have game night. I have actually found out that I am quite talented in the game of chess. Who knew?
Sunday- church starts at 10:00. Relief society in Russia is a completely different thing that relief society in America... I'll tell ya that much. Just a bunch of older women reading and discussing the lesson directly from the book or from a liahona :) after church is our missionary meeting with the branch mission leader- Z. I love him. I want to take him to America, pay for him to take English lessons, and then have him teach gospel doctrine at BYU. He is so smart, so spiritual, so selfless. He is the most Christlike person I have ever met. The sisters in Balakovo have a member with them from 6-9:00 every single night thanks to Z. He's easily one of my best friends here in Russia.
Also, conference was AMAZING. Oh I so needed just a spiritual feast :) I have a strong testimony of the power of general conference. I KNOW that prayers are answered at conference. I would be a completely different person without conference, actually. I went to a session of conference about a year and a half ago and one of the talks literally changed my life. I don't know where I would be, who my friends would be, or WHO I would be if I hadn't attended that session of conference. THAT is the power of the words of living prophets. It changed my life. If you haven't watched conference I challenge you to do so. The Holy Ghost speaks to us on such a personal level, I'll have to say that half of the notes that I took during conference were actually not related at all to what the speaker said! We get to hear a direct and straight forward message from a messenger of God, but we also get personal revelation, another message just for us and only for us :) God loves us and knows us perfectly. I am grateful for his son Jesus Christ, I am grateful for his example and the way that I feel when I try to live my life as Christ did. I just feel good, I feel happy :) (just a side note, kindness is so powerful! Never forget that! I'm always so surprised and happy and see what happens when I pass someone on the street and just say "Hello!" They look at us like we just gave them a bouquet of flowers, like it's the nicest thing they've ever heard. It is so rewarding just to say hello.)
Anyway, this is a long long letter. But there's a more detailed list of my week and how it goes :)
Til next week, love ya
And this from Brooklyn's new companion, Sister Martinez:
Yesterday after church was quite the adventure. We were riding home on a bus, it was a pretty crowded bus so I had to stand. I heard an older woman next to me talking very angrily. I honestly thought she was talking to someone behind me so I didn't pay any attention until she started yelling at me even more. She was very drunk. She grabbed my arm and started to shake me really hard, yeah... all I could do was try to get her grip off of me. I was literally in a shock, I couldn't believe this was happening to me! After getting her grip off of me I ran to the other side of the bus, but she followed me and began shaking me again. I honestly didn't want to hit her because she was drunk and didn't know what she was doing. So all I could do was get her grip off of me. My companion was trying to get her off, this was all during our ride home. The bus conductor was trying to calm the lady down, but she just kept on coming after me. We quickly got off the bus, unfortunately the drunk lady came out after us and she was charging after me. She wasn't hitting me, just shaking me. My companion Sister Wilson is quite the fighter :) She came between us and got her arm off of me... I am so grateful for my companion! I'm honestly fine, I didn't get hurt at all - just shaken up. We ran away ASAP.
(Brooklyn took a self defense class before she left, wonder if she remembered any of it....)