Monday, September 28, 2015


Oh my goodness, where to begin??!
I just realized that I haven't even been away from the MTC for an entire week,and that seems crazy to me, because I feel like I've been in Russia/traveling forever! It was really hard to say goodbye to my district at the MTC, but everyone was so excited to get into the field,so that made it doable. 

We traveled to Rostov in a group of 12 missionaries (which is a huge number for our mission--the older missionaries here were blown away when all of us arrived). It was a very confusing, long two days, but miraculously, all of us and all of our luggage made it to the mission home safely! I'm proud! We stopped in Moscow for a while, to apply for second passports (it's required here, because our Visa situation is super weird), so we got to drive through the city a bit! We didn't see much, because we didn't actually get to tour around, but I did get a sighting of my first Russian temple! They're just like the pictures--gorgeous, and very different from anything in America :). Our driver was arranged by the Church, but he didn't speak English, and as soon as we were done with our passport stuff, he helped us get all our luggage out of the van, and then just dumped us outside of the airport and zoomed away. It was hilarious--us 12, clueless, exhausted Americans with SO much luggage and no idea what anyone was saying. :) Somehow we navigated the airport, and we got on our plane in time! Seriously, it was kind of amazing. 

President and Sister Miner met us at the airport in Rostov, and they were so accepting and wonderful right from the moment they saw us! They don't speak Russian, so it was a nice break to be able to have an understandable conversation. They've only been here for a few months, but they seem to have this whole running-a-mission thing in the bag! We all spent the night in the mission home, and Sister Miner made enchiladas (!!!). I had my first interview with President Miner--he just rocks. The next morning, we had orientation, and everyone met their trainers!
My new companion is Sister Marquis. She's from Utah :), she has two more transfers, and she's trained basically half of the missionaries in the mission. Also, she's basically fluent in Russian. She seriously knows what she's doing. She's always on the ball, and she's obedient but a lot of fun. I have no idea how I got so lucky, but I already adore her, and I'm so glad to have the chance to learn from someone so experienced! We street-contacted in the afternoon after orientation, and it was terrifying but also amazing. I even started a couple of conversations. Basically, I can say, "Hello, we're from our church,and we know that God loves you." Then I can ask them what they believe about God or something similar, but as soon as they respond, I get really confused and Sis. Marquis has to take the reigns... I knew that it was going to be hard to understand people here, but I guess I didn't know what that really meant until I experienced it. Their accents are so different, and they speak so fast! I love the way it sounds, but I have no idea what it means! It's been getting better, and people are usually way nice about repeating things for me, but WOW, it's crazy. It's really nice to have Sister Marquis here, so I have hope that I'll eventually be able to understand and respond coherently! :)
Right now, I am in Volgograd center. it's beautiful and busy. This morning we went for a run, and we got to run right alongside the river. It was lovely. I adore the branch here! There are about 60-70 members, but I've probably met about 40 from the activity on Saturday and church yesterday. There's a lot of youth, and they especially love the missionaries, which is way nice. Right now, we have 2 sets of elders along with Sis. Marquis and I serving in the branch, and 2 of the 6 of us missionaries are new this transfer! The members are patient and sweet,and their testimonies are inspiring. I was asked to bear my testimony in Sacrament Meeting yesterday, and afterward, many of them have reached out to me personally. It's so nice to be here, and to feel their support!
There's a university here, which means a lot of students--and a lot of them are non-natives. There's one incredible member named Freesia. She's from Ghana, she moved here and started studying 3 weeks ago, and she started coming to our branch. She speaks English and is learning Russian right now, but is really struggling, so she loves to talk to the missionaries. She is one of my favorite people ever, because even though she is so discouraged and scared, she has this unwavering testimony that God loves her and that she's here for a reason. We went over to her place last night and shared a spiritual thought, and she was so grateful, but I think she uplifted me even more than we uplifted her! She is so incredible. She lives in student housing, and there are toooons of people there, so when we were leaving, she introduced us to like a gazillion of them. We're actually meeting with some of them tomorrow night, and I'm pumped! Her friend Samuel was talking to us, and when we invited him to learn about how our church was restored he said something along the lines of, "yes, I've been talking to Freesia, and I'd really really love to schedule a time for that, and maybe possibly to be baptized, too."  ??!!??! <--That was my brain at that moment, haha. :) I'll let you know what happens with that whole situation. Last night was the best though, meeting with all of those wonderful people.
I love you and I have to go right now! Thanks for all your love!!

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