Monday, May 31, 2010

One month in Russia

Well, what's new in Vlad? Still no hot water. Elder Waltman and I have given up on boiling water each morning cause it takes forever and I just don't want to anymore. But man oh man are those showers insane. Elder Hall (one of the assistants) said on Sakhalin, he measured the water temp there and it was 45 degrees when he was there. He said ours wasn't quite that cold but it was certainly getting there. Baba Galya said yesterday when we visited with her that the hot water should be turned back on sometime this week hopefully.

Work here has been rough. I've really been trying this last week to open my mouth more and speak with everyone on the streets or buses. It's so hard. It's difficult to quiet the thought in the back of my mind that keeps telling me, "Elder Bush, you won't understand what they're saying. You hardly ever do." Which isn't always true. Sometimes, I understand a lot or I at least get the main idea. Other times (usually when someone is talking to just me instead of me and Elder Waltman) I understand zero. I talked with Sister Kovalevskya yesterday (one of the sister missionaries in Vlad. It was her last Sunday because she goes home on Saturday). Because she realized I had been here a month now, she asked me how Russia is after a month. I told her I love it here but sometimes I feel alone. She asked if it was because of Russian and I told her yes. She was super encouraging. Right after I said my earlier response to her, I realized, "Elder Bush, why the heck do you feel alone? You don't have to if you turn to the Lord a little more often." It's so tough though, I must be honest. Especially in Sunday School of all places. Everyone is talking so darn fast and asking a bazillion questions and reading ridiculously fast and then assigning people to read sections and talk about it. So yesterday, I read the wrong section which took forever and I got some of it so I figured I could add a little something when my group's turn came. Turns out I read the wrong section. Elder Waltman said, you had the Elder-Bush-I-Have-No-Idea-What-to-Do-or-Say look on your face. All too true. There are thankfully some people in the Branch that are super nice and realize how hard it is for me and are really kind about it. Sometimes, others are not which makes it a little discouraging. Anyway, I realized that I haven't been praying nearly enough or turning to the Lord often enough when things get really hard. I should have a prayer in my heart always. Guess I need to work on that. :)

About what Sister Metro said... It's all too true. It can be really hard (and by really hard, I mean really really really hard) to go out and contact people for hours when so many people just don't smile back when you give a simple hello and smile, or they ignore you completely and keep walking, or they give you the craziest responses when we ask "How are you?" I actually love it (although of course I would love it more if they would talk with us more) when people are at least friendly and decline us respectfully. But anyways, I had a really neat experience yesterday that strengthened my testimony. We were out contacting and we ran into a man named Alexander. As we shared with him about the Book of Mormon, he tried to convince us that we're wrong because at the end of Revelation in chapter 22, John says we cannot add or take away anything from this book (meaning the book of Revelation, but the man tried to convince us that meant the Bible). I had wanted to study that same thing that very morning so I had. I looked around and found the scripture in Deuteronomy 4:2 which says pretty much the same thing as in Revelation. Anyhow, I couldn't say much since I just didn't have the words to convey an answer, but Elder Waltman could because we had talked about it in Companionship study. I knew afterward as we walked away, that the spirit had led me to study that so we could help try to answer his concern and even though he didn't believe us or was not really interested in what we had to say, it was still a spiritual experience for me that strengthened my testimony that this is the Lord's work, not the work of nineteen year old boys.

Our zone and the assistants went out to lunch on the reenok last P day (Preparation day) to a Chinese place (it was delicious!). There was this Chinese/Russian calendar on the wall that was from some Christian church from Moscow. It caught all of our eyes because it had a painting of Christ in the top left corner that was painted by Simon Dewey. We all realized it had probably just been ripped off the internet. Painting of Christ by Mormon on Moscow church calendar. Too funny. :) Then the next day we went to this restaurant in center called Bombay 1. It was pretty good too. A little expensive. The curry was way delicious though! Reminded me of India.

Oh I don't think I have mentioned this yet but here in Vlad, they drink Aloe Vera. It's just like the stuff you put on for sunburns, just a little more watery. Weird! I don't care much for it cause it's weird drinking clumps of Aloe but it's pretty big here. Oh and there's this yogurt here called "Miracle" that has a picture of three peoples' faces and one day as several of us were eating lunch at the church, someone mentioned, "Wow! Elder Bush! I didn't know you were modeling for yogurt companies before your mission?!" Turns out, one of the faces kinda looks like me. Haha! I'm out of time now but I took a picture and I'll try to send it to you next week.

Well, I love you all so much and you're all in my prayers. Thank you so so so much for your prayers and support. Enjoy your day off today! Eat a lot of delicious American food!

Love, Elder Bush

P.s. Dad, I got your letter last Tuesday so it probably arrived on Monday which, if the dates are correct, got here pretty fast since it said it was received on May 16 and I got it on the 25th.