HOT WATER'S BACK!!!! I didn't realize how much I missed hot showers until Wednesday morning. Warm water is a beautiful thing. I woke up on Tuesday with about 20 bug bites on my arm. I didn't know cockroaches bit... ;) I don't know what bit me, probably just a lonely mosquito. Thankfully, they don't itch much anymore.
So this week, I thought I'd give you a little info in the way of my experiences and then some things I just thought I'd share about Russia. First, I went on splits with Elder Stewart (from my BYU dorm) twice this last week. Once in his area (Nayboota) and once in my area (2nd River). Wow was that interesting. It was such a trial of faith. At least for me because here you have two Elders, one that's been out for almost two transfers (transfers happen about every six weeks), the other only about one, and we are left to ourselves. I've never prayed so much in one day. The miracle is, the Lord answered my prayers, but then he always answers our prayers. He helped me so much. We contacted for several hours in the morning in Nayboota and not much came of it, but I opened my mouth and the words were there. It was AMAZING! In no way am I fluent in Russian, and I hardly understood anything. I'm sure I butchered the grammar. But the Lord helped bring the words to my mind and I was able to do His work. That's a miracle in and of itself. Understanding Russian for some reason is so darn hard for me. Even when people are using words I know, it's really hard. But I can see the improvement the Lord is helping me make and the whole day was such an amazing experience for me. I also have never prayed so much thanking the Lord for His help. Gratitude is invaluable. I can picture Heavenly Father smiling when we tell Him thank you. :) The first lesson we taught that day, that was rough. I tried to let Elder Stewart take the lead as senior companion, but it was just hard. The second lesson was great because we were more prepared to teach, and it was still hard with the language, but through the Spirit, we overcame that barrier and made great strides with a man that hasn't always been as receptive to the missionaries. Anyway, this week was a great learning experience.
So here's some cool side note stuff... Went out to lunch again on the reenok, and I got a haircut. It was terrible. But it's alright. Can't be too picky when it comes to 100 ruble Russian haircuts. (Hopefully I can send you a picture from Elder Waltman's camera.) I realized the other day that every bus in Vlad has these fabric curtain things above all the windows all around the bus. They try to make the buses look fancier but they're honestly just trashy city buses. On some buses, it seems that the driver has gone to great lengths to make his bus fancy. There's fabric everywhere, fancy tassels hanging from everywhere. I love it.
About what we usually eat... Cereal is ok here. I mean cereal is cereal. That's the usual breakfast. Occasionally we have pancakes, German pancakes, eggs, or bleenies, which are basically just crepes but the Russians changed the name. That makes it Russian, not French. For lunch, we often make pasta, or pelmeni, which are like ravioli but with different stuff inside, such as meat or potatoes. We also make booterbrotee (not sure of spelling), which is kind of like a sandwich but only half a sandwich with melted cheese and meat and you eat it with a fork. That's always delicious.
Baba Galya is my favorite babooshka! We meet with her every Sunday and Wednesday and I always love visiting her. There's a drink here called Milkis (I'm not 100% sure what's in it but it's a soda with (I think) milk in it). It's way good. I've also noticed there's some sweet graffiti here in Vlad. Some guys were doing some on a wall the last couple days of sunflowers. They looked amazing! I think they’re doing that because it's Vlad's 150th anniversary this summer ( I think). Last thing, I played basketball on Saturday and I actually did really well! I was making everything! (This doesn't happen ever.) So we always play with this kid named Anton. He's super nice and loves to play with us. He's actually a lot better than most Russians. Most are horrible, like worse than me, which is saying something. Anyway, we were talking and he told me how weird it was when he came to America and all these men smiled at him since men here don't smile at one another. He told me that if you smile at someone else, it means you know them. I thought that was really interesting. Anton also told me it was weird when he first saw missionaries on the street and they smiled at him because he hadn't yet been to America. It's interesting to see the cultural differences.
Well that's about all. Thank you so much for each of your prayers and your thoughts and your love. Missions are hard. But they're so worth it. I know the Lord is my Savior and Redeemer. I'm becoming closer to Him each day because I know this is His work. He wants me here in Vladivostok and I cannot deny the truth of the message I have to share. I love you all so much!! Til next week. :)