Hello to everyone on the other side of the globe!
How is everyone doing? As always, thanks for the update. First, tell Elder Hale/Kendric (I guess he is released now) that I love him and to keep his chin up. Being home will be pretty hard for me as well (I already know it), but as one of my MTC teachers, the great Brother Savage told us, life keeps getting better after the mission.
As you can tell, the subject of this letter home brings news of transfers... I'm no longer on the island... I have been transferred to Khabarovsk! The coldest city in the mission although it is beginning to get a little warmer. Today is actually quite warm. The worst it ever has gotten here that I've heard from missionaries was -52 C (-61.6 F). This past month, it would be anywhere between -45 and -20 (-49 to -4 F). Right now, it's probably around -10ish (14 F), which feels great! When I first got here, the wind was going and it felt a lot colder. I realized I should have never, not once, complained on Sakhalin, not even in my mind. But things should be getting warmer from here on out (or so I'm told), and spring is supposedly the best season here in Khabarovsk. My new companion is Elder Steed! He's from Idaho! He has an older brother and sister, loves to play the French horn (also played the saxophone and tuba) and he's just awesome! He'll be heading on his second visa trip this next week (I told him his second visa trip will be even better than the first). So I'll probably be with Elders Waltman and Phillips. Which I certainly can't complain about. I love both of them. Elder Waltman was called to be the branch president here in Khabarovsk yesterday and will serve here as branch president probably until the end of his mission. (He has two transfers left). Yesterday, as I looked up at him during the meeting, I could see a change had come over him. It's interesting how the mantle of a calling can almost physically change a person and their outward appearance.
I got a great letter yesterday from Sister Jolyn Metro! It was great to hear from her and to know she's doing so well in France! I'm going to try to write to her now that I have her address. Fallon sent me a postcard from Harry Potter world! That place looks so COOL!!! I hope I'll get to see it in about a year, but I pray this year doesn't fly by as quickly as the first.
This past week was sucked up a little by looking for a new apartment on Sakhalin. That's always fun. And I may have to end up doing that here in Khabarovsk. The apartment we have here right now is super nice! And if we have to end up moving, that will be a bummer. (I may have already mentioned something about this apartment to you all when I came for zone conference last time.) But anyways, we'll see what the future holds. My favorite part of the apartment is heated bathroom and kitchen floors. :)
It was hard to leave Sakhalin because I've really come to love the people of the island. I love the members so much! There are so many great members, great examples, and great families and awesome investigators that it was hard to leave. Who knows, maybe someday I will have the opportunity to return.
So, real quick about Khabarovsk... The branch here is struggling. But the people are awesome! Attendance at church isn't as high as it once was. Missionaries do a lot here. I may have already mentioned that, but the work here is certainly struggling. It's a great city though. It reminds me a lot more of Vlad. It's bigger like Vlad; it has beautiful buildings, larger streets than Vlad, and all around, a nice city. From those I've met thus far, there are nice people here in Khabarovsk and there are also not such nice people, but that happens everywhere. I was sitting on the bus yesterday and eventually heard some guy speaking to my companion sitting behind me. Needless to say, this guy wasn't the nicest I've ever come across. Once I understood he had been speaking to my companion, I turned around and was about to say something but something told me it would be better if I didn't. This guy was clearly not in favor of the church or the fact that we were here in Russia. So I bit my lip and kept my mouth shut because I felt if I said anything, it wouldn't lead to good. After the bus ride, I doubted that feeling I had had because I felt I should have defended my companion, since he didn't understand what the guy said to him. I still don't know if I did the right thing. And as always, I usually think far too much about stuff after the fact. But I continued to pray for that man after the bus ride, that his heart would be softened. I later met a really cool guy on the bus who was the taxi driver that had taken the other elders to the airport the day earlier. He loved my name. (I love the name Bush because no one ever forgets it.) I met a guy on the street this last week that I had run into earlier in December who was a drug addict. I could never get a hold of him before, but he and I immediately recognized one another. I really hope he's able to meet this next week with the elders on Sakh.
Well, I'm about out of time. Hopefully, this next week will be an exciting one with a lot to report to you all back home. I'm mindful of you all in my prayers. I'm also mindful of all the promised blessings that lay in store for each of us if we will just remain faithful and do all we can to fulfill the Lord's will. You all are awesome and I'm super grateful for your support.
p.s. Grandma and Grandpa Bush and Grandma Gee, I got letters from you too!! THANK YOU! I'll try to reply soon.