First of all, I'll let you all know that I'm safe. We were under a tsunami warning but really, that applied more to Sakhalin and Vlad. And from all I know, everyone is safe there too. Thankfully, the missionaries that were lost in Japan have been found, and I'm so grateful that the Lord looks over his children.
These weeks just keep flying by! Thanks as always for the updates. So, this past week, we had the honor of celebrating Elder Steed's birthday at the North Elder's apartment. They made us white chili and cake batter ice cream. Before that, we got our haircuts, which is always a fun experience. I still haven't really gotten that great at telling the people what I want. Thankfully, it turned out alright but you always feel like you're gambling a little. Then again, how hard is it to say, I want my hair shorter. I guess getting haircuts for girls is a little harder so I shouldn't be complaining. Anyhow, so this past week was also March 8 which is a big holiday in Russia. Women's Day! So, we did a cultural activity that day with the some of the sisters in our branch. Sister Galina and Marina took us to this really cool museum here in Khabarovsk that is all about the history of the Khabarovsk region as well as the Soviet Union and WWII. Unfortunately, in order to take pictures in the museum, you had to pay a fee so what we ended up doing is Elder Phillips who has the best camera out of us all paid and we'll get all the pictures from him. I think he took 300+ pictures. It was so cool! It was really neat to get to learn some interesting things from Sister Galina too. There was an exhibit that showed the native people of the Khabarovsk region and Sister Galya kept saying they're pretty much the same as the Native Americans, which was so true. The woman who was explaining everything was talking super fast, but amazingly, I understood a lot. That's a blessing from the Lord for sure. I've really contemplated on that and I know that serving with native companions has made a huge difference in my Russian.
The work here is going slowly. There's a lot of potential but things have kind of died these last few weeks, which means we've got to push forward with our finding efforts. Street contacting is a tough thing. So is tracting. But honestly, if you just do it, if you start opening up your mouth and talking to people, it becomes a lot easier. It actually can be a lot of fun and you get a lot of funny stories. Tracting is hard for me because it's hard to sometimes get into stairwells to knock on doors. You just sit outside and call people on their domaphones. But like contacting, it can also be fun when you have the right attitude. Attitude is the key. If you look at 4 hours of street contacting as "Oh no, we have four hours that we have to be on the streets talking to people..." then it's going to be just that, four longggg hours of being on the streets just talking to people. But if you look at it as, "We're going to find somebody that is interested in the Gospel. We're going to change someone's life with this wonderful message of Christ. And we're going to make some great friends along the way." Then it takes a tedious activity and turns it into an enjoyable one. It becomes fun and you become energized with the spirit of the work.
So, we taught institute on Wednesday night and it was awesome! It is super hard to pick something to focus on when you only have and hour to an hour and a half and you have a week’s worth of material you could cover. Elder Steed was a little worried about the language and handling the teaching situation but he did an awesome job! I just marveled at his ability to teach and his use of the words he knew. He didn't speak perfectly but the Spirit conveyed more than the words he used. A brother came in and joined us and said he would only stay for five minutes. But he ended up staying to the end because of the Spirit he felt. He told us he felt an awesome spirit when he first walked in and felt he should stay. It was a sweet testimony to me that the Lord answers prayers because we had prayed fervently that the Lord would bless us with the Spirit to guide the lesson and to actually do the teaching.
This last week, I made борщ (borscht) and enchiladas! All by myself! Well, with some assistance from Elder Steed. But they turned out alright! I've really come to enjoy cooking. It's kind of exciting actually. :)
We had a senior couple join us this past week up here in Khabarovsk. They seem like they'll be an awesome asset to the branch here. They're from Arizona. They're still in the fish out of water stage but they'll settle in nicely I'm sure.
I love you all so much and I'm deeply grateful for all that you do for me. Your prayers are very appreciated. I pray for you all often.