Why howdy everyone!
First off, congratulations to Trev for finally finishing school. :) Doesn't it feel great?! Hope you had a great graduation ceremony and just enjoy being done with that phase of your life. But don't ever forget the lessons you learned. You'll need them for sure.
Thanks Mom and Dad for the updates! I'm glad to hear things are coming along with the business despite taking longer than anticipated. It's been funny to tell people about what Dad does because I don't really know or understand what it all is. But, it'll be fun to see and learn more once I'm home. I'm excited that Grandma and Grandpa are visiting! Hope you all have a fun time together! That's the part that I miss the most. Just spending time together and laughing. But you already know that.
So what's new? Not much. Well, the weather is getting warmer and warmer. Which is good and bad. I love the warm weather, but not as a missionary. Warm weather is great in a t-shirt and shorts, not so much so in a shirt and tie. I tend to prefer the winter months here. Then again, it is nice to not have to get all bundled up just to go to the store or to take the trash out. But I also like the winter because girls actually wear clothing when it's cold. Once you start noticing see- through clothing (I know that sounds weird but it seems to be part of the fashion here), you know that summer has hit.
I've been thinking about things lately, things that you might all find interesting. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I'm just used to being here in Russia now. The things I used to notice that are different than back home just don't seem to be different now. Russia has truly started to become home to me, or at least things don't seem to be as different as they were when I first arrived a year and a month ago. Man how time flies. I wish it would slow down because I don't feel I've done enough here yet. Not for the people of Russia or in my personal growth. I feel I have so much more to learn before I go home.
This past week on Saturday, we as a district did an interesting finding activity. We got some sheets of wallpaper, taped them together, and placed them on the ground near a square by the river that runs through Irkutsk. We painted the question, "What are you thankful for?" and asked people about things that they're grateful for. (logical right?) They were free to write or draw things on the paper if they pleased and we invited them to know more about the plan of Salvation and invited many to English club. Several members helped us and even an investigator came to help that speaks pretty good English and really wants to start an American football team here in Irkutsk. During the activity, we met many nice, interesting, some not so nice or interested (even a couple anti-American that completely didn't understand the point of English club) people and it turned out to be a lot of fun. We also met some American members of the church that were here visiting and happened to be walking by the river and found us. I'm sure that must be interesting to be traveling around the world and to run into missionaries when you may not have even expected it.
Afterward, we had dinner before we had Sports night and you'll never believe what we ate... Papa John's pizza. Real Papa John's. It absolutely blew me away. Apparently, there's Papa John's here in Irkutsk not too far from the church. And they do free delivery too. Anyways, it was exactly Papa John's and it was kind of weird to be having American pizza. Then, at sports night, an American girl named Faith from North Carolina came with someone from English club and so we got to know her a little bit. Turns out she was teaching English in Korea for the past year and a half and after finishing her contract, decided to make a trek towards Italy by taking the Trans Siberian railroad. Afterward, we helped her get to the tramvei that would take her to the train station. It is always nice to do something nice for someone. She graduated from UNC and noticed my Furman shirt I was wearing at sports night.
Sunday was interesting... A week ago, the branch presidency in Irkutsk was reorganized so this past Sunday was the new branch president's first Sunday. About 5 minutes before sacrament meeting, Elder Zamora and I were asked by the branch president to speak. Needless to say, we were both a little surprised but agreed to speak and I'm so grateful for the Lord's help in guiding my thoughts and my words. And despite all the mistakes I'm sure I made while speaking, I hope those in attendance felt the spirit of the words I shared. I spoke a little about service and the qualities that we must strive to develop in order to serve more sincerely and effectively. Thank goodness for the gift of tongues and the guidance of the spirit.
Well, I guess that's all for this week. Thank you so much for your letters and encouragement. I love you all so much. Take it easy y'all! Have a wonderful week!