To one and all, I send my love and greatest grandest wishes from Siberia! Siberia is pretty sweet I must add. Just the word... Siberia really has quite a ring to it. So, first off, thank you as always for the updates about home (man my back sure aches, I just realized that I've been leaning forward typing and reading for the last little bit when I could have been leaning back against a nice wonderful chair). It's always quite encouraging to hear from you all. I must say, talking about food in your emails sure made me pretty hungry. (My comp doesn't like to eat a whole lot, so I sort of suffer by forgoing dinner most evenings which is probably good for me as far as losing weight BUT man oh man I sure would love some good pancakes and holy griddle hash browns!) :)
So, what's new with me...? This last week was a bit frustrating because nothing seemed to work out. I should be thankful though because the other elders have in general had it worse than us. The work in their area has been going better but they keep running into problems. (SIM card got locked up, got a new SIM card and then the phone got lost on a small bus, had to get a new phone and another new SIM card, they moved into a new apartment yesterday/today but yesterday, after having the moving truck take all their stuff to the new building, they found that their key didn't work and so they waited all day for the landlord who never came and they ended up getting another truck to take everything back. That was a little frustrating I'm sure, but they did get to play soccer with a bunch of the local boys while they waited and it sounds like they made some great friends. :)
We've been on the streets a lot this past week talking to lots of people. We sure have met a lot of really nice people. Most not really interested in the gospel but still, really really nice people. We've also got a lot of interesting reactions. But, that comes with talking to a lot of people all over the city. We also had the opportunity to perform some service this past week for a member as well as a branch in a city just outside of Irkutsk called Angarsk. At the member’s place, we're helping to build a greenhouse. A very very simple and primitive greenhouse. I love serving because it truly is one of the greatest ways to develop charity and love toward others. In Angarsk which is about a little over an hour drive outside of the city, we had the chance to help clean up the grounds of a camp for an orphanage there in the city. It was actually a lot of fun. Mostly, we cleared away pine branches that had previously been cut down and gathered together. We loaded them up into a Russian pick up and hauled them off to be dumped for firewood. I miss work. It all reminded me of the many hours of cutting down trees and hauling tree after tree when we had all those hurricanes come through. That, and working at the ranch. For some strange reason, I thought to myself, I could do this kind of work for hours and hours. I don't know why, but I really do enjoy work and getting my hands dirty. Probably learned that from Dad.
Saturday, the day we did service was City Day here in Irkutsk (то есть) the Birthday of Irkutsk. It's crazy to think this city is older than America! 350 years old!! They had a parade and festivities in the evening but we really didn't see much of anything. There sure were a lot of people though in the center of the city.
Sunday, we had the privilege of hearing from the one of the Patriarchs that travels around Russia. He gave blessings on Sunday and Monday to several of the branch members and then spoke during the third hour. He speaks really great Russian so he didn't need translation and it was awesome to hear from him. He was pretty funny and shared some wonderful thoughts about missionary work and his family and past experiences he had serving his mission in Germany. He's from Provo, I think he taught Russian in college, served as a mission president in St. Petersburg and now travels all around Russia giving patriarchal blessings to the members here.
Well, that's about all I’ve got for this week. I know that this church is Christ's church. I know He leads this work of which I'm striving to be a part of. I know that attitude makes a huge difference in this life. Just smile. :) Like a man told me this week on the street, no one needs to complain. Just be happy, have a good attitude, and life will be a lot more fun. I love each of you so much!! Pass on a big Siberian hello to Fallon and the Frapps!
Love you all,
P.S. The longer I serve, the more I realize I know nothing about the Russian language. And I'm sorry I can't seem to remember anything that I thought about during the week that I wanted to share with you. Maybe someday I'll actually learn that writing stuff down is an invaluable tool and method of remembering things.