Hey there gang!
This last week has been fantastic! Getting to travel to the other cities and work with the outstanding missionaries of our mission is quite an honor. It was weird to return to both cities because it brought back so many memories. It's so weird how you look at things differently when you return to a familiar place because of the experiences you have had elsewhere. It really wasn't even that long ago that I was serving in Khabarovsk. Although it feels like forever ago since I've been in both Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude in the time span between. I love the members in all those cities. I got the chance to see several of them while we were there and they are inspiring. To give you a quick example, there is a member that is from Ussurisk that lived also in Vlad when I was serving here over a year and a half ago. My trainer, Elder Waltman and I worked with her for 3 months while I was here, and she came to church maybe once that I can remember. In the time that I've been serving in all the other cities of the mission, she has become super active and her mission papers are almost completed! That is just the coolest thing ever to hear! No effort ever goes wasted. And this past week, as we were in Usserisk, she helped us on a lesson with a recent convert. She has such a strong testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. She is truly a light, and I could see in her such an awesome future missionary.
Our travels all went well. I brought my shopka with me to Usserisk (it wasn't really quite cold enough to be needing such a hat, but I knew we would be going to Khabarovsk and had a feeling it would be needed and appreciated there, and sure enough, it was pretty cold up in Khabarovsk. I talked with a woman on the street in Usserisk and explained to her why I looked a little ridiculous for November weather (since hardly anyone wears big fur hats there) and when I told her I was heading off to Khabarovsk that night, she quickly agreed that it was a fantastic idea I brought my shopka with me. I had the privilege of being on an exchange with Elder Johnson (my former BYU bishop's son) and Elder Collinsworth (you all know who that is - or if not, he played basketball at BYU) and it was an awesome opportunity to learn and grow from them. I love the friends you make here serving the Lord.
While in Khabarovsk, we contacted during the day and then had a sweet activity in the evening with several of the members where we learned how to make "позы" (pozi) or "бууза" (buza) in buritian. It's a special food that I think I told you about while I was serving in Ulan-Ude and it's unique to the people that live there. You make a pasta like dough that you wrap around meat and you steam cook them. Then, with your hands, you bite a small hole in the side and drink out the juices that have been cooking inside and then I like to fill the little dumpling like thing with sauces (like ketchup) and then scarf him down! They're really tasty. I'll have to get an actual recipe and then make them once I'm home. It was a great activity, especially for the members because they need opportunities to bond together, to talk, and the just become better, closer friends. We w home the next morning on a really old plane. I had to laugh because I think the seat I sat in was the most uncomfortable airplane seat I've ever been privileged to sit it. BUT, it did recline a considerable distance which made up for it. Upon landing (which always seems to be the best part) several panels in the ceiling came loose and were dangling down as we taxied into the airport. I just had to laugh. :)
I love you all a ton! Hope you have a fantastic week and enjoy your Thanksgiving! :)
p.s. Fallon, I got a letter from you! I wrote to you a letter already but I have to get some envelopes! I'll try to get it off to you ASAP!