Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving in Vladivostok

Dear Fam,

Sure sounds like you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And the holidays are off to a great start! I think my favorite part of this past week is being able to now listen to Christmas Music. There really is quite no other time like this. The Christmas season is the best. Right now, I've made a goal to finish Jesus the Christ before Christmas and it's been awesome as I've delved deeper into that book. Talmage truly wrote an inspiring book.

So, first off, I have to say a big thank you to Matt and Sarah for their letters! They really lifted me up and I was super excited to hear from both of you! You two are the best! :) To answer some of your questions, things are great here in Vlad. The work is slowly moving forward. We had an insane day of snow this past week on Wednesday! We got all bundled up and faired the boisterous weather. It was quite an adventure. We tried talking to people on the way but due to the weather, that didn't turn out to be very successful. :) The wind was insane! That was the best part. Wednesday's snow added on top of that made it super duper fun. I got to wear my new shopka and she held up greatly against the foul weather. Thursday wasn't nearly as bad. It stopped snowing, although the wind was still quite a factor. (more about that later)

Thanksgiving in Vlad was wonderful! Just like home! Except without the family and friends of course. But it was wonderful to be surrounded by my present family and friends here in the city. We had all the great foods, Turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, fruit salads, and pies! It was all very very yummy. And unfortunately, I think my tummy has shrunk because I had a very hard time getting down one full plate. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and played some fun trivia games and scripture chase charades afterward. All in all, it was a great day to remember all the things I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for you all. Because you are a large part of the joy that I have in this life. I'm enormously thankful to the Lord for all the tender mercies He plants in my path. That He allows me to even be a part of His work here on the earth is a miracle in and of itself for which I'm enormously grateful. I'm thankful for Heavenly Father's plan for all of us. For the big picture that it gives me, that it gives us all.

Immediately after thanksgiving dinner, we scurried off to a lesson with a potential investigator named Valeri. We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and he agreed to read it. I love meeting with people. I've noticed that the Lord has helped me really develop a love for the people as I've met with them. After that lesson, we hurried off to another lesson with a member and her friends. Trying to find her house was a nightmare! Needless to say, we eventually found her house. The hard part was the wind. It was blowing so hard we nearly fell over several times. I felt as though I was back home in a hurricane! But, it was freezing instead of raining. Boy was I glad to get inside after that adventure! Russians don't usually drink hot chocolate themselves. They prefer tea. But I've noticed lately that members have been making us homemade hot chocolate because they know we Americans love that hot chocolate!

Last pday, my comp and I played basketball outside our house and it felt great to get some physical activity into the day! We're hoping today will also work out. We kind of noticed that it's hard to get activities together here in Vlad, really just in our mission because in many cities, it's hard to meet up at a common place, have some planned activity and still have enough time in the pday to get everything else done that we need to.

As far as souvenirs, I should have plenty of room to get what I want to get for everybody. Again, if there's anything in particular that you all want, make sure to let me know/remind me because I'm now in Vlad and will most likely not be moving anymore. So, I can begin the collecting process. I stopped by the souvenir shop here in Vlad and found something I may end up getting before I head home.

Lastly, I'll end with this. The Lord wants us to have faith. We just have to have faith in Him and He will help us accomplish His miracles. So many people have no idea of the blessings that faith in our Savior Jesus Christ can bring. They are uncountable. Innumerable. I know the Lord and our Father in Heaven love us dearly. Never lose sight of that fact.

I love you all a ton! And I hope you have a wonderful upcoming week!

Elder Bush