Monday, April 11, 2011

Ariel's Companion's letter April 11, 2011

Hello to all my favorite Americans!

I have been here in Russia for 2 weeks now and am allowed to officially call myself a Russian. Well...maybe not. But I say that I can. I LOVE it here still. Every day something happens that I'm just like " wouldn't see that in America..." but that's why I love it so much. It's so different here! But sometimes I see things that remind me of America too. I still can't really understand much, but I feel a lot better about things than I did after my first week. I was actually really frustrated for a few days that I couldn't communicate with anyone... but it will come! I'm studying really hard and my companion Sis Kuhn is really good about helping me to learn the language. Also the members here are SO nice! They think it's so cute when I try to speak Russian and they help me as much as they can.

A few really funny things happened this week that I hopefully have time to write about, but first...a little more about the overall Russian experience. The food here is really good. I had some authentic Russian food this week. Borscht, which Sis Leavitt made which was AMAZING!!!! Ohhhhh my goodness. When I get home, I am making borscht and EVERYONE is invited. It's soooooo good. We also had blini (Russian pancakes) that we got from a little kiosk near our apartment building. Their pancakes are more like crepes and they put a lot of random stuff in them. Also, they eat sour cream on EVERYTHING. And I didn't understand...until I tried their sour cream. It's sooo tasty. It doesn't really taste like American sour cream at all. It tastes more like some kind of fruit dip or something... Yum. Now I eat it on everything :) Also the cheese and the mayonnaise is better here. I dunno what it is, but it's super good. Their milk is kinda gross though... oh well. Oh, and also their ice cream is amazing. We don't really eat at members houses ever, so we mostly just eat whatever we prepare for ourselves, which is kind of nice...because Russians do eat some kind of strange things... But I haven't come across anything really gross yet.. Oh, and we eat a ton of chocolate...because it's pretty cheap and it's the yummy European chocolate and we're girls so... enough said :)

We found out a couple days ago that today through Thursday they're shutting off our water, which is LAME, but that's Russia for you, I guess. That was nice of them to warn us because I hear that sometimes they don't. So Saturday night we went and bought a bunch of gallons of distilled water to use for cooking and drinking and then we filled our bathtub with water last night to use to spongebathe and flush the toilet. So...that'll be an interesting experience.

So one of the funny things that happened this week was I told a lady that we were Jehovah Witnesses.... Haha whoops... We were contacting in the park and we went up to this lady and I stopped her and asked her if she believed in Jesus Christ and she said something that I didn't understand so I was just kind of smiling and nodding, because that's what I do, and then Sis Kuhn jumped in and was like, "No no, aklsdhfowjef" and said something else I didn't understand and then the lady said something else and walked away. And then Sis Kuhn's like "Don't worry about it, you didn't know." And I was so confused because I didn't know what just happened and so she told me that the lady had been like "I know who you are, you're Jehovah Witnesses." And I smiled and nodded (haha) and then Sis Kuhn had said we weren't, but then the lady was like "You're friend already nodded her head, you can't trick me." And then she walked away. Hahaha oh my goodness, I thought it was so funny. I try harder to pay attention to what I'm nodding at :P

Also when we were contacting in the park this guy came up to us, while smoking a cigarette because EVERYONE here smokes, and he's like "Where are you from? You're beautiful." So we told him we were missionaries from America and he's like "Cool, can you come drinking with me?" Haha we were like "uh...that's a little bit against the rules, but here's a pamphlet about Jesus Christ." And he actually talked to us for a little bit because he seemed genuinely interested, but then he didn't want to meet with us again so whatever...

Um so something kinda creepy happened this week that I debated on whether or not to tell you about because I don't want you to freak out... but I'm going to tell you anyway. So we were walking to conference on Saturday morning and we were almost to the Church building when there was this guy that was in the middle of the sidewalk up ahead of us. As we got closer to him, he stopped us and asked if we knew what time it was. We could tell he was drunk, so we just kind of watched him for a second and then Sis Kuhn looked down at her watch. As soon as she looked down, he started walking toward us and reached out to grab Sis Leavitt. Instinctively, Sis Kuhn and I stepped to the sides, so now we were behind the drunk guy and he was facing Sis Leavitt. She stepped back and he tried to grab her again and then she tried to step to the side but he put his arms out like he wasn't gonna let her pass. Sis Kuhn and I stepped back toward him and Sis Kuhn was closer to Sis Leavitt so she grabbed her and pushed the drunk guy and we just like ran away. Luckily he just like went the other direction. But we were all like did that really just happen?? We were so creeped out. But I dunno what that guy was thinking. There was 3 of us and only 1 of him...and we were in the middle of a really busy shopping area. . Anyway, we are usually able to avoid drunk guys because you can see them staggering around from a mile off. They are everywhere here.

So apparently our area here in Taganrog is the most successful area in the mission right now. We have 6 progressive investigators, where many areas don't have any or only have 1 or 2. I'm really grateful for that because it means that we don't have to spend a lot of time contacting because we are able to have appointments most days. We also do a lot of work with the members because they are all fairly new and sometimes unmotivated to do Church things.

Two of our investigators are a mother and daughter named Nadyezhda and Karina. Karina is 15 and her mom is paralyzed because of doctor malpractice. She had a surgery a few years ago and something went wrong and now she's completely paralyzed below the neck except she has the use of one of her arms. It's crazy...there are so many people here that suffer from the effects of doctor malpractice... People really just don't care about other people here. All they care about is money and alcohol. It's really sad. Anyway, Karina and Nadyezhda are so awesome. Karina has a baptismal date for May 7, but we dunno how serious she is about it. She's afraid about what her friends will think. Which is a common problem here, because when you join the Church you often have to give up friends because of the things they are doing... And EVERYONE here is into smoking and drinking and being immoral and so it's like a big deal to NOT do those things... But we're trying to work with her to understand why it's important.

Um...I think that's all, I'm about out of time, so I hope you all have a nice time this week and that you enjoy having running water and being able to take showers and drink from the tap ;) Love you all!

Love, Sister LeBaron


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