Monday, April 4, 2011

Letter from Ariel's Companion Sister LeBaron - April 4, 2011

Family and friends,

So nothing really exciting happened this week. Just another boring week. Oh...except for the fact that I came to RUSSIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOO!!! Haha tricked you... this week was WAY exciting! :)

OH my goodness, I LOVE RUSSIA!!!!!!!! AHH... I have so much to say I don't even know where to start... and I only have time to say like a sentence about everything so you get the basic gist. So here goes...

The night we got here President and Sister Nechiporov met us at the airport and brought us to the mission home. We were all soooo scared to meet them because their pictures all looked so scary and they are Russian and they used to be pretty prominent Communist leaders (especially Sister Nechiporova) so....we were scared. But they are SOOOO nice!! And so funny. Oh my goodness, I love them. At zone conference in a few weeks they are going to tell us about their conversion story and everything so we're pretty excited for that. Also Sister Nechiporova made us a wonderful dinner of meatloaf and she also made us breakfast the next morning. She's an amazing cook! It was all soooo good. Especially after 3 months of MTC food and 2days of airplane food. Bleck...

The next day after breakfast, President met with each one of us and told us where we would be serving and who our companions would be. Right now I'm in a city called Taganrog. It's a small city an hour to the northwest of Rostov on the coast of the Sea of Azov. It's a really small city, and me and my companions (I have 2!) are the only missionaries in this area right now. It actually just recently reopened to missionary work again, so there's only one companionship here. My companions are Sister Leavitt (from Draper, UT who's been here for 3 months, the whole time in Taganrog) and Sister Kuhn (from Bountiful, UT who's been here for 7 months). Sister Kuhn speaks excellent Russian so she does most of the talking... and Sister Leavitt knows everybody here because she's been here for so long... and I'm just kind of here... haha. Oh man, I cannot understand ANYTHING. It's so funny. But I'm working on it and I'm trying really hard to learn so that later on I can help in the teaching. Right now I can just bare a VERY simple testimony. Which works for now, I guess :)

There's only one branch here in Taganrog with about 40 active members (if the weather is good... if the weather's bad there's only like 20 active members...). The weather has been pretty good since I've been here. In the 50s and 60s most days. The past couple days has been super windy and cold though. But not cold enough for a heavy coat or anything...

The first night I was here when we got to Taganrog, we had an appointment to go teach the first convert to join the Church in Taganrog. They went inactive a few years ago and refused to meet with the missionaries (the elders...) but when Sister Leavitt called to meet, he said he would. We taught him and his wife about prophets and challenged them to come to General Conference and they said they would. It was kind of frustrating though because they told us that they knew the Church was true, and they felt the Spirit while we taught, and they loved us coming over, but they didn't want to come back to Church. So I dunno... we might meet with them again. Oh, and as for conference. We'll watch it this next weekend in Russian at the Church building, and then they'll give us a recorded copy of it in English that we can watch at our apartment. So we'll get to watch it eventually :)

We have Church in the back of an ooooooold theatre building. It's pretty cool, actually. There's this huge theater and the church just owns a little hallway in the back of it with like 5 rooms that they've like renovated and made to look all church-like. It's super simple, but it's clean and it's pretty. We have to walk through a labyrinth of hallways and doors though to get to it. With like all this crazy artwork and graffiti on the walls. It's super cool though. I like it!

My apartment is really old and ghetto and our fridge smells funny, but I love it so much. It's so small and just awesome. We have poor water pressure, the shower doesn't work sometimes, our washer sounds like a spaceship is trying to take off in our kitchen, we don't control our heat so sometimes it gets REALLY hot in our bedroom, but oh man... I seriously love it so much. This is the best place in the world!!! Ah. Russia's the best :) (and I'm not even being sarcastic... haha I'm serious!!)

My first experience contacting was a fun one. We walked up and down the busy road by our apartment talking to people and I didn't understand a word anyone said. I'm pretty sure a lot of people were laughing at us and thought we were crazy... this one guy was actually really rude to us I'm pretty sure, but I just thought it was so funny! I was laughing like all day because Russians are so funny. A lot of Russians are really animated when they talk and they make crazy facial expressions and hand gestures and it's just the best! I can't wait till I can understand the words coming out of their mouths... haha or maybe I don't want to... they're probably just swearing at us a lot... :P

Oh, I've also made a few observations about Russians in general... all the girls wear mini-skirts and boots. ALL the girls. Everyone here LOVES shoes. Babushkas yell at you if you're not wearing a coat...even if the sun is out. Everyone has gold teeth. Everything is really dirty here...there's mud and dirt everywhere. Everyone's really skinny...probably because all they eat is vegetables. There are no traffic laws...people just drive where, how, when they want to. It's scary.... Everyone LOVES pictures. I take my photo album everywhere so I can show people. Umm...and some other things I can't remember right now.\

Probably my favorite thing that we did this week was teaching English to some children. Once a week we do service for this teacher Sister Leavitt met. She teaches English at the elementary school and her students come and just practice speaking English with us. It was soooo fun! They are adorable and it was so cute to hear them speak English. It was awesome to be able to actually communicate with some people. They also sang us a song which was super cute. It was some country song and it swore in it, which was funny... but yeah. That's my favorite thing ever.

Umm I'm out of time! Ah... I had so much more I wanted to write. But I will try to remember the good stuff and write about it next week. Or I'll just tell you all in 15 months when I come home... haha :)

Anyway, I love you all! The Church is true! RUSSIA IS THE BEST!!!! I'm staying here forever. ....ok actually I'm not... But I really really really like it here :)

Love, Sister LeBaron


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