Tuesday, August 18, 2015

week 2 in russia, or I'm glad I can rely on my overly readable face to help me through the language barrier

I have a problem, and the problem is that I look like I'm about twelve (vaguely related is that the words for "twelve" and "nineteen" sound fairly similar in Russian, especially when I'm trying to follow the conversation and then realize someone just asked how old I am and I think "oh right I have to answer" and then trip over my words. fun). If anyone wants to give me advice on looking older, let me know.

I know I promised photos, but apparently I lied. Sorry about that. We normally email from the branch building, which is extremely convenient, but the internet there wasn't working, so now we're in a very dimly lit internet cafe. I don't know if I even could attach photos on here even if I had taken any, and if I read enough Russian to understand what's up with this computer. P-day is busy, and we still need to go find things like brooms and pillows and dishes.

I'm trying to remember what happened this week so while I'm thinking about that I'll write whatever comes to my head.

I got used to eating things like kasha+salt+mayo really fast, and it's surprisingly good (kasha is I think just wheat that's been broken up that you boil in water until soft). Also kefir or sour cream on everything (shoutout to Annemieke, the only person that I know of in America who eats kefir. You're cool! Also not American, that might explain it). And lots of granola. Also they put hazelnuts in a lot of things, including snickers, which was a good choice. There is a lot of different candy. And we try a lot of it. Which might be to my eventual downfall. Speaking of downfalls, I tripped in the crosswalk of a major street the other morning when we were running, and now kneeling is more painful than usual. I'm a very coordinated person, yes. Also my favorite graffiti is the stuff in English. You have to wonder how they choose it. I saw "skype" written on the side of a bridge the other day. what does it mean? I also still can't say what I want to say half the time, but I now know how to say such things as "in exchange for two" (useful when paying for bus tickets) and something that means something like "no way!" or "you don't say!". I actually have no idea what it means, but we say it to old people when they tell us their age, and they appreciate it.
Also sister Wilson is trying to get me over my fear of talking on the phone. So far it's not working.
I haven't said much about sister Wilson, probably. What do you want to hear? She has a lot of brothers and basically is Rapunzel. It's great.

We've been having problems with men, specifically men who are interested in sister Wilson and not much else. They can be very persistent. Hence why we don't talk to a lot of men. Also we try to pass them off to the elders, but this week they were way busy with upcoming baptisms, so we eventually ended up teaching a lesson to the boy we met the other week, did I mention him? We ran into him contacting early last Sunday morning, invited him to church, and then he actually came. Actually, I probably didn't say, when we first met him, sister Wilson promised him if he'd come to church he'd find a job in the next week, and of course he did. That might have blown his mind a little. But he came to church and we only met him the one time. Does that actually happen? I thought that was a myth. Anyway, it's a good thing he's extremely normal and so far not creepy at all. Mostly he's just extremely interested in what we're about and quite honest with us, which is entertaining. He's trying to get rid of all the addictive/destructive things in his life, which means right now he has no life. So he was quite happy to come to the baptism on Saturday and church again on Sunday. The other people that we regularly meet with have been meeting with missionaries for years and years, and it's really rather frustrating, but in the last couple days we got a bunch of calls from random people we met in the street or from the area book who are interested in meeting with us. So hopefully we'll start doing more things. 

Oh, we had zone conference, and that was all the way in Tolliatti. A couple of six-hour bus rides and staying in the Tolliatti sister's apartment. Which was hot and humid and terrible for sight and sound, but also really fun. One of those sisters is sister Hullinger, who was in the MTC with me, and on the second night we were there we went on splits, and she and I contacted together. It was great. We didn't really understand what people were saying to us, so it was all the more fun. 
"here, take this pamphlet. we just recently moved here!"
"what is this propaganda? I'm Russian Orthodox, I don't need this"
"what a cute grand-daughter, okay bye"
Actually that's how most contacting goes now I think of it, it would be like that whether we knew Russian or not. The biggest difference is that we don't understand when they tell us to go away, so they can't get rid of us. Heh heh.

Anyway zone conference was great, and my cousin elder Hemrick was in fact there, and no I would not have recognized him without a tag. We probably should have taken a photo to show Granny or something, but who does that? People who plan well, that's who.

Wednesday we had English club, with more people than I expected, at least. It was great, though I doubt anyone actually learned anything. That's actually the most awkward thing about not speaking much Russian, is that a lot of them switch into English when I don't understand, and then I still don't understand them. Or actually, I understand the words they say, in both languages, but I have no idea what they're getting at. That's the real problem. Oh well.

And two of the people the elders were teaching were baptized on Saturday, and that was great. There were a lot of people, it was packed, and we provided sandwiches (sausage + cheese + bread. These people are easily satisfied) and the elders said they would bake (that's a beautiful dream) and unsurprisingly went out and bought cookies. Ahhh, it was a good time. 

I'm trying to leaf through my journal to figure out what else we did this week, but it's dark in here and I wrote small.

So yeah. Russia is great. Lots of things to say that I forgot, probably. Oh well. You all are great. It sometimes surprises me more than it should how much God loves us and how well he knows us. He really does have a plan for everything. Wow. Remember Jesus loves you too! Do good things!

I wish you lots of love and fewer mosquito bites than I have,
Sister Nielsen

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