Monday, December 7, 2015

dances with golden retrievers

So I'm going to Orenburg, which I know basically nothing about except that it's off to the east and people keep telling me it's one of the coldest cities in the mission. Excellent. I'll be with Sister Palmer. I don't know her super well, but I probably should since we overlapped for a couple weeks in the MTC. I'm not actually sure when I'm supposed to go there, but my companion has to renew her visa, so I'm going to be here in Samara tomorrow, and maybe the day after.

I'm so sad to have left Kazan! It didn't help that yesterday was Sister Wilson's last Sunday in Russia. There were a lot of tears, and then a lot of sprinting to bring our stuff to the bus station. A member told me, "at least you'll always remember Kazan as the place where you mastered Russian". Oh, if only. I do love Kazan, I have at least as much patriotism to there as anywhere else I've ever lived. I'll be back! Sister Thomas is staying in Kazan, so I don't have to worry about it, though.

Yeah, so strange statistics: Right now in our mission there are 20 sisters (or at least there will be as soon as the old ones fly out and the new ones fly in tomorrow) and only 5 of them have been in Russia longer than 6 months.

When it's someone's last week in a mission you have to go see everyone you've ever met in that area, because they all want to say goodbye. It's not really what the missionaries feel like doing, but it keeps you busy (It's also a great way to reconnect with investigators who've dropped off the face of the earth).

We visited members Maksim and Malika who live "out of town" (whatever that means) in a little house they've built. Actually we asked and they said it was some 37 km from our church building. Their house looks like America. Super strange. They fed us way too much food and their huge dog was really happy to see us.

Aleksei (remember him?) told my fortune according to "science" and my date of birth. I have a whole scroll of paper about it. It seems the moon has been slowing me down for the last year and a half, but in the beginning of March it's going to flip and I'll start to draw power from it. Also, the ideal time for me to get married is fall 2017. Any takers?

On Wednesday we spent four hours in the police station. That was fun. They insisted on separating our companionship (we tried to tell them...) and a little while later the man in a suit that everyone was referring to as their boss stuck his head into the room Sister Wilson and I were in and said "hey, check out the book that Thomas girl gave me!" Expect the unexpected. I also learned some slang and was subjected to questions like "In America do you really all wear your shoes in the house?" Aren't detectives supposed to know this stuff? "What about on your bed? Do you wear shoes in bed?"

Well, if it seems like this letter is frantic and all over the place, so are we. Sister Wilson is peacing out and I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I can't consult her at a given moment for help. For the past week Sister Thomas and I have been chucking last-minute mission- and russian- questions and scribbling down her answers. Missions are actually really short and they come to an end. I'm still behind in my journal. But really all I want is to remember what I think and feel about things and ask everyone around me how they think. I ask so many people what faith means to them, for example, and it's super interesting. We offer people repentance, and that's pretty neat.

Have a great week! I love you all!

Sister Nielsen

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