Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It hasn't started to feel much like Christmas

(Mostly because in my head I think it's still October or something)

Orenburg is different from Kazan in a number of ways. First, it's a lot smaller. It's spread out a bit, but there are fewer people, and a lot more of them have cars. A lot more people live in separated houses with tall fences than in apartment buildings, at least in the sisters' area. And people don't walk outside very much. Unsurprisingly, it's also cold, and almost always windy. As for similarities, it's pretty clean and nice. Hi, I'm Sister Nielsen, and I get sent to all the nicest/richest cities in the mission.

This all makes it interesting to try to do missionary work (specifically finding, which is basically the only thing we're doing right now). It's hard to talk to people if there straight-up aren't people to talk to. The deeper we walk into center (half of it is in our area) the more people there are, but there're also government buildings, schools, and churches every two feet, so we don't do much proselyting. I haven't really scoped out the bus-contacting situation because my companion is unused to taking buses so we don't really have anywhere to go on a bus and I also got sick so talking in general has been pretty hard for a couple days. 

Most of the ways I learned how to do missionary work in Kazan aren't really applicable here. Don't worry, I'll find the best way to take care of this city eventually. But I'm open to suggestions if you have any. 

The branch here seems sweet, but also tiny. 

So weird to send my trainer home. Since that happened I've felt kind of like I'm on splits. I keep thinking I'm about to go back and tell her about someone we met or run something by her to see if it's an approved, productive behavior. My current companion also just was separated from her trainer, and I think we both feel like we've been wandering a bit since then. We were trained quite a bit differently, so it's been good for us to try to learn how to work together. I also totally failed at having a picture of the two of us so I'm sorry. You can all imagine her. She's pretty! I'll send a picture of the view out our window.

Firsts this week:
-I had my first fall on the ice! A rite of passage. It happened last night while looking for signs of life (uh, I mean contacting). It was a pretty solid fall, I'd give it an eight out of ten.
-I took my first train ride in Russia, and we got in here Thursday around lunch time. Apparently it was a pretty nice train, but I was mostly asleep, and I don't have anything to compare it with. We never took trains to Kazan, but we do to here and it's about an 8-hour ride.
-I took a greenie out contacting in Samara! I still don't know who ended up being her trainer, but I was handed her and three hours to get from the mission office to the sisters' apartment there. So we walked around until some old ladies yelled at us (while calling us terms of endearment. And/or accusations of being from a cult. It's hard to tell and context doesn't clue you in, but I know we got both) for being in such a dangerous part of the city after dark so we hopped on a bus and got back. She did great! And I got us back alive. 

We watched the first presidency Christmas Devotional yesterday at church and I really liked it (at least the parts I understood). I love the scriptures we have about the Savior's birth. I want to study them a little more intently at this time of year, and I highly recommend that you do that as well!

I love you all! Have a fabulous week. Don't freeze. 

Your very own perpetually month-behind-in-her-journal 
Sister Nielsen

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