Sunday, January 24, 2016

punching penguins

All these train rides really interfere with the work. They sent us back here on a train car that wasn't first-class (I have no idea what class it was. But it wasn't classy) and we had to try really hard not to feel betrayed. So that all took about half the week. If anyone is wondering how the Kazakhstan trip went, it was really boring and nothing eventful happened. Apparently on one of the visa trips last cycle they took a van full of missionaries into the nondescript building on the Russian side of the border and interviewed them all individually but I think they've figured out what we're doing. I looked at a lot of missionaries' family photos. There's a few new stamps in my passport.

We've been looking for jump ropes so we can better work out in the winter, and we've discovered that it's a super good approach to contacting. Especially since despite some zealous babushki's best efforts, we are still jump-rope-less. I don't think anyone expects the two heavily-accented and lost-looking girls to stop them and ask where to find that, of all things. And then they've stopped and are talking to us and we share the gospel, naturally. The word for jump rope is skakalka. It's super fun to say. I have to grin every time I imagine the reverse, two Russian girls walking up to me on the street like "excuse me please is it possible that you could hint to me where one might buy a skipping rope?" I would probably also call my friends to see if they knew or drag the girls into stores to no avail.

Made borscht and my hands still smell like it. Help. Have some pictures. There's me and sister Palmer eating some super good shaurma, we are definitely going back to that place. People this week keep asking us if she is a gypsy. Um. Actually the first time was when we were at a part-member family's teaching their son and they were like "yeah so our dad/husband (who we never meet with because reasons) says that he thinks sister Palmer looks like a gypsy with murderous eyes" uh. pause while I translate. ummm "no, no, it's a compliment, mostly? are you sure you understood? a gypsy with murderous eyes" "so you're saying... a gypsy with eyes that could kill someone" "yes, that". Anyway, at least no one else said anything about murderous when they told her. 

Other things people have been telling me in the past week: so one thing I ask fairly often of strangers I'm having conversations with is if they've heard of Mormons, because in areas I've been typically people have heard of them and we can be like "we'll, you're talking to some, let's tell you something you didn't know". Well, people keep telling me that "we have mormons in Orenburg. They all live about 100 km outside the city in that direction and they don't smoke or drink alcohol. they're like this mobster gang or something. also something something polygamy maybe something russian words". But I have determined that they do seem to drink tea and coffee and I'm pretty sure I would know if there were more than one tiny group of Mormons in this oblast. Someone with google go find stuff out for me. I hear they live in Софиевка or Шалицкий Район or something. Also, seeking advice: should I keep asking that question? I'm not sure if I should bother reclaiming the name "mormon" or if I should just ask people if they've heard of the real name of our church. Just the problem is no one has heard of the real name of our church. Unless they're Mormon. Or some adventists and Jehovah's witnesses have too. 

That's the view out our window of the outline of the orthodox temple we live by through the fog. Lately outside has been all snowbanks with a thin layer of ice over everything (I fell more on saturday that I had the rest of the year combined, until then). Sister Palmer and I love punching ice-covered snow. It's really satisfying the way it crunches in. Especially when absolutely everything goes wrong. 

Other things that happened: watched the worldwide missionary broadcast and also the patriarch who came to Samara wanted to talk to all the missionaries here over skype (so basically we were confined to the branch building all of friday) and it was all really good. He has pretty dang good Russian. It's tough when such things get you all fired up with missionary zeal and then you're inside for a few more hours.

Got a handful of in/less-actives to church yesterday :) worth the tears they make me cry in the lessons with them (although I probably deserved to cry in that lesson with Olga, because she kinda cried in the lesson before that. Sorry. I wasn't even throwing down on her specifically that time). I'm pretty sure we won't have time to track down half of the inactives by the time this program ends, but we'll try.

Working on memorizing the full names of all the people who come to church. Working on praying for charity. Wishing there was more time in the day to do more tracting. I didn't think I'd ever say that. We need to knock more doors. I love you all. Missionary work is the bomb. Does anyone say things are the bomb anymore or is that just me? Wait, now I'm having second thoughts about sending that word in an email. That isn't a threat. ah, forget it. love you. bye.

Sister Nielsen

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