Monday, April 25, 2016

planned and unplanned

Saratov is great! People here are really nice. Which is not what people have told me about people in Saratov, but that just goes to show you shouldn't pay too much attention to rumors. Our area is pretty small compared to other ones I've been in, but there are also actually people in it, which is not what I've been used to for a couple cycles, so there's that. We've met some really cool people out on the street in the past few days.

Don't worry, I still love Oburg, especially the members. 

So on Tuesday Sister Thomas and I went to Samara, switched companions, and both of us got on trains and headed back, we got on a train to Saratov (with eight missionaries and a ton of luggage, it was kind of crazy, and we definitely drew attention to ourselves) and got back in the middle of the night and argued with a taxi driver to the point where he only ripped us off a little bit.

The sisters' apartment here is crazy nice and huge, although we might be moving. We're not sure. Sister Hines is in-shape as I was told, every morning she assigns me half of the workout she's doing, and I usually crumple in a heap on the floor partway through. It's good. Also, she's picking up the language really fast and has no fear whatsoever, so it kind of doesn't feel like she's a trainee. If anything it feels the other way around, because she's a few years older than me and a really good cook, so I don't do much. Except the texting in Russian and sometimes the talking and translating. But yeah, with that, and nice people (the actual presence of people on the street...what?), contacting has been really good. 

Stake conference was yesterday! I still have a hard time processing the idea of a stake here. It was the first stake conference they've had. I've never seen so many Russian saints in one place! It didn't really do much for me meeting the members in our ward, but we'll worry about that later. It was a really good conference, our stake leaders talked a lot about studying our scriptures and being bound together in love and unity. Many parables were told. I was struck by something that someone (uhhh) said at the conference, that a good measure of our self-progression is the relationships we build with people. Think about it. Jesus was really good at building relationships with people, and he hung out with sinners but he lifted them instead of letting them influence him. Also, think about how that ties into charity. One of the greatest and most appealing things about the gospel is that when we live by it it strengthens our families and other relationships.
I think especially I noticed it because on my mission I have changed my personality quite a bit. Or I guess not my personality as much as the way my personality is manifest. As in, I'm less quiet and closed-off. A lot of it is an act, because often on the inside I want to be quiet, but it's definitely helped in the building-relationships department. Obviously I'm not perfect, and I manage to be impressively awkward a lot, but that's just a risk that comes with missionary life.

Love you! Have a great week!
Sister Nielsen

Pictures: Both of my former companion Sister Thomases, if anyone ever got confused.
I was enjoying too much my delicious grilled pita thing filled with sketchy meat off a spit and totally stepped right in a mud puddle on the way to write home. Go me. This is after I wiped a lot of the mud off.
and the only picture containing me and sister Hines, which I did just take two minutes ago. Sorry if it's upside down. I was not born to take selfies.

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