Thursday, July 28, 2016

well

July 20th
Today is wednesday. It's official.

It's been a pretty intense week. Let's see if I can put any of my feelings into words.

We got some crazy call-downs this week. Do you all know what a call-down is? Is that something that exists outside of missions? I'm sure it is. Basically, instead of calling all 28 or so companionships to tell them stuff, our president tells the assistants, who tell the zone leaders, who call the district leaders in their zone, who call the people in their district. That way everyone only has 1-3 phone calls to make. 

So yeah. Some of the call-downs were normal. "p-day will be on wednesday". No surprise there. But it's kind of a weird thing to get a call from A DL Peterson where you hear "you are no longer a m*jhfdkjjfkd*y. got it? Delete the word "m*jgfdfghkl*y" from your vocabulary. you might as well send your name tag home."
It's just slightly...uncomfortable.

But actually, we're not m$&^%$^%ies. We are now volunteers. We don't have any m!@#$%^&*y duties. Please refer to me as a volunteer. Thank you.

Another call-down: "DESTROY all of your Word of Wisdom, Tithing, and Chastity pamphlets. They are ILLEGAL." Alrighty

That's the thing about call-downs. Things can sometimes get a little distorted. Like, we weren't sure if we were actually supposed to "destroy" those pamphlets, or if we could just get rid of them normally. But, you know, gotta play it safe. 

Not only do call-downs get distorted, but sometimes people make up their own. The sisters in center got a call from their district leader during dinner about a week ago, back when there was still a lot of uncertainty and almost no one knew what was going on. "sisters, I'm sorry I don't know very much. They said they'd keep us posted as more of this unfolds, but all we know is, pack your bags" (The sisters, understandably, flipped out)

But anyway, things have been a little high-stress around here. My new companion sister Bierman was supposed to arrive at like 1:30wednesday morning. Someone had the bright idea of letting two sisters travel to Saratov without a phone, and the results were pretty disastrous. Let's just say that they got home way later than they were supposed to, and that the zone leaders literally ran the streets of Saratov for over an hour screaming their names. I was sleeping calmly and peacefully in my own bed while it was all going down. The poor sisters in center have to deal with everything. They call said zone leaders at 2 in the morning like "what do we do? the sisters still aren't here!" "well...you might as well hit the streets yourself"

And that's why we had 6 "volunteers" and some luggage roaming the streets at 3 am.

Yet another call-down: "please write down ALL important phone numbers and keep them with your passport"

And we had to laugh a bit because that wouldn't even have helped, but whatever.

So we got our companions in safely, but we still had 10.5 million questions about everything. Fortunately, we got to be on MLC, which stands for Voluntary Leadership Council, and hear a lot of the stuff as it unfolded. We'll have a question-and-answer conference tomorrow.

So yeah, you're probably wondering what volunteers do, and I'm not really sure either, but it's not proselyting.

It felt like the world was ending. Or my mission, at least. Today is p-day, but I don't even know what we're going to do tomorrow. We can't plan. Help.

I've spent almost a year out here. Contacting. Not necessarily all the time, but it's just the way I was raised. It's 7 in the morning! What are you doing at home?! Go contacting! You've been at this activity too long! Go contacting! This lesson cannot go over 45 minutes! Go contacting! 
There will be no more of that.

It's hard to even accept that it's real. I'm half expecting to wake up tomorrow with a text that says "that was all a joke to make you work harder. Go contacting".

It does feel like a joke. Everything that was ever encouraged here (finding, teaching, baptizing) is now out the window. We don't participate in any of that. And everything that was ever discouraged (community service, hanging out with members, cultural events, sports night, chilling doing nothing in the church building) is now encouraged. It is actually exactly everything we used to joke about doing but never actually did.

Oh yeah did I mention that culture night is now можно?

DOES ANYONE KNOW IF SARATOV HAS A SYMPHONY?

I was actually pretty down about stuff for most of the week, to be honest. I kind of felt like I'd been cheated of 5 months.

But I'm sure it will pick up. We're basically here to support the wards, hold callings, run activities, all that stuff. I think Sunday is when I really started to come to terms with it all. Saratov has a stake. It's not the first place I would have thought that needs support, but there some problems here. It was when the sisters in the primary and in the young women heard thatt we were getting callings and started arguing about who would get us, and I realized that it was actually pretty needed. The wards and branches need a lot of help.

Basically everything is different and weird and less hard and more hard all at the same time.

I suspect it's going to be really humbling. We're going to have to be 300% better at Russian, 20 times more social, millions better prepared and good at planning.

So if you made it to the end of this ridiculously long email, (sorry by the way) I need stuff!

I need any and all ideas for fun and inexpensive ward activities. please. send them. Even if you think it's stupid. If you have it I want it. Even send expensive ones, maybe I can Russian it up a little. 

Also send me fun object lessons. PLEASE!

Okay I know that this should be more spiritual and stuff but I'm exhausted from the last week and the thoughts are spinning around in my head and I need to wrap this up. 

Know that I'm feeling hopeful and positive about it all. It's going to be fun. Weird, but fun. Here's a smiley face to prove that everything is wonderful :)

Have an excellent week! Love you!
Sister Nielsen

p.s. It's still cool to call me "sister". I'm kind of stoked to start every single phone conversation with "здравствуйте это сестры волонтеры как вы поживаете?"

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