Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Of Fighter Pilots, Mission Presidents, and Apostles

Hey everyone!
Your Idaho vacation sounded awesome! I wish I could have gone!  Good job shooting, Danica.
Last Friday was that special devotional.  Elder Bednar spoke, with his perfectly parted hair.  There were 6 other apostles there too, but they didn't speak.  Then we got to meet our new mission presidents after the meeting.  Our new mission president is really cool.  His name is president Gibbons and he was a judge in Salt Lake, I think.  He is one of those really eccentric and crazy people, in a good way if you know what I mean.  Like the kind of person who sets ridiculous goals, but then is fully committed to them and always achieves them.  He served his mission in Germany, and apparently he had multiple dreams and promptings about how he was going to serve a mission in Russia, so when he got back, he took a couple years of Russian classes.  Then I guess he didn't study Russian for a while, but he taught some law classes in Ukraine and even though he taught in English he spent a bunch of time there.  The reason I say he is crazy is I guess a few years ago he decided he needed to get in shape so he lost like over 75 pounds and just started doing marathons out of nowhere. And he has read the book of Mormon through like 7 times or something like that.  I don't know if those numbers are right, but that illustrates my point a little bit.  So because of all of his dreams and stuff, he was actually really surprised that he got called to Arkansas and not Russia.  But then it got changed like 2 weeks ago or something like that.  He's here in the MTC with us and leaves about a week before we do I think.  He's working really hard on Russian because he wants to do all of the member interviews in Russian by himself starting on day 1 he said, and I don't doubt him. 
He talked about how the church invests a lot of resources in Russian missionaries, especially with all of our visa trips, and we are like the fighter pilots of the military, how they would only send missionaries with high potential to Russia so he gave us a little bit of confidence and also talked about how we had to work hard to make it worth it.
Most importantly, I found Elder Braiser.  One day I was playing soccer on his team and he was wearing a centennial shirt so I introduced myself to him.  I'm glad the gym is open now.  Soccer was kinda fun, but there are so many people, you barely touch the ball at all.  Every game is Russians vs. Italians, and there is only one field.  I almost scored once, but I was just wide.  On a good note, I've dunked a few times in basketball games now, but they were easy ones and I'm still working on doing it on somebody now.
I, along with my whole district, joined the MTC choir for the Friday devotional because we all wanted to leave class early in order to make sure we got a seat in the gym for the devotional.  It was actually kind of cool to sing in the choir.
I talk to sister Sanford a little, but I don't really like talking to Sister Missionaries, its really awkward, so usually I just try to avoid it altogether.
That's cool that you found Elder Hoggan's blog, he was really nice.  See if you can find Elder Bennett's (try spelling it differently).  He is really funny, so he might write some good stuff on his.
Russian is going really well.  Last Sunday night I watched the Testaments in Russian.  It was pretty sweet.  I could understand what was going on because I could pick out the words and I've seen it before, but other than that I couldn't really understand it.  Our district is now supposed to speak in Russian 5 days a week, when we are wearing a tie, except for when we are in class holding a special item that allows us to speak English.  It's really hard, and it isn't upheld all the time, but I like it and it's really good practice.  I'm blessing the sacrament on Sunday in Russian, so I'm pretty excited about that.  I've mostly just been trying to memorize vocab.  It's really hard because the words all sound so similar and nothing like English words.  Russian grammar is really hard, but I love it.  To me its like math.  There are rules and charts and formulas that you need to follow, way more than in English, but there are fewer crazy exceptions like in English, so the grammar comes pretty easy to me. Also, I have a pretty good grasp of English grammar which really helps when you are doing Russian grammar. 
Our teachers have been shaking things up when we have been doing the pretend investigator thing.  They will come to lessons with weird questions or problems, or they didn't keep our commitments or something like that.  And one time he even brought his "cousin" (another teacher) to the lesson and surprised us so we had to teach a whole different lesson.  But I actually really like those, they are challenging and fun. 
I'm excited the newbs are coming today, so I get to meet all of them and I get to teach a lesson to all of them about how to do companionship inventory, haha a super exciting subject. 
The temple is closing for a few weeks so I don't know what I'm going to be doing with my P-day mornings.  They might tell us, if not I'll have more time to study which will be awesome.  The temple this morning was awesome, after the session Elder Fausett and I volunteered in the laundry room and we got to use these crazy folding machines that were really awesome.  It was really fun just to be able to do something different that is productive and helpful. 
Anyway, I'm doing great and am really loving it here.  I love all of the time I have to study the scriptures and the language and I wish I had more. Hope everyone is doing well!
- Elder Topham