Monday, August 22, 2011

A Tougher Week

Hey guys,

So guess what I found out, anyone can email me on this email address (, so that's really cool.  Definitely give the whole big family my email address and you can put it up on my blog and facebook.  So I can receive emails from anyone, but I can only send the one out, so people will have to wait for responses, but I can get them every week.  I'll just print them out here, it's pretty cheap.  Also, if you have questions in your email, if you put them at the front then I can skim through it and respond to them.  And read the rest of the letter in detail later. 

It's been a tougher week.  We got stood up or cancelled on a couple of times in our meetings, and the ones that we had didn't go to well,  also, we didn't get as many contacts as usual, but we are still working just as hard so I imagine that will turn around soon.

We did some service this week. On Wednesday we went to an old folks home and basically just shoveled dirt and carried rocks around until we made a huge flower bed that looked like the world with rocks for the continents and flowers for the ocean, it was really hard for me to understand what was going on, but with much pointing and sign language, I was very effective.

We also went to this lady in the ward's dacha.  It's kind of like a summer home a little away from the city with a big garden usually.  Russians love to garden.  A lot of them are just little shacks. We were mostly outside cutting wood the whole time.

So our next meeting with Gleb didn't go too well.  He is still really nice and wanted to talk to us about everything but our church... like his time in the military, all his favorite American movies (which was very hard to relate with because they were all rated R) and how much he loves boxing, he's an amateur boxer and loves Manny Pacquiao.  So that was fun to talk about, we finally convinced him to watch Finding Faith in Christ with us and he was surprised at the end that it wasn't anything crazy about our church but just normal stuff he believed, so that was good, that was our intention.  His wife fed us some awesome soup, and we made them peanut butter cookies because they had never heard of peanut butter before.  I hope we make progress there, but it will be hard.

We have a meeting with our basketball friend Zhenia tomorrow, he was really cautious to meet with us, and I know he wouldn't have said yes if we wouldn't have been good friends already, so the basketball paid off.

Speaking of basketball it was really scary this week.  We got a text from the AP's, that told us "due to a series of recent injuries basketball and soccer are now forbidden, starting immediately"  I was pretty upset about that.  But the good news is, about 3 days later there was a repeal and it said basketball and soccer are okay as long as you play within the guidelines of the missionary handbook so I'm very glad that got sorted out.

So on a regular day we actually don't get out until pretty late, because we have personal study and comp study and language study each for an hour, then if you are in a training companionship, or first 3 months in the field, you have an additional hour of companionship study every day, which is usually role plays of lessons or other situations and usually includes watching some little clips from the PMG DVDs on our tiny portable DVD player that we just got. It's usually pretty similar to what we did in the MTC but I guess its good practice.  Some days I feel like all of that studying is taking up a lot of time and I just want to go and actually do something. 

As far as regularly scheduled events, we do English club for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30.  And we have district meeting for 2 hours on Friday and sports night for an hour or two on Saturday night.  We plan after our studies on Thursday mornings now, and you plan the next 10 days, its kind of different.

So besides that, we fill our time with meetings and when we don't have meetings we usually do drop by's to inactive members homes or talk to people on the street or a combo of both.  Street contacting is not very effective, so I really want to get better at it. 

Here are a few music suggestions for you:
I think it would be awesome to load up an MP3 player, (just a cheap little flash drive stick one, maybe we still have the ones Sam and I got for Christmas a while ago) with some songs from my itunes library.  EFY CDs are pretty readily available in the apartments, but I would really like some of my other church music, and classical music, and some Christmas music..  For some suggestions about which to choose, especially on the classical because there's a lot, look on the how many times I've played it and if it's a bunch send it, if it's none or a couple then don't.)  Some things to make sure to put on there are the first Lord of the Rings soundtrack (the other 2 if there is room),  Inception soundtrack, Weezer string tribute, and Social Network soundtrack, they are all instrumental so they are allowed.  Also a few suggestions of CD's that you may need to buy.  There is a piano player named John Schmidt.  He does some hymn arrangements that I love and some modern classical music, so maybe a couple of his CD's, some church and some other.  Maybe some Josh Groban, like if he has some inspirational not to pop-y songs, or albums and especially his Christmas music.  And the first Pirates of the Carribbean soundtrack... Other than that it's up to you - I'll tell you more if I think of them.  Please use my itunes cards that I left at home to get the music.  And whatever is easier, buying real CDs or downloading the songs and burning and sending me a copy.

A couple questions from your emails that I haven't gotten to yet.  There are about 50-60 missionaries in the mission from what I can tell.  The only one from the MTC that I see is Elder Walker.  He is in Sniggari (Dad will like this: the two elders who serve in Sniggari are commonly referred to by other missionaries as sniggers)  When I was in Moscow I didn't really see anything but the airport and the embassy.  So not much, I was so tired and delusional anyway.  

Good job Matthew beating dad and grandpa! It sounds like you are doing great.  

Danica, make sure you say hi to Ms. lewis the stuco teacher at Palo, and Mr. Keirnes and everyone else I know while you are there, try to drop my name as much as possible.  I miss you both and love you both.  

Elder Drasso was gone from last Wednesday night to Saturday morning on his visa trip -  I guess that's how long they last.  We pretty much have  a routine going now but moving is going to stink.  Apparently getting an apartment here is a big pain.  And especially getting a good one, so we'll see what the ZLs get for us or if they get one.  I haven't started buying winter stuff yet, it's not too bad at all.  I've only had to wear my rain jacket without liner when it was raining, and it worked really well.  Even when it was raining my shoes held up well so we're good so far. Love you all, I'm going to try to send another email w/ pictures.
-Elder Topham