Monday, September 19, 2011

A Few Highlights

Hey Everyone,
So this week was pretty rough.  It was by far the worst stats-wise that I've had my whole mission.  I don't know, it just stunk.  We only had 4 meetings the whole week.  It was bad, We had one of our investigators lose his phone so we can't get a hold of him.  2 said that they didn't want to meet for a while, and probably the most frustrating of all are the ones who we set up times with and either cancel at the last second or just don't show up.  Even our usually inactive family that we see about once a week didn't have time for us this week.  Anyway, it was just all around bad.  But it's weird.  I would have thought that only having 4 meetings in an entire week would mean endless hours contacting, but it really doesn't.  There was a lot of contacting this week, but things just take so long.  Like traveling to and from appointments, doing service, English club,  planning, stopping by inactive members homes, etc. so we were still busy without doing any 4 hours straight of contacting, so that's good I guess.  But it's really frustrating to have so few meetings.

It's really had to contact, nobody ever wants to listen.  The most effective way is to ask if they speak English and invite them to English club, because a lot of times, they will stop and ask you why you are there, or why you have a free English club and then you can talk about the gospel.  That's the only way that I've gotten really any kind of conversation going.  Maybe other than asking some younger guys about sports or something.  Other than that contacting is really hard.
So here are a few highlights of what has happened recently. 
I bought some hair clippers, so I can do my own haircuts, so I'm really happy about that.
Yesterday at church it was really crazy.  So, just as a background: there are tons of missionaries who attend our branch.  4 elders, 2 sisters, the APs, who are going to be around more now and are actually assigned an area now, and the office couple.   Then there are a few, maybe 8 or so Melchezidek Priesthood holders, and three semi active young men.  So in priesthood yesterday, one of the young men who was totally inactive when I got here, but has been coming since, was being ordained a priest.  I can't take credit for that, the other elders have been working with him, but I enjoy talking to him at church and activities and stuff because he is patient with me.  Anyway, the BP (Branch President) asked him (Grisha) who he wanted to ordain him and he pointed at me and said "Elder Topham."  So obviously I was freakin out, because I wouldn't have even been sure on the wording in English.  So Elder Drasso hands me a little card that says the blessing on it, but it was really hard to read.  Anyway it was bad, I accidentally tried to give him the priesthood again, and I didn't realize it until after I read it, I skipped an important word I think, so I had to do it again.  The blessing was rough language-wise, but I wasn't to worried about that, I got across what I needed to.  Anyway, the good part is that I don't think Grisha really cared that I messed up, and he was happy afterward, so I'll do better next time.
I've been doing some fun service at people's dachas, I've harvested potatoes, spread fertilizer, cut firewood, and all kinds of fun stuff.
I found a good place to buy boots, it's a store so they are a little more expensive, but they should be good quality, much better than the rinok and they said they will have my size soon.
I saw Elder Johnson when the new missionaries came through on transfers so that was fun.  He headed out to Krasnoyarsk the next day.
Another interesting experience.  Aleksei, tried to introduce us to our neighbor, because he had expressed some kind of interest in meeting us.  Anyway, we show up and he is drunk.  In America I would say he was really drunk but I have a new perspective now.  He kept trying to give us vodka which was really nice of him, but he would not take no for an answer and he was even getting mad about it. It's good Aleksei was there to help us out, because you could tell he was scared of Aleksei.  We ended up just leaving because there was really nothing at all we could do.  We'll try calling him on a weekday.
Congrats Dani on being picked as a rep.  I hope you have fun doing it.  I'm so happy to hear that you've been playing well in volleyball.  5 Aces in a row! That's awesome.  It's also good they aren't playing the second string as much any more.
Hope you had fun hiking the Y,  Matthew.  And that's awesome that you are in a higher golf group now, what kind of things are different in that group?
Sorry to hear about the (BYU) game.  Sounds pretty bad, but good job getting on ESPN, Sam and Carson. 
And to mom, Just for future reference I don't need any more mints, I have plenty for a long long time, so even though they are convenient for package stuffers, candy especially chocolate is more valuable I would say.
Love you mom.
- Elder Topham

With our investigator, Aleksei at his house.  This is after we had shoveled and spread fertilizer with him for about an hour.  His house is the nicest one Elder Drasso has seen in all of Russia and he built it himself.  His garden in amazing and beautiful.  You can see some of it in the picture.

The inside of my new winter coat.

Me in my winter coat.

Elder Drasso wearing my coat and his shopka.