Monday, September 5, 2011

Not Afraid

Hey guys,
Thanks for the mail and emails this week.  I got letters from the ward so thank you to everyone in the ward who wrote me, especially those of you I don't really know.  I got one from the Hulmes, and I got your package this week on Wednesday.  It was great! Thanks for the note card and the box Matthew, I really look forward to it and thank you too Danica -  I also got a dear elder from you this week so thanks for writing to me.  Good luck on the election this week, Make sure to just keep working hard to talk to as many people as you can and get them to vote.  So the package got here in really good condition and unopened so that's cool.  Elder Drasso got a package on the same day, it was in a flat rate envelope, so it looks like you might be able to stuff a little more into one of those things than in one of the flat rate boxes, but his was opened.  Someone knifed it open and put some tape on it, but as far as we know nothing was missing from it.  Maybe the envelopes have a little more of a chance of being opened than the boxes, who knows.

I forgot in last week's email to write about the training that Pres. Gibbons held for all of the trainers and new missionaries.  It was awesome! It was from his living room, and he had all five other cities on video chat through skype.  The whole set-up of it all was really awesome, and his teaching was awesome too.

So Dad, I'll be taking a bunch of money off my card today to buy some winter clothes so just expect that.  Also for future reference, in the rinok it won't matter but, is it better to use cash or my debit card to buy things from stores?  I've heard that the bank charges fees every time you use your card from here so it's just better to take off cash at large chunks at a time, so let me know what our bank's policy is.  I'll be going to the rinok today to try to start buying some stuff.  On Saturday Aleksei took me to the small rinok by his house to meet his jacket dealer.  He seems pretty shady, haha, but I'll be able to get something really good from him for a good price.  Aleksei did all the talking for me, it was awesome.  He said he was negotiating but he was pretty much just yelling at the guy in angry Russian, then he would turn to me and in really polite English with a British accent say something like, "It's all well, he will bring the right jacket in your size next Saturday."  So I have to go back with him, but I'm really excited.  It was really cool. Aleksei brought his huge dog, with us and he was walking us through this really shady, dirty market, and a bunch of the people there knew him, and a lot were probably scared of him.  I just really felt like I was in Harry Potter and Hagrid was taking us through one of those crazy dark magic places with Fang, so it was pretty awesome.

We moved in to our new apartment this week.  It's really nice because they just remodeled the inside so the floors and walls and stuff are really nice, but its a lot smaller than the old one.  The kitchen is the biggest pain.  There's a sink, a stove, and a fridge, then you turn around and there's a little tiny table there and that's it.  There is no counter space so it's really hard to do anything in there or to even fit two people in there.

I hope seminary is going well, Mom. You asked me who my favorite prophet or story was and I said it was Daniel. He is awesome.  First, I really like how in Daniel chapter 1 he refuses the king's meat, mostly because he has the confidence to stand up for what he knows is right.  I can apply that to the word of wisdom today.  But it was probably much harder for Daniel because he was sitting in the king's court or whatever and it would have been really easy to feel embarrassed to not eat and do what everyone else was doing.  As a result of his courage and confidence other people, rather than saying oh he's weird for not doing what they do, they said wow, that's cool that he stands up for what he believes in and respects him more for that, eventually at least.  And I've found the same to be true, especially for teenagers.  With all standards.  Then in chapter six, everyone knows the story, but I love in verse 10 not only does Daniel decide to pray still, but it says that he prays with the windows open.  He's not afraid to demonstrate his beliefs and show others what he believes in even if it means his death, and that's awesome.  He ends up making a large impact on the lives of others by doing that.  He's awesome!

We have a new investigator named Giorgi.  He is Asian and he is from a small village near Vladivostok and he believes in like nature gods and shamans and chants and raindances and stuff.  It sounds a lot like Indians in America.  So it was pretty crazy teaching him a lesson, and it will be crazy in the time to come I'm sure.  

I'll try to send some pictures next week.

-Elder Topham