Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Definite Progress

Hey, so I'm leaving on Visa trip early tomorrow morning, which means that one of the days I'm gone is my p-day.  So I went to the Snigeri branch building tonight with Elder Walker because they have a computer and we are taking turns using it.  Sorry I didn't find out this was the plan until recently, so don't feel bad for not having your emails sent yet, it's not your fault.  I'm just sorry I can't answer any questions you have or anything until next week.  Next week's email will be much more exciting anyway because I will have experienced Finland and we will have gotten transfer calls by then.
So there were a few really cool things that happened this week. 
I went on exchanges for a day with our district leader Elder Bounous.  And it was awesome, I learned a lot, he helped me with my accent, we had a good time.  We also had a great meeting with Tamara (more details to come).  But here's the best part.  Elder Bounous is an amazing singer.  So more background.  President Gibbons called a meeting with all of the district presidencies and branch presidencies in the whole mission at his house.  So it was basically all of the strong active men in the mission almost.  He was going to discuss how they wanted to have a plan to make a stake in this mission.  And here's the best part, President wanted Elder Bounous to sing a musical number to start off the meeting, and it was on the same day as our exchange!  So I got to go too! Then after he sang, President told us we could stay and sit in on the meeting until lunch.  That was awesome because not only did we get to eat some awesome food, but we got to see what was going on.  The AP's were the only other missionaries there.  It was a super high powered intense meeting.  I wish I could have stayed there for the afternoon session too.  Basically, they are going to combine all of the districts into one super district and combine a lot of the small branches into what would meet the requirements to become wards and then the whole mission would be organized like a stake already, and they just need a few more priesthood holders before it would meet all the requirements to become a stake.  The only other one is 80% home teaching.  That seems really high to me. But I guess there's a new stipulation in the handbook that talks about home teaching can be a call if you can't visit the home.. anyway, pres spent a lot of time talking about home teaching, and there's a lot of work to do because most branches, including ours, do not have a home teaching program in place.
So one time when we called Aleksei recently he answered and we were talking about the Book of Mormon.  He said that some lady at the hospital saw the Book of Mormon and told him that is wasn't true and was not real scripture.  But Aleksei told us not to worry about it because she's a "simple" woman and she does not understand.  Hahaha it was hilarious. Aleksei is the best.  He's always awesome to us.
So this Visa trip will be interesting.  I'm the travel group leader, and I'm still not sure exactly what that means except to make sure that everyone gets back to the country and I bring all of their passports back to the office.  It was crazy, Sister Olga from the office sat me down and gave me all these crazy directions about what to do in the Moscow airport and in Finland so it will be interesting and a little stressful, but it will also be really fun. I'm excited to see everyone. 
They just made a new rule from the quorum of the 12, I think it applies to only the Europe East area, but I'm not sure, that no missionary can ever travel alone.  It messes up missionary work a ton, especially because we already have visa trips, so everyone in my MTC group (except the two Omsk elders who will fly directly to Moscow together) has to travel to Novo with their companion, and their companions have to stay here for two days and work with the Novo missionaries until they get back and go to their cities together, it's crazy. 
Oh yeah, so I was supposed to say a little more about Tamara.  She is awesome, we've been meeting with her every once in a while since my first week here.  She hadn't been to church in years and years but she is really nice and has nothing against having the missionaries over, so it was suggested that I go over there and practice teaching her the discussions.  So I have been for a while, but anyway, she has come to church for 4 out of the last 5 weeks! And last meeting she agreed to ask the branch president for a calling.  And today, I didn't even have to remind her or anything.  She even waited outside of his office until he was done talking to someone and then asked him.  She is one of the few people that I can clearly see definite progress and I can look back and feel good that we were able to help her. 
Well love you mom, and rest of family, sorry this will be unexpected, but no worries I'll hear from you soon!
Elder Topham