So Mom's bold questions first, (if it's not bold there's a good chance I'll miss it first time through).
So here's the deal. There are no restrictions on what kind of player it can be, so ipod, mp3 whatever. I found in my apartment a small set of portable speakers, headphones are not allowed. I think I will use those, and if I need better ones I can buy them here so don't worry about speakers. Electrical charger is probably better. I have a converter already, and I also have a converter to USB already for my camera, so any kind of chargeable would be good. We also have a CD player, and it can play MP3 format CDs (they hold much more audio). And 1 more suggestion for music, please send the Jericho Road I already have and maybe some more. They are by far my favorite Mormon boy band.
So we watch general conference next week, so I'll see it by next email time.
Here's something cool. I got stopped by the police for the first time on my mission the other day. We were at the domaphone trying to stop by an inactive member. We turned away to leave and two ununiformed cops come up behind us and show us their ID and start asking us questions about what we are selling and stuff. So we answered them and cleared some stuff up, then showed them the copies of our passport and registration. They looked at them for a while and let us go on our way. So it actually wasn't too exciting but it was still pretty fun.
President Gibbons has been doing awesome. He came in and said all the rules are only what is written in the white handbook and PMG. He had a leadership meeting with all the ZLs, DLs and trainers and he had a list of a bunch of questions he received and he just had them find the answers in those two books. Most of them were debatable, but apparently he never gave his opinion or interpretation. So I think that's really cool. Just to give people agency and trust to interpret and keep the rules as written. He also has been spending a lot of time, personally going with some priesthood leaders to visit inactive families. He is really awesome. He is going around to all of the apartments and interviewing all of the missionaries. Ours was awesome, he just told me to keep lifting up others because that's a natural skill that I have and to keep doing it and being a good positive example. He was more specific, but it was really cool.
So when that leadership conference was going on, Elder Davis (from my MTC group) came in from Tomsk, and I spent the day with him and Elder Walker, it was Awesome! We visited a babooshka and she was great and we went contacting. Or should I say, Elder Davis gave us a lesson in contacting. He is amazing, he just gets every person to stop and talk to him about anything, then all the sudden they are best friends and giving him their number. It is incredible. I learned so much from him in just a couple hours. It was just an overall really fun day.
So Aleksei supposedly has tuberculosis and went into the hospital today. Dad, I would like you to tell me a little about tuberculosis, because it's hard to tell what's going on with Aleksei sometimes and it's hard to know what is really going on with him. But he looks and sounds really sick. But he did say the only thing he would have time to do in the hospital is read the Book of Mormon, so that's good.
But we did recover one promising investigator! This 18 year old, Ruslan. He is awesome, his dad is Muslim, and he's a little middle eastern/ Asian looking. We had a good first meeting with him, but he lost his phone and we couldn't get into contact with him for 2 weeks. We were about to move his record to the former investigator tab and we called him and he had gotten his old number back, it was awesome, and we've already had 2 more good lessons and a soft baptismal commitment from him. So that's awesome. It looks like the biggest problem is that he doesn't think his parents will like it. H is 18.. but its important to him, so that's 1 big trial we will have to overcome.
We met an American the other day. That was really fun. Leo, he is teaching Russian here on some kind of study abroad grant. He's Jewish, from upstate New York, He wasn't interested in hearing much from us, but he was still really nice and knew a lot and had a good opinion of the Mormons. But he's here for a full year so we'll see if we can't work with him a little in that time.
Anyway, our week hasn't been great, but I've been having a really good time and I feel like my Russian is improving very fast. I've learned how to make good use of my time and squeezing in some extra study, and Elder Davis showed me what he does, which I've been doing some more of and that's helped too. Elder Davis was trained by someone who was only on his 3rd transfer, so I think that's part of the reason he is so awesome, because he is a hard worker and they both just worked really hard. I have a feeling that President Gibbons is going to do that with a few missionaries in my group. So that could be pretty crazy.
Thanks for the emails.
- Elder Topham