Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm Going to Tomsk

Hey, what's up?  So it was a really crazy week.  Right when we landed in Novo on Saturday morning, President picked us up in the van and told us all our transfers.  I'm going to Tomsk on Wednesday with Elder Vargin.  He's the tall one from Moscow who was the Zone Leader.  President told me that the Lord wants me to serve with a Russian companion and that my task next transfer is to master Russian.  So I'm really excited. It will be a great learning opportunity, and I'm going to put as much work in as possible improving my Russian. Mastering seems like it may be a little stretch for six weeks, but I will for sure be much better.  But it will also be tough.  I'll be a junior comp, and he's a few years older than me, been out for a long time, and already speaks Russian obviously, so I hope he's not going to look down on me.  I think it will be really fun, he seems like a great guy from the day I spent with him.  Also, Elder Walker and Sister Trottier are also going to Tomsk.  So 3 out of the 6 missionaries in Tomsk will come in together from our former Novosibirsk district.  Also, Elder Harris is coming in to replace me, to be Elder Hyde's comp and the DL here, so if you could give me little status updates from his blog every once in a while, especially if he mentions specific people, that would be really cool.  Tomsk is supposedly the most beautiful city in the mission.  It's quite a bit smaller than Novo, and there are a lot of young people that live there.  But, downside is that no senior couple lives there. So no nice lunches every district meeting :(  But other than that I'm really excited.
So Visa trip was fun.  Crazy and stressful, but fun.  The first stressful part was that they cancelled our flight from Moscow to Finland because of bad weather, so we ended up sitting in the Moscow airport for most of the day on Thursday, waiting for news about when we could get to Finland.  They finally got us on a flight later that afternoon, and turns out it was all worth it because they had to upgrade like 10 of us to business class in order to fit us all on the flight.  It was awesome! I wish that flight would have been longer.  We got all kinds of drinks, I had plenty of leg room. We got a warm towel before our 4 course meal.  And we got served caviar.  Yeah, it was awesome.  It was especially funny sitting next to Elder Harrison, who is really quiet and humble, because he started saying stuff like, "I'm glad they closed that curtain back there, I'm tired of all the common folk staring at me."  Anyway, it was a great flight, but we didn't get in till the evening, so we didn't have time to do anything in Finland, we just went right to the temple hostel.  The next morning we did a session at the temple, then barely had enough time to get some lunch, then we had to fly right back out.  But going to the temple was awesome.  And Finland in general was awesome too, as always.  It was really warm, just barely below freezing it. It felt so nice.  And it's always just so clean and beautiful.  Our bus from the temple to the airport was really late so that was stressful too, trying to get everyone to the flight back to Moscow on time, but everyone made it, so it's all good.  I had an awesome time with all of my MTC district friends.  It was hilarious, Elder Blake sat us down and had a DTR (have someone explain this to you, maybe Sam or Rob) to see how far the district relationship would go.  All but 1 of us go to BYU, so we already have an intramural basketball team, group dates, and road trips planned, so it's a serious relationship. 
Oh, but it was pretty cool in Finland because I would hear Finnish everywhere, and sometimes hear English, but a couple times I overheard some conversations and understood them, and my mind automatically assumed that if it's not Finnish it's English, but it was Russian! So I was actually really excited about that.  And we went to a pizza place. I said "hello" to the lady working there as if to say "I don't speak Finnish, you need to talk to me in English" she kinda had this look on her face like 'crap this is going to be hard' then she saw my tag and said in Russian, "Do you speak Russian?" So I said "yes" and she just started in Russian, and we had the whole conversation in Russian and it was awesome.
Well, let's see.. Leadership training was really cool as always, my little presentation went well, but it ended up being not very organized because I had too many ideas, oh well. 
We've made little progress with Zhenia this week, he's still looking good, but it's gonna be just a little bit longer.  Hopefully Elders Hyde and Harris will have him baptized in the next week or two.  I haven't met with Aleksei for a while.  He says he really wants to do family history. Elder Drasso and I mentioned that briefly to him like 4 months ago and last week he called me and said, "Topham, when can I busy myself with family tree?"  So we'll see if we can get him going on that. Hopefully in the long run that will get him to the temple.
Oh speaking of temple, they did the session for us in English. I felt bad for the handful of Finnish people who came to their own temple and had to wear headsets.
Well I think that's it, I'll let you know how Tomsk is next week.
Elder Topham