Monday, April 2, 2012

Out of the Ordinary

We took that picture in our apartment this morning before we headed out. I haven't sent you pictures of the apartment, it's really nice. Some of the apartments around the mission have nicknames, like the palace, the cave, the pantry, and ours is commonly referred to as the bachelor's sweet because we are on the top floor of the 16 story building, 2 big rooms, nice floors, appliances. I think ours and the palace are the only apartments with dishwashers, so anyway I'll send you some pictures maybe next week.

It was another good busy week. I feel like we did a lot of random stuff that was kind of out of the ordinary, so that's really nice.

Monday- All the Novo missionaries hung out at the pantry. Sisters made brownies and we all played Bananagrams. I forgot how awesome that game was, and I was loving it, it was very hard to stop when it was time to go. Anyway, that night we had a first meeting with someone we talked to on the bus one time, his name is Gregory (accent on the O in russian with rolled R's) anyway it was a solid first, basically all he knows about religion is what he's seen in movies so he kept trying to compare what we were saying to movies and we kept replying, "Nope, haven't seen that one." Anyway it was solid.

Tuesday we spent a good portion of the day preparing for the leadership training and scheduling hospital visits (see below). We also launched the new reformed English group. It's been off for about two or three months now and Pres, with a task force of missionaries, came out with a new program to make it a more effective finding method. Anyway, the first day of it was Tuesday. Not a great turnout, but everything went really well.

Wednesday most of the day was leadership training. Pres, Sister Gibbons, we, and both sets of ZLs made presentations in addition to Dr. Hatch, the Europe East Area church doctor. Everyone's was really good. Elder Anderson and I talked about effectively using the area book and correctly reporting statistics. The highlight for everyone was the South Zone leaders. They are Elder Blake and Elder Carr. Elder Blake is from my group, and Elder Carr is the surfer from Malibu. Anyway Elder Carr is a legend in the mission because he brings in as many contacts himself as whole districts. He just is on a whole other plane when it comes to contacting, and it's mostly because he just puts his personality out there. Anyway, they did a whole presentation on talking to everyone, and it was legit, hard to describe in an email, just how funny they are. Then afterward, we took Dr. and Sister Hatch to our first clinic.

Thursday, we spent the day going around to different clinics with Doctor Hatch. He said he's from Cedar City and is a general radiologist. I felt really smart going around with him looking at the MRI and CT equipment, because one place thought they were really cool with their open MRI but I knew already that that gets worse quality images, and we found out it was only a 0.2 Tesla machine and their CT was only a 16 slice. Anyway overall it seems like there's a big difference in the quality of the medical care here. Even the really nice places have outdated equipment like that. It would have been cool to have Dad on those tours. The tours were pretty fun actually, and stuff wasn't too hard to translate. A lot of the medical words were cognates or we could just kinda guess what they were saying. But the nightmare was trying to set up the appointments, and it wasn't at all a language problem. It was all because of the organization of the businesses here and just the general customer service. We would be on the phone with people and they would tell us to call people who would tell us to call other people, then they would say, "Oh, we don't have the authority to schedule that. I need to wait until the boss gets in." It was just a mess.

Friday was district meeting. Then afterward we took our investigator Masha to the Webb's to teach her. She lives across the street from them. Anyway, we only had a little short informal first meeting so this was a big second one, and she is like super involved in her church and knows the Bible really well. Anyway, she comes and she has her big Bible with her ready to go, she listens to what we are saying, but she just was not open to hearing anything new. It was really sad because at the end we just told her to give it a shot and to pray about it, if the answer was no then that's all, but if it's yes then it's really important, and she wouldn't even do it, she said "I've already made my decision." It's just really sad when people close their hearts like that and don't even give it a chance.

Saturday we had a meeting with a contact from Elder Carr. He lives a little ways away in Akadem Gorodok. Its kinda like a little intellectual suburb with a bunch of universities and research centers, about a 30 minute ride away from the city. He told me that is where the Russians built the atomic bomb in the 50's. This guy was really interesting, lived all around the world, spoke English better than Russian but is Russian, so is his wife. They took us to a cafe and we chatted. He was so much into studying religion from the intellectual and philosophical side that he was really past like sincerely applying anything it seemed, and I've run into a few people like that on the mission, and that is also a really sad condition. After that we had a second meeting with Gregory, went really well, he's turning into a great investigator. Then we went to teach a babooshka and her non member husband. That was also really sad. She's been a member for a long time and her husband has seen tons of missionaries come and go, but just doesn't take anything seriously regarding religion It was sad to see the look on her face toward the end of the lesson, it seemed to kind of say to us, "Well, thanks for taking your time to try." It's really sad too, because this guy was awesome, friendly and everything, just didn't care I guess. It's just got to be really hard for her and it made me even more grateful for the blessing of coming from a strong united family.

Sunday we ended up back in Akadem Gorodok, with an investigator who we are going to drop, because he's not going anywhere, he did have some really cool family pictures of his grandpa in WWII and stuff like that. Anyway, before that meeting we were walking to his place and an older guy starts talking to us. He was a little drunk, after a while he invited us in, we said we had a meeting but we would come right after. So we came over after and by that time he was wasted. I told him, "Hey we aren't going to stay, so just give us your number and we will call you when you aren't drunk." He had no chance at saying his number, so I just took his phone and called ours and saved it, then we left. Then on the way home on the metro we met this awesome guy who looks like Michael Weston from Burn Notice, I don't know the actors name, and he acts just like him too. He has a wife and two kids and we really want to teach and baptize them because they would be an awesome member family.

Well that's the week. Sorry if the way I wrote it this way was boring. Let me know if you liked it or not that detailed, or if I should just stick to a couple things.

We have Zone Leader's Council on Wednesday.

Also, we are doing everything we can to find and baptize more fathers with families. That's the problem with the church here, so anyway we are going to be doing a little experiment. President wants us to change our schedule around to see if we can find more men. So for example, tomorrow we are going to wake up at 6:30, get dressed and go out to the metro and major bus routes to talk to men on their way to work, it will be interesting to see how it goes. Then we'll come back and do our studies and stuff. Pres told us that we can do whatever we want with the schedule but we have to take 30 minutes to exercise sometime in the day (as usual) and do all 3 hours of studies some time in the day.

Oh speaking of excercise, Dr. Hatch talked about how we should be doing more cardio and I totally agreed with that, because I feel better after good hard cardio workouts, but its hard in the middle of a city especially in the winter. So the next day Elder A and I hit the stairwell at 6:30 in the morning to get some cardio. We live on the 16th floor so there are like 32 flights of stairs. We just decided to go for it, jog down to the bottom and run all the way back up. About half way I started feeling it. We got up to the top really fast, but I think I just about died when we got up there. I felt like someone had kicked me in the chest and my lungs were bleeding. Anyway I just said (in my panting voice), "ok!... that was good.." Then we kinda just did some smaller sections. So basically I'm way out of cardio shape, so we are going to be hitting the stairs every other day now I think. But it felt really good.

Ok that's all, this was a long one this week, hope you enjoyed it. Have fun on spring break!

Elder Topham
Picture of me by the little train station in Akadem Gorodok.