(Note from Mom: much of Drew's letter that follows is answers to questions we asked based on information we had from either the news or other missionaries, I've added a few notes to help clarify what he is talking about.)
Yeah it's getting pretty cool here. It's been snowing off and on. Everything is pretty covered but not too much yet.
Yeah, it was a pretty interesting week with the protests. (Note: for info on the protest that we asked Drew about see http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2012/11/01/mormon-missionaries-young-guard-kremlin-protest-moscow/1673775/). On Wednesday night we got a call in the middle of the night from President waking us up. He said, "Elders, we have an emergency that we need you to take care of tomorrow morning." And I thought it would be a huge deal from that first line, but he just told us that there were protests planned for the next day. The area presidency and the physical affairs department of the church had all the missionaries in those 7 or so main cities all stay inside that day. So we just had to call the Novosibirsk missionaries and tell them to stay inside. From what he said later on in the day, stuff only happened in St. Petes and in Moscow. Only 10 people in St. Petes showed up, but I guess the Moscow one was pretty good. Everything here was just anticlimactic.
So yes, the new group is going to get the 3 year visas and they will mess up our transfer schedule, but we still don't know how much. So that could possibly mess up my release date. We still don't know exactly. But if it changes I don't think it can go any later. Because it can't be pushed back past June 18. Without special permission the president can only set the release date within 30 days either way of the report date. But hopefully we'll find out soon and I'll let you know. I don't know if we will get those next time or not, but probably.
Book of Mormon is going well. (Note: President Gibbons challenged the mission to read the Book of Mormon in 85 days). I just decided to knock it out quick and so I'm almost done. It's been a really cool experience reading it really fast because everything that you read before is still on your mind and it all links together more. For example, the last two days I've been reading in 3rd Nephi, and it is so much more epic because the whole book has been leading up to the point when Christ will come and it has been extremely touching, and I think you lose that feel a little when you just read a little each day. Carrying it around is cool. (Note: The missionaries in the Novo mission have been asked to carry a Book of Mormon in their hand at all times when they are out.) You just have to make sure you have really good gloves so your hand doesn't freeze. Usually I do the Michael Jackson one glove approach where I put a glove on my left hand to carry the Book of Mormon, then I leave my right hand uncovered and just put it in the jacket pocket so it is more accessible to use the phone, shake hands, write stuff down, etc. Some people have asked about the book. For me it has only happened after I have started the conversation, but there have been some experiences in the Mission where people have come up to missionaries asking about the book.
Well the Thursday lock down day was the most unusual part of the week. It was actually really nice, because Thursday is planning day anyway. And it gave us a little time to study extra and clean out the closet, it was a nice little rest. We kept making jokes all day about the angry mobs coming up to our apartment and how we would deal with them, but they never came :(
Wednesday was my last ZLC. President had Elder Kelly and I each share out testimonies at the beginning. Then we discussed some issues in the mission. President shared some epic stuff about how the Angel Moroni is a great example of a missionary in his dealings with the prophet Joseph Smith, and how Joseph was like his investigator. President also nailed it and gave a really moving lesson about love in leadership that made a deep impression in me.
Victor is still doing well. He hasn't been able to come to church because of work. But this week we went over the baptismal questions, and we really just need to help him start living two of the commandments and he will be good to go. The change that he has continued to make is incredible, he is nothing like he was when Elder Anderson and I started teaching him months ago. Our other promising investigator is Aleksei who came again to church, so that’s a good sign. He's still moving forward well. We got a couple new investigators this week from our street contacts, so we will see where they end up. One of them came to church with us. He is in a really tough situation, has problems with narcotics and I can't describe the place where he lives. But he is very humble and he already had a testimony of the Book of Mormon. He can't concentrate on anything for very long. But when we showed him the Book of Mormon he said that he had once had that book and he remembers that right when he opened it and read one verse everything became easier/lighter (it' s the same word in Russian) but he had lost the book a while ago. So hopefully we can help him.
That’s about it, it was a really good day a church, a big turn out from the recent converts and less actives that we have been working with. Even Mixael the one we have been home teaching for months finally came.
We are heading to Barnaul tonight. and we will come back to Novo on Wednesday and be here the rest of the week, so it should be good.