Hey, I just emailed you what I got from President. (Drew forwarded us an email regarding a change in his release date.) He told us each personally about it at zone conference. He explained it all well here so I thought I would just forward it. Let me know what you think about that. Now, let me know what you think, if there would be anything for me to do for that month, or just in general what your thoughts are about the dates.
Also, I sent out some pouch mail at zone conference so let me know when you get it. Also I sent one to Rob's family but I used our address. Because I don't know if I have their new one.
Also at zone conference, I got my Christmas package. I cheated though, because when I unpacked it back in Krasno I unwrapped the one that felt like wool socks because I figured I could use those right away. Well done on the packing. Nothing broke. Elder Rubow and I have been enjoying the toffee. Still tastes like home.
Zone conference was epic. President owned it with a really deep presentation about the symbolism of the manger, swaddling clothes and the three gifts. Especially in the way that they relate to the temple, the atonement, and our personal spiritual development. He has an amazing ability to do something that is so scholarly that it is mind blowing and interesting, with all the while being very spiritual and applicable. Sister Gibbons, the Zone leaders, assistants and all the musical numbers nailed it too. I had a wonderful time because it was totally stress free and I just got to sit in the back and enjoy it.
I met the most recent group of missionaries from the MTC. They said that they knew Elder Jurkavenas and that he actually speaks English decently and Russian better than all of them, so we will see this week when I meet him.
Then, what might have been the cherry on this zone conference cake was during lunch when Elder Huntsman came up to talk to me. He told me that the guy we found contacting that night when we were on exchanges up in Omsk about 2 months ago got baptized last Saturday. I was really glad to hear that, and I made me feel good to see a direct result like that.
Then on Thursday I was on exchanges with Elder Johnson. It's the first time my whole mission that I've had a chance to work with him and it was awesome. I don't know if you remember but he is the one I was friends with at BYU that I would always play basketball with in the fall. We had a tough day, but a good time none the less. We rotated 45 minute contacting sessions with 30 minute defrosting sessions where we would put our feet on the heater and drink tea while we called old contacts.
We did a service project this Friday and Saturday. We put up wall paper in a couple rooms at a homeless shelter. Sorry I've been bad at pictures but the sisters and the Noels took some. It was kind of crazy and Russians are very honest and always tell you what they think you are doing wrong. Everyone would come in and say what we were doing wrong, but then they would all argue with each other because none of them agreed on the right way to do it. Anyway it all got up and looks good and I know how to hang up wall paper now.
Sister Brown put on a concert Saturday night. She is an amazing singer and did several songs, some while playing the guitar and some while playing the piano. The missionaries all sang one number together too.
Yesterday I gave a talk in church. I think it went alright. I talked about the concrete things we can do to share the gospel and told some experiences and emphasized how the Holy Ghost always helps us.
Everything is going well with our investigator family. Our teaching appointment before zone conference was interesting. We didn't get to teach much because the wife was cooking for us, and people were in and out the whole time. She fed us plov, which was awesome. And apparently the real Uzbekistani way to eat it is just out of one big common dish. Also, that it is usually done with just your hands. But she gave us all spoons because we were there. It was a cool experience and really good. Then yesterday night, the mom wasn't there because she got a new job working all evenings (which will make it tougher for us) but we had a really good lesson with the father and the youngest son.
Next week will also be crazy. Tuesday night I'm heading to Novo with Elder Jones and all the sisters. Then we have a trainers meeting with Pres there on Wednesday. It's cool all 3 new missionaries are coming to Krasno. The 1 elder and 2 new sisters. Sisters Karachova and Brown are the other trainers. Then Thursday we will meet our new companions and do the orientation with them and everything. But Friday morning I leave for Visa trip. The area presidency came out with a rule that you are not allowed to leave the airport on visa trip, so we fly to Moscow then Finland, then right back to Moscow then Novo. It will be about 24 hours straight of going through airports and flying. Saturday night we take off back to Krasno and my first day with Elder J in Krasno will be on Sunday.
Well, It is extremely cold. I think Jack Frost just covered wagoned Siberia and won't lift up the blanket. The days in Novo were I think the coldest I have ever experienced.
Yeah, you can always feel the difference even between -30 and -40. Everything feels the same, but you notice that it takes less time to get frozen on various parts of your body. But don't worry mom, I'm staying warm enough. I don't really use the hand or foot warmer things because it's just too cold. I feel like those would be optimal if you are outside for a long time and it is pretty cold. But we are outside for a half hour at a time or so.
Yeah, the Book of Mormon is still in hand, it's fine I just wear my leather/fur mittens and carry it and it's all good.
There is snow everywhere, but more in Novo.
So they don't clean off the sidewalks so it is just a layer of what I call "permafrost" just layers of snow that have been beaten down by people walking on it so it's just a hard snowy/ice path. We usually walk no more than half hour to appointments. If it would take longer than that we will get on a bus.
Being back to Novo was pretty cool. It was nice to know where I was going. Plus I got to see Misha at the branch while I was there.
Ok that's all. Would that be ok if I called at 11 am Krasno time on Christmas day? I think that's what I'm planning on. I took the last shift because I'm calling the west coast.
Well talk to you and see you next week!
This is a picture of Drew that Elder Rubow sent to his family, captioned, "Elder Topham says study the scriptures!"