my family!!!!!! costa rica pictures our incredible!!!! holy cow and maybe i cried when i saw nick and ellie’s engagements they are my two favorite humans and are so beautiful together and love each other so much i could not be happier! i’m so glad i sang moulin rouge to nick so often so he believed in love and found it!! tell him i say “you’re welcome.”

and you’re in san francisco! i LOVE san francisco-say hi for me. and i’m jealous you’re getting to go to briana’s cemetery–i wanted to go so badly over new years but didn’t get the chance. send my love! and of course to the soon to be newly-weds cami and matt!! wooohhoooooo dreams come true. that rhymes. unintentional.
this week was amazing!! it’s starting to cool down a little here which is very refreshing! i finished reading all of the general conference talks in the liahona and i think i’ll just start all over and read them again and again they are so amazing! i also read all of the talks to the young women and it brought back to many memories. I realized how much i learned from young womens and how much it contributed to my testimony and the person i am and me being here. in ryazan. right now!! I am so grateful, my goodness! and i’ve been thinking about all of the leaders who inspired me and taught me and motivated me and the other young women–my soul sisters!! and it breaks my heart we don’t have a single young woman in our branch! or young man, for that matter. but i’ve been thinking about all the girls we pass on the streets and they’re usually dressed like hookers, to be frank. and i just want them to have what i had and what i have!! i want them to know they’re daughters of God and develop testimonies and self worth. there is a part member family here from Armenia and the only two left to be baptized are the 15 year of daughter and the father who can’t give up smoking. we haven’t met them yet because they’ve been out of town but when they come back they won’t know what’s hit them!!!!! I made a prayer rock for Mary the daughter and i can’t wait to give it to her and give her a personal progress book. i’m going to do it with her if her sister/mom can’t….and we’re going to watch “together forever” with them. I can’t wait!
cats in russia: bunnies in laguna niguel
and i’ve been so proud of myself because i’ve kept my cool and the cats here on the streets are like the dogs in peru and they respect me and my fear for them and we have a mutual agreement that we keep to ourselves. but i have been concerned because i knew the inevitable was bound to happen: a member or investigator was bound to have a pet cat and the rules are different with pet cats. one of the members, galeena, has been remodeling her apt. and we keep insisting that we want to help–“when can we come over and help? what can we do?” etc. but she wouldn’t allow it…but i remembered kevin’s advice about service: you must take control. SO we showed up in our service clothes and surprised her–ready to work!! unfortunately, instead she made us food and made us eat and drink a lot of tea…even though we had just eaten and we were there to serve HER! dangit. we tried everything and i explained that it would be a service to me because i’m dying to learn how to do whatever she’s doing to her ceilings!! she was so selfish and would not help me with my desire….and she has a cat. and we sat down to say a prayer and my heart started pounding because i feared what could happen if i close my eyes–i can’t close my eyes when i’m in a room with a cat!! but i knew i would be blessed if i did. and i was. but when i opened my eyes, i saw that the cat had climbed onto C. Daniel and when she opened her eyes, they were eye to eye, nose to nose!!!!! i then thought about what would have happened if that had happened to me–i think i would have thrown the cat off me, starting crying and then crawled into a ball on the floor…i probably would have needed to be carried away and start psychological/emotional therapy right away. then i realized that this is a huge problem. and i must overcome my fear. i prayed the whole time we were in there and when the cat would start coming near me i could have sworn i glued myself to my seat and yet miraculously, i’d somehow realize that all the sudden i was on my feet. this was very curious behavior to Galeena but luckily i think she thought it was funny because she already thinks im just really weird..
anyways, i am trying to think of a strategy plan of overcoming my fear and i have been praying everyday for the strength to do so. family, please join me in this effort and include this in your prayers–i don’t know what to do! this is a huge problem but i have faith that the Lord will help me in my effort to make weak things strong.
i love my russia! read Romans 5:1-5, it is so wonderful and i shared it in a lesson with an inactive member this last week when we were talking about trials. i am so glad the Lord trusts us with trials and I’m so glad we have free agency to choose how we respond. I love the people here more than I can possible describe and I wake up everyday with the biggest smile on my face because i remember where i am and what i’m doing and why i’m doing it. I had a lot of self-evaluation this last week and was so humbled when I realized i’m not the missionary i want to be–i’m not the companion i want to be or the teacher i want to be or the russian speaker i want to be. but I can choose, everyday, to learn from my experiences. to apply what i learn. and improve. I love in Mark’s account of Gethsemane when it says, “he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed…Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee…” We must always move forward…even if it’s just a little–sometimes a little is all we can manage. and then when we can’t move forward anymore, we must fall on our knees and pray..and remember that our Father is listening and He loves us and all things are possible with Him. I made this connection in the MTC during one of our TRC lessons and it just hit me so hard. Tears sneak up on me when I think of my Savior falling to the ground in an act of supplication and submission. He is the perfect example for everything and I love this example that He showed us before He did the greatest thing that has ever been done.
I am so grateful for my Savior. His Atonement is SO real and we can only understand it when we use it. I love you so much and I must apologize–I have yet to send a letter to the U.S…the only letter I’ve sent since I’ve been in Russia was to Maddie in Latvia (I hope she’s gotten it by now)…but our P-Days are so busy and I never have time to write! So know that I am thinking of you and love you, even if you aren’t getting personal letters from me! Thank you for sending those pictures and have a wonderful time in San Francisco and at Matt and Cami’s wedding–send the Gallachers my love!