this week has been WONDERFUL!! the Christmas Spirit is just in the air! russians LOVE new years (it’s their favorite holiday) and today we said “happy new year” to EVERYONE we saw and we handed them invitations to church or if they were willing to talk to us, we gave people the Book of Mormon and Restoration pamphlets. This oooold babooshka was so surprised when i looked her in the eyes and smiled so big and wished her a happy new year, she grabbed my arms and caused a scene thanking me and “wishing” me things (russian tradition for any holiday, especially new years). it was so sweet that something so small meant so much to her, and she doesn’t know how much that means to me.
Talking to you all on Christmas was the best ever and just made my day! seeing your beautiful faces and hearing your voices! and siena’s recorder playing! of course after it was over i realized that i just blabbed and rambled the whole time and never even asked if you had any questions. and i didn’t ask jess about the Book of Mormon she gave to her neighbor! or about her new ward/calling? new holiday traditions in your new home with your adorable little family?  Dad! how’s scouts going? and the preschool? do you like it? what about yours and mom’s calling? mom how’s the support group at school? do you feel like it’s been positive/helping? I decided that in may when we talk i’ll just tape my mouth shut and listen to you guys!  
I realized you asked me about Raya and I got distracted whilst responding (typical). But she is doing SO well! we had a turning point lesson when we discussed pushing back her baptism and she just gets it. her prayers are the most heartfelt, sincere, conversations with God that I have ever heard and she has such a strong desire to follow Christ. She understands that baptism is a covenant, promise, commitment. and she understands the difference between baptism and conversion. and we all mutually agreed that it would be better to wait (her new date is january 12th but we will see). She doesn’t want to keep secrets from her husband anymore (and we told her she needs his permission…and we’re slowly winning him over! he can’t help but love us, i can just tell)…but she also wants to be get to know the members better (unfortunately she always has to leave right after she takes the sacrament because of work so she never gets to chat). this is a direct quote from her: “I want them to by my people. i want to serve them and be there for them” AHHH!! music to our ears. she understands mosiah 18, she understands what it means to take upon herself the name of Christ.
Maybe tied with talking to you all on Christmas was our lesson with her that evening. We talked about the Word of Wisdom and talk about prepared! she doesn’t drink or smoke. she drinks coffee but when we asked if she could give it up she said, “yes…i’m not going to die without coffee!” and she doesn’t even like tea—especially black and green tea. hahah we were baffled! in her closing prayer she told the Lord that she is His. and she is ready to sacrifice anything for Him. We’re going over to her house in two days to celebrate new years a little late and to talk to her husband. It’s so sweet when she prays that his heart with be opened and he will recognize the importance and truthfulness of this gospel. Raya is literally an angel and I can’t imagine my life without her. Sometimes in the middle of our lessons she panics and says, “what am i ever going to do when you leave?!” and i assure her that other sisters will come and they will be great and she says, “but they won’t be you!”  and says she can’t wait to skype with me after my mission haha i don’t know what i’m going to do when i leave, either. SHOOT. it scares me.
Anyways, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! g2g party it up at da clubs and kiss all the fellas at midnight!