Vladimir is home!! we saw him on saturday for the first time, at the thanksgiving party. he is “fantastic” as he keeps saying in English…and he is literally glowing and just keeps thanking me over and over and over for everything you guys did for me and I keep saying, “I didn’t do anything!” but i just love him…i’m so glad he’s home!

I am in denial that it is december! SO crazy! this week has been swell–started off with snow and ended with rain so all the snow is melted. Angela spontaneously was asked to serve a “mini mission” last monday and she left on tuesday! so fast! it’s something they do in our mission sometimes (and im sure in other missions) if we’re down a sister missionary, members of the church who are at least 16 (and they can be recent converts) become missionaries for a transfer or sometimes more–so we’re actually not sure when she’ll be coming back. but it’s crazy that she is now going to be teaching people what we taught her–i feel like a worried mother thinking about her and praying for her all the time, “i hope she’s nice to her companion” “i hope she doesn’t get discouraged when she’s rejected” “i hope she knows not to flirt with the elders” “i hope she feels the spirit when she testifies,” etc. but I am SO happy for her because this is such an incredible opportunity for her to grow and change and serve. I know that when she comes back, she’ll be a different person.
We helped a less-active member with her remodel this last week. I learned a lot about wall paper (everyone in Russia has wall paper). rule number one: don’t bother!! it’s so hard! but it was a success in the end and she’s very grateful for the help. Mostly this week we had a lot of opportunities to serve our members–visit a sister whose brother just died, etc. and i had an epiphany when i realized that people are changing! it’s the greatest gift of the Atonement! people are starting to reach out to each other! care about each other! these are miracles that i am SO grateful for!
Also we set a baptismal date with Raya for December 22nd so keep her (and her husband!) in your prayers. We are beyond thrilled!!
1. before all the snow melted. this plaza was covered in ice and we always contact here and we saw people slip and EAT it! but we were delighted to see this tree! sister carver and i are obviously obsessed with christmas and every night before companionship prayers we sing a christmas song together. it’s the best.
2. reunited with my best friend!
3. this was the sweetest thing! we were visiting one of our members Larissa who is a riot! and bedridden and her son takes care of her but he has mental disabilities because of some crazy stuff that happened when he was in the army–it’s really really sad. but his name is Volodya and he usually just opens the door for us and then lays on his bed in the other room. but today he walked into larissa’s room and handed sister carver and i these little pieces of candy and then walked out without a word. i almost cried! it was so precious.
4. this is Natalya and i at the thanksgiving party. her daughter lives in Texas and she wants to move out there next year so we’re helping her with English…and we started sharing the gospel with her. She is one of the sweetest humans i’ve ever met! and she calls us her daughters and invited us over for christmas to have borschImageImageImageImage