FAMILY!!!! your valentine’s poem was the very best—especially your part kev hahahahhahaha i miss you guys! i actually totally forgot it’s valentine’s coming up–crazy! and now i have a new valentine, sister parry! she’s adorable and from st george and she knows my friends the wades and she was telling me about her job before the mission and she was like, “it’s hard to explain…but i work with people with disabilities…” and i said, “wait did you work for Rise?” and she said YES! haha so we have great fun swapping stories and what not. She just finished with her training and it’s weird because i still feel like a greenie and sister carver and i always joke that we trained each other but now it’s weird that i’m supposed to be an example or something and she’s supposed to ask me questions about russian and stuff-HAH! poor thing…joke’s on her, i’m terrible at russian.
but i LOVE podolsk. seriously, i do. it’s a COMPLETELY different world from Ryazan. and aaron jesse served here–I asked if anyone knew him/if he had happened to serve here and they were all so excitied and said, “the fun white curly haired surfer?!” yep that’s the one. so aaron the kozokobee (sp? haha) say hi!! and Nadejhda (sp??) and Pavel, and Katya.
Anyways, Podolsk is waaay bigger and so i switched from a very “hometown” feeling to a city but it’s perfect for me because Moscow’s too big and kinda gives me anxiety but podolsk has big parks and statues and interesting memorials and more people, but it’s not as overwhelming as moscow is so it’s a perfect transition, especially if i ever serve in moscow. we’re about an hour south of Moscow (and Ryazan’s about 4 hours south of Moscow…) there’s one set of elders for our branch but they live in a neighboring city and then we do have a senior couple but they live in moscow and come just on sundays so it’s really different from our tight knit “family”/district in ryazan where it was odd if we went one day without seeing each other…so sister parry and i are kinda on our own here in podolsk which is kinda a lot of weight on our shoulders but also a really unique time to remember that truly my mission is between me and the Lord and right now, in a way, I’m only accountable to Him, if that makes sense…
the branch here is AMAZING!!! families with multiple generations of members and there’s a primary! and everyone’s SO nice and they want to help and we have meetings after church every sunday with one of the presidents of the auxiliaries and we discuss how the _____________ (primary, elder’s quorum, relief society, etc…) can help us with our missionary work and how we can help them. it’s incredible. i’m still kind of blown away and I’m so excited to get working because i’ve always wanted to be a “queen contactor” and talk to everyone I see but I still haven’t gotten close to mastering that and i keep setting goals about it but then kind of forgetting about them. But we only have one person we meet with who’s interested in the church and we do 50/50 english and gospel with her and meet with her once a week and she’s 14 and then the rest of the week we contact and tract all day everyday to try to find people who are interested in meeting with us…so i’m becoming a “queen contactor” haha and i’m getting a lot of exercise because we are trekking up and down the streets and up and down stairs of apartment buildings and to be honest, I’ve never had any success tracting in Ryazan and we didn’t go that much, but already we’ve seen miracles together here in podoslk and sister parry is so sweet and so appreciative and so eager to learn and work and she said we’ve gotten more contacts/ more success in the last three days than she had in the three months of her training so i’m really excited about what the Lord has in store for us here!
On Saturday when we were contacting we were getting out butts kicked and I could sense in an almost tangible way Satan getting to me…thoughts coming into my head like, “well okay. today it’s an adventure but I can see this taking a toll on me throughout time…day after day after day” but then it was such a beautiful experience to then feel in an almost tangible way, the Spirit  comforting me…and scriptures I had read that morning coming into my mind…I thought about how honored I am that the Lord trusts me enough to send me here, to build His kingdom here, in Podolsk. I thought about our precious branch members, and what if the missionaries who found them had just gotten discouraged? I thought about their willingness to help and I realized the Lord’s hand in everything…and I remembered counsel I had received to pray for challenges that would make me into the person the Lord wants and needs me to be. and I realized this was it. and I thought about my companion, who is kinda depending on me and I thought about the influence of attitude…anyways. i’m really excited about podolsk and excited for the miracles ahead.

I don’t really know what’s going on, but I’ve kept on waiting for winter to “hit” and it hasn’t…we had one super cold week in december when i got frost bite but ever since i got warm boots (which i definitely still need), i’m hardly ever cold! i hate wearing a hat because as you know, my hair looks…well…awful…if i ever have to take it off and so i usually don’t wear a hat and instead i just put my hood up sometimes if the wind starts blowing…it;s been a huge miracle though! maybe i’m jinxing myself and next week i’ll be frozen but everyone talks like spring’s just around the corner and i believe them and almost feel lame because Russian winter hasn’t even been hard at all!! and we never hear about the news so maybe there was a snowstorm elsewhere but it’s been lightly snowing/raining off and on here. so don’t you worry about me!

i love you and hope you have a great week! and happy valentines day xoxo