So this week has been grand.

I love our branch but just because the people are so wonderful–it’s not really a matter of “established”/”less-

established”..but Podolsk gives a taste of Ryazan’s potential and Podolsk also is verrry small and has much growth ahead! 

It is so surreal that nicole’s farewell is on Sunday–I tell everyone about her and brag about my baby sister…I wish I could hear your talk, nicole! i can only imagine how incredible it’s going to be! and what an incredible missionary she is going to be. this week I read 1 Thessalonians and felt such a connection to the apostle Paul…or rather, the missionary Paul. I think it was chapter 2, and I just got teary eyed because I just felt for Paul. He explains so beautifully what it feels like to love the people you serve in such a way that their well-being becomes your well-being, and you just long for them–for their joy, faith, salvation…
March 8th is a BIG holiday here–it’s like their mother’s day but it’s not limited to mothers, it’s Women’s Day and everyone buys women mimosas or tulips and everyone’s happy and so obviously we were THRILLED and we were on our way to a lesson with an inactive family (who came to church on Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!), and there are three women in the family so we bought three small bouquets of tulips and we were on the bus on our way out there and witnessed this scene:
The worker who walks around collecting money, I’ll name her Natalya, came up to this guy in his early 20s, I’ll name him Andrei. And Andrei handed her his change and he came up short, so Natalya (patiently and kindly) told him and Andrei said, “well that’s all i got!!” (in a kinda punk/rude/entitled way), and just put on his headphones. Natalya said, “I’m sorry, but everyone needs to pay their own way…” but he just ignored her. Natalya seemed a little distraught but wasn’t going to cause a scene or throw him out or anything. In the amount of time it took me to piece together what I had just seen and do a little translating because I was eavesdropping and catching about every other word, a young girl (also probably in her 20’s) with dyed black hair and a lip ring, I’ll name her Anastasia, quietly pulled out her wallet and handed Natalya money, and then pointed to Andrei and said, “for him.” Natalya looked relieved and grateful and nudged Andrei and said, “thank this girl!” 
And I stood there stunned. Anastasia did not need to do what she did. She was not obligated to do so. And yet, she did something that to her probably seemed small, but to me meant the whole world. And I recognized it as the Light of Christ inherent in each one of us. I wanted to somehow express my gratitude and admiration to Anastasia for being a disciple of Christ, perhaps unknowingly, but I didn’t know how to go about it. 
As I was thinking about this, there was another little tiff when Andrei crumpled his bus ticket and threw it on the ground and Natalya politely asked him to pick it up (because it’s a rule–you have to keep your bus ticket out/available just in case something happens/you have to prove you already paid), and Andrei refused.
Then Sister Parry whispered to me, “we should give her flowers!” and I was still staring at Anastasia/thinking about her and I was like, YEAH! and the doors of the bus opened and Anastasia was getting off and so I was kinda hanging out the bus doors and said, “WAIT!” and she turned around and I handed her the flowers and wished her a happy women’s day and she thanked me with the biggest smile. 
I turned around and saw Sister Parry looking very confused and she said, “I meant Natalya…” and it turns out she didn’t see/hear/understand what had happened with Anastasia paying for Andrei and she had been observing the way Natalya so politely and patiently had been dealing with him. Anyways, we decided to give a bouquet to Natalya as well and thanked her for her kindness and she just beamed the biggest smile full of lipstick on her teeth and she caused a scene and was like, “THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU girls! Happy Women’s day!” and then turned to the whole bus and said, “Happy women’s day to all!!!” hahahha it was the best ever.
We went to our lesson with one bouquet and some homemade treats and they didn’t know any different and were happy and grateful and we had an INCREDIBLE lesson on the Restoration and like I said, they came to church on Sunday and it made my week!
 
Unfortunately our investigators Hope and Natasha were busy with the holidays, but we still worked really hard contacting and what not and had those fun opportunities to serve.
 
On Saturday we went contacting in another one of the cities in our area and as we were leaving, we grabbed some fresh bread from a bakery and we walked across this bridge over the tracks to get on our train and the sun was kinda setting and walking up the steps of the bridge, my body just ached from walking all day and from the strain of my purse that was once full of books and pamphlets etc. and I just looked out at the horizon–at the Russian horizon full of trees and apartment buildings and factories and snow and I just had one of those moments where I just soaked it all in and realized that this is my bliss. This is the best feeling. to get on a train so tired you can hardly walk and to just look back on the day and know you did everything you could. you did exactly what you came to do. and to think about all the different kinds of people you met and all the different kinds of questions they asked and things they said. it’s the best. there are no words for it. 
 
I hope you all have a blissful week! and I’m anxious to hear about nicole’s farewell! I love you!
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