first an item of business: mission rules have changed and we can now email friends/anyone we want!! so all my fans and homies, if you want to email me, i will email you family!!! i was so thrilled to hear from nicole my goodness! mom–just forward me her emails every week instead of dear elder–it’ll be much more efficient.

so much news. yes, i watched conference. i watched saturday morning and afternoon in english and the young womens and sunday morning and afternoon in Russian and was thrilled to realize that i was understanding and frantically taking notes just as much as i was when i was listening in english. amazing!! the gift of tongues is real and i’m so grateful the Lord helped me to understand and i’m so grateful that he answered my FERVENT prayers that i would have energy/be awake and attentive. one thing i didn’t anticipate on the mission is that every day, all day, i am so tired. when the alarm goes off i think, “there’s no way. there’s no way i can get up. there’s no way i’ll make it through the day” and yet, i do. and when i’m contacting/tracting/teaching, i forget about the tiredness. but i was so scared that sitting for hours listening (especially in russian) would put me to sleep and i wouldn’t have my daddy there to say, “hey hey hey!! no laying your head on nicole’s shoulder!” throwing paper airplanes at us, etc. etc. haha i love you dad! i was so happy when they quoted Oklahoma and i remembered all those mornings growing up, waking up to you singing, “O what a beautiful morning! O what a beauitiful day!”
Nicole, thank you for your notes/insights about conference. so much stood out to me but a lot of my notes are in Russian and I don’t want to translate them right now…
But BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
sister carver called me last night and said the most beautiful words ears could possibly hear. My Raya is getting baptized on May 11th WITH her husband! I can’t possibly describe how my heart was FILLED (Nicole, i know what you’re talking about) …tears flowed freely. just typing these words is making them come back. I am so incredibly grateful for the miracles that took place for this to happen and i’m so grateful that the Lord is mindful of us–He listened to all of those desperate prayers and He watched as we fasted in faith. I”m so incredibly grateful that the Lord let me play a small part in her conversion–or rather, He let me witness. This is the greatest honor of my life, and I’m so excited that I get to be there. Ohhhh how i miss my ryazan and think about her everyday.
But we had an incredible week in podolsk! and the sun is shining! today was the first day i’ve been outside in a short sleeved shirt in who knows how long and ohhhhh it feels good! On Thursday we went to visit the less active family i often talk about (we meet with them every thursday). but as we were taking off our boots, the daughter came out to inform us that they had tried to call earlier to cancel because they couldn’t meet tonight. so we put back on our boots and decided to go contacting. probably the third person we tried to talk to was this young girl around our age and as she approached us walking her dog i thought, “dang it i don’t have an english club flyer/invitation” (because usually youth are more insterest in english club and then they are touched by the Spiritual thought, etc.) but THANK GOODNESS i didn’t have one. that would have been such a waste…I started to talk to her about God and her religious beliefs and she said that she’s really interested in religion and had been studying judaism for awhile (that was definitely a first for me in Russia), but had lost interest and really wants to learn more about Christianity. obviously i was thrilled by these words and said, “well that’s exactly why we’re here!!!!!” and she was like, “well where should I go and when?” once again. my jaw’s to the ground. i told her about church on sundays but that we could meet with her anywhere anytime. and then i said, “how bout tomorrow?” and she said, “okay, what time?”. at this point i’m beside myself and we arranged to meet in front of the statue in the park by our branch (because our branch meets behind this bank and it’s impossible to find and gated and looks sketchy and when people hear the word “church” they think of the huge russian orthodox temples so they’re usually suuuuper confused when they try to find where we meet). we kept walking and we met this guy from south africa who was ecstatic when he realized we speak english! accidentally he wanted to be my boyfriend and didn’t really understand the whole missionary thing but we successfully passed him off to the elders who met with him and his brother on sunday and watched conference with them in english! to be continued…
the next day came and paulina (the girl) was right on time! we taught her the first lesson and it was amazing and she listened so attentively and asked really good questions. we had born our testimonies for the 100th time and asked if she had any more questions and committed her to pray and read the book of mormon and set up our next lesson and said the closing prayer and then i stood up but she just still sat there. so i didn’t really know what to do but then she started asking questions…i guess she just needed some time to think about it. that’s the best! when there are questions. she asked if we are baptized and in what way, etc. so I testified about our need to follow Christ and be cleansed from our sins and I explained that it’s a promise with God to keep His commandments and repent when we make mistakes, sin, forget our promise, or need to change/be better. And I talked about why we don’t baptize babies and I talked about the innocence and salvation of children because of Jesus Christ and then about agency/the age of accountability, etc. I”m so excited to meet with her again this week! hooray hooray
things are still going really well with Natasha and Hope, who both came on Sunday to watch conference. we’ve been really trying to help them recognize and understand the Spirit and I had a really cool experience on Friday when I was explaining it to Natasha. I love when words that I say (or sometimes it happens when I write…when I write in my journal or letters or email you guys), when as the words come, they are new to me. and i learn something new. from myself. except it’s not at all from myself, and it’s when the Spirit is most evidently communicating with me. And so ironically enough, this happened as I was talking about the Spirit–I was experiencing the very thing I was explaining. (I don’t know if any of that made sense) but anyways, we read Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3 and then I said, “so if you have a thought, and the thought is good, and the thought agrees with a feeling you have in your heart, then it is from God. This is the Spirit teaching you truth. if you have a feeling in your heart, and the feeling is good, and it agrees with a thought you have in your mind, then it is from God. This is the Spirit teaching you truth. It’s that simple. And that’s why the Spirit is so hard to recognize. It’s so simple and so soft and we expect something so great and big and miraculous.” I had been praying to know how I could help Natasha understand the Spirit, and I feel like this was an answer to my prayer, and to hers.
once again this is a novel. sorry. this week was just so great once again. AND we didn’t have electricity. at all. from thursday evening until this afternoon. hahah it’s been quite the adventure. on thursday night when we realized our power was out, we decided to feng shui that apartment. obviously that was the logical thing to do in the dark at night. so we did it. hysterical times. if it wasn’t for the food going bad in the fridge, i really wouldn’t mind the no electricity thing. i just prayed in gratitude every day that we had water! hot water! and then i humored myself by reading the liahona at night by the means of one of those fake flickering candles. those things flicker so much, they might as well be strobe lights! makes it hard for reading, but i just got over it and pretended I was in “becoming Jane” or something and i think i still might do it at night even though our landlord came today and had a party with the electricians and now all is well!

anyways. love you guys. hope you have the best week ever!