Greetings family!! sorry once again for my late and lame email last week. Everything is moving so fast, i can’t believe sister carver and i have already finished this transfer together and we successfully did splits in each of our 6 areas and looking back we are just in awe at how many miracles we saw–there were NO complications. no getting lost (or at least for too long haha), no missing any trains, no ticket complications, etc. etc. etc. we are so grateful!

last week we took a night train to lipetsk, did a split all day and then the next morning we took a long bus right to voronesh, the farthest city in our mission and did a split there all day then took a night train out that night. we were in moscow for less than 24 hours before we had to get on an express train to the ariport and fly out to riga for our last visa trip (so crazy!) So it was quite a busy week but i wanted to actually tell you more about the week BEFORE, since i didn’t get the chance to do so last week.

So i mentioned Paulina. She’s about 17 and We met her a few weeks ago whilst contacting in a park one evening and we noticed she had a really cool backpack and we had been searching EVERYWHERE for backpacks because we had done a few splits without backpacks and just carried all our stuff in grocery bags and it was a nightmare but for some reason backpacks are really hard to fin in russia. anyways, we walked up to paulina and asked where she got her backpack and she said mexico hahha which is verrrrrrry unusual. i’ve never met a russian who’s been to mexico. she asked if we speak english and started speaking in perfect english and then she said she was so sorry, but she had to go right then. we hadn’t even introduced ourselves yet or said anything about the gospel, but we asked for her number and she said yes and then we were kinda curious as to what we should do next because we hadn’t set up any kind of expectations and all she knows is that we’re americans who want to “hang out” with her or something. so when we called her to meet, we had no idea what to expect but we just prayed that the Spirit would be with us.

we showed her pictures of our families and she was amazed by how “rich and saturated” our lives are and when sister carver showed her pictures of hawaii (she went to byu hawaii), she was like, “no way that’s my number 2 dream!” and so i asked, “well what’s your number one dream? and she got really quiet and it was silent for like 2 whole minutes and i was about to say, “it’s okay, you don’t have to tell us” or “if you think of it later you can tell us” or something like that, but then she said, in russian, “my number one wish is for everything to be okay with my family.” We were wondering as to how we could switch the topic to the gospel and how to switch to russian (because we should always teach in russian and we prefer it anyways) and BOOM, the Spirit flooded into the room when she said those words and we just naturally started teaching her about God and the Restoration and how the Restored Church is the key to happiness in the home and brings with it the promise that we can be together forever as families. It was so beauitiful because we asked her if she believes in God and she said, “Yes…but I don’t really know Him…I don’t really know who He is…” and we said, “Well is that something you want?” and she thought about it for a minute and said wilth all the sincerity in the world, “yes.” Paulina is shy and serious and kind and she really listens and really ponders and reflects. She is so special and we just feel like we’ve been given this incredible gift. She is the oldest child of 4 and her parents are still together and they have a good marriage. Their family serves together and spends time together and travels together. AHHH!! we are so anxious to meet them. Unfortunately the entire Russian population is MIA in the summers because they have “summer homes”—called “dachas” that are in the middle of nowhere in tiny villages far away. But Paulina is with her family on the dacha and she has a Book of Mormon and she now knows how to pray and has a desire to do so because she now knows that she is His daughter and she is praying to her Father who loves her. So we are just praying that the Spirit will teach her these truths and that her family will be open to it. Hopefully they will be back sometime soon…

Our other miracle is Karina. She has known the church for years and comes to English club off and on but has never met with missionaries before. She’s about 40 maybe, though she looks a lot younger and she has a 19 year old son. She’s a karate trainer and MMA and she’s petite and feminine and beautiful but strong and i would not want to mess with her haha We met her for the first time two weeks ago at English club and she just stood out–everything she said was so wise and she just glows and is so full of light and life and she is so funny! the theme for the week was role models and she was talking about whitney houston (not the drug addiction part, but the passion and the talent part) and that’s when i knew karina and i were soul sisters. I asked her if she had ever been to church before and she said she had once but it was a long time ago and she had always wanted to come again but she felt like something was always getting in her way. then she said, “Probably satan” haha i said, “yeah, probably” and invited her to come. I called her on Saturday night to remind her and she said “I’ll try” which we all means nothing. On my mission i’ve learned that “I’ll try” and “we’ll see” are the enemy and “I promise” is like music to my ears!!

Anyways, we still had faith and prayed that she would come and sure enough, we recognized the gait of the person walking in front of us into the entrance of the church. I repeat, walking in FRONT of us. mind you, we get to church 30 minutes early. We were SO excited! She stayed all three hours and the SPirit was so strong and she participated and she knew so many of the members already and made new friends and made origame butterflies for the children and took notes during sunday school!!! it was amazing!!! we told her that unfortuantely the only days we could meet would be thursday or saturday/Sunday because we were out of town all week and she said she was leaving for belarus on thursday morning!! so she asked if we could meet on monday in between her shifts and we said of course!! so that’s why i couldn’t really email last week–we had a 2 hour lesson with karina that started with her randomly telling us how much she loves and respects the principle of tithing, it continued with us teaching the restoration and then her bringing up the word of wisdom, temple marriages, why we don’t baptize babies, the law of chastity, how much she loves modesty, the importance of covenants and commitment etc. etc. etc. and ended with her saying the closing prayer and telling our Heavenly Father that her intuition tells her that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is His word, and that this is His church, but asking Him if He could help her know for sure. She then told Him that she hopes that soon she will be baptized. We were in shock. Obviously it was the best day of our lives!!

Sorry this is a novel but I just had to share these experiences with you! I could not be happier! And don’t worry, sister carver and I are staying together for this transfer. Other news: we get a new mission president next week–I’m SO sad to see the Sorensons go–I can’t express how much I love and adore and appreciate and respect and honor them. They have changed my life forever, but I’m excited to meet the Borders and learn to love them as well. I hope you all have a sublime week! And a Happpy happpppy birthday to my argentinian godess of a sister. Nicole Brook you are my other half and I love you so much. I wouldn’t be who i am today if you weren’t born 20 years ago into our family. I think about you and pray for you always and i hope you cherish this birthday and celebrate with service.