Well this last week went by quickly!
The hot water is still out, so since Day 4 in Russia I've been showering with a tea kettle and a pot. You should all be proud of me. I don't regret the long showers I took growing up anymore because I guess this is all payback. As promised, I've got pictures of my Pukavick as well as some other awesome pictures from this week.
Here in Tomsk it seems like a lot of people want to meet with us, but only people who just want to speak English. This next week looks more promising though. We've got three meetings set up for next week with people we found in the area book. There are a lot of people in our area book so we're determined to find at least one of them who is still interested!
As a district, we have set goals to work a lot more closely and to get to know the members of the Branch better. President Savan gave us a list of some of the stronger members, and we are going to go meet with them starting this next week. We are going to meet and focus on the Restoration with each of them to strengthen their testimony of it and increase their desire to share it with others. We're going to challenge them to get friends to come and be taught the Restoration at their houses. I think the best way for the branch to experience growth is through the members. We go out contacting pretty much every night and only have a handful of decent conversations a week. So it's coming along!
Our district is probably the youngest district in the mission as far as time in the field. What we don't have in experience, we definitely make up for in our motivation!
This last week I've really been hitting hard the time in the morning that we have for studying. The only thing I wish for is more time. There are so many things that I want to read and study, but we only have a few hours every morning. I've been reading the Doctrine & Covenants (a compilation of revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the 1800s concerning how the Church of Jesus Christ should be organized) through for the first time and I think that missionaries can relate to it better than anyone just because of the history of it. When they were establishing the Church, there was a lot of instruction given to the missionaries of the time and I feel like the words and instruction given to them also apply to the missionaries today.
Elder Batson and I were in the city center a couple days ago and when were walking back to the apartment, we saw this 14- or 15-year-old kid running down the sidewalk on the other side...with a reindeer. Yeah, I got a picture. Just walking his reindeer I guess. Here in Tomsk, it's like a party every day. If you go to the center park or over by the river, it's like a festival. There are people everywhere doing photography and selling prints, you can let your kid ride around on a kid-sized Segway, drive those kid-sized electric cars, and there are ice cream stands and crepe stands on every corner. We also probably see an average of 6 weddings a week. There is this bridge down by the river that is just covered in locks. You can't even see the bridge really. When people get married, it's tradition to go "Lock your marriage" to the bridge and throw the key into the river. The point being is that the only way you can get a divorce is by finding the key and unlocking the lock. Some are pretty small but a few are the size of a backpack. A lot of them are heart shaped and have dates and names on them.
We have a Mission cookbook that we found in our apartment and we found a recipe for Blene, or Russian Pancakes. They are pretty much crepes. So we found that on Saturday and have each eaten over 50 crepes since then. I'm going to be a professional Blene flipper by the time I get off my mission. We have peaches and bananas as well as some chocolate sauce, and I think it's sweetened condensed milk but I'm not really sure. We mix up what we put in them and they're really good.
Tomorrow we have Mission conference in Novosibirsk. Tonight we take a 5-hour bus ride to get us there!
I hope you're all doing well!
Lots of love,
Theatre in Tomsk
Street in Tomsk
Guy walking his reindeer
Blene (Блини) and fillings
Panoramic view of Tomsk from the Eternal Flame monument. (a WWII memorial)