Hello my American friends! (Say that with a thick Russian accent!)
One week into the new transfer! This will make my fourth transfer in Tomsk. Sister King and I are the only ones left of the nine missionaries who were here in Tomsk back in August when I first got here. It may or may not be my last transfer here. (Transfers are always crazy and full of surprises).
Some updates on Kazakhstan! Kazakhstan has been kinda bounced around as the Church has tried to keep its foot in the door. Started out as part of one of the Moscow Missions, then was transferred to be part of our mission. When that transfer happened, some missionaries who were serving in KZ at the time switched to our mission. The rest of that group just finished their missions and went home. The Circumstances in Kazakhstan are similar to those in Turkey. The Missionaries are not allowed to wear tags, need to wait for a license to preach, and can't carry Books of Mormon. The Books of Mormon for the branches down there kinda get smuggled into the country when the Assistants to the President go on their visits down there. The hardest part with Kazakhstan has been getting visas for the missionaries. I don't remember the exact numbers, but the Catholic church only gets a handfull of visas (around 10?) For their representatives. Then our church comes knocking asking for 15-20 visas so our 19-20 year old representatives can go there. President Gibbons plays a huge role in securing the visas and has been working long and hard for them. They finally came. The visas used to be short term, or about 6 months. These visas are like the one I have for Russia, a 3-year visa. The missionaries that he has called to serve there are waiting in Novosibirsk while visa registration happens and then there will be that many more missionaries in the cities of Almaty and Astana! When new missionaries come into the mission now, they will kinda be split into two groups. The Russian or Kazakh missionaries. I think that within a couple years, they will be teaching Kazakh in the MTC and missionaries will begin to receive their calls to the Russia Novosibirsk mission, Kazakh speaking. A missionary that just went home spent most of his mission in Kazakhstan, and the time he didn't spend there was spent waiting for a visa so he could go back there! He spent the last few months of his mission building and fine-tuning a Kazakh language study program for the missionaries that will be called there in the future. It's just some of the things that not many people see, but are evidence of the Lord's work going forward in this part of the world!
This week we got a new investigator for whom we have high hopes! His name is Roman and he's the husband of a less active. They're starting to see the blessings of the gospel in their lives! I attatched a picture of us all. Me, Roman, Tamara, and Elder Bergmann.
On Saturday, we had a concert! There is a woman in our branch who is in this sort of inter-religious club. So they had a concert put together, and she wanted to have the missionaries be in her choir for it. Since nobody here can sing, she thought I could and had me do the solo. So that was exciting. It was a cool little concert with some interesting dances. I don't think they were all religious. One of them was three pirate-looking guys that did a dance. I'll attach a few pictures.
Elder Bergmann was sick for a couple of days this week so we stayed in on Friday night. While he rested I was finally able to clean up the apartment the way I've been wanting to and get some other stuff done around the apartment that has been waiting for a spare minute. A few weeks back we found a Christmas tree in the back room. About two feet tall. The sisters had an extra string of lights, so now we have a Christmas tree! Word is that I have a package waiting in the mission office which I'll pick up when we got for Zone conference tomorrow! I'm going to put my package under the tree until the morning of the 25th. Elder Bergmann also has a package waiting in Novo! Though since he's German, he will open his on the 24th in the evening. Either way, we'll have something that resembles a real Christmas! We don't do anything special other than that. No big strawberry pancake breakfast with eggs, bacon and all the whipped cream you could want this year. Though I hope that still happens back home. Only 2 more years until my next Christmas break from BYU! Don't worry Dad, I'm not grown up yet.
So I'm excited to go to Novosibirsk! If anything exciting happens I'll let you know next week.
Missing you all and wishing you a Happy Holiday Season.