Well, now I guess I know who reads my emails. :P Nobody sent me questions! I got some questions from AnnaMarie and from Caroline. So they get a prize. I found some old questions that Dad asked me as well.
Did you ever buy warm boots?: YES!... But it's warmed up now so I don't have to use them anymore. When I was back in Tomsk I went to the Columbia store and got a nice pair.
What are grocery stores like? : Grocery stores are either really good or not so good. They have big supermarkets some places, but for weekly shopping we go somewhere closer.
Corner stores? : Corner stores are everywhere. Russians don't believe in food storage of any kind so everything is bought last-minute. Meaning that every street has two or three little stop and go's. They're over the counter stuff. So you have to tell them what you'd like and they'll grab it off the shelf for you.
Do Russians grocery shop daily or keep a stock of food in their fridge?: The social class that I have visited isn't the upper class, So I'm not sure how they do it. The lower end has very little space and therefore doesn't have much food storage. They are big fans of daily shopping here. We get a LOT of looks when we've got our big cart full for the next week and there's only one register open with 10 people behind us. :)
How much is rent per month for your apartment, if you know?: Depends on the apartment. The Mission Apartments have a cap of 21,000 Rubles ($590) for Missionary apartments. My Tomsk apartment was possibly the nicest missionary apartment in the Mission and was 21,000 Rubles. My apartment in Omsk is 12,500 Rubles ($351). There is a big quality difference too. If it weren't such a hassle, I'd probably try looking for a new apartment.
Is there anything we can send you that would benefit the members there?: Russians LOVE presents. When Missionaries leave an area, it's not the missionary that expects presents, but the members. Some even ask where their present is when a missionary leaves. In Omsk there are a lot of youth. They already get spoiled by our Senior Couple the Walkers with everything American to eat. So I don't really know. A bunch of those little green CTR rings would be fun to hand out.
How much snow do you have now?: A lot of the snow has melted. There's just the nasty slushy dirty leftovers. There aren't really yards here though, so it's hard to compare to the Midwest. As far as this winter goes, the Midwest had a lot worse weather than we did here.
What do you do for exercise time? :D Exercise time. We have a pull-up bar in our Omsk apartment, a few weights and that's about it. Just like sit ups, push ups, dips with a chair. Sometimes I just jog in place to get the blood pumping and wake me up. I did better in Tomsk where our apartment was bigger and had a carpet in the living room. Now our apartment is a lot smaller and not nearly as comfortable.
Do you have a new investigator Sunday School?: We have the same as in America...or should be the same. "Gospel Principles" is the class for investigators and new converts for up to a year after their baptism. This last Sunday it was only me, Elder Zhitkov, one of our investigators who's been coming to church for 10 years and the teacher. Last week there were a bunch of people.
Is it feeling any warmer there?: It's a lot warmer now! I'm wearing my Dublanka (leather jacket) instead of my pukavik (big winter coat). It's been above freezing a few times this last week melting a lot of the snow. Warmest this spring so far was maybe 40 degrees.
Can you believe that Hannah will be a year old in 10 days?: Not really! She's not allowed to be older until after I get back!
How are things there? Things...things are good. We finished March Madness! Had Zone Conference (which means getting to ride the train), and have been pretty busy.
Was it a good week?: So yes... It was a good week.
And was that body builder picture REALLY a picture of your companion?: Yes that's him! Nikita Zhitkov. He was inches short for qualifying for the London Olympics in the Shot Put. A 16 pound shot. His bests are 65 feet in a meet and 68 feet in training.
In regard to OMSK.
Are you being trained by someone?: I've been being trained by whoever my companion is at the time since the first day in the MTC. So yes. I'm being trained by Elder Zhitkov at the moment. :)
How's the Russian shot putter doing? He's doing well! Elder Prince left Omsk to be an Office Elder. Elder Zhitkov is now the District Leader of our district.
Did you challenge him to a high jump contest?: No, but he said he knows a place to high jump in Omsk! We're not allowed to do real sports here though so it's not going to happen.
Do you have a lot of appointments, or do you do a lot of door to door?: We have a lot of appointments here. Some with investigators, but a lot with members and less actives. The Branch here in Omsk is really needy. We administer the sacrament to old ladies in their homes quite often. Once a month to the ones who can't make it to church. There are also youth night things that we go to with our investigators and also so we can translate for Elder and Sister Walker.
Do you use Facebook for contacting and teaching?: Not quite...Maybe every missionary in America has iPads already, but there's not even talk of that here. It'll be a long time before we get any of that. Probably even after I finish my mission.
So that's it for the questions!
We were contacting the other day. Elder Zhitkov initiated this one and a little bit into it, I said something. They guy just stopped and looked at me. "Are you an Englishman??"... "No, I'm American"... "AH!... so you're a SPY!" He then just continued to talk to Elder Zhitkov. Every time I tried to say something he's just shut me down. Eventually saying. "Where's the off switch on this guy?" "It's better if you just don't talk." ... So that was fun.
The apartment building will have maybe 5 different entrances. Each entrance with a stairwell going to different apartments. We call them a Podyezd. We live on the 4th floor of a five-story building. We often come home at night to drunks passed out inside our podyezd. On the landing between the 4th and 5th floor there is a bench and there are often a few homeless guys there. They don't do anything bad except for make the stairwell smell pretty bad.
The best part of the week for me is going to visit the old babushka (grandmas) to give them a blessing or to give them the Sacrament. We went again with Elder Walker (senior couple) to visit Sister Varvara. She had tithing ready and Elder Walker is in the Branch Presidency here and could pick it up. We visited her and gave her the sacrament again. She is 89 years old. Soon to be 90. She is the nicest old lady. She's been sick lately and not able to come to church. Though when she does come to church, she is ALWAYS the first one there. She will sit in a chair there right by the door and greet everyone that comes in. Baba Varvara is one of my favorite members.
We had Zone Conference this last week. It was great. We talked a little bit about the future stake. We removed hundreds of records from the mission of people who don't live here any more, lowering the number of needed Melchizedek Priesthood holders to below what we have! They're meeting with people and looking at figures to decide whether or not we are now ready and then they will be putting in the application for a stake! President Gibbons said he doesn't know if it will be in May or June or September, but it will be created!
There is a lot of stuff going on in Ukraine. The Crimean Peninsula is now Russia's. There are other Ukrainian cities petitioning and rebelling to become part of Russia as well. The Ukrainian missionaries in our mission have returned to Ukraine. There are a lot of tensions between the US and Russia and Ukraine right now, making the future of visas to Russia for American missionaries unknown. Worst case scenario is that all the American missionaries get kicked out of Russia. That won't happen though. Missionaries have been here when tensions were a lot higher. We are on Humanitarian Visas which if Americans started getting kicked out, would be the last ones to go. We don't expect any problems for the missionaries already in the field, but pray that missionaries will continue to be admitted into Russia!
President Драчёв (Drachyov), the President of the Novosibirsk District spoke at Zone conference. He told of how he came into the church and the story of his conversion. He said to pass to all parents and families of the missionaries here a big thank you for the sacrifices being made so that there can be missionaries here in Siberia.
Pictures!Elder Stucki and I
Elder Prince and I
Elder Prince's present from the youth as he left
The Walkers had a LUX compartment and we visited for a while.
Elder Prince and I drinking our tea.
Papa Johns Pizza at Zone conference. (Half of the mission was 15,000 Rubles!) ($420)
Elder Zhitkov and I with his friend from Moscow, Sister Nadya. She has an LDS.org Video! (Click HERE to watch it.)
We all watched her video in the MTC... not understanding anything. Now she's in our mission!
That's it for this week!
Miss and Love you all!