Happy New Years!
I'm emailing today as the next week is going to be packed with all kinds of traveling, and meetings and trainings. Not much of a normal P-Day as Elder Stucki and I are at the internet cafe on the way home from a Funeral. One of our dear members passed away on New Years Eve from a heart attack, and the funeral service and burial were today. He was in his late 50's and joined the church just a couple years ago. He was the only member in his family, but he and his wife would meet with the elders about every week for the last eight or so months. When he passed away, his wife called the elders to find out how we do funeral services in our church, as that's the way he would have wanted it. It was held at the branch and the majority of the people there weren't members, but family and friends. It's never easy losing a loved one, but I just wanted them all to know of the comfort that the Gospel brings. The knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, and of the Atonement of Jesus Christ especially. I guess that we can't always understand the timing, or the reasons to God's plan for us. Why things happen, and when things happen are largely out of our control. Elders Stucki, Lewis, Hendryx and I sang Nearer My God to Thee, for the service and it was a very special experience.
So New Years Eve, and New Years Day were the least productive days ever. Not a huge surprise that people aren't interested in talking with or meeting with the Mormon missionaries when they have Family holidays to attend to. That's another difference in culture here. Everything that we do for Christmas as far as the culture goes, they do it here for New Years instead. Santa, Christmas Trees, Family gatherings... it's all for New Years here. You find cards with Happy New Years on it along with a christmas tree and a santa. For Russia, (or the Russian Orthodox church), Christmas isn't even on the 25th of December, but on the. So I actually get to have Christmas four times on the mission! :)
Anyways, the whole month of December, Elder Stucki and I have been a bit thriftier so that we could go out for lunch on New Years eve. We found a place called J. Fenimore Cooper. An american author? It was a Western themed restaurant. Like the wild wild west western. They had a huge menu with all kinds of meat on it. I ended up getting a Reindeer steak, and Elder Stucki got a New York steak. It was a pretty classy little place and the best steak I've had in over 19 months! That evening, we went to bed at, and were woken up just before . In the States there are probably city wide firework shows, but here everyone just buys their own fireworks. The huge kind that you can't just buy (legally) in America. They'll all go out on the street and the courtyards between the buildings and light them up. Out our 2nd floor bedroom window, we could see a few fireworks. They went from a little before to 3 or 4 in the morning as the two million other people in Novosibirsk celebrated the new years. As we live kinda in the center it sounded like a thunderstorm as they were exploding all around.
Tomorrow is Church, Monday morning atwe fly to Moscow, and then to Helsinki, Finland and back for our last visa renewal trip. We'll get back and be completely wasted from the trip early morning and then we'll be able to get about 2 hours of sleep before we're to be at the Mission Home for MLC (Mission Leadership Council). night will be a normal night, we'll go down to Berdsk and do Zone Training down there, come back up to Novosibirsk in time for English and hop on a train night after English to head to Omsk! We'll be in Omsk for Zone Training there and a few exchanges before catching a train back Sunday night and getting in for P-Day . I may just have to pass on emailing and sleep all day. :)
We were to stay in on the evenings of New Years Eve and New Years Day. We were able to use the time for cleaning, studying or planning. So I started reading the Book of Mormon on the 31st and I'll finish it on Visa trip. My "New Years Resolution" is to read the Book of Mormon once a month every month with a different focus, theme or question. 2015 holds a lot of excitement. 5 months of it being spent here in Siberia to finish up my mission, 3 Months spent in the Midwest before going out to BYU for the last 4 months. I figure that with all the big decision making coming up in my life, I want to be able to see God's hand in all of it. Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon is " the keystone of our religion" and that "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." So by having the Book of Mormon as a more central part of my studies, I hope to draw nearer to God which will allow me to better serve the people here and better hear and understand his direction when he answers my prayers.
Hope you're all doing well and having a great week!
Until next time,
p.s. The computer won't read my card reader so no pictures this week! Sorry.