Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31 - September 2

On August 31 Christopher departed the MTC.  We sent him a burner phone with 4 hours of time.  He put more time on it.  We spoke a lot. Was soooo good to hear his voice and to hear his excitement.  Brent went to the airport to say good-bye and posted these photos on Facebook.  Later in the day I saw the pics on Facebook and started crying. --Good choice not to go the the airport.  We said our goodbyes at the MTC.

Next day got the following email from Christopher:

Just sending a quick email from a computer here in Frankfurt!  We got delayed in Chicago and then missed our connecting flight here in Frankfurt, so we have had a few extra hours just to hang around, eat some food.  It's actually been kinda nice that we missed the flight, we've been able to relax just a little bit whereas we were running to try and get through security and make it.  ANyway, we'll end up making it to St. Petersburg at around 5 o'clock Russia time.  Just wanted to let you know we're all safe and although we got a little delayed, we're still on our way!  Love you mom and dad!  It was so much fun talking to you both! 


Then today, September 2nd woke up to this email from the mission:

Dear Missionary Parents

Just a quick note to let you know your missionary made it safely to Russia.  We are excited they are here.  I will send a photo in the next day or two.

Sister Colton
Russia St. Petersburg Mission Office Secretary

T: 8 812 331 35 02
F: 8 812 331 35 03

And received this note and pictures from the mission office:

Dear Brother and Sister Belnap,
We are so excited that this new group of missionaries has finally arrived in the mission.  This is a wonderful place to serve and I am sure your son is going to love it here!  I have attached a picture of Elder Belnap with President and Sister Childs after he arrived at the airport, and also, a photo of the missionaries he came with.   Thanks for sending your missionary.  If you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email.

Thank you,
Sister Colton
Russia St. Petersburg Mission Office Secretary

T: 8 812 331 35 02
F: 8 812 331 35 03

Elder Belnap with President and Sister Childs at St. Petersburg Airport

September 1, missionaries with Pres and Sis Childs at St. Petersburg Airport

Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 29-30, 2015

Hey so we get to today given that we leave Monday just to take care of somethings.  Anyway, I'm just letting you know, what time works best for you for me to call in the morning once we get to the airport?  I'll email some more later, and also, can you tell Spencer to take care of the things I asked him to do ASAP please?  There were just a couple numbers I needed from my/Rebecca's phone that I asked him to send me.  Anyway, I can't believe I leave for Russia in just a couple days!  I love you so much momma, thanks for everything :)!  Talk to you later today!

Hi Christopher!!

Here are the numbers you requested:  

Grandpa Belnap 801.547.4930
Grandpa Goff  801.389.3455 or call home phone and it rings through to his cell 801.399.9580
Spencer Belnap  801.690,9894
Kacey Sorenson  925.262.3651-- was just listed as Kacey in your phone, assuming this is Kacey Sorenson.

You can call me at any time.  Both Spencer and Rebecca leave for school at 7:20 so any time before then for them.  
Your dad is possibly going to come to the airport but you could try him anytime.  Grandpa Goff you may want to wait until you are in Chicago to call same with Grandpa Belnap.

Anything else you need?  Oh, by the way, do you know the address and phone number of the mission home in St. Petersburg?  Chris Jeppson will be going up on Sept. 11 and bringing your winter gear.  If you are not able to get that information, I'm sure I will be able to get it somewhere.  Is there anything else you need?  I can pick something up today and have your Dad bring it to you at the airport.  Do you need a trench coat?  All you have is the big winter coat, right?

I love you so much and am so excited for you!

FYI, Christine Powers died this morning at 6:30 :(  I think Caroline is going to go back for the funeral.

I love you Christopher and am so grateful for you and your goodness.  Keep spreading the kindness and love!



Thank you mom, their were a couple more numbers I requested from Spencer, just so that I can get these peoples emails and add them to the list.  Claire Cameron and Chris Dzaran.  Can I call you during your morning walk too or no?  Um, I don't know if I'll have the weight for a trench coat in my luggage, would you mind seeing how much it weighs and then I can let you know tomorrow if I'll have the weight for it?  I can definitely get the address of the mission home, but I actually think it was mentioned in one of my last FaceBook posts if you would rather just check that.  That's so sad about Christine Powers, would you mind giving me Kelly's number too?  I have a lot of layover time, and if I can get to it I would love to just send my condolences.  There shouldn't be anything else that would be needed!  I love you mom, and I should be able to check a couple more times today just to take care of things.  Also, if you wouldn't mind sending the money to my checking instead of my saving, I just moved things around a little bit, because I had to pay for some bigger items today, but I noticed the money was in my savings and not in my checking so I just switched that around a little bit.  Other than that I think everything should be good!  Love you!  

Claire 208.891.6766
Chris Dzaran 703.887.2474

Yes, you can call me while I am walking.  I didn't get a coat.  If you need one I will send it to the Jeppsons and Chris can bring it up, or Janae will be there in October and i will send it with her.  Would that work?  Sorry.  Or you can buy something in Russia.  I will put money in your account.  How much do you need?

I love love love you!!!

I have $75 but I thought you said you were going to send over the $500 that was suggested (or something like that, I don't remember).  I just moved money from my savings, the $150 you transferred to my savings but to my checking, I don't know how much I should have.  Thanks for the numbers, and yeah I'm sure that we can figure something out!  Love you so very much mom, I'll be sure to call you around 5:15!  Love you! 

I just transferred $500 to you wells fargo checking

Thank you momma!  I love you so much, thanks for all that you do and continue to do for me :).  Also, I'll send dad a text from the phone tomorrow morning, with my terminal number and everything, and so that he has the number so he can call me.  I'll do it bright and early in the morning when we get all our travel information so that he can actually find me :)

Christopher sent a bunch of pics on Sunday as he didn't know how soon he would be able to send pics once in Russia.

Sister Handley

Brother Parson who is basically the greatest person on earth

Sister Maryn Smith from the Y, the bomb!

MTC and Mission name tags

Brother Sumsion from our branch presidency, truly one of the funniest guys I have ever met.

Elder Chuck Stone, my guyyyy!!!

Matthew Buckner and Christopher

Last Zone Pic

Pic with Fav Sisters all going to Ukraine

Elder Taylor from NYC

Sister Ivanovich

E. Hollingshead from the Y
Elder Mehr


The mighty triumpherate

Studying and sleeping

Sonderegger and Narcoleptic

Sleeping again

St. Petersburg Missionary Group

Sonderegger and Christopher

The Map

The Map

Sonderegger, Mehr, Christopher

Swaggy J/Joseph Schindler/Fav Janitor at MTC

Swaggy J/Joseph Schindler/Janitor at MTC

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August 26, 2015

I'm sorry mom, I really don't think I have a good missionary photo for you, maybe I can take one on Sunday and send it to you really quickly after temple walk...?  I'll see what I can do for you :).  I love that things went well with the wedding, and Grandma and Grandpa crack me up, they are both just too cute and love their grandchildren so much, I'm glad that they were able to make it through a good chunk of time :).  I also just checked the phone to see if it all works, there are 260 minutes on it, so everything should be fine, and as I just told you, I also have call cards just in case :).  I love that Rebecca and Nate liked Dear To the Heart of the Shepherd, tell them to sing hymn 307, I don't know if they'll find it as funny as me, but it's an interesting one.  Technically, families are encouraged not to say goodbye at the airport, but I wouldn't exactly be mad if some of you came on by...If not though you'll hear my voice.  

I'm glad Spencer is being a social butterfly, I really want him to make this year one of the best of his life, because honestly he has the opportunity to if he so chooses.  So I'm glad he seems to be making the most of it thus far.  The video clip of David is making me laugh, even if I can't see it.  I'm so glad things have worked out, and I'm sure he just wants to jump back in to missionary work being back, which must be rough not too, but I'm glad he got to have that really native experience that I'm sure that he wouldn't have been allowed to have on his mission haha.  Anyway, I'll get started on my side of things :).  

So this week has kinda been loaded.  Last P-day was pretty great, after emails, I played bball for a while with a couple of friends from BYU who also have P-day on Wednesday.  We had an Elder go home which was sad, but he left really optimistic and is excited to come back in 10 months, he's awesome and I'm really excited to hear from him.  We also had a really cool TRC lesson (basically RM's from BYU come in and you get to teach them a lesson in Russian).  His name was Brother Angerhoffer, and he served in Samara (?) and he's learning German so that he can travel the world in a few months, and fill in some gaps in his family history which is both German and Russian, which is awesome.  He was so much fun, and he plays guitar, so my companion and him talked for like 5-10 minutes after the lesson just all about it and it was so much fun to see my companion just have a lot of fun for that little while.  Also. Sister Manners was telling me how Matt has made it to Chile, and I couldn't help but be a little jealous that he got in two weeks after me but was leaving a week before haha, but it's all good because my time has finally come.  
We also had a really productive companionship inventory this week, because it felt like there was just a little bit of underlying tension that had existed for a while, but that we were all collectively trying to push down together, but we finally talked it all out.  Both of my companions get kind of frustrated that I have a better grasp on the language than either of them, and so I can tell that both of them get kind of frustrated with me when I get a concept faster than either of them.  Anyway, it's kind of annoying for me, because it's not something that is my fault, and anyway, we just had a good conversation about communicating, because I felt like neither of them were communicating with me for the longest time.  It was good and our companionship has been a lot better since.  

We also got released as Zone Leaders this week which was fun!  It was a good learning experience for all 3 of us, I think Elder Mehr became more confident, me more organized, and Elder Sonderegger it kind of sent a shock through him (I think) that he needs to focus up a bit, because he thinks he's been here forever, and I think it's just because he's still worried about a lot of things that he just doesn't need to be as worried about right now.  I also said bye to most of my friends from the Y who were here, but I also got to see a few more that came in which is nice.  It's been so fun just seeing people I know coming and going, and then people are always like, "wait, how do you know Bruddah Chris?"  And the response is, "I met him at the Y!"  I honestly did have such a fun year, and got to meet so many wonderful people.  

Just a couple more things before I take off, I'm going to miss our teacher here so much.  They're both so different and all so much fun.  Sister Handley served in Vladivostok and she's just super spiritual, and we always just have really good and uplifting conversations with her.  Brother Clark also served in Vladivostok and he always has really good points, and whenever he goes off on a tangent, we're trying to get down every word that he says because they're all so good.  And then Brother Parson is the one that is secretly known as, "The God among men" because he's like fit, 6'1, handsome, down to earth, and SO FUNNY.  Whenever we have class with him, we get a lot done, but we're also laughing and enjoying ourselves while we go about it.  Haha, it just made me laugh that like to me I'm used to calling everyone the Russian name for Elder and Brother, but now when I write it out in English, it makes me laugh that like I haven't called people by their first names in forever.   

Also, flight plans time, so that all of you that will inevitably want to hear my voice can plan on what times you can hear from me.  So, we live for SLC airport at 3:35am on Monday, for a flight that doesn't leave until 8:30, so for a very long time we'll just be sitting outside our gate.  Also, when I find out the number for the cell phone I'll send that to you so that you can call me back if need be.  Our flight gets into Chicago at 12:42pm (CST) and then I have a 3 hour layover until 3:35pm,  Then we get to Frankfurt at 7:15am, with a layover until 9:20am, then we get to Saint Petersburg at 1:00pm.  I'm really sad that I'm not flying through NYC and Moscow, but it's probably for the best, I think that would be harder than saying goodbye to all of you, because you're all still going to be around in 2 years, and so will those cities, but neither will be home :/.  I'm very excited though to go back in a couple years and be able to re-see some places that I went to before, but now be able to understand because you know, I'll actually speak the language.  Anyway, I love you all, thanks for all your love and support!  I'm excited to talk to you soon Mom :), (and everyone else too).  


Elder Belnap

Hey mom!  I'm on, tell the kiddos too please!  Unless they're at school right now, has that already started?!?!?  What time should I call and stuff on Monday so that I can reach you all?  I have call cards too, $10 for 3, 1 hour phone calls, and I might just use some of those to call you in SLC, and the others in Chicago :).  Also I'll find out the phone number and let you know on Saturday when we email again :).  What time would work best for me to call you?  Loving the pictures by the way!  How is Nathan liking the school?  Also, I have some good photos to send you all today which will come later because I left the camera back in the room!!  Agh, anyway, I'll get going on responding to your email, go ahead and talk to me for a bit mom, I promise it's fine!!  

Me and Elder Huang, who was on my Ultimate Frisbee team freshman year.  He speaks Mandarin, and he's learning French here, and he'll be serving in the Montreal, Canada mission!  His brother was also Elder Huang that we knew in NYC!  Small world, especially for us Mormon folk

Elder Miller and Elder Kahng that I knew from BYU.  Elder Miller was on the same intramural team as me, and Elder Kahng I knew from many a night in B9.

Gabel is like the little sister of the zone, who has grown up, but everyone still treats like the little sister because of some mannerisms that have just never gone away.  That's the best I can describe her, but anyway, she's an adorable human being, and everyone is sending a picture of her home because she was a little embarrassed haha.  Makes me laugh, so of course I had to send it.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August 19, 2015

So we officially only have 12 more days left!!  Super exciting!  Very unprepared language wise, but at the same time I know the best way for me to learn is to get out there!  So about time!  Also, it's called a prepaid phone, I don't know more than that.  Just have Spencer google pre-paid phone and I think some info should come up.  They're pretty common they're just tiny little flip phones and you pay for everything before hand.  I know they exist because Elder's before us got some as well.  Hopefully you can find them, we're also going to get call cards too so we can call from the pay phones too.  Anyway, just to follow up on some other points in your emails, YES smart wool socks would be awesome if you could get them to me soon along with the other things.  Do you know when Brother Jeppson is planning on running up the winter gear to the mission home?  Just curious.  Also, there are only 3 people in our class room, and only 3 people in our bedroom which we've been super lucky about.  There have only been 3 people in both our classroom and bedroom for a month as of tomorrow.  So in a classroom that fits 10-12 there's only 3 and in a bedroom that fits 6 there's only 3 as well.  I have no idea how we got this lucky, but I'm not complaining.  Yeah the SYLing has gone really well, and that's why we are a week ahead of all the other districts, that and because we're just in the class with us 3, but I'm just going to say it's because of the SYLing ;).  I'm so glad you got to have a lot of fun at the NYC-Utah Reunion, I love Jared Covington, it's always fun to see him and his family.  That story about Rebecca cracks me up, and I don't know I'm 18 right now but I feel like I'm around the 50 year old stage so I don't know how accurate that it.  Maybe it's just because I'm on a mission right now so it messes up the construction of that.  I'm so glad Caroline and Ryan had a great trip, and I'm also REALLY disappointed that Caroline didn't realize it was Emma Watson, because that would have made 10 year old Spencer so happy to know his sister met Emma Watson haha.  Was it Emma Watson that was Spencer's big celebrity crush or someone else?  I can't remember oh well.  And yeah I'm not surprised that he's officially an inch taller than me, I just hope that he does play basketball.  He could be sooooo good if he wants to be.  But you know его выборь (his choice).  I'm glad he's doing IB too, it's for the best and if you end up moving again for his senior year, he'll be super grateful.  That's crazy that Katie Turpin is already home, soon Seth will be, and then McKay, it's kindof fun having a ward in Ogden with a lot of people going on missions because that's exciting to keep track of them.  Heck, I'm almost 1/12 into it which doesn't seem like much, but it has flown by.  Anyway, I typed all of this pretty fast, but I should get going on the week and how it's been :)!


So we had a pretty run of the mill day, we got to know the new district more after helping orientate them the night before which was a lot of fun.  They're are a couple of cocky elders in the district who think they speak Russian really well already and they were trying to correct us when one can't even say хорошо correctly yet.  We just laughed because all we could think was that within the nest couple of days their brains would be screaming for relief.  We were right haha, after that they've cooled off that attitude a bit.  And you know me, I'm not about the tude.  It's fun pretending like we're so old when literally no one who has been here has been here for more than a couple months.  


Friday was pretty hysterical, because we role play teaching each other lessons, and we had one with Elder Mehr as the investigator.  Anyway, we both said kak y bac dela at the same time and he said "Ya cprocit adin!"  Sorry I got tired of guessing where the Russian letters are.  But basically that means, "I to ask one!"  Our teacher just put his head on the desk and lost it, and we were all losing it too, it was fantastic.  It was probably a good 10 minutes before we could reign it in, and surprisingly after that we were able to focus up again.  But it was probably the hardest I've laughed here.


Nothing much from Friday, we just had Sister Handley who is the BOMB (Kacey Sorenson you can feel free to tell her I say that because it's true).  Sorry I have a friend who's good friends with my teacher.  I just can't help it, I know everyone *Sassy emoji*.  Haha, other than that, we just had some really good studies of Russian grammatical concepts, and we've started doing a lot better at cases.  


We got to give a Sister who hadn't stopped coughing in like an hour a blessing.  I got to do that which was just a really cool experience.  Then we also participated in a blessing for an Elder who has been having some issues, I'll expand on that later though.  


Sunday was a lot of fun.  We get to conduct the priesthood meetings as well as help with the sacrament prayer, and read along because the Branch Presidency doesn't speak Russian.  It's was a really nice Sunday, with an awesome devotional in the evening.  It was the Nashville Tribute Band that performed, which are basically a bunch of Tennessee Mormons who have a band where they play like Mormon country music.  It was a lot of fun and just a really cool surprise.  I could tell Elder Sonderegger was about to die from not being able to just grab one of their guitars and start playing, but it was a lot of fun for him too, despite having to restrain himself from joining in.  I don't think I've ever told you, but he plays guitar, ukelele, drums, harmonica, and a couple other things.  It's pretty cool.  


We finally got our Russian name tags!  Although we're not going to wear them often, it was just super exciting to get it.  It makes it feel so much more real to see "бэлнап" as opposed to "Belnap".  I'll take a picture and send it to you next week.  In class we also talked about making sure people understand the "WHY" behind commitments.  One thought that I really liked is that it's our knowledge of the why we should do something that allows us to exercise our free agency.  It was just a really good discussion and helped me understand the importance of explaining things with more clarity, because that's where it becomes our decision to do something, because now we understand the why behind it.  Anyway, just a thought that I liked.


The devotional was given by Larry J. Echo Hawk.  Yes Echo Hawk, я закочило (I'm finished, but we always use it as, I'm done).  It was a good devotional, at least the parts that I wasn't completely crashed for.  Apparently one of the elders had to keep me from sliding out of my chair, because we were on the front row of the bleachers, which isn't all the way up in the front, but about the middle of everyone, but there's a little bit of a fall.  So if I had fallen it would have been heard throughout the devotional with over 2000 people.  I got him some thank you ice cream from the vending machines later.  Also, apparently our BYU cards work, and I had about $10 left on mine, so I haven't used it all yet, but it just sorta made me laugh, and also made me a little sad that I won't be back at BYU this year.  But, at the same time I'm where I'm supposed to be.  Also, some Elders came up with a new game, we call it Smash Ball, and basically we just play it for 10 minutes before we get started on journals, it's like spike ball, but better.  I don't really know how to explain it, but it's been fun to just play that on a couple of the nights where I just need to relax.  Some people play it wayyyy to much though.  Anyway, sorry that was random.  

Anyway, sorry for this essay of an email, it only took me 40 minutes to write.  Oh also, the Elder we gave a blessing is going home today.  He didn't take care of some things before hand that he should have, and this is actually his 2nd time at the MTC already.  Although we're sad, he has a great attitude about it, and he's planning on coming the next possible time that he can.  He said he's so much happier leaving this time than last time, because I think he feels like he finally took care of everything.  He's shooting for coming back out next June.  We love him tons and he has been a fantastic example to us of using the Atonement in his life.  I know he'll be back out here in 10 months, ready to go.  Anyway, I love you all and I hope you enjoy my emails.  If you want to hear from me personally, well than write me personally #burn.  I have a couple funny pictures to send, but then I'm off!  

Love you!

Elder Christopher Belnap 

Sad to hear about David and Lizzy, she is a great girl.  He told me a little bit about what happened, and I understand, but I'm still also sad.  I really hope that things work out for her, and I'm just sad that she got along so well with the family and then things fell apart.  David's going to find the girl for him, and she's going to find the man for her and they're both going to be happy that things didn't work out for them.  Words of Wisdom from Elder Belnap.  Anyway, just wanted to say, I'll get a few call cards here, but if you can look into a prepaid phone one more time I would be very appreciative!  It would just make things a lot easier.  Also we don't have our flight plans right now, but we will soon!  I'll definitely let you know next week when we take off.  Also sorry about sending a package, I promised Nathan and Rebecca I would, I know that's the last thing you need while trying to unpack everything.  Also, the video of Nate made me crack up I love that.  Ok, anyway I really am off now!


Elder Belnap

"Hey mom, look at me I can fly!"  Also, I look 300 pounds in this picture, but I can't say that I care #oops.  Also look at Elder Mehr's face haha.  He know's his life is about to end.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August 12, 2015

So basically I wanted to find the video clip with all the people for New York, so after I finished up one of our assessments I got on and found the clip and a few others that I liked too.  So I'll just start this letter with the ones that I found that I really liked:

Those are all really good, maybe you can make them an FHE one night.  I was watching one of them and while I was watching it it really showed me that hindsight REALLY is 20/20.  It's the one with Elder Bednar talking about wasted times on games and things like that and foregoing what really is the most important.  Sorry mom, feel free to use my words to convince Spencer (although not my previous actions, that might just make things worse ;) ).  I just liked how it talks of how we can be desensitized by spending too much time, and really anytime, on the things that really have no significance, and foregoing them for things that actually matter.  

I can't believe you all own a car now!  You're growing up before my very eyes mom and dad :').  Just making me really proud.  Hahaa, also I'm glad Adam's homecoming went so well, I'm sad to have missed him by such a short time, but I'm also excited to see him in just a few short years.  Also Seth Beus should be coming home within the next couple of weeks which is exciting.  Also, I love the picture with Nate and David, and over at Grandpa and Sharon's for dinner.  Also the picture you just sent of Spencer, Heather and Rachel is unreal.  Spencer is so dark and just a good looking guy, I know he's gonna have a good date this Friday haha.  

Anyway, this week has been a little bit more low key than the last couple, which is funny for our first full week as zone leaders.  I guess I'll just do a couple of the highlights/lowlights.  

Well, actually, first one of the lowlights.  So both my companions are older than me, and one is right out of highschool, and he's a really sweet and tender guy, but just a little naive about somethings and he takes things a little too personally.  So basically, we're supposed to keep the teaching records of what our "investigators" (teachers) have been taught, and he's the one that keeps them and I made a nice comment about how we should keep better care of the teaching records because he kinda just throws them about and they're all tattered and torn.  Anyway, I said it in a nice way, just that it would be best if we took better care of those records, because if we were in Russia right now that's how the new missionaries would know what has been taught.  And he just took it as if I insulted his whole existence and was moping for the next couple of hours.  And I just don't really know what to do, because there are all things we can improve, and I'm really happy when my companions are comfortable enough with me to let me know about something I can do better, because a lot of the time it's something I've never noticed before, but then with him, I feel like I can't make a suggestion or give constructive criticism for fear of him being really down on himself the rest of the day.  Anyway, I just really don't know what to do about that, I've been praying and searching for an answer, but any bits of wisdom from any of you would be greatly appreciated too.  

Anyway, away from the less happy stuff.  So this week we've gotten to spend a lot of time with one of our teachers while the other two have been out of town.  He's awesome and really funny, and so we got a lot of work done, but also we had some really funny moments.  He just taught us some funny phrases, and we now have a new inside joke, where we come up with a new mystical question every day that he is teaching and write it on the board so that he can try and come up with an answer.  It's a fun thing that also just keeps us interested in trying to learn as much of the language as we can while we're here.  It's awesome and I can't believe in just a few short weeks we'll be going over there to really start our missions.  Also one of the perks as Zone Leaders is that we get to do orientation for new people in our zone and we get to do that later today which is exciting.  

We also had one of our teachers come back after being gone for 10 days, and we were teaching her yesterday, and when we finished the lesson she was just so impressed with how much we've learned.  We've been trying to SYL a lot more, and although it's hard at times to just always speak Russian when English is so much more convenient, it's really helped us learn.  We've also been trying new things in our language study just to get us excited and re-energized trying to learn the language, because sometimes our brains just hurt tons.  Anyway, I love you mom, I love you family, miss you all tons but at the same time I genuinely am super happy :)!  I'll talk to you all in a week and I actually think I have a couple of pictures to send this week!


Christopher/Elder Belnap
Elders and Shimais all going to Nagoya Japan.  CAB knew them at BYU.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August 5, 2015

Oh my goodness, what a week!  Seriously though it has been awesome.  Can't believe it's week 5 and that we are now the oldest in the Zone.  It's weird having people look up to us who have just arrived and are all wide eyed innocent and now we're the ones that have to be the hardened veterans of 5 long and arduous weeks.  Shoo cho (Russian for just kidding) but still, it's been weird. If companionships have problems and the District Leaders don't know what to do, then they come to us now and ask questions.  We have also been making assignments and just talking with people and making sure that they know they can talk to us if they need anything.  We've definitely been able to grow closer to everyone and get to know everyone through being Zone Leaders which is awesome and a tremendous blessing.  Also Nate did send me a dear elder and it was the cutest thing.  I miss my little M.C. so much, he's adorable.  He said that if I think it's going by fast that I'm wrong because he thinks it's going by so slow.  Also are Caroline and Ryan on their trip yet?  Anyway for events of the past week...

Thursday:  So today I had my strangest bout with narcolepsy yet.  I had been fading the whole class, and so when we had an exercise to practice my teacher decide to practice with me.  Anyway, while he was asking me a question he said I went cross-eyed and my head just drooped.  I fell asleep for about 10-15 seconds and then I sorta just jolted awake and my teacher and companions were just staring at me absolutely dumbfounded and I was just staring at my teacher waiting for the question.  We didn't get anything done for about 10 minutes because after I asked, "Are you going to ask me a question?"  (Which I said in Russian by the way) they all just lost it.  Too funny.  Also this is for David, but I was talking to President Burgess and we made the connection of the Buckner's and that he was there for the Jamboree.  Anyway he asked me, "didn't I play catch with a taller you...?"  And I told him that that was my older brother and he said, "Yeah I could tell he had quite an arm because I could tell he was going soft on me and it still hurt."  Anyway, funny little side story as well that I thought you might enjoy.  

Friday:  I had a bit of a rough day, just right around the halfway mark, felt a little overwhelmed, it's amazing how fast the language is coming, but also intimidating how far we need to go.  I also just had a rough day with my companions, one of those where I wanted to just take a break for a little bit from them both, but if anything, things have been so much better since then.  Anyway, it was a rough day but by the end of it I felt so much better.

Saturday:  Nothing really happened of importance on Saturday, other than just our last full day with the Sisters.  We really became super close with them, just wonderful examples and people.  They are missed :/.

Sunday:  Officially got called as zone leaders and got to work right away, just talking with District Leaders, figuring out problems with companionships, making assignments for teaching lessons, and just discussing with the presidency things we can do to improve how effective everyone in the zone is with their studies.  It's crazy how much more we know than some of the districts when it comes to the language just because we seem to focus a lot more.  Anyway, our teachers and teachers of other classes have been really impressed with us and how quickly our companionship is learning, and it just gives us greater desire to improve.  We also took pictures at the temple and said goodbye to the district that was leaving.  

Monday:  Got an awesome letter from an awesome individual Kacey Sorenson #shoutout who takes off on her mission beginning of September.  We also went around to all the districts and got to see them and introduce ourselves to everyone, because although I know everyone and I am as popular as ever (just kidding...but not really though)  we just wanted to let everyone know who we are a little more and just build more of a relationship with them.  

Tuesday:  Tuesday was awesome!  The crowning event was getting to see President Nelson only 4 rows from the pulpit for the devotional.  It was such a powerful talk and I just felt in awe the whole time.  He talked about some topics that were just so personal to me that I felt like it was the two of us having a conversation.  I also talked with our Branch President after, and we discussed some of the topics and I just felt God's love super strongly that night.  It was awesome and it was just a great experience.  

Wednesday:  We went to the temple this morning and while I was there I saw someone that looked super familiar.  Anyway after a minute I realized it was the brother and sister who were working at the temple in Kyiv the day I went to the temple there.  It was awesome and we were able to talk for a little bit.  They finished their mission a month ago and are now back here in Provo, and it was just so funny to make that connection.  It was really cool to see them there and just the 2nd time in a row I've run into someone I know at the temple.  Too funny.  Also the temple worker was this cute little old British man in Provo who like took a minute or two every 15 or so minutes just to share a little thought.  He was adorable and I want to be him when I'm an old man haha.  

Anyway, I'll get sending pictures soon.  Love you all so much and miss you.  So proud of you by the way mom for hiking Mount Timp, there's a reason why you still don't look a day over 35. Haha, anyway, I'm just glad you, Kelly and Janae have stayed so close throughout the years and you just give me hope for having my friendships with the wonderful people I've met already (Christina, Bennett, Aaron, Ethan, anyone at BYU, and many many more) endure for the rest of my life :).  I'm so glad I'm where I am right now and I can't wait to be in St. Petersburg in a few short weeks.  Also hopefully in about 10-12 days I'll have my flight plans which is super exciting.  Oh also, one of my friends Maddie G got her wisdom teeth taken out and sent me some pictures and a video, and it made me laugh so hard.  If any of you have something like that happen, send it my way!  It would make me day to see your faces even if it is just a video/picture.  Love you again mom!  And dad, spence, Rebecca, Nathan, David, Caroline, Ryan, grandma and grandpa too.  Oh last thing, the pictures of grandma were too good.  I was laughing really hard at those well.  Send them my love, and also Adam as well :)!  


Elder Christopher Belnap 
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