Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015

I'm alive, I promise!;postID=1474870047801422574

Well,  I don't have too much time today, so I'll try to keep it short and relatively to the point.  We won't get to watch any of the talks from Women's Conference, but when the Liahona with all the talks comes out I'll be sure to read that talk from President Uchtdorf.  I'm honestly so excited for General Conference, I think that now more than at any other point in my life, I've been praying just to receive answers and increased understanding on how to approach a problem, and I know that the Lord answers questions by the means of his prophet and General Authorities.  It's just so exciting, and I wish that I had cared this much and had been this excited back home.  I love the Nursery story, the blood moon story, and just the fact that you're able to enjoy things more this time around then we were able to during our first stint in Utah.  That's so cool how the surgeon was in our stake in NYC, I love hearing stories like that.  I'm also glad that things are going well with Grandpa, he and Grandma sent me an email last week, and I just miss them (and you all) tons!  I hope things are going well with them and at the home.  Have you finally decided on what you're going to do in terms of changes to the house?  Anyway, since I don't have too much time I'll get started.  Oh, until I forget, Sheri Dew spoke at the MTC, and she's just so awesome!  I'm glad that Rebecca was able to have such a cool moment with such a wonderful person.  Anyway, this week:
First off, a little PSA.  Yes I've lost about 30 pounds already, but I also put on quite a bit of weight before coming out, so now I'm just a little bit ahead of the curve in terms of thinning out on my mission.  So things are all good.  Second, now that I'm finally getting back into the swing of things, my pants are already too small.  I've poked an extra hole in my belt, but это не достаточно (it's not enough).  It's kinda sad that my brand new suits probably have an expiration date of around 6 months into my mission, but missionaries already have a suit guy here where they can get there suits for $200 and less, so it'll all work out just fine.  This week I got to go on my first split because I was finally alive enough to do so.  His name is Elder Saxton and he's been out for about a year and 9 months, and he's awesome.  He seems to have found the balance of working hard, but enjoying it and having more fun than you've had at any other point in your life.  He's a great Elder and we had some really good conversations.  We didn't get an opportunity to contact, and that's because we had a lesson with Albert on the day of the split!  Albert is awesome, and is really knowledgeable about the Bible, but has also taken a lot of very biased internet sources about Jospeh Smith for doctrine.  It's ok though, because he has a really strong desire to come to know truth, and whether or not the Book of Mormon really is the word of God.  We're meeting with him again today at a member's house (plus our first lesson was with a member present at the Church building) so things are going really well and I'll keep you posted!  That's another thing that has been awesome, so the ward members here were a little upset because they feel like the Elders aren't working as hard as the Sisters, and so in Ward Council we asked what we can better do to involve members of the ward and better help the ward fulfill their missionary responsibilities.  They gave us a couple of things to do, and Elder Simonsen and I took care of them that night.  It's already made a difference with how we work with the ward members and I hope it will help change their opinions of the Elders.  We're just excited to help make that relationship better as well!  Also, since we're Zone Leaders, we got to lead a discussion at ZOne Conference last week just about expectations and how to find out that, what the Lord expects of us.  We had a really good and productive conversation, and I wish I had time to leave you all some thoughts from that, what we discussed there.  Oh also, at ward council I understood the смысль (sense) of almost everything that was said!  It was so awesome!  Anyway, I'm just having so much fun here, and I love you all so much.  Like I've said before, thanks for your prayers/well wishes/thoughts/whatever you send my way because it is felt and appreciated!  Love you all and I'll talk to you soon!
с любовью (with love),
Elder Belnap

1.  This is a picture of the Lada that I want.  I love them so much, they're just like an old little car that you see everywhere here, but that don't exist in the states.  I think it would be so fun to ride around in one of these.  I've already decided that since there's a dealership in Mexico (something funny we found out from contacting) that I need to get my hands on one.  
2.  Some sweet Star Wars poster that someone left buried deep in the apartment.  Liam Neeson is my hero in life.  

September 29, 2015

Hey mom, I know it's not P-day but I realized I forgot to let you know the information that you asked me about so I need to watch some videos for my training and my companion said it's ok if I just let you know.  I think my iTunes Username is and the password is one of three:  bisley1996 , olympus1996 or, 12281932chralanb.  Hope that helps/works, and let me know next week!  Also I took a lot of money off the card because I needed to purchase a lot of things, an inbetween coat, a bible and a couple others.  Anyway anything else can wait until next week!  Love you have a great day!

Elder Belnap

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21, 2015

Well mom, as disappointed as I am that you have no stories for me this week, I can't exactly say that I did any better.  Actually I can say with confidence that I'll share less stories with you than you did with me, because I literally have zero stories.  If I had to give a break down of my week I would break each day down as follows:
Sleep:  12-14 hours
Time on the toilet:  10-12 hours
That's about it!  If you haven't figured it out by now, I had the worst week long bout with a stomach bug that I have ever had.  I'm still trying to get over it, and I haven't had a desire to eat since two Sundays ago, which has lead to massive and probably unhealthy amounts of weight loss (I think I might have started my wedding diet just a little too early...oops).  Remember how I said that I was feeling a little ill last week and that I was hoping that I would be past it soon?  Well I was wrong, literally the most I've eaten in the last 8 days in a single day was a few crackers and a drinkable yogurt, and as previously stated, I've still been spending 10-12 hours on the toilet.  I actually managed to get up and go to church yesterday, but my stomach was in pain from that single easy action alone.  We're still trying to find out what is wrong, because I still really have no desire to eat, but I'm still perpetually tired because of it so we sorta have a chicken and an egg problem on our hands.  Hopefully at some point soon I will just be hit with a massive desire to eat, and then we can get up and get back to work, because honestly there has been nothing more unsatisfying, than wanting to work, and just having to sit on your behind until you're able to get back up on your feet.  It's actually given me a lot of time for reflection in between waves of toxic sludge trying to escape my feeble and crippled version of my former self, of just why would I get this sick at such an untimely moment?  The work was FINALLY starting to gain some steam in the area, we had found some great potential investigators and one awesome investigator with whom we'd been working with, and all I could think is why would the Lord want so that we have to just stop in our tracks?  I don't know why, I didn't receive an answer for that, but I did think a little bit about why did Joseph Smith have to endure so much pain in life?  Now I'm not comparing my week long bout with a stomach bug to the life of Joseph Smith, but I did think about how trials are what refine us and help the Lord make us into the types of instruments that he needs us to be.  I know that as we try and find out more completely that what the Lord wants from us, and as we try to more fully become that what the Lord needs us to be, our lives will be blessed and we will be able to be made better than we were.  Anyways family and friends, I'm taking off now.  Thanks for the prayers/good thoughts/vibes/well wishes you all send my way, they're felt and appreciated greatly :)!  Oh also, the tally so far is I've lost 28 pounds, 20 of which I have lost this week alone, so also pray that I'll also start eating food again sometime soon, I'm already a far too small 235 pounds haha, plus I'm not ready to buy a whole new wardrobe 3 months into my mission.  Anyway, I love you all have a great week!  Love you mom, dad, and siblings!  Talk to you soon!
Elder Christopher Belnap

CAB & Elder Hinkel in elevator being Nacho Libre.

I was very concerned about Christopher's health so I wrote to the mission office:

Dear Sister Colton:

I just received our son's, Elder Christopher Belnap, letter and it sounds like he has been very sick for more than a week with diarrhea and some sort of bug.  He said that he has lost 20 pounds in a week (he's a big boy).  Anyway, i just want to make the office aware of his and his companions situation in case Christopher should be seeking medical attention and hasn't. 

Thank you in advance for anything you are able to do.


Lorinda Belnap

Sister Belnap

We are aware.  Sunday when we saw him we suggested he contact Dr. Taylor, the Area Medical Advisor in Moscow.  Whether he has contacted him, I don’t know.  There’s a nasty flu bug going around and many of the missionaries, including my husband and I have had it.  My husband had it worse than I did.  I’ll follow-up and see if he contacted the doctor. 

Sister Colton

Dear Sister Colton;

Thank you so much for your quick response.  So sorry to hear that such a bad flu bug is going around the mission!  In a way, however, it is comforting to know that it may just be a flu bug and nothing worse.

Thanks again!


Lorinda Belnap

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015

Oh how I loved your letter mom!  Thanks for filling me in on a couple of those things, those are important to know.  Yeah, if you wouldn't mind sending me an update on my account every week that would be perfect, and far less expensive.  Also, I would absolutely love some music.  Basically the rules are that it invites the Spirit, so we can have an array of music.  Think Glorious by David Archuleta or something like that (it's the song that plays at the very end of Meet the Mormons).  Along with church songs and things like that.  Speaking of music by the way, so we shop at Lenta here, which is only a 10 minute walk from our apartment, and usually when we go in, they're playing American music.  Today they played Blank Space by Taylor Swift, and Roar by Katy Perry, and last week they played Maps by Maroon 5 and Only One by Sam Smith, and I was just shamelessly singing along to it all, just having a blast.  I think I look forward to our weekly trip to Lenta almost as much as I do to being able to write home haha.  Oh also, just a random little sidenote, Elder Gottfredson and I saw each other all the time at the MTC which was awesome, and Elder Callister was in my same zone at the MTC!  Pretty cool, and I have a lot of friends on their way to Rostov, I'll have to find out if any of them see him!  I'm glad you're loving nursery, you're very well suited for it with all experiences haha.  That's so awesome that you got another car, and you're absolutely right, the Hoekstras are awesome.  That's so cool that you're all trying to resurrect that association, and you're absolutely right, Dad is so good at following through, doesn't surprise me at all that you all seem to already be making headway.  Also hold up for a second, why would Rebecca be homeschooled?  I totally missed that one.  Those are also some wonderful thoughts from the fireside.  Yeah, all my friends from BYU emailed me about the game, and I was so sad, I would have loved to have been there, but oh well, hopefully in 2 years I'll still want to go watch football games. 
Anyway, I'll get started on all that's happened here thus far.  So I'll start with a couple of funny stories.  So of course, our area of the city is a little more ghetto, and we have our fair share of rats, strays and drunks here.  There was one guy here who was wearing a thong the other day, and he was definitely a little tipsy, so that was pretty interesting to see.  Reminded me of that guy who would go running in a thong in NYC and I'd always see him on my way to the 86th street subway to head on up to Bronx Science.  There are some interesting people in this world haha.  We were also waiting for our tramvi the other day and some guy came up to us wanting our picture because we looked very successful and his blog is all about success.  We told him that we couldn't and he was really disappointed, but he then went on a tangent about how he is successful because he's his own God at only the age of 28, it was so weird, but so funny.  We had to try really hard to keep it in.  Also, we did Hermitage service last Tuesday which was awesome!  We just got to direct people to the coatroom if they were looking for it and to empty their water bottles out before going through security.  It was so awesome though because we got to be there for it opening so there were just droves of people that came through and from all over the world.  They were all so surprised when we asked the obvious English speakers questions in Englsih, and they were all just curious as to what we were doing here, and it was just so much fun.  Plus we got to go inside the Hermitage after for 30 minutes and just look around a little bit.  Plus there was this one couple, the man was Swedish and the woman was Argentinian, and the woman was just telling me that I was a very handsome young man, which is always nice to hear haha :). 
Just a couple of other things that I can think of, so my companion had a visa trip this week, and that meant that I got to sleep over at some other Elder's apartment which was fun, I crashed way before anyone else, and they were all messing with me in my sleep, nothing out of the ordinary.  Elder Sonderegger's companion also had a visa trip so we got to talk a little bit and just catch up which was cool.  Oh, we also have this one really interesting guy who comes to our English group, and so we decided to just look up really big and complex words to teach him, so now there's a Russian walking around with a very limited English vocabulary, but just so happens to know the meanings of the words ubiquitous and munificent, among others.  It was a lot of fun to do that.  Also, seeing Brother Jeppson was just so much fun, and so normal.  He's awesome, and thanks again for all the goodies!
Before I send some pictures really quick, I just want to share an awesome story that we had the other day.  So we were street contacting and we had just had a really hard time.  It was our 6th hour of just walking around, rejection after rejection, and I was just starting to feel kindof down, when out of nowhere someone stops us and just yelled, "Mormons?"  Anyway, this guy is named Albert, he's investigated the church before, but stopped for some reason.  He's awesome and we had the most amazing conversation with him, and it was just such a tender mercy.  We're meeting with him tongiht and I know that it'll go well.  He just had such a great desire to know more.  Oh, and also, the bishop has just been going to another ward, because the people here expected him to do everything, that he just kindpf burnt out.  Just wanted to let you know before I forgot. 
Anyway, I love you so much family!  Thanks for writing, and I love hearing from all of you!  Until next week!
Elder Christopher Belnap

Monday, September 7, 2015

Septmeber 7, 2015

Dear Family, 

Wow what and absolute whirlwind of a week!  I just want to say that it was so much fun talking with so many on the phone the other day!  It was a little overwhelming after having such a small amount of contact for such a long time and then just a huge wave of calling people, but it was 100% worth it!  Plus it was so much fun to see Dad at the airport and just talk for a little bit.  There seriously couldn't have been anything more awesome than that moment, but just talking to everyone else just added to the joy of that moment.  So you already got my email about being stuck in Germany for a few extra hours, but as I said it actually worked out for the best.  When we got in, we went with either one of the AP's or one of the Office Elders and took the metro to the mission office which is right next to the mission home, and we got to have our first experience contacting on the way over there which was so much fun.  After that we had some food, and they let us go right to sleep.  The next morning we woke up and had breakfast at the mission home, and we got to meet our companions there!  My companion is Elder Simonsen, and he's been out for a year.  We're in Nevsky which is the South-Eastern part of the city.  Also, we're Zone Leaders, which has been a little crazy right out of the gate, but it also means I'm kind of spoiled, because I get to go to Novgorod for 2 days this upcoming week to help with a Zone Training.  It's kinda awesome.  The area we're in is as I said, kinda ghetto, but so awesome.  Our apartment is really nice and right next to the church building, the library from which I am writing this email right now, grocery store, the tram that takes us into the center, the metro, you name it! 
The people in the ward here are super awesome and just so much fun!  The ward is mostly бабушкы, but they're all adorable.  The ward does have a lot of issues though, about 20% of the members show up, the bishop hasn't even shown up in 6 weeks, there hasn't been anyone who's converted since 2013, and for a ward they are a little too reliant on the missionaries to do work that is supposed to be done by members of ward to begin with.  It's been a lot of fun, and Elder Simonsen are just off to a really good start right off the bat.  He's from Orem, has been out for a year, and we're both just ready to work and do our part to help the people in this area grow closer to Christ, as well as helping the organization of the church here.  We've had a couple instances of getting yelled at thus far, but nothing more than that.  All though a couple of Jehovah Witness ladies stopped us and tried to convert us right then and there.  It was pretty funny.  Anyway, one funny experience I had this week was after being asked to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting, I sat back down for the rest of the meeting.  A few of the members of the ward complimented me on how good my Russian is, but it's all thanks to the wonderful teachers I had in the MTC, not the actual year I had spent living in the country.  My companion says he has me pegged to be one of the best Russian speakers in the mission by the end, but I don't know, my guess would have to be Elder Mehr, the most random words just stick in his head.  Anyway, not important, no matter what we've all got our work cut out for us in terms of learning the language :).  Anyway this one babyshka Sister Diana was teasing me at the end and telling me to not fall asleep because I had fallen asleep when we first met here at the church building my second day here, and I told here I wasn't falling asleep I just had a slight headache so I was closing my eyes and rubbing my head.  As soon as I said this she sat me down and just started going through exactly what I needed to do to get rid of my headache, but in mostly rapid Russian that I couldn't understand, but I was able to understand all the hand signals she made to try and demonstrate to me exactly what I needed to do.  She wanted me to press on my eyebrow a little bit, then breathe in deep and exhale 3 times and then pinch between my forefinger and thumb.  It was just so funny and she probably spent 5 or so minutes just explaining this to me.  She's the sweetest old lady, I love her so much. 
The work here is pretty slow, but we've already started to pick it up a little bit.  We taught one lesson on a tramvi to a lady named Tatianya and gave her a Book of Mormon.  We're hoping to meet with her sometime tomorrow, but she was just so awesome and receptive to what we had to say.  It was so awesome.
Anyway I'm going to get started on sending pictures your way!  I love you so much family and friends, you're the absolute best.  I'll keep Grandma and Grandpa in my prayers, I too marvel at what they are still capable of doing.  It was so much fun talking to many of you, and I'm excited to be here finally!

Love you mom, dad, siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.
покой, любовь, и благословления,

Elder Belnap
P.S.  I have a lot of people that I need to add to my email list, so I'll send you an email with all those as well :).  Thanks!
At the airport -- SLC?

New missionaries In St. Petersburg with companions

Our Apartment
Our Apartment