Monday, December 14, 2015

December 14, 2015

Dear Family and Friends, 

Well, I'm in Novgorod now!  It's been a really fun and crazy transition.  When I was moving over here, trying to get my 2 big old suitcases, and duffel bag on the metro, I was getting a lot of crazy looks.  It was also fun though, because for the first time in my mission experience, people wanted to start conversations WITH ME.  It blew me away truth be told.  It really stunk though because about half way into our journey, my suitcase blew a tire!  I know have a wheel that is completely decimated on one suitcase, and gouged whatever I dragged it across.  In any event, we made it to the train, and then just took a taxi from the train to my new apartment.  Our new apartment is SUPER NICE.  And HUGE.  Way to nice/big for missionaries.  I'm being spoiled right off the bat with my first two apartments, I'm not complaining though. Oh also, I forgot something.  At transfer meeting we had 8 missionaries leaving, and 11 coming in!  8 sisters leaving, and 9 sisters coming in!  It was pretty crazy, and a lot of fun saying bye to people and welcoming new people in.  I also got my first practice translating for a senior couple at the transfer meeting!  It was terrifying and I missed so much, but it was super fun and good practice.  Sorry if you haven't already noticed I'm just sort of throwing out whatever comes to my mind here.  Anyway, Novgorod is a fairly small place, but we've been having a lot of fun.  The main focus since I've gotten here was doing new member lessons with someone who was recently baptized here (that's just when we go over the lessons and what was taught and correct any misconceptions/answer any questions they now have the second time around) and preparing someone for baptism this Saturday!  We're super excited! Things have been kind of crazy, but we're loving it.  

Also, I forgot to say thanks for the update of what is going on.  Also, I still can't believe Spencer Powell's flowing locks.  Those pictures were too funny, looked like a lot of fun.  Also I already sent David an email saying I'm jealous about the opportunity to go to a Jazz Knicks game.  Also, on Uncle Steve's birthday I sang I Dreamed a Dream as my little tribute to him (just quietly to myself) and Happy Birthday of course.  Oh how I miss him!  Anyway, I'll just go on back to what is going on.  This Sunday was the Primary Program in the branch.  The kids were adorable and did a great job!  I also got to meet the rest of the branch, and it's only about 30 people, but they're all a little family, it was really fun and cool to see.  They welcomed me right in and start having fun with me right off the bat.  I told them that I'm not even the tallest in my family, and some of the young single girls was like, "wait, do you have a taller older brother?"  I was like, "yeah."  She then asked if he was a Return Missionary and went to BYU, to which I responded "of course."  And then she just grabbed one of her friends and said, "Natasha, we found your future husband, you're on the next flight to Provo!  His brother is TALL, an RM, and a BYU student.  What more could you ask for?!"  It was super funny.  

Anyway, just want to share a cool thought I had this week and then I will sign off soon.  So I was reading in the Church Liahona for the month of December, and there was a really touching story titled "Strings of Sacrifice".  I'll let you read it for yourself, but in the story the woman shares a touching example of the power of making time to serve others as opposed to just serving others to fill in time and because we should.  I know that as we make time to serve others, we feel better about ourselves and feel that much more happy that we were able to help someone.  I know that when we're feeling down, the best thing we can do rather than sit around and mope, is to get up and try and do something for someone else.  That is what Jesus Christ was the perfect example of.  When others would have turned inward and complained, he turned outward and served.  That is why he was the happiest man to ever walk the earth and why I try more and more every day to model my life after his.  Service and genuine love and care for others makes us happy and takes away the personal concerns and worries we might have.  I know that is true and I invite all of you to make some time to serve, because I know it will make you happier :).  I love you all so much and thanks for your emails/love/support/prayers/well wishes.  They're all very much appreciated.

Wishing you all a wonderful Hoilday Season and a Merry Christmas!

Elder Belnap

P.S.  Garment Dimensions, just go a little smaller than what I was before haha.  I don't really know what they should be now, maybe 34-36 in the waist (yes I actually have lost that much) and still an XL up top, but a large might work too.  I don't really know, whatever you send as long as they aren't smalls will work.  Also I forgot to take pictures this week, but next week I'll be sure to get some with my companion!  Love you mom!

Elder Belnap

December 16, 2015

Good morning mama!  We were told by President to set times for our skype call home, and you said between 10 and 12 at night your time.  The difference is 10 hours, so that should work perfectly. I'll call right around 8 or shortly thereafter on my skype account which is christopher.belnap.  Also we're allowed to do 3 way phone calls, which I'm trying to figure out right now, so if anyone isn't able to make it up to the home (Caroline and Ryan will be up in Oregon right?) we should be able to set up a 3 way video call (or more).  I can't read any of the instructions for skype in Russian (out of my vocabulary) so if you wouldn't mind looking into that for me and then letting me know about the feasibility of it in your letter to me next week.  I love you so much mama, thanks and have a great week!

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