Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015

Oh my goodness, I can't even begin to imagine that it's Christmas right now!  It's weird because Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January, and even then, it isn't the big holiday of the year here, that's New Years.  Anyway, it wasn't feeling even a little bit like Christmas, so I had to take over a little bit!  Spent last P-Day downloading a lot of Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas music during P-Day time so that we could have a little more of a Christmas atmosphere.  We also splurged about 1000 rubles (less than $20, closer to $15 right now actually) on a tiny little tree and ornaments.  Now it feels a lot better!  I also splurged and I'm saving a ritter sport, toblerone, and ferrero rocher's for Christmas day!  So, now it feels even that much more appropriate!  It was a lot of fun.  Thanks for the update on the family and all that is going on, I miss and love you all!  Hope you have the best Christmas!  Also, must say I'm jealous of Caroline in NYC, we got to see the big tree that they have here in Novgorod, and while it was nice, it doesn't really compare unfortunately.  Also glad that the Goff Christmas party went well.  Also, that's a good challenge to extend to Spence, tell him that I'm sending the exact same challenge to him.  (My mom challenged Spencer to go on a group date on one of these Friday'sinstead of playing Xbox with all his buddies).  Keep me posted please :).  Also glad that Nate and Rebecca performed, and are seeming to enjoy it!  Being in the mission field now, it makes me realize how much I wish I stuck with piano!  I'm completely illiterate now, but my companion is super good, and next P-day our plan is him helping me out and try to remember how to play!  He says by the end of our time together, I should be able to play a hymn with my right hand :)!  I'm excited to see if that happens!  Also, I haven't gotten the package, but we have Zone Conference on Christmas Eve, so no worries, I'll have it for Christmas!  

Anyway, this week has been great!  First and foremost, our investigator got baptized!  I'll send you a picture mom, but unforunately for legal reasons and all that fun stuff, we can't send it out to lots of people, so just hold on to it!  It was such a wonderful service, we had a little testimony meeting after and he bore such a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.  I didn't have the opportunity to know him before he started meeting with the missionaries, but apparently he has changed a lot.  He has a light in his eyes that wasn't there before.  He knows it, and what's really cool is his family has all noticed it.  His Sister is actually interested in meeting with us as soon as she gets back from a trip to Pskov because of the difference she has witnessed in him.  It was just a wonderful service, and while he was getting changed, we had everyone write notes for him congratulating him, and then we put it in a nice binder for him to hold onto.  He loved it so much, it was so exciting to see that.  We also told him to write a couple of his thoughts in there so that he could refer to it later on in life and reflect on his feelings and the happiness and love he felt on that day.  Our Senior Couple is also going to print out a couple of pictures from the baptism to put in there as well.  Anyway, it was such a wonderful day!  

We also had splits with the Zone Leaders this week.  It was fun to see my trainer again, I miss Elder Simonsen some times.  His Russian is SUPER good, and me and my current companion still come out of conversations every now and again just saying, "what were they talking about?" Also, random little side note that I probably never mentioned is that Elder Simonsen's parents are deaf and he speaks fluent sign language, so he taught me a couple things from Russian and American.  He's trying to learn Russian sign language (it's super cool!) and whenever we saw people signing, he would try to talk with them.  Anyway, my current companion is Elder Crookshank, from Southern California.  His brother served a mission in Ukraine, and we were in the MTC at the same time.  Which means we're both new!  We've gotten along super well, and we're just having a fun time doing the work here in Novgorod!  He's the Secretary in the ward, so he has a couple of other little things that he needs to do throughout the week which kind of stinks sometimes, because we can't be out on the street talking with people, but I usually whip out my book of words and start trying to memorize a few.  We've had a couple of super awesome spiritual experiences here already, and a couple of crazy ones.  I'll share one crazy, and one cool one and then send a couple of pictures, and I'll be off!  

So, last night, we were trying to get into a building to tract, just calling on the Домафон trying to be let in, when this super drunk guy came up to us and started telling us how we should go get in his car, drive him to some place so that he could do some things that I'm not going to write out because they're pretty vulgar.  Anyway, he started grabbing my companion and trying to take him to his car, and we were like, "hey, that's not ok man."  Anyway, we were trying to get out of the situation without things escalating, which was hard because the guy was out of it.  Anyway, we tried just giving him a card with just the website on it so that he wouldn't be able to get in contact with us personally.  He crumpled it up, started cursing at us again, and so we ran before anything could happen.  It was kinda scary, but my companion said that he thinks he didn't do anything because I was standing right there and had a solid foot on this guy.  Thank goodness that I haven't lost height, just weight :).  

Anyway, we had a really cool experience contacting the other night on the way to a building where we have been tracting.  We had a conversation with this lady, and we were asking a couple of survey questions, about what is the most important thing in your life, with 5 options. She answered that it was her health, and so we started getting into a really sincere, and honest conversation about what we can do for our health.  We mentioned how we don't drink, don't smoke, etc. and she said "Oh I knew that before you even started talking to me.  You two had a light in your eyes that wouldn't be there if you drank or smoked."  She actually did!  I was kindof in shock, because you always hear about people being told that, but that was the first time it happened to me.  It was such an awesome experience, with the Spirit really strong.  We testified of commandments to her, and the reason that we have that light in our eyes is because we try to follow the commandments of God to the best of our ability and one of those commandments is the Word of Wisdom.  She was really interested, and we exchanged contact information!  It was such a cool experience, and my companion and I were just beaming a little bit more than usual!  It was just so awesome!

Anyway, I'm just going to leave and end with wishing you ALL a very Merry Christmas!  It's such a wonderful time of year to think about the birth of Jesus Christ and feel at peace!  I love this time of year more than anything, and I love all of you so very much!  

Have a Merry Christmas!!!!!  (One more time for good measure)


Elder Belnap
New Years Tree in Novgorod

bananas for the week
Baptism in Novgorod
baptism in Novgorod (cropped)

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