Monday, December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm glad that the clean up went well and quickly, that's a first :)!  It was so much fun talking to you all, I love and miss you, but I'm having so much fun as is!  I can't believe that 6 months have already come and gone, it blows my mind!  I'm sure David is enjoying speaking Spanish and all that, it's weird thinking that the family isn't just sitting around at home for the holidays, but it sounds like you'e all having a lot of fun.  It was really just SOOO much fun talking to you all, I can't believe how old Spencer looks now, that little man child.  That was the biggest shock to me.  That and that David is looking a little bigger than when I last saw him ;).  Also, yes Mom, that Christmas package was THE BEST.  Thanks again so much.

Anyway, I really don't have too much to report on this week it feels like!  Like I said on the skype call, if anyone has any requests of what they want, they need to write me what they want along with a nice email with what they've been doing (or a video message like David likes to do).  There have been a couple of fun things that happened since Christmas.  Well first, on Christmas, my companion and I read the Nativity together for our study, and sang the accompanying Christmas songs.  It was really fun :). And then during lunch we opened our presents!  We spent a lot of that day calling less actives members and former investigators, inviting them to our Christmas party the next day.  Then at night, we had an activity for decorating for the party the next day.

The party was so much fun!  We got a few people to come, and we had about 10 more people there than we usually do at Sacrament Meeting!  Of course we'd rather have them all be at Sacrament Meeting, but it was good to meet a lot of people who up until this point I hadn't met :) (including the Branch President's wife).  It was a lot of fun, and I got to be Дед Мороз and give presents to all the kids!  Afterwards the kids kept teasing me and were telling me "how are you doing...Дед Мороз!!" and I would just reply "I wasn't Дед Мороз, that's not allowed for me to be, that would involve being separated from my companion while I wrapped all the presents!"  They all started chanting at me "Дед Мороз, Дед Мороз, Дед Мороз!!!"  It was super funny, and just a super fun event that went super well and will hopefully help bring a couple of members back to activity.

Also, just a last little thought before I sign off.  I busted out my big old winter coat for the first time, (it's just starting to get cold), and little did I know that in every pocket there were notes from my family written over 6 months ago!  Thank you so much for the foresight to write and share some spiritually uplifting thoughts that helped and inspired me.  Thanks for all that you do family, I seriously can't begin to describe how much I loved those notes.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have celebrated Christmas here in Russia.  I love it here, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to serve the people here in Novgorod.  It's been such a wonderful experience, and I'm so grateful for the experiences to come.  I seriously just love it here so much, and thank you for all the support that you all give me.  Love you family, love you friends, I hope you enjoyed Christmas so very much and that you remembered the reason for the season!  It's because we have a Savior named Jesus Christ who was born, and who loves us!  At the place where we do our groceries they played the "Emmanuel" song by Amy Grant and I just love the verse that that song is based off of (plus the song itself too, I was singing at the top of my lungs).  Isaiah 9:6 is the verse and I invite you all to read it, because that verse really sums up the real reason for Christmas.

Anyway, sorry I've been so scatterbrained, I've been super rushed.  I'll send some pics of me as Дед Мороз and then I'll be off! 

Love you all so much!

Elder Belnap

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