Monday, May 30, 2016

May 30, 2016

Got on late today!  So I'm working on your letter.  It's been a fun week, don't worry about me having no money in my account by the way, we've had a lot of problems in our apartment that we need to pay for but will later on get refunded.  So I just took out the rest of the money because it isn't worth the fee to swipe the card each time.  Sorry wanted to get out that little bit real quick.  I'm positive that by the end of my mission we'll have donated the St. Petersburg mission more than it deserves, it's been hard to keep track (I'll tell you in the big email) anyway, love you, I'll return to the big email.

Well, another week in the books!  This week has been a bit of a low, because I had to take 4 days of rest.  My knee problems acted up last Monday, to the point that while we were on the streets it turned into walking to the next bench and talking with whomever was sitting on that bench.  It was suprisingly effective and we had some cool conversations, but I knew it was probably time to call the doctor.  Anway, I called my Mission President's wife who told me to call the doctor, and I got put on a contacting ban for a few days, was told about exercises I needed to start doing immediately, as well as I was put on a lot of ibuprofen.  That little scare is over now (thank goodness) and I don't need to go get it checked out (thank goodness #2).  It served as a good little reminder that I shouldn't be afraid to ask for help when things are getting bad, because they just get worse if you keep doing it on your own.  It was a really good week because we got to meet with a lot of the members and get to know them better.  It's been really fun, because I've gotten a good relationship with members of the ward really quick here.  I've realized that as missionaries, we of course need to be careful around kids and can't be tossing them up in the air, but that we can give them high-fives and bring a notebook for them to draw in at church when the parents are feeling a little overwhelmed.  It's been cool to see that the parents have come to trust us more and be more willing to meet with us as we try to be good examples and help them out when there kids are being crazy at church.

A couple of random highlights/thoughts in my mind from this week:  So we met a couple of really cool people on the street 2 weeks ago, and we had a game night this week.  Anyway, we were trying to get a lot of people to come, to show them where our building was, and introduce them to the church, while also having fun and getting to know them.  Only one member showed up after 10 people cancelled, but then, one of the people we met came and brought a couple of friends with him!  It was a lot of fun and we ended up getting to know them better.  Only one of them is interested, and we are excited to be teaching him soon!  Also, there are a lot of young men in this ward, and they are always on their phones during church and stuff (never would have thought that I'd be on this side of the fence) and we're always trying to get it away from them.  Anyway, this week during young men's I went around and grabbed phones while they were not paying attention and gave them back if they promised that during lessons next week they wouldn't be on them.  At first I wasn't sure if I should do it, but I felt like it was what I was supposed to do, and we ended up getting closer to the young men because of it.  They're a good group of kids and it's fun to support them.  Last but not least, I started learning Russian Sign Language this week!  There is a less active member of the church who came on Sunday who is deaf, and he started to teach me.  He wants us to come over and meet with him, he leads a sad life, his wife passed away not too long ago and he just needs support.  Anyway, I almost have the alphabet as well as a couple phrases.  Also, we have had several things break in our apartment, and it's been fun trying to get them all fixed.  Our oven is one of those stick-your-hand-in-with-a-match-and-hope-you-don't-die ovens, and so it's always interesting.  Anyway, one of the glass panes broke and so now we have to be careful because even the outside is really hot.  Our washing machine also broke and so no we're doing laundry at the other missionaries apartments.  It's been really funny, in Novgorod, I became really clean.  Anyway, there's a toilet bowl cleaner here that certainly can't be legal in the states, it eats EVERYTHING.  Our tub used to be a deep orange color, and is now almost completely white!  Same thing with the toilet...and the stove.  Like I said, it eats it all.  

All in all, this has been a good week.  Scary at times, but we've come out on top.  Last week we were asked to work through the 12 step program to prepare to work with people on helping them overcome their addictions.  It's been really cool working on step 2 which talks about "Hope". Hope that through Christ we can become completely clean and free of all of our previous mistakes.  We don't need to be what we have always been, and we don't have to settle for less than our potential.  The idea of not settling for less than our potential is super interesting to me, because I feel like no matter what we are not hitting our potential at any given moment.  However, our potential doesn't rest in the "right now" or in 10 years or in 20 or in 30.  Our potential rests in the eternities.  That for me is a comforting thought, that on Earth I will never be perfect, but that the end of this life isn't the end of life as we know it.  That there is something more, and that it's accessible to all of us to reach our eternal potential as sons and daughters of God.  

I love sharing that simple truth with people.  It sometimes causes people to swear at me, and often causes people to laugh at me, but that's not what is important to me.  I love seeing people who are intrigued and feel like they are hearing something familiar.  It's hard to always be contacting, but it's also very rewarding to share this truth with people.  

I love you all very much!


Elder Belnap

P.S.  Happy Birthday to Nathan and to Jeffrey McFarland!  Jeffrey is a great friend, and Nate you're a wonderful albeit crazy little kid, and I miss you both!  Hoping you have a wonderful birthday!

This basically means "I'm just a whale and I go with the flow"  I want to make it into a shirt.

Elder Hallstrom took a photo of me where we both agreed that I look like a very old and very tired 40 year old man

Анатолий the 300+ pound man with no legs.  He's a legend.


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