Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016

Dear Family and Friends, 

First off, thanks mom for filling me in on everything that is going on at home right now.  I miss Grandma and Grandpa a lot and it's fun hearing about all the things they do, especially Grandma and her night wandering activities, that really cracked me up!  Also you almost got the чуть чуть right mom, but you forgot the мягкий знак there at the end.  I'm still impressed that the rest was correct though :).  I appreciate you sticking through and writing me a letter although I'm sure you were very tired.  I love hearing the updates on how things are going, and especially the pictures, because it gives me a scope for how high up I'll be looking at Spencer while he grabs the pickles from the top shelf that I can't reach (I've repented by the way and will be sending some today).  

Just a quick run down of the week, and then I'll answer your question about what we do know as volunteers because of the changes.  Well, I got my new volunteer, Elder Tribe, and he's a stud.  I really get along with him well, and we've had the opportunity to get good work done thus far.  We had a lot of time up in St. Petersburg because they had to stay up for a while just to get documents in order and so on, and I could tell by the end of that he was kindof tired, but he was a trooper and stuck it out.  We went up to St. Petersburg on Tuesday and finally got back Friday night.  We did his registration with the members who help us out with that.  It was funny because my ears hadn't popped and I could barely understand English, let alone Russian.  It reminded me of what I felt like once upon a time, and what Elder Tribe must be feeling like right now, which was something I was grateful for as a reminder of what it feels like to be new.  Anyway, the sister in our branch who helps with that was suffering from bad dizziness, and we offered to help her get home (she's a little older than dad, by just a couple of years).  So we helped her on either side be steadied, and slowly made our way to the bus stop, got on, and helped her get to the front steps of her home.  It was a wonderful opportunity to help out someone in need, and just another reminder that God works through us all, and that when we serve people, we're truly carrying out God's will.  That's one of my favorite things about being a volunteer, is the heightened awareness to all the service opportunities around us, it makes me want to make sure I don't miss a single one at home.  

On Saturday we also had a mutual activity with the youth, and helped one learn English.  It was fun, I just stepped back and let Elder Tribe and him take turns reading in English and Russian respectively, and although they couldn't understand one another super well, they immediately had that bonding moment.  We played soccer, had шашлык, and then after that I had a Presidency skype meeting with the other branch presidencies and President Childs just to discuss other things that are going on, and what we should be aware of in the near future, a lot of good information was learned.

On Sunday I conducted Ward Council and our Sacrament Meeting because our branch president is out of the city, he's had some medical problems as of late and had to go see a doctor.  It was a very spiritual day full of very spiritual moments, as well as I was just humbled by the fact that there I was with all these Russians leading a discussion about how we can grow in strength and numbers.  I never cease to be amazed that they understand me and I understand them, and that the Gift of Tongues is a true gift that we can receive as we pray and work hard to learn a language.  I love the people here so much, and it's been a very rewarding year (and some) in Russia thus far.

In answer to volunteer responsibilities, we study like normal, and then meet with people still who are interested in learning the Gospel, serve in the community (both planned and unplanned that we just do as we search for it), we help the members with whatever they need help in (tonight we're making dinner for someone who needs to undergo treatment soon at the hospital for a couple of weeks).  It's really fun because everything is inspired by what we can do to serve at any given time.  Sometimes that service takes the form of teaching people the missionary discussions, sometimes that comes as helping people with English, across the street, petting giraffes (joking).  

I really love being a volunteer and I love you all!  Zone Conferences are this week so I'll fill you in on how those go!


Elder Belnap
Cathedral of Christ the Savior

Soccer Game

At the Soccer Game

Калиниградский Оркестр "The Kaliningrad Orchestra"

Elder Tribe (Greenie) and Elder Belnap (Trainer)

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