Monday, January 2, 2017

January 2, 2017*

Желаю вам всех благ, красоты, и главное, здоровья!
(I wish you all blessings, beauty, and most important, health)!

Russians are all about the health.  Sister Бабскова has been sick this last week, and everyone in the ward has been running around making sure everything's ok.  Last week, or 2 weeks ago now, I can't remember exactly, I came to church on Sunday after not being able to eat for a couple of days, and everyone went into a frenzy.  One person told me that I need to cut up some garlic, boil it, drink the water after it's cooled down, and then eat the garlic.  Another said that I need to get some lemons, and drink some hot water with lemons, and then eat the lemons after.  Another said that I need to get some milk and honey, and then eat the lemons.  In the madness and chaos of it all, someone ran and got me lemons and the immediately went to work on treating me.  So that's why health is most important.

Anyway, this week has flown by and we had a couple of interesting experiences.  We've had some fun conversations with cool people, and the funniest one was probably a guy who was a little drunk with his family, striking up a conversation with me when he heard something say something to my companion in English, and we talked to his family a bit, and soon others on the bus were just enjoying listening to us and throwing in comments every now and again, and when it was our time to hop off, he like gave me a hug, but threw (literally threw) his head right into my chest, I was laughing about it pretty hard after.  Elder Tribe also had one where he was talking to a guy and didn't understand the word баня (think russian sauna) and the guy just REALLY wanted him to come with him to the баня on Monday, but my companion had no idea what that meant, anyway, I was on the other side of the bus and didn't hear anything, and after we got off, my companion just timidly asked "Hey, what does баня mean?" I told him, he busted up laughing and filled me in.  

We had a meeting and now have a new investigator!  Miracle!  He randomly came to the Christmas party because he "felt that he needed to come".  Anyway, he's very believing and wow, he knows the Bible so so well.  It was insane, and it's awesome just to learn from other people of different opinions and faiths, but also show him what our message consists of, and try to help him come to find out for himself of the truthfulness of our message.  Elder Бабсков was with us on the lesson and he's such a good wise man, it's so fun having him and his wife with us all the time.  

The New Years was fun, we set our alarms for 11:57 or so to get up, get pictures of the fireworks, and go back to sleep (because we have a really good view of the main square from our apartment), but my inner-American creeped in and I set the alarm for 11:57 and not 23:57 like I was supposed to.  Slept like a baby, whereas Elder Tribe kept getting up because of the fireworks literally right outside our window, we walked home super carefully that night, we were afraid we'd get hit by a stray firework, and we walked right by some guys who all of a sudden set one off and a whole bunch of car alarms went off.  When we got home, Elder Tribe said "THIS was the Russia I expected to come to."

Anyway, Sunday was really nice.  This week has been hard at times, Elder Tribe and I finally had the first open conversation of our companionship, he's obviously kept in feelings for some time, and he finally shared what was on his mind, and it was really humbling and helpful.  There were also some other things that were hard throughout the week, but Sunday was so nice.  There were some people home for the holidays, a lot of people didn't come, but in our church hall there was one empty side, and one where everyone was close packed and excited to spend the time together.  The testimonies were just so strong, and it was so inspiring to me to see this small group of faithful people all gathered to feel of the Spirit, partake of the sacrament, and support one another in our trials.  It makes me think of our baptismal convenants and Mosiah 18: 8-10 which read:

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

 9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

 10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

I hope and pray that this New Year will being new perspective, goals that will help us grow and stretch, blessings, and greater understanding of the love that God has for us all (and health, of course).  I love you all and wish you a Happy New Year!


Elder Belnap

P.S. My companion was kept up ALL NIGHT by fireworks.  By the time morning came aroud he was pretty tired.  Service at the дача and a little swing that surprisingly held me, but unfortunately, sent me right into a tree.  Fireworks on the way home just in the courtyard of a building.  Putin calendar.  

P.P.S.  What do you mean mom my mission is going by slow?  I hit my 18 month mark yesterday, it's been flying by!  I think time might work differently for the two of us...

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