Happy birthday, my dear brother and I hope you are doing well! I miss you!
So, here I am in Russia and I LOVE IT!! When we came out of the airport we got into the car and started driving to the City. On our way we passed by the most lovely trees. They are all skinny and white and strectch their limbs up towards the melancholy grey sky. Russia is SO melancholy, but in a beautiful way: it is a well written tragedy that brings catharsis. Everywhere is the reminder of lost potential... their are tall buildings with fading paint that are just slightly dilapidated; the streets are all slightly dirty, and there is dust everywhere.... but it is SO beautiful! Everyone walks around with big coats and muted colors and set jaws. It is quite and gloomy and lovely, like a sad poem. I can't explain it except that I love it despite its sad feel to it... but then, there are times when the smoky clouds dissipate for a moment and the sun peaks through the grey, lighting the buildings washing the streets with a warm yellow and it speaks of hope. So much hope here! I know this because sometimes when I smile at a |Russian, they smile back. Not always, and if they do smile, it is small, brief, and tight... but I can tell they like it when I smile at them. The people here are hard on the outside, but on the inside they are like warm gooey soft bread. If you can get them to start talking, they just open up.
My companion is a native Russian. I just love her. She is so great. When she talks in Russian, I can't really understand her but that is okay because I know the language will come. She is so fun and very kind and patient. Though she doesn't understand why I say "thank you" so much. I told her it was because my mother always taught me to say it at least 3 times to someone when they give you something or they feed you or you go to their house... she said "well, you have said it many more time than three times." Haha.... she does not understand. Of course she commented that I also say "sorry" often, but I have been working on that. We get along very well. Sometimes I feel sad that I cannot understand, but it never lasts long because I just remind myself I just have to continue working hard...
I realized that I am the loudest typer here in the libary we are at,... woops. Those Americans...
Anyways, the food is delicious. I haven't not liked anything yet. I love it here, love the cold, the hats, the streets, the people, my companion. It is great. I don't really know what I am doing but that is okay because it will come. Sometimes I feel useless - I follow my companion around like a lost puppy! But I am still very happy. Very happy to be here. I just need to be patient.
We have not gone tracting or street teaching yet - we have had appointments! It is wonderful. The people here are so great. We have one investigator with a baptimsimal date. She was already sechedules for baptism before I came, and my companion told me she was golden and SHE IS! Oh she is wonderful. She runs with us in the morning. Yes, my companion and I run every morning in the chilly wind - it is refreshing. At first, I was slightly dissapointed because i felt I was not working because we were not out braving the cold and throwing Book of Mromons at everyoe; we just bounced from appointment to appointment then it was time to go home! I had so much fun I thought "is this really missionary work? Am I doing all I can?" but i guess teaching people is more important that teaching!" still, I feel like I am having more fun than I am working and THAT has me really worried! I want to do all that I can! What if I am slacking off? I don't want to do that in my first area. So then I think "Gah! I got to be doing more! I need to talk to more people on the buses!" Which is very hard to do when I can barely say "my name is" in Russian, let alone start a conversation with someone who has a set jaw and won't look at you! NO ONE speaks on the bus. They all look out the window or straight ahead... unless y ou are in love, if you are in love you stand in the corner of the bust with your arms wrapped around each other whispering sweet nothings as the bus jostles you about. I glance around, try to speak, and then find I have nothing to say because I don't KNOW HOW to say anything. Hahaha! And that is how it is for everything, not just the language, but with traveling, appointments, calling... everything! I think "I have to do more! I need to be more involved!" Then I realize... "oh, i have no idea what Iam doing... so I start to follow my companion again, who pats me on the head and says something Russian that I can't understand.... but I think means something like "good dog." Just kidding, she does not pat me on the head. We walk arm in arm and talk and laugh as I attempt to speak Russian. I am really bad at Russian. And I mean, REALLY bad. But it is okay, it will come. I love it here!!
Okay, Now some slightly sad news: one of my bags got lost. Yes! I am so sad, but really it was a HUGE blessing because the bag that made it had my most handy and favourite clothes and all my books and most of my essentials. But, I lost many things in the other bag too and I was so sad! First, all my contacts, yes ALL of them, were in my other bag. So, good thing I have three very trendy pairs glasses I can sport. Second, I lost all my tolietries. I had my toothbrush, some eyeliner and mascara with me, but all of my makeup, deoderant, hair supplies, make up remover - gone. Lucikly I still have my oil of olay in my other bag, so I have that still! Then, I also lost some clothes and , the thing I am most sad about, the beautiful blue leather gloves that Dad bought me for my mission! I have been waiting all of the MTC to wear them and the day I could I realized they were in my other suitcase, lost somewhere in Russia... and I lost my green bag... SO SAD!!!! But, ti is okay, because everything I NEEDED made it to Russia... still, others were kind enough to donate bobbypins to me, so now I have four. I pin my bangs back everyday. It is easier that way.
So that is Russia. Now I will try to write small emails to you all. HOpe to hear from you soon!!!