Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Back from Spain...All About Endurance...

Alma 26: 29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.

Чили привет из Сибири, ( A Chilly Hello From Siberia )

Amazing Race missionary style,…our visa renewal trip to Madrid was wild, fast, and just crazy! What a wonderful opportunity we all had to travel to Spain. Although it was a fast trip and the Temple was closed, we still had a great time! I will have pictures next week. After obtaining our visa’s we went sight seeing to the SOL, which is the older part of Madrid. It was beautiful. I especially loved the European architecture of the buildings. After sight seeing we went back to the MTC to shower then left to catch our flight back. Once we arrived to Moscow, we had a five-hour layover where we just sat on the ground in the ghetto airport and had a great time talking, catching up and sharing our missionary experiences. When we arrived to Ekat we hung out at the mission office for a while and stayed at the AP’s that evening. Elder D and I left the following day for a six-hour train ride for Tyuman to deliver a special letter to the branch president. After our delivery and spending about an hour in Tyuman, we hopped a bus for another four-hour ride to Kurgan.
WHEW…what a trip! So, here is the crazy part…next Monday my comp, Elder D, leaves for his visa renewal to Stockholm Sweden and will be gone for TEN days. During this time, I will either stay with the AP's or ZL’s. You can see how disruptive these visa renewal trips are. However, in the near future there may be a loop hole where we can get two visa’s and send one in advance to the country we will be traveling to renew. This will hopefully eliminate the ten days that is required to be in another country while waiting for the paperwork to be processed. The kinks are in the process of being worked out.
The missions here in Russia certainly have their challenges, but well worth all the hardships and struggles the church and missionaries have to endure for the sake of these great Russian people. I truly love the Russian people and their culture. It’s difficult to get them to listen to what you have to share with them, but those few that are able to grasp onto our messages and you see the new hope in their eye it is nothing but miraculous! To watch the change that occurs within them is amazing! For myself, I just wish the language wasn’t such a barrier. My Russian is coming along. It sure tries my patience, I would love nothing more than to have the freedom to share exactly what I am thinking and feeling, but I often feel handicapped by the language. I constantly feel the Lords help and it is getting easier. It just would be great to speak on the same level. I’ve always known that I need work on my patience and I am most definitely getting the opportunity!
Spain was a nice break from the cold, but upon arriving in Kurgan it quickly reminded me that winter is certainly here. It was bitter cold when we arrived back to our stomping grounds. On Thursday Elder D and I quickly got back into the swing of things. We had planning, English club, and then a meeting with Artyom and Zhenya (new investigators). Something kind of funny...when we met with Artyom and Zhenya, Elder D gave most of the lesson and I talked very little, so after the lesson was over, Zhenya said she wanted to meet again on Friday, but this time she wanted me to give the entire lesson and talk the whole time. So I made a deal with them, I told her I would give the lesson if they would read a chapter in the Book of Mormon. Zhenya agreed. I gave both of them a book and marked a chapter for them to read. On Friday I studied my butt off and planned an amazing lesson, it was going to be the SUPERBOWL of all lessons. I was well prepared and excited. We arrived to our appointment on time, but were disappointed when Artyom showed up twenty minutes late and Zhenya didn’t show up at all. We were suppose to meet at Zhenya’s apartment but had to end up talking to Artyom outside, so it was difficult to give the lesson. I was crushed... I had studied, planned and prayed so hard in preparing an amazing lesson for them. Later in the evening Artyom called us back to schedule a meeting for Sunday, so I regained hope only to be disappointed once again. When Sunday rolled around Artyom was all of a sudden too busy. I won’t give up on them! I hope they will meet with us again soon. They are great people and I know they can use the Gospel in their lives and they NEED it!!! I would do anything if we could just meet with them again!!
Friday was the first day of SNOW here in Siberia…burrrrrrrr!!! I went out without my hat and some babushka (older lady) yelled at me and told me to go home and get my hat to put over my ears! Hahahha!
Well, that's it for this week. I wish I had more to report. Thank you all for your emails and your support. I sure appreciate you all thinking of me. I love you . Keep smiling and just be happy! Life is great, even here in COLD SIBERIA!

Peace Out,
Elder Dewey

P.S. I’m bummed that cucumber season is over.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Elder Dewey in Madrid...

Saludos desde España (Greetings from Spain)

A bit disappointed…. We are scheduled to fly back to Ekat Monday evening, so attending the Temple is out of the question…UGH!!! I guess there is always another time.

I will give you a brief summary of our trip so far – We left Kurgan around six in the morning on Friday and had a six-hour train ride from Kurgan to Ekat. Once we arrived in Ekat, we went to a huge amazing mall. It reminded me of being back in the states…it totally tricked me out. The mall had a Costco! I love Costco!! Haha. After the mall, we went back to the mission office and went out contacting in Ekat. We spent the night at the AP’s apartment. It was crowded, cold and difficult to sleep. We left for the airport around 10:00 am Saturday morning. Our taxi driver was driving so fast, but we made it to the airport in one piece. Our flight for Moscow left around 2:00 and was a 4 or 5 hour flight. Once we arrived in Moscow, we had a short layover. Our flight to Spain was another five or six hours. Need less to say, by the time we arrived to Spain I was feeling pretty sleep deprived and exhaustion was setting in! When we made it to the MTC in Madrid I immediately crashed and fell sleep for a short while.

Sunday was interesting…I felt like I was back living the MTC life…yikes!!! Haha! We had a regular MTC Sunday. It was fun listening to everything in Spanish. We had meetings with the President and then Sacrament. After the meetings, we walked around the Temple. It’s a beautiful Temple.

It’s now Monday morning and we have some meetings to attend and then we will have some free time to do a little site seeing, which I am looking forward to. Well, that is it so far…

I actually really miss Kurgan and wish I was back working. This visa renewal is disruptive to the work, but it has to be done.

I will be in Ekat for a few days; I believe I get back to Kurgan on Thursday. I will try to email from the mission office and hope to have the opportunity to email my pictures.

I love you all.
Elder Dewey

Monday, September 15, 2008

BURRRR...Bundle up I'm in for a ride - SPLISH SPLASH...We were taking a MUD bath...

Привет из России, (Greetings from Russia)

Burrrrror is it Burrrrrrrror Burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! Enough said. I know I have absolutely nothing to whine about yet. This is only September, the beginning of fall and my feet are already feeling like ice cubes from the cold… not a good sign. Haha. I best bundle up, I have a feeling I’m in for a ride…the rain, (which it has done all week) the mud, the cold, the wind, the snow, the little sunshine, the language (that makes you ever so humble), the transit…you get the picture. BUT I love it ALL…the GOOD, the BAD, and yes, even the UGLY (mud). The first few days here in Kurgan was tough, I was homesick for the people in Ufa. It only took me a couple of days to adjust and now I love it here! Its strange how quickly I grow attached to people no matter where I am serving. I am sure I will experience the same with every transfer. My comp, Elder D is the greatest and an extremely hard worker. I have learned a great deal from him already.

Great anticipation is setting in as I look forward to our visa renewal trip to Madrid Spain. I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend the Temple. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to this trip!! I know it is going to give me that most AMAZING feeling I miss from attending on a regular basis. I am most excited about the Temple than I am about the trip itself. I can’t wait. I’ve read the Pearl of Great Price in preparation. We will actually be gone longer than expected. I leave Kurgan on Friday for Yekaterinburg, and fly out Saturday afternoon for Madrid. I believe we will be in Madrid for two and half days and then back to Yekaterinburg to file our visa information.

The other day I was thinking about the struggles that some of the people here go through with their culture and traditions. I see fist hand their struggles and truly feel for them. It has given me a sense of great appreciation for the support system I grew up with. I was so lucky growing up with family and friends having the same beliefs. The other day I was reading in 2nd Nephi when Lehi blessed Lamen and Lemuels sons and daughters right before he was to pass away. He blessed them that they would not be cursed for the sins and traditions of their fathers. When I read this again, it gave me a sense of peace and hope for the people here in Russia. They are faced with many obstacles and temptations with the adversary preying on them everywhere they turn.

We are currently working with two very nice older ladies that are getting extremely close to baptism. They just need to commit to the changes that they need to make. I strongly believe they will overcome what they need to and be baptized very soon. We are also teaching two very nice girls that have family members that are already members of the church. They seem to be very busy with work which makes it difficult to schedule meetings with them. Their work schedule takes over their lives. It seems people here in Kurgan work around the clock. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I love the youth here in Kurgan they are a lot of fun. Saturday we rented a wooden like gym and played a bunch of fun games with the youth and their friends. We played a game that was kind of like volleyball but played with a soccer ball…yeah…ouch! Then we played a game that was like playing soccer, football, hockey, and madness. It was crazy! I honestly thought someone was going to get hurt. However, everything turned out fine. It was a ton of FUN!

HILARIOUS MOMENT…So we were riding along in one of our more popular forms of transportation, which would be the ever-so-over-crowded marshrutka (a van with seats…cramming in as many people as possible). Elder D and I were on our way to the church building for district meeting. I was sitting trying hard not to fall asleep and keep my head from bopping around… and Elder D was standing having to stoop down because he was too tall. All of a sudden, a huge splash of water mixed with mud came SPLASHING in through the windows and hit everyone!!! Everyone in the marshruka started yelling and getting mad at the driver. Elder D and I looked at each other and all we could do was totally CRACK UP!!! Pretty soon, everyone else in the marshruka started to laugh. See... what a bit of sense of humor will get ya…a marshruka full of laughing Russians…nothing better than that I tell ya!! So what…if we had to wear a little mud all over us to our District meeting…it was well worth it… being able to get a marshruka full laughing Russians!!! It was HILARIOUS!!! I have to tell you the transit here in Kurgan is like riding the Indiana Jones ride at Disney Land, but every day…It’s crazy! So much FUN!!!
Well, that’s if for now. We hope to get in a lot of hard work before I have to leave for Spain. I will let you know how it went in my next email. I’m not exactly sure when or what day that will be. I sure love everyone and hope you all are doing well.

I can’t believe BJ will be home in three months. It seems like he just left!! I will be able to talk to him when I call home for Christmas…that’s cool!! Did you send him some of the ties, I hope.

Love you all…be Good!!
Elder Dewey

Peace Out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A great week in Krugan...A Trip to Madrid Spain coming up...Great Investigators...

Hello Family and Friends,

This past week was AMAZING! Here is a quick run down-

After we finished our emails to our families last Monday we walked across the street to the missions most famous tie store (according to all the Elders) called Oscars. Two very nice ladies that worked there fed us some tasty apple cake. They are way cool!! Elder D and I bought matching ties to wear to our zone conference on Wednesday (yes, we are a couple of dorks…haha).
Tuesday, we left for Zone Conference in Tyumen, which was a four hour bus ride from Krugan.
Wednesday, we had a great, uplifting, and very spiritual Zone Conference. President Allen stressed to us the importance of seeking out and finding potential priesthood holders. The church is in need of good strong priesthood holders that can stabilize the wards and branches here in Russia, and be able to carry out priesthood duties and responsibilities. Russian men are a little more difficult and more resistant to accepting the gospel, and therefore, there are more women members.
I had a great interview with President Allen. He is such a great mission president. He put my mind at rest on few things I seemed to be struggling with and he helped me feel more at ease. Later that night, on the bus ride home, Elder D and I talked at great length about ways we could help our current investigators in becoming great priesthood holders. We felt excited about the ideas we came up with, and felt rejuvenated from Zone Conference. We were ready to finish up the great week we were having with a bang!
Another miracle happened Wednesday night when we returned home around 11:00. My companion went over to feel the pipes in the bathroom. He just sat there for a while and I asked him what he was doing,and then he gave me a hug – okay… if that wasn’t creepy. He said, “we finally have HOT WATER!" YES!!!!! ANOTHER small little miracle - actually, this was HUGE to us. No matter how icy cold showers are suppose to help wake you up and be refreshing, it’s definitely something I can live with out! When it is cold and rainy outside a cold shower is not something I look forward to. I know, I have nothing to complain about, at least, not until it hits -50 below.
Thursday, when we were planning, I had some ideas that I’ve been thinking over for a few days that I suggested. One idea was that we stop by or call our progressing investigators just to say hi, and check up on them everyday for the next week. We made some cookies for them and they love it! I felt like a sister missionary, but whatever, it seemed to work. They were happy to see us, and it opened them up a lot more, and created a better sense of friendship and trust, which these people need.
Friday and Saturday, we had some great meetings and a youth activity where we played some fun games.
Sunday, I bore my testimony in Sacrament Meeting. I talked about the Book of Mormon and was surprised how easily my Russian came to me. After the meeting, Ira, a very nice member said, “Your Russian was perfect, but you need to work on your accent just a little.…hahathat’s a given!!! So yeah, it felt great to hear that my Russian is coming along. I believe it helps that Elder D and I try and speak 100% Russian once we leave our apartment. Elder D is also great with including me in the lessons and letting me join in, instead of just taking over. I’m working on getting all the discussions down so I can teach them perfectly 100% in Russian...I just about have it.
It’s funny, because the people I’ve come to know here have given me nicknames. They call me teddy bear or fishy (I guess something to do with my eyes…what ever. You know me, I love it and I play along with it!!! The more the humor the better…bring it on!!! I know I need a haircut and the eye thing…well, that's in the genes, and not much I can do about that. Hahaha!
Today, I just received an AMAZING piece of information from the Mission Office. In ten days, I will be going to MADRID SPAIN to renew my visa!!! How cool is that!!! I will be gone for four days. AND…we will be able to go to the Temple. WOW! Honestly, my week has been pretty incredible!
The investigators we are currently teaching are the best! When we show up and look like a couple of real dorks for stopping by just to say hi, they are so happy to see us, and to see the look on their faces makes every bit of frustration I might be experiencing worth it. Teaching these great people and getting to know them and their culture has been nothing but amazing! They make us feel so welcomed and right at home. I love Krugon. Just little things are starting to add up to some pretty big miracles.
Oh, and Saturday night we met with some new investigators. We met these great people and we were straight up with them and introduced ourselves. It was kind of late so we didn’t’ have time to teach a lesson. They really liked us and invited us to have dinner with them. When I saw they were having raw fish - I said, no, no,no... we are not allowed to eat fish. I was getting a little nervous, they said, “but it’s fresh fish from the ocean. I wasn’t sure what to do, because I had only eaten raw fish once before and it made me gag. I thought to myself hmmm…how do I get out of this situation in a way I wont offend them. I decided I better get over it and just go with it and pretend to like it even if it was nasty tasting. I just didn’t want to start gagging and cause a scene. To my amazement, it was great, and it wasn't becasue I was extremely hungry. So yeah, I've acquired a new taste for raw fish. It was unbelievably tasty! We even had raw fish on the side with some bread. After dinner, they wanted to make sure we made it home safe, so they rode the bus home with us and walked us to our apartment. These people are the nicest and most sincere people.
Well, that’s it for this week. Thank you all for your emails and support it means a lot to me. Keep living right …life is better that way.

Until next week,
Elder Dewey
P.S. I will email pictures next week.

Peace out.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Siberian Zone Conference 9-3-2008

Elder Dewey and his new Siberian Zone. Chad arrived in Kurgan just a few days prior to this picture being taken . He is stylin one of his new Russian ties.
I sure hope he is gearing up for the cold weather, which should be fast approaching...YIKES!!! From what he mentioned last week, he still needed to purchase his winter coat that he was instructed to only get once he arrived to Russia. Apparently, winter clothing made in Russia is made well enough to keep someone nice and toasty in -50 below weather...Let's hope so!! :)
Instead of spending time searching for cool Russian Ties this next p-day, I hope he begins his search for a big furry coat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Now in Kurgan

Hello Everyone,

Unfortunately, I am in a Internet cafe that is not well equipped so I am having difficulty in getting all my emails out. This email will have to be short, but hopefully next week we can find a different email site we can use.

Well, my trip from Ufa to Ekat to Kurgan was fun, but extremely long and tiring. When I finally arrived to Kurgan, I was confused out of my mind. It is a very small city with many private garden style homes like you would see in fantasy movies. I guess you could compare them to something like you would see in the movie “Lord of the Rings”. The houses are attached to the sides of hills. It’s way cool.

My first day, we met with some members and one of our investigators. The lesson went well. After our lesson, we had English Club where we played some really fun games.

Friday, we planned a branch party for the youth or diskoteka, which is a dance. The planning went well, or so I thought. The diskoteka was planned for Saturday, the next day. I have to admit, it was the strangest, weirdest church event I have ever been to. It’s difficult to explain, you kind had to be there. It was fun, but just so weird. We played a bunch of games and then the missionaries went in another room while the people danced. Not many people showed up, but hey, we tried really hard.

Sunday, was good. We have a small branch and the people are really nice. The church is really growing here in Kurgan. We have a ton of investigators, and four with baptismal dates, which is awesome. It will be great to be a part of the growth here and see the Gospel making a difference. I am so excited to see the blessings those investigators will receive once they are baptized.

We live in a semi newish apartment. However, I am back at having no hot water and have no idea when it will it will be back on. We have been told, if we are lucky, maybe the end of SeptemberUGH!!! Just shoot me!!!

The funny highlight for this week, was while searching for some guys garden home in the middle of nowhere, (hiking for about ten miles)we happened to run into a scary looking dog with dreadlocks!! It was so amazingly nasty!!

Okay..that’s it for this week. Sorry, hopefully next week will be a better week and I will have something more interesting to report.

Love ya all,
Elder Dewey