Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Goodbye Surgut...back to Kurgan...

Hello Everyone,

I will have to make this quick, because I just arrived at the Mission Office in Yekaterinburg and will need to leave soon for Kurgan. It was a twenty-four hour train ride from Surgut, so I am feeling like a straight bum.

If you recall, in my last weeks email, I mentioned that my new companion will be Elder Otis, however, he along with others or stuck in Sweden. There are a few problems with renewing visas. The visa issues seem to be a real problem for the church, hopefully things will be straightened out. One nice thing comes out of it, is that the missionaries are able to get in a lot of sessions at the Temple, which is awesome.

I will be going back to Kurgan with Elder Mizin from Saint Petersburg! And guess what… he doesn’t speak any English… how amazing is that! I am so excited, its going to be awesome! I will be able to speak my favorite language 24/7. I am excited to learn all I can from him while we are companions.

Here is a quick run down of last week…it was a great and productive week;

Monday, we did our usual…emailed, groceries and then went sight seeing for a while to Old Surgut, which was a bunch of old buildings.

Tuesday, we went contacting and then on to English Club., which went really great. We had a discussion on American and Russian Holidays. I felt that they really enjoyed it. It was funny, because Dima said that we should bring textbooks to help teach them. I laughed, and then further explained that it was against the law, and even if we could, I probably wouldn’t do a very good job. Then after English Dima wanted to stay and talk about the Gospel. I really wanted to spend some good quality time with him that evening, but Elder S and I had a lesson with Angelina right after English. We didn’t want that to discourage him so we spent about fifteen minutes with him and answered some of his questions. I believe he has a lot of potential and I hope he will continue his interest and meet with the new Elders that will be transferring here to Surgut next week. Dima is a great person and would make a great member.

We had our lesson with Angelina, and it went amazing too! Holy cow…she had a question about how in the Bible it say’s "that Adam became as Us", she thought that this meant that there was more than one God. We explained to her the about the pre Earth life and how we all lived with God before and existed as spirits and that Jesus Christ was with God at that time before he came to Earth. This discussion ended up opening some huge windows for her! It was amazing.

Wednesday, we went contacting most of the day and then went to institute where Alonia taught a great lesson. Afterwards we told her that we were both leaving the coming Monday. She was really sad to see us go and took it pretty hard.

Thursday, was a crazy day! We had planning, cleaned the apartment, and then went out to an area forty-five minutes away to deliver some homemade brownies and have one lesson. Then we stopped by a members and they invited us in and said we set up a meeting with them at 7:30, and then we said, “no we don’t believe we did because we have a meeting at 8 and we cant meet then. Somehow, they got us to sit down and have a lesson. Need less to say, we were thirty minutes late for our next appointment. It all worked out, and both meetings turned out to be pretty dang GREAT! It was a busy, but a fantastic day!

Friday, we had mutual with the youth. We played some crazy animal noise game, ate watermelon, and took some great pictures.

Saturday, we finished cleaning the apartment, and had another amazing English Club. They brought a cake for us and we had a Tea Party! (yeah…I am now going to Tea Parties…haha) We took some great pictures! It was a ton of fun.

Sunday, at church was pretty sad, because members were saying their good-byes, they were emotional, and there were a lot of tears shed. I kind of felt as if I was at a funeral.

AND…Monday, the day we said our final good-bye as we climbed abroad the train. Alonia, Lucia, and another Alonia came to see us off. It was really hard. Alonia was really sad. I am really going to miss Surgut a lot!!! I hope I will have the opportunity to serve in Surgut again. I loved it! It was the strangest thing, because for some reason the Russian Language just all of sudden clicked when I arrived there. I hope the language will stick with me. So, it’s hard to leave another city. I HATE LEAVIG! Honestly, I get so attached to people that it makes it hard to say good-bye. I am so glad I am here in Russia because I have the most amazing opportunity to work with these great Russian people. I love them!

Well, I am off to kurgan in a few. I love you all!
Elder Dewey.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Lord and the Love for the people is all that is needed...

Hello Everyone,
Who knew you can do gymnastics with your tongue! As Alonia, a young member girl here in Surgut tries relentlessly to helps us conquer the Russian language, I can only imagine what is going through her mind as she watches us perform these humorous exercises with our tongues. I couldn’t help but feel so awkward and kept cracking up. She must think we are the goofiest Elders. The lesson was on improving our accents. She had us stick out our tongues as far as we could to see how far we could stretch them. It was the strangest thing. Then we curled our tongues in different ways. Alonia, said that I have no excuse for not having a great Russian accent because I have a real curly tongue…okay what ever you say…hahaha! I thought she was messin around with us, but apparently, I was mistaken… when she gave me a very serious look, letting me know… I best get with the program…haha.

Last Monday we went sight seeing. Later in the evening, we made brownies for some less actives. It snowed here and was so cold, but I love it. I love to walk around outside when it snows, it's sort of peaceful. I'm staying warm with my new Russian coat…YES…I finally bought one the other day.

English Club this week was surprisingly amazing. We had a new guy named Dima that came out who was very inquisitive about our church, and asked a lot of questions, which obviously led me to ask him that all important question…“Would you like to set up a date and time to meet with us to learn more?” AND…so there you have it…he said, “ sure!!!” He is an amazing guy and appears to be all of that of a” solid piece of Gold”…only time will tell. In class we discussed a love of mine…American Music, which for me… is always fun! It was a fun class for all who attended!

After English, we met with Angelina, a lady from our English Club. We showed the film of the restoration of the Gospel, I believe she really enjoyed it.

Wednesday we had institute and then met with some less actives.

Thursday we met with Sister Kiz who has a nine-year-old son. She is the nicest and coolest lady. We taught her a short lesson on hope. What surprised me about this meeting is that Sister Kiz taught me more about this subject than she learned from us. I left feeling more inspired and uplifted. She shared with us the reason why she is so active in the church. She said she stays solid and strong in the church because she wants the best for her family and the Church is centered and grounded around families. Sister Kiz went on to explain, the Gospel teaches great principles that strengthens the family unit and teaches that families are eternal. She said that the Gospel has given her and her family a better and happier life. When she was sharing her thoughts with us, I could feel the spirit so strong and felt the truthfulness of what she shared. It’s difficult at times to explain the feelings that occur when you feel the spirit that strong. The thought that I kept having was how true it is, that
through the gospel our families can have true and eternal happiness, even through the trials and worldly struggles that life brings our way. I truly admire Sister Kiz for her strength and courage.

Friday we had mutual, but disappointed that few youth attended. We made the best of it and played a few Russian card games with the few who were there.

Saturday, we had English Club again. A Russian lawyer attended and wanted to show pictures from England and explain each one, and took up most of all our time, so it didn’t turn out exactly as we had hoped…oh well. In the end, it all turned out okay... Later that evening we had another awesome meeting with Angelina. We taught her a lesson on Jesus Christ and the Atonement. It was an amazing lesson and she really opened up with us.

Sunday, the Branch President’s wife had a birthday party dinner after church, which made for a wonderful evening.

I will be here in Surgut until the 27th. I heard some of the missionaries are experiencing a few difficulties renewing their visas and are currently stuck in Sweden. There have been a few rumors going on, but I don’t want to dwell on it until we know for certain what the facts are. We all need to have faith that things will work out the way the Lord see fits, what ever happens.
Often times we don’t understand or know why things turn out the way they do, but we just need to continue in have faith and work hard.

We received transfers today, and I will stay in Kurgan and Elder Otis will be my new companion. I am anxious to get back to Kurgon because no one is there manning the fort. In fact, I was up most of the night worried that no one is there. I will travel back to Yekaterinburg (24-hour train ride from Surgut) on Monday to pick up Elder Otis and then head back to Kurgon and go straight to work.

I’m grateful and humbled with the experiences that I’ve had so far here in Russia. I know I will most likely never have this experience again, so I am trying to soak it all in. Time is going fast, and I wish it would slow down, because there is so much I want to accomplish! I love serving the Lord and pray that I will be blessed with the abilities to continue to serve these wonderful Russian people. I love them and their culture. It’s interesting to me when I hear negative comments about the people, because if you truly try to understand where they have come from and what most of them have had to go through and the little they have, you cannot help but feel compassion and love for them.

Well, I better get going. I love you all. Keep the Russian people in your prayers.

Elder Dewey

Monday, October 13, 2008

The land of OZ...

Приветствие от Surgutters ... холодным местом в мире,
(Greetings from SURGUTTERS… the COLDEST place in the WORLD,)

Wow! What a couple of weeks! It has been a whirlwind I tell ya! I feel like I am literally living in the land of OZ…traveling by BUS, PLANE and TRAIN to parts of the world I never dreamt of EVER going! I have learned how to sleep sitting, standing, and in crowded, noisy, ghetto, and stinky places! Haha! I have learned how to deal with crazy drunk old men and screaming old women! In just the past few weeks, I traveled to Yekaterinburg, Spain, then back to Kurgan. I had only been back in Kurgan a few days, when I then had to hop a bus to Tyumen (5-6 hour bus ride from Kurgan) to work with the ZL’s, Elder R and Elder B for a few days, then hopped a train to Surgut ( 16 hour ride) to be companions with Elder S while both of our companions, Elder R and Elder D are in Sweden for their visa trip.
We had Zone Conference here in Kurgan before I left for Tyumen. We met in our new Church building. It was great! The members are so excited to have a meeting place of their own. (Notice how small the meeting room is.) Elder R and I picked up President and Sister Allen from the hotel. When we arrived to the hotel, they told us that they didn’t have hot water. A few minutes later the woman from the hotel informed me the hot water would be back on in thirty minutes (a little too late!) and I said, “Okay thanks, that’s good”. I let President know what was said and he started giving me a hard time for THANKING the hotel woman. I think he was joking…( he kind of has that sense of humor…not always sure if he is joking or being serious...I'm hoping for joking:))
I was in Tyumen Sunday and Monday. Tyumen is a nice city compared to Kurgan. The buildings seem to be newer and streets cleaner. Apparently, it has many oil companies. Sunday was great. We had church, a few meetings and then we were fortunate enough to be able to watch General conference LIVE, 10:00 PM our time. I LOVED IT…LIKE NEVER BEFORE! I especially enjoyed President Monson’s talk about enjoying EVERY MOMENT. We went to the Palmer’s, (they are the senior couple serving in Tyumen.) I love them, they are the nicest couple. We stayed the night at the Palmer's that evening.
We spent Monday looking for an Internet cafe and finally had to give up because we were running out of time. We helped a guy move a piano down three flight s of stairs…It was soooo heavy, but glad we could help. After working up an appetite, we went and ate at Rustiks, which is the KFC of Russia but American style. We went back to the Palmer's for a while before I caught the train for SURGUTTERS, also known Surgut, which is the furthest north city in Russia from what I hear. The sixteen- hour train ride was fun. For safety purposes, missionaries are suppose to purchase a whole cabinet so not to have strangers sleeping in the same area. So, I was traveling alone and had four spaces under my name and some woman was trying so hard to convince me to sell the extra spaces to her. I told her "NO-CAN-DO" haha...I paid for all the spaces and I was not interested in selling them to her. She wasn’t too happy with me. I was so tired, so I locked my door and tried to sleep, but soon awakened by a LOUD BANG at my door! I got up, opened my door... only to find a CRAZY DRUNK MAN…dancing and singing! I ignored him, shut my door and tried to fall back to sleep. I loved the train ride and having some time to myself. I spent time thinking about life, and how great it is! The Russian countryside is beautiful this time of year. It's fun experiencing it by train.
When I finally arrived to SURGUTTERS, Elder S and Elder R were there to greet me. SURGUTTERS is amazing! It’s all forest with beautiful buildings and very clean streets. It really is a beautiful city. There is only one set of missionaries in the area. Once I arrived, we went straight to work. We had a few meetings and English club that evening. We met with a member girl who helped us with our Russian. It was so cool, she actually complemented me on my Russian…YEAH! It helped me so much! Honestly, this past week has been truly AMAZING...I have progressed so incredibly fast! It is all REALLY CLICKING! I know I have so much more to learn, but it's coming so much easier! I know the Lord is blessing me greatly with this new ability for the language! I’ll share with you the experience that suddenly HIT ME IN THE FACE! Elder S and I went out vlitzing, which is where Elder S plays his violin in the park and I Teach and Testify. We did this a few times before Elder R left for his visa trip. I was a little nervous to do this by myself, but was amazingly surprised when I found myself carrying on great long conversations ( speaking clearly and understanding others.) Since this experience in the park, my language is no longer a real barrier. I know all this is the Lord working miracles right before my eyes! I’m feeling His blessings working through me. What A GREAT EXPERIENCE!
On Friday, we had a fun activity with the youth. We played some card games and ate Watermelon. The Watermelon was so good… I picked it out. I didn’t know how to pick a good ripe one, but I got lucky because it was soooo good!
On Saturday, we had a meeting with some investigators and they fed us some real strange soup. They got mad at me because I wasn’t wearing a big coat or hat, but back to the soup... They fed us FISH SOUP, with...REAL FISH EYES in it…UGH…NASTY. I ate it anyway, because it is custom you eat everything on your plate.
Sunday, was a great day. We went to church and then had an amazing meeting with Aleiona, the member girl who helped us with our Russian... We talked about how the Gospel blesses our families. Although this topic was hard for Aleiona, it was such a powerful meeting the Spirit was so strong. I just bore an honest and sincere testimony and I feel that is what helped her the most.

Well, that’s it for now. Until next week...
I love you all…remember to ENJOY EVERY MOMENT!

Elder Dewey

Monday, October 6, 2008

October 2008 Siberia Zone Conference

Dear Families,We have just returned from the Zone Conference in Kurgan, Russia, where most of the zone was able to meet. Elder Reynolds and Elder Sorensen were unable to attend because of the long distance and visa trip schedules. We enjoyed trainings by the Zone Leaders, Assiatants, each set of missionaries, and President and Sister Allen. The Kurgan Branch President and a local member also attended. We also enjoyed a testimony meeting and a lunch of sandwiches. It was nice to see the new meeting place for the Kurgan Branch. We love and appreciate each missionary. We pray each day for them and their families. Thank you for the support that you give them. Our best,President and Sister Allen

The members in Kurgan now have a new church to meet in.


We received a few lines from Chad this evening letting us know that he is unable to email today because he is on his way to Surgut for ten days while his companion is on his visa trip. Surgut is the farthest north and coldest area in his mission. Surgut is a sixteen hour train ride from Tyumen where he is currently staying with the ZL's. All the excessive traveling for the past few weeks and being away from his own area and work has him feeling frustrated. He seemed a bit discouraged. (No one said it would be easy...grin and bear it.)

All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and … they shall learn in their own experience Who He is”