Dear Family and Friends, Well, I have decided I am going to start a new way of emailing home instead of my usual random rambling and babbling about things that aren’t really interesting and or important. I’ve decided that I am going to write my weekly letters home before I go to email so I can do some editing and revising before sending them off. So, today is my first real attempt and we will see how it goes. My First piece of business is an attempt to apologize for my lame phone call home on Christmas. I found myself somewhat frustrated with hearing that there is “Nothing new” going on in everyone’s life. I might take that answer as legit if I had just left home and only been gone a few weeks or even months, but I’ve been gone for nearly two years…and that is not the response I should’ve been hearing, especially when there are so many changes going on. I have been on my mission far too long to think that nothing at home has changed. How can nothing change in the past 21 months? It just blows my mind. I guess someone just put the pause button on Mesa. Ha-ha… just kidding, I understand life is just the same old thing for you, but next time for anyone who will read this just think of anything new to tell missionaries! Often times one might think that the things you might think are just boring and lame could be very exciting to your missionaries. Missionaries love to call home but hate hearing that nothing has changed!!!!!!
Also, all the many comments from people saying "Hey don’t get trunky!" Do absolutely no good to a missionary. I am sorry, but my opinion is that all those people who tell a missionary not to get trunky probably got trunky on their missions! I am not trunky in the least. I find myself working harder than ever just trying to do everything I know how to keep this area afloat. If anyone has any good advice for a missionary coming down on the home stretch I would love it, but "Don’t get trunky" Is the sorriest piece of advice I’ve gotten. So now you know why I may have sounded a bit down. It was still great talking to everyone after we got past the trunky comments! I wish I would have had more time. And… I want you to know that I forgive all of you for those unappealing comments. Some of you still need to polish up those social skills every now and again...(BJ and Britt) But Britt has an excuse she’s about 12 months pregnant haha! And…it was a little too early in the morning for her.
Now that I am done with my reprimanding I will tell you about my amazing Christmas experience here in Perm Russia… I really enjoyed it this year, so much more than last year, being stuck with four missionaries in Kurgon. It felt a lot more like Christmas. However, talking to my family was still the highlight of the day, despite the above comments! I love the heck out of each and everyone of them! I still miss you guys even though you all seem like some made up piece of information that someone put into my head. It seems like I’ve been gone forever and you are all just a distant memory. Anyway, let me continue on with my Christmas experience…in the morning we stopped by the Central Market where we and went to our favorite donut kiosk and ordered 4 kilograms of donuts, the lady was pretty surprised that we ordered so much, but I am sure when she realized we were Americans everything was clear. Then we went to the Nearhrings (can’t spell) and helped them set up for our missionary Christmas party. The party was really great. We had tacos and played games. After eating, we had a white elephant exchange. We all picked out gifts a few days before. For my gift, I bought a Max Lucado book titled "You are Special" in Russian… how cool is that!!!!! It’s a story with an awesome meaning. It’s about a town filled with small wooden people. These people go around and give out stickers either a gold star or a grey dot. The gold star means you’re pretty or talented and the grey dot means the opposite. There is a small wooden guy who doesn’t get any stars and a whole lot of grey dots. His life is pretty sad to be honest and then one day he meets a wooden girl who doesn’t have any stickers at all and she tells him all he has to do is go and see the master that made them. So one day he goes and talks to the master and the master tells him how special he is to him and how much he loves him and that no one else’s opinions matter but his. And he also tells him once he realizes his is the only opinion that matters then the stickers won’t stick. It’s a really good book! I love it. I was worried for a while about whose hands it would fall into, but then when it all came down to it, Sister Rodgers got the book and I was pretty happy, one day I think she will be able to understand how awesome it is and what a great find it is. The ironic thing is, I got her gift she picked out which was a song book of all the Russian folk songs which was pretty dang cool and a tube of bubbles.... pretty cool huh? She is pretty funny. We also played some mafia which was a lot of fun. I am terrible at being Mafia, but really good at being the detective and persuading people… ha-ha. It was pretty dang fun and reminded me a lot of home playing with the family.
After the party, we went with some of the missionaries and Katya to the main square where we took pictures of lights and the ice sculptures which was pretty cool. We also had a big snow fight and about froze our hands and feet off!!! We just jumped around in this big field of snow it was a blast and a great night to remember! Honestly, Christmas kind of made me take a step back and look at my mission as a whole and a real sense of peace set in and I realized how happy I am with it and all that has happened and the growth that I have experienced. Mostly, I am grateful for the people of Russia and all that I have learned from them and the way they have touched my heart. I have a great and deep love for them. I am just really happy with my whole experience as a missionary and have made it through with very few regrets. I really am doing well and just trying to make everything better one day at a time. I am sorry for sounding a bit down on the phone. I want you to all know my spirits are back up and at full speed so don’t worry about me! Take it easy!
This post is for Elder Ellsworth's mom. - Thank you for leaving such a kind comment in Elder Dewey's last post.
By the way, I have a few pictures of your son in some group photos that Chad has sent home. I would be glad to email them. Leave me your email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, I am kind of running short of time today so this email home will be brief. I did want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I will be calling home Thursday morning around 8: oo am and we are allotted around 30-40 minutes.
I am feeing oddly old these days. I am turning into an old man here on the mish. I’ll explain how one knows when the “old man” (missionary) syndrome starts to take place. One of the first signs is when you start talking and no one wants to listen however, you continue because you believe you have experience and possibly a bit of wisdom that some might benefit from if they would only listen, or perhaps you just like the sound of your own voice. Another sign is when Mr. Frost hits and you find yourself numb to the bitter cold. This week was sooooooooooooooo cold, let’s just say a big NEGATIVE 40!!! Yeah, we had a great time walking around with frost on our eyelashes. It was actually pretty painful to be honest. Then a lady started yelling at me because my cheeks were turning white and she said if I don’t rub them out fast I would get frost bite.
This past week was somewhat disappointing because our district is not going to exist come next transfer because an area is closing. It’s hard to see Elder Haderlie, Elder Cordan and Sister Mezinets leave. We are losing three awesome and extremely cool missionaries. I hope they will always remember our district meeting and my thoughts on inner peace and pacification.
I have been kind of sick this past week, but seem to be recovering. I feel as though I am just doing my usual rambling. None of this is probably making much sense infact, I doubt that anyone reads these emails by now besides my mom (bless her heart). I am a pretty lucky kid to have cool parents that love me enough to put up with me and these crappy emails. Anyway, I am gonna call this one quits for now. I wish you all a merry little Christmas. The Bob Dylan Christmas Album is now put to good use. He is making my Christmas a little more American, so it’s cool. Anyway take it easy. I love you.
Well, this week was a doozey to say the least. I won’t go into too much detail and bore you with my usual scheduled outline. This email home will be of some random thoughts I've had recently. Lately, I have been working on self perfection and I have come up with a few different theories on how it really works. My first theory is about perfection. It is impossible to become perfect during our time here on earth, no matter how hard we try. Sorry to disappoint those perfectionists out there - it’s just not possible. "The joy is the journey.” (popular EFY theme) If we were perfect there would not be a need for humility or the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Our job is to do everything possible to become perfect, and yet at the same time realizing that we will always come up short (in my case really short). We need to believe and have true faith that the Lord will fill in those many gaps of imperfection. Love is the key to everything worthwhile- The only way to get deeply involved and care about anything is to love whatever your doing or whoever you are around. I have noticed on my mission that the more I love the better my life becomes in every single aspect. When I love the people around me I am happier and work harder. I really have fallen in love with Russia. This place has something mysterious and magical about it and I know the secret, but that’s for me to know and for those lucky people who have the opportunity to serve here to find out! It’s too difficult to really explain my feelings about Russia. Russia is just something that you really have to experience for yourself to truly understand it.
Daily Meditation- Some like to be more spiritual and call it "pondering" it’s all the same though! I have been trying to meditate and refocus on what’s really important in life. I have felt more calm and relaxed when I meditate and I think that everyone should meditate. Everyone has there own way to meditate though, you just have to find your own and stick to it! Next Theory- Fear is the opposite of faith.I know many church leaders have said this before, but I will add my own opinion. I think that there is nothing at all we should fear. Fear has absolutely no positive outcome on anyone or anything. However, for some odd reason I’ve been experiencing more fear lately... What have I been afraid of?? The future!!!! I am coming to the last few months of my mission and see that my time here in Russia will be coming to a close. I’ve worried a lot about leaving Russia and leaving my friends. A very wise missionary gave me a talk to read about how fear and faith are opposite and cannot co-exist. I read the talk and figured out exactly what was up. I didn’t realize that all these friends I have made here in Russia will always be my friends in the “big picture” we will be together in the end and we will be able to spend more time together, if not in this life, I will see them again in the hereafter where our meaning of time will not exist. That talk helped a lot and allowed me to let go of some of this fear. I know I am not perfect and very far from it. I fear many other things and I am tackling them one by one. Honestly, I think I will leave a very big chunk of my heart here in Russia. So even if I don’t make it back there will always be a part of me here. (but I am determined to make it back.) I’ve learned a cool concept… when you give some of your heart away it seems to grow twice as big and then there is more for the giving. I hope whatever I’ve said wasn’t too cheesy or weird. Maybe it’s the freezing cold weather that has gotten to me,,,haha! Well, we are on our way to go bowling. Have a great week everyone, I love you all!
I will leave with you this statement from Bruce R. McConkie -
“There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely to be eligible for eternal life, there would be only one saved person in eternity. The prophet Joseph Smith taught that there are many things to be done, even beyond the grave, in working out our salvation. “And so what we do in this life is chart a course leading to eternal life. That course begins here and now and continues in the realms ahead. We must determine in our hearts and in our souls, with all the power and ability that we have, that from this time forward we will press on in righteousness: by so doing we can go where God and Christ are. If we make that firm determination, and are in the course of our duty when this life is over, we will continue in that course in eternity.”
I’m not sure where to begin… It’s been an amazing week full of many memorable experiences.. It’s been a week of Thanksgiving celebrations, unpredictable travel plans, meeting up with members from past areas, attending the Helsinki Temple, catching up with the Elders from my group, and a personal search for some inner peace (which seems to come in small moments.) I’ll start with pday which was our usual kind of boring pday. After internet we stopped in at the eye doctor for an eye exam and a pair of new glasses. I found a very cool pair of Ray Ban’s that look very similar to what President Spencer W. Kimball used to wear…classic!! During my eye exam I had the opportunity to chat with the eye doctor about the church, I guess he knew the missionaries from before. Later, we met up with the other missionaries at the church We had three meetings scheduled for Tuesday, however one bailed on us…it happens. We had to go back to the scary building, okay...call me a wimp, but I’m telling ya, it’s a building straight out of a horror movie! At least we were there during the day and not at night. We also had a pretty terrific English Club. We had a tight kid show up who is really into soccer, so we discussed words relating to sports to keep his interest. I love my English Class!!! After district/zone conference on Wednesday we celebrated Thanksgiving as a zone. We had a great feast!! Not to brag on myself, but I have to say that I made the best mashed potatoes that I have ever tasted!! No offense mom. I’ll let you in on my secret…RED PEPPER! Yep, it gives it a bit of a kick and turns ordinary, boring mashed potatoes into something spectacular!! It was a great time. I surprised myself by not stuffing myself or overeating. I guess it’s that inner peace I have been working on, I didn’t have to eat a lot to be happy and satisfied…I found me “chi”. Later, we had a meeting with our investigator which went really well, we just need her to want to act on her desires to make the necessary changes. We woke up about five Thursday morning to catch the train to Ekat for another visa trip, only to find out that our train wasn’t to leave until four that afternoon. The ZLS messed up a bit. Elder Smith and I really wanted to make it to Ekat so we booked it over to the bus station to see if we could buy bus tickets, however the bus had already left, so we were stuck in Perm waiting for the afternoon train after all. We left around 4 and arrived in Ekat around 10 that night. The train we rode on was pretty decent with seats that reminded me of airplane seating…not to bad We left Friday morning around four to catch the plane for St. Pete’s only to find out once again, that the plane wasn’t schedule to leave for a few hours later than what they told us,,, someone made a mistake, haha…no biggey…stuff happens. When we arrived to St. Pete's we sat around the airport for another few hours and flew on to Helsinki. When we arrived to Helsinki we headed straight for......PIZZA HUT! We all ordered the “all you can eat” lunch special, however we all let ourselves down because we ate very little. I think it’s because we are not used to eating as much as we used to and many of us have lost some extra baggage. Later, we went to the temple where we stayed at the guest house and hung out. We were able to attend two sessions on Saturday with members from our mission! It was pretty dang cool to see so many members from the Ekat mission at the temple, it made my day. I was also able to gather a lot of "chi" or “inner peace” while at the temple. The peace one feels at the Temple is a great thing, nothing quite like it!!! Later, we went to the store where we found some ben and jerry’s ice cream...this was a small highlight of our trip! We left for Ekat later that night. It was funny; on the flight back to St Pete's the flight attendant didn’t give me a card to fill out because she thought I was Russian. It must have been my angry face for having to sit next to an old smelly dude. When we finally arrived to Ekat early Sunday morning we were able to catch some shut eye for a couple of hours before attending church. I was able to attend the Botanica branch…my old stomping grounds! It was amazing to see all the members that I used to meet with! I love them. We finally arrived home to Perm around ten last night! Wahoo!! That pretty much sums up my week…an amazing week! So, I continue on with my journey to find inner peace and me “chi”! It’s pretty exciting. I have been a lot more relaxed. I have been trying to meditate, however I really don’t know how to relax and shut by brain off…it’s a work in progress. Maybe I need to take up yoga…picture that!! Haha!! Anyway, I love you all and hope you have a great week. I will send pictures home next week. Love,
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Men cross their legs in Russia...
Chad's MTC Mission Group
Dewey, Veirig, Smith, Bro. Lafferty, Stewart, Heath, Vernon
Another group shot
P-DAY AT THE MTC
Missionaries going to Russia
Elder Dewey and Sister Missionary
petting their invisible dog...
the short and the tall...
Me and Elder "Germany" I can't pronounce his real name. He is Way Cool!
Chad and Elder Germany doing the presidential handshake...
Who Are You Boy? (Poem to a Missionary from a Russian Convert)
Who are you boy? You journeyed to this land of ours. This land where I have endured my days And felt oppression kill my soul And forced me into some tight mold And teach me that I should not hope Unless I care to smell the smoke Of dreams that the Red Army tamed. Who are you boy? From this land of plenty. Teaching of God if there is any. You have all, we have none. Do you know what that feels like son? And yet, you ask me to believe In something that I cannot see, Some force you say will bring me joy. Do you know what that feels like boy? Where you are from, faith is free. But it has a price for me. When I have pain, I have my bottle. Hurt dies quick when you drown it in vodka. That's enough to warm my soul. I work, I sleep, the days go by - I am waiting for the day I die. You don't understand this place. You say believe, obey, have faith. Live life well, serve and give. Here in Russia we just live. Who are you boy? Why did you come To save a soul who once was numb? To teach a wretched, hateful man Who cursed your help, refused your hand. I thought that we were worlds apart. So how is it you knew my heart? A fraction my age, you calmed my rage. Mercy paid my generous wage. I should have been left behind It is hard to love my kind. Hope in your heart, power in your hands Why did you come to this distant land I know now, it was for me The Red Curtain fell, but I was not free Until a boy from nations away, Brought me my Lord. I bless the day He led me to weep at my Master's feet, The American boy I met on the street. New and naive, still in his teens With a message to bring the world to its knees. I thought that the truth would come from another - I did not know this boy was my brother.
The night Chad was set a-part as a Full-Time Missionary...