Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Meeting People

Hey, hey, hey, Everyone!

MOM! I'm so glad you got the package! I was really worries for a while there. I'm glad you liked the candy. That stuff's my favorite food in the world. And good work on the Carp fishing, Dad! haha. Eek! I'm so glad you got it!

Anywho, this week was all about meeting people. All sorts of people. 

First, there's Sergei. We knocked on his door in the middle of the day and he invited us right in. This has never happened to me on my mission before. Ever. We walked in and talked to him about the church, and he told us he was a Baptist pastor. He was an all around cool guy- he cracked a lot of jokes that he thought I didn't understand, but my Russian skills are deceiving :). We walked around his apartment and saw his collection of Bibles (he has 9! all different translations) and a million other books. When we asked him if we could read the Book of Mormon, he said he'd rather not, but we convinced him otherwise. After we read it, we could tell he was trying to look for evidence that it wasn't true, but he had nothing. Then he started bringing up verses about how no man could see God, blah blah blah. But thanks to A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, I was (sort of) able to combat them all, in my broken Russian. Thanks, LeGrand Richards! I owe you one!

Next was Andre. We were walking down the street and he flagged us down. He was handing out newspapers (drunk) and asked us to talk to him. When he found out we were American he got real excited. We told him we were missionaries and he started saying he was really glad he met us (which is pretty common from drunk people) and how he wanted to change his life. SO, we gave him a Book of Mormon after about 25 minutes of talking to him and told him to read it. We tried to walk away from him but he started following us. He finally left us alone after I told him we had an appointment, but now before he KISSED MY HAND. I felt so violated! haha. 
That night he called us and told us that he'd started the book of Mormon and wanted to meet the next day. I didn't belive him, to tell the truth, but I wasn't gonna pass up a meeting. We met him the next day and he started pointing out verses in Alma and 3rd Nephi! I couldn't believe it. We talked a lot about his desire to change his life. He's 42, he's been married twice, he has a daughter he never sees, he lives with his mother, he drinks and smokes all the time, it's a mess. We told him he could change but he didn't believe us. I don't know what will happen with him in the next few days, but I think he's got potential. It all starts with the desire to change, right?

ALSO, during our meeting with Andre, he kept on inviting his drunk friends over and introducing them to his "new American friends." One of them bear hugged me from the side and KISSED me on my cheek/nose. My face smelled like vodka for the rest of the day. It was the worst. 

And now, Dima! We were a little worried about him last week since he didn't answer our calls about coming to the baptism. We waited a few days to start calling him again, just to give him a break. When we finally called him again I was so nervous! I really didn't want to lose Dima-he's so ready for the gospel! When we called, he picked up and we started talking like usual, then he asked when we could meet again. Sister Moffatt and I were jumping up and down the entire call. Haha. We planned to meet at the branch building, but we ended up going for a walk in the forest instead while his wife went running with their running club. (Running club in the forest at night-I love Russia). We walked and talked for a while until Anna, another member from the club, caught up to us and asked to walk with us since she was afraid of the forest at night. So, Sister Moffatt taught Dima while I walked with Anna. Dima told Sister Moffatt that he believes the Book of Mormon is true and that he doesn't see why the church wouldn't be true. BUT he's still hung up on reincarnation. We'll explain that one later.

During our meeting with him, we also talked about missionary life. We told him about knocking on peoples' doors and he was shocked. He couldn't believe it. haha. We told him to come with us one time and he told us he'd be our bodyguard. He's the best. We're also going to have a yoga lesson with his wife next week. It's gonna be saweeet.

In other news, transfers are this week, but I'm about 18733% sure I'm staying here. I've found a bootleg movie store with Stardust, Inception, and Taken. I'm be making a stop there before I come home (awink!), Elder Holland gave a talk at the MTC about missionary work a week or two ago, saying that this is the height of missionary work in the history of the world. He said that all we were extremely blessed to be serving right now. Pretty cool stuff. I was told 3 times this week that I look like a Russian! Score! Also, we met a man named Zorro that works at a food stand this past week. ZORRO! He lives!

I think that's about all I got this week. It's been a great week for missionary work. I LOVE RUSSIA. I love this place with all of my heart. I can't wait to come home and see everyone, but I dread leaving. Please keep praying for missionaries. Everyne in Saratov says that this is the most potential they've seen here in a long time, and we're trying to keep that up :)

I love you all! Thanks for everything you do!

-Sister Sine

Another Dima

Hey, hey, hey, everyone!

GUESS WHAT?! 6 MONTHS! I've been on a mission for 6 months! Crazy!

It's been a long, long, long week. I'm exhausted. Last night, I just crashed. I was whipped. I had nothing left to give. So, we took a night and recouped, talked about the MTC a little bit, cracked some jokes, watched Legacy. It helped a lot, actually.

It all started last Monday. We met with Dima again; it went really well. We had a mini testimony meeting, talked about families, told him to read the Book of Mormon. He asked when we could meet again, we invited him to a baptism on Saturday, he said he'd go. It was all peachey! He even gave a Book of Mormon to his other friend, also named Dima. haha. A couple days later we invited him to our culture night and he agreed to go to that too. Needless to say, we were pretty excited.

The next few days were spent dropping by less actives, including a family in our branch called the Aydarovs. They've been members for years and years, but they've got a bit of a problem with alcohol. We dropped by and had a pretty good meeting with them. Every time we visit, they promise to quite drinking, they promise to come to church, they promise they know it's all true. It's exhausting, actually. haha. Lots of crying, lots of interrupting. We ended up stopping by the next day to see how they were doing and they were completely sober. It was great! Both the wife and husband were up and about, cracking jokes, laughing, reading the Book of Mormon. I thought it would be a good idea to invite them to the same baptism we invited Dima to. They jumped at the opportunity and promised that they wouldn't drink. When we left, I actually thought it might happen.

The next day was district meeting/sisters interviews/CULTURE NIGHT! We spent the whole day in Central Saratov with the zone leaders and the rest of our district. A few hours before the show we got a call from Dima asking if his friend (Dima) could go instead of him. Apparently he really wanted to meet with the missionaries. So, we agreed. We headed over to the theater to see MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING! My favorite play in the whole entire world! Dima got there a bit late, but it all worked out. The play was interesting...I think they tried to be a little too edgy. Also, it was in Russian. Shakespeare...in Russian. I was exhausted. We rode the bus home with Dima and invited HIM to the baptism too. He said he'd try to come, but he couldn't promise anything.

The next day we were out contacting and got a call from a man named Viktor, asking if we could meet him. When I asked when, thinking it would be in 2 or 3 days, he said, "Well, now?" We met with him at a cafe by our house and he proceeded to tell us that he met with missionaries starting at age 16 at his father's request. Since then, he's always been interested. He said he had no interest in becoming a member of the church, but he wanted to understand our doctrine more. He's a doctor with a wife and baby boy; he really wants to move to Canada since doctors aren't paid very well here. He asked to meet with us once a week-we agreed. We asked him to read the Book of Mormon-he agreed. We asked him if he'd be baptized if he found out if was true-he said anything was possible!

After that we headed over to the Aydarovs to pick them up for the baptism. When we got there I couldn't tell if they were drunk or not, but the insisted on going to the baptism. While we were walking outside, I asked Sasha, the husband, if they'd been drinking and he said they had. SO, I conviced the wife to come back inside after she started throwing a fit in the middle of the sidewalk, and met with them back at their apartment. Sister Moffatt and I were both pretty disappointed. We both love this family a lot, but they just keep messing up. In the middle of our lesson with them, Dima #2 called and asked where we were. He told us he was at the church already, waiting for the baptism! We jumped on a bus and got there as fast as we could, but when we got there, he was gone. At that point, I just didn't have the energy to deal with him, so I told him we'd deal with him later (in nicer language than that). After the call, I went to the bathroom to breathe for a minute, and Natasha, the girl who had just been baptized, came out and asked me to brush her freshly baptized hair. Honestly, it was just what I needed. She was so clean and innocent. You could just FEEL how pure she was. I almost cried. Haha. I hope she remembers that moment.

So, while the Dima we wanted at the baptism wasn't there, and the other Dima bailed as well, and the Aydarovs were drunk, we still got to be a part of it. :)

After the baptism, Elder Long hit me in the face with a snowball. That has nothing to do with the story. I just had to throw it in there.

The next day was church as usual. I made a fool of myself when the sunday school teacher asked me what happened to Lucifer after the council in heaven and I couldn't explain what I was trying to say. In English OR in Russian. Whatever. Haha.

Anywho, it's just been a long, long week. I just feel like things were pulling at us from every direction-investigatos, members, less actives, people on the street. All I wanted to do last night was curl up in bed and watch a movie. BUT, the night is always darkest before the dawn. I can only expect that we're about to see something cool. We just have to hold out a little longer.

I feel like I just rambled this whole letter. I'm sorry! It's been a scattered week, but we're better today. This week should be an interesting one. People are popping up all over the place, we're having cool meetings every day, we're talking to crazy people on the street. I love it all. I really do love this place. I feel like I was born here, left for a few years, and now I'm back again.


Hey, hey, hey, Everyone!

This week has been the best. I love Dachney so much. I never want to leave this place. I thought I'd never love anywhere as much as I loved Dachney, but it just goes to show you, there are always other (better) fish in the sea. Starting over is always rough, but it's always, always worth it. If I get transferred from this place, so help me, I'll do something mildly disobedient!

I'm just kidding.

The week started with a phone call to a man named Dima. I didn't expect anything to happen. I was just doing calls from a potentials sheet (people who have met with the missionaries only once or just on the street) and he answered. He started talking in English and said he wanted to meet. I thought he was only interested in English, but I figured we'd give it a shot. We set up the meeting for Friday (another bad sign, Russians NEVER plan that far in advance. It's rare for a Russian to plan for anything more than 24 hours ahead. It's a missionary's nightmare, by the way). We hung up, and I figured that was that. 

The next 2 days were filled with lots and lots of walking. We spent about 6 hours on the streets total each day, jsut contacting up and down the main road in Dachney. We talked with lots of people, with very little success. We knocked on doors on top of that, also with very little success. There were some pretty funny experiences, though. One man bowed to us when he opened the door like we were holy men then explained that he wasn't interested and that he was drunk. Haha. Another woman answered her door, said she didn't want anything, then closed the door. Sister Moffatt and I said a prayer before we knocked her neighbors door, only to realize that the same woman was waiting on the other side of the apartment door, just waiting for us to knock. I saw her through the keyhole and silently told Sister Moffatt that we should leave. She opened the door with her neighbor in toe and started yelling at us. Haha. Sometimes I'm so glad I don't understand what they're saying.

We also had a lesson with a less active with the help of our district RS president names Sister Lyoobov ("Love" in Russian). After the lesson we talked about how we both loved movies, and she told me that she'd just seen Pan's Labyrinth a few days ago. I was so happy! We talked about it for a good ten minutes. Then she mentioned that she'd seen Melancholia and we went on for another ten minutes. I was so happy to talk about movies with someone. I was a little surprised that she'd seen them-they're pretty 'out there' movies. I also saw a poster for Django Unchained! I almost died! I was SO EXCITED! You can ask Sister Moffatt, I was going nuts. It was all in cyrillic and everything. It looks so good! Only one more year! haha.

Which leads us to Friday, the day we're supposed to meet with Dima. The day before we found his teaching record in the area book and found out that his first contact with missionaries was in 2006, and he's met with a few pairs since then. That made me a bit more nervous. Every note on the record said that he sincerely wanted to follow Christ, that he was very spiritual, a very caring person, open to new information, etc. We met him on the street and headed to our senior couple's house. I was completely taken aback by him. He's the coolest person in all of Russia. I have no idea why he lets us tag along with him. Haha. We talked about why in the world young people would leave America to go to Russia; he said he believed that it was no small thing, that "it has to be faith." During the lesson, we talked about our pre-Earth life, Heavenly Father's plan for us, life after this life, etc. At the end of the lesson, he said that he felt different after talking with us, that we had a light around us. (This was the first time I'd ever heard a person say this to my face). He then asked if he could meet with us again on Tuesday. Woohoo!

Then, yesterday, at church, I officially fell in love with Dachney. Since we got here, I've felt a little bit like our branch president didn't like us very much. His name is President Shakirov. He's maybe 32-33 years old, and he's a BOSS. I don't know how he does it. He's just very serious and has a lot on his shoulders. I don't think he was too excited about two 3-monthers taking over the area. But yesterday our relationship seemed totally different.We're best friends now! I think it had something to do with the cookies we gave him last week. But it was more than that, he was telling us about his life, he told us what we could do to help the branch, he asked us our opinion on things, it was awesome. He's the best. 
After our lesson, I just kept asking myself, "Why me?"
I have no idea why Heavenly Father has trusted this area (and this people) to Sister Moffatt and I. I feel like it would be better off in some other missionary's hands. It just goes to show that Heavenly Father has a plan for everything. He knows the beginning from the end, and it will all go according to His plan is we remain worthy of that plan.

Well, that's all I got for this week. I love you all so much. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE PACKAGE, CHANTILLY WARD! I just got it last week. I felt so very loved. I loved all the letters! You're all awesome! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love you all!

Also, Mom, did you get your b-day package yet?


-Sister Sine

First Letter of 2013

Hey, hey, hey family!

HAPPY 2013! I know that's old news by now, but new years is still alive and kicking here. Russians love their January 1st. Today is actually Russian Orthodox Christmas. No one really cares about it, though, which is kind of sad. 

Last week was an interesting one. We were locked down on Monday and Tuesday because of New Years. I thought it would be fun to be locked in an relax for a day or two, but I was going stir-crazy. Our dvd player broke the DAY BEFORE lockdown, so we were stuck doing other stuff all day. I say that like it was torture; it really wasn't. I just read, studied Russian, wrote letters, cleaned, listend to music, ran on the stairs, cooked, lots of stuff. It was kind of fun, kind of maddening. I missed contacting, actually.

The next day we had something kind of cool happen while out contacting. Sister Moffatt and I decided to do "crazy-person" contacting where, well, we act like crazy people. We don't let ANYONE get past us without talking to us. We walked down the main street in Dachney, which has a long walkiong park going down the right side, perfect for contacting. We talked to EVERYONE. Well, every woman. We wished them a happy new year, talked about their families, blah, blah, blah. Some women loved it. Some women didn't like it at all. WELL, we were walking up behing an older woman, but I didn't know if we'd talked to her already. All the older women dress really similarly here, and I didn't want to bother someone who'd already told us to get lost. So, we passed her. Not two seconds after we passed, I heard her yell, "Girls! Girls! Help me, help me please!"

Thanks, Heavenly Father. I get it.

So we turned around and helped her over some patches of ice. Afterwards, when any other woman would've just said, "thank you, girls" and walked away, she just stood there, waiting for us to talk to her. Haha. So we did just that. We explained who we were, what we were doing Russia, etc. She looked at our Book of Mormon and said, "What's that?! I love to read?"

Seriously, I get it, Heavenly Father. 

So we gave her a Book of Mormon, which she loved. Then she asked us if we could meet her again and talk with her more about it and asked to exchange phone numbers.

Show off...

Needless to say, I learned my lesson. I will never think that I know better than Heavenly Father ever again. Never pass up an opportunity to talk to people, people. There are people EVERYWHERE who are ready for the gospel. And they deserve to hear about it.

That night we hopped on another overnight train to Samara for SISTERS CONFERENCE! WOOHOOOO! We got there around 3 am and I spent the rest of the night on a foam pad with a roll of blankets for a pillow and my big coat as a blanket. The next day we headed to the mission home and spent the rest of the day girl-talking :). Just kidding. WE talked about concerns that are unique to the sisters, among other things. That night we went out with the Avrora sisters and contacted/tracted our little hearts out. We received 5 numbers in 2 1/2 hours. Boom shaka-laka. The next day we spent more time at the sisters' conference, which included dinner with Sister Sartori. Afterwards, we made thank you cards for the zone leaders who conducted training and talked about how to look like a sister. haha. That was pretty interesting. The girls here aren't incredible girly, so we pretty much just laughed at all the church websites fashion suggestions that are very clearly directed at girls serving in places other than 500 miles south of Siberia.

After conference, I slept on my foam pad, had some CRAZY dreams, then headed back to Saratov. Two hours after we got back, we had a church activity with the entire Saratov district, which was great. They rest of the weeked was pretty norm. Sister Moffatt received yet another sweater and a pair of shoes yesterday. Women are constantly giving her clothes since she doesn't dress warm enough. It's hilarious. Then, last night we had a lesson with a member and sang Elvis Presley for a good chunk of it. It was probably a little against the rules, but it was fun. And she said it was just what she needed. I miss me some Elvis. And other music. Oh, my goodness. I heard Beatles and Weezer today and I just about died of excitement. Haha.

That's all I got this week, folks. I love this work a whole lot. I feel like I'm growing and learning and letting people down and helping all at the same time. It's an exhausting process, but I'm really grateful that Heavenly Father thinks I'm important enough to force lessons on me instead of let me coast. That sound really Molly-Mormon, but it's how I feel. Haha. I have no idea what I can do for these people, but that's not the point. He's got a plan for this place. I just need to stay worthy/faithful enough to carry it out. President Sartori said he prayed over and over about our transfer to make sure he wasn't doing something crazy, and this is where we were meant to be!


Also, I found out that Tanya, my old investigator in Tolyatti went to church without her mother for the first time last week. A Christmas miracle! And turns out Marina had been feeding us black tea the entire time we were teaching her. Haha. Oops...

Happy New Year


2012 is done in less than 12 hours! I can't believe it. Last New Years Eve feels like it was last week-Caitie and I were just running around DC, dancing in some weird club downtown. This year I'll be holed up in our little Dachney apartment, reading Jesus the Christ underneath my giant Orthodox, carpet icon. Life, man.

Anywho, this past week was X-cellent. I loved getting to talk to you guys. Sorry it was at 1 am. Haha. I wish I could've gotten to see Isaac and Caitie and James. Oh, well. There's always Mothers Day, right? I'm glad everything's going well in Virginia. You all look happy and healthy :)

All the Christmas activities kind of threw off missionary work for a bit. We didn't have as many lessons as I would've like, but we had some interesting experiences. We dropped by a less active family last week, which turned out to be a trip. We knocked on their door and this man that I looked like he should've been carving wooden puppets opened the door and invited us in. We asked if his wife was there (since we're not allowed to meet with men by themselves) and he pointed to the bed where she was sleeping. We started whispering so as not to wake her up, but it was too late. She woke up, came over to us and just burried her face in my jacket and started crying. She kept saying, "You came to me! You came to me!" We calmed her down and brought her into the other room, which was filled with cats and clothes and littler boxes. We started talking and trying to figure out what was making her so hysterical, but she kept interrupting us with giant fits of crying. At a couple points she came up to Sister Moffatt and I, grabbed out hands and just stared us down. It was pretty strange. As she talked, her husband would pop in with tiny blurbs like "I used to be active!" "I love talking to missionaries! "Is Elder so-and-so still there?" "When is family home evening?!" Whenever he did, his wife would turn to threaten him then turn back to us. I ended up saying, "Tee-huh!" (silence!) to quiet them down. Sister Moffatt and I felt like the grown ups in the room. She bounced back and forth between saying she'd come back to church and saying that she "just couldn't" and crying. When we walked out of their building I just stopped and stood there in the snow wondering what the heck just happened. Haha.

THEN there's Vladimir. We stopped by his house a couple nights ago. He invited us right in, so we went inside. He showed us to his living room, which was lit by a lamp that switched back and forth between red and blue lights. I felt like I was in a 60s movie the entire time. Then he proceeded to turn on the TV. OH EM GEE, FAMILY. I saw TV for the first time in 5 months! Granted, the entire time we were trying to tell him it was forbidden and to turn it off. He just kept saying, "Hold on, we'll see, we'll see." I ended up seeing So You Think You Can Dance, Sarah Chalke's (from Scrubs) new show, Discovery channel, and 10 seconds of Lord of Dogtown! Anywho, after all that we talked about the Book of Mormon and church. He's a smart cookie, but not all the way there sometimes, like and absent-minded professor. We invited him to church and told him to read the intro to the Book of Mormon; he said he would. Then he gave us his nephew's number and told us to call him, which we were not opposed to. Then, on our way out he stopped his neighbors and told them, "I've got Mormons here if you want to talk to them!" They pretty much slammed the door in his face, but it was a nice effort. We'll see how the next meeting goes...

We also had zone conference this week, which meant I got to see all my favorite people in the world (minus you guys). Sister Moffatt, Elder McClure, Elder Astle, and I all got together and caught up on our missions, then I spent a good 10 minutes doing my old impressions of the MTC district, then Elder Astle tried to poke my sides and I started wigging out just like old times. haha. I was doing SO GOOD for 3 months! Now I'm paranoid all over again. That's all beside the point, though. Zone conference was pretty great this time around. President Sartori gave us a letter to read called "Covenanting with the Lord," which outlines how to 'harvest' with the Lord and how to include him in the missionary work process. Essentially you make a deal with God at the beginning of every month and tell him what you're willing to do to make that deal go through, then you work your tail off until it happens. It's exhausting, but it's awesome. I think it'll be a big game changer. President Sartori wants our area to become a stake by this June, so a game changer is pretty necessary at this point...

Well, family. I think that's all I got for this week. It's time to go lock ourselves down until 2013. I love you all! I hope you've all made your New Year's resolutions (GOOD ones)! Remember to include Heavenly Father in them. He knows what you need better than anyone else, and he'll put everything you need in your path if you let Him.


-Sister Sine

Christmas in Saratov

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE! Holy jeez, I can NOT believe it's Christmas Eve. This year's gone by so fast. 

 This is the best week in the history of weeks. This past Saturday we had our first lesson with an investigator here in Dachney. Her name is Nadia. She's a character. She told us to meet her at her store a couple blocks away. We walked over and asked for her then waited for a bit...then waited some more...then she walks up behind us wearing a white fur coat and a bright white shopka (hat) with sunglasses and gives us both a big hug and calls us  "her girls." Then we went into her office and she started ordering her employees around to bring us cookies and candy. I felt kinda bead, but not really, since those same employees had been yelling at us not 20 minutes before that. Haha. She talked a LOT, and I don't know how interested she is, but I asked her to read the introduction and the testimonies in the beginning of the Book of Mormon for next time, so we'll see what happens!

Then there's church. THE DACHNEY BRANCH IS THE BEST BRANCH IN RUSSIA! It was amazing. Everyone was so nice! They walked up to us, introduced themselves, told us to dress warmer, asked where we were from, told us to come by and visit. It was great! We also got to meet with Pres. Shakirov, the branch president. He's a boss. I was kind of intimidated, actually. Haha. But this branch has so much going for it. They have four full time missionaries serving from their branch alone. That's UNHEARD OF in Russia. And they're practically self-sustaining. Usually missionaries have a lot of responsibilities in the branches here, but they're running like a well-oiled machine here. It's so cool to see. And they're SO CLOSE to a stake! President Sartori wants a stake here by June of next year. They only need a few more priesthood holders, plus a few other particulars. BUT, Satan's got it in for Saratov. They work's been really slow here lately. BUT, there are a lot of miracles bout to happen up in hurr.

And then there's CHRISTMAS! Christmas on the mission is the best. Actually, I've barely thought about Christmas this month. Haha. But tomorrow we have a lunch for all the missionaries in Saratov, which means I get to see E. Astle for the first time in 3 months! I've been jumping up and down all weekend. Haha. I can't wait! It's been so long since I've seen his little California smile. Haha. We're also performing the nativity. Sister Moffatt and I are angels (o'course). Then after that we have zone conference, which means we get to chill with President Sartori for the day and see all our friends from the zone. Then we have a ward Christmas party right after that that the members made us promise to attend. They're the best. I love them already.

Also, funny story. A couple nights ago a guy stopped us for directions. We had no idea where WE were, so we weren't much help, but we started talking to him for a bit. If I'm being completely honest, he was pretty attractive. Haha. So when it came time to say goodbye, I completely spaced on giving him something. We just told him our names, he told us his name was Andre, then we left. When we got home, Sister Moffatt kept saying he had the 'googly eyes' for me. (First of all, who says that? Haha. I love her. Second of all, WHATEVER). Well, this morning we got a call from the zone leaders saying they got a call from a guy who wanted to talk to us. Guess what his name was. ANDRE! We don't know if it's the same Andre, but we're gonna be teaching him! So, there you go. Flirt to convert, I guess...

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this whole 'missionary work' thing. This past week was kind of overwhelming, being shoved into a new city, just Sister Moffatt and I, living in a new apartment, starting out with no investigators, knowing where nothing is, speaking little Russian. It's been a trip. But I've had my soul stretched quite a bit here. I've ordered water over the phone, I've asked people for directions and carried on conversations in Russian, I've figured out the tramvay (metro) system, I've organized appointments, I've paid rent, and a whole bunch of stuff that I didn't think I could really do in Russian. They other day I started reading from the Book of Mormon in Russian (which is my biggest weakness, I wasn't very good at reading Russian), and I started reading faster than I ever have in my life! Then at church I could understand about 75% of what people were saying, wheras before I could understand maybe 30-40%. I can feel Heavenly Father's influence here in everything in do here. It's really, really cool. I'm so glad I'm here. I love this place, I love these people, I love this work. When I first submitted my papers, I just did it because it was something I felt I needed to do. I didn't actually think I would LIKE it. But, there you go. :)

I'm sorry I couldn't spend Christmas with you guys. I miss you a whole lot. Honestly, though, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world right now. In my first interview with President Sartori he told me that this work would bring me closer to God than anything else I would ever do. It really, really has. I've seen miracles here, straight up MIRACLES. I've had so many prayers answered, my faith's been strengthened, my heart's broken in all the best ways. I love it. This work is the best. I know it's the best thing I could be doing with my time right now. I hope you're all remembering the point of this little holiday season of ours, and I hope you're 'remembering' in general. Remember your testimonies, remember what you have to do to make them stronger, remember what was done for you to be able to be here on this Earth, remember that there are people here who need that knowledge. Just REMEMBER.

I love you all! Merry Christmas!


Sister Sine


Well, everyone. It happened. I was transferred.

But I wasn't just transferred anywhere...I'll be serving in a part of Saratov called Dachney...with SISTER. MOFFATT. 

THAT'S RIGHT. For whatever reason, the heavens have seen fit to put Sister Moffatt and I together during our third cycle in Dochnee. I'll be a senior companion my third cycle. No one knows how that happened. All I could do was laugh when I found out. Oh my goodness. Right now we're in Samara hanging our for the day, hence the late email, then late tonight we'll get on an overnight train to Saratov then start workin tomorrow morning! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little scared. I had life pretty easy in Tolyatti. We always had investigators, we always tauht lessons, people talked to us on the street. From what I hear about Saratov, though, Satan is just very aware that is almost has a stake, so the work is HARD. The sister before us had a completely clean slate when they left, meaning no investigators or anything. It's gonna be interesting, especially with our Russian the way it is. I mean, I can speak pretty well, but understanding is a completely different ball game. BUT, miracles happen every day on this mission, and Sister Moffatt and I are gonna work as hard as we can to make those happen. We're also in the same zone as Elders Astle and McClure, so it's just one big reunion! I'm so excited to see them again!

That excitement came at a price, though. Sayin goodbye to Tolyatti was real hard. I fell in love with Tolyatti. It was my first Russian home. The ward was my first Russian family. Our investiators were all found and taught by Sister Pearce and I, and saying goodbye to all of that was heartbreaking. There are two investigators in particular that I didn't want to leave: Tanya and Marina. I told Tanya on Saturday that that was our last lesson with her and her face just went blank. She asked where I was going and how we could talk to each other and I had to fight so hard to hold back tears. Sister Pearce asked her if she's be there for my last day and church and she looked and her Mom and said, "Po-yedem" (We're going.) After I left there apartment building I just started crying. I might even be crying a little bit right now. I loved Tanya with all my heart. She was a complete miracle, she and her mom. We were just doing drop bys on an old inactives list and found them, thought they'd blow us off, then ended up meeting with them twice/three times a week for about 5 weeks. She became like my little sister. I received revelation for her, we bonded over drawing, we bonded over her father-problems, I studied for her, I lived differently so that I'd be worthy to teach her. I changed as a missionary because of her. I gave her a letter and my English name tag so that she'd have something to remember me by, but it doesn't feel like enough. It's like training a prize-winning horse for years and then having someone take them away a month before the big race. She'd started reading the Book of Mormon on her own, she said she'd been thinking a lot about baptism and wanted to see one before the end of the month. She's the best. I'm so excited to see where she goes, but I'm sad that I won't be there to see it all happen. I know Heavenly Father will take care of her, though. 

Then there's Marina. We'd been meeting with her about twice a week for about the same time as Tanya. She fed us, we laughed, we taught lessons, it was a blast. She'd call us in the middle of the week to see how we were doing. She's great. We also met her daughter, Maria, who's fluent in English, so talking with her was always fun. We had one last meeting with her last night and she gave me a picture book, a CD, a hat, and a picture of her and Marie that was taken maybe 13 years ago. haha. Then she called around 10:15 last night to wish me safe travels and to tell me we'd see each other again when I get transferred BACK to Tolyatti in 3 months. haha. I would LOVE that.

Anywho...that's the mission for ya. It's all goodbyes and hellos. 

In other news, I had my first visa trip this past week...with Sister Moffatt! haha. We were in a group of elders AND we got to see Sister Platt again. It was just 48 hours of flights and layovers and food and more flights and layovers and food. I think I gained 8 pounds. We had a lot of fun, though. During our layover in Moscow, there were maybe three hours where we did NOTHING but laugh. AND, now I can say I've been to Ukraine! Woohoo!

Things at home sound good. I'm still praying for you guys every day. I hope everything's well. I hope things work out for Christmas calls. I don't know exactly what will happen this Christmas, to be honest. We might be at our senior couple's apartment, maybe not? I don't have anyone's skype address or anything, so....maybe I'll just call? I don't know! President wants us to call between 6 and 8 pm our time on Christmas, so I'll sign on my Skype account AT that time-just call me on Skype and I'll answer! My name's the same- Annalee Sine. Woohoo!

And now for the spiritual thought. I think if there's one thing I've learned this week, or this CYCLE, it's that Heavenly Father is in EVERYTHING we do. He knows the end from the beginning. He's always got something up his sleeve. I have no idea why I couldn't stay and teach Tanya, or WHAT will happen in Saratov with Sister Moffatt, but I know it's for the best. I've also learned that we will only ever see that 'best' if we're worthy of it. Strive to be worthy of the things Heavenly Father has in store for you. If you have things holding you back, repent of them and let them go. Your life will be so much better because of it. I promise. Mosiah 4 (or 5?) talks about having Christ's name written on your heart and being able to reconize His voice when He calls. I thought about that a lot and shared that with Tanya, actually. What name is written on your heart? Can you reconize his voice? (I know that sounds cheesy, but think about it, okay?).