Monday, December 21, 2015

Who Goes Ice Fishing In Their Church Suits? Elder Vincent and Elder Riggs, That's Who!

20 December 2015

Lots of pictures this week, so this post is a little long.  Enjoy!

I appreciate the warm Christmas wishes I got from you.  Real fast, I will be skyping at 9 am here which should be 6pm for you guys.  So be on skype at 6.  I will be calling from the mission office here.  

Ya this week has been kind of crazy.  We got a few more investigators, and they were straight miracles.  We were walking down the street and we stopped to talk to this guy, and he was a little drunk, and at first he absolutely did not want to talk to us.  We kept asking him questions and eventually he started to warm up and laugh with us.  He told us that he had just had a super bad day and that life in general was just hard.  We then talked with him a little more and said how sorry we were to hear about all the things that were going wrong in his life.  Elder Riggs then told the guy that he thought he was a good person, and the guy started to cry and thanked us.  He said that we were good people too.  He then called his friend and told him that he was going to be running late, because he was talking to some really cool guys (that was us :D).  He then told us that he had just got off the phone with one of his friends and told them that he was going to quit drinking but he didn’t know how, and within a minute we had contacted him. He then told us that normally people just walk by you and don’t really take the time to talk to you and so he knew that we were good people.  He said that he could "see it in our eyes", and "by the way we talk".  He said he was ready to change his life around, and wanted to talk to us more about God, because he didn’t believe it was an accident that we met.  So we got his number and started to part ways with him.  He stopped us and said "I’m not going to tell you what I had planned on doing tonight, because it wasn’t good, but I will tell you that I am definitely not going to do it now."  We invited him to church, but he didn’t come.  We are going to call him later tonight though to schedule an appointment. 

We went to Russian Island (Russky Island) today, and went ice fishing on the frozen bay for our p-day activity.  It was pretty legit to just be sitting there with a hole you made in the ice trying to catch fish.  We unfortunately didn’t catch anything. 

This week has been pretty hard, but I’m still having the time of my life trying to tell people the gospel in a language that I can’t speak and answer questions that I can’t understand.  It’s just hilarious to hear me try though.  Lots of people actually stop to listen to me when I talk to them instead of when my trainer does, because they actually need to stop and listen to what I am saying to understand it.  They usually stop and give me a big smile because they can tell that I am trying, and they are almost secretly rooting for me it seems. That’s only when the people stop though.  It doesn’t always happen like that.  

Also everyone here seems to think that Elder Riggs and I are related, so I guess you were right mom, we do look alike.  Oh one time we were arguing about something, and Elder Riggs said "Also! I think your handsome! That’s a real compliment! I think you look like me".  It been very funny spending time with him.  He has many quotes that I have been stockpiling because they are always entertaining.  

The Bench of Reconciliation
The bench is bent inwards so people are forced to work out their problems

Tell everyone that I love them. It’s a real adventure here trying to preach the gospel to these people.  I really do love them, and love hearing their stories.  I don’t always understand what they are saying, but when I do I always learn something.  Hopefully we will have better success next week, and we will be able to do more to help our Russian brothers and sisters.

Love you, and pass my love on to the family, I can’t wait to talk to you all on Christmas...well its Christmas for me and its Christmas eve for you....time travel!  Love you all!

Elder Vincent

The Golden Horn Bridge connects the mainland to Russian Island
This is the building where the branch meets
Church Entrance (I think)
Google Translated It Reads: 

Religious Association
Church of Jesus Christ
Latter-day Saints in Russia
Local religious organization Church
Jesus Christ
Latter-day Saints
in Vladivostok
Looking out at Vlad from one of the Church's windows
Russian Orthodox Temple

Shopping Center (in white) Sickle Hammer (in red)
Signs pointing to Alaska, Artem, Khabarovsk, Japan and more
The top one says Moon, also signs for Moscow, Paris, and Beer?
Sign posts for Beijing, Phuket, Egypt and Vietnam among others
Taken just for Emily.  Adventure Time has invaded Russia!
Russian Batman?
 Since Elder Vincent gave no explanation for this, I had to look it up.  Google translate has it saying Special Forces GRU.  More googling tells me that this symbol is for a Federal Agency.  Main Intelligence Directorate, abbreviated GRU, is the foreign military intelligence main directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. 

Churkin Hood
Churkin is the area they just opened up.  This graffiti artist is all over Vladivostok, but Churkin is considered a "bad part of town", its a true "hood".

 These pictures I know were taken 2 weeks ago when they went to Ussuriysk on PDay to deliver the Christmas Campaign Cards.
The Oldest Carved Turtle

 Elder Vincent has a picture that talks about this carving in both English and Russian, but I don't have that picture yet.

I Love Ussuriysk

Russia Week 3 - Oranges, Christmas Campaign Cards and the Primary Program in Russian

13 December 2015

Another week with no pictures. 

Ok cool, so here is how this week went...we basically spent all our time street contacting, but we met some cool people.  We went walking around a lot of Vlad and I got to see like submarines and stuff so that was pretty cool.  We taught a couple of lessons with the members, and that was a lot of fun, because the grandmas give us fruit after we give them a lesson.  It’s fun to talk to the members and get a little bit of their story.  There is this half paralyzed old lady that we give the sacrament to every week, and she gave us oranges after, and another woman gave oranges after we taught here that she just pulled out of her desk.  I guess it’s kind of like a thing that old people do after you teach them, I’m not really sure.  

Saturday was a super fun day.  We went to Russian Island (Russky Island) 

which is like the size of Vlad, and it took like a full 2 and a half hours to get to where we needed to be for our contacting that day.  Turns out though, that we were able to actually tract, in Russia!  It’s pretty hard to do that in this area because of the way the apartments are made, but we were able to and I got my first taste of what it is like to say that you are missionaries and then someone just slams the door in your face while rolling their eyes.  It was just too cliché to not laugh at.  Elder Riggs said that he had never went tracting before, so it was his first time too.  After that we found this old lady just standing outside in the middle of nowhere, so we talked with her for a really long time.  Some other guy then came up and just started talking to us like we were already friends, and Elder Riggs thought that he looked like a branch president and we decided that we were going to come back to talk with that guy.  We then were walking back and found shells in the middle of the forest, so that was kind of we were coming back, there was at least a hundred people all ice fishing. and so they were all heading home and kicking up the dust in the road, so that was kind of on the less fun sides of the day.  Then Elder Riggs asked if I wanted to wait for a bus, and right when he finished saying that, this bus rolled up, so we were like, yup I guess we were supposed to take a bus now. 

We made it back to the mainland, and set up around a grocery store and handed out at least 50 of the Christmas campaign cards that the church is handing out.  And there some people who stopped and read it and nodded with approval, and some people who then came back to talk to us a little bit more about our faith, and how to find out more, so hopefully we were able to get a few more investigators out of it.  Sadly, when we were going home, we found a few of them on the ground, but out of the 50 or so, we only saw 2 so that isn’t bad at all!  We then wanted to get sodas to celebrate, so we went to this pizza drive thru place, but we didn’t have a car, so we felt awkward waiting in line.  We went around the back, but there was no was just a drive thru line!  But they took our orders on the other side that had a window for some reason.... the girl who took our orders spoke English and had been to the US.  It was really surprising and kind of fun because she was so good at it.  We then invited her to English practice, and she said that she would definitely go, so here’s to hoping that she is able to go tomorrow, and we are able to talk to her some more about the gospel.  Lucky for us too because we teach the advanced class and that is the one that she would definitely be put into.  She was way nice, and it was funny, because when we gave her the invitation to English class, we were like, we don’t want you to get into trouble, but we want you to have this, and she was like I actually probably will get into trouble and took it and snuck it into her apron.  She was one of the only people that I have ever met here who can have a full conversation in English, so it was kind of weird for me at first. 

Anyways, Sunday was fun too, because it was the primary program!  It was sooo cute to hear the primary children bear their little testimonies in was awesome!  Love you all, and hope for the best of weeks to be coming your way!

Elder Vincent

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Russia Week 2 - Turtles, Ussirisk and Russian Money

7 December 2015

Hey, Elder Riggs says turtle, and hello back.
We are in Ussirisk right now to deliver some of the Christmas campaign cards. I have now gone to and seen 3 of the church buildings in my mission.  Vlad, Artem, and now Ussirisk.
It's been pretty funny all the things that I dont have time to tell you about.  Bottom line is, I'm apparently hilarious, and all the old ladies love talking to me.  They all think I'm super funny, and tell me about like grandkids or nieces or something that I should marry.  Almost every old lady that I talk to mentions marrying a Russian girl at some point.  Apparently if you are on the bus, you always let a woman or child sit first, and you only look toward the front if you are about to get off, I didn't do that and some old lady got up and yelled at me.  It was pretty funny.  You are just supposed to sit off to the side, and let people pass behind you.
Elder Riggs is pretty cool.  He asked me to help teach him German so I do that during dinner.  My first area is Churkin and it's been a lot of fun, and I am just now getting a feel for how to get around, and where everything is.  Oh the reason he said turtle is because we went and saw the oldest craved turtle in the world located right here in Ussirisk.  It was way fun.  There was no fence around it, so I totally hopped on and got a picture.  (Elder Vincent is a HUGE turtle fan.)  We had to do it fast though, because we thought we saw some like security person and we didn't want to get yelled at.
It's been a lot of fun here, and I have been to 1/3 of our church buildings.  We have been talking to loads of people, and I have been in companionships with 5 other Elders than just Elder Riggs.  It turns out, that his sense of humor and mine are very similar, and I know that we have to potential to do a lot of good here.  I've been to quite a few places.
Ummm funny stories, President Perkinson bought every Elder Burger King (I would have thought that was more nice than funny, but I guess you had to be there), I accidently gave the bus driver 50 kopeks thinking it was 50 rubles....he was super confused and so was Elder Riggs, and I looked so smug like I just did something incredible.  Elder Riggs just whispered to me that 50 kopeks is like 50 cents....I was like oh no!  So then I gave him a 100p note to break and apologized, but he was cool and in a good mood, so he let me go while laughing.  We ran into that same bus driver, and Elder Riggs gave him 50kopeks and asked if he remembered us and he almost died laughing.  There were these two girls that Elder Burningham and I were talking to and we were inviting them to English practice because they were talking to us in English and knew we were American.  Then one of them turned to the other and said "hes hot" about Elder Burningham in Russian, because they didnt know we could understand them.  I thought that was super funny.

Elder Kliebengat was the one who was talking to us during mission conference, and he brought up some pretty funny and true points.  He was very matter of fact, but it was good, and what I needed to hear.  Things like build up walls of defense well in advance of an enemy attack.  I'm having fun and don't worry I'm eating fruits and veggies...they are way good here.  That's about all I have time for.  Love you and say hi to everyone for me.

Elder Vincent

No pictures yet again.  Maybe next week.