Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Merry Christmas

This week was quite eventful. After emailing Monday Elder Walker and I went on splits and we ended up going to a zoo! Kind of, it was super sketchy, definitely would be illegal in America. But I saw some cool animals and stuff. Made friends with one of the monkeys, I showed him pictures on my camera and then high fived him through the glass so we are pretty much bros now. Then we went to this really big mall that I didn't know about and ate at Cinnabon. And there is a KFC opening there soon. Then we went to a sushi plate and got a lot of sushi. We bought so much that we got free drinks as a gift for buying so much. It was really good, first time I have had real sushi and I love it. Then that night at Midnight I got on a plane to start my visa trip to Korea. It was a 4.5 hour flight to Khabarovsk were we met with some other elders, then another hour flight to Vladivostok were we picked up the rest of the group. Finally got to see everyone from my MTC district again so that was great. And I met Elder Mateer who is from London and has the best kind of British accent which I picked up really quickly. I talked in a British accent the whole trip and then got Elder Hasebi doing it to. We are trying to stop now though because it is making our Russian sound really silly. I was only in Korea for like 10 hours. We didn't even go into the temple just slept at the dorms there. But while we were outside we saw a Korean man drop a giant cake, so we ran over and helped him out and he invited us to come eat cake with him. So we had a little Christmas party with a bunch of Koreans. And Korean people are the best. They are so cute and happy and they love Americans. Which may or may not be the exact opposite of Russians. Got up early in the morning and flew back to Irkutsk. It took 6 flights and 18+ hours of flying for the whole trip. Got back at like midnight went to sleep and then it was Christmas! So I got to open my package from the Bushman's it had some hand warmers, a hood thing, some energy bars, cookie mix, muffin mix, and lots more. It was great! Then Christmas day was just a normal day except I made cookies at night instead of doing my usual work out. The rest of the week was normal except there was a baptism, the actual baptism was in Angarsk though because the lady getting baptized didn't want to get baptized in the hotel sauna place were we usually go. The branch had a little Christmas activity on Saturday and I met a girl from Finland who is just traveling through Russia and then going to go to China and India so that was neat.
Other stuff that happened: 
I lost my pen going through airport security it was so very close to running out of ink and I was so excited for it to happen. 
We ate at Papa John's after we skyped and ate a 40cm pizza all at once. 
I brought Elder Hasebi back a Big Mac from Korea
I lost my name tag

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December 22nd

Hey so I finally have a favorite scripture for you Alma 26:12 that one should be good for a plaque. Last week was good Elder Hasebi and I bought protein powder and have being working out hard, the protein powder has a bunch of pictures of Arnold Swarzenagger (no clue how to spell that) on it in case anyone was wondering. I got some mail this week, a letter from Elder Hasebi's mom that had cute little Christmas light things with pictures on them. Also a letter from Jamie that actually has like 7 letters in it and a note to only read one every 2 days so they last a while. And a package from Grandma and Grandpa Bushman that I haven't opened yet because its for Christmas! So tonight at midnight I will get on a plane and fly to South Korea to renew my visa. So I will actually be spending Christmas day in Korea, how neat is that. I would write more but I am out of time sorry! Happy Christmas everyone :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15th

So last Monday I bought some camel socks, and some Yak socks. They are really comfortable and warm socks, I want more. I also got a Russian fur hat, it is great, I want more. And then just walking out of the market I saw this super weird looking crazy jacket so I asked how much it was and it was only $20 so I talked to price down to $12 and bought it. We did service for a less active member this week. Painting his kitchen/bathroom. It is straight up whitewash that we painted it with and the fumes from it are probably still affecting my judgment. But then he came to Church on Sunday so all is well. Then the next day we did service for a little old grandma stacking wood for her. It took over 2 hours and was freezing cold, but then she invited us inside and she had made us Borsh, which is a traditional Russian soup, and Plov which is a rice dish from Armenia, it was all really good and we ate a ton. Then as we were leaving she pulled out some candies and told us to fill our pockets. As we were leaving right after stuffing ourselves full of food. Elder Hasebi pulls the candies out of his pocket says, "well... these aren't making it home." and ate them all. It was pretty funny. It was transfer week this week and Elders Basset and Walker stayed with us one night, that was pretty fun in general and there were lots of stories shared. We visited Peter again this week and as we started talking to him he started struggling with his pockets trying to put them back inside his pants like pockets are supposed to be, after a couple minutes he realized his pants were inside out told us to wait a second and just whipped 'em off and put them on right. And also he had shaved only the right side of his face, he was clean shaven halfway and then had a scruffy beard the other half. He is 63 years old. Totally forgot to get a scripture for the plaque again. I will try to do better. I spoke in Sacrament meeting this week and it went pretty well, I wrote out what I wanted to say but kinda just got distracted and ended up saying different stuff.

Russia does have skittles but they are different flavors
Babies is giant snow suits are super cute, they have been dubbed starfish babies because they cannot move their limbs.

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8th

Today is going to be a great day. Elder Hasebi and I are going to go to the big outdoor market to pick up some шапкы which are the big fuzzy fur hats that are so stereotypically Russian. Also we are going to look for some protein powder because we go hard every morning working out. I already weigh less than I did when I went into the MTC. Last Monday I bought a pull up bar and that has been really useful for working out, I also got some Russian nesting dolls and they are so cool. I want more. It blew Elder Stephesons mind when I opened them all up. I was with Elder Stepheson because we did splits last week. It was a good change up and Elder Stepheson is cool so it was fun. Especially when we were talking to people. We are both fairly new in Russia and definitely not anywhere close to being fluent so there was a time or two were I didn't understand what the Russian person said so I just looked at him and he was looking right back at me. We understand enough to get through a conversation but it is hard to know exactly what people are saying. On Sunday Peter saw somebody run out of the coat room with a bag in his hand stealing it. So Peter (a short and fairly large man) starts chasing him, Elder Hasebi and I go to and we just run down the street following Peter until he gave up. This whole time we are outside in the freezing cold in just our suit jackets. They ended up finding the bag about an hour later and only the phone was missing out of it so nothing too bad. This computer desk is at an awkward height and my right arm is going numb. I have more stories but I feel like I really can't do them justice in text, so they will have to wait for a while. New Years is the big holiday here but they still have Christmas trees and lots of lights and everything, I need to get some pictures of the city at night it is pretty cool. We have started making our own version of sloppy joes. We just take a full (huge) loaf of bread cut it in half then cut it again to make it like a bun, scoop out a bunch of the bread, and fill it with a meaty ketchup kinda meat sauce kinda meat thing. Just in case you were wondering. Totally forgot to think of a different scripture for the plaque this week, my bad. But I did complete the first level of memorizations! Which is just things like the missionary purpose, Doctrine and Covenants Section 4, two baptismal invitations, the ten how to begin teaching points, etc. It really is just a little victory for me because I am reminded every day when trying to talk to people on the street just how much I don't know.

Monday, December 1, 2014


So this week was fun of course. We met with a guy in a movie theatre lobby, just because that is where he wanted to meet. Elder Hasebi and I ended up being socially obligated to get some drinks (juice) and that wiped out the last of our money for the month. Like we didn't have enough to even ride a bus. But we ended up just using some of next months rent to get by, and now we have money for December and replaced the rent money. Tuesday and Wednesday were normal and then Thursday was Thanksgiving! It was really great, the missionaries from Angarsk joined us at the Nelson's apartment so we had like 14 people there. The Nelson's are amazing cooks there was so much good food. I think my favorite was the sweet potato pie, it was topped with pecans and marshmallow cream and I ate way too much. Elder Hasebi and I weighed ourselves before and after eating and he won the contest. He gained 3.4 pounds and I only gained 2.8 
The rest of the week was pretty normal except all of our investigators cancelled on us, so that was a bummer. 
It got cold this week. You learn a lot when it gets really cold though, mostly that being cold is awful. Elder Hasebi and I ran into a member and we asked him to check what temperature it was on his phone. It said that it was -22 C but that with the wind chill the "RealFeel" was -43. When the wind gusts it just sucks the heat out of you. When we got home that night Elder Hasebi's eyelashes had frozen and my breath had frozen in layers on my coat so much that I couldn't unzip it, and it has stayed at about -20 for the past three days. So today we are going to go looking for some of the camel hair socks that old ladies sell on the streets, as well as other whatsits to keep us warm. Interesting little thing that happened this week, so Elder Hasebi and I cook German pancakes a lot for lunch, and our stove is super sketchy and theres no handle on the gas flow valve thingy. So this resulted in Elder Hasebi accidently turning the stuff down to very low flame instead of turning it off. When we got back into our apartment for dinner hours later as soon as I opened the door we both started to step inside and stopped, sniffed a bit, smelled gas, looked at each other, took a deep breath, and ran inside. I turned the oven off and he opened up the door to the balcony and we opened up all the windows and got it taken care of. But I felt like a firefighter or something it was neat. 
Now other little things that happened this week; I accidently started talking to a police chief on the street (super sketchy because the police here are super sketchy)
We saw a highway patrol car, it even said "call 911" "highway patrol" and other things on it in English
and we were on a tram when it stopped suddenly and Elder Hasebi fell onto an old lady and mule kicked me in the leg.
It was a fun week can't wait for more of them!

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24th

I'll start off with a story. I was talking to a member about how I had strep throat (or whatever it is) and he told me all this stuff about how he deals with sickness and whatnot. But then at the end he added in, you know how I dealt with being sick before I was a member? A bottle of vodka, it didn't help the sickness at all it just changed my attitude about it... I didn't care! 
Russians are the best.
I think my favorite scripture is 1st Corinthians 5:6 it is actually a really good analogy and I have started quoting it a lot. 
Other than that it was pretty much a normal week. here are some interesting things that happened though
Met a British dude from Bristol traveling through Russia, he was harder to understand than the Russians and he was speaking English
The crazy old lady in the hospital with Peter asked us to bring back Communism (I think she is hard to understand)
Elders Stepheson, Lusk, and I all have the same first name. That's 3 out of 4 of the Elders in Irkutsk.
And I ate at Subway
Just some more answered questions from the Bushman's, thought they might be interesting for everyone.

The members rarely if ever ask us to come over for dinner, and I have heard stories of awful and scary food when it does happen.
It is hard to tract here because everybody lives in apartments and you have to have a code/key to get into the building to even get to peoples' doors.
We do work with less active members and we have some investigators, not any that are progressing though.
We find people to teach by walking the streets talking to everyone we see.
The senior couple here host lots of activities and just try to help out wherever they can. They don't speak Russian though.
Russians don't mess around when it comes to snow, as soon as it hits the ground they are shoveling it into dump trucks and hauling it out of the city. They have tons of street sweepers and tons of city employees that sweep and shovel snow.
 The branch here in Irkutsk has about 45 people every Sunday and the building is just as big as ours in Davenport, maybe bigger. Except the sacrament hall is smaller I think. It isn't a church building it is just the second floor of a business building on the main street of the city. There is a Subway on the first floor so it smells like sandwiches a lot. We are going to go to the senior couples apartment for Thanksgiving so it should be good. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week of November 17th

I Got this email of questions from grandma and grandpa Bushman I thought it might be nice for the blog. 

If you have space, we’d be interested to know –

How many branches or wards in your city?
There is one branch in Irkutsk.

How many members usually attend your branch/ward?
We have anywhere from 45 to 55 members each week on Sunday.

How many Melchizedek priesthood holders attend your branch/ward?
There are about 10-15 active or semi-active Melchizedek priesthood holders.

What is the level of commitment/energy of the bishopric or branch presidency?
Our branch president and the second counselor are wonderful they put in a lot of effort into leading the branch and we are blessed to have them.

How many missionaries serve in your city?
There are 8 missionaries including the senior couple

How many lessons do you teach a week?
The standard of excellence for lessons a week is 15 but there was a change in the "definition" of what a lesson is which made them harder to have, so we have had around 10 the past couple weeks.

Do you know the ratio of new investigators to baptisms in your mission?  (In our mission, it is 16:1.  That is, for every 16 investigators, we reap one baptism.) 
 I do not know that ratio but I know that the ratio of baptismal dates to actual baptsims is 7 to 1.

You said you walk a lot.  Do you have at least two pairs of boots to wear, so you can trade them off each day?
I have two pairs of boots but only one pair of insoles and I have been being lazy and not switching every day.

So something great to get in a package would be just a bunch of the cheese packets out of Kraft macaroni and cheese. Just need that cheese sauce. And then maybe like sour patch kids watermelon things or candy corn, you know whatever. Oh and there's no licorice here in Russia. I have searched, there is no licorice in Siberia. Its sad. 

Talking to Russian people they have all said it is super warm here for this time of the year. But the wind, the wind never stops. So this week was fun. We did service for a lady who was moving apartments and we were taking the old wallpaper off the walls. There were like 14 layers of it and as you took the last layer off cockroaches fell out of the walls onto you, yay! Elder Hasebi and I have been experimenting a lot with eating different food. We tried to make pancakes a couple days ago but we didn't have any buttermilk. So it said to substitute it with regular milk and Vinegar. Well when Elder Hasebi was adding the vinegar he noticed that it said 70% concentrate, danger of death if not diluted. So that was a bad sign. Long story short the pancakes just tasted like straight vinegar. But we made chocolate syrup to put on them which was really good so I still ate 3. I am kind of proud of us we took a vanilla syrup recipe which was gross and figured out how to make delicious cinnamon and chocolate syrup.
There is a recent convert named Peter who is like 65 and a little crazy and just kinda weird. Well we visited him and a friend in a hospital (more of a nursing home) and it was super cold outside as we were walking there, but Peter just has a shirt on with a coat unzipped and a beannie pretty much just sitting on top of his head. We asked Peter aren't you cold? and he says of course not I'm wearing a coat, and then chuckles. There was this older lady on the other bed in the room in the hospital. Her phone started ringing and at about the 5th ring she realized it was hers, picked it up, held it in front of her face about a foot away, and yelled "allo? allo?" while it is still ringing. It was so funny we both started busting up laughing. Then Peter went to help her out and she was so amazed that she was actually talking to someone over the phone. Old Russian people are the best. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 10th

So interesting news this week. I have strep throat. Which has pretty much changed nothing about my life except my throat hurts and I no longer look forward to eating as much as before. I am taking Amoksocillin (I don't know how to spell it in English) right now and I just don't think it's real enough. That's a reference to an Eminem song for those of you who aren't thug enough to understand it. So I think my interesting story of the week is that we were walking through the park talking to people and we start talking to this normal looking dude (normal is rare here) he wasn't that interested but he kept talking to us, he kept offering us cigarettes really forcefully. Like classic "temptation" scenario. Come on take a cigarette it'll be cool. He was cool but only wanted to talk about America and our girlfriends there, he just assumed that we had girlfriends, so we said we had to go. But then he invited us to go have a drink with him and put his arms around us and started walking towards the bar, we insisted that we wouldn't drink so he was like alright lets go talk to those girls sitting on the bench then. It was super funny he kept trying to lead us around and do stuff with him. He stopped somebody walking by and had them take a picture of him and us together. Then asked us if we had Facebook, Twitter, etc. He was super funny and did not understand why we didn't want a cigarette. It was the most I have laughed in a long time. As for missionary work its pretty much the same, talking to people, meeting with people, talking to more people. I have never walked this much in my life. I really need a pedometer. I have started writing everything in cursive, in Russian and English. Russian cursive is really difficult and doesn't work as well as English, but it looks cool so I am going to figure it out. I have been working on my posture a lot and I have started to notice A difference, so I am going to stick with that and have good posture when I come home. 
Couple random things from Russia: The yogurt is realy good, the juice is really good, the thirty cent ice cream cones you can buy on the street are addicting, little kids speaking Russian is super cute, really really old Russian guys wearing shapkas and shooby (fur hats and fur coats) are so wonderfully stereotypical, and almost every single guy on the street is walking around with a European man purse, including me. Embrace the culture.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 3rd

A pedometer would be an awesome gift in a package. Because I walk like... all day. It is over a mile just from my apartment to the church if we walk through the park. Which we do 90% of the time. So our investigator did get baptized this week. Elder Hasebi and I got some ice cream from one of the stands on the street to celebrate. The cheap ice cream cones are interesting they cost about 30 cents and they aren't really ice cream. Because ice cream melts. And this stuff doesn't. So learning Russian is going well. I am understanding a lot more of what people say, and this last week the assistants to the president came out to Irkutsk for a day and one of them came on splits with Elder Hasebi and I. We started talking to an old guy and Elder Hasebi got surrounded by girls with their faces painted for Halloween trying to take a picture with him (cuz he's a good lookin' elder) and the assistant to the President got distracted by that so I was just talking to this crazy old Muslim guy alone for a while, it went well. He wasn't interested of course, but then the AP asked me how long I had been out and when I told him he was said, "oh wow you speak really well" so that was my moment of pride this week. Don't worry I have humbled myself since then. I forgot my camera this week so no pictures, but I am going to buy some boots this week and then I will be all ready for Winter.
A few interesting things from this week: saw a dog with shoes on that squeaked when he walked, the first thing Elder Hasebi wants to eat when he gets home is a corndog, there was an earthquake, and I started talking to a guy but he only spoke chinese but I was bored and there was no one on the street so I just kept talking to him in Russian and he kept replying in Chinese.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week of October 27th

This week was my first normal week as a missionary! If you can call being a missionary in Russia normal at all. So first of all I need some ideas for food I can cook, eat, and clean up all in under 1 hour. I am open to any suggestions and I'll let you know if I can find a certain ingredient here.
Also talking to Elder Hasebi I got some ideas for stuff for you to put in packages. Things that he has really enjoyed getting are: cake mix, Reeses, photo album (pictures of sports, friends, graduation, etc), and notes/letters from friends/family. 
I have lots of little stories to share that happened this week but I am just writing them down and I will have lots to share when I get home. I did notice however that the little mole next to my mouth is pretty much gone... Like its barely visible. I am still curious as to how. Maybe it was the cold. The coldest temperature I have experienced so far is -20 Celsius. and that's without wind chill. It got super cold for a couple of days then warmed up again. I bought a giant coat that has a fur lining in the hood and down the sides of the coat. It is wonderful. And for when it is really cold I have a couple of scarves. I keep forgetting to mention this in my emails but we have an investigator that is getting baptized this Saturday. So that's neat. He is really good at ping pong and talks super fast. 
I found out that on average missionaries serving here have 3 baptisms over their whole mission. And that is actually the highest average in all of Russia.

I have heard that packages get here just fine and it doesnt take super long either only 2-4 months. Sending stuff home is a little more dangerous though. I have heard of packages taking 8 months to get home and some not making it at all
Hope everyone has a good week!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week of October 20th

So its cold now. Like really cold. It snowed for the first time a couple days ago and the temperature hasn't been over freezing since. This morning it was negative 18 degrees celsius which is about 0 degrees farenheit... and its October. It didn't really hit me that I am living in Siberia until now. I am going to buy a big winter coat, scarf, gloves, and whatever else today. I already took out 8000 rubles ($200) and I might need to take out more but I have a couple thousand left over from when I got my bag two weeks ago. The rest of the Moscow trip was great except we flew back at 1 in the morning and with the time zone changes it was a 13 hour flight. When we got to Irkutsk Elder Hinkson and I just fell asleep and woke up 6 hours later. So I am really badly jet lagged right now. It is really hard to find people to teach so we end up walking the streets trying to talk to people a lot. While Elder Hasebi was on the phone I was able to understand and talk to one guy enough that I taught him a quick restoration lesson including Joseph Smith's first vision, so I am pretty stoked about that. Russian people are so hard to understand. Especially old people. I cannot understand old people. I saw a BMW 760 Li yesterday and I am pretty sure that means it has a V12 engine. Which is ridiculous. There are a ton of BMW's out here actually its really surprising what cars I see when we are in the nicer part of the city. Like yesterday this sweet Lamborghini drove by, the guy in it was in a white tux. Have a good week everyone! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week of October 13th.

Elder Perry's P-day is on Monday which with the time change ends up being late Sunday night for us. I will post his letters on Mondays.

Hey, so you know how I told you I was in Irkutsk last week? Well I am in Moscow right now. Like the capitol of Russia. Elder Hinckson has some emergency dental work that needs to be done and it turns out that dentristry in Irkutsk pretty much doesn't exist. So last Tuesday I played ping pong against a professional Russian. I lost, then on Wednesday I flew out to Moscow. Elder Hinckson had his first appointment, during which I attempted to discuss rock climbing with a Russian dude. I do not yet have the vocabulary to succesfully talk about rock climbing. Then we took the metro to some other elders house to stay with them while we are here. The Moscow Metro is the coolest thing. It is super fancy like murals on the walls and carvings into the marble all over. There are escalators that are like 100 meters long. It was all built in the communist era so there are hammer and sickles everywhere and Lenin they love Lenin. We are going to see Red Square and the Kremlin later today so I might be able to send pictures next week. I would send pictures now but I left my camera cord in Irkutsk. We did service for a super old lady and I cooked her dinner it was much fun trying to understand her cooking directions. We watched general conference this last weekend I thought it was cool how many other languages were in it especially because it means there might be one in Russian sometime. Moscow is much more modern than Irkutsk, they have sliced bread here. Like how neat is that? and peanut butter and even microwave popcorn. So you know that expression "its the best invention since sliced bread" well I realize now that's because sliced bread literally changes your life. I will never again take it for granted. One of the elders we are staying with is Elder Marsing who I was in the MTC with for a while it is amazing how fast you can learn a language when you really have to. I have not bought any of my winter stuff yet I mean it is only right around freezing in Irkutsk during the day and that is jacket weather, and that is not a joke. I will try to tell you more next week but I need to go pretty soon.

List of things in America that I didn't appreciate like I should have.
Good: Bread, light switches, toilets, having a dryer, not having to use public transportation, people not hating me because of I am American, clean water, let me reiterate that point, water that isn't brown when it comes out of the faucet, elevators, warmth, the sun, mexican food, food in general, people having straight teeth, not everybody smokes, and most importantly being able to understand people on the street (because not only is it Russian but everyone mumbles and talks super quietly)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In Russia!

Russia is great. To start off I will talk a little bit about my apartment. It is on the fifth floor and there is no elevator, our key is bent so it takes five minutes to lock the door. The bathroom is wonderful, the sink doesn't work it is the size of a small closet and there is a tiny tiny little washer in it. The inside of the washer in honestly 5 inches deep its so cute. We don't have a dryer, but we do have a handy drying rack for our clothes. We have a pretty much full kitchen except we only have two bowls two plates, two cups, etc. So that is kinda fun, I have come to realize already that just about every meal I eat is going to consist of rice/pasta a sauce and a meat. So hopefully I can figure out how to make some good sauces. We sleep on a super squeaky bunk bead and there is a neon sign that shines into the window from the next building, so its nice it is so light I can read without even turning the light on. We have to filter water for it to be potable but our filter is under the sink so we just fill up old juice containers from under there and put them in the fridge. Other than that its great.
My companion is Elder Hasebi, he is from Utah has been in Russia for just over a year, he is very hardworking and makes sure to follow all the rules. He hates mayonnaise and cheese and yesterday he just grabbed a tomato out of the fridge and ate it whole. Which was pretty funny. He laughes a lot and is a pretty cool guy over all, I think we will get along very well. 
Irkutsk is a normal city, well a normal Russian city which means its a super ghetto city. It is hard to explain but it is almost more of a feeling that a physical thing. Everything either looks like it is under construction or abandoned. Russian people are exactly what the stereotype is. They are angry/crazy looking they usually are angry/crazy and I love talking to them. I have been swore at in english (and probably Russian) been told to go back to America, and just laughed at. But other people are great to talk to they just aren't as common. 
So the flight over here was awful even though we took Korean Air which I think has been voted the nicest airline in the world and we were on an A380 on the way over here which I think is the largest commercial jet in the world. They gave us little slippers and a tiny toothbrush. I had some korean food in the airport in Seoul. It was dumplings and soup and it was pretty good. We got to Vladivostok at like 3 PM went to the mission office and did a ton of paperwork and got fake passports (you know to give to the cops when they ask for it, duh) because U.S. passports are a big ticket item on the black market. Then we went to the mission home did some training stuff. Didn't get to go to sleep until 10:30 and President Brinton woke us up right at 6:30. We did a little more training stuff then found out we could only take one suitcase with us and it could only weigh 44 pounds. So I went from 100 pounds of stuff to 44. Still not sure why they don't tell you that sooner. So my other suitcase is in storage and will be for the rest of my mission. Then I met my companion elder Hasebi who I already told you about. We went and stayed the night in Artyom because it is closer to the airport and we were flying out early the next morning. When we got their Elder Hasebi wanted to go street contacting. It was raining but we still talked to a solid amount of people I was even able to say the first vision twice. One lady we were talking to said  that I look like a vampire (I didn't know that Hasebi told me) so that was neat. Next day flew to Irkutsk and started doing regular missionary work its mostly been street contacting. Our landlord said that I look like a Russian so I shouldnt tell people I am from the U.S. Another elder in the city was having a lot of mouth pain and wanted to go to a dentist in the U.S. but they sent him to one here in Irkutsk. They kept trying to pull out the tooth that hurt but he didn't want them too so they just prescribed him some pills. The prescription cost 10 Rubles. Which is about three cents... Lots of stuff has happened already and I can already understand people a little better. The russian I learned in the MTC is Moscow Russian. and it is very different here in Siberia. I would compare it to a british person trying to understand someone from Mississippi. and also the British person barely speaks English, Its tough. 
I am having a great time here though it is pretty fun in general. 
Oh and at church on sunday a crazy exmilitary Russian dude gave me an old spetsnaz war medal. It is super sick. Has the batman symbol on it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Arrived Safely October 1st 2014

Flight took forever, we have been traveling for two and a half days straight. my first area will we Irkutsk by Lake Baikal. I heard that it was negative 10 Fahrenheit there today. It will take another five hour plane ride to get there. and I can only take one suitcase. So I won't have half of my stuff for probably 80% of my mission. I am doing alright though, Russia is super cool looking in an abandoned sketchy city kind of way.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24th

So really the only thing I have for the blog this week is what I wrote to dad and my flight plans
LV: SLC airport at 6:50 PM sep29
AR: LAX at 7:45 PM sep 29
LV: LAX at 11:30 PM sep 29
AR: Seoul, Korea 4:40 AM Oct1  (21 hour Flight) 
LV: Seoul, Korea 10:10 AM Oct1 
AR: Vladivostok, Russia 2:50 PM Oct1 
So that is over 26 hours in the air 21 of them in one flight. A six hour layover in Korea, three days of traveling, and probably no sleep.

I think that is kind of neat that someone made it into the white house. That seems like something I would really want to try, but I am not stupid enough to actually do it. Sometimes I really wish I had a rewind button so I could do stuff like that and then just rewind time and its like it never happened. I do get mail on Saturday but only until two o'clock. I didn't know that you were coming down here for conference that sounds neat. We have had two apostles speak to us at devotionals. Richard Scott and M. Russell Ballard. Elder Ballard is a cute old man, that is the only way to describe him. His whole talk felt like it was my grandpa talking to me and he had some really good advice. Namely, "your mission is not two years long, it is one day long for two years." and what he meant by that is that we just need to strive to do our best one day at a time. If we can say that we have tried our best that day when we go to sleep then we have succeeded on our mission, and the next day we need to do it again. (you should put that in the blog) I am sad that I am missing out on all the Logan cuteness but at least I get to here stories and see pictures!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sept 17 2014

In high school I never had to study for anything but trying to learn Russian in two months is like trying to take AP history, AP calculus, and AP english in two months. And when I get to Russia will be the test... Learning Russian is the hardest single thing I have ever done, but it is really rewarding. It is so great to actually talk to somebody in Russian, and for now it is a very basic and slow conversation but this week I passively (so I just learned the words through studying I did not look them up specifically) learned how to ask someone what color their cat is. and with that basic yet not necessary phase I want to believe that I have progressed to the second level of speaking Russian. If you could email me a chart or something on language speaking efficiency that would be great. I want to have something so I can find out how well I speak Russian right now. I really think I hit a breakthrough this week with certain words and phrases I don't even translate them into english in my mind to understand them, I just hear the words and know what they mean. It is like a muscle memory kind of thing instead of having to translate every single word I just know what it means. I took a picture in front of the big map and when i can get my hands on a flash drive adapter (because these computers don't let you just plug your camera in) I will send it and a couple others. TRC went really well last  wednesday I was able to share a personal experience without a single english word. also last thursday we were playing basketball and Elder Simonsen (who reminds me a lot of Tim) and another elder ran into each other and kissed. Straight up lips on lips. it was the funniest thing, and afterwards Simonsen said, "well half of the people I have kissed are male, gonna have to fix that ratio when I get back." On Friday we played beach volleyball it was really fun I bet one Elder a dollar that I could do a backflip on the sand, he thought there was no way I could do it but I landed it perfectly. First time doing a backflip in like two months I wasn't sure if I could do it either. Then that night Van Quill had a big chunk of dead skin hanging off the bottom of his foot, but he couldn't quite get to it so I cut it off with nail clippers. It was a disgusting experience grossest piece of skin I have ever seen. I bleached the nail clippers afterwards and took a shower. So Elder Simonsen speaks sign language fluently (because his parents are deaf) and I facetiously asked him how to say drop the hammer in sign language (Jay will know what I'm talking about) and now everyone does it after someone gets insulted. I have also learned how to say get on my level, I got mad skills, and not a chance. So that I can trash talk during basketball. Elder Castleton can now solve the rubik's cube consistently his best time is 4:14 and I have moved my best time down to 1:44 which is faster than the three guys that knew how to solve it before coming here. I got crazy hand eye coordination (thank you videogames). I will send some pictures later today. I hope I get a video of Logan this week, they are the best. And if Hank is in the video its even better. Only two more weeks in the MTC!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 10th

The picture and video of Logan are great I have showed everyone around the video and they all think it is super cute. Not much happened this week, the MTC isn't a terribly exciting place. My had a 40 minute lesson with a native Russian using skype on Monday and it was so cool. It was hard to understand her because she pronounced everything differently (how it is supposed to be not with an American accent) and she talked super fast. But I could understand most of what she said. I have a little notebook where I write down Vocabulary words that I want to learn and then study them later. I know probably 85% of the words in it and there are now over 500 words. Ranging from Restoration and Apostasy to Tomato and pancakes. Which just a little Russian slang for you, there version of the word dangit is pancake. which is pronounced somewhat like Blooyn but the o's sound kind of like e's and it actually uses the Russian letter which looks like "bl" but it is one letter and makes a sound which does not exist in English. I can't wait to get to Russia. I should get my travel plans this Friday. Only two Wednesdays left in the MTC!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sept 3 2014 19th Birthday

This week has gone by so fast, as of today me and my district have now been in the MTC longer than anyone else here. We will be the veterans of the MTC until we leave at the end of this month. I am still not sure when my leave date actually is on packages, letters, and dearelders it keeps switching from Sep29 to Oct01 I get my travel plans next friday though so I will be able to tell you then. Thank you so much for the packages, I got them yesterday at lunch but I shaved that morning so I won't be able to try out the electric razor for a couple more days... ok more like a week. I feel like I have learned so much in just a month but rumor has it that most people feel like they know so much when they leave the MTC, then they get to Russia and can't understand what anybody is saying. One of our teachers says it took her about 5 months in the mission field to get to where she knew 90% of what the natives said to her. This morning I woke up to all the elders in my class sneaking into my room with the intent to spray me with silly string as a surprise birthday thing. I was wearing earplugs and still woke up because of the light that came in when they opened the door, so they decided to spray Van Quill instead then run away. Van Quill got this calender thing where it has a bubble for every day of your mission, and you put a sticker on the day when it ends. the bubbles spell out "Called To Serve" in big letters. So he had to catch up to where we are now and it didn't even finish the first "C" kind of puts in in perspective how long this really is going to be. I can't wait to head out to Russia though. Thank you all for all the happy birthday emails! it really means a lot when that's all I get to hear from everyone. I'll try to send pictures after dinner! Oodachi Vam :) 

 oh and put on the blog please. Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday wishes on Facebook I will reply to any personal messages in 1 year and 11 months

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Aug 27 2013

I don't have my journal with me so I might send another email with more stuff for you to send to everyone. By the way were are you posting that so I can tell people? because they keep asking and I don't know. I love the video of Logan he is moving a lot more than before. It looks like he is about to start doing push ups but then he just sits back down. This sunday Elder Castleton and Simonsen are going to be called as zone leaders which is good. he tries really hard but he just isn't a great leader. In other news I can solve my rubiks cube in about 2 minutes 30 seconds consistently, makes me feel like a total nerd but it is entertaining. The string on my yo-yo broke from use so If another one was in a package soon that would be great, but it' no big deal. I have gained 1 or 2 pounds since getting here it fluctuates daily. I have been playing a lot of basketball and my shins are so sore I have to take breaks and go play foursquare which is super intense but more skill than effort. So every Wednesday we do this thing called TRC where return missionaries or members volunteer to come in and you have to go teach/talk to them for twenty minutes and It is amazing how much I can understand of what they say. It is much harder for me to formulate a response, but I can understand so much more than I thought I would be able to. We have class for 9 to 12 hours a day and sometimes more so it makes sense I bet I have learned more Russian now than I know Spanish from two years of high school.
Another funny thing is that if I am trying to think of a word in Russian and I know the word in Spanish I will accidentally say the word in Spanish sometimes. So some sentences are a mix of three languages we have come to call Spanglishian. I love getting pictures of Logan, and I use him to my advantage in TRC whenever it is a lady I am teaching I will bring up that I have a 7 month old little brother and that he is extremely fat.
 Russian grammar is really hard to get used to. Like instead of saying I have... you say at me there is... even if it is a feeling. so oo menya yest schavstlivooye, means I am happy but the literal translation is at me there is happy. I typed tried my best to transliterate that into English that isn't quite how it is pronounced in Russian but English is missing key letters like backwards R backwards N the one that looks like a little building, the I refer to as the spider, the bl letter sometimes referred to as the 61 which makes a sound I can't even describe with text, and of course b called the soft sign which makes the letter before it sound different in a barely perceptible but apparently very important way. I will write more later if i get a chance to grab my journal and come back. Don't have too much fun without me.

August 20 2013

Thank you for the package of candy it was really packed full of stuff. I took a picture of all of it and a handful of bags of skittles, I have way more skittles still in my suitcases. Not too much to talk about this week, I have gotten into the routine here and not much changes. Learning Russian is going pretty well its a really cool language even if it is confusing and hard to learn. I don't remember if i have talked about this before but there are six "cases" in Russian that effect the ending of most types of words, and you can have multiple cases in a single sentence so if you put something into google translate and send it to me it will be completely butchered, but I will probably understand what you mean since I can just direct translate it back into English and know what you put into Google translate. I only got like 3 emails this week and two from the same person, but I am hoping because I am checking at 8 in the morning Washington time so I will check again later today. You need to keep me updated on what Logan is doing even if you just say that he wiggles a little more than last week. Quotes of the week are "chains on the nets, chains on the people. Straight outta Compton" and "I hate short people, they freak me out" I'll give a quick description of everyone in my class. Elder Gardner (also my roommate) whom I have started calling cupcake is a cuddly little weirdo who is pretty funny. Elder Hansen (also my roommate) is from Idaho and is a fitness nut who takes weird vitamins and herbal pills every day. Elder Stuart is from Texas and is a pretty chill dude he's really good at b-ball. Elder Atchley is from Iowa and he laughs at literally everything with the most ridiculous laugh I have ever heard, he speaks Russian with a midwestern accent. Sister Clark and Sister Russel are pretty quiet very studious and very patient. Elder Hulka is the guy who helped me solve my Rubiks cube and he yo-yos very well he is a big nerdy looking dude but he is cool. Elder Otto is very righteous and little, he doesn't have the best social skills but we get along. Elder Castleton is hilarious he is extremely sarcastic so I call him sassy all the time which he doesn't like because he says it makes him sound like a 14 year old girl. He references movies constantly and loves the show The Office. Elder Simonson is Timmy Green reincarnate but with even more roundabout and confusing logic if you can even imagine that. Me and him get along very well its too bad he is going to St. Petersburg which is farther away from Vladivostok than California is. 
I mentioned in there that I solved my Rubik's cube, it took me four days to figure it out with some help from Elder Hulka, now I need to work on being able to solve it faster and more consistently I still have a lot of work left to do with it. I broke my Yo-yo this week; the string just randomly broke one time. Before that happened I was able to do the cradle, around the world, and some other cool stuff that I don't know the name of. All this makes it sound like I have tons of free time, but I am in class for over 12 hours every day. You wake up eat, go to class, eat, go to class, go to gym, eat, go to class, go to sleep. all this has been accomplished in the last 45 minutes we have in our dorms before we go to sleep. our branch president got back from Europe yesterday, he speaks 8+ languages fluently. and by fluently I mean has translated a book to or from that language or taught lectures in at universities throughout the world. Which was why he was in Europe. He claims to not be able to speak spanish, but he said that he read the book of Mormon in spanish last year so I'm pretty sure he could hold a conversation no problem.  Thanks again for the package and the pictures, If I could get a class picture too that would be great, its very nice to see everyone. and it would be great to hear from them too.