Sunday, December 13, 2009

Week 4: It's Getting COLD!

(Hello in the casual sense)

Greetings Family from Chelyabinsk, Russia! It's December already; I can't believe it. Time really has flown here. I feel like I have been here forever in some ways because my world has changed so much, but in another way I can't believe all those changes have happened in only a four week time span, crazy! I know I wrote last week and said that it honestly hasn't felt that cold yet, but I've been eating those words all week. Saturday and Sunday were when it definitely was cold. I had been feeling all week like it was just a little chillier than usual, then Saturday, it started snowing pretty good, and then the wind started blowing, and by the end of the day, I thought to myself, "This is more like it." Sunday was another extension of that, and I think it has consistently been around -7 or -11 since Saturday. Today (Monday), I finally learned my lesson, and put on those REI winter thermals we bought online (Mom), and it's amazing! I really don't feel cold on my body, just on the portion of my face that is exposed. It's definitely a new experience walking so bundled-up, but not bad. It's still not "cold" here yet, but I think I can handle another 10 or 15 degrees and still feel warm. In a wierd way, I kind of like the extremity of it all. I mean, if you're gonna come on a mission, you might as well freeze a little and have the real deal, right?

Saturday was a really cool night (literally and figuratively : ] ). Francisca emailed me last week and talked to me about how she wished someone would have visited her Dad when he was less-active, but no one ever came. Maybe if someone had, she said, things might have worked out differently for her family. Thanks so much for that story Francisca! It really helped put my mind and heart where it needed to be. Anyways, my companion and I went through our Area Book with this in mind and found two-less actives that agreed to meet with us. So, Saturday night we went and met with both of them. The first is a girl about 26 who has a baby, no husband. Her grandma was an member, and she and her two brothers were baptized, but none of them really ever went to Church. She remembers nothing about the Gospel, just the hymns that we used to sing. So, next time we visit, I'm going to bring my violin and play some hymns for her. We taught her the Plan of Salvation too, and it was like teaching a new investigator. She had no recollection of any of it. Her baby got fussy, and so we said we'd finish the lesson next time we came, but she insisted we finished everything because it was really interesting to her. We're meeting with her on Wed. We also met with a Babooshka who admitted she'd stopped coming to Church becasue of work on Sundays, but she wants to start coming again. She came this Sunday! We're meeting with her again this week too.

It is really cool to feel like you're doing the Lord's work. Like, if He were here, He would be doing the same sort of things. I've been trying to keep this in mind because, sometimes it feels like the work I'm doing is so small and simple compared to what I thought I would be doing as a missionary. But really, the Lord cares for every person, every lost sheep. So, I should care too. There is no visit too menial, and no act of kindness too small if it helps someone out. It's all about love. I don't feel like I really have caught the whole Spirit of this thing as much as I eventually want to, but for some reason, being in the cold and walking a long time in the snow made me feel better. Like, at least I was showing how much I care by sacrificing my warmth to go visit someone. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else... But it makes sense to me! I'm really trying to get in the spirit of it all, and what a better time than Christmas!

In Russia, people don't celebrate Christmas until January 7th. So, December 25th here isn't really a big deal to anyone except the members in the Branches here celebrate it a little. The big holiday here is New Year and New Years Eve. It's basically their Christmas because Jan. 7th isn't that big of a deal either. Anywyas, Dad (and Tasha), the whole of Russia celebrates the end of your Birthday! Haha... : ) Our Mission President said we're not allowed to be outside AT ALL on New Years becasue it's dangerous with all the drinking and partying. Last year they were shut in for three days. I'm not sure what the plan is for us this year. Anyways, I will be calling home on December 25th! I don't know what the family's schedule is, or who is going to Las Cruces for Christmas, but when would be a good time to call? Let me know next week (Mon), and then I can try and confirm it with you when I email, so it won't be like last time when I called from the airport : ) I'm 12 hours ahead here, and I'm not sure when I'll be free, but give me some times that would best work for the fam, and I'll see when I'll be available. We actually have our first transfer the week of Christmas, so I don't know where I'll be. If I stay in Chelyabinsk, then I'll be at the Mission home for Christmas, and if I don't stay in Chelyabinsk, then I'll be somewhere else obviously. So, either way I won't be in Chelyabinsk for Christmas.

So, I feel like I haven't asked any questions about the fam in a while, sorry! I feel like my I've had so much I wanted to say in my last couple of emails. Anyways, Dad! You're not Bishop anymore. I know you will be so missed. Is that weird getting adjusted? Who is the new Bishopric? That's sad news about Victoria, maybe someone could get me her email? You bought a 4 wheeler! Haha I'm kind of surprised, but not really : ) Way to be Mom! Does this one work and everything? Haha... Katie, Mom told me the story about the "poopie" morning you had with the kids. Oh so sorry! Haha. Thanks to all my sister-in-laws and Cami for being such great examples of Motherhood. Really, I can't thank you enough, and I wait to join you! : ) How is Dallas? Does it get cold there in the Winter? How is Doctor Joe? Cassi and Kelly, you guys when do you move exactly? Do you think Greycoat will be able to handle the trip? Haha I miss the coat! Miss you guys too, and thanks for doing the blog again : ) Chris and Francisca, the cupcakes look adorable! And you bought a new car, how fun! I can't believe you have three kids! I always seem to forget haha. I love your emails Francisca and am so glad you can relate to my experiences : ) Josh and Melissa, it looks like Troy is a very big baby! Those pictures of him after surgery were so cute, I hope he wasn't in too much pain. He's a Hakes/Kohler though, so he can handle it. Say hi to Hailey and Harmon for me! Cami and Marcus, I hear you got lots of snow! I can just picture the boys going crazy in it... Haha probably too crazy, right Cami? : ) I also hear Cora is the cutest, fattest listtle girl. Why are all Hakes girls fat babies? Take care of yourselves in Cbad : ) Kimball, I'll think about the Russian girl prospect for you haha... Not a bad idea really if they spoke English. Minor problem. Really though, I always keep you mind! Thanks for your email this week, I really want to start finding by the Spirit and "interwining" it like you mentioned. I can't really right now, as much as I try, my companion just really doesn't believe in finding/tracting at all, but I needed to hear your stories to keep the faith alive. Hang in there, you're the best and you'll get the best : ) Oh, boys! I can't believe you might be in Builder Magazine -- even around 150! Ahh so sweet! Good old HB! How is the business doing these days? Did you make the Obama deadline end of November? I actually thought about that deadline becauae when it turned to December, I thought there was something important/stressful happening, and then I remembered... Haha look what you did to me? Loved every minute of it. Mees, good luck with all of your concerts I hear your having at the Y. Hang in there! I'm sure Finals are really tough, but soon it'll be over, and you can look back and see all that you accomplished. And you'll be home for Christmas! I bet you're excited. And I'm sure the Bear is excited too... Bear, you're almost done with Hagrid, right? Sounds like you're semester has been extreme, so I expect to get an email back with all of your ventings... nothing spared! I'd love to hear about it. My hinks need to eat lots of cinnamon rolls for me! Thank you. Mom, I can just picture you putting the Christmas tree up and making the house look AMAZING as usual. Please hang up that ugly little Drummer boy that you hate, but I love. It's my favorite. You're the best, really. I never know what else to say. Simply the best. Dad too. Love you all tons!

Sounds like everyone is doing well. Enjoy the LC snow! And I hope you enjoy the Chritsmas season, and survive the finals/etc. until you can enjoy your Christmas break! I'll talk to you next week and keep you in my prayers.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Letter 3 From Russia-Letter 2 was also Posted Today


How is everyone! I feel like I just talked to you, maybe because I kind of just did on Thursday. Either way, I am glad I get to talk to you so soon again! I've only had three working days since my last letter, so there's not as much to say I guess.

The highlight of my week though has been my first Zone Conference, which happened on Saturday. So good! It was so nice to see the Mission President and his wife again, along with our AP's who are both really nice. I really like my President. He's very strict, but at the same time he can tell good jokes and has a lot of insights from the scriptures. His wife is really sweet too. Anyways, they taught us about the importance of the BoM in teaching people the Gospel. They reiterated the point that either the BoM is true and the whole Church is true, or it is false and our Church has no foundation. The people we teach need to realize that because a lot of them really love the BoM, but have a hard time expecting Joseph Smith is a prophet. That doesn't make sense to me, becasue we wouldn't have the BoM without Joseph Smith, but anyways, that's why we need to remind them that the validity of our entire message hinges upon the BoM -- the keystone as you know. I really am grateful for the BoM, and have been able to read through a lot of it since I've been on my mission. To me, it is so obviously true. It answers every question of the soul: where am I going, what is the purpose of life, where did I come from. Every one we teach loves it too, but I think that if they acknowledge it is the word of God, then they feel obligated to change, and join the Church. Everyone is afraid of change, me included, because it is usually hard. However, I know that the changes the Gospel requires us to make really benefit you in the long run, even eternally. Just looking at the joy the Gospel has brought my family, and families here in Russia, makes that so apparent to me. If only everyone would accept the Goespel, then the world would be a happier place. I guess I am saying all of this becasue we taught a lady with two kids here and gave her a baptizmal date for January 23 (me second one, kind of exciting!). She has a list of concerns though still, that we need to work with her on. She is reluctant to change, like no coffee/tea, law of chastity, etc. But, my companion told her that when you meet God, do you want him to say "you were so close, but tea and coffee kept you from eternal glory." I thought that was really bold, but my comp is usually really bold when she teaches. I LIKE that a lot! I want to be like that in a loving way : ) Anyways, I guess that what got me thinking about change. I know the Gospel requires it of people, but like Joseph Smith said, "no Church that doesn't require the sacrifice of all things will never provide faith sufficient enough to ensure salvation..." or something like that. So, we should be grateful for our little sacrifices! Me inlcuded! I'm starting to have a better attitude about my sacrifices here in Russia, and I know that in time whey will seem very little in comparison to all the blessings.

I love the family tons! Sorry if you get sick of hearing that! Sounds like Thanksgiving was a lot of fun and I wish I could have played football with you. And eaten the pumpkin pie... Oh well! That will still be there in 15 months. And, I can't believe New Moon already came out. Is that bad I still care? I'm trying to leave the world behind me, but news like that always peaks my interest haha. Also want to give a shout out to all my lovely friends who have written me recently or have even cared to check the blog. I'm always so touched when someone says they checked the blog, I'm like you really do care about me! Haha.

To answer some of Mom's questions:
I have my first Visa trip to FINLAND the beginning of Feb. If all goes as planned we'll be able to do a Temple Session in Helsinki before we head back. We'll only be in Finland 7 hours, so it will be a very quick, tight trip. What else... If I stay in Chelyabinsk this next transfer, then I get to have Christmas in the mission home which would be cool. I can't remember any of your other questions Mom, sorry! I'll finish answering them next time.

Love you all again! I miss all the grandkids! And the brothers! And the sisters! And the parents! And the friends! Thanks Cody Sowards, Megan and Michael, and Bro. Connell for writing me. I really appreciated it : )

The Church is true!

Sister Hakes

Week 2 in Russia=Happy Thanksgiving!


Week 2 has come and gone! Well, it has been a week and a half since my last letter. They let us have Thursday, today, as Pday to celebrate Thanksgiving (Dien Blagodavenya). So much has happened! I'll do my best to try and update you in the short time I have. I received about 25 letters from the family. You have NO idea how that helps me. Thanks so much for your support, advice, and familiar expereinces it sounds like you've all hear (mission or not). I love you so much! That's probably my biggest problem out here, is that I love my family and home too much : ( Promise me you'll remember in 15 months! (Today is my three month mark.)

Ok, so the work here, first and foremost. Our goal as a mission right now is to have 20 lessons a week, which is a decent stretch for most companionships. Most of these meetings are with less-actives. We have two area books in our apartment, both FULL if not overflowing with less-active families. It seems so sad to me that the CHurch has only been here about 15 years, and so many have already chosen to become inactive. The lifestyle here for the Russian people makes it hard to keep the Gospel. The culture is much like America's: I hear a lot of the same songs on the bus (marshootkye), and the same billboards with models, etc. The culture seems more wordly to me though. A LOT of people are drunk, which hasn't been a problem or anything, but it's hard to keep males active in the Church because drinking is just what men do in Russia. So, most of out visits are with girls, young, single girls. I feel for them becasue many of them want families, etc., but there are no LDS guys to date. I've had one appointment with a guy, the rest with girls. I am really strengthened though by the kindness and the faith of the active members here. You can tell they really love the Gospel, there's no half-way. The people here ALL live in Dom's. And yes Josh, they are EXACTLY as you described them. The whole city is full of these 10 story apartment buildings that all look the same. I think there might be one neighborhood with actual houses, but I haven't really seen it yet. The apartments inside aren't actually that bad. The are very small, and you can tell they are very old (early Soviet days), but the people REALLY take care of their small space. It impresses me. They decorate with a lot of rugs, like floor rugs. All over the walls, on beds, etc. I'll have to show you a picture. Also, even though I'm sure they don't have a lot of food to share, they ALWAYS offer us Chai Tea (the herbal tea) and some sort of food. Their kindness really inspires me and makes it easier to serve them. Funny/creepy story, my companion and I got in an elevator in one of the Dom's to visit an old Babooshka who is less-active. When we got in the elevator (lift), there was a nice, fresh pile of human poop in the corner. It was also smeared all over one of the walls. Yep. That's all I can say. We ended up taking the lift though anyways with our noses plugged, becasue her apartment was on the 8 or 9 floor. The orange analogy is so true. The people seem really hard on the outside, like on the streets, but when they let you into their houses, they are extremely sweet. They always hug you really tight, and even kiss you sometimes. They are really nice to me even though I have no idea what they are saying 80 percent of the time.

Cool experience. We taught a young lady named Kshoosha. They call her the "eternal investigator." She has investigated the Church since 1999 and seems a part of the Ward, but has never even accepted a Baptismal date. My companion has been here three months and has worked really hard to get her to commit to baptism, but it hasn't happened. So, we met with her Tues. and had a really spiritual meeting with her. Her issue is family, much like Victoria. My companion told her we wouldn't leave unless we had a date. So, we got a date! I don't feel like I did very much to help that along, just smiled a lot. But, it really is amazing how even though I don't know what is being taught, when I do speak, my companion says it always relate to what she was saying, and I feel like I can bring the Spirit with my simple testimony. Not much, but I feel ok with myself if I can do that much for now.

Another cool story. That same day, Tues (we had seven appointments which is really good they say) our last appointment was with a lady who had been inactive for two years, and had had nothing to do with the Church at all during that time. Anyways, we found her one night when, we didn't have an appointment and my comp wanted to go home at like 7. I know we're supposed to work until 9. So, I suggested maybe we tract or something. She said no, I'm tired. She said we could make calls from the Area Book though. I agreed and felt that was a good compromise. So, we get back home and, she puts her pj's on and says she doesn't want to make calls. So, that leaves me alone, trying to call thses people in Russian. I was determined though to work the full time, so she laid on the couch laughing at me as I struggled to speak to these people in Russia. She eventually flet bad for me though, and came over to call too. I was so happy. I was praying a lot at this time for the Lord to bless me for trying to work hard and be obedient. Then, lo and behold! The first pesron she calls is this lady, who said she wasn't doing well. She said that the last time she wasn't doing well, the missionaries called her then too. She said she didn't want us to come, but she'd let us come by becasue there had to be some meaning to the coincidence. So, when we went by, she was very hurt emotionally. She said she didn't believe in anything anymore, and when we asked her to get her scriptures, she said she had thrown them all away. She cried a lot though when we started talking about the Gospel, she even had to get up to leave the room a couple of times to get a tissue. Anyways, by the time we left, she was smiling, and we have another appointment with her this Friday. Amazing! That day Tues. was so cool. I like the feeling of being able to help people, even though I'm not really doing all that much but smiling.

So, as for some of your questions. Yes, it's cold here, but really, I don't ever feel cold. I feel hot as much as I feel cold. The heaters in the hbuildings are really good, and if I leave my winter gear on inside for like 5 minutes, I start to sweat. Plus, I bought winter boots (black leather like most people wear here), and a winter coat (I took a picture I'll send you sometime soon). So, when I'm outside I feel warm. The sad part though is that people here don't consider it winter yet haha. I hear it doesn't get "cold" until Jan or Feb. So, this weathr to them is pretty nice, even though it looks like winter to me haha. It'll be good though. I have some more layers I'll be able to add for when this happens. Oh, fyi, the people here get so decked-out. ALL of the girls were high stilleto boots for everyday wear. Yes, I covet them : ) Looking good is really important to the people even thought they don't have money. They buy flashy things and wear them over and over. The food is good. Very natural, like bread, cheese, meats (like sausages...), and fruit. Juice here is amazing becasue it is actual fruit juice. They use a lot of rich foods here though, becasue they don't eat a lot in quantity, but it really sticks to you. Like mayonnaise, sour cream, butter, etc. That scares me! But at least it tastes good and I make a lot of my own food most of the time. So, I haven't had problems with that yet.

I'm doing good! Better than last week. The full adjustment is going to take some full time. Like someone said in their letter, I keep comparing them to America and pointing out flaws. I'm trying hard to accept the differences and learn to love this new culture too. I know I will. I already have started too, but I know it'll take time. My companion is really good. She works hard. However, she has her moments, like that one night when she just gives out. We still haven't gone contacting, but I try to do little things on the bus or something as best I can. I feel love for her though. She does a lot for me that I couldn't do for myself - like talk, know the bus routes, know the people, how to use roubles, etc. I am grateful for that. I am looking forward to the day when I won't feel mute and a little helpless : ) I can relate to everyone's experiences they've shared with me. That helps so much.

The Gospel is true. It touches lives, and blesses families. Even families in Russia. I love you all and hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving Day! Think of me when you're eating Pumpkin Pie. LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU!

Sister Hakes

Business: Mom do you have a recipe for Gingerbread houses? The frosting and actual cookie. A family in our ward here wants to make them. I just thought I'd ask. Also, I got your Dear Elder (Cassi's too) last week. It was so nice! I guess if you wanted to write those every now and then, they print them off in the office when people go into Yekat (a couple of times every six weeks). So, if you'd like. Also, I got your letter you must have sent me my first week or two at the MTC with letters from Grandma and Grandmpa, the Church News article about the family with 7 missionraies, and your little not saying I had received money. Anyways, I don't know why I didn't get it at the MTC, but here in Russia, but it was a nice surprise : ) Was that money supposed to be with my letter? Cus it wasn't there. Just wanting to make sure no one snatched it up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Russia=cold, crazy, and far.

Hi Family!

Today, Monday, is Pday - my first in the field. And I don't know where to start beyond that. So much has happened! First of all, I'm in Russia.. in case you didn't know : ) After I talked to Mom in Denver, we had a 10 hour flight to Frankfurt, which you know. I had been planning on sleeping the whole flight because it was a red-eye, but I was assigned a seat between two elders, so we talked for like 6 hours straight haha. The flight was packed, so I probably couldn't had slept even if I wanted to. NOTHING romantic Mom so don't get any ideas : ) All of my elders from the MTC are long gone (super sad) so it was nice to spend time getting to know some of the elders I will be serving with here in Ekat. Plus, we all had a lot of thoughts and concerns running through our minds, so it was good to talk about things. Anyways, so I tried to sleep in the airport during our 11 hour layover in Frankfurt, but that wasn't too successful if you can imagine. For our flight into Russia, we were all really excited to be with Russian people on the flight and try and speak with them. However, I ended up sitting all by myself in my row, so I slept all but maybe five minutes of the flight (it was about 5 hours). The whole travel to Russia was weird and I for the first time really felt the responsibility to be a representative of Jesus Christ. I was sad I didn't get to sit by a Russian and talk, but I'm learning to be patient...

So, we land in Russia and go through all the tight security, and for some reason, the Customs people starting pointing and yelling at me in Russia. All I understood was "Come" "Look" and "Do you have English books?" I figured they were wanting to look at all of my books in my bags so I opened up my bag and let them search it. Of all like 14 of us missionaries, of course I was the one to be stopped. Anyways, the AP's showed up at this point and talked to them in Russia. Turns out the security guy was curious about all these American missionaries and wanted to know more. So the AP's got a refferal out of him haha. Glad I could facilitate that I guess. Anyways, that is how the mission president frst saw me. The AP's seem really really awesome, and I was so glad to see them at the time. I also met my Mission Pres at the airport. President Alcott seems like a really good guy, both he and his wife. He is very focused on the mission being obedient, and I can tell that that is his "thing." He calls our mission a White Handbook mission and although he is nice, he is not real warm fuzzy, lovey dovey. He is task-oriented and not a big motivator. That's good though. I like that. I can see how our mission would need that kind of leadership. There is a lot of work to do here.

We drive into Ekat next and it honsetly reminded me of Juarez, yikes! It is definitely a couple of steps up from that, but with all the snow, the city looked really dirty and people drive really crazy like in Juarez. All of us were just in a daze looking at all the Russian sigs, etc. I wouldn't have any idea of how to get around this place if I didn't have my trainer or someone with me. Anyways, I'm giving too much detail... SO, the mission home is REALLY nice. You wouldn't tell from the outside, but you walk in and I felt like I was in America again. That is where the pictures were taken of us. It's two floors and really nicely kept. We had an hour to ourselves, to shower or sleep, and then the AP's were making us a Russian breakfast. I was surprised they actually let us rest a lot the first day. I've heard horror stories about people not being allowed to sleep, and since our mission pres seemed strict, I was slightly surprised but really grateful. I slept before breakfast and for maybe three hours that afternoon, and then they let us go to bed at 8:30 that night instead of 10:30. I woke up feeling rested the next day. We did training and orientation those first two days. It was SO nice because all of the trainers were there with us, so we got to ease into getting to know each other a little bit. We stayed at the mission home til 3 the next afternoon and then I was sent to: Chelyabinsk! My first area. My companion is Sister Zaxarova. She is native Russian and really sweet, but very Russian at the same time : )

I've been in "Chili" (that's what they call it) for a little over three days now, and to be honest, I've had a little hard of a time adjusting to everything. I'm trying really hard to be strong, but everything is so foreign to me. On that note, my companion is an obedient missionary, for the most part, but she only has three transfers left in her mission and seems a little less focused on doing the work. That is really hard for me. I still feel like I haven't done any missionary work yet since I have been in Russia. When I got here, I wanted to talk to EVERYONE. To say hi, give a pass along card, or something, but my companion doen't like contacting or tracting. She feels like it is ineffective. In fact, we don't have any new investigators to teach right now, and that doesn't seem to bother her too much. She is really good with the members. They love her. She likes focusing on less-actives, and getting them to come to Church, so most of the appointments she makes are with people alrady in the Gospel. I have gone to two of those appointments. Basically, we go hang out for a while and share a little message. At least that is what I think, it's all in Russian so I don't get most of it. I don't feel like we bring the Spirit a whole lot or anything, but maybe I'm just oblivious. She tells me to be patient, becasue I have only been here three days and we need time to buy my things, have Pday, and go to Church on Sunday, etc. But, I hope I don't have to wait to long to feel like a missionary. I actually decided within myself that if she isn't going to talk to people, I will. That is hard, cuz I don't know how to converse with anyone, but this morning I gave someone my first pass-along card. (I'm going to send this much of my letter now in case I lose any info. The computers are unreliable. I'll send the second half right now.)

Russia=cold, crazy, and foreign; Part II

My companion has a skin problem, so she has to go to a tanning bed once a week to treat it I guess? Anyways, I determined beforehand that I WILL talk and give something to the people at the tanning salon, whoever they may be. So I did! I tried to speak in Russian, but it didn't really work, so I just handed the lady thecard and said this is for you, and then I left becasue my comp was looking at me weird. Anyways, I've realized that I just have to do things for myself sometimes and take charge. I will probably learn al ot of that on my mission. That is really hard for me to do, but I think that is what I meant to learn from all of this. She is my trainer though, so I feel like I'm tip-toeing around doing anything that would make her feel bad. She is promising me though that we will get busy with appoiontments and we will work hard together, so I'm just praying that will be the case. I really do like her, and I am optimistic this will all work out. Maybe I just need to be patient like she says another day.

Now that I have that off my chest, I can give you some idea of what life is like here. We ride busses everywhere. We rode a bus from Ekat to Chili, and it was interesting. The driver wouldn't let us on for some reason, and so my comp had to argue with him to let us on. I wanted to laugh but she says smiling doesn't help anything here. Nobody smiles at eachother on the streets or says hi. That also makes it difficul to to contact. On the ride from Ekat to Chili, we stopped at a little rest station and I got out to go to the bathroom with my comp. This was when reality hit. Up until this time, I had been mostly in the mission home and speaking english, etc. Anyways, the bathroom was like a little wooden barn that was falling apart. There was no difference for men and women. There was no lighting, but a little old lady, or babooshka, was keeping a fire in a whole in the side of the wall going. When I saw this my stomach just left me cus it smelled really bad too. Anyways, I go into the "stall" and there is nothing but a whole in the ground, abucket of water and a trash can. Yes, it was a "bucket-o-geeds" as Kimball and Mees like to call it. I laughed to myself and realized that joke wasn't so funny anymore when that is all you have to use. So, I figured out how to flush with the bucket and all was well. Haha. Good thing little things like that don't bother me too too much, though it will take some time getting used to it. I am told my apratment is nice, and I suppose it is. It's not too bad, but really, I've only just realized how plush my life was in the U.S. Everything is very basic. I live in one of those apartments or "Dom's". Josh can explain more about those. Pretty much everyone here lives in the same house/apartment. There are alot of these apratment buildings about ten stories high. They seem really small to me, especially when I visit the members and realize their whole family of maybe three kids and two parents live in these two bedroom apartments. Kind of sad, but to them it is normal. Be grateful! That's all I have to say haha : )

Anyways, I hope I don't sound like I'm whining or complaining or anything. Maybe I shouldn't be so honest. But really,I was expecting it to be this foreign and hard. I like that quote by Holland, Mom, and in fact he said that same thing when he came to talk to us at the MTC. The Savior sacrificed his life, his entire life, so all people have the opportunity to be resurrected and redeemed through the Atonement. His job was not easy. I know that finding people to teach in Russia will not be easy either becasue "salvation is not a cheap expereince." It just isn't. But would we want it to be? I know I appreciate everything a lot more now that I'm starting to recognize how blessed I really am. Being a missionary is hard, but that's ok. I know it will be rewarding down the road when I can get to know the people a little better. One of the sisters said when we were at the Mission home, that she wouldn't be on a mission if she was doing all of this for herself. It's too hard that nobody in their right mind would ever do it for just themselves. I'm glad she said that becasue it is the same with me too.

Anyways, for matters of business:
Mail is exactly as you described it Mom. You can send pouch, not pouch, or packages, but either way it will take a while to get to me. You can still DearElder, but I won't get those as well until someone from the Office comes out to my area. The best bet is email. I know I can receive emails weekly for sure. Someone from my area will probably be in the office again in six weeks for transfers, Dec. 16 to be exact (I think). So, if you do send something via post, I will get it then. What else... Oh, I should probably mention that I am doing ok. I broke down a little yesterday at Church becasue I didn't understand anyone and felt useless, but a little crying is good for me : ) It will only make me grow. Thanks for all of your emails and letters of support. It's good to know that I have two parents and four brothers that have gone through this too. I miss my MTC comps, and I tried to send this letter to them too, I hope they got it (HI!!). I see light at the end of the tunnel and I know that everything will work out. Really, I know that! No worries! Oh yeah, you asked how the Russian was. Well, I don't understand much at all, but everyone says that is normal. I am studying it like crazy though because I really want to understand it as quickly as possible. Patience is the key word right now.
Love you all so much. I'll probably look at this email in a week and will have forgotten how crazy everything seemed to me right now. Things are already getting better. The Church is true. I am in the Lords hands. And I feel your prayers of strength every day. If you have any advice on how to deal with my trainer, like how to encourage her to contact, etc. let me know. I've been praying for helkp and really do feel like I have been given guidance from the Lord already. Love you Love you Love you. Say hi to everyone for me! And, tell them I am doing well. I can't wait to read your emails next week : )


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Super Excited Birdie!

Hello Family!

This is my last letter I'll be sending you from the MTC! Actually, I might find time next Tues. morning to write, just before I head out. I leave Tues. (10th) morning at 10 AM. We fly out of SLC at 1;30 ish and arrive in Denver at about 3. We fly out of Denver at 5:30 and fly all night to Frankfurt, Germany (woohoo!). We have a lay-over there ALL DAY and don't fly out that night until 11 PM. I wish we could leave the airport to do some sight-seeing, but that's not allowed. But I've never been to Europe before, so that's cool... I guess I'll be there/Asia for the next 15 months though haha... Anyways, we fly straight to Yekat from Frankfurt, and arrive at Yekat at 6:55 AM. Haha, just in time to start a full day of work! Actually, from what I've heard, most of the time you get on a train/bus for about another 8 hours or so if you're in a different area than Yekat. So, that's two red eye flights if you were wondering and two, maybe three full days of travel. I'm super super super excited though to get this thing started. I'd say FINALLY but time really has gone fast, so I don't feel like I've been waiting forever here at the MTC.

I'm going to need to withdraw more cash from my account. Is that ok Dad? I don't even know how much $ I have, if anything. For every pound you have over 105, it's 15 dollars including your carry-ons. The international flights are really picky about weight and bags sizes so I'm doing my best to not have ANY excess weight charges, but everyone is telling us to plan for the worst. Almost every missionary we've talked to said they had to pay some sort of ridiculous fine. I hope I can get my violin through too... From what I've heard, I can call you guys on the phone from the airport. So, I think I'll make a quick call from the Denver airport, so probably around 4 PM on Tues if that's ok. I won't have a lot of time, but maybe just a quick hello. Should I call mom's phone? Let me know. Oh, and if I have things I don't finding room for in my bags, I'll leave them here at the MTC and Meesa can come pick them up after I leave. You're allowed to do that if I just leave them her phone number. It's 635-6727 right? If that's ok. It won't be much and I figured she can take it home at Thanksgiving. Let me know. I don't know my address yet in the field, so I'll let you know when I get there. I'm not sure we have the Pouch service there either : (

Anyways, enough business. I needed to get all of those things off my chest before I could write anything else though.Sounds like the funeral was really touching. I thought of their family alot all week. They are just so loved. Really, the news about Aunt Cathy really motivated me to share the Gospel with other people. It's real, ya know? We really will live together forever and we can know that through Jesus Christ. So sad not everyone knows that. It made everything I teach a little more personal, and it made me thankful for everything a little more. Dad, wow you're in the St. Pres.! Super cool. I know everyone back home really looks up to you and Mom in Las Cruces, thanks for all you do. I'm so sad you're not my Bishop anymore though... I know the Singles Ward is REALLY going to miss you.

I feel super ready to go! We had a really good Fast and Testimony mtg on sunfay with our Branch, and it's so coll to be a missionary. Haha I know I sound really dorky, but it's true. Such an amazing opportunity. Don't worry about me, Russia ain't no big deal! Haha... gott run. Will try and write some hand-written letters today still. Love you all tons and enjoy the Holiday season for me while I'm gone! All the kids look super cute in their halloween costumes!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Three Weeks Left!


Ugh I just read all of your emails and I loved every one of them! I keep thanking you for the support but really it means a lot to me. Josh, I could see the vidoe of TROY! He has gotten so big! Ugh I just loved it! I got a little teary eyed, not gonna lie : ) Miss you all tons

So, I spent most of my half hour reading you emails, sorry! I only have about 7 minutes, so I'll try to make this good.

Yes, I only have three weeks before I leave to Russia! Ahh! It still hasn't really settled in. More than anything though, I just feel ready to start doing the Lord's work. I have constantly reminded in small and bigger ways during my stay here at the MTC I have no need to worry because I am doing something greater than myself. If I was going to Russia for myself or for any other reason, I would feel much more anxiety, but I know that I am sharing the message of Jesus Christ, which is true. And becasue I am "about my Father's work" things will work out for me.

Las night, the native Russian sisters taught my companions and I the first lesson, the Restoration of the Gospel. They taught it in Russian and I could actually understand it! Well, the gist of it anyway. They are so sweet and full of faith. I can only imagine what it would be like to be the first in your family to join the Church, and then live faithfully and serve a mission. They strengthen me so much because they take nothing for granted. Anyways, I actually think I'm going to get Russian. I know it'll take between three-six months, but I know it'll come. I pray that it'll come enoguh that I can at least teach the Gospel and fulfill my purpose to the people of Russia. That is all I really want.

Ummm, I already ran out of time : ( The Chruch is true and it changes lives! Remeber me in your prayers and know of my love for you!

Cectpa Hakes

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Some Cute Photos from the MTC

4 Weeks left!


Thanks everyone for your letters this week! It is so good to hear from you all and Cami, Josh, Francisca I love the pictures/notes of the neices and nephews! So sweet! I miss seeing little kids so much. Occasionally there'll be one or two at the MTC and I just go crazy. I'm weird I know.

Um, I have 14 minutes so I'll write as much as I can. Sorry I can't write everyone more persoanlly when you are so good at writing me, but I am trying my best! Not too much time, which is how it is meant to be.

This week we got a real investigator! His name is Tony and he lives in Nova Scotia. Every Monday our District goes to the RC which is where we get all the phone calls/online chats/ and video or Book of Mormon requests by phone. My companion contacted tony I think via phone call and since last Monday, we've taught the first and part of the second lesson. He is a lost soul but really wants to do God's will. We actually just got off the phone from talking to him and His brother had a stroke and died yesterday. Really sad. Kind of perfect though because we just planned on teaching him about the plan of salvation - second lesson. So we cheered him up a bit before he left to Halifax for his brother's funeral. We testified a lot about God's love and how we can return to live with Him and our families after this life. Really sweet Spirit and my companions do a great job of teaching by the Spirit. Although all of this is just over the phone, I feel like I caught a little glimpse of what it feels like to be in the field and teaching real people. So awesome.

I have four weeks to go before I leave for - Russia! I still can't get over the fact I'm going there. We got two new native Russian sisters last night, one of which is going to my mission. It is so cool to see them because most of them have never been to the USA before, most aren't endowed, and most haven't even received their Patriarchal Blessing yet. I am just so inspired and impressed by their dedication to the Church in a place where there are so few members and the culture is so full of tradition. It gives me hope though that there are more people just like them in Russia waiting to be taught. Most if not all members in Russia are converts because the Gospel has only been there since the breaking up of the Soviet Union, which I'm sure you all know. It just amazes me though how people all over the world are accepting the true message despite whatever circumstances they live in. I feel so blessed and so lucky - it just seems unfair. I can't wait to get to know these sweet sisters better : )

Russian is coming along. We do an hour everyday of SYL (Speak your Language) which isn't that much but I feel like it helps me a lot. The past week I've learned al ot more vocabulary and familiraity with the language I feel like because we've had to teach in Russian a couple times now. When we teach we have to try and formulate our own sentances and thoughts coherently in Russian, so that has improved my speaking a lot. I still have so much to learn! Kind of overwhelming. But really, I feel ok and I know it'll come... eventually : ) I actually don't worry about the language too much though. Not as much as I thougt I would at least. It think it's because I know it'll be really har the whole time, so I've tried to come to terms with that.

Wow, 60 poeple at Colin's baptizm!! I've never heard of such a thing! So awesome. I am so glad you are having missionary experiences back home with Victoria, Colin, and even Todd Horton. I feel like we're all working together, isn't that cool? I'm glad my family loves missionary work too. Well, love you all so much! Talk to you in 7 days!

Sister Hakes : )

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Bird's Conference

Zdratsvootyeh Cemya!

That's Hello Family! in Russian (sort of, I can't use the Russian characters on our keyboard). Anyways, how is everyone? I loved all the letters I received this week... and YES, Elder Neilson's talk about the missionaries in Russia was awesome for me. A lot of you asked about that. It was so cool to be sitting in the MTC, with all the Russian missionaries, and realize that they were specifically talking about us. It was amazing to hear something in General Conference that seemed to apply to me so specifically. Such a blessing. All of us Russians went back to our floor where our classroom is and talked about it after. We all felt so pumped up and ready to go! Yes Mom, I did cry : ) Oh, but by the way, I've gotten much better at not crying I think haha. I've only done it for real once, and that was when I had that experience last week : ) Maybe I won't be a weepy missionary, but it's okay if I am too.

So, how did you all like Conference? It sounded like it was a fun time for the Fam in Cruces, and I'm sure everyone else enjoyed it too. I hear Monson's talk on anger was pretty moving. I hope the guys at HB don't worry about anger too much, I always felt everyone was so nice at work... really : ) Meesa, were you in the Conference Center for Sun. Afternoon? I think that is what Mom said. Wow, that was an amazing session for you and Colin to be in! Elder Holland's talk should be a classic. I bet that was really powerful for Colin to hear live - what an experience! Especially when he ripped out the original BoM that Joseph and Hyrum had written in, haha it was so perfect! One of the Elder's in my group almost scratched out the testimony of the Three Witnesses and wrote four, so he could add Elder Holland's name to the group. Haha I love my Elders...

I've taught the First Lesson in Russian three times and it's been okay. I feel like I can say what I've been taught to say and what I'm expected to know how to say, but I am so limited. I have things popping up in my mind that I want to tell our investigators, but I stop midway through my sentance because I don't know how to say it. So I just need to get used to that kind of frustration because, I know if I let it get to me then I'll be upset alot of my mission. It's good in a way though to be limited in speach because you are forced to teach just the simple, plain truths of the Gospel. Which honestly, from what I've learned, is the best way to teach. And I know I'll be helped by the Lord to say what I need to say, when I need to say it. I have a really strong faith in that.

I leave for Russia five weeks from today, which may sound long to you but I just can't believe it! My attitude about leaving has been pretty consistent. I know it's going to be really hard, harder than I can probably realize now, but I'm okay with that. Joe, I loved the letter you and Katie sent me. I feel like once I get to Russia, doors will be opened for me so much that I'll just forget that it's hard. I hope to just loose myself in the work. I feel like there are good people there that are ready and waiting, and maybe, perhaps I might be an instrument in the Lord's hands. That's kind of my motto right now, "perhaps" from that scripture in Alma. Anyways, time is up!

Mom, love you tons and thanks for all you do for me.
Dad, I got your letter and I hope your hip feels better real soon! Glad I'm not there to see you in pain : ( Say hi to the Ward and give them my love
Kimball, get better too!
HB is awesome boys keep up the good work! I love and miss you all tons!
Cami and Marcus good luck with the Baby blessing! You have such a beautiful family wish I could be there!
Bear get better too!
Cassi and Kelly you're angels for setting me up a blog! So sweet. Can't see it but I'm sure it's lovely.
Mees, keep up the good work in Chamber, wow! Tell Colin hi for me and write me about your weekend together!

Oh btw, I have had really bad pink eye so sorry if you get a bill from the doctor... nmy glasses have been a lifesaver theses past two weeks : )

LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Gift of Tongues

Dear All,

Kalli accidentally pushed the wrong button at the internet center at the MTC and lost her letter last Tues. (to the fam). She subsequently wrote a long one to us all. I have included here a portion of the letter that you will find interesting. Love you all and thanks so much for supporting her!

"Cool story: This morning (Tues. pday) I got to go to the Temple. *side note: I love going to the Temple and everytime I do I think about how cool my first time was. Thanks Mom and Dad for making that SO special. I feel closest to the fam when I go to the Temple. After the Temple, we had a TE (Teaching Appt.) which is where we can set-up an appointment to go teach a mock investigator. This morning we weren't too excited because we had arranged to teach in Russian for the first time in practise for tomorrow night (Wed.). Anyways, our lesson was going pretty good, the lady actually seemed to understnad us. My companions asked good questions and all seemed pretty good, normal. Then, when it came my turn to speak the First Vission in Russian, I've said it a lot of times in class, etc., but this time it was different. When I was speaking it, I suddenly realized I sounded different - like, I sounded really Russian! My accent was so pure and my mouth was moving so naturally. I felt the spirit SO STRONG. As I was speaking the words, I felt the power of it more strongly than I ever had before. I started to cry and my investigator did too. My companions just looked at me because they knew something was different too. I don't know how to explain it other than to say it wasn't me, but the Spirit. The giftof tongues is REAL. I wasn't expecting that at all because, to be honest, it's just the MTC and it was just practice. But I feel like that Lord was blessing me because I've worried so much about whether or not I'm being a good enough missionary. If I'm working hard enough on the language, etc. It's like He was telling me I'm doing ok. And that He will give me the ability to speak when He'll need me to as long as I do what I should and rely on Him So awesome."

Thot you would enjoy this excerpt from her letter.

Love, Mom/Lisa

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week 5-"Oh No!" September 29th

I just wrote the family probably the best letter so far, and for some reason it wouldn't send, and then I ran out of time... I'm going to try and fix it at the IT center, but if not I'm so sorry. I'll handwrite you all a letter instead. Thanks so much for your package Mom! It was so amazing. I really appreciate all you do for me, the letters, prayers, etc. because I know you are so busy. Please say hi and I'm sorry to the fam for me and check the mailbox for a letter from me! Say hi to Dad! I haven't heard too much from Him but I'm sure he's busy and doing amazing things. Love you all so much... too much actually it's kind of pathetic : ) Bird

Week 4: September 22nd, 09

> How is everyone doing?? I hope all is well. Sounds like Kimball and Carrie are both pretty sick, that's no good. I actually woke up with a sore throat this morning too, but I don't think I'll get too sick.
> Kimball - Hope you get better. HB needs you! That's cool you hired Todd Horton. He'll be a great addition I'm sure. I hear the Dallas thing was pretty awesome, that's so cool you heard Uchtdorf! Did you have a good time? I keep my eye out for you in the girl department all the time. I'll let you know if I find anything here : ) Much love
> Joe/Katie - Thanks for the phone call you gave befor I arrived at the MTC. I still think of your advice al ot and I know what you mean about feeling the "mantle." It's very real. Katie! I keep thinking about how you wanted to serve a mission. You would've done such a great job, but you're such an amazing mother. Thanks for being so awesome.
> Chris/Francisca - Oh my gosh! The baby pictures I've been able to see have been just PRECIOUS! How are you two holding up? I'm sure life is hectic for you but thanks for dropping me a line here and there to say hi. I really appreciate it. Franciscsa, you're so sweet to think of a watch for me. I've actually been thinking I need one, but they're really expensive here. So if you get a chance... but no worries if you cant.
> Cami/Marcus - Cami I just loved your letter! You are probably so busy right now so I don't expect to hear from you all the time, but I am glad when I can. How is Marcus? Cora? The boys? Give them my love. Sounds like Mom will be paying you a visit soon. Best of luck with your surgeries. I'll be thinking of you : )
> Josh/Melissa - Thanks for sending those pictures my way from the Dallas game, etc. You guys make such a beautiful family. How are Troy and Hailey? I miss seeing the neices and nephews so much. Josh, I looked at the calendar today and saw it was almost the end of the month and thought to myself that I needed to do Builder's Risk still. Haha old habits die hard : )
> Bear- I'm so sorry you're sick and I hope by now you're doing better! I think of you a lot and I hope you're having a good time in Cruces. How's Hagrid? I'm writing this letter from the 3rd floor of the RC building. So weird you worked here... When I see BYU students here for work I picture my Bear in her greenish plaid skirt walking around with her paws. Love you and keep me posted with your lovely life right now!
> Cassi/Kelly - So if there was a writing/package contest, besides Mom, I think you would win. Haha thanks so much my dear! It really means a lot to get a package at meal time without expecting it. You're so sweet. I hope all is well for the two of you and you need to keep me posted when you find out where you'll be moving too. How exciting! Say hi to the Coat : )
> Meesa- Colin has a baptismal date!! Holy cow! Since I've been here at the MTC, I've really started to realize that Colin really was super prepared for the Gospel. Kind of the dream contact. Did you get into Chamber? I can't believe you'r just across the street from me... so weird! I've sent you two letters, have you gotten them?
> Mom/Dad- I love you! Thanks so much for the letters! I never get sick of them!! Sounds like you're so busy. My companions love you too even though they don't know you. I've showed them you're picture and they want to meet you both in 18 months : ) And Dad, they think you look like Elder Oaks, and Mom they think you're much too pretty. I agree with both statements : ) Mom, I would love any necklace you got me, that is so sweet of you to think of that. And it's Okoren, not Jentsch she likes... I'm glad you still care about that stuff too : )
> I wish I had more time to write to everyone....
> As for me, a week ago today, Pres. Holland came to our Devotional last Tuesday. I was pretty close to the fron too and it was the highlight of my mission thus far. He is SO powerful! Like, his voice was raised a lot of the time and he was so passionate about everything he said. His talk I'm sure will become a classic here at the MTC, much like many of His other talks here. Some quotes (there were so many I had like 5 pages of notes):
> "Don't think you're going to go home to real life after your mission. Your mission is real life. Capital L capital R. This is what real life will be like in eternity. The world is just a cheap imitation for real life in the eternities. "
> "If your mission asks you to go to Gethsemane, go there. Shed the tears your Savior shed and don't be afraid if you're asked to pick up your cross and walk to Calvary too. Relish the opportunity to do hard work, the Lord's work. Only through that can you understand Him better. The mission is the only opportunity in your life, unless you're called to be an Apostle like myself, that you get to wake up with the Lord and go to bed with him at night. Welsome to discipleship. Welcome to the brotherhood."
> "Don't go home, grow a beard, get a tatoo, and put a necklace around your neck and be an idioit." Haha... he apologized after that one.
> Basically, as you can probably tell, his taslk was really amazing. He encouraged us to come home with no regrets, to give it everything we have. He said a mission is hard because salvation is not a cheap expereince. Don't ask for it to be easy. Wow. His words have kept me pumped up and ready to go fight the good fight.
> I have one minute left. The Russian is still pretty good. I'm recognizing how much I don't know still buth thats ok. I get along so well with my companions. I wanted to give you more details but I'm out of time, pleease forgive me.

Week 3: Sept 15th, 2009

Hi Family!

I just adore receiving your letters.
It makes me so happy. It sounds like the family is really busy, as usual, but that everything is going well. I love hearing about your lives, so I'm going to be selfish and ask that you keep writing me, thanks! : )

So, Dad requested that I give everyone a little Russian lesson each letter.
I'll try and do that, except that I can't use the Russian alphabet on this keyboard - at least not that I know of - so it won't be totally accurate. This week we learned about cases, which is probably the biggest obstacle to the language. In Russian, there is no certain order to a sentence, you can say the words in any order you want. Like, instead of: We read the Book of Mormon together at Church, they could say together Book of Mormon read we at Church, or pretty much any other way you can rearrange those words. That is because, unlike English, most verbs, prepositions, and some parts of speech (lie Direct Object, Indirect Object) have the ending of their name changed according to the meaning of the sentence. We have a big chart of all the different endings for all the different possibilities. Like an inanimate male noun, a female adjective, blah blah blah. So, every word in the sentence is kind of conjugated, that way the meaning is already understood, so it doesn't matter where in the sentence the word goes. That probably doesn't make any sense.... But that's the best way I can explain it. Umm... so here is a sentence in Russian: Ya znao cto boug jeev and leoubet nas. That means I know God lives and loves us. Anyways, Russian is coming... it is going to be extremely hard and I'm sure I'll get frustrated but I'm actually surprised that it still makes sense... at least right now : )

Hmmm... well this week I started to feel more like a missionary.
The MTC has kind of felt lika n extended EFY of Youth Conference or something, but we had a workshop on goal setting this week and I think that has made me realize more that I'm a missionary. Like, our district sets goals together very wed. night , and then we pray to have HF's help with them. I really liked doing this because it really has helped our group grow together spiritually, like no movie quoting in class, and make 2 teaching appointments a week, etc. So, since we had the workshop, I've recognized the importance of personal goals too, so I've started setting some. Chris gave me some good advice in his letter about using the MTC time to set a pattern of living that will help you in the field. So, now that I have started setting personal goals, I feel like I'm evolving as a person and my mindset is a little different. Our teacher Brother Beck (we really do have the best techers) talked about doing a 40 Day Fast as a district to give up our biggest distraction as a missionary so we can have an added measure of the Spirit with us. So, we're going to do it. Actually, today is my first day of the fast (by the way Tues. are my pday). I'd tell you what I'm fasting from but it's kind of personal, maybe later : ) It helps to know that the Lord is with you and that you are accountable to Him. So, I really want to use my MTC time wisely so I can feel more prepared when I enter the field. Speaking of which, I only have 8 more weeks in the MTC, which probably sounds like a lot to you, but the last three have gone by so fast that I'm starting to recognize how quickly my mission is going to fly by!

Some items of business:
I love my family so much! (That's always number one item of business)
Two, I'm really sad to hear about Aunt Cathy : (
But it sounds like it was a really remarkable experience for their family. Please give them my love, especially Tash and Jen please : ) Also, I'd love to hear from them, maybe someone could forward my letters to them? (Bear or Mees?)
Three, I'd love to have Andrea and Hilary's email addresses too... or anyone else really!
Cassi, i thought about it, and although the blog idea always seemed kind of cheesy, I think it would be a good idea. I'd love it and it would make my writing letters less of an overwhelming task.
Four, Cassi and Kelly, I LOVED LOVED LOVED your package!
All the pictures made me cry... and the American flag was a nice touch, let me guess that was Kelly's idea?
Four, Mom, I ran out of time typing in everyon'es email address so if you could forward my letter to the family I'd appreciate it.
Thanks for all you do, you're so amazing.
Boys, congrats on the new pre-sells!!!
I can't wait to come home and see the HB housing empire in Cruces. You're so awesome and i love you tons!
Bear, get better!
Cami, loved your letter and the gossip!
Keep it up

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sept 8th, 2009

Wow I got on me email and had 15 new messages from everyone! Thank you so so much! You have no idea what that means to me. I even got a little teary-eyed (shocker!). Only problem is that I used up my first 15 minutes of email to read your lovely letters.. so I only have 15 minutes to type now. I'll send you all a letter in the mail too cus there is a lot I wanna say and I developed my pictures. I'll send you some too. I love the emails so much so don't think I don't want you to send me them, but if you went on and emailed me that way I'll have more time to write in the future. If not, that's ok too :: ) For real.

Wow the BYU game sounded amazing!!!! At our devotinoal Sunday night, one of the mission presidency talked about how "the big cultural event" he watched on TV the night before would have made everyone proud. Do everyone started cheering. Haha. That's so coll you were there. I told some elders that and they were all jealous... Wow the twins are adorable!!! I loved the pictures. I keep them in prayers nightly. I'm only sad I can't see them. I don't get any picture attachments, so if you send me pictures in the email body only then I can read them.
Ok so to answer some questions, both of my teachers are American born but went to Russia on their missions (Samara). They are some of the coolest people I've ever met and our whole district feels so lucky to have them. Cectpa Hakes (Seestra) is my name in Russian and Elder is Stareyeshna (spelled different in Russian). Four of the leders in my mission are going to be serving in Romania and they are some of the first elders called their Russian speaking, which is cool. The other four elders are going to the Baltic Mission, all Russian speaking. I tell them a lot about you Josh and they're always curious to know more about the Baltic States. So, only my companions will actually be in my mission whic is ad because we are all so close. We've already planned a Reuion for two years from now. It is soooo crazy that I have only known these people for two weeks. We all agree that it seems like we've known eachother from before our missions. My companions are both beautiful, fun, spiritual, and motivated. I love them so much! Maybe for Kimball?? I'll let you know, I can't decide yet : ) Clothes are great Mom! I really feel happy with everything. A lot of the sisters wear shorter skirts rthan mid calf, but I'm glad I did what I was suppossed to, even if I envy their skirts a little at times. We did the right thing :) Food is great (Cassi). It's better than BYU food and they have a wrap bar and good salads everyday which is what I usually eat. I have two other girls for roommates, they are serving in Moscow. They're kinda quiet but if I go out of my way to be friendly, they really open up to me and my companions. So it's good. You could send me some cookies mom, but not a lot haha... Either way it's ok.

Well, five minutes left but I've had some amazing spiritual experiences this week. We went to the temple for the 2nd time Today (Tues is pday) and I just love being able to go. Also, I've taught the first lesson three times with my companions and it's overwhelming how I can be used to bring the Spirit. Like, wow. I feel really grateful each time that I have the priviledge to teach the Gospel becuase it changes lives. I want to hear all about Colin too! My favorite is teaching the First Vision and reciting JSH from memory. That brings the Spirt so strong regardless.

I had my first interview with my Teacher (Brat Ponzach) and he was so complimentary and nice to me. For the first time though, I didn't feel like wow, I'm amazing, like I might have done before the mission. Instead, I really realized that ANY success I am having really is a gift from the Lord. I realize that he is what has been helping me so much. It all became so much more clear than before. Anything that I am skilled or talented at is not for my sake, but for His. I am obligated and priviledged to build his kingdom and he has given me the tools I need to do it. I just want to keep working hard and be the very best that I can. Sometimes I laugh in calss too much haha... anyways, goot run! I'll write more to ya'll individually! LOVE LOVE LOVE BIRD!!