Sounds like all is well back home, and that makes me happy : )
Well, this past week was... somewhat interesting, but good. We got back to Russia on Thursday early morning, and much of that day was spent meeting-up with Sister Muhlestein again and getting registered, and then we had an obligation at a Ward party, and then it was suddenly Friday! Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were good, though we locked ourselves out of our apartment Saturday night. I'll just tell you the story. We got back to our apartment saturday eveing at 8:30 and had a little time extra, so we decided to go downstairs to this little store and buy ice cream for an investigator that we were meeting with on Sunday, and we didn't want to buy ice cream on Sunday, obviously. Anyways, we grab what we needed: money, cell phone, and keys. We buy the ice cream bar really fast, and come back to our apartment building like 10 later, and I went to pull the keys out of my pocket, and I realized that I had grabbed the keys to the Church buiulding, and not to the apartment. Yay for me! We were officially locked out with out anything, not backpacks or anything like a passport for comfort (Russians keep their passports on them at all times and we're expected to too). We got some help from a lady that works at the building office, and she she called a locksmith for us, but that is way expensive, and they sometimes break your lock completely so you have to get a new lock etc. So, we opted for sleeping at the Sisters house in Center, and tried to get in touch with our landlord the next morning. He has a set of keys, but his phone was switched off all evening so we couldn't get in touch with him. My poor companion. It was her first Sunday, and we both showed-up to Church in dirty clothes, no make-up, wet hair, and nothing like a planner or anything. It was not ideal. So, I was trying to have a good attitude. We get to Church, and I realized how much responsibility I have there. It was kind of sobering. I love the people and I love serving them (a lot), but I just saw so much need, especially because we hadn't been there last week for Church (Finland). It seemed like everybody was needing our help or going through a difficult time, and here I am struggling myself. I thought to myself that it would be nice if somebody served me for once, and then I realized that that was a very selffish thought. I decided to just go to work, and stop pitying myself. It helped, of course, and I ended-up feeling fine by the end of Sacrament. I just hope that after my mission I can remember to serve others when I am not having the best of days. It really is the best medicine. I am scared to go home and have no one but myself to worry about. It is frightening, but I know that there are lots of people out there that need help, definitely not just in Russia. I'm going to try and commit my life to service. It makes me happy.
Oh and yes, we got into our apartment Sunday at about 4. So, no worries, our landlord helped us : )
Botanika is doing good! There are a lot of people that are needing support right now, but I know by the end of this week, everything will feel normal again. Vladislav came to Church and had a great time. He went to the new member class, and he was very engaged and asked a lot of good questions. We talked to him about prayer again this past week, and he still doesn't know if God really loves him. That seems to be the root of all his problems. And most of the time, that is really the root of all problems. We asked him if he sees God's hand in his life, and in what ways has he felt blessings from God. He didn't know what to say. I don't think he is accustomed to looking at the glass half full. So, we committed him to say only thank-you prayers for a day and see if he will feel God's love for him more. We both felt good about that, and I hope it will help.
Lena has asked Brother Glagolev (the Russian Senior couple) to baptize her, and she is doing so great! She was the highlight of my week. At first, we were somewhat frustrated because she decided to stay out all night Saturday and go to the Discotek instead of Church. Sad : ( We were planning on being rather stern with her when we met Sunday night, and I think she sensed that from us and started to act a little defensive. Instead of acting like mean parents, Sister Muhlestin and I decided to sing a hymn to her. We sang Nearer My God To Thee and we asked her in what ways she feels like she could be nearer to God, that way she could come-up with her own answers. She said a lot of good things, and recognized how important the little things are to keeping your testimony strong. We read the Baptizmal questions to her, to see if she was ready to start living like a member now, and she recognized that she needs to come to Church every Sunday, and that even a little sin here and a little sin there isn't going to work. We promised her that if she did the "small and simple things" every day and every week, she would maintain her testimony and not fall inactive, since that is one of her fears. She agreed and committed to do better. And she will. She always keeps her committments, and she really is converted. You can sense that. The best part of all though, is that she feels ready to be baptized! She answered yes to that question, and I really do agree. She is ready! Yay!!
Sister Muhlestein is great. We are having a great time together and I can't wait to get to know her better. She had a really great time serving with Sister Zaitseva in ZhBE last week while I was in Finland, and she got to see a lot of little miracles there. I am happy for that, and that she has a great attitude. Seeing that this week will be normal, we should have a great time!
Love, Sister Hakes
P.S. the thought of Sufjan Stevens dancing in a neon visor makes me happy. Sister Muhlestein likes him too, and we listened to the CD carrie gave me last year for christmas together. haha thanks bear!
i haven't yet received the surprise third package yet, but probably this week mom. thanks, yo're the best. maybe i'll wear the zebra-stripped headband off the airplane or something haha... it was so thoughtful of you. thanks for you letter this week. yes, it was very nice to hear from you : )