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Monday, July 29, 2013

email received April 21, 2013

Hello family!

Its spring time here and i love it!! I'm offically down to wearing one pair of tights and one hat ( i used to layer and wear two) and occasionally gloves - sometimes just for a pop of color, thanks for the bright gloves mom:) It does still snow but then melts really quick so there is mud. 

Funny story of the day: we put our window screens back in today. I have to explain windows in russia. large enough for my body to fall out of. There were some tense moments involved and i think the 2 men taking a smoke break outside were taking longer than necessary to make sure we didn't die or that the screen didnt fall and hit their car. I like to think the former. Either way, window 1=success. There was too much anxiety to do the other two, maybe next week. 

An update on Margarita, she is still coming to church every week but is still not really feeling the idea of listening to 2 20-yr-olds so we just make sure we have other members help us on the lesson. But she does say that she feels a difference in the atmosphere and loves how accepting and friendly everyone is so we are still working on it. 

Also, I can introduce you to Ira. I met her on the bus a few weeks ago, she came to english club that night and really is just one of the coolest nicest people ever. She does believe in God and that he hears and answers prayers which is awesome! I just love when people know that God is our loving Heavenly Father! When people don't agree with that truth, its hard for them to want to pray about anything. She came to game night on Saturday and loved it and really just seems open to new ideas and wanting to learn. She is your typical busy college student which makes me love her even more and just want her to see how this gospel can help her in her everyday life!! How else do people survive finals or wedding craziness? 

Side note: Apparently for easter they do some game here with their boiled eggs, like where two people hit their eggs together and whoevers cracks loses, kinda like the wishbone concept i think. I havent tried it yet, but if you have any leftover eggs from easter let me know how it goes...

As far as my random musings for the day, our RS lesson yesterday was about trials, (ch 7 in the lorenzo snow book?) and some awesome points:
-The Lord tries us until He knows what He can do with us.
- We are always nearer to God at the end of trials and more confident to call on Him for blessings.
-We can always bear more after trials than we could before. Like we are stronger now, than we were a year ago, or two years ago, or five years ago, etc.
Basically trials really are how we grow and learn more. And I love the idea of being more confident to call upon the Lord. Which makes me wonder how many blessings I've missed out on but not asking?!?! In the Young Womens meeting before conference, which yes we watch here in Khabarovsk ( i'm trying to start an ice cream tradition here hehe) but seriously - Sister Dalton said our most significant opportunities will come in times of greatest difficulty. And I know our Heaven Father just wants us to grow and become amazing poeple!  Which you all already are! I'm not going to lie, I like the idea of having a new companion occasionally so that I can talk about how cool our family is without her getting too annoyed yet:) But I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Sister Allison
email received April 14, 2013

I'm Officially Old. . .
Not just because I'm 22 either. Today I bought new boots and at first was kinda bummed that they weren't as comfy as my old ones. Which look like I've been mucking horse stalls. Then I realized that its because I needed to move my Dr. Scholls over. End of story. 

Anyway, my bday was excellent! And Crystal they do celebrate here. Maybe more low key, not many presents but english club sang happy birthday to me. And they are great at wishing people the best. Like they say "happy birthday, I wish you health and happiness and luck and I wish you and your friends and you family the best year and i hope.....etc etc" its awkward sometimes. 

As far as conference, I loved it! Sister Ferguson and I are still trying to work hard and find new people to teach and help those we are already teaching to progress. It has been a good transition and we are trying to refocus our goals on what matters most. I think my motto for now is trying to seek growth oppurtunities and not shy away from experiences that may not come naturally. I love doing missionary work and teaching and helping everyone we talk to! Yesterday I talked to a guy on the bus who surprisingly asked "there's a prophet today?" And it was so cool, especially with conference earlier that day, to say "yes!" gotta go but  I love you all! 

Love you all!

Sister Allison

email received April 7, 2013

We watch confernece next weekend so I'm so excited! I think all of our inactives and invesitgators are sick of hearing me say it. But I told our president's daughter about  ice cream sundaes and she loved the idea. I think we get to watch the young womens conference with her while everyone watches priesthood so I may sneak ice cream into the church.
Also, I just found out I can spend more time on internet and write people of the same sex so you can tell people to email me now:) 
This week has been awesome with Sister Ferguson! My brain has readjusted to speaking English, and I think my liver appreciates the break from the advil.  But I have been shocked at how well we get by without older missionaries. It's true that when you need the Russian it will come! I'm finding that lessons and converations with people are easier and that I may not have any bigger of a vocab but that I can understand enough of the idea to answer questions, etc.
Fun story: this morning our power went out. I said "thats ok, even missionaries have to deal with power outages when there are storms". Sis Ferguson replied "there is no storm right now Sister Allison" It was funny, maybe you had to be there. But it has snowed everyday for the past 4 days or so so i guess April shower right?? I may be forced to buy different boots for rain, since the snow now melts at the end of the day...
This week has been an awesome time to evaluate how we both want to go about doing the work, different goals we have, how we can work together as a companionship, etc. I'm super excited to be working with Sister Ferguson and think it will really be a blessing for the work. Yesterday we fasted for a baptism in April and while I'm not sure if its going to be with an investigator we have now or someone we havent met yet, I have faith that it's happening!!! I was reading in Helaman 4 and 5 I think, and there are awesome promises given to Nephi and I know the Lord looks out for His missionaries! I have literally been able to feel how he helps and strengthens me, especailly in these last few weeks without Sister Huber. Especially at this time of year, I'm grateful for the Atonement and the opportunity I have to repent and become better everyday! And to live with the best family in the world forever! I love you all!
Sister Allison

email received March 24, 2013

First Haircut in Russia
I thought i would take advantage of the fact that i'm with a russian companion and she could talk for me. I just wanted my hair thinned out and the lady asked me from where and I thought she wanted to just cut chunks of my hair out. I was scared to say the least but I still have hair don't worry. 

This week has been good, I do feel like I've learned more Russian this week than my whole mission combined! It is a little draining at times not being able to say exactly what i want with the right connotation but it works. I eat a lot differently than i did before, lots of bread and potatoes carbs in general. So I'm not sure how long my body can keep that up....

As far as things with our investigator margarita, she still loves church and we met with her a few times but on sunday she basically said she has lived 75 years thinking one way and doesnt want to change. I think she will still be willing to meet with us, teaching just might be slower than I thought so I'm learning patience. I keep thinking I'm getting better at that trait but apparently not:) But church was awesome yesterday! 29 people 2 weeks in a row! as far as my first week without sis huber, it was a smoother transition than i thought. Definitely stressful but I'm still alive and smiling and preaching the gospel!!  Really this is the greatest adventure ever and while its hard its so fun too! And I think Heavenly Father wants it to be that way. Like life. Lots of curveballs and tough mudder obstacles but find joy in the journey right! Life is good, I love you all and happy easter!

Sister Allison
email received March 17, 2013

Yesterday was the last day of maclaneitza! Basically today is supposed to be the end of winter....They celebrate by eating blenie/crepes. I'm down. Its also the start of our version of lent since easter here is 2 weeks later than in America. Fun fact. Anyway I'm not even going to read over my email from last week but surely it was overdramatic and annoying. Before going to email I told my self I should be calm collected and positive and then my fingers just started going... Sowwy... But life is great here. Seriously if there is anything to cure what you think to be a weakness in the language just live with a Russian. I will admit I may start going through advil a little faster but all in all its good. Her name is Sister Darjeava and she is from Ulan-Ude, been a member for 5 years.  Hold on I need to back up. 

Ok this week was quite strange. Monday after I wrote you Sister Huber wasn't feeling well so we went and she slept all day and we stayed home at night. Then Tuesday we went to District meeting and then she wasn't doing so well so back home. Wed we tried going out, met with a member, then at the church Sister Slava-doctor- was like "this isnt funny. you are seriously sick," she thinks she had a sinus infection, so she wrote a prescription for some shots and we had to stay inside the next few days, and she would come over to give her shots,. Not fun. I think we underestimated what its like to be sick in the cold. We always rolled our eyes when people told us they were sick for like 5 days in a row but now I understand. Walking and taking buses etc is rough if you arent healthy. Sister Huber still isnt doing so well but soon she'll be in the sunny states with english speaking doctors.  

Anyway, so Thursday night, the Brintons and Aps came to town and then saturday morning my comp flew in. We all went to the church in the morning for training, which was awesome. We have been called to build a stake here in the Vlad mission, so we focused  a lot on working with members, less-actives, increasing the quality and quantity of baptisms, basically how to get real growth and retention. he based it all off of the story of Nephi building the boat and how the Lord can teach us how to do things that either seem impossible or unrealistic or that we really just don't know how to do. So there you go, its happening. We're building a stake. Then we headed off to the baptism of Edward, a miracle from Heavenly Father.  He is the friend of an eternal investigator, came to church 2 weeks ago and wanted to get baptized after sacrament meeting. he also came with his friend Margarita...

Cue music. So margarita came with him, she is 75 and goes to some christian church called "Love". She asked a ton of questions when we met with her sunday and we met with her again Thursday. After teaching the 1st lesson which was hard b/c a lot of questions, it ended on a not so hot note. She really didn't like the idea of being baptized again and we should just leave her alone, etc. It was a crushing blow I decided to leave out. The week before last was quite emotionally draining...Anyway, we asked Edward to invite her to church again when he got confimed and he did and told us she had something else but if she could would try and make it. She came and loved it again, and after told us that she felt like she needed to come today instead of going to her church. She left after talking with members for an hour after church and while we were meeting with someone came back and started talking to the elders about if it was really ok to be baptized again etc. So we have a lesson with her tonight! Say a prayer or two for her! 

It is very evident that the Lord is aware of the work here in Khabarovsk and that really it is only the Holy Ghost that can change people's hearts. I know that miracles happen and that no matter what happens tonight or this week, I know that

Relief Society Sisters including Mission President's Wife, Sister Brinton
through the Atonement the Lord really does make up for our weaknesses and help us become better than we can be otherwise. This is the greatest work on Earth and I'm so grateful to play a tiny tiny role in it!!
Gentleman in Khabarovsk before his baptism.
Amber wearing her new fur coat.  Now she looks like a Russian.
Sister Huber's last Sunday in Russia

I love you all!
Sister Allison

Sunday, July 28, 2013

email received March 10, 2013

Hello fam,
Sorry I didnt have much time to write each of you but I thought I should leave time to tell you the latest news that I heard...So we all know Sister Huber is leaving next week and no one knew what was happening to me since transfers aren't for 2 more weeks. So our DL called president last night and told me that they are flying in this weekend and Sister Huber is going to Vlad with them (unexpected, we just figured I would go with her and then they would send me back with someone) and Saturday night, a mini-missionary from Ulan-Ude is flying in to be my companion for 2 weeks! I should be embarressed to say this but we all know Sister Allison and stressful situations, I think there were tears before Sister Huber got off the phone hahaha not like this was shocking news its just happening a little faster than I had mentally prepared my self for. So as of Sunday, it will be me and a Russian who hasnt been to the MTC. Besides the fact that I'm freaking out about my Russian, which Sister Huber assures me this is when you really see the gift of tongues, like He gives it to you when you actually need it, I'm starting to freak out about everything else!! Like how I don't even know doctrine or scriptures well enough or how to decide what to do when something falls through, or how to blah blah blah Sister Huber just laughed. Which I was too. I know, I know I'm ridiculous. When we were going to bed Sis Huber asked how I was doing and I said "I don't think I'm going to die. So I'll be fine" Which of course just made her laugh again. Im not sure why. No, really, I know I'll be fine, I just try not to think about it haha. I can look at this as a cool fulfillment of prophecy though. The Lord sends the weak to preach His gospel, right? Bam, right here. Haha. I really don't mean to make light of the situation but we all know how I smile to cope with things. Anyway, in PMG it says that we shouldn't have confidence in ourselves, we should have confidence in the Savior and His Atonement so I'm trying to keep that in mind.
Sorry not much about the week but keep us in your prayers. Love you all!!
Sister Allison
email received March 3, 2013
So spring is finally here in Khab! It still snowed again this week but its melitng too. I'm seeing some sidewalks for the first time! And the church gets super muddy. The weather is so nice!! Its still cold and my hands still get cold but I think I may go down to wearing one hat (I've been layering two beanies) and you can actually feel sun which is nice. Sis Huber and I have run a few times in the morning and I just wear long socks, leggings, pants, thermal top t-shirts, hoody, gloves, scarf and hats and hood. And its super fun! Its a nice change of pace from the stairs! 

We haven't been able to meet with our investigators this week because of busy schedules at work, etc. Which is a bummer because we don't want to lose momentum. But we are going to obviously keep trying! We had two investigators at church yesterday, which makes the whole meeting feel better. Heavenly Father is definitely blessing us and continues to bless us as we have faith and work hard. It seemed like we wouldn't be able to reach some of our goals this week and then things kind of just fell into place yesterday. So I'm grateful for Him and love seeing miracles everyday here. I'm learning so much about goals on my mission and especially lately as we have tried to push ourselves.  I am understanding more and more the idea of having names behind goals. And so many times by the end of the week the names behind the goals have changed but i know that as I focus on moving the work forward here Heavenly Father sees the bigger picture and can help us accomplish things in ways other than we have planned. 

That's it for now but I love you all and you're all in my prayers! Thanks for all the encouraging emails:) They brighten my day! Know that I love it here and I love the people! I know this is the Lord's church and the Lords work and I'm so grateful to be a part of it! I love you!

Sister Allison
email received February 25, 2013

Hello family! This may be short but just so you all know I'm still alive and doing well! We had an awesome week as far as being able to meet with a lot of people and find 2 new investigators. One is a 21 year old girl who is super smart and asks a LOT of questions but thinks about the answers. We met with her yesterday and I think she understands the importance of the Book of Mormon and why we are here as missionaries and the need for her to pray and find out if its true. Which if she does, she will receive her answer! So that was a blessing. We also met with a girl we met at English Club, and while I can't remember the name, believes like Native Americans, like fire spirits, water spirits, the Great Spirit, etc. But she asks good questions and is willing to meet again! I definitely had to brush up on how to teach people without a Christian background. And will have to work on my Russian even more in explaining different concepts. I have gotten much more comfortable teaching the first lesson and teaching the 5-minute version but haven't really had the opportunity to break everything down on that basic of a level so it will be good for me. And will probably even help me teach people with a Christain background more clearly. 

Our letter from President this week was all about sticking to the lessons from Preach my Gospel, teaching how the apostles and prophet and the Lord want to teach, teaching every point, etc. Which is interesting doing this with members. Its neat to see that while these members have heard these lessons many times before, it really does strengthen their faith. We were going to teach an investigator who isn't really progressing and we were going to focus on the Savior and Baptism and then after reading the letter decided to teach her lesson 3. And it was neat to see how what we talked about with faith really seemed to connect with her. I'm grateful for inspired counsel. Everyday, I can see the Lord's hand in the work here. Whether we are seeing "success" that I can report on, it is super clear that Heavenly Father is aware of me and aware of every single person we meet. We were meeting with a lady and her daughter who have worked with missionaries for years and tried watching Finding Faith in Christ with her. They weren't paying much attention but while we were watching it, I got the overwhelming feeling that Heavenly Father was aware that Sister Huber and I were sitting in a random room with 2 of His daughters trying to help them come closer to Christ. Which is super cool. Anyway, I love my mission, I love the people I serve, I love the members, I love Sister Huber, I love you all, there is just a lot of love going on here in Xabarovsk. And on that note, I love you all, pray that you are all doing well, and hope you have an awesome week!

Sister Allison

email received February 17, 2013

Happy Valentines Day! And happy mens day!!

On the 23rd of Feb in Russia is Protectors Day or something like that, which I think started as celebrating veterans kind of but turned into man's day basically like fathers day i would guess. Fun fact for you. This week was pretty uneventful. 2 of the investigators we were excited about have kind of pittled out:( Which seems to be happening more often than I would like and we're not sure how to change it. My 2 second diagnosis of Russia. There really aren't many other options besides Russian Orthodox and its all very political so most people aren't super religious and don't question things and don't care much. So a lot of times they meet with us and they seem interested but then not really. I know there are so many people here ready for the gospel who need it and we are just trying to find them! We did stop by a potential last night who was super cool and was talking all about things that she has seen that are wrong in religion, basically which the Restoration answers so we are meeting with her next weekend. Send a prayer our way:) We did have 9 ladies at relief society yesterday, which is the most since I've been here! Our RS pres has always had the goal of 10, so almost there!   Some things we are trying to implement here are using more, we may even get cards eventually! But we showed I'm a Mormon messages to a less active and her mom and the mom loved it so maybe we'll just start our own media campaign here in Russia! Friday we are having pancake night at the church haha (sometimes i feel like I'm a singles ward activity committee) and gave fliers to everyone to pass out. Really we are just trying to be creative to get the work going here! 2 cities are opening back up in our mission this week which is a lot sooner than we thought which is sweet. Enough about my random thoughts on missionary work in Xab. This week has just been a super evaluative (not a word) week as there was just a zone leader conference and we're all brainstorming ideas of how to get the ball rolling! 

I did end up buying a new coat last pday. no pics since we're emailing from a library but its beige with fur on the hood. I look Russian now basically. Definitely not as warm i dont think as crystals, it's a little shorter but its cute and should work so i don't stick out when it starts warming up a bit too. 

Anyway, sorry this is a super random email but I love you all and you are all awesome! In the Liahona last month there was an awesome quote from Elder Maxwell about how God would have planned the star in orbit for Christ birth thousands of years before and how he would know each of us and how each of us are in our family for a reason. It's true. You all are such examples and help me everyday, even all the way in Russia:) I love you all! And happy mens day boys!

Sister Allison

email received February 10, 2013


Pic of me wearing a hat one of our kind of investigators made for me. Sister Huber says I look like one of the babushkas who works at the market, maybe not appropriate for tracting...
And mom, as far as sisters I'm confused too. My friend Terrance in Englad wrote me saying they are getting 17 new missionaries next transfer and 70 by summer. I was told we were getting 4 new sisters next transfer March 20 when Sister Huber goes home but Elder Cruise just arrived in Xab. ( i met him right before i left for russia in the mtc) and he said there is only one more elder coming in the next group...So maybe there are 4 russian sisters? No idea. And I don't think we will increase as much as others because Sister Brinton talked about how we can "over run"our branches. Like if we have 15 active members and 6 missionaries, our area can't really handle more missionaries. But we are opening 2 cities in the summer that used to be open so that is exciting news and I'm excited to see how the Church literally is growing. Crazy to think there are still big cities here in Russia without any missionaries, members, priesthood, etc. Anyway..

This week has been a week of miracles. We have been trying hard to increase the number of lessons we teach each week to get the mission standard of 15. And each week plans fall through etc. But this week we taught 17 lessons!!! And we have met a few times with a friend of a 14 yr old in the ward who we are working with and were meeting with them before English Club when a new lady walked in early. We said she could join us if she wanted so she sat in on the lesson and understood everything! We watched the Restoration movie and after she was like "Oh so its like a fullness." How I wish everyone could understand it this plainly. At the end of the lesson, we were setting up a next meeting with the girl and asked her to read 2 Nephi 2 and the lady double checked to make sure she got the right chapter. Awesome! Then after English Club I got the chance to talk to her again and asked if she would be able to meet sometime to talk more and she said "Well you're meeting tomorrow, right? I can just come then and we can talk about the chapter". She already understands commitments. Its beautiful. The next day didnt work out but we met Saturday and are meeting again on Wednesday. So far, she seems to think its interesting without grasping the personal significance it can have for her so we are trying to figure out how to help her understand this and feel the Spirit and know how awesome this is! 

We also stopped by a former investigator this week and she let us come back and we talked with her and her daughter. Her daughter is 11 and soaks everything up and remembers what missionaries before talked about. I know we are going to have to help the mom get just as excited about it but it was definitely a testimony builder of how we all need to become as little children.  Anyway, this week definitely turned out differently than planned, as we lost contact with the new investigator from last week, but I know that if we keep trying our hardest, the Lord will always make up the rest and help us to accomplish our goals in helping His work move forth. Everyday brings a different challange but I love it!  Missions are the best. I miss you all but I'm trying to make you proud! Love you all!!

Sister Allison
Amber and Sister Huber with the Mironikas family.  Brother Mironikas had been the Branch President in Khabarovsk.

email received February 3, 2013

Last week I forgot to mention, that there were 5 baptisms in our
mission, one with Sister Christensen and one with Elder Schneider!
It is hard at times when I feel like we
haven't made much progress since we've been here but Heavenly Father
always gives us miracles each and every day. Saturday I started a fast
to find a progressing investigator. We have a few people we meet with,
but none of them are really progressing and we got on a bus and some
girl came up to Sister Huber and said she looked cool. She wasnt fully
sober so we couldnt do much but she did talk about how she knew she
needed to change, etc. We couldnt get a hold of her Sunday but she
called us back at night and said she was super sorry and we could meet
up today or tonight. So I'm praying that everything works out and that
she really is interested. It's obvious that she needs the gospel so we
just need to help her see this! Regardless of whether she is ready and
will accept the gospel, I'm grateful that I can see the Lord's hand in
our work everyday here and He always reassures me that we aren't doing
this alone.

We also had another cool experience with an inactive who we visited
who was so much warmer than usual and when we asked her if she was
reading the Book of Mormon she said yes!! She still has to deal with
work but said she could at least come half the Sundays this month and
asked if she could plan a RS activity. What?! I have seen how the Book 
of Mormon literally changes people and if we read everyday, even just 
a chapter or 5 minutes, our lives are so much better!

Oh and I dont know if I mentioned that our branch pres and wife moved
to Vlad so our new pres is Pres. Karus, the dad of the boy who got
baptized. Hes been in the branch for awhile and even all the inactives
know who he is so i think it will be really good. Oh another miracle,
we bought a new phone and put our sim card in, which is the same card
that's been in the city forever, and there was an inactive's cell number
in the phone who had moved and we had no idea where she was. And she
answered and lives super close to us, like a few blocks away! She was
super nice and young and is going to Moscow for work but i have high
hopes for her. But miracle that we randomly had her number again!!

I know Heavenly Father is aware of each and every one of us every
single day and He really does hear all of our prayers!! I love you

Sister Allison

A typical door in Russia.  They don't care about the outside, but inside it's usually much nicer
January in Khabarovsk
8 year old boy about to be baptized standing with his family. See January 20 email.

A pool is used for the baptismal font.  The father baptized his son.  The water was COLD!!!

email received January 27, 2013

1st Zone conference ever! And it was awesome! 6 elders flew in from Salkhalin island and the Assistants to the President and President and Sister Brinton from Vladivostok. The day before I had my first ever borsche with Sister Brinton since Sis Huber helped her translate to get her hair done:) It was delicious! And I tried pizza with cow tongue on it. Also delicious! In my interview with President my fears were confirmed. He basically told me I would serve with a mini missionary after Sister Huber left...Which is awesome and my Russian will improve a lot obviously. Besides that, I seriously need to learn street names and bus routes. I'm usually like the puppy following. After Sister Huber the next sister has only been out since May or June so he told me that I really need to use this opportunity to progress as much as I can in the language. It was definitely a wake up call to compare my situation to other sisters in the mission. So I'm excited about the next month and a half with her and have rededicated myself to speaking more Russian. 

During Zone Conference President really stressed teaching a lot of lessons each week, which is now a key indicator. So for study, I've done a lot of work going back through the 1st and 2nd lesson and the pamphlets we have and the language material we have, finding what they put in each, etc and figuring out different ways to put the info together. It's been fun. After zone conference we are spending a lot of time with less actives now. President really wants us to get sacrament meeting attendance up and then start working with their families. So we're going to hit it hard this week and see what happens! I'll keep you posted!!

Love you all! Sorry this was kinda random but here's an excerpt from letter to President. Love you!

From letter to Pres: it was Sister Irina's -the lady we came with- first time to church in 5 years! Throughout the day, I had to keep reminding myself of that. It may seem like not that big of a deal to get an inactive to church but 5 years! Sister Huber and I are talking about how we can do this every Sunday, maybe even going on splits with members to hit up more people. Also, the inactive we stopped by yesterday for the first time let us in and then unloaded about how she just quit her job on Friday and she was in a bad mood from it but talking to us helped. And that she would have more time for Book of Mormon and church now! Im so excited to see the branch grow as we get more and more members coming, and their families too! I've rededicated myself to speaking more Russian and using this last bit of time with Sister Huber as effectively as possible. We are excited about the Branch Retention Plan and I know this will make a difference here in Khabarovsk. 

email received January 20, 2013
This week has brought some cool miracles. Here's a quick run down:

-We had a lady at church yesterday whose daughters had talked to the elders on the street. She could only stay for sacrament but said she liked it and loved how everything was understandable as opposed to Russian Orthodox and she wanted to come again. Awesome! So hopefully we can start teaching her for realsy.

-Saturday we had a baptism of an 8 yr old whose whole family are members. I wanted to send pics, but my camera is weird. The baptism was in a sauna in a cold pool. It was actually kind of painful to watch as it was too deep so the dad was in up to his shoulder and then the boy like clung to him but it all went smoothly and then he was confirmed sunday (again awesome since the non-member came). It was so neat to witness the baptism and confimation (and we also had the elders give a blessing to a sick less-active this week) so it was definitely one of those testimony builders of the cliche idea of the church being the same everywhere no matter what language. And that the priesthood is awesome. 

-One of our less actives has literally changed. She is super successful professionally and we didnt know how to help her. But..enter the Book of Mormon. We met this week and after our lesson, SHE asked US if we could read from the Book of Mormon together. And she picked 2 Nephi 32. It was awesome. I love the book of Mormon. It literally brings people closer to Christ like the Introduction says. 

-An investigator (kind of) came back to town after a few weeks and said my Russian has gotten better. not to sound prideful but it was a tender mercy:)

Sorry this is rather short but I love you all!  And the Book of Mormon is true and the best book ever. 

Sister Allison!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

email to family January 13, 2013

Yesterday was Russia's  Old New Year, which seems like an oxymoron but its from the old calendar. Definitely not as big as New Years, but there were some random fireworks and an interesting bus ride home at night. But we lucked out enough to have a lesson planned at a members and her mom was cooking for the holiday. So we had the most delicious things I've ever tasted. It was basically delicious beef and onions wrapped halfway in dough and fried so like a scone but the dough was so good and unfortunately like all things delcious, she doesnt measure anything so I have no hope of replicating. But I've also kinda learned blenie, which is basically crepes. I'm determined to be able to learn how to make a few Russian dishes and then I can celebrate Russian Orthodox Christmas and Old New Year with Russian food for the rest of my life. Who wouldn't want a longer holiday season? 

With our new goal of teaching "other lessons", we have been meeting more with less active and active members. I definitely think its good for my language but it does feel a little strange to not be on the street as much. I see why President wants us to do it though...We literally cant be outside for more than 45 minutes or so and people don't really want to stop and talk and I don't blame them! so during our training a few weeks ago President talked about how we need to become better teachers so we know how to teach when we have investigators. We counted up the ladies in the branch who we at least have contact with and there are 25 or so less active women that have at least been nice to us. So we are determined to build up the Relief Society, which would make a huge difference and help when we brought investigators to church etc. And the members are awesome at helping! Saturday was Missionary Saturday again, so Sis Huber and I went with our 1st Counselor/ward mission leader to go visit a 14 yr old girl who got baptized in Spring. (Intro to Russian apts, most apts have codes on the door to the stairwell, like gated communites where you call people and they let you in. The one I live in has 10 metal buttons that you press the right ones to let you in, so no phone. And then you have missionaries' least favorite, doors that just use keys. And this girl lives in one of these, so we always stop by and then cant do anything.) So same story Sat. and Sis huber and I kind of look at each other like "now what" but Bro Victor was already going around knocking on peoples windows til someone answered and he asked them to open. Sounds super simple and we had joked about doing it but leave it to the Russian to get it done. I know, we're such girls. Anyway we finally met her, and then she came to church Sunday and we are going to a members to have an FHE with her tonight. Hopefully we can help her and if anything we are 2 girls closer to her age than any of the other members. 

We have also been visiting a lady from English Club who is super nice and we are kind of going to start practicing the lessons with her. She super believes in God and that he has a plan for her, and when she gets baptized she'll have an awesome story about how she was led to english practice/church after looking for it and running into elders on the street, we just need to help her realize that just cuz we are young we can help her. So any advice on teaching someone who thinks she is teaching us I'm open to it. Really being missionary is so much more than teaching the lessons (although thats the only place to start Dad!) I meet so many nice people every day and wish they could understand how much better their lives could be. I think I'm learning more and more how much this gospel has blessed my life and how I literally would be nowhere without my testimony. Every single thing we teach makes people so much happier if they understand and embrace it. And then I look at myself and realize I could learn just as from myself if I would embrace stuff. I know that following God's will is literally the easiest and happiest way we can live life! And he wants us to be happy! Missions are awesome and I'm learning so much more about myself and the gospel than I even thought I could learn. I love you all and hang in there during the cold Utah and AZ winters:)

Sister Allison 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ice Sculptures in Khabarovsk. 

Pizza on New Year's Eve!

email received Jan. 6, 2013

Today is Christmas in Russia! I'm definitely celbrating 2 Christmases forever. It will be my excuse for another holiday like 3 Kings Day:) At 11, we went to a kids activity at the church where theyhad the Russian version of Santa Claus and his grandaughter. There were 3 kids there so small but they had fun. There was 1 friend of a member who brought her daughter and she said she would come to English Club so maybe something good will come of it. Thats probably the biggest thing we have to do with a lot of people is build a relationship with people, through activities and english club. People here are super wary so in time I like to think a lof of the people we know here will get it and be awesome members.

New Years was rather uneventful. We heard fireworks, I finished the Book of Mormon!, we set goals about how to have the Spirit in our companionship more, made delicious pizza, and ate way too much candy, and even bought a pint of baskin robbins cookies and cream! Unfortunately i didnt eat much ice cream and the next day we gave it to our elders b/c we are going off suger at our house. We decided its ok with others cuz so many offer you tea and cookies but we would get rid of stuff at our place. New Years day we just handed out a bunch of english club cards. and i only know when someone is drunk when they smell like it, so it took me awhile to figure out why everyone was so happy and receptive...So maybe i am a little sheltered...So ya it wasnt a very productive day for us but maybe someone will find the card in their purse later:) 

The next day, we had district meeting and Elder  hutchings had just gotten back from zone leader council in Vlad, which Sis Brinton called War Council. Awesome I know. We set goals about each companionship getting 1 more person back each week to try and build our sac meeting attendance from 13 (including 6 missionaries) to 25 by the end of Jan. We had a Break-the Fast after church and from calling the entire list of women, had 2 less actives come! Success! We had 21 in sac too. What!! Haha we are going to start having weekly activities and I feel a little singles wardish but whatever works. We were able to find 2 more less actives this week and meet them so slowly but surely we'll get there!

Oh and story of the week. Mom, you asked about my red face. So that night after talking to you, my nose turned white at a bus stop. Like not pale but i guess like it looked like i had cream on it. So the member we were with got mad at me and made me cover my face. Then later, a less active's mom asked what kind of lotion i used and explained that moisterizer is the worst thing i can do here cuz the wind takes all the moisture out of your skin and then it can freeze on your face or something. So i bought new "protectant" lotion. Maybe it will help. Anyway, its a funny story to me. 

Hope you all are doing well!

A guy playing the accordion on the street at -19C degrees

Christmas dinner with the Khabarovsk district
Photos received in email Dec. 30, 2012
email received Dec. 30, 2012

Hello family!

I hope you all are enjoying the rest of the Christmas season and happy new years!! Tonight we have to be in by 6 and we can stay up til 12. We realized though that a 2nd story apartment is a little rough to see fireworks but we'll make food and eat candy or something:) Speaking of eating, last night, we were visiting a less active teenager and her mom fed us as soon as we came in. She heated up leftovers and then brought out sala, which I learned is literally pieces of fat that Russian eat, cold. So she cut it like you would cheese, and she gave us spicy mustardy sauce and then you just chew and try to swallow. I mean i guess bacon is sometimes basically the same concept but at least that is fat with meat and not meat with fat. Think about that while eating your leftover Christmas cookies with delicious frosting! 

This week has been super busy. Tuesday was Christmas where we were at the Church eating chicken, which was cut with a spoon since our Church is sadly lacking utensils, and funeral potatoes and cookies. We made wassail too which is like cider. We watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional and then had a district meeting. That night we made cookies for our neighbors! Some didn't open their doors and said it wasn't needed, I don't think they understood what we were doing. But we did meet some super awesome people so it was fun and Christmasy. Then Wednesday I got to talk to all of you!!!!  That night we had a meeting with a former who has had 2 previous baptismal dates and taught lesson 3 and at the end I extended the baptismal committment! Definitely was as scary as a thought it would be. She said she wanted too but not right now. The member we had with us was super awesome and testifed but then we starting talking about church etc so we never could really bring it back to setting a date to prepare for but in all we were happy with her questions and participation and sincerity. 

Thursday we got up at 5:30 to catch a flight to Vlad. I ate my first Russian pizza in the airport, meaning ketchup and mayo instead of tomato sauce but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Then after waiting in vlad for a while everyone for ussurisk came which meant sister Christensen!! We rode back, just me and her while everyone else went to Korea. It was definitely a tender mercy to see her again. We had the whole ride back, like 90 minutes  with our mission driver, to talk and while of course I would be super happy if she was fluent and had 10 new members, it was at least reassuring to know we were in the same boat. So it was funnyy to see how similar our experiences have been so far. The biggest difference though is my trainer has been here a year and hers is on her 4th or 5th transfer. So i feel super blessed to have Sister Huber both for her missionary skills and her Russian:) In ussurisk, we passed out a bunch of English Club cards then, helped a new member write a talk, which basically means bring True to the Faith in Russian and then provide moral support and she wrote her talk. The next morning after studying, we took a bus back to Vlad and then waited in the airport a while til our missionaries landed and we went our separate ways. Really we didn't do anything too exciting and it was only like 24 hours together but it was definitely needed. 

Then Saturday, the Brintons were here with their daughter and son-in-law and we had a 3 hour training. We had pizza (with tomato sauce) for lunch and after we finished eating, the elders let us know one of them was cow tongue. I hadn't tried that one just because, but I think Sister Brinton was shocked.. for training we focused on finding and teaching, and the biggest things I think we need to take from it is how to make English Club more effective as well as finding through less actives. Sunday we heard from the Brintons, our APs were there too, and Sis Brinton played an awesome piano number!! It was a little overwhelming having them talk us up about how awesome they want us to be, the branch to be etc. Which makes me sound like a baby haha but we're excited for the new year to get the work going. The field is white!! Literally! Love you all and happy new year!!

Sister Allison
Check out the icicles on Sis. Huber's eyelashes.  Only happens when it's humid.

Christmas Party with English Club

All the doors are frozen this time of year.

The Relief Society Pres. with her Christmas centerpiece!
These photos were received in an email Dec. 23, 2012
email received Dec. 23, 2012

You know how you say once its over 110, you cant feel a difference. I tried telling myself that about the cold, I think my nose can tell a difference though...

 email received Dec. 16, 2012

Hello family!

As for the week, it has been another good one! I had my first "first lesson" haha with a girl who met with missionaries about a year ago and the lesson started with her asking about the end of the world. Is that something people are concerned about in the US? But eventually we were able to get it back on the right track. We pray that she actually wants to know truth and isn't just curious about asking random questions about energy and stuff like that. We are continuing to teach the 9 yr old. And when we came back the time after singing "once there was a snowman" she had it all memorized! So we promised to find another fun one for her. Some of the songs dont work quite as well with the translations but we figured we can just make up hand motions and she wont know the difference. 

On Saturday, the branch had Missionary Saturday where all the members were supposed to show up at 4 and help us visit less-actives and talk to people in the streets. Well...President and his wife were there. After he had cleaned the whole building, which I'm pretty sure he does every week. 2 of our elders weren't going to come if there werent enough elders so they didnt have to use time going to the church but he called them to come and 6 missionaries and the president and his wife opened with a song and prayer and spiritual thought. At first, i smiled to think we had some one conducting music and everything but then I realized how much this man was magnifying his calling. He pointed out that while there werent many members, it was still a special day because it was "misssionary saturday" and we should treat it as such when we were talking to people. Basically, he's awesome. Later, Sis C showed up to help us teach a less active but when she didnt show up, Sis C was game to go contacting with us! In super cold weather. And it totally went better than when its just Sis Huber and I. She can be your typical bold, firery Russian and we testify about how our message was NEEDED! It was so fun! Im not sure we could have her do it again soon since her feet were frozed by the end but thats ok. Someone at English Club told me it would start getting cold this week. I'm not sure what they call what its been...

I think thats about all but know that I love you all! And while there isn't much of an all-around Christmas Spirit here (its the music they're missing out on, seriously) I know we celebrate Christs birth and that by focusing on that, we will be so much happier! I'm so grateful for all of you and to know that Christ is my Savior and the Savior to all who don't even realize it. Love you all! (Talk to you next week, noon my time!)

Sister Allison

email received Dec. 2, 2012

Hello all!

Well, I'm still alive! The flight was ridiculously long and by the
time we got to the Brintons we all just wanted to crash. The next day
we had a women's conference so all 12 of the sisters from the mission
were there. It was lots of fun to get to know everyone, and it was in
English!  Anyway, that night after some meetings with President and 
our trainers, we went out and contacted on
the street for an hour or so. English Club is pretty big here so
usually we just start out talking to people about that.

Friday morning we got up at 4:45 to catch a flight to Khabarovsk. The
airport is super small but nice, it reminds me of the airport in
Cusco. On the plane I sat next to a man who lives in Khab. and while
he wasn't interested in the Church he did tell me about the city and
we got to know each other, he was super nice! And I found out that
after the new year, they do ice sculptures here which are really neat.
And we're only a few miles from the Chinese border so apparently a lot
of people come over to see. Right now, there is much snow on the
ground but its still so cold and windy. When we got in, the taxi
driver said it was -19. Im not sure if thats F or C but either way.
Also, because of the price of luggage on Russian airlines, I could
only take one suitcase of 44 lbs. Luckily the Brintons were coming up
the next day to bring some of my heavy stuff in their carry ons but I
definitely feel like I'm living off of basic necessities. I left my
flats and wool coat in Vlad b/c they said I would only need boots
(which I bought) and my huge Michelin man coat. Its true. When we were
walking around Friday I realized that it is possible for your head to
be cold through your hat and down into the insides of my ears! Its
such a weird feeling!

Sister Huber is also new to the area so we don't have any investigators 
but we were able to meet the members yesterday.  There were probably 12 
people at church and I played the piano so I felt like I contributed a little. 
A lot of them speak really good English so the lady sitting next to me 
basically translated testimony meeting haha. Last night, we
visited with the RS president which was quite the adventure, because
we are both new to the area we kept taking wrong turns and didn't have
her number so we were half an hour late. Interesting fact about
Russia, they dont care how the outside of the buildings look so it
looks super ghetto and then you get in and realize the apt is super
nice. We don't have much in our apt since we are new to the area but
Sis Brinton is helping us. When we were shopping for beds, nowhere
carries 2. Its basically what they have on the floor and cups and
everything come in 3s. You can imagine the surprise when they find out
how big our family is! While we don't have much to work with right
now, Sister Huber and I are excited about working hard, getting to
know the members, and helping them however we can. And of course lots
of finding people! The city is huge so its just a matter of talking to
people! Its awesome to finally be in Russia and talking to the Russian
people! Everyone has been super nice so far and I wouldn't want to be
anywhere else. I love being on a mission and hope you all are doing
well! Love you!

Sister Allison