Monday, February 27, 2012

A Weird Week!

Hello Everyone! As usual I'll try to answer all of your questions in this email if I can. So I say this week was weird because we saw some crazy stuff, some of it I can't say haha, it was too messed up. But I'll inform you on the rest haha, so yesterday, which was Sunday, we went and walked around and contacted after church, and some random guy raged at us because I'm an American, which happens kind of often with drunk or high people, then we kept walking and some crazy babushka walked up to us and just started crying, and then we cross the street, and some guy is literally just peeing on the sidewalk, and this is on one of the most busy and biggest streets in our town, there are people walking all over the place, and he is just peeing there, for everyone to see, and then he raged at us and tried to swear in English, then another guy asked us if we would go buy bread with him right after that, because he thought we were rich Americans because we are missionaries.

We also saw plenty of other stuff, like a huge Communist protest in front of a war memorial, full of propaganda and stuff, from which I got a legit communist copy of pravda, their newspaper, I'm sending it home in a package asap to you guys with everything else I wanna give you, I'm trying to go lightweight, so for Jake I'm getting a Russian military flag, for Dad I got the newspaper and other communist stuff because I think he would find it interesting and I don't know what else he would want haha, and for Mom and Kiley I don't know yet, we'll see, it's all inexpensive stuff though, so no worries.

So Elder Reigngard and I should be here for another 6 or 7 weeks but we won't know until next Friday for sure, so I'll let you know then, to answer your question, he is from Semphviropal, Ukraine. I don't know how to spell it in English, and our address, which I also don't know how to spell in English, is 185 Prospect Derzinskovo, Novorossyissk. The Russian is coming along good here still, I dream and think in Russian a lot haha, it's pretty cool! I'm super lucky to have a native speaker as a trainer, it helps a lot. I'm attaching some photos of the Communist protest, just part of it, and of a Provaslavnic church holiday about pancakes, no joke, it a week-long celebration where you eat pancakes, we had some of course, but their version of pancakes is our version of crepes. I wonder if Luke has had any legit French crepes yet. I wonder if Clark has had some Gual Bertos food equivalent in Mexico yet too haha. How is Cody doing by the way, I don't know his email or anything, I hope he's doing well!

Our investigators are still progressing except for Igor 2, we haven't heard from him in a while sadly. No new investigators this week, there was a ton of rain, people don't like to talk in the rain, so what we do now is we put up a sign at the branch building that says, "I'm American, let's play chess!", the Russians love playing chess, especially the older ones, so I've already played a couple times, and we are gonna go to a chess club and play there and see if we can find someone haha. Did I tell you that I teach English every Thursday here? We both do it, it can be a good way to find investigators, but the weather should be pretty good soon which should help improve missionary work a lot. Well that's all for this week! I love all you guys! Peace!

-Elder Skene

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's getting warmer!!!

Hello again! So it's been pretty cold here lately, it seems that we always go through these cycles of super humid cold to humid cold haha, but it's supposed to get better now so we'll see what happens. I'll try to answer any questions you guys have that you have emailed me we with in this big email to save time. I'll also of course be attaching some photos, which reminds me, I didn't get enough time to send the second email with more photos last week so I'll try to send it for this one. Also, as far as the package goes, the only other thing I need here is more eye drops and vitamins, I'm fine on everything else, and I'm learning how to sew, we all thought it was impossible I know but I guess not haha!
So I think I've already said this but maybe not so I'll just tell you again, on P-Day we wake up at the usual time of 6:30 AM and then we go shopping at the grocery store which is like almost a mile away haha, so we walk back with a weeks worth of whatever we need for like a mile, it's epic, I took having a car for granted before my mission for sure! Then we clean the apartment, eat lunch, write home, etc, until P-Day ends at 6:00 PM, but everything doesn't always happen in that exact order but I digress. I'm glad to hear that you are all doing well though! Keep staying safe! So today we went to go get Elder Reigngard a haircut, and so I sat in the place and waited for him. This old guy sat next to me who looked exactly like the old man on "Into the Wild" or the old man on "Up", he was way funny, there was Russian pop music playing and he was drumming to it and rockin' out and head banging, he was way funny, he knew we would get a kick out of it of course, and then he sat down and started telling jokes and stuff to the haircut lady, everyone loved it.
So I've also seen some weird stuff, like a baby in a stroller just sitting outside of a store, and then a practically naked man jogging on the beach when it was snowing, and of course more abandoned automobiles and stray animals everywhere! It looks a lot like a video game here, like what people think of when they play things like Call of Duty haha, I think Jake would like seeing some stuff here. We are staying busy as always of course, which reminds me, we went knocking yesterday and this lady walked by us and I felt impressed to stop her, so I did and we ended up giving her our number and a Book of Mormon which is pretty rare, so that was awesome, we'll see what happens there. Igor the Army Man and Mesha are both still on track to be baptised which is awesome of course! Oh also we are seeing if we can get another investigator baptised, her name is Anastasea, and she is totally prepared and everything, her husband just says that he doesn't want her to, so we'll see what happens there, we hope we can get past that. We went to see her in the hospital the other day because she has some like blood pressure disease, but she's fine and she's way cool. Russian hospitals are way scary looking, like super old and broken down, crazy people just walking around unrestrained, the sketchiest things ever haha, and the outside looks like all abandoned and stuff, and we have to take our tags off because it's a public hospital and we can get arrested if we go in as missionaries. The Russian is coming along, it's a very hard language for an Enslish speaker to learn though, haha it's so different, like there are 18 ways to spell and say the word "our" or "your". So looking back, German in High School was rediculously easier than this I think haha.
Me and Elder Reigngard should be together for about 3 months which is 2 transfers from when I got here. I don't know when I will be going to the Ukraine for a Visa Trip, sometime in mid April I guess though. I'm attaching a photo from zone conferance two weeks ago of my mission dad and current companion (Elder Reigngard) and my mission grandpa (Elder Kuslev), both native Russian speakers, on the mission you are born in the first city you are located in, and your trainer is your dad and his trainer is your grandfather and so on and so forth.
Well that's all for this week, until next P-Day! Everythings good here! I love you all!
-Elder Skene

Monday, February 13, 2012

Всё Хорощо!!!! All is well!!!

So! How is everything? I'll try to answer every one's questions in this one email, because as usual I really don't have too much time unfortunately, we're keeping busy here! Okay so maybe I shouldn't have said the weather was getting better, haha because it got epically cold and windy, Elder Reigngard and I were consistently out of power and water for about 8 or 10 hours or so a couple times because the weather was so bad, the wind is crazy, we were by the beach and you could stand on the ice and the wind would just blow you and you would slide to your destination, that part was pretty cool actually, and the waves were way big and when the water hit the rocks or the levy, it sprayed up and it all turned into ice in mid air, it was awesome, but way cold obviously. We had to go home from a lesson the other night, and the government came on the radio in the Marshutka and told everyone to stay inside because it was going to get really bad, well the only marshutka we could get on was one that took us like maybe around a mile from home, so we walked in the crazy weather, it was like a movie, truly epic. I'll send a picture of the destruction everywhere, there was just like metal and debris flying through the streets, we saw people's roofs completely rip off and blow away it was pretty rad.
Well things are warming up a little know, but there is still a lot of ice everywhere, I'll send some cool photos I took with Elder Ness, he is the mission AP and he and his companion went on splits with me and Elder Reigngard, it's just a routine thing, the AP's are way cool, I spent most of my time with Elder Ness, he is a straight up gentleman/stud, he's way chill. So get a load of this, did I mention there are a lot of drug users/mentally insane homeless people here just wandering the streets? Well there are a lot, and right before we went up and took the pictures, this drunk/high/smoking guy walks up to us and is just like, are you Americans? We said yes, and then he started talking to us and asking us these super bizarre questions, and he wanted us to come into his house, we said no of course and he got a little angry when we told him he had to leave and he tried to "fix my tie" as in reach in my suit pocket, so we stopped him and left. Haha it was just kinda funny but super creepy, although that isn't very uncommon here anyways, and communists sometimes get upset with us too. The cars and drivers here are way crazy too by the way, I have seen like 5 or 6 crashes and there are no speed limits and nobody signals usually, and there are no lanes, it's just every car for itself, and you have a heart attack pretty much every time your in one, and people just cross the streets anywhere super casually and almost get hit all the time, and people just drive on the sidewalks if they wanna get around someone sometimes, haha it's kinda funny to watch people, but I'm pretty used to it by now, but all is well.
No huge news with our investigators lately, we are just still trying to work with them but Igor the army man had to get his baptism date changed to March 18 with our other investigator Mesha, so we're planning on going into the black sea to do it, it'll be cool! My address is hard to write in English, I honestly only know it in Russian, I think and speak a lot in Russian here, and I dream in it too sometimes and my companion says I sleep talk a lot in Russian and English haha, but I live on a street called prospect Dershinkava, close to the edge of town. I eat a lot of Russian food, I eat English stuff maybe once every 2 weeks, but Elder Riegngard cooks pretty well so it's all good, we usually use a lot of onions and peppers in our food and we usually eat Kazak or Russian stuff, like greshka. It's pretty good! Don't worry about anything here though, we're doing great! Oh did I also mention that we have to boil all the water we drink because it's unsanitary? It's either that or water bottles, but I haven't talked to anyone who has ever had issues so it's all good. Well I gotta go, until next week!!!!
-Elder Skene

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Photos!

I have several new photos posted on my facebook page of my mission in Russia as well! If you are interested, go to my facebook page and look at the photos in the album "My Mission in Russia".

До свидания! (Dasvidania)

Elder Skene

New Investigators!

Hello! I heard about the Superbowl, that's cool that you had a big party! So I'll try to answer your questions because like I said we don't have a lot of time here to write, which reminds me, please tell everyone at home that I am planning on writing all of them, we don't have much time to do stuff here, and it's probably better if they just email me back so they save money, time, and my address isn't going to stay constant, we only get mail at zone conferences which is every 6 weeks, and there's no guarantee it will even make it here, it's difficult to make sure you have the correct address here because we live in kind of a weird area. I have to write them back though, I can't email them. Let everybody at home know that I love them all though! Tell all the Grandparents that I said hi!
So I wanted to send you guys all something, so I'm still searching, I wanted to send Jakob some Russian money, but it's illegal, so scratch that haha. Oh and to answer your questions concerning temperature, CO levels, and everything else, here it is, haha. It's warmed up here to the point where the snow is melting a little bit, but the wind is pretty bad so it's still kinda cold, not to mention the high levels of humidity. We make sure our home is ventilated and we have a CO detector in our room where we sleep so all is well. I have enough bedding so no worries about that. The language is getting more and more complex but I'm understanding a lot more, Elder Reigngard and I speak only Russian unless we are home in the apartment, so that helps. Our average day in generally street contacting or lessons with investigators, studying, and eating meals of course, we are up at 6:30am and in bed at 10:30pm, we either walk everywhere, or take a trolleybus as they're called here, or a marshutka sometimes, which is also a bus. Elder Riegngard and I are the only missionaries in the city and the outlying areas, so we go everywhere, we only take a train or a big bus when we travel outside of our area, which is only for zone or mission conferences.
We have three, well more like two actually, investigators named Igor, haha, there are like only 10 names in Russia that almost everyone has! One was in the military and is pretty cool, we call him "Igor the Army Man", another is literally like mentally insane so we never talk to him but he just walks in the church when we are in there sometimes, we call him "Crazy Igor" and the other Igor is a factory worker, we call him "Igor 2". He actually just walked in the branch because we put a sign up in the window that basically said "Here you can find out about Mormons!" We also have another Investigator named Mesha, which is short for Mikhial or Michael in English, that I didn't think I told you about. He is 20 and he wants to be baptised and go on a mission, it's pretty cool, he has a great testimony and he has dropped drinking, smoking, and drinking coffee and tea because of that awesome testimony that he has, it's pretty cool.
So in our apartment the walls are thin so we hear other people a lot, it's pretty funny because close by us are a lot of old Russian grandma's or Babushka's. They are all over the place on the street and they always mumble about the younger generation, haha, it's way funny to listen to them rant, and the one's who live by us are way funny too! One of them has a grandson and she always yells at him about school and his choice of friends when he comes home late. Also, like everyone smokes and drinks here, and there are a lot of drunk people walking around on the weekends, but we feel safe on the street, even when we talk to communists, who are like way against religion generally.
Well I don't have much more time to write because I have to write you guys personally real fast and send more pics and write the mission president. I love you all and May the Force be With You!
-Elder Skene