Is it just me, or is there no time to do everything that needs to be done? So much for having a new year. There's even less time than there was in the old one! Happy New Year! For our New Year's, we did lots of walking around and talking with people. As far as we have been able to tell, it's not allowed to say "Happy New Year" until it's actually January 1st or even New Year's Eve, so we would go around saying "С наступающим!" (S nastoopayusheem = With approaching or coming [New Year]). Now we're also saying С праздником! (S prazdneekom = With holidays, or happy holidays) because Christmas is this week. New Year's is a family holiday, so the whole city shut down. In fact, we were waiting for our bus to go home on New Year's Eve, but the only bus that came was one that took us halfway to our house, and the driver said that he was the last bus. We ended up walking the rest of the way home. There are a lot of big Christmas trees all over the city that parents bring their kids to, and the kids love to run around the trees. Other people do a lot of drinking to celebrate. Lots of beer and vodka.
We also received transfers, and Sister Woodland's moving on to Nakhodka after seven months in Artyom. She's going to be where I was a year ago! We had such a wonderful time together. My new companion will be Sister Hawley. She started her mission one month before I did, and we go home at the same time. She's served in Ulan-Ude, Angarsk, and Irkutsk. This will be her first city that's not in Siberia. We're going to be so busy and have lots of fun together.
We're busy getting ready for a Christmas party on Saturday. We're trying to get all the members in to help. One of the members had a tragedy in her family. I'm pretty sure I've written about her before. She's fifteen, and she and her twelve- or thirteen-year-old brother are the only members in their family. She lives with her grandma who is often drunk and is against the church. She sneaks out of the house to go to church. Her mom died in September, and she started doing family history work in order to take her mom's name to the temple. Well, on Saturday her dad died. We are all so sad for her. She says she's okay, but who knows what's going to happen next for them. She said that when her mom died, she looked for any reason to leave the church, and she couldn't find one. We are trying to do all we can to help her and her brother.
By request, here's our average daily routine, also every day feels anything but average.
6:30 (on the dot): wake up, pray, exercise for 30 minutes (usually in our apartment, stretching, sit ups, push-ups, sometimes we go out and run)
7-8: shower, get ready, eat breakfast
8-9: personal study
9-10: companion study
10-11: language study
11-12: lunch, call people, get ready to leave the apartment
12: leave and get to work! This could be heading to lessons with investigators or members, or it could mean finding addresses or less-active members or former investigators, or we might be on the street all day just talking with people. We do that with an hour break for dinner. We're walking all over, and we take quite a few buses. It's about a twenty minute bus ride to get from our apartment to the church plus a five minute walk.
9: go home, plan for 30 minutes for the next day
9:30-10:30: write in the area book and update our records, get ready for bed, talk with the district leader, write in journal (that one happens less often than I would like because I run out of time), pray
10:30: you *pointing*... go *fingers walking*... too *make a two with fingers*... sleep *pretend like you're sleeping and snore a little, then wait until Boo chuckles and falls asleep*!
Some days we walk around for four hours straight, and others we're running all over the city from lesson to lesson to lesson to lesson. There really is no "average" day. Every day is unique and different, and I love it.