Wow, what a fun week this has been. I don't know how to tell you all about what I do everyday and how awesome the work is here, but I'll do my best!
First off, there was a baptism yesterday here in Nakhodka!!! Максим (Maksim) was baptized. He was actually an excommunicated member of the church a long time ago, but the elders were teaching him and he wanted to get baptized again. They had it all scheduled and set up before I even arrived in Russia. Wasn't that nice of them to surprise me with that? Maksim has a really strong testimony, and we're excited to have him in the branch. We walked to a sauna to baptize him because he's so tall. Normally they have a portable font they bring in, but we wanted to make sure he would go all the way under. The water was pretty cold from Elder Alvord's face (who baptized Maksim), but it was so exciting. We had three of our investigators who came to the baptism, which was awesome. Ольга (Olga) is another excommunicated member from a long time ago (there was this branch president who excommunicated lots of people for weird reasons, and she and Max were two of those). She has the sweetest spirit, and we love to meet with her. Last night, she sang for us and played her accordion, and she's so tender and faithful. She lives with her nephew who's often drunk. He's not a scary drunk, he just tries to offer us weird foods that we have to turn down or hide. For some reason, he's really interested in my glasses. Almost every time we meet with Olga and he's drunk, he asks me about my glasses and if I need them because the sun hurt my eyes. I don't know why they're so interesting, but they are. One day, the nephew had a friend over, but the friend was big. He said he was a boxer, and he was also a little drunk. I hope this doesn't freak out my mom or make her worry, but he (the boxer) was basically making sure that we knew that Russia was good and America was bad, and he was also interested in my glasses, and he snatched them right off my face. Luckily, they're safe and sound, no damage done, but after that we decided to leave. We love Olga, and she came to the baptism, and we invited her to come to FHE tonight and English tomorrow. We really want her to be baptized again. (Okay, that was a lot of information kind of jumbled together. Good luck deciphering that!)
The other investigators are Ина and Alekcей (Ena and Aleksay... it's hard to write Russian names in English). They are married, and they came to the baptism and both said they want to be baptized! We have a date set for them next month, and their main challenge will be quitting smoking, but they both have the desire to quit, so we're excited for them. Ena came to church yesterday, and she asked us what the light was around the members. How cool is that? I know we can't always see it, but the members do have the light of Christ about them that comes from living the Gospel. Those two are so nice, and we can't wait for their baptism in a month. (A month feels like forever away!)
We also meet with lots of grandmas here (Babooshkee, with the accent on the Bab, not the oo like most Americans say). They are all sweet and funny. Some of them have interesting stories for us, like Любовь (Lubov, means "love"). She likes to tell us about the aliens and the underwater cities that she visits, and she also said she went to Moscow and talked to Putin about her pension. Aww, she's great. Lots of the grandmas also have gold teeth. The dental care here isn't like what it is at home, so there are lots of crooked, missing, and gold teeth. So grateful for the blessings we have in America!
Sister Watts is the greatest trainer. She has so much patience with me, and she's always willing to help out and serve. She makes great food. She made me Plov, which is a Russian dish, and Blene, which are Russian pancakes and are very similar to crepes. The food here is really yummy, and we eat pretty well. The grocery store is fun because when you buy vegetables and fruit and nuts, you just pick and measure however much you want instead of having to buy a whole pack. The hard part is trying to know how much you're spending. Right now, there's about 50 rubles to the dollar, but when we're paying, the price is about 3,500 rubles. That sounds like a lot, but it's $60 in America. (Okay, I guess that's still kind of a lot, but you get what I mean.) It costs 18 rubles to ride the bus, which we do quite often. Every time you pay, they give you a ticket, and if the sum of the first three numbers equals the sum of the last three numbers, it's considered a lucky ticket. Sister Watts has never gotten one, but I got one the other day! The number was 336066, in case you were interested. Sister Watts said that the Russians usually eat their lucky ticket, but I think I'm just going to save mine.
Also, Christmas is this week! Russian's celebrate New Year's more than Christmas, but we'll still have a little party, and we get to skype home. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and remember Christ and that He is the Gift (like the video on lds.org that you should go watch... hint hint).
С Рождеством! (Merry Christmas!)