First off, my sister just got her mission call to PARIS, FRANCE!!!! Congrats my сестра! (Or I suppose it's now Sœur.)
We met with some Jehovah's Witnesses this week, and they're awesome people. We met with one woman on the street who was way nice, and she called us and asked us if we could meet. However, that day she was sick, so she sent her sister-in-law and the sister-in-law's mom to meet with us instead. They were super nice, and we just talked about our faiths. They didn't want to pray with us because they only pray to Jehovah, and they also didn't accept any of our literature, but most of their doctrines and ideas agree with ours. Sister Wilson and I both agreed that we have a lot of respect for them after that lesson. Maybe our original contact will meet with us in the future.
September 1st was the first day of school for EVERYONE in Russia. It's called "day of knowledge." All the kids were wearing new suits and dresses; the girls had big, white bows in their hair; and most were carrying big bouquets of flowers. After school, it looked like most of them had ice cream. Then, on September 5th, it was Ulan-Ude's birthday. I think Ulan-Ude is around 349 or 350 years old. There was a big celebration going on next to the big Lenin head on the main square. There was a big stage, and lots of people were performing and celebrating (and several people were getting drunk). The celebration seemed to go on for two days, and we got a glimpse of it out of the marshrootka windows. (Marshrootka = little vans that we ride around on for public transportation.)
Flip's been busy with school, and she says she's tired a lot. However, she still found time to meet with us last night, and she admitted that she's rude to her mother. Sister Wilson testified so strongly about her family and about how she's feeling about being so far away from home, and Flip totally felt the Spirit. She was crying, and she said that she needs to rethink her life and she's never wanted to be baptized more. It was such a spiritual lesson, and I can't wait to see what changes because of it. Family really is so special and important, and sometimes you don't quite realize how much you love them until you're separated by several thousand miles of land, ocean, and different culture.
The branch had an activity to open the new year of seminary and institute, and we helped make pizza for the activity. Russians don't really use pizza sauce. Instead, they use ketchup and mayonnaise. About halfway through making the pizzas, I realized what ketchup and mayonnaise really is: fry sauce! If you ever want to make pizza and run out of sauce, feel free to just make your own fry sauce and use that. That's how the Russians do it. It was fun to see the youth gathered together to teach and interact together.
By the way, did you ever hear that it sometimes gets cold in Siberia? Somehow summer stopped all at once. One day I was wearing my shorter sleeves and lighter skirts, and then next I was wearing tights, boots, and a coat. It's raining today, and it's chilly here! I've heard that the snow's not supposed to start until November, October at the earliest, so at least there's that to look forward to. Hope nobody at home freezes! :)
Ashlin's reply to Whitney's mission call opening video:
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'M SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!!! PARIS, FRANCE!!!!! I don't even know what to say. I'm totally crying in the library where we're writing right now. Wow! I really am just so happy for you. :D Keep me updated as you find out cool, new information. That is all so interesting. It's going to be so fun, Whit. I can't describe what a mission is. I think I have a friend from college there on a mission. I really can't wait to hear all about it! You're amazing. Try and not forget all about school, kay? You're awesome!!!