There seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere... That is what happened when we tried to email yesterday. (That is a quote from Toy Story. Ashlin has had a hard time finding working internet on Mondays, so she ended up writing on Tuesday.)
Everything's great here in Artyom! Weather's unusually warm, but I'm not complaining! My personal studies are great. I've been learning a lot about the power of words and about how God only teaches us or answers our prayers when we are humble and ready to receive it. He only does that because He loves us. I always wish I had more time for personal study. I hope I can find the time to pack in more studies when I'm home, although everybody says that time is smaller at home than they think it will be. I gave a talk on Sunday about Jesus Christ and parables. Our attendance was low because the members had a party the night before. At least they got to have some fun.
We haven't heard from Miracle Man. He hasn't answered our calls or our texts. :( He's probably just reading the Book of Mormon like crazy and has no time to meet or answer calls.
We were so blessed to see a miracle on Sunday as we were talking about how we could help a member who will soon be homeless. As we were talking with two of the members, a woman walked in and said that the member had worked for her as a gardener and she was paying him right then and there, and she said that she has a place where he can live for free if the members will help take care of him. God is so kind to bless us like that! The members have been a huge help in getting everything all settled so that the member can move there.
We had a fun English practice and learned different Christmas decoration words like wreath and stocking. Stockings are not something Russians do. We had to explain the story behind stockings. Also, when you've been in Russia for a while, the alphabet starts getting mixed up as Elder Nielson found out when he sang "Q R X" and we all busted up.
While we were at a member's house Friday night, she came walking up with her husband, daughter, and a new Christmas tree. We got to help them set it up and decorate it. That was a little tender mercy to be able to decorate a tree for the holidays with that great family. Russian trees are... something else. They have this stuff called "little rain" that supposedly makes all the difference. It's long streamer-like ribbon/confetti that just runs down the tree. I can't really describe, but maybe I'll buy some and bring it home. There's also no Mrs. Claus. Instead they have the Snow Maiden Snegoorochka (Снегурочка). She's Grandpa Frost's granddaughter.
Have a very merry holly jolly Christmas!!! С рождеством!
When asked what she would be doing for Christmas:
Christmas will be Skype home, and then missionary work as usual of course! "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is spreading the Gospel loud and clear." -Buddy the Elf Isn't that how that quote goes? ;)