I'm officially down to less than two weeks left in the MTC! Tomorrow's Thanksgiving, and on Friday I get my travel plans. Almost there, and then Russia better be ready!
There's a lot of excitement here for the Thanksgiving holiday. Tomorrow we won't have any of our normal classes. We'll have a service project, a Thanksgiving program, a Thanksgiving meal, and a devotional with a general authority. (We don't know who yet. In Russian, they don't have a word for excited, so they say "I wait with no patience", and that's how I feel. I wait with no patience!) But what's better than a general authority devotional? TWO! That's right, we had Elder Oaks come and speak to us last night. It was so great! Everyone wanted to meet him, but they couldn't do that because he would have been there all night shaking hands. It was awesome to hear him speak. He talked about being an instrument in the Lord's hands, referencing Alma 17:11. This is one of my goals as a missionary, to be an instrument for the Lord. Elder Oaks talked about how a pen is an instrument. To use a pen, first you have to make sure it's working properly and that it's filled with ink. We need to make sure we're working properly (healthy) and that we're filled with the Spirit, faith, and testimony. Then he talked about how the pen doesn't write what it wants to write, and it doesn't say it's not going to write because today is its P-day or because its tired. The pen does what the writer wants it to. It's a great analogy, and I know I'll think of it often on my mission.
The sisters and I are officially the only Russian sisters left in the MTC right now. The last 4 (who are serving in the Baltics and in Ukraine) left on Monday and Tuesday along with some other elders. In the other Russian zone, there are two districts left: one with 2 elders who leave the same time I do, and a new district with 5 elders who arrived only two weeks ago. In my zone, there's my district (with Elder Williams and Elder Bodily and Sister Balls-Barker, Sister Brayton, and me), Sister Thomas's district (with her and 4 elders) who arrived two weeks ago, and a Ukrainian district with 6 elders who also arrived two weeks ago. The elders are all so nice to us sisters and looking out for us. We're so blessed to have such great elders! Last Wednesday, over 700 new missionaries entered the MTC because no new missionaries are coming in this week (because of Thanksgiving), so we've been able to see a lot of different elders, and the Russians are lucky to have such amazing, mature elders.
Choir at the MTC is the best. The director, Brother Egett (Eggot?) always has spiritual insights about the songs we sing. Last night we sang "Nearer, My God to Thee," and he told us about the story behind the lyrics. It's all about Jacob, who took the birthright from his brother, Esau, and how after he has to leave home, he sleeps on a rock and has a dream of a ladder to heaven. I wish I could explain the whole thing like Brother Egett, but it's a cool story and brings new meaning to the song. If you can, look it up! Also look up the meaning behind the word "Ebenezer" in the Bible. That reference is in "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," which we're singing on Thanksgiving. It's so beautiful, one of my favorite church songs. If you really want to have more spiritual moments, you could also watch the Mormon Message "The Refiner's Fire" on lds.org, and then read Alma 26 with it. I know that's a lot, but it's all so good!
Time for something funny (well, I think it's funny). Brother Froelich is absolutely hilarious. Some days he just has the giggles and is hilarious. While he was teaching us about dates and how to say how old we are, he kept using different voices for different ages, like a grandma voice, a 15-year-old boy before he hits puberty, and a 5-year-old boy. He would say things like "No, seriously" (in Russian) in a grandma voice, and he yelled, "Я буду спригет!" (which means "I will jump!", pronounced "Ya boo-doo spree-git") in his high toddler voice. This went on for at least 30 minutes, and we all laughed so hard our tummies hurt. I was really excited to learn about the word спригет because it sounds like Springer, but to our disappointment, the word is actually пригет ("pree-git"). Close enough, though, right? And it's the voice itself that was the funniest part, so it's all good.
We did lots of teaching this week. We taught Elena on Skype TRC. She lives in Yekaterinburg, and she was really nice with our limited Russian, helping us out on the conjugation. Настя (Nactia) agreed to be baptized, but we don't get to teach her anymore. We taught our first lesson with Антон (Anton), and he is really knowledgeable about the Bible. He believes in Christ and wants to find which church is true, which is awesome. He thinks it's strange how many people claim to be Christian and don't live what they preach. We already love him and love teaching him. All the missionaries in our district are also going to have the chance to be an investigator while we role-play and teach one another. It's a good opportunity to get inside an investigator's head and see how they think, which is important because we want to focus on the investigator and what they need.
Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow everyone!