Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers out there! Also happy first day of summer! Summer's definitely hitting us here. It was about 32 degrees Celcius the other day (which I think is about 89 degrees Farenheit). Sometimes I forget that I'm in Siberia because it's so hot, but then I look around and see the snow and remember that I'm still in Siberia. Well, I guess I should say that there's not really snow, it's just cotton. There is cotton everywhere. The wind blows it off the trees in such a way that it looks like it's snowing, and it collect in little piles. I guess no matter what time of year it is here, there's always white stuff on the ground. Maybe Olaf from Frozen could live here.
We had such a crazy week! There are so many things I want to talk about, so I'll try to write really fast.
On Monday, we had a big FHE with Elder Laughlin and his mom. Elder Laughlin served here in this mission and just finished, and his parents came to pick him up. Ulan-Ude was the last city they visited. (It was where Elder Laughlin was trained, and he said it's his favorite city.) We had several members at an FHE, and they shared their conversion stories with us. We also got talking about the 12 tribes of Israel, and they shared that they're from Naphtali, Asher, and Ephraim (as far as I remember, and I'm not sure on that spelling). I know the the blood of Israel is rich here in Russia. Then one of the members played the accordion for us and sang, and his wife played the spoons. It was a really wonderful night, and I'm grateful that the Laughlins let us be a part of it.
Flip came to church with us yesterday. It feels like we've been going two steps forward, one step back, which is, nonetheless, progress. She keeps telling us about how she has pages pop into her head, and she reads those pages in the Book of Mormon and finds answers. She also keeps saying that this church isn't for her, but Sister Cavaness and I know it is, and we're hoping to set a baptismal date with her soon. She was so nice and had us for for dinner one day. She made сырники (seer-nee-kee, or I guess I could write it seer-knee-key), which are like cottage cheese biscuit pancake things, and we made brownies. She also gave us books with writings of Pushkin and magnets that say Booryatia. It was such a sweet, thoughtful gift. We absolutely love her!
We met up with one of the less-active Young Women on Saturday, and we got to meet her boyfriend too. He's not a member, but he was great. We gave him a tour of the church, taught the first lesson, and had an overall great meeting. He's a pretty good guy (which we weren't expecting from what we've already heard of him), and who knows, maybe temple marriage will be in the picture one day.
Auburn, the recent convert, is so eager to do missionary work. On Wednesday, she got up at 6:00 so she could spend the day with us. She met us at 8 am and street-contacted for an hour and a half (and she was a rockstar). Then we did studies with her at the church, and she helped us on lessons all day. It was so wonderful to see her desire to share the Gospel with people because it has changed her life so much and she just wants to share it with people.
We got to do service at a library the other day with two women from the Relief Society. We painted one of the rooms. (Have I mentioned how Russians paint everything? Something's dirty, paint over it. Want a new look, paint over it. Houses, rooms, trees, streets, curbs, everything. Paint.) It was super fun and a nice change to the routine. It was a little messy, though.
I got a question about Russian summer cottages. One home is called a дача (dacha). They're in the countryside or outside of the city. They're just really small homes (not apartments) where the Russians like to go during the summer. We don't visit the dachas or see them, but we often get responses from people that they can't meet or can't come to church because they're at their dacha.
Random Russian stuff:
We got talking about Star Wars with the new deacon in our branch, and it's called звёздны воены (zvyozdi voinee) in Russian. I know my dad likes Star Wars and is looking forward to the new movies. :)
To close off my longer-than-I-expected-it-to-be email, we know that we're happier when we're busy. We don't want to be so busy that we can't think straight, but having something to do every second of every day is a huge blessing. Best wishes to all from Siberia!