Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25, 2010

Hello Family! 
Thank you for the letters. Thank you Kirsten, it was nice to hear from you. I hope all goes well with the kids, grandma in Arkansas. Hi Molly and Trey! What is your address? Things are going well here. Thanks for the weather report, dad. It has not felt too cold yet. It has only snowed once, shortly melting after it fell, but sometimes, if I am lucky, there are puddles of water that have turned into ice through the night. I do not know what to do in the winter in terms of contacting. Ideally, we would be working with the members more and take less time on the streets. There were times in the summer where it rained cats and dogs, and no one was on the street, and we got soaked. Men have work or school often, and we cannot meet with women alone, so it is sometimes hard to meet with members and talk to them abot  In this area, we do contact a lot. It is still fine on the street to talk to people, and there are still many on the street, when it gets very cold, we will have to work differently I think. 
I would say I am still very far from speaking fluently, although it is not really difficult to get my points across. I just have a clear accent when I speak. Sometimes I translate for the Russian and Ukrainian during district conference. Understandinding is coming a lot easier, but it is still sometimes hard to pick out everything people say. Much of the food here is produced in Russia, but a lot of the fruits come from different places (surrounding countries, and also China often). There are many small fruit stands everywhere, and there are also small stores everywhere. We go to a fairly large store, and it ends up being around the size of Walgreens. In some of the mall type of complexes, which are in the city, there are larger grocery stores. in those places, there is pretty much everything you could buy in the states. There is a special place called metro, which is like a costco here. Other than that store, there are usually no Wal-Mart type stores, but there are many stores that seem to specialize in certain items. Electric store, sanitation store, phone store, flower store, food store, hair cut salon, etc.We went with the senior couple, because you need a card, but that place was just like costco. There was everything, and in bulk. There are sometimes fruits here in Russia that you do not commonly see in the states. We recently got something called Persimmon in english. I am not sure because it has a different name in Russian. In terms of American produced goods, there are not many. Outside of food, I do not know, but a lot of specialty sauces come from America (i.e. tabasco sauce and peanut butter). The young people do need to qualify for the university. If they do well in school, they might not have to go to college (which could be compared to community college), and they can go straight to the university (college or university).Most can have the opportunity to go to the University. There are a lot of students that go to technical schools as well. I do not think that there is a tuition for school, but if you want to go to a better school, or some special programs, then I think it costs money. The thing with Russia that is similar to Europe, is the children start to specialize often at a young age. Going through the normal programs do not cost money, but if you are older and have already passed the natural course of school action, it costs to go back to school. (I am not necessarily sure about all of this, but it is what I have seemed to gather)
My companion comes from a military family, and his dad and brothers are pilots in the air force. He has travelled many places and live in places like Guam, Kuwait, Louisiana, Nebraska. He worked before his mission and actually worked at superstition mall in Gilbert. He is fairly large and strong. He wrestled when he was younger, and worked out before. He is goofy at times, but he seems to get really serious when the situation calls for it. He can sometimes get easily frustrated at things, but he is working hard to love and be patient with everyone. He is a deep thinking, and he really wants to do what is right according to the scriptures and the words of the prophets. He is 6 months longer than me on the mission, he is talkative, and he is good with dealing with the people. Once I go home, I can tell you all about all my different companions. I write their names in my Preach My gospel, so I will remember them.

If I write to much, just tell me, but I wanted to answer your questions. This week I was in Finland, and I had the opportunity to go to the temple. Finland is beautiful right now, and I really had a good time in the temple. It is very peaceful, and I know it truly is a house of God. There are often people from different countries there, so it is also cool to see that we are all children of God, and we can meet in the temples everywhere to do the work for our spiritual brothers and sisters. This week we have an opportunity to watch Bashkirian dancing for a cultural night, and there is a ward halloween activity we will be having Saturday. I love you all. Thank you for the support and your letters. Bye.- Elder Larson
Happy Birthday Erik. How old are you? 23. oooh.