So... first email from Russia! Where to start? After our long flight from the states to Vladivostok (Salt Lake City to Las Vegas to Seoul, South Korea to Vladivostok, Russia - 26 hours of travel including layovers), we were able to go to the church/mission office and get the low down on how things are going to go. We stayed in the mission home for the first night and were able to drive around the city at night and see all of the lights which was really cool! We also figured out that the roads are set up to be driven on the right side like in America, but the steering wheel can be found on either side of the car here since they import cars from other places that haven't been changed to be on the right. We found out where we were going that night, too (I'll get to that later). On Thursday we had a zone conference and were able to meet other missionaries.
My first area is Nakhodka (I think that's how you spell it in English) and my trainer is Sister Oler (from Texas)! Nakhodka is a 4 hour bus ride, which felt like nothing compared to the flight we just had. It's kind of a sailor town and is one of the smaller cities in the mission. One of the elders in Nakhodka was telling me on the bus ride there that he would compare it to Vietnam in terms of humidity, etc. and that there are huge spiders. That was a concern! But it hasn't been that humid and we have only seen one huge spider.
Sister Oler and I are both new to the area, so we are still trying to figure everything out. There haven't been sisters here for 3 months. The first person we talked to was a more inactive member who is very elderly. Since then we have been looking for the inactives (of which there are a lot). We are going to have to find a balance between trying to help the branch and finding new investigators. Sister Oler was telling me that this is the first branch that she has been in where Elders have had callings.
Sometimes I feel like the elder in "The Best Two Years" who says, "That's not the language they taught me in the MTC!" Haha not really, but it is definitely a struggle trying to figure out what is going on. Also, you have to pronounce Merrill a little bit differently and I always have to repeat it a couple of times or have my companion say it, so people can understand. It's also kind of cruel that I can't roll my R's ;).
Random Russian Ramblings: The missionaries drink filtered water. We live in a really "Russian" apartment (for example there is different wall paper in every room). Russian candy is actually pretty good and so is the bread. I have been told that I am going to be indoctrinated into herbal tea. The branch here had about 10 people attend sacrament meeting today....not all stayed for the block. Some work to do!
Overall it's been good so far! It was definitely a shock when I first got here, but I'm so happy to be here!
Love you all! Have a great week!
Pictures below of Nakhodka on the internet.....and then from Whitney's apartment! A little difference today.