First Week in Russia

St. Petersburg at nightWell I can’t believe that I have been here for almost a whole week! It’s crazy! I know that the Lord truely does prepare people and that I have to be prepared so that he will give them to me so that I can guide them to the truth! I love this place! It is beautiful! it is wonderful! I am definiotely serving in the best area! We have so much variation! There is a little island in our area that is beautiful and we have the city city and they the outskirts of the city. it’s wonderful! I love it so much. It is absolutely beautiful and the archutecture is so different but BEAUTIFUL! I am in love with Russia. I am 100% grateful to be here and know that I need to be here.

CompanionsSo, to start, I love my companion! She is WONDERFUL! I actually knew her a little bit in the MTC, would talk to her here and there so that is fun that I already had a little preview to who she is. It is Sister Eyring, and (SURPRISE) this is only her second transfer! So she is still going through the first 12 week program thing that we do each morning as she teaches me! We just started on week 7 and I will do weeks 1-6 next because otherwise she would never do those weeks. President was going to have more companionships of three but said he felt like this is what he should do. There are still 4 or 5 threesomes and three of us that have second transfer trainers and then the rest all have older trainers. I love it! We have so much fun every day. I guess you could say it’s hard work but I really just feel like it is fun. We enjoy what we are doing and we enjoy being together. IThis area that we are in was kind of in a rut and kind of just not doing anything and I know that we can change that. There are so many people here that are ready and just waiting to hear the gospel! It’s so great! The babushkas are always like “i’m too old to change!” but the people a little bit younger are so receptive and ready to hear.

People don’t want to hear all the ime and we are trying to make sure that we really pray for direction of who we should talk to because we don’t want to waste our time taling to 20 people that dont like us and only one is interested in the gospel. We have been more successful when we do that with getting numbers and having people open to making appointments with us. There was this one lady that I was talking to on the bus that was like nah, no thanks, I am Russian Orthodox so that conversation was over and then this creepy man was staring at me and saying who knows what to me and she looks at him nd was like no! she is a nice girl and they believe in God and was just standing up for us. It’s so awesome to have things like that happen because it reminds me that one day, that lady will be ready. She is one of the seeds we are sowing, and that will just happen while we are harvesting. There are other people who are just ready!

Story time;
My first day here we were just out contacting and we met a girl named Sasha. She was so cute and smiley and just loved talking to us. Said that she wasn’t interested in the gospel but was interested in English club and just enjoyed talking with us. So, we chatted with her and got her number so that we could call her and remind her about english club. So, we did that and then she came to engligh club sign-ups on thursday. She was there and signed up when the elders were in charge and then they had given her a restoration pamphlet. Immediately we were like, can we meet with you on this day at this time??! She said yes! So we have a meeting set up for with her!  She then was talking about how she loved paintings and wanted to see more in the church. We gave her a whole tour of the church and she kept wanting to know the stories behind the pictures so we told her about temples, we told her about Jesus healing lazarus, we told her about the man that Jesus told to give up all his money and riches and that would help him get to the kingdom of God ( i forget what that story is called and exactly what happens) and we sang a song from the hymnal for her and told her about the three hours of church. It was so cool because at one point she said, I didnt hear what you just said I was just listening to my heart. She kept saying how good she felt and how happy she was to be with us and how much she loved us. We told her how much we loved her and how much we love this gospel and it makes us happy. we were supposed to meet with her tonight but then when we called her last night we found out yesterday she ended up in the hospital (we think she said she fell down the stairs and broke her foot or something…not quite sure…she will be okay!) and she will be there for the next few days. (At first we couldn’t figure out what was going on and we were scared that she was maybe bailing on us! That was terrifying. I wanted to cry.) But, she said I can’t tomorrow but I really really really want to still meet with you!! So, we will call her back in a few days and make an appointment with her. She is so ready. We are going to commit her to baptism! She WILL say yes! I know it. I feel it. She knows this is right. She is ready. We LOVE her SO much. I have so so so much love in my heart for her and we pray for her all the time. I can’t wait to meet with her!

Image 3We have this cute little member Elena that feeds the missionaries every friday night and since she is 92 and can’t leave her apartment (she lives on the like 8th floor or something) it is a service hour! It’s fun. She made us a cabbage and onion thing with vinegar and garlic is basically what it was….It is so gross but I can’t help but love it because she just makes it with so much love and is so excited to make it for us. Then we have a glass of hot water with one scoop of cocoa powder and a tiny bit of milk. That’s fun to drink 🙂 None of it is that bad but it is definitely not good….hahah. I just love her so much. She is THE cutest little lady and just so sweet. She loves seeing us and talking to us. She just has so much love to share!

There is an inactive lady here that has a nonmember roommate that is an investigator and we just want her to get baptized! She has said that she would be baptized if she could come to church but (they are both nurses) they can’t come to church because they always have to work on sundays. We went over the first lesson again and want to go through all the lessons again so that Tatiana (the member) will remember her testimony and hopefully have a stronger desire to come back to church and be active again and so that Zoya (the nonmember) will be able to gain a testimony of everything more strongly and have more faith that if she does follow the commandments, and keep the sabbath day holy, that she will truely be blessed and that it really will help her life. I know that this is possible and we are just praying for her to accept this and to be ready to take that leap of faith.

There is a less active family that we met with last night and they are so cute. It is a mom that has two sons, 16 & 11. They are too funny. The boys were just trying to irritate each other the whole time. I just felt so at home! The older boy came to church last week on his own and that is huge for a 16 year old! Great family and we just want them to be reminded how important it is to attend church. The mom talks about the boys going on missions and it is amazing! Here, a lot of peple will miss a lot of weeks of church and tell us that they are active and we are like…well… you need to come to church more often to be “active”… . Her mom goes in for surgery today and she said if she is well enough to be left at home alone she will come to church with her boys.
We were on our way to visit someone the other day and we met a member on the street! I guess that is very unusual because there are so few members that that doesn’t really happen. She went on and on for about 20/30 minutes and it was so funny because We weren’t quite sure if she was crazy or if she was just excited or ybe a little bit of both! Not sure. She was saying in the beginning how she had been praying and then she left her house and then she saw us so I definitely think it was an answer to prayers of some sort, not sure what she needed but I feel like it was good that we ran into her. She seemed very happy to see us.
So we went by Larisa’s house last night, this inactive lady. It was a little creepy. She lives in the “basement” level of a dome here. Sister Eyring warned me that it was kind of creepy and as we went in it just was smelling worse and worse. We were just walking down this creepy barely lit hallway that had stuff all over and then we get to her door and she said her lightbulb just burnt out so she went to the neighbors to see if she could borrow one. they were talking (sounded like yelling) in russian and that was fun. It smelled like she had 20 cats and then maybe there were about 2 or 3 in there that were dead. It didn’t help that it was raining out and so it was a cloudy afdternoon and it wasn’t super bright and light. All of a sudden when we were in the darkest part of the hall there was just a huge bo of thunder and i just grab Sister Eyrings arm and were both standing there like…uhhhh!?!??! can we just leave?! Then she wanted to have us come back next week because she wanted to clean before we come so that we can have a lesson with her. She was just quite the lady. And she was trying to pay her tithing to us and we were like….no no no we can’t and she was like well just keep it and give it to the bishop next week…. we were like no sorry! and finally she was like okay you can take it next week, so uh that will be fun to go back and visit her! As much as we didn’t necessarily want to go because it was kind of creepy and she’s kinda crazy we could tell that it was good because she was happy to see us and we felt like we should go so we did! Hopefully she will come back to church eventually. There are about 500 names on our ward list but only about 100 come. it’s sad.
Image 8Church is so great here. It is a bit overwhelming though. I don’t have the greatest Russian, so it’s always hard to communicate with people, but at church it is nice because they are a lot more understanding that we are missionaries and that we are trying to learn Russian! It’s overwhelming because I have no idea what is being said. Sacrament is a whole hour that they are just going on and on and on and you can’t stop them to ask what’s going on like you can in sunday school or Relief Society. Our ward mission leader is an African American French man that is doing his residency here in Russia. Don’t ask. I don’t understand who he is because our meeting yesterday after church was quite confusing. Hahah. He spend about 10 minutes at the beginning with the elders talking about shoes and telling them the should buy shoes like his.
It seems that the biggest thing is getting people to understand that taking a leap of faith is okay and that it will really bless their lives and that they truly WILL be happier. I know that when I did that by coming on a mission that it helped me and I feel like my testimony is so much stronger. It’s amazing to see that when you act on faith we REALLY are blessed. Heacenly Father does not give empty promises. He WILL follow through with them if we keep our part.
I want to hear from people! Hahah. But seriously.
There is so much to tell!
I love you all so much.
Also, people can email me but I love mail and mail DOES get here.
with so much love,
Sister Schaff
Please write her!
go to dearelder.com and write her using the information below
Sister Rebekah Schaff to the Russia, St. Petersburg Mission
we are so glad it is one of the pouch missions so it is free, but if you want to write a physical letter she would also LOVE that.
Russia St Petersburg Mission
pr Malookhtinsky 16/1
POM 11-H, 12-H
St. Petersburg
Russia
195112
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