Friday, January 6, 2012

I cannot believe that next week will mark the end of Keaton's first month in Russia!! 

I am going to have to back track a bit on this post, I apologize. (And for the wordiness.) 

I guess the easiest way to do this will be to just go in chronological order of the last month. 
        - The phone call from the airport was more than I could have imagined. It was short and sweet, yet full of the Spirit and our Elder Flitton's love and desire to finally be in Russia. He told me about his last week in the MTC and how hectic it was. He was so nervous. Scared. But he was ready. 
        - They made it to the mission home and were beat. This email from President Rust was sent to all of the parents:

            I wanted to let you know that each of your sons arrived in Yekaterinburg today and are doing well. We have had them in our home all day today letting them rest and teaching them a little. After dinner tonight most of them could hardly keep their eyes open. Jet lag was setting in really hard with most of them. They are all in bed now and getting their much needed sleep. I hope to send each of you a picture of group tomorrow as we were going to take a picture of them tonight but they were in pretty bad shape by the time we got around to doing it. We will take one in the morning when they are bright eyed and wide awake.
            I want to let you know how grateful we are to have each one of them in our mission. They are each great young men and Sister Rust and I will do everything that we can keep them way. We promise to watch over and protect them while they are away from you and to help them become great teachers and missionaries for the Savior.

Thank you for raising such valiant and worthy young men.

President Rust

What a sigh of relief that was. Knowing he made it there safe and sound and was getting all settled in. (And even a photo!!!)

The next week's email was just about him getting all settled in and experiencing the culture/language shock. He was holding up, though.

Then it was time for the Christmas phone call.
We knew he was going to call at 7:30 pm his time, which is 6:30 am our time. 
He is worth it though, right??
After a stressful evening of trying to get the webcam and skype to work on the Flitton's home computer, 6 am rolled around and the waiting game began. 6:30..then 7. We decided to start opening some presents and all of a sudden Christy's cell phone rang. Panic/Excitement set in. I could hear his voice as he was talking to Christy and it was the best feeling ever.
Christy got to talk to her boy and I don't think I have ever seen happier. 
Her first question was, "Are you healthy?" It was cute :)
After a good conversation, the phone was passed to Anna, Katie, and Jeff. 
Jeff and Keaton's relationship is so special. Keaton looks up to him so much and loves him SO much. 
Keaton was telling Jeff the story about his first time teaching a bus FULL of people as they were traveling to wherever they were headed. Keaton's companion, Elder Hronek, said that is usually takes the missionaries a while to be able to do that, but Keat was doing it his first week there. 
I think that surprised everyone the most.
He has gained so much confidence in himself already. Our sweet, shy Keaton is approaching strangers and having full on conversations. I am so proud!
After a few more stories about accidentally ordering liver at the restaurant, and getting kissed on the cheek by all of the babooshkas (grandma's), it was my turn to surprise him!
He didn't know I was there, so when his mom told him she had a surprise for him he replied with "You're pregnant?" haha. Still hasn't lost that funny bone.

It was like he hasn't even been gone. We laughed. I DIDN'T cry. He told me about where he is living and the crazy people he sees on the buses and streets every day. He met a girl on the bus that is studying to be a teacher :) sounded familiar.

It was just a great day. Filled with love and family...and reminiscing on our hour long phone call. I don't think we could have asked for a better Christmas present.

He didn't get to do much for the holiday. Major holidays get pretty out of control in Russia, so they advise the missionaries to stay in their apartments the whole day. He did get to celebrate with some of the branch members, though. And even finished the day with a nice feast...a frozen pizza. Poor boy. (At least it wasn't liver.)

Here is the email to his mom from the day after Christmas:
              It made my day when I was able to talk to you. Im bummed that we couldn't skype but oh well. Next time. I can't believe that Christmas has come and gone, it is crazy to think that I only have one more Christmas in Russia. I'm ok with that because people don't celebrate it here haha. But it was a good experience and a very humbling experience. I hope that Christmas yesterday was good. I miss the family so much. 
              For New Years we have to stay inside because it gets way crazy here. People have seven days after New Years to sober up and get ready to go back to work and everything. Ha it is so funny. We have talked to so many drunk people here. I feel bad sometimes becuase they look like they are going to pass out or something. 
             Haven't really had any promising investigators. Tonight we have a meeting with a guy named victor. We taught him the first lesson and tonight we are going to give him the baptismal commitment. I hope that the spirit will come to him and he will want to get baptized.
Walked around the city today to try and find a place to do email. Everyone does internet and it is so hard to find a place so I got my exercise in today ha. 
             It snowed last night. It is so pretty when it snows cuz it is just white and the dirty black snow gets covered ha but then it gets black the next day ha. Well this should be a good week, a week full of hard work so expect some new investigators in the email next week.

These are photos from his last week in the MTC and his holiday in Russia!!!

There are quite a few randoms in here, but they didn't come with any captions, so they are all up for your own interpretation! enjoy!

The next week, because of the new year, all of the places to go for the internet were shut down. So he only sent a short little note the night before he regularly emails:
            We have many prospects for baptisms. We have a guy whose name is victor and we gave him the first two lessons and he is keeping commitments we still just have to keep teaching him and he needs to receive an anwser for himself. We have a new investigator as of this week, his name is egor and I have a really good feeling about him. Our first lesson went way good with him and we got him to pray on his knees with us. It was awesome, that was the first time that he has ever prayed to his Heavenly Father. We have a meeting with him next week, so i am way pumped about that. We have a girl named alcya and she is not really progressing but we are helping her a lot. She is slowly making progress. We taught a less active family last night and there was a man who came and he isn't a member but he told us that he really wanted to be baptized so that he could live with God and receive eternal salvation so that was way cool to hear that, so we will see where that goes. Our last investigators name is pasha and he has been taught before by the missionaries. He doesn't progress so we just keep teaching him and helping him. 
I love the picture, im glad that my name can be continued and always be remembered by a camel haha.
All is going well here in freezing siberia! Today is new years eve the most celebrated holiday in Russia. It is like mardi gra x 10 ha. We aren't allowed to go outside for the next two days and we have to be in at 4 tonight. So that means I get to relax and make some New Years resolutions. 
Im doing great, I have settled in here in my new home and i love it. I love the people and I especially love the BaBOOSHKAS ha, I got kissed on the cheek yesterday by one haha. I have never felt so loved on my mission before haha.
I love the people here they are so great.

Sounds like he is doing pretty great, right?? 
He is turning into a "Fine, Young Man" (his own words!) haha.

Can't wait to get the family email in another 2 days! Sundays just got even better!
I have yet to receive any letters since he has been in Russia, though. That has definitely been a difficult adjustment to go from a weekly letter to a letter every other month. So at this point, I am very very grateful for technology. And for Christy and Jen who are kind enough to send me the family emails and any emails he sends home! (THANK YOU WONDERFUL WOMEN! :) )

So that is our Elder Flitton, for now. 
More updates and stories coming soon.

Thank you to everyone for all of your support and love!
We definitely know and love the greatest Elder around! :)

"Actions truly do speak louder than words. In fact, actions mean much more to the Lord than words. The Lord declared in the Doctrine and Covenants, "If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments' (D&C 42:29)
-Ensign, 2004

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