My title is misleading, we didn't find any kind of jamboree of grandmothers...although that would be really cool. I did, however, beat the babushkii who live in the same stairwell as me. They like to sit outside of the door that goes to our building, to get some fresh air, talk to each other, and watch the kids playing in our playground, so every time that I come home there are anywhere from two to five babushkii sitting in their little rocking chairs next to the door, all bundled up like it's December. When we first moved into this new apartment I would say hi to these old ladies when we would walk past them to go home, and they were just rude to me. Here are a few examples of our conversations: "How are you doing?" "Horrible. Go home and rest." or "You aren't cold sitting out here?" "I'm freezing...look at how bundled up I am." Now if there is one thing that I can do in this world, it's win over the heart of an old lady. I think it's a gift of mine. I just have a lot of love for those who are elderly and they can't resist it, as hard as they might try.
I'm not totally sure what it is that I did or said, but now our gray-haired, shawl-wearing neighbors are a little different when I come home at night. "Where have you been? It's been two days since we've seen you." "I guess we came home a little bit late." "Good, we were worried." Or even "Elder Fife (remembering my name is no small feat) this is my granddaughter Paulina, she is learning English in school, could you let her practice a little? ...Paulina, ask him his name...how old he is...now try asking him in English, ha ha." Or probably my favorite. "You left without suit jackets the other day...I told you that you'd freeze. Did you freeze?" "Yeah...yeah we froze. Fine, you were right. We'll listen to you next time." Babushkii are some of my favorites. They wear dresses down to their ankles and shawls on their heads so that nothing is visible except their face...or they dye their hair pink or red or purple and show it off. Good times.
In English club this week I had just finished committing my group to live by the scout slogan. (Yes, I can picture each of you laughing at me a little bit even as I write this...but they all think that I'm really cool so it doesn't matter.) Well after talking about scouts a little bit one girl, who always comes and has become a good friend of mine, Alina, asked "Elder Fife, have you ever been to a Jamboree?" After answering that "Of course" I had it kind of hit me...a Russian girl just used the word Jamboree...correctly... Most Americans don't even really know what those are, and they see Boy Scouts all over the place. How on Earth does Alina from Vladivostok have that word in her vocabulary? And why does she understand what it means? Well it turns out that there are a couple scouts in Russia, and my friend Alina is one of them. She even went to the World Jamboree in England three years ago, something that I didn't pull off because I was at a conference in Indiana. It's a small world after all, isn't it? She was one of only 18 people to represent Russia at the World Jamboree...and of course she happens to sit in my group of English Club in Vladivostok. I guess that I will always just find ways to pull off being a very connected person. Thanks BSA! (Of course I told her that she has to find some cool Russian patches or something for me...just in case anyone had any question about that.)
Other news in our Mission is something that makes me really excited, and impressed with our Mission President. Last week he informed us that he was completely rearranging the leadership structure of our mission, to be more aligned with the organization of the Priesthood and with what most other missions in the world look like. To you this might sound like a no-brainer, but to me it was mind boggling. Our Mission has never tried to hold the structure of other Missions in the Church simply because of our incredibly small number of missionaries. We have about 30, when a usual mission sits usually between 120 and 170. President Pratt's courage in following the feelings that he has been having, which come to him through the Holy Ghost, and take the risks of pairing more of our more experienced missionaries together in order to provide leadership and example is really incredible. I think that it is going to make worlds of difference in our mission and the vision that he has is really just neat. Maybe someone will think this is cool too...I did a bad job of explaining what is really going on, but I am really excited about it. This is a great time to be in the place that I'm at.
Sorry that my letter this week wasn't really serious or inspiring. I guess I need to fit some of my fun moments in every now and again though, right? I guess it just goes to show that even though I'm a missionary and busy myself with missionary things...there's still a little bit of good ole' Sam Fife in there somewhere.
Have a great week,
Elder Sam Fife