I have a few stories that I've been meaning to tell for a while now...but keep forgetting, so I thought I'd share some of Elder Fife's great moments today.
You know those times when you are walking down a street that you walk down everyday and then you look up and say "That wasn't there yesterday!...where did Cinnabon come from?" Well those are good times. I had one of those a few weeks ago. I had just gotten off the bus in Center on my way to a baptism with a member when I looked up and saw the Cinnabon sign in front of me. She was really confused about why I was so excited...and probably still is, because it is tough to explain cinnamon rolls to Russians...they just don't have them here. Well now they do, and I have noticed that I am a much happier person. :D Now people come back from working in the back making cinnamon rolls and say "hi" to me in the casual form and I feel all cool. Thank you Cinnabon for coming to Vlad. Tell McDonald's or maybe KFC to come too. We now have 3 American restaurants in Vlad. The first one here was Baskin Robbins (I learned last week that they have a second one in my area, and I had me some tasty ice cream a few minutes ago,) and they were followed by Subway, and now Cinnabon. This city's starting to go places.
Vlad also had a birthday on Saturday. The city is now 150 years old. President Medvedev came and gave a speech, but I haven't heard anything other than that he was here. The celebration was really huge and it seemed like a good time. There were people all over in center and a lot of famous Russian artists flew in to perform. Other than that I didn't really notice any difference in town though. Actually I did have one funny City Day experience...So there I was, standing in a little park in front of an apartment building, early Saturday afternoon, when a man comes out of nowhere saying "Can you help me?" Putting my hero face on I said, "Of course, let's go!" He tried to explain what was wrong and I thought he needed help with some kind of microphone....but that sounds silly so I just assumed that I had understood him wrong, and let him lead me to his house. Well a microphone was in fact the problem. Our new friend had great plans for his City Day celebrations...plans that included drinking a lot and singing karaoke alone at home all day...and he couldn't get the karaoke functions on his player to work. In panic he'd ran onto the streets and found us. Well we got it kind of working and left an invitation for him to find in his apartment sometime after the holidays. Maybe I should be more careful when I offer help...but it was a good time...oh well.
Today we were trying to find a new place to write home, because the place we used to go was kind of run down and last week the girl there charged me like $8 for an hour of Internet use...and I got a little offended. So I had noticed this place deep in our area called "Internet Club" and figured we could go there and check it out. As we were walking to the building everything just seemed too ritzy to be an Internet cafe, but my curiosity was peaked and I had to check it out. As we walked in the guy at the front desk was dressed way too nice to run an Internet cafe. (It's usually like a 15 year old boy...like at the place where I'm writing right now.) Well I am pretty sure we accidentally found us a casino...my bad. Lesson learned.
A few months ago I was trying to find an ATM. In Russia ATM's are called "Bank-o-mats" or "auto-banks." Well I kind of got mixed up and asked people on the street if they knew where I could find an "auto-mat" anywhere...well it wasn't until a few weeks after that that I learned why those people who I asked had all given me weird looks when I came up to them, wearing a suit and name tag, and asking for auto-mats. ......Auto-mat means machine-gun. Ha ha, oops. That isn't quite what I was looking for. Foreigner mistakes are a great thing.
I will share one more serious experience too, those were all good, fun things though. Today I went with a member of the Branch Presidency to visit the member in my area who was baptized not long ago, the one who is paralyzed. His situation has gotten a lot worse lately and a man I didn't think could get more humbled has found that he has. In his prayer, this great man said something that really touched me. He asked the Lord to bless him so that he could heal enough to hold and turn the pages of the Book of Mormon himself, so that he could study and learn more about the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ. I was really humbled by his sincerity and humility. How many blessings do we really have to count? I think there are a lot more than we ever realize. And some people tell me that God doesn't help them. If they only knew a small percentage of the way that He really does bless us, each and every day! I'm absolutely in awe at the patience of our Creator who blesses each of us so much, when so many of His blessings go completely unnoticed. Let us be a grateful people.
Have a great week and stay strong. Blessings come to those who have faith. I was reading Ether 12 today in Russian as I had some time this morning. Might take a look and re-read that chapter this week. Let me know how it goes.
Elder Sam Fife