That's what my District Leader told me while we were on an exchange in my area this week. He was really blown away by just how well received we are in the place that we live. Everyone comes and says hi to us, and checks up to make sure that everything is ok. It isn't even just the babushkii anymore. Here's a funny story that might help illustrate.
"Young people! (that's not weird to say here) Come over here!" That's what I heard as I walked home Saturday night to change before going to Sports Night. I looked around and found an old man sitting on a bench not far from us. We began to talk and he told us that he had wanted to talk to us for a long time, but that we come home too late and he already is inside usually. It wasn't that he was super interested in learning the doctrines of the Gospel, but he wanted to get to know us a little better, and have us keep him some company. I guess we have a rep for being good to talk to. Many of those reading this know that I have a little bit of a thing for cool hats. I can't help but notice when someone has a cool or just interesting hat on. That happens ALL the time here, it still kinda blows my mind. Well our new friend Vladimir was wearing one of the more interesting hats that I've noticed on an old man lately. It was kind of like a bucket hat, that you'd wear fishing or something, made out of denim. But it was clearly too small for his head and had hearts all over it, and written in the bigger hearts was "I love you." Of course I had to say something about it! I complimented him on it and gave him the translation, and he, without missing a beat, said, "It's a little girl hat." He was in no way embarrassed or uncomfortable, just said it matter of fact. Haha! I was rolling on the inside. So funny. Well we talked for a few minutes, he gave us a good list of furs that people make Russian hats out of, because we're getting some hot out-of-season deals today, and we were off. It was just another beautiful day in the neighborhood.
There were a few more ups then downs this week, but I'm still living on a roller coaster. Some things you look back on and of course you're disappointed that this new babushka that you met through a 3rd story window didn't accept the Gospel right away...but then you realize that from this experience you gained the acquaintance of a fun old woman with a collection of her own personal communist medals. Yes, my new babushka is a communist and explained to me how the government is going to fall back into the hands of the "Party" in 2012. I'll be home from my mission by then...so I'm not going to worry too much I guess. It really is a funny story...but I can't do it justice now. Good times.
Lately I've thought a lot about my pioneer heritage. In Sacrament Meeting yesterday Sister Magill gave a great talk about Pioneers and how each member of the Church here in Russia is a pioneer in a really real way. They are blazing new trails, and doing things which many have found it too difficult to complete. We are establishing Zion is a place which needs it as much as anywhere. I'm lucky to have such a great heritage of pioneers like I do. I always look back to the few stories I know about Grandpa Jefferson Hunt, or Peter Wilson Conover, who played such key roles in establishing my mom's family in the Church, and helping to establish Zion wherever they were sent. Sometimes I think it's funny that as prideful as I am about myself...I'm one of the lamest leaves hanging on my family tree. Even uncle Barney Fife had some pretty good glory days. Never quite made it out of ole Andy's shadow...but he was always good for a laugh.
I did get a great benefit for having the Fife name here in Russia. Everyone still asks me if I am Elder 5, but a few months ago I learned that 5 to them is the best grade you can get in school, it's their equivalent to an "A." So thanks Dad, and to your ancestors too, for making me grade A. Ha ha. I always get a kick out of that.
Well have a good week and stay out of trouble would you? Have a great Days of '47!
Elder Samuel Fife