Being in Artyom is a fun kind of self esteem boost. Ha ha. It's really weird and different from any of the other cities that I've served in. I've only had a couple times when people have been negative to us, but I have had a lot more people reacting to us in weird ways. I think it's because missionaries haven't been here in a long time and so we're the cool new thing. The other day two small boys were playing in this tree as we walked past and one stopped, his jaw dropped, and he said "LOOK! They're so good looking and in uniforms!" He was probably like 8 years old. It was super cool. We've also had some less fun, but not less interesting situations like when some girls at a park started making the noises that people use to call cats as we walked past, yep, we were literally cat called...ha ha. Funny stuff like that happens all the time here. We kind of feel like we're super stars, and that helps us to not be afraid to start conversations with people that we might usually not talk to. Like when we got back from Korea and when we got on the bus to ride home and one of our stewardesses was sitting there. I sat by her and we had a great conversation, she was super cool. My stop came faster than I had expected so I didn't get her number, but it was a cool story anyway. Now she knows that the goofy Americans who wear suits and ride planes can communicate a little bit in Russian. She was pretty much in shock when I started speaking Russian. Good times.
This week we had another visa trip to Korea. We decided that for this one we wanted to take some time and play some football and do other sporty things. I am still sore. It was a good time realizing just how out of shape we all are, and I got destroyed playing basketball with some short Korean guys. It was a good humbling experience I guess, but more just way fun. We also learned that the soccer field at the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea is not open to the public...but we got a few touchdowns before guys showed up in badges to tell us that. Haha. Whoops. There were some guys in suits watching us play up until that point though. The probably had never seen white guys playing American Football in person before. Korea is always a great adventure. We also got the wife of the owner of the Korean restaurant that we went to to sing "You Raise Me Up" for us. She was so good! Great Korea trip.
We did baptisms for the dead in the Temple on Friday before we had to leave to catch our flight. It was weird that the names were from Mexico, England, and Massachusetts. When I was doing it they brought in some one's family names and so I got to do some Koreans. Afterwards the temple workers pointed out the birth dates of two of the men for whom we had just done work. They were born in 81 and 90 AD. Can you imagine? That's amazing to me on two different levels. On the one side that they have been waiting for almost 1800 years for their work to be done, and on the other side that there are such good records kept that these wonderful Koreans can identify their ancestors up to 1900 years ago! It was an incredible experience. Family history work is one of the greatest things that we can do. It's important to know where we come from, and to show our love for those who paved the way for us and whose blood flows through our veins. We're a part of something much bigger than I think we realize very often.
It's tough to get much done in our area when we travel so much. It just seems like there are always so many unordinary obstacles. Last week we were in Ussurisk, and then I went to Seoul. Tomorrow we'll be in Vlad and then we have to run down to Nakhodka to do a baptismal interview with an investigator who is preparing for baptism this weekend down there. I love that everyone is starting to have success, some more than others of course. Ok maybe not in each area...yet. Miracles are happening though. We're also working on strengthening Artyom. President Pratt gave us the go ahead to start looking into renting a place to hold meetings here in the future. We're excited about that.
Well there's a little bit about what's going on here. Hope everything is going great for each of you, wherever you are and whatever you're doing. I guess schools are letting out all over and people will start to have lots of good times. Have another great week.
Elder Sam Fife