2011 Jan 17,
So as you can tell my first area is Perm. Perm is on the western side of the Yekaterinburg Mission. My trainers says it is a more European looking city. I wouldn't know I haven't every been to Europe. It’s fairly big. There are 5 areas and we are right in the middle one. My Trainer's name is Sister Hakes she is from New Mexico. She has trained 3 times before so of course she is amazing. Sis Whiting was also assigned to Perm. Her trainer's name is Sis Hansen. They are serving in a different area and branch than we are, but we went shopping together on Saturday. Okay, let me back up a little. The flight here was soooo long and I didn't sleep at all. I was able to talk to a lady named Joanna on the flight from SLC to Atlanta about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. She has a friend who is Mormon that she promised she would talk about the church. She told me at the very end that if she was not Baptist I would have converted her. Too bad I guess. On the flight from Atlanta to Moscow Sister Whiting and I sat by each other and we talked to a Russian lady who knew perfect English. She had heard of the church before but didn't know much about it. We told her some and she said she would start reading a Book of Mormon she had at home. All we saw of Moscow was the inside of the airport where we sat for several hours before our next flight. When we got to Yekaterinburg we were met by the APs and Pres Alcott. They took us back to the mission home which was in an apartment building because that is all there is here. It is two stories high on the 7th floor and is the nicest apartment I will ever be in here I have been told. We slept there two nights because we had a day of training with the APs and Pres and Sis Alcott. So Friday we were training and then Saturday morning we got up early and were taken to a train station to go to Perm. Saturday morning was the coldest I have experienced so far. I could not feel my nose. The train was a real train! Sis Hakes and I had a coupe to ourselves where we tried to get a little more sleep. I can see that sleep is going to be a precious resource here. When we got to Perm (5 hour train ride) the ZLs met us and put us in a taxi to go to our new apartment. Did I mention that Sis Hakes and I were whitewashed in Perm? Meaning she was serving in Yekaterinburg before and so neither of us know the area or the church members. So we got to our apartment which is on the 6th floor of a big apartment building. We are really lucky because we have a elevator that works. Our apartment has 3 small rooms. Kitchen, bedroom, sitting room. Everything is mini sized to fit into the small space. It’s is a cute apartment because each of the rooms is a different color; purple, pink, and peach. The view of the sun rise in the morning is magnificent from our balcony. Lots of red and orange. That might be because of how polluted the air is. So Saturday afternoon we went shopping with Sis Hanson and Sis Whiting. I bought some boots that are standard black and come to the top of my calves. Apparently I have really ripped calves because the boots are really snug there. They are nice and warm. Sis Hansen gave me the coat she wore last winter because her former companion who when home left her coat for her. It is a nice burgundy color and keeps me warm so I like it. I still need to buy a cute hat or two and some warmer gloves and I should be good. Sunday morning we went to church for the first time. It was a adventure for both of us because Sis Hakes has never served in Perm before. That Sunday 91 people showed up for church. We heard the average is 60-70. Sis Hakes says she has never seen so many people come to church in Russia. We have a beautiful church building here. It looks relatively new and is very clean and nice inside. One of the reasons the branch is so big right now is because of the awesome branch members. Sis Hakes didn't have to do anything because they were so organized. I did get to play the piano and it looks like that will be a regular occurrence. Our branch is so awesome! The brand president is the best. His goal is to have a temple here and to do that there needs to be a stake and so he is working on it. Everyone was so nice they really like to hug here. Sunday night we were back at the church because the Senior Couple here gave a fireside and Sis Hakes translated for them. I played the piano again. Bro and Sis Neering are the couple who have been serving here and its really sad because they are leaving at the end of this month to go home. I could see how they had become an integral part of the ward. The members really love them. Senior missionaries are just great! I am sad that they are leaving soon. Well Russia is really different. Well not to different. It hasn't been that cold yet which is good, but it is suppose to get colder. I am doing well. I know I need to work really hard at learning Russian. I really would like to understand what people are saying soon. I love you all!! I will write again next Monday.