(That's Russian for Happy New Year!) It sounds like your New Year's bash was lots of fun as always. My New Year's bash consisted of passing out Liahona's on the street all day until 4:00 and then we had to come in for the night (things get pretty crazy around here for New Year's). Then we did some studies, watched The Testaments movie in Russian, played Phase 10, and called it a year haha. We were awakened during the night by people lighting fireworks like two houses down from us so that was fun, but other than that, we welcomed 2012 about the best that missionaries can! It's still really weird that it's 2012. We are calling this "The Black Year" because those of us going home in 2013 will be in country for all of this year. But it's gonna be a great year though. I know that the Lord has many things in store for me. I'm only at the beginning of my mission haha. I still have a lot to learn but I am excited to work my hardest every day and do the Lord's will. I haven't thought of too many goals yet, but the ones I have thought of are to read the New Testament and Jesus the Christ, have four baptisms, and strive to trust the Lord more in everything that I do. I'll probably think of more goals as time goes by but I'm always trying to become a better missionary every day and I know that with the Lord's help that I do. He knows me personally and knows my strengths and weaknesses. He'll help me to become the missionary that He needs me to be now, and later on the man, husband, and father that He knows I am capable of becoming. The mission is awesome! It is the training ground for life.
This past week we did a lot of area book work and have been trying to sort out who all is in our area and who is active/less-active. We are hopefully halfway done with this but it's very dull work, I'm not gonna lie! Besides this, we contact everywhere we go and as of recent pass out old Liahonas with the church address on them. The Church has like over 1,000 Liahonas that nobody uses so Elder Bennett told us to get rid of them. It actually makes contacting easier. We also go and find people's apartments from the area book and try to find them home but we haven't found anyone home yet and we usually just leave a Liahona for them saying to call back. We haven't found any new investigators for a long time. The area book is a way to find new ones but the real way is through the members. We are hoping to meet with some members this week but they are always busy it seems. So somehow we've gotta help them find time! This has been the work in Cold Mountain for as long as I've been here. But with Elder Bennett's meeting with us, new goals and a new year, we are going to strive to turn it into Hot Mountain! We had a good lesson with Dima and Vova this past week. We felt that it was the time to ask them to be baptized. We asked them and they didn't understand the question because it uses really old Russian that no one really speaks, so we explained it more, then asked again. They both said NO because they have already been baptized into the Russian Catholic Church. So we were kind of nervous and didn't really know where to go after that, but we just talked again about the authority and then were able to bring it to the Book of Mormon and how the Church is built on it. We shared our testimonies with them about it and then asked them again and said If you also get an answer like we did, then will you be baptized? And they both said YES! It was awesome. We still have a lot to teach them and whatnot, but I truly believe that someday they will be baptized. Maybe it might not be while I'm here in Cold Mountain, but I think that it will happen. The Lord works in His own ways to bring about this work. I know this for a fact.
I had a crazy experience this past week on my six month mark. (Crazy that six months have gone by, right?) We were doing some contacting/exploring in a part of Cold Mountain that I had never been to before. We had been out for a while and decided to head back towards home. We were walking down a tiny street that led to the main road and there was a car coming up behind us so we got off the street and let the car pass. As we waited for the car to pass a random stray dog ran up to us and stopped. We thought it was kind of weird but it's not very unusual because stray dogs are EVERYWHERE here. So the car passed, we kept walking towards home, and then all of a sudden I felt a jaw on the back of my leg!! I let out a yell and it scared the dog away. I checked my leg after and the bite didn't even pierce my skin. It was really tiny and just left a bruise there. After we got back home I did some further examining and found that the dog bit me right under my garments! Crazy stuff! I know that the Lord was watching after me. I am pretty paranoid every time I see a dog now but this experience showed me that the Lord is always there and that He watches after His servants.
Now to comment a little on your emails. I am also in awe that so many people have helped to pay for my mission and have helped you guys at this time. Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. I don't know why bad things happen to good people, but the Lord always provides a way to do the things that we need to. Tell everyone thanks and that I love them very much. I remember a little part of my setting apart blessing and it was said that my mission will bless my family and extended family as well. Perhaps this is part of that. The Lord works in mysterious ways, that's for sure. Yesterday I received some mail. I got a letter from the Corteses, the Stake Presidency, the ward newsletter, the First Presidency, and some people named the Stathos. Who are those people? It says they live in West Jordan I think. They wished me the best but I don't know who they are haha! Tell the Corteses hello from me and thanks for the card.
Well, that's about it for this week. I love you all very much and wish you the best for this new year. Have a good week and send everyone my love!