Hello there family and friends,
Wow, it's hard to believe another week has gone by. Everything is still going very well here, and I'm learning to love it more and more each day. We spent our entire Preparation Day (today) cleaning our apartment. Seriously, it took like 8 hours. But, it had to be done; when I first got here, it was pretty disgusting, haha and I had no time to clean it. It didn't really help that my companion didn't mind the mess at all. Earlier this week the senior couple here in Lithuania came and did an apartment inspection, and we pretty much failed. The word even got to Sister Dance (the mission President's wife) so she called and said they're going to come and inspect it on Thursday. So my companion finally gave in and cleaned with me, haha. We're doing a day and a half training session on Wednesday and Thursday with President Dance for the missionaries here in Vilnius, so I guess they'll drop by or something.
A little bit more about Lithuania: so the first week I was here, it was a little chilly, and rained pretty much everyday. It's warmed up a little bit since then, but supposedly it's going to get cold soon. We do about half of our contacting in Russian, and half of it in English. Everyone 30 or younger speaks English, and everyone knows a little bit of Russian. All of the signs and everything in the stores in Lithuanian though, so I'm pretty much guessing at everything I read. The Russian is getting better and better, especially when me and Elder Mock try to talk as much as we can. I can only understand about 20% of what goes on at church, haha, so it's a little rough. But the word is that the members in the Russian Branch here in Vilnius are the best in the Baltics, and so far, I'd have to say that I agree. There are 6 Russian Missionaries, and 6 Lithuanian Missionaries here in Vilnius. Me and my companion live in Center Vilnius on Gedimino, which is like the main walking and shopping street. It's nice, cause it's pretty central to everything and there are always a lot of people to talk to.
Haha, so last night when we were coming home, there were cars all over the streets, and EVERYBODY was honking their horns and going crazy. There were people on like every street corner holding hands and singing songs haha. I'm guessing Lithuania won their game in the FIBA tourney last night. They are so crazy about basketball here, it's nuts. Whenever people find out that we're from America, they always ask about basketball, I love it.
The work is coming along quite nicely, it's been another big adjustment, but like I said- I'm learning more and more how to love it. So the baptism that was going to happen on Saturday was canceled. It turns out that there are a bunch of legal issues that came up. She isn't legally married, only married through the Russian Orthodox church. In order to get the legal marriage document, she needs passport, which for some reason, is under the legal custody of her mother (the two of them don't have the best relationship, so that's going to be hard to get). Crazy story with way more complications. It's tough, cause she's so ready to be baptized, but we know that it will happen eventually.
We were able to find a few more people to teach this week, through contacting and harvesting (here in the Baltics, we don't knock, we harvest). It is so awesome to see the hand of the Lord in putting prepared people in our path. Something really awesome happened Sunday night: We were out talking to everyone on the street and we ran into these two college students. They spoke English, so I was able to get more involved. They seemed to take a little interest, and we pulled them back to our office to teach them the First Lesson. I can't believe how prepared one of them was. Holy cow it was amazing. He said that he had favored the protestant churches, but didn't really know which one was true, and he was asking questions about how he could find the right one. When we introduced the Book of Mormon, he was like "I want this book, where can I get this book?". We gave him one, and he committed to read it, and he gave a beautiful prayer at the end of the lesson. Ah, so good, so we are definitely going to keep up with him. Also, there's another cool story that happened on Saturday when we were out Harvesting. We knocked on a door and they didn't really seem to be interested at all, but I kept talking (in my broken Russian) and the guy named Stas (Russian names are different, so I'm doing my best to spell it) let us in. We were only able to talk for like 15 minutes, but he was all over the Book of Mormon and told us he would finish it in just 10 days. Cool yeah?
It's people like this that help me keep in mind why I'm really here. I know that if I can keep exercising the faith, Heavenly Father will put as many people into my path as I am ready for.
So Dear Elders are proabably going to be easiest way to contact me, cause they just get sent to the mission office and only take like 12 days or something. I was gonna just add that if anybody wants to send letters or packages, it's just best to send it to the Mission Office, cause we never know how long it'll take to get here, or how long I'll be in a certain area. Here's the address:
Elder Austin P. Atkinson
Cesu Iela 31-2K2
Thanks for your thoughts and prayers, God Bless
-Elder Austin P. Atkinson