Monday, February 29, 2016

Zone Conference

Hey All,

This week we had service every single day except Friday, that is because we had Zone Conference. I think I was in service clothes almost as much as missionary clothes and I think I used a shovel more than the Book of Mormon. It has been great to help so many people. However, it is quite tiring, physically, but really rewarding and we have seen success in our missionary work through service,  which is a bonus!!

Had the opportunity to teach English again. I have kind of become the designated teacher for the Advanced group even though everyone participates. One sister, Lena (Helen), speaks English really well and she just loved the lesson. I have been using a flashlight to give a visual of the Great Apostasy and the Restoration and she just loved it. She calls me "The Baptizer" and tells me I will be called to teach Institute in the future. She is great, I love the older sisters here! They all cannot get over my height haha. 

Got to teach the Biletskee family this week with the Johnstuns. We had a very powerful lesson about the parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18 and how we need to forgive others to receive forgiveness. It was awesome! 

Friday was Zone Conference! We had two Russian Elders from Crimea come in to stay with us, they were so awesome. Always fun living with 3 Russians! We also had the Tuapse Elders with us which is where Elder Von is serving from Orlando, Florida! It was cool to see pictures and hear stories of his family knowing that my brother served in their ward and had dinner with them. 

Zone Conference was great as always. We had a great meeting and I felt so motivated and uplifted afterwards. One thing we have been asked to do is slow down the end of our prayers, it is the most important part! Also, one thing our mission does that I love is gratitude prayers. Gratitude prayers are prayers in which we only thank, we do not ask for a single thing. It is always at the end of the day and it really helps to recognize all the blessings, miracles, and tender mercies from the day, no matter how hard it was! All should give it a try, it really does help to recognize all He gives us every day! 

President discussed the talk, "The Divine Gift of Repentance" by D. Todd Christofferson and it was a great discussion. Repentance should be talked about with a smile on our faces and should always come out of love because it truly is a great gift/opportunity to change and become more like our Savior. 

I have not given a language update for a while, this week I had lots of cool language experiences. Sister Miner asked me to translate for her in a training for the Primary Presidency here and of course it was a little nerve racking but all went well. The Primary got all these new materials in Russian and will soon get a disc with Primary songs in Russian, they were so happy. The sisters in the Primary Presidency really magnify their callings. 

On Sunday, I was sitting in Sacrament and realized that I was understanding all the talks and was gaining so much from it. Pretty cool to experience the miracle of the Gift of Tongues. After Church, I translated for Sister Miner again as a Sister in the branch interviewed her about her family traditions. 

I have really enjoyed studying the 4th Missionary this week and learning about what I need to do to improve, there is so much work to be done! 

Normally, today would be transfers but this transfer is 7 weeks instead of 6. Either way, this transfer has flown by! Transfer calls will be coming on Friday, hope I get to stay in Krasnodar!

It was a great, busy, fast week.  Thanks for all the updates, love, prayers and support!! 

Much love to you all! 

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Baptism in K-Dar

Hey all! 

It was a pretty good week, overall!! This keyboard is not treating me very well,  so sorry in advance for mistakes. 
The week started off rough, seemed like everything with the baptism was falling apart and just had some not so fun experiences. 

Everything started to pick up on Thursday starting with a great District Meeting. Sister Sommers led our discussion about testimonies and it was a very powerful, emotional meeting. It was exactly what I needed!

Saturday was Mihael's big day!! With the help of our incredible members, the night was perfect. Had some solid talks, then it was my privilege to utilize my Priesthood Authority and baptize Mihael. After we changed, there was time for testimonies. Mihael, although nervous, said that that day marked the beginning of his new life! I was able to share my testimony and many others also shared theirs. We had some great treats after and everyone kept welcoming Mihael to the Krasnodar family. I also gave him a tie of mine and sewed a laminated piece of paper on the back with the date of his baptism and my name on it. He also got his new triple combination of scriptures, he was pretty pumped! Very special night, one I will not likely forget anytime soon. 

Now we will be working with Ruslan who accepted a baptismal date this week for early March!! He always comes to church and usually brings his Mom with him, but we were kind of at a stand still with him. He knows the Bible very well and is a great guy and has been taught most the lessons but just thinks all churches are true. Last Sunday the talks about the temple really got him, and especially his mom, interested. His mom apparently did some research after that and planned a trip for the summer to the Kiev, Ukraine temple. Anyways, we met with him the other night and had a very powerful lesson. We mostly discussed temples and then we asked him to be baptized and he said, "I knew you two were going to ask that tonight." He asked us all to pray right there and then to pick a date and we picked March 4th. It was incredible to see the Spirit work on him. 

Yesterday was a special Sunday, mostly because Mihael was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and received the Holy Ghost. He also already has a calling as President of the Gospel Principles class which basically means he will just select hymns and who will pray. Pretty sweet! We also had a missionary return this week from the Yekaterinburg Mission, he is such a stud! He helped us on the lesson with Ruslan and is just a great guy. He also accepted his new calling as Young Men's President on his first Sunday home! 

Tomorrow is a big holiday here, and Russians love their holidays! It is an Army Holiday but from what I understand it is Men's Day. So at church, the Relief Society came into Priesthood and sang for us and they made tons of incredible Blini for us- so good! But with the holiday tomorrow, we will be staying in tonight and tomorrow night as well. 

I have to take a minute and celebrate the men in my life that I could not live without!  Family, friends, and especially my three best friends- Riley, Travis and Dad. I love you three so much, Happy Men's Day from Russia! 

Much love to you all, till next week! 

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy Valentines Day!!

I am writing today in the internet cafe without a coat on! It is really weird and now we stand out more than ever which I am sure will make for some interesting times ahead. But it is so warm and nice, I think I can say my first Russian winter is in the books! But knowing Russia it will rain and snow tomorrow so we'll see. 

Mihael update!! Finished teaching him the commandments and yesterday he had his Baptismal Interview and all is set for Saturday!! That man has made some big changes in his life and the change is evident. The gospel is incredible. Some more news, he has asked me to baptize him! I am beyond honored and so excited to share this once in a lifetime experience with him. I sat with him at church yesterday and we both just can't help but smile when we start talking about his baptism. I was telling him what would happen and when I asked if he was ready, instead of answering he asked me if I was ready. Saturday could not come soon enough! Just hope I won't mess up the Baptismal Prayer...

We had a lot of service opportunities this week. One day we went from one service activity to the next. I love it! It has been quite a physically demanding week, seeing as most our service involves building homes. One day it was just me and a sledgehammer and an old brick outhouse to demolish. Good stuff! I love all the service we get to do here in Krasnodar. 

I taught English, solo on Wednesday night, which was a great experience as always. I love teaching the Gospel in English. The topic was the Savior's Earthly Ministry and Atonement. We had a good turnout- we have enough people come for a beginner and advanced class (a lot different than Volzhky). There was a very strong Spirit, especially when we showed the "Because of Him" clip, that clip gets me every time! 

Elder Tolokonnikov and I threw together a last minute activity, Saturday night for the younger members. We watched Meet the Mormons and had a good turnout there as well. Couple of our investigators came which was what we wanted because that video explains the Mormons real well! 

Sunday the topic in Sacrament Meeting was Temples. I could not stress enough the importance of temples. Somehow, my testimony of temples has gotten stronger without one. The talks were inspiring- one sister shared how the first time she got a Temple recommend she took a picture of it to always remember that moment. She also keeps it in her wallet, so that every time she opens it, she sees the temple. The members here are so passionate about the temple and there isn't a single one in this massive country. Some have not even been inside yet still have powerful testimonies from just being on temple grounds. Coming from Utah where there is a temple within 15 minutes from just about anywhere, it sure makes me want to go as much as I can when I get home! Everyone should go more than they do! 

We have some sweet new investigators. One speaks English really well and has been to America multiple times. He loves the Mormon way of life, he had a Mormon boss in America. Then we have Denis who is 20 years old and a member's daughter gave him our number and all she told him was we are nice people that speak English. He had no idea who we were but he came to Meet the Mormons and there is some potential there!

Happy Valentines Day- a day late.  I hope everyone had a great day!! Thanks so much for all the updates, love,
prayers and support.  Love you all!!  

That's all from me! Much love from K-Dar!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fast Sunday

Another good week in the books! 

This week we continued to work with Mihael. We have been teaching the Commandments to him and it has been so great. He is so prepared. I thought it would be hard with the Word of Wisdom and everything because Russians enjoy their tea, coffee, and alcohol and sadly there are people of every age (too young and old) smoking. But everything is going well with Mihael, just keep him in your prayers!  

We have been continuing to help Alexye build his new house. This week we moved all the bricks for him. It is alsso great to be able to help and serve others! 

I want to talk about two special members here in Krasnodar! First is Yegor. He is 14 years old and is so great. He is the only active member in his family and is just so strong. We have had some good lessons with him and we usually meet with him an hour before seminary so that he can just stay at the branch and yesterday we picked him up for church. We had a deal with him if he read two chapters a day in the Book of Mormon we would get him a super snickers. He missed one day and would not accept our snickers until he made up for it. He is a great kid! 
Then there is Diana! She is still considered a recent convert but she is about as converted as it gets. She calls us every day- she loves the missionaries- and asks about our day and tells us not to get down if people reject us. She is always sharing the gospel with people and reads her scriptures at work and texts us her favorite verses. She knows us all by name and where we are from and where we have served and so on. Just love her! She also is the only member in her family. Both Diana and Yegor face opposition for what they know to be true and that does not stop them! I never appreciated how lucky we are to have the community of Latter-day Saints that we have in Salt Lake! It is just incredible! 

Had the opportunity to translate a whole lesson for the Johnstun's while visiting the Beletskee family. It was quite a challenge especially without a companion that could also translate. (we were on splits), I love the opportunity to translate, it is always humbling.  Time with the Johnstun's is sacred, love them so much! 

Yesterday was a great Fast Sunday! I have grown to love Fast Sunday so much and the opportunity to fast. We had "Break the Fast" at the Johnstun's with the Young Single adults. Good food, good spiritual thoughts, and good company! 
Church was awesome, we had a baby blessing and there were so many powerful, emotional testimonies. The Church really is 100% true. I testify of the truthfelness of this Church. The Russian Latter-day Saints are fully converted and are so solid.  It is so humbling to see and I just wish all Saints could see and feel what I am so lucky to experience every Sunday.  Thanks for all the updates, love and support!!

I love you all! Till' next week! 

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Monday, February 1, 2016

For Surely (For Sure)

I feel like I was just sitting here yesterday, writing home and now,  it is already February?? Time flies, I tell ya.

It was a good week! Started last Monday with a great Family Home Evening with a few members. We had a fun spiritual thought about the Atonement, involving candy and push ups. The other missionaries,  unexpectedly showed up and they gave a spiritual thought. We then played charades which was way interesting in Russian lol. 

I was on splits almost all week with Elder Prescott who came to Russia same day as me and also came to Krasnodar same day as me. So it was pretty hard because we have no idea where anything is and don't know many people yet. We had some good success on the streets though and found one solid investigator named Stas, he just got here from Uzbekistan! 

We had a great time meeting the Biletskee family the other day, they are so solid! The dad is like a 3 time Russian National Karate Champion. Apparently a lot of people know who he is! They have 2 little boys that are the best and just such a solid family. Our lesson was actually on families and I just talked about my family and shared Helaman 5:12. We also shared all of our pictures. The Johnstuns came with us because they are their home teachers so we took turns translating for them which was hard,  but a really cool experience! 

Sunday was great as usual. They unexpectedly called on Elder Prescott and I to share our testimonies, because we are new. It went well and they were all so thankful afterwards. The branch here continues to fascinate me. They are really just a big family, so much love and support! It is nothing short of incredible. I love this branch! Our investigator Mihael came to church! He looked like a whole new person all dressed up for Church! It is really cool to witness the change already taking place in him, just hope and pray he will keep preparing for his big day on February 20th

It is great to be back with Elder T after some time apart. I love this guy and it is such an honor to serve with him! We have both made huge progress in our second languages. My district has informed me that I keep saying, "for surely" which I know  is not correct but it just comes out like that,  so I don't know what happened there. lol. I know I should be saying for sure, but it comes out for surely. 

Today for Pd-day,  we are going to Kuban Stadium home of the big soccer team here in Krasnodar! Just want to see it, you know how I am with my sports teams. 

All is good! Thanks for all the support and updates!!  Much love from K-Dar! 

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер