Monday, April 25, 2016

Early Email-Russian Time

Hey everyone! Writing much earlier than usual because we have some service later today.

Another great week! 

Tuesday we had the opportunity to teach Seminary because the teacher was sick. She asked us to teach because the lesson was on missionary work! We had a great discussion, they were very interested in our daily schedule. They also shared how they have shared the gospel- one has brought her friends to activities and another has testified to his friends. Our youth here are a million times better than I ever was. They are incredible! 
Most of our investigators and recent converts were out of town this week but we got to meet with Roman. He told us how when we meet he gets a feeling that "makes his soul feel light" and he is always eager to meet with us again. 

We had some more opportunities to so some service this week! On Saturday most the missionaries here and a few members went out to a member's house to serve her. There was a lot of work to be done! It is always so rewarding to serve others! 

Saturday night we had a funeral of a long time member that passed away. He and his wife are unable to come to church,  because of physical limitations , but from what I understand, he did a lot for the Church here! It was a very reverent, emotional meeting. 

President and Sister Miner got here during the funeral so afterwards we had an unplanned District Meeting with them and all of us missionaries. It was awesome to discuss the work around the mission and specifically in Krasnodar! Our mission has seen lots of success so far this year in baptisms and in increasing sacrament meeting attendance. It is always the best when the Miners are in town! 

Sunday was great! During Sacrament meeting I got to translate for Sister Miner, which of course was very humbling. All the youth that are preparing to go to the temple soon gave talks about Easter. In the middle of the meeting, the missionaries did a musical number that we have been practicing for weeks with the branch chorister. We sang "How Great Thou Art" and everyone loved it, some even clapped after we finished and everyone said thank you out loud as we returned to our seats. 

In the 3rd hour of church, Mihael was given the Aaronic Priesthood! It has been so amazing to see him change from the time we met him, taught him, baptized him, and now gave him the priesthood. He is a new man! Elder T performed the ordinance and I had the opportunity to be in the circle. He is also getting involved with home teaching which will really help him get some solid friendships in the branch besides just us missionaries. I have been worried about Mihael and his progress but the Lord is taking care of him, yesterday was a big push forward for him! 

If my memory is right, I got my mission call one year ago this week! It has been quite the year since the time I learned I would be serving in the Rostov-na-Donu Mission. I have grown and learned a lot and I absolutely love my mission. Time is flying! 

Have a great week!! 

Love you all, till next week! 

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Picture of the District 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Visa Trip

Hi all,  I will start with great news! I am staying in Krasnodar with Elder Gerritesen for another transfer! Last transfer was crazy because every companionship changed except three and this transfer was crazy because only three companionships changed! We have no new missionaries and no one leaving for a few months so we get to stay put for now! I am pretty pumped to get to serve in this area longer.  I really like it here!

Big event of the week was of course the Visa Trip.. My alarm went off at 1:30 AM on Thursday morning to get ready to head to the Krasnodar Airport. We first flew up to Moscow and then all the way down to Armenia. In Armenia we ran into the Elders and Sisters from the Volgograd Zone so I got to see Elder Thayer and some other friends serving there! They flew with us from Armenia back to Moscow. On that flight, I got to sit in between Elder Gerritsen who is my size and Elder Clark. Luckily, Elder Clark is one of the newer missionaries I have not met so I had a great chat with him the whole flight while stealing some of his leg room, haha. Elder Clark and I became pretty good friends, he is a great guy! I will attach a pic of us! We got to Moscow and waited for about 7 hours there where I realized how unique our mission is. I said at 11:30 PM "Most missionaries are fast asleep at this time but we are not even in our mission!" We eventually got to Krasnodar and got to our apartment just before 3 AM with some swollen legs, plugged ears, and greasy hair. Not a huge fan of visa trips just because they really take a toll on us and our work, but we gotta do what we gotta do, to legally live here!! 

The next day we had a great District Meeting where Elder Johnstun and Elder Barnes led discussions on urgency, something our mission is working on. I have wanted to improve my urgency and that meeting really helped me to know how I can, it was an answer to my prayers! I love what Elder Johnstun said as he compared our missions to paying tithing. When we pay tithing we give a full 10%, we don't hold back a percent or two. For us missionaries, 2 years is 10% of our lives and we cannot hold back a percent or two of this sacred time! 

Had an awesome meeting with our investigator Oveg. We started from scratch with him and we kind of doubted there would be any progress, but this week was a lot better. He even said his first prayer in his own words in his life! It was short but powerful! Also had a few service opportunities this week!

Sunday was great as always! In sacrament meeting, there were a few mentions about missionaries! One speaker called us "mini saviors" and another talked about how there is a visible light around us that draws people to us. It was funny to hear, sitting in the chapel as a missionary, but I cannot deny the uniqueness of missionaries, and not just because we are Americans surrounded by Russians! 

It was the 3rd Sunday of the month which means, the missionaries teach the second hour. Elder Gerritsen and I taught Gospel Principles class on The Covenant People of the Lord. It went very well and one of the sisters' investigators was answering all the questions! 

3rd hour we were in the primary helping teach the Restoration! My mind was blown away, when one of the little girls stood up and practically taught the whole Restoration plainly and powerfully, better than I can! Her name is Sasha and she now has my name memorized and talks to me every Sunday. She has started giving me hugs but she is pretty tiny so she only hugs my leg. 
That is all for my week! Have a great week!! Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!

Much love! 
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Pictures - District, Visa Trip

Monday, April 11, 2016

General Conference/Christmas

Hi All, with a late P-Day last week and Conference Weekend, we only had 3 days to fit in a week's worth of work, it was wild! Saw lots of miracles though! In just two days last week we found two new investigators which means we have five current investigators!! Both were found in our Area Book, one was an investigator about a year ago, and the other was an investigator in 2008! They are both very friendly and have a lot of potential to progress to the waters of baptism! Alexye and Roman are their names and we are very blessed to have found them! We were very blessed to be guided to them! In those short days we also found 4 other potential investigators, a couple of which we have already scheduled a meeting with. We were so busy, it was even a little stressful at times coordinating who to meet with and when- a great problem to have as a Russian Missionary!! As Elder G said this week, "It is amazing what we can do with a little faith!"  

We were also able to work with our incredible Recent Converts. All are still doing great and progressing in the Gospel. I have made a pretty special bond with Sister Lena, who told me this week "If I lived in Utah, I would go to the temple everyday!" She wants to go to the temple so bad and also would give a lot to receive a patriarchal blessing- and unfortunately the Patriarch will not be coming to our mission this year. Just another major "count your many blessings" moment, I never appreciated all we have in Utah! I get taught that lesson almost daily here by the diehard members! 

Well now for the good stuff, Conference!! I was just blown away by Conference, my chest was just on fire throughout. What an opportunity! It truly is like Christmas as a missionary of the Lord! Here is what I loved:
I loved the common themes throughout  such as the importance of families, the Spirit, the Sacrament and my favorite, remembering who we are and our divine nature as sons and daughters of God! With that being said one of my favorite talks came from Donald L Hallstrom about remembering that above all else we are sons and daughters of a loving heavenly father (the first principle we teach as missionaries)! "Remember who you are" has always been a common phrase from mom and  my grandparents, but this conference really made me think about it! 

I enjoyed Kevin P. Duncan's words on forgiveness, although when he said we must forgive others even if they cheer for rival sports teams the whole district looked at me and laughed. Elder Barnes said that was a call out to me haha. 

Mervyn B. Arnold gave us missionaries great council about going to the rescue- it is never too late, never give up! 
M. Russell Ballard's talk about Family Council reminded me of the "Round Table" tradition in the Tucker Family! That is something I always want to have with friends and family, I even told the district we should start calling District Meeting/Coordination Meeting Family Council instead.

It was very special to hear from our beloved Prophet Thomas S. Monson. His messages were short but profound, I cannot help but smile when he is speaking. I loved his guidance to choose a harder right than an easier wrong, he truly is God's Prophet on the Earth today! 

Sister Oscarson's talk made me think about myself and my own conversion. It is important to ask ourselves if we really believe all the incredible things we know! We have tasted of the fruit but must keep feasting on the things we have been taught. 

I thought of Dad so much when D. Todd Christofferson spoke and then the next talk started about the Bangkok Thailand temple! 

I loved President Uchtdorf's talk about how our obedience allows Heavenly Father to rebuild us from the dust that we are- his story from his childhood in Germany was really awesome!

I have studied a lot throughout my mission how our trials are a blessing and Elder Oaks gave a great talk about that. Opposition and trials are all part of the plan. I really liked when he said, "The Lord does not make it easy, but does make it possible!"

Of course the absolute best message came from my favorite apostle, Elder Holland. That man is so powerful in his teaching because he teaches simply and with emotion (and of course a little humor). I really needed his advice on how we come down from peak experiences like Conference. We can follow what we were told and change! Tomorrow can be as good as Conference Weekend because He loves us and wants to bless us and is cheering us on as we endure to the end. Luckily in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are not perfect, but we get credit just for trying! 

Priesthood was also great, mostly gave me future council as the focus was on marriage and family but I did love Stephen W. Owen's words about how the greatest leaders are followers!
That is just a piece of my take away from an incredible Conference! 

We have been in short sleeved shirts and without suit coats a few times this week, it is hot! 
I am off to some district volleyball in the rain, but also going to Armenia this Thursday so pray for our safe travels and then transfer calls will be coming on Friday so pray that I will stay in K Dar! Cant believe transfers are happening again so soon!  Happy for all of those that got their mission calls this week. You all will be great missionaries!!  Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!  It truly does help!!
Love you all!  
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Pictures of Zone Conference 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Zone Conference

Helloo family and friends,

Hope you all remembered I would be writing a day late, due to Zone Conference! Really wish you could all see Krasnodar right now, sunny, blue skies, so warm, I love this city! 

It has been a great, busy week like usual! 

I hope you all had a great Conference weekend! We will get to watch this weekend and as we say in Russian, "I am waiting without patience." Honestly, so excited!! 

Mom- Sister Diana called last night and said (this wont translate exactly) "Give your mom a big big big hi from me with love, warmth, happiness, and  thankfulness for your great son of ours. I will be his Russian Mother for the next 17 months!" 

I saw some pretty cool miracles this week! We were going to drop Edward as an investigator this week because we have not met with him once. However, he called us the other day to talk about baptism! It was so unexpected, especially because he usually only calls with an English question or to see how we are doing! We also got a referral from the Sochi Elders and he became a new investigator! His name is Oveg, we have met with him once and he came to church on Sunday! Also we have found some people in the Area Book who we have set up to meet with this week, so the work is rollin'!

Had an awesome lesson the other night with my Russian Family! We were invited over by Vitya (return missionary from Yekaterinburg) but he got caught up at work so we just met with his incredible mom who is the Primary President. We discussed the "Behold, Thy Mother" talk from last conference. I love that family so much, they have quite the conversion story! My brother Vitya told me to tell you all hi and that you have a Russian son/brother! 

We did service for Aleksye, I will attach a pic of that! (The hole we have been digging). Also went back to the Rinok with Brot. Rustam!  We did some service there as well. This morning we also served some members with the Johnstuns, it was great! 

All of our Recent Converts are doing great! Had a great lesson with Lena about Temples, by the end she said "I have to go!" She will hit her year mark in the Church this month! She told President Miner that I am a great English teacher and to leave me in K-Dar, lol. Met with Mihael and Maxim, they are both doing great, just working with them to get the priesthood!  

Sunday was a great fast sunday! Pretty busy day at Church because we had the Miners, Johnstuns, and then the Reids and the Taylors both in town from Moscow! It was so awesome! Lots of translating opportunities. The Reids and Taylors are incredible! 

Zone Conference was simply the best. Very powerful! President Miner led the discussion on Faith. He ended up comparing it to a mountain climb,  he did with his sons. We as missionaries have all signed up to climb the mountain. Sometimes we have to take the first step in the dark but the Lord will light the rest of the way if we are humble enough to let him. I loved part of a quote he shared, "Life can be faith filled and stress-free!" The Taylors are the Area Doctors (Elder Taylor is a doctor and Sister Taylor is a psychiatrist) they gave great trainings. Sister Taylor, who called me Elder Sunshine when she met me on Sunday, talked about our mindsets. Most missionaries have a fixed mindset which mostly invloves our desire to be perfect that results in fears and negative thoughts. We must have Growth Mindsets which means that you do not want to be the best or perfect right now because that means you cant get better! Instead of thinking "I cannot do this", think "I can't do this yet!" The Reids are over Addiction Recovery and trained us on how to help ourselves and those we work with work through addictions. We all have our different addictions or weakness, and we all are doing the 12 Step AddictionRecovery program! They are very powerful teachers with lots of experience with addiction recovery and the help we receive through the Atonement! 
We also had a bunch of other good trainings but wont bore you with all the details!! Had some great chats with the Miners, I love them so dearly!  Love you all, thanks for the prayers, love and support!!
Till next week!  
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Picture of the deep hole, we have been digging(love to help and serve others)