Monday, August 1, 2016

Zone Training #1

Hey all! 
It has been a busy week in the Rostov Zone! 

First of all, this week we had a few service opportunities. We got to help Sister Galina by weeding her massive garden. She only let us work for about 30 minutes before saying it was time to eat. She is a long time member and is so awesome. She gave us tons of fruits and vegetables from her garden and some homemade raspberry jam, that tastes just like Mom's! We also served our friend Alexander, in his garden. He speaks English and just loves the volunteers. We removed a very thorny blackberry bush for him, got it all out, after countless stabs. We also went with the sisters to Snezhana's place who was just baptized. She is up at Youth Conference in St. Petersburg along with all the youth on the West side of Russia so we went and worked on her yard to surprise her when she gets back. It is always great to get out and serve! 

Wednesday was Zone Training, for the Rostov Zone! Elder Shumway and me, and the Sister Training Leaders met and brain-stormed a lot for the conference. We had about 30 volunteers in attendance, which makes up for about half of the whole mission! We were getting nervous before hand and we asked President Miner right before it started if he gets nervous for stuff like this and he said, "No, I am amongst friends!" I loved that answer- that along with some prayers soothed my nerves. I started by going over the 3 pages of what to do as a volunteer (like our new guidelines) and then Elder Shumway led a great discussion on serving like the Savior and how to find service opportunities,  then the Sisters led a powerful discussion about how our callings have not changed! They had someone read their mission call and it made me tear up. I then closed the Training with a discussion about Strengthening from Within and how we are shifting our focus to internal growth and strengthening just like the Nephites,  in the late chapters of Alma. We discussed all the branches and things we see that could really use our help, let's just say we have a lot of work ahead of us! Elders Smith, Nelson, and Clark who are serving in Stavropol performed a musical number- they sang "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" and the Spirit was so strong, they did a great job. Overall, Zone Training went very well and now everyone has a better understanding of our new and improved roles as volunteers. The Spirit in a room full of set apart servants of the Lord discussing the future of the work is undeniable. I am convinced that anyone could walk into that and feel the Spirit hit them as it was so strong for me the whole meeting! I love the Rostov Zone! 

Thursday we had Volunteer Training Center with the whole Zone as well. We watched a clip called "Unto All the World: The Gospel in Russia" that explains the process of getting the Church recognized in Russia. It is a powerful clip! (

We had a cool miracle this week! A couple weeks ago a kid on the street asked us if we were interested in foreign languages to advertise a school. We gave him our number and they called and said we could go take a free Russian placement test. We were busy and put it off for a while but then finally went. Within 5 minutes of walking into the door, the owner of the school was offering us a job there. Instead, we explained that we would like to help out as volunteers and not get paid. So he agreed and said we could take Russian courses their for free. We are just going to sit in on their English discussions and help in any way we can. He told us that two days ago he woke up and wanted his students to have the chance to talk with Americans and then we just showed up. It was hard for us not to testify at that point! 

Each day we have about 3 hours at the branch so that there are always volunteers here. During our shifts, I have been doing more Family History work and it has been fascinating. Loved reading about my great great great grandpa Henson Walker Jr. who was a body guard of Joseph Smith and the first mayor of Pleasant Grove, Utah! Really fun to get to know my ancestors! 

Saturday we spent most the day in Taganrog! Taganrog is about an hour and a half from Rostov and about one hour away from Ukraine. Elders Powell and Randall are serving there right now and we just love them and their positive attitudes! We spent some time with them before Elder Shumway interviewed their investigator for baptism! 

Yesterday we got to teach Primary and it was a blast! Sister Taylor who works in the mission office was just called as Primary President but she does not speak Russian so she has the sister volunteers as her counselors and for now, we are teachers. It was fun to be with the little kids, they are super smart! The sisters have already done a ton to remodel the Primary in this branch in just one week! 
Random side note, it is watermelon season. We have eaten 3 this week. They are like 150 rubles for a huge one ($2.50) they are so good. Thanks for all the updates, love, support, and prayers!!

That is all from me! Much love!
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер
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Pictures: Heart Bench, Taganrog Elders and me, Boat in Taganrog, Zone Conference

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