Monday, September 26, 2016

A Sunday with Luda

Hey all!

Sorry I am emailing so late, it is almost 8 PM here and we are just getting around to emailing.. It has been a crazy busy day but I will get to that later!  This maybe a shorter letter.

In a weeks time, the sunny, hot and humid days have left and it has been cold, grey, and rainy all week. Today we had a high of 11 celsius so we are all back in our sweaters/coats, scarves, and boots. Fall is here and winter will be here before we know it! 

Last Monday we had a great Family Home Evening with the Inkeles' family. Their boys were so excited when we came over and got all their board games out to show us and play with us. We then had a great discussion about the Plan of Salvation, the boys knew so much! We also had a recent convert, Cnezhana, with us and it was cool to hear about her recent experiences sharing the gospel with others. 
Speaking of Cnezhana, we went to her place with the sisters this week to help out in her yard with some weeding. She then invited us all to a breakfast at her work so we went to support here and it turned out to be a very fruitful experience. She works for the company Herbalife and we were the only men there but all the women loved talking to us and we could tell them who we are but that was about it. I think we planted a lot of seeds though by giving them a positive experience with the Mormon Volunteers! 

That same day of the work breakfast, a former investigator called and we went with him to this event his school put on. It was really awesome because while we were there, we were able to see and talk with 3 members of the Church and some women approached us about an English School in Rostov that has an English Discussion Group that we could join as a service opportunity! It was amazing to see that as we are out and on our feet supporting our members or friends, the Lord put those little tender mercies in our path. 

We went to our normal English School this week and it is just great to have so many friends there. They are so friendly to us and they want us to come more so we are going to try to go a couple of times a week!  

Transfers came a week early for all the Elders in the mission because we have a handful finishing their missions this week! I will be staying in Rostov with Elder Shumway for our third transfer together! This unfortunately will be Elder Shumway's final transfer, it will be sad to see him go home, in about 6 weeks. Our district and zone changed a lot but we are going to have a solid group once again!

Friday I got to go on splits with Elder Leontiv, one of the Russians who is going home tomorrow. It was great to spend a day with him, he is so funny and just fun to be around. We also had another successful sports night that night! 

This weekend we had Rostov District Conference which includes 5 branches in the Rostov Area. It was my first time attending a Conference on my mission. Saturday night the session was at our center branch and sunday morning the session was in the Hyatt Don Plaza hotel. The spirit was so strong, especially Saturday night because as President Miner said, "The best kept secret in the Church is the Saturday night session of Conference, only the best of the best go to it." The hymns and talks were all so powerful. 

Sunday was probably the happiest day of my mission and one of the happiest moments of my life. So we found out about a week ago that the Sunday Session of Conference would be at the Don Plaza hotel and when we heard that, I immediately thought about Sister Ludmila, the blind member we visit often, because we pass that hotel every time we go to her. We invited her to come to Conference, assuring her that we would pick her up and she immediately shot it down. Later on in the week we were at her place to do some service and the sister volunteers happened to be there also. We extended the invitation again and after multiple invites, she said that if we called Saturday night, she would let us know for sure. So Saturday night rolled around and I called and asked, "When should the Sisters pick you up tomorrow?" She said to have them come a little after 10 to be early to the 11 AM session of conference. I wish you all could have seen her walk into the hotel doors in her Sunday best with the Sisters on each arm. All the volunteers that know her could not believe she really came and the members were in shock too. It was her first time in 10 years at a church meeting- of course she has always had the desire to go more but is limited physically. I sat with her the whole meeting and it was perfect that the closing hymn just so happened to be "Called to Serve", her favorite hymn. As it ended she turned to me and said the meeting was too short, she wanted more! She ended up staying for about another hour,  because members and volunteers surrounded her to say hi and express their love to her. One even gave her a flower. It was such a happy moment just to see the light in her eyes and how happy she was to be at church with some friends she had not been around for a long time. It was truly a great Sunday with Luda! 

Today and yesterday we have had about 10 people in our apartment aka the Rostov Hotel. With transfers and people going home, we have been to the train station twice today and still had to get groceries and all the other things needing to be done on the To Do list.  I got to go to lunch today with Kostya, a member from Krasnodar, so that was way awesome to reunite with him. Sadly, a few hours ago I had to say bye to Elder Tolokonnikov for the last time, I am going to miss my Russian brother as he heads home to Novosibirsk tomorrow. He has served faithfully, and I am confident I will be seeing him again. Thanks for all the love, support, and prayers!!

Love you all!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер
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Pictures- Elder T and me, Sweater weather, Banana with my name and the temple on it (made by the Inkeles boys), Elder Brimhall and me, Elder Leontiv and me.

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