Monday, October 31, 2016

Cook Off

Hey everyone! It has been a cold week on the Don and it is just getting colder and darker earlier and earlier. Supposed to be getting some snow soon.. Russian Winter #2 here I go! 

Last Monday we had a solid Family Home Evening with the Matakini Family. They are a solid family and are so nice to me always telling me they love me and that I am the closest one to heaven in the branch because I am the tallest. Haha.  We discussed their missionary work and just how reliant we are on the members right now. They all had people they were sharing the gospel with or talked to them about it so that was awesome to hear. They are great! 

Tuesday I got to be on a split with our Center District Leader, Elder Kempton. Elder Kempton and I came to Rostov the same day a few months ago and we have gotten pretty close since then. He is a solid volunteer and has been doing great things in the Selmash Area. It was a great day with him, we got to do some service and visit with a less active.

Wednesday we met with Ilya, our new Elder's Quorum President, and finished watching the General Priesthood Session and talking to him about different people he would like us to work with. Later on Wednesday we had some white knuckle time. We had just finished dinner when someone started pounding on our door and trying to get in while yelling to open the door. Then our house phone started ringing and we were pretty scared at this point. We followed our protocol and called up to Moscow and then waited for 30 minutes with all the lights off until Alexander came. After talking to our neighbor, she told us it was just the main guy over the whole apartment building who came to turn our heaters on... When we asked why he had to pound the door like that, she said he is just that way. It was a big relief! 
Also Wednesday I got my new debit card and I am confident that set a new record for fastest ever card replacement from America to Russia. I was without a card for like 6 days and thats it, mom you are one in a million! I love you! 

Thursday we went to the Severy District Meeting and got to meet one of our brand new volunteers which is always fun. We had a great meeting up there discussing all the different take aways from zone conference. Common comments included, "the fire is back in the mission" "we can actually do this" "Zone Conference increased my faith" and "miracles." We then discussed how we can better 'walk the walk' and become living testimonies. I love that topic, it is so important to always be living in a way that is in accordance with what we preach, and that goes for all members not just for us! 
Thursday night we went to our less active Andrei who is slowly but surely progressing. During this meeting he gave us ideas for branch activities that would get people interested in the gospel. He let us pray at the end which was a big step forward! 

Friday night was game night as usual but we spent most of it meeting with Yura! It was an up and down lesson with him. At the beginning, he drew on the chalkboard the whole plan of salvation and explained it extremely well after hearing it only one time. We were pretty blown away. When we started the lesson though, he told us that he has felt awkward this whole time because his main reason for meeting with us was for English help. That was a little bit of a let down, but we still taught him in Russian and he still participated and asked great questions. We got him a new Book of Mormon with our testimonies in it because he cannot find his from four years ago. We focused on just getting him reading and praying, we even read a chapter with him. He has great questions but before we move on and complicate things, the basics need to be done. I was reminded that night of the hardest thing on a mission for me,  is when I love and care about someone and we teach and testify and they just aren't feeling it quite yet. The Spirit is getting brought to his heart, he just won't let it in. I always want every person we teach to know what I know and to feel what I feel! Just need to be patient and keep working with him! 

Saturday was very busy! It was the day of our "I love to cook" activity that we volunteers put together. We all made food and many members made food and we all ate and voted on our favorites. We have an electric griddle in our apartment so we had a little grilled cheese station and it was a big hit. Had a pretty good turnout and some really good food. I am always happy when I get some Borscht! 
Yura came to the activity and we met with him again after. Sister Inkeles wants to start the Book of Mormon from the beginning with him and then they will read the same chapters and can talk about it, he loved the idea! He also wants to talk more about the commandments so we will teach him that next week. 
Saturday night we got to teach our two little golden investigators Bogdan and Nikita. I love those two so much. They have become like our little brothers. They are so well behaved when we go over and they kept bringing us out these homemade pies. We talked about the Plan of Salvation which they already had a good understanding of and they ended up telling us all about it. They forgot to pray last week when they went home to their parents so they said we need to call them at nights to remind them! We are all still praying for their parents to give them permission to get baptized, they are so ready! We, as well as some branch members, will fast for it on Sunday as well. We fasted for it one day this week also. Doing all we can, we need another miracle! 
Sunday we had a little less in attendance at church because lots of members are on a temple trip, so jealous of them! I got to sit with Bogdan and Nikita after they asked their grandma if they could sit with me. Bogdan told me once again that they read a whole chapter of the Book of Mormon after we left! 
We got to teach Sunday School and it went alright. In our branch callings, it is always pretty hard because we don't know how to discipline/get attention in Russian and sometimes they take advantage of that. But on Sunday we learned that candy does the trick wherever you are in the world. They all wanted to participate and be good after that! We talked about experiencing joy from our spiritual learning and about daily scriptural study, something I have grown to love so much!  Thank you all for the love, support and prayers!!

I think that is all from me this week! Love you all!
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - Tables at our Cook Off Activity, me at the grilled cheese station, me and some other volunteers, and some fireworks that we see every so often

Monday, October 24, 2016

Best Week of My Mission

Hey all, as the title says, this week was just incredible. By far the best of my mission,so far!! Never had so many spiritual experiences and so many miracles in one week. I will try to fit in as much as I can into this email, but it wont do it justice. 

It all started last monday night on our split with Elder Martino from the Area Presidency and President Miner. We were pretty nervous beforehand and we just said a prayer together and everything went so well. It helps when both President Miner and Elder Martino are so great and friendly. First, we all met with Yura. Sister Inkeles gave Yura a Book of Mormon four years ago when they first met and then never heard anything from him. She ended up finding him on facebook and invited him to church many weeks ago. Since then, we have become good friends with him and have started teaching him as an investigator and he is so prepared for the gospel. Even Elder Martino was shocked at how prepared he is. We talked mostly about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and he was asking Elder Martino great questions about how he got his answer about the Book of Mormon and all sorts of other things, he knew that it was a rare opportunity to have those two with us. I got to translate the whole time for Yura and Elder Martino and I was in shock afterwards just how real the gift of tongues is. Elder Shumway told me, and I knew, that I had never spoken Russian like that before, it just flew out. It was such a powerful lesson. Elder Martino asked Yura how he came to know God exists and Elder Martino said he has never heard a better answer from an investigator. Yura said he knows by experience, by praying and then acting. And through that, God helps him make changes from doing bad things to doing good. By the end, Yura apologized for not reading the Book of Mormon four years ago when he received it and has committed to read it now. 
After that, we went to the Inkeles family for Family Home Evening.  Brother Ivan who is the Head Coach of the Rostov Soccer Team, was there as well. I have been wanting to meet him for a long time. He is the Inkeles' home teacher. We talked about Elder Holland's, "Behold Thy Mother" which was a "big surprise" for Sister Inkeles. Her kids told her why they love her and it was a special evening. They then fed us but we had to go before they gave us too much. 

Tuesday Morning we had our Mission Leadership Council at the Mission Home with Elder and Sister Martino. When we walked in, he was telling the other volunteers about how much fun he had on our split the night before and was talking all about Yura! Elder Martino led a powerful discussion with all of us. He first asked, "What does the Church need here to be strengthened?" And once we got a list together, he showed us how we as volunteers can be heavily involved in every aspect to strengthen the Church, while still following the new law. In fact, he told us how when the Area President talked to some of the apostles about the new law in Russia, they were so excited about it. They told him that the Lord has been telling them for years that he does not want his missionaries on the streets finding, but rather working through members, and now Russia's laws are forcing us to do so! He then covered with us how important we are as leaders. He told us that no mission president could change the culture of a mission, only we can, "the best of the best." We all then discussed and came up with Standards of Excellence for the mission, intended to raise our expectations and increase our faith. We have 5 Standards (see pictures) now and they are tough but achievable with faith, obedience, and hard work. We, as leaders, are expected to go even higher than the standards. Everyone we work with has their agency, but that is not a cop out, we can do more! He ended by promising that we have hundreds prepared in our mission- we will continue to teach and baptize! He quoted Joseph Smith who said that, "Russia will play a major part in the restoration before the savior comes." We don't know what that part is but we are here to make it happen. We are the weak things of the earth, but we are the best He's got. As long as we are passionate about the work, like Elder Martino, we will see miracles!
After MLC, Elder Martino asked to get a picture with Elder Shumway and I. He told us that he wants Yura baptized by the new year and wants us to get Sister Inkeles' husband reactive in the church. He also wants us to get a Liahona article written about Sister Inkeles and he will get it in there. He thanked us for letting him come out with us, but we assured him the pleasure was ours.

Wednesday, we watched the Priesthood Session of Conference with Ilya, the new Elders Quorom President. We are going to keep working with him to lighten his load and strengthen him! After that, I lost my wallet, but that is a different story, sorry about that mom! (thanks Mom for arranging to help replace the things that were lost).

Thursday was our Rostov and Crimea Zone Conference once again with the Martinos and Miners. We had 33 in attendance. I conducted the meeting which was nerve-racking but went well. Some of the highlights: Elder Martino pulled Elder Shumway and I to the front and had us talk about our lesson with Yura. He highlighted that he was 1. found through a member and 2. we did not teach a cookie cutter restoration lesson but rather followed the spirit and taught to his needs. He mentioned our split multiple times throughout conference! He told us that although they changed our names to volunteers for visas, we should never, ever forget who we really are and what was written on our call letters. We introduced the Standards of Excellence to everyone and Elder Martino raised everyone's vision of what can be done. He shared how when he served as a young missionary in Central America, there was one stake. He returned 30+ years later as Area President and there were 120 now, every small branch he served in was a stake. There will be a stake in Rostov, not while I am here, but we can do so much of the ground work to get it closer! We had two powerful musical numbers and the Spirit was just undeniable. Everyone could feel it. President Miner even leaned over to me two different times and said, "Isn't this the greatest thing ever?" We are entering a new era in the Rostov mission now that we know what we can achieve while still following the law and it is exciting! 
After Conference, we went to Andrei who is inactive. He was a lot friendlier this time and we had a good discussion. He said he does not want the gospel forced on him so we just left a Liahona with him and he, surprisingly, accepted it happily. We then went to our English school and Dima, the one student, did not show up so it was just us and the teacher. He invited us into his classroom and said, "Guys, I want to know more about your church." We told him what we could and hope to get him to the church for Game Night soon. 
Friday we met with Yura again with Sister Inkeles. He has not started reading the Book of Mormon because it is at his parents' place but he assured us that he will get it and start it. We covered the whole plan of salvation and it was received very well. He really loves the idea of repentance and said he wants to! It was another powerful lesson and we hope to commit him to being baptized this week. 

Saturday we had a baptism for someone from the Novocherkask branch! The Spirit is always so strong at a baptism when someone has come to know the truth and is ready to enter into that covenant with God. He bore a powerful testimony of how happy he felt while under water and afterwards. A happiness he "could not describe." All the volunteers sang the Primary song "I like to look for Rainbows" in Russian and that was powerful too. We also got to serve a less active member that day and all she had us do was shut a window so we had lots of time to talk about prayer. She then came to church on Sunday
Saturday we had a huge miracle. I wrote a few weeks back about two young boys, age 8 and 11, that we gave blessings to and I think I wrote about them last week too. We were hoping to start teaching them, their grandma and great grandma are really solid members but their mom is inactive and against the church and hem getting baptized. The boys stay with their grandma and great-grandma on weekends so we went over to them and we were going to share examples of the scriptures of hearts being softened and talk about what we can do to soften their mom's heart. We told them we need that because we can't even teach them without permission and their grandma said, "well you will probably never get it.." but decided right then and there to call their mom and ask. The mom talked to one of the little boys who expressed how badly he wants to learn from us and their mom gave approval right then and there before we even started our lesson. We were all just shocked, we taught about baptism and prayer and scripture study. They both committed to praying every night that their mom will let them get baptized. They both kept saying how bad they want to be baptized and it was so special to be a part of. At church, the younger one came up to me and told me he both prayed and read a whole chapter of the book of mormon by himself. Both the boys were so good in Church yesterday and it has just all been a big miracle which can all be accredited to the power of the priesthood because we blessed them for this exact reason and we have seen that blessing fulfilled right in front of our eyes. 

This is the Lord's work. We currently have 3 investigators that our progressing towards baptism. That just would not be possible with the legal restrictions we work under if this was not His work. I am so blessed to be here at this time and to be a Zone Leader which has allowed me to have close interaction with a General Authority who has been called by God to be over this area. This week is going to be hard to beat, but the miracles will not stop.
Till next week!  Thanks for all your love, support and prayers!! (Prayers really do work).

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures- Main man himself Elder James B. Martino, Found some cinnamon toast crunch last week, Pizzaaa, First Ever- "Standards of Excellence" Countdown to the World Cup, Pics of Zone Conference

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lot's of Good Things Happening

Hey all! 

It has been a solid week, so many great things are starting to happen! 

We got to meet with a good amount of active members this week including the Letyagin family. Both Brother and Sister Letyagin work for the Rostov Mission, they do it all for us! We see them all the time but it was great to get in their home and get to know them on a personal level. I loved hearing Sister Letyagina's conversion story, she said the minute she learned about Joseph Smith, that was it. She knew this was the truth. Both her and Alexander (Brother Letyagin) were baptized in the farthest east area of Russia and both served on missions before getting married and ending up in Rostov! They have two kids that are so much fun and we had a great evening with them talking about joy before playing the game "spot it." (thanks Mom for sending that, thanks to the families in Florida, introducing it to my family).  The Letyagins live for some board games, they are regulars at our weekly game night. Bro. Letyagin is also in the District Presidency and they both are just as solid as it gets! 

Wednesday we  got some things done in preparation for our Zone Conference happening this Thursday, we are going to have a great conference! Also got my new name tags that day so now my last name only has one 'k' in it as it should. We met with our friend/investigator Sergei who is a self proclaimed atheist. We were showing him some of Conference and he said, "There is something different about all those guys (talking about the apostles and the prophet) and I see it in President Miner too." He concluded it was nothing spiritual, but that was a testimony builder for me. The light is visible! 
Wednesday night we got to meet the Lunds at the Rostov Train Station. The Lunds just arrived from Utah and are the new senior couple in Krasnodar. They were so friendly and are going to be incredible down there. It was fun to get to tell them how lucky they are to go down there before we ran to their train with all their bags- got them on safe and sound though. Their son went to Highland! 

Thursday we had a great discussion in preparation for Zone Conference. We talked about how we need to increase our faith and that the Lord is still preparing people to accept the gospel. We all came to that realization together and it was powerful. 
Later that day, Elder Shumway and I had some inspiration to sit down and get our member work organized. We have a mapped out area of members to work with but no records for them. So we made a new member book, each member with their own page and updated information. It is really going to help us right now and those who come in after us! 

Thursday night we went to English and all the workers wanted to see our pictures. They kept saying that the Tucker family looks like "a hollywood family." haha.  We love helping out there! 

So this week we have served in a tripanionship and then there was four of us for a minute. Friday we took one to the airport as he finally got to fly out to his new area. The other one also got a transfer so now we are back in just the good old Elder Tucker Shumway duo! It was great to have some other elders with us though! 

Friday night was game night and both Yura (potential investigator) and Dimi (from the English School) came! Dima is the one that challenged me to some ping pong. He was really good but still got him 3 games to 2. We are struggling to get members to game night and we need them there so we can teach people so we made a flyer and it got announced in sacrament that few are coming so hopefully they will start to show up! 

Saturday we got to help our Center Sisters move apartments, we were happy to help them get into a nicer apartment! We then had a solid coordination meeting where we came up with the idea for a "Borsh-off". We realized a lot of the activities we plan might be too much from our American culture and so we hope this will get everyone excited. The members seemed to really like it so that will be happening in a couple weeks. 
Saturday night we met with an inactive member named Andrei. It was a very interesting meeting as he was very open with his thoughts and opinions on why we are here. He is convinced that we are here purely for an adventure and that we come and will leave and forget the language and him.  He said we would be far better off staying at home and serving our friends and family. He did let us share a little bit of our spiritual thought before telling us more of why we are here. We were the opposite of discouraged after, in fact we really liked it. We love him and are going to show him that we won't forget about him and we are not just here for an adventure. After all, he is our brother and he is open to having us over again. 

Sunday was such a solid day in the Rostov Branch, great changes and improvements are being made! Before church we were at the Inkeles' to get the kids ready and they were all waiting for us this week in button up shirts and slacks! It is seriously so rewarding to walk with that whole family to church. At church, there were some new callings given, including a new 1st Counselor in the Branch Presidency. He knows the Church so well and has some fire in him for the gospel, he is going to be great in helping this branch take the next step forward. Getting that calling released him from his calling as Elders Quorom President and the new one is my best friend in the branch, Ilya- a young single adult. He will also be so great. Sustained them with all my heart! 
We got to fulfill our callings as Sunday School teachers and teach yesterday. It went so well! We did an activity where we broke up into two groups and had to come up with a parable - one group taught repentance using a pencil and the other prayer using a phone. They participated and told their parables very well. Elder Taylor-Sunday School President- was so thrilled because he wants them to start teaching as it should be. He danced when we told him how it went! Progress! 
We then got to be a part of a very powerful blessing as one sister prepares for a temple trip but is sick. The spirit was so strong and she popped up afterward and said she was ready for the temple! 

Last night we gained a testimony of the scripture saying, "the more you sow, the more you reap." We have been putting in a lot of time and effort to get the ball rolling for the work in this area under the new law. Last night we sat down for weekly planning and pretty much just had to squeeze everything into an already full week. We both agreed that such a week has never happened in our mission before. We have mission leadership council, zone conference, a family history training, and a baptism this week which already is full but we also have planned about 10-11 meetings with members and investigators that we love! It is going to be a jam packed week starting tonight with a split with Elder Martino- 1st counselor in the Area Presidency and member of the seventy- and President Miner. The nerves and stress are real but what a blessing to have so much of the Lord's work ahead of us.  Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!  Keep those prayers coming!!

Much love,
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер
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Pictures -  My new identity, sunset, sunrise, saw the world cup stadium again today

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Conference Christmas Part 3

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a great week, doesn't get much better than Conference Weekend, while on the mission! Had a great week before Conference, as well! 

As volunteers, we get to do one cultural event per transfer so early last week our friend Alexander took us to the old, little village called Starocherkask. Starocherkask is the former capital of the Cossack's who, from what I understand, were known for their fighting skills and helped Russia a lot in wars and such. There was so much history there and a really old cathedral that we got to walk around in.  We also got to go into a sweet museum. Everyone has been telling us that we have to go out there and it really was a great experience. Wish I knew Russian history better! It also strengthened my testimony to see that although our faith and the dominant faith in Russia are different, the main focus is the Savior. It was so cool to see that even in the middle of nowhere Russia, Jesus is indeed the Christ. 
Wednesday morning we were up and at the train station early to pick up Elder Nelson coming in from Sochi after some apartment complications down there. He has been with us ever since because our apartment is big enough legally to house three. So we have been serving in a tripanionship and it has actually been great. Elder Nelson is a happy kid and a great addition to Rostov. That night we got to meet with Slava, a less active member. He is such a great guy with a good heart. He seems to have a lot of righteous intentions and we are excited to help him get back to acting on them! He now calls us often to see how we are doing and today we set up a meeting with him for tomorrow to watch conference! After that we went out to Zapadny to start splits with those Elders. 

Thursday I was on splits with Elder Clark, a great friend of mine! We had a solid District Meeting with the Miners in attendance, talking about how we can make better relationships with our members, even over the phone. More than just calling and asking to meet. 
That evening we went to the English school we help out at and we witnessed a tender mercy. I have wanted so badly to get our friends there invited to our weekly Game Night but I did not know how to bring it up. In the class that night, ping pong randomly got brought up and I jumped on the opportunity by saying, "Do you guys play? We play every week and I am getting sick of winning." That flipped the competitive switch in both the teacher and the one student named Dima. Dima happened to have his paddle with him and I invited them both to game night. The teacher, Leo, said confidently that no one is better than him at ping pong and he went out to ask the front desk if he has classes to teach Friday nights and unfortunately he does. But Dima put it in his phone and was so excited about coming. Unfortunately, he did not show up but hopefully we will get him to come this week! 

Friday we went out to the District Meeting in Zapadny, they have a solid district out there and it was great to see the volunteers and hear their goals and experiences. Earlier that morning, in personal study, I studied, "Faith to Find and Baptize Converts" by Neil L. Andersen that we have been asked to read to prepare for our upcoming Zone Conference. It was so good and really re-ignited my flame of faith that the Lord is still preparing people for us to teach and baptize. He openly recognized that there are lower baptizing areas geographically but no matter where or what the circumstances, there are people being led to the restored gospel. He also talked about miracles and how we must have "high hopes and high expectations" in our missions in order to see life changing miracles. We sent out a text to the Rostov Zone establishing that as our theme for this transfer. We have high love, but we need to higher our expectations of one another to see miracles! 

Saturday was finally the big day- woke up excited. I took like 18 pages of notes throughout Conference but here are some of my highlights:
First of all, the music! The missionary choir was so powerful and of course loved when MoTab sang my favorite hymn, Lead Kindly Light. 
Alma 5:26 was shared a couple times throughout conference and is a good overview of the conference. I was really feeling the spirit so strongly throughout the whole conference.
Saturday Morning and Sunday Morning were probably my favorite sessions if I had to choose. I needed to hear President Uchtdorf's reminder to not let ourselves get to accustomed to the gospel and the great plan of salvation. His comparison to getting used to technology and forgetting how extraordinary it is, this was so relatable. I also loved all the prayer advice as I have been striving to strengthen my prayers recently. 
Neil A. Anderson and Dallin H. Oaks both spoke about our responsibility to share the gospel. I am sure we will be using those talks frequently as we visit members as they are the only missionaries in this country! Elder Anderson shared the story about Nadezhda in Moscow who always gives the Book of Mormon to others, just like Sister Inkeles here in the Center branch. 
In Priesthood, I liked President Uchtdorf's analysis of Alma and Amulek, it helped me know how I can be a better leader and caused me to ponder about the Amuleks in my life. We are all studying those chapters right now to prepare for Zone Conference so it was great to hear his apostolic analysis. 
What a privilege it was to hear from the prophet on Sunday morning- my favorite session! He spoke about the perfect plan of peace and happiness which was a great lead into my favorite talk from President Nelson about how we can exist in order to have joy. "Only saints can be happy in any circumstance" is such a true statement- I have witnessed it in this mission while amongst my fellow volunteers. After all, joy has nothing to do with our circumstances, but all to do with the focus of our lives. We have the great blessing to focus on what is really important for these two years, and there truly is joy in that. 
Finally, we heard from Elder Rasband about not forgetting. At the bottom of my notes, I wrote to myself, "Elder Tucker, never forget the burning confirmation from the Holy Ghost that you have felt during this conference. The Church is true!" I testify that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true and led by a prophet and apostles, all truly called by God. I am so thankful for them and for a loving Father in Heaven who gives us modern day direction. I know it is true because I truly feel it, and I will never be able to deny those feelings. 
Saturday, in between sessions, all of us prepared an awesome lunch, I will send pictures. Grateful for the Rostov District! 

Sunday morning we got to go to the Inkeles' to help Sister Inkeles get her kids to Church. She said when their dad goes to work he always tells them to listen to their mom and go to church but the second he leaves, she loses all control so she asked us to help because her kids really like us. We went over and two/three were already all dressed up and ready to go. Third one was not so ready but he eventually gave in as well. Sister Inkeles was on cloud 9 as we all walked to the branch together, it was a special moment to be a part of. 

Got to watch the Sunday Morning Session with President and Sister Miner as well! After the session, we were asked to give some blessings of health and counsel. I was pretty moved when a little former Primary student of ours, after being asked a few times who he wanted to give him the blessing, whispered out "Tucker". I had no idea he even knew my name! The spirit and gift of tongues are real, and so is the power of the priesthood! 

Sorry for the novel, but it was a special week!  Got some more to do to prepare for the arrival of Elder Martino, we get to go on splits with him next Monday night!  Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер
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Pictures - Travels to Starocherkask, Pictures of us before, during and in between sessions of conference

Monday, October 3, 2016

4 down 3 to go

Hey everyone! Hope you had a great conference weekend! We will be watching this weekend and I cannot wait for that spiritual feast! 

It was a quick week, busy as always! 
We got to go back to the Animal Shelter this week, it had been awhile since we've been able to get there and it was great to see the people and help out. We have the volunteers in Zapadny and Center helping out there and they are really grateful for it! 

We went to our English school a couple times, we just continue to have great experiences there. We went in to one class just to talk with the students and one immediately asked us, "Are you from Salt Lake City?" Turns out he met the missionaries 4 years ago and went to the English Club we used to have and told us how much he loved it, that was a sweet tender mercy! We have become so close with the workers and they are just so nice to us. One, named Jan, somehow found our Instagram profiles and after seeing the Salt Lake Temple she decided that she has to go there someday. She told us she could serve a mission like us and just "serve others and save the world." It is honestly hard to not share the gospel with them at the school, but we are planting good seeds and we pray for miracles so that they can return to their Heavenly Father someday! 

Saturday we got to do some service at the mission home but the best part was seeing and catching up with Sister Miner who has been gone almost all month! Thanks Mom for the package and for helping her out while she was in town,(she was in town for her daughters wedding and she had some minor surgery), she spoke very highly of you! The whole mission has been missing Sister Miner and we are so glad to have her and her positive attitude back in Rostov. We did some weeding in their yard and then got to eat some lunch with them. The MIner's are true followers of Christ, always working and always focused on their purpose! So grateful for all they sacrifice and do for us! 

Thursday was my 4th visa trip! Wednesday night we welcomed the Novocherkask Elders to our apartment so I got to reunite with Elder Weston who I had not seen almost all year. He is a great friend of mine and a great volunteer, we are so happy to have him in the zone! Woke up at 4 AM on Thursday morning and flew to Moscow, then Armenia, then back to Rostov. In Armenia, we ran into the Elders and Sisters from the Krasnodar Zone so I got to see Elder David and catch up with him, love my MTC companion! Ate lots of junk food and bought some souvenirs but also got some scriptures memorized and some other phrases in Russian. While we were checking in to our last flight in Armenia, our Branch President's wife got in line behind us. We were pretty shocked to see each other. She sang some hymns with us at the famous piano in the Armenia airport. She also helped us get some things figured out with our Migration Cards when we got back to Rostov so that was another tender mercy. Everything went smooth and I was in bed by 11:30 which is good! While on a flight, I realized that I probably only have 3 visa trips left. They come and go so fast, that kind of freaked me out! 

Friday we had a great coordination meeting, we are finally getting our member work split up by area which will help us get to more people and know who to focus on.Friday we also had a solid District Meeting, our district is smaller than usual but a really great group. Our new district leader, Elder Kempton, did a great job leading his first meeting! At night we had our weekly Game Night and our potential investigator Yura came! Sister Inkeles brought him to church many weeks ago but we have just been thinking about him recently and we had goals and plans to teach him. He is such a great younger guy and already has a solid connection in the branch with Sister Inkeles so we hope that he will be open to hearing the message of the restored gospel! 

Saturday we had a branch activity and I am not sure how it translates into English but everyone brought old clothes to trade with each other. I donated some of my old stuff and there was tons of clothes but not tons of people to take the clothes. It still went well though! Saturday night we cleaned the branch with the Sisters and the Selmash Elders. 

Sunday was a solid Fast Sunday, I love hearing the testimony of others! I got to translate in Sacrament Meeting for the Taylors which is always a good challenge.Sunday School went really well, we did not teach but we still attend the class on our off weeks. The kids are participating more and committed to invite a friend to a family home evening or to church and they had to choose specifically what friend it would be. Took the Sacrament to Sister Ludmila and visited/sang with her. She told Elder Shumway earlier this week that when she was holding my hand last Sunday at district conference, she just felt like it was her deceased son sitting with her, I love her! 
Sunday night we were making Chocolate No Bakes to take to some members, long story short, our phone got dropped in the toilet by me, that put a damper on things. But all is well now! 

We are trying to get involved more with the Less Active members. We keep calling and going to them but have not had much success. Just about an hour ago, one that we called a while back to meet with invited us over tonight so we are going right after this! We continue to see miracles and the Lord doing his work through us!  Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!

Till next week!
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер
Строка за строкой

Pictures -   Fruit drink that never tasted so good!!, Sisters decorated our door, 3/4 of the Rostov Mom Club -wishing Elder Thayer was with us, Reunited with Elder David in Armenia, Rostov and Krasnodar Zones in Armenia, 
Service at the mission home.