Monday, November 28, 2016

Most Beautiful Diamond

Hey everyone! 

It was such a busy week, felt like we were running around all week, sometimes literally to get home on time! We had a lot of service this week and had some memorable experiences that I am excited to share with you! 
As I mentioned we had a lot of service this week. It had been awhile since I had been out in service clothes serving my brothers and sisters! We helped some members this week, the Pavlovs. We had to make a couple trips out to their home but eventually got everything done! We somehow managed to dig some holes in the frozen ground and one day was just warm enough for us to make cement and get it poured in the holes with some poles. This was all done so that they could get gas in their home so they will have some heat finally! 
We also helped one sister who is moving down to Krasnodar with her daughter. We carried out their furniture and boxes for the move. It felt so good to do some service, even in the negative temperatures, it is the warmth inside that comes from serving that really counts! 

The biggest service of the week, however, was helping Sister Ludmila. We were pretty much on call with her this week and took her to all of her eye appointments before her operation on Thursday and after the operation. After lots of prayers and building her faith and confidence going into it, the operation went well! On Saturday we went over to take her to her post-operation check up and as we were walking down the stairs she stopped and said, "Tucker is that you?" She squinted and looked really close at me before saying, with a big smile on her face, "Мой самый красивый бриллиантик" which means "my most beautiful diamond." It was a pretty special moment that I will never forget. At her appointment, they said that she sees about 40% right now and after another operation on Tuesday,  it will be closer to 100%. She was complimenting people's shoes and stuff and they were just all in shock because they saw her a few days ago when she could not see at all. It has been weird seeing her be able to walk around on her own and even read some things. She quite often would just look at us and get the biggest smile on her face. She told us on Sunday that she knew the operation was possible about 5 years ago when she became blind but at that point in her life, she said she did not even want to live anymore let alone get her sight back. She said she would have never agreed to the operation or any of this without us and our spiritual and physical support. It has been a huge blessing for me to see her get her sight back and to partake of the joy that has come from it. I have been amazed at the miracles that have fallen into place for this to happen just as all must have been amazed that witnessed Christ do the same healing of the blind with nothing but his hands. Luda also said that she will have to recover for about a month and a half but then she wants to start coming to church which is just another great opportunity for her now that she can see again! 

Besides service though, also had a lot of other things going on throughout the week. Tuesday we were at the Inkeles' for Vanya's birthday- he turned 14 years old and should becoming a teacher in the priesthood soon! Got fed lots of food and met Brother Inkeles' non-member parents and hopefully gave them a good impression of the Church! 

Thursday we were out in Zapadny for District Meeting and we had a good discussion about good, better, and best. Elder Clement also gave a spiritual thought about remembering and how we have holidays to remember,  but he challenged us to be grateful daily and not just when it is a special day. Honestly, I kind of forgot it was Thanksgiving because it is not celebrated here but I am extremely grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what it has done for my life and the lives of those I am surrounded by. It is the good news being spread around the world and the greatest gift one could ever have! (We are planning a thanksgiving/Christmas activity for the branch).
The rest of Thursday I was on a split with Elder Clark and we had a good day together. He always has good questions about how to do things better and although I do not always have the answer, we always have good conversations about how we can improve ourselves and our work! 

Friday was Mission Leadership Council in the Mission Home which is always such a powerful event. All the leaders of the Rostov Mission are so passionate about this work and improving, it is always so inspiring. This MLC was one of my favorites because it was so well put together and organized by the assistants. We had a great discussion about planning and organizing and what the mission needs right now. I was also asked to give a 10 minute training on making an organized Member Book which was really fun to do. We got a clear plan for Zone Conference that will be on December 6th. We are going to talk about faith, organization, and planning with the main theme being, "The more excellent way" from the verses 1 Corinthians 12:31 and Ether 12:11 in hopes to help all understand that we can either do this work the easy way or the more excellent, better way that the Lord would have us do! It should be a good one! 

Saturday we had a lesson with Bogdan and Nikita. We talked about faith and repentance and they asked great questions and had a good understanding of those first two principles of the Gospel. They have not received permission yet to be baptized but little 8 year old Bogdan did a full fast from Saturday to Sunday in hopes that it will soften the heart of his parents. The Branch President also asked all of us in Sacrament Meeting to include Bogdan and Nikita in our fast next week so that they can get baptized! They were not expecting that announcement! We continue to work with them and hope and pray for the best! 
Later Saturday we got to go to Brother Yuri. He is a less active member that we are over but we did not have his phone number or address. He showed up to church last week and I talked to him and found out it was him! There was lots of confusion with his address still but after a few attempts we found it and met with him. He is moving in a couple days up towards Moscow but he came to church again on Sunday and we will keep in touch. 

Sunday was a good one! I got to pass the sacrament which I had not done for awhile and it was really humbling to see how all the members so reverently and prayerfully partake of the sacrament. We had a pretty full house too which is always good to see! The highlight of the meeting though, was when the primary sang "I love to see the temple." It was the first primary number I have seen in Russian. Sister Taylor has done so much to help the Primary program here and she does not even speak Russian! It might have brought a few tears to my eyes! 
Sunday School lesson went alright this week, it was not the most reverent hour but sometimes I think it is payback for when I was not the best in Sunday School! We talked about overcoming our doubts that we all have about the Gospel. Challenged them all to bear testimony next Sunday and most said that they would!!

We have a great week ahead of us starting with a lesson with Yura our investigator tonight who has not been able to meet for a couple weeks. We had another tender mercy on Sunday when an active member invited us over to her house this weekend and said that these recent converts we really want to work with will be there and they want to start coming back to church! We have not been able to work with them because some of their family members are against the Church so we could not go to their house but we will be meeting and teaching them this week!
Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!  

Love you all! 
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures: Christmas decorations in the office,  Sunrise, While you all had a turkey dinner-this is what I ate on Thanksgiving(next best thing..haha), Me and Elder Norton, Me and one of the Assistants,District Training Meeting

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