Monday, December 19, 2016
turned out to be an interesting day. Our plans fell through and then our apartment building power went out right when we had to take a large suitcase of stuff to the office. We live on the 14th floor so we got a good workout in ! We got to go back to the English school after not being there for a few weeks. Everyone was really happy to see us and they ended up helping us with our Russian questions more than we helped with English.
we gathered for District Meeting and Coordination Meeting. In District Meeting, Elder Norton gave a great spiritual thought about giving our all and had us all share times when we gave everything we had and times that we have held back a little. He taught that the difference is in the little things and that is so true! I am trying to give my all more often and even do the little things that count in the long run! Our District Leader, Elder Kempton, lead a discussion on faith and our most valuable time to build our faith and testimonies which is in Personal Study. I have gained such a testimony of Personal Study and the effect it has on my day. It truly is how we "obtain the word" before we can declare it to others! I was asked to teach the Language portion and for the first part we discussed why we speak Russian all day every day and talked about how it is good to open our mouths, better to speak Russian all day like we have been asked by President Miner, and best to actually learn from it, to progress and improve and not make the same mistakes that we make today. To do that requires a lot of humility and it is far from easy, but it is the standard that has been set for us. Then taught about a Russian grammar principle that would not make much sense to any of you so we won't get into the details!
night we met with Yura and talked a lot about the Book of Mormon. He read the book of Enos which was his commitment and we talked a little about that before committing him to read the Book of Mormon from the beginning. He ended up getting sick a couple days later so we have not seen him since but plan on meeting with him this week!
I was up at and off to the airport with Elder Clark for our Visa Trip! I was deemed 'trip leader' because I am getting old out here but our group is experienced and knows what they are doing. We had a good trip, had some delayed flights that actually worked out for our benefit because we had some time to eat! Flew to Moscow, Armenia, and back to Rostov. All went well with the new visas and we were home by like a normal day, but those trips take their toll on me. It was the last visa trip for the sisters that came to Russia with me which we just could not believe, we felt like we were on our first trip just the other day not knowing at all what we were doing! Time flies!
we got our new registration started with our new visas and planned our upcoming week that will be really busy with Christmas activities and lessons!
I got to bless the sacrament with Illya, Elder Taylor and Elder Norton gave some last minute talks in Sacrament meeting. Elder Taylor talked about the importance of the Sabbath and Elder Norton talked about improving our prayers, they both did a great job. School went really well! Sister Taylor and I always say that in Primary and School we either take 10 steps forward or 5 back. This Sunday was a 10 step forward one. I rearranged the seats in class that helped a lot and everyone participated in our discussion about leadership qualities and how Christ is the ultimate leader and follower. I will attach a picture of the board from the lesson!
It has been a good week although this week, a lot of our teaching appointments fell through. We had a lot set up, but last minute cancels were common. We learned the importance this week of having solid back up plans that is for sure!
Last Monday we met with Illya and will meet with himfor the last time about Home Teaching and next week he is giving everyone in the Elder's Quorum their assignments! We hope to see an increase of unity between us and the members as we go to work together!
After District Meeting, we had the Assistants over and we made lunch. It was Elder Wride's last day so had to say goodbye to him. He had such a great impact on me and set the bar high for all of us as leaders. He is already deeply missed in the mission and the Rostov Center Branch.
Saturdays and weekends in general are typically super busy for us.we were out in Bataisk in the Anderson home with both the Andersons and Savenkos. They made us some awesome pizza before we talked about the Plan of Salvation. The Savenko boys are pretty opposite from each other but they are both great kids. One really wants to start coming to church with their mom and the other does not for now. They both have a problem with getting out of bed on Sundays which I completely understand from when I was a little younger.
We ran to the branch from the bus stop after Bataisk for the baptism! Tatiyana from Novocherkassk was baptized! Novocherkassk is one of the smallest branches in the mission and has not had a baptism. They have now had two people get baptized in the past two months and will have a third shortly. Miracles! There is a special spirit at baptisms and it is always a special day when someone makes that decision to take the Savior's name upon them! Sasha came to the baptism who is a long time investigator that has been in Florida for the past three months. Him and I have emailed while he has been in America and I was so excited to reunite with him. He is so solid and went to Church there and continues to come here and just needs to get married before he will be baptized!
After Church we all stayed back to help the Branch President set up for our Christmas Activity. It was quite the process and we did not leave until it was dark outside but got everything ready for what should be a pretty solid Christmas party this weekend.
Took Sister Ludmila the sacrament and got to see her for the first time with her glasses! She is seeing pretty well now and even cooked for the first time. She gave us some of the pies she made and they were great! We talked with her about faith and how faith does not grow accidentally, we must choose to act and then our faith grows.
It is going to be a busy week and Christmas will be here before we know it. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and remember the true reason we celebrate this time of year. Take the time to appreciate the Savior this week and share His light with those around you!
Monday, December 5, 2016
morning we were with Sister Ludmila to take her to her second operation. Everything went really well and she is seeing even better now than she was last week. When we got in the taxi after her appointment, she even told the driver that he was cute. She is now just waiting for some special glasses to come in from Moscow and once she has those, she will be able to read, sew, and come to church which is all she wants!
we had a coordination meeting with the Crimea Zone Leader and with the Sister Training Leader here to plan for our Zone Conference! Conference will be morning and we are super excited to share with everyone the messages we have prepared. I have studied and prepared all week for my part which will be on organization and it has been incredible to see how the Spirit has really guided me to certain scriptures or thoughts that I will share . We hope it will go well and everyone will know how to work in a more excellent way!we also went over to the Inkeles' to meet with Bro. Inkeles but he was really busy and had to run to work so we ended up meeting with Sister Inkeles. She gave us a lot of valuable information about different members and their families that will help us to get in touch with them! She knows everyone so well and is often times the only one that still keeps in touch with some of the less active members we work with. We also talked about the temple and she talked about how they are truly pioneers here in Russia and she started talking about the day when a temple will be here and just had the biggest smile on her face while tears filled her eyes. The members here continually inspire me!night we had our first "birthday miracle." We made a list of every less active member in our area's birthday and we try to get to them and take a treat or something in hopes to get our feet in the door and meet them! We went to one and we only had her address and a cake, no phone number. We got there and knocked and waited and after a little bit a man came out and gave us her phone number. Her phone was busy and after waiting we just left the cake with a note and about 5 minutes after we left, she texted us and thanked us for the cake and said she would call soon. So we got her number and hopefully planted a good seed!night we slept in Severny and did splits with the Severny Elders . After their district meeting, I was with Elder Andersen in Rostov Center. Elder Andersen and I knew of each other before the mission and he just got to the zone after serving in my first area Volzhiky for 6 months so it was good to catch up and serve with him for a day. On our taxi ride into Center from Severny, we had a great conversation with our taxi driver who informed me that he knew I was not Russian not from my accent but from the fact that I asked how his day was going when we got in! I thought that was pretty funny and says a lot about the Russian culture, but it made for a great conversation! Got to translate a temple recommend interview for President because the Assistants were out of town and then we had another "birthday miracle." We knew this one less active lives in the same building as Sister Ludmila and that it was her birthday so we got some donuts and with Luda's help, we got their correct address and got the donuts to them! Then that night our friend Vanya called to meet us at the branch and we had very little time but talked to him and invited him to church!
we got to reunite with the Assistants after they were in Krasnodar and Elder Norton said that a bunch of members down there told him to tell me Hi. Yegor, the youth we worked with a lot in Krasnodar, also gave him a note to give to me and it was the sweetest thing ever. We went with the Assistants back to the Pavlovs to do some service. They have a not so friendly dog named Cesar that was not loving Elder Tucker and while I was shoveling by his dog house, he lost his temper and tried to bite my leg! It was a little scary, but luckily he only bit my pants and long johns... Then that night we had a great turn out for game night! One of our less active youth came and brought his non member friend!
was a special day! Started with the snow in the morning and got even better as we made the trip out to Bataisk, a little city outside of Rostov. We were supposed to meet some recent converts out there in the house of some active members but they could not come. On the bus out there, an active member sat right next to Elder Randall and neither of them knew each other but they made the connection and it turned out she was going to the Andersen's house as well! It was a big tender mercy for her because she did not know where to get off so we showed her and walked together. We had such a powerful meeting out there in the Andersen home. They were playing American Christmas music and fed us a great meal before we had a spiritual feast! Sister Andersen and the Sister that came with us on the bus just talked with us about the Plan of Salvation and about how our efforts in this life are enough and how we see the Lord's hand in our daily lives. We all had our scriptures open and just shared verses, thoughts, experiences, and testimonies. It was the most powerful lesson with active members that I can remember. One of the sisters said how she just felt like we were in a whole new world in that house and did not want to leave. The other said that, like it says in Matthew , when we are gathered together in the Lord's name, he is with us. They both expressed their gratitude to us and said we do not even see all the good we are doing. And they both teared up talking about their lives and how the missionaries changed everything for them. We found out that it was Sister Andersen's birthday and she said that there was no greater gift than having us over.
was Fast S and our School homework from last week was to share their testimony in sacrament meeting! 3 bore great testimonies in sacrament and one more wanted to but time ran out, so she testified in class for us. Two of them testified about how much School helps them and how the homework we give has really helped them come closer to God. It was extremely rewarding to hear that our efforts in that class are really helping, at least a couple of them. I love being a School teacher!
It has been another good week, we had so many tender mercies this week including the big snow storm! There is sneg (snow) everywhere and I love it, although it is so hard to walk around and not fall!
The tender mercies all started last Monday night when we got to meet with Illya and Makar who make up the Elder's Quorom Presidency. We have been working closely with them and helping them get a home teaching plan. The work moves forward much more effectively when it is done with members!
Alsonight we got to meet with our investigator Yura. We talked a lot about prayer because he has had some questions and concerns about why we pray the way we do. He is open to praying, just did not have a full understanding in the past. We had a good discussion about it and commited him to continue to read the Book of Mormon and pray.
While out in Batiask we were able to meet with a less active named Slava. He actually called us today and said he has been thinking about things a lot recently and wants us to help him get his life back in order and quit smoking so we will be working with him and doing all we can to help!
The work is going well and I am so happy here in Rostov. I love this branch and the people here so much! I feel so blessed to be here at this time and to be on the Lord's errand. Thank you for your continual love, prayers and support.