Hello everyone! It has been such a busy week with Zone Conference and lots of teaching opportunities- my favorite kind of week! We were able to reach a lot of our goals this week and the Standards of Excellence which felt good after putting a lot of work into our area. It was hard but it is possible with lots of faith!
Last Monday night we were in the Letyagin home for Family Home Evening. There little son Toma always tells me that we need to come over and it was good to be with them. Brother and Sister Letyagin are just incredible, I am so grateful for them and all they do for the Rostov Mission and for the Branch/District. We talked with them about finding peace in this life and they shared some awesome spiritual experiences they had when they served on their missions.
The rest of Monday night was spent preparing for Zone Conference that we had on Tuesday! We put a lot of study, time and effort into preparing for Zone Conference and it went really well. As I mentioned last week, our theme for Conference was, "A More Excellent Way" just all about how we can improve our work in some specific areas. Sister Jameson taught about faith and always asking ourselves where we are on the ladder of faith that Elder Kacher of the Area Presidency showed us last year. Elder Vasiliev talked about how we must love the work before we recieve joy from the work and just that what seems impossible is really possible. President Miner had many volunteers share about recent miracles that would just not be possible without the Lord's help. I taught about organization and just how we need to use our resources (planners, area books, members) better. Many volunteers come into an area and do great work but it does not get written down and passed on to the next set and it really hinders the work from moving forward so I talked about how it is crucial to be organized and keep a record! Elder Randall taught about planning and compared it to the Creation of the world and it was way good! The Miners led a discussion about the Savior and Christmas that was powerful and got us all in the Christmas Spirit. They also gave everyone their own shoe horn- a must have in Russia. The Spirit was so strong throughout the meeting and many people have expressed to us how much they got out of the Conference. We are now applying all that we learned and seeing the miracles that come from it!
We met with Yura twice this week which was good after not being able to meet for awhile. He has so many questions and concerns and continues to find different things on the Internet about the church and last night we just testified of the basics- reading and praying. We promised him that answers would come he just needs to read and pray, we cannot do much else. We are sticking to those basics and will even do them with him before moving on to anything else. He is always so thankful for our patience and for us taking the time to meet with him and we love him and hope he can feel the Spirit of the good, simple news of the Gospel.
On Thursday I was on splits with Elder Burwell who was actually in the MTC with me so it was fun to be with him for a day. We took Sister Ludmila to an eye appointment and back home we had a nice talk with her about the Commandments. Elder Burwell then took me to a nice lunch at a restaurant called "New York"- I will attach pictures. We also got to meet with Illya to share with him what we know about the members in our area so he can get Home Teaching organized!
Saturday was such a solid day, one of the few days on my mission where everything just worked out as planned. We went back out to Bataisk on Saturday and had a cool miracle! Friday night, Sister Andersen called to invite us over and we asked if the Savenko boys (recent converts) would be there and she said probably not but come anyway so we prayed that they would be there so we could meet them and teach them and we prepared a lesson for them. We got out there and one of the boys was there and the other one came a little later, Sister Andersen said she was shocked that they came! We started teaching the Restoration but mostly focused on families and how the Gospel can bless our families. The two boys do not have a very good relationship with each other so I talked about my brothers that I used to not get a long with (hah) but are now my best friends. We challenged them to pray together and come to church which they were not able to, but hopefully can next week!
We met with Slava - less active member- out in Bataisk as well and got him a new pamphlet that will help him make some changes in his life! We also read in Ether 12:27 about how the Lord gives us weaknesses so that we are humbled and turn to him. He has such a great desire to change and improve and he knows we are here to help him!
Saturday night we met with Nikita and Bogdan. We had a great lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and even commited them to being baptized on December 25th. They fasted in preparation of their dad coming and hoping he would give them permission to be baptized. Their grandma called us last night and said he came and long story short said no and they are not even going to be able to come to church for now.. It was pretty hard for us to hear, but their Grandma said that we did all we can and it is true. We taught, prayed, fasted, and hoped for a miracle but at the end of the day, everyone has the ability to choose- a truth of the gospel that is sometimes the hardest on others! We hope we will be able to see them soon but for now we just dont know.
Sunday was a little hectic at church. Sunday School went alright, some of the kids are so good and want to learn and participate and some are just in a whole other world. Love those kids though!
Sunday night we went to Andrei, a less active that we have been working with for awhile. He has really started to warm up to us and by the time we left yesterday he commited to reading a Liahona article- a small but significant step. He also is thinking about coming to our Christmas Activity on the 24th. When we left he said something along the lines of, "10 years without going to Church and you two are bringing it back." Line upon line!
That is all for this week! I am off to Armenia on Thursday so keep us in your prayers! Cannot believe it is already time for another Visa Trip, time flies on the Lord's errand! Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!
Love you all!
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - Picture from Zone Conference(not very focused, it was on a timer), Elder Yashanin and me, Lunch in New York (LOL), and basically all that I have seen all week (stormy weather).