Monday, December 5, 2016

SNEG!! (Snow)

Hello everyone! 

It has been another good week, we had so many tender mercies this week including the big snow storm on Saturday! 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!
Also on Monday night 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. 

Tuesday 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!  

Wednesday 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 tomorrow 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 tomorrow. We hope it will go well and everyone will know how to work in a more excellent way! 
On Wednesday 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! 
Wednesday 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! 
Wednesday night we slept in Severny and did splits with the Severny Elders on Thursday. 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!

Friday 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! 

Saturday 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 18:20, 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. 
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! 

Sunday was Fast Sunday and our Sunday 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 Sunday 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 Sunday School teacher! 
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. 

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - Branch Snowman, Note from Yegor, More Sneg (Snow)!

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