Monday, January 16, 2017

A New Year

Hey all! 

The New Year has started out great!!  It has been such a solid week, once again. We are working with so many great people and not only are they great, but they are truly progressing. We are seeing people change their lives and so many miracles along the way! 

I would like to challenge you all really quick to read two talks from Elder Bednar that our whole mission is studying in preparation for our Mission Conference that will be in February! "Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease" and "The Atonement & The Journal of Mortality" will give you a newfound appreciation for the Atonement of Jesus Christ that was not only performed for our sins but also to take what is good and make it better! Give them a read! 

We will start the weekly report with last Tuesday. Tuesday is typically our day in the office because we have Staff Meeting and we try to get everything else done so that we can work every other day. After getting all of our work done in the office, President and Sister Miner took us and the Taylors to an awesome dinner before the Miners came teaching with us! We had a really powerful lesson with Zhenya, a recent convert, about the Fall of Adam and Eve and repentance in general. President Miner helped so much with his scriptural knowledge and Zhenya just lit up as he found answers to his questions and felt the Spirit. He committed himself to read the Book of Mormon more and since then we have just talked about the Scriptures and where they come from and why we study them. Last meeting he brought his Scriptures with him and told us about what he has been reading. He is making so much progress and always feels the Spirit in our meetings. 

Wednesday we had the Zone Leaders from Volgograd in town for a split! It was so good to see them and teach with them. I was with Elder Nelson and we taught Sasha the investigator who recently returned from America. Elder Nelson actually found Sasha in Rostov over a year ago so it was awesome to see them reunite. We talked with him about daily scripture study and he asked me to send him a daily reminder to study in the morning and as I have done so, he reports back on what he has read. He is going to be a great member when he gets baptized hopefully this year, he is heading back to America on Sunday
We were also able to meet with Aleksander, another recent convert, that we have been working a lot with. We had Brother Igor K. come with us for one of the lessons and he was a huge help in inviting him to make some changes in his life. We have been talking with Aleksander a lot about repentance and the atonement and he has such a strong desire to change. After our last lesson we talked about how he already looks different, he is making lots of changes and overcoming lots of challenges but is well on his way back. He came to church again on Sunday and continues to read the scriptures. It has been a testimony builder for me to see him rediscover the hope that the Atonement brings. 

Thursday was mostly spent with the Elders in Crimea, our Russian Zone. We skyped in to their District Meeting and we watched last year's worldwide Missionary Broadcast in preparation for this year's, that will be in a couple weeks. Last year, Elder Bednar taught that the Holy Ghost is the real teacher. We are just the worthy vessel to bring the Spirit to those we teach. I have recognized that so much this week that when we prepare for lessons by the Spirit and bring the Spirit with us, their is a visible difference in the lesson. The people we teach have a clear understanding and they even give themselves commitments. We prepare, the Spirit does the rest! That broadcast also focuses on teaching repentance in order to baptize converts and we have been teaching repentance a lot lately, usually to people that are already baptized but were just not fully converted at baptism. It has increased my knowledge and testimony of the importance of repentance which is ultimately what we do in this life! 
We had a couple lessons with Zita this week, our investigator. She was not understanding the Restoration very clearly so we simplified it and she is a perfect example of when the Spirit just took over and it just clicked in her mind. She is taking the first steps of reading and praying and we hope to get her to church next Sunday
We also met with Ruslan this week, a miracle, recent convert. He lives in a city a few hours outside of Rostov where there is not a branch or any other members. He found the Church online and was taught and baptized and continues to read his scriptures and has permission to bless the sacrament in his home. He has a solid testimony and we talked to him about sharing the gospel with others and hope to start preparing him for the temple!

Sunday was a full house in the Rostov Center branch because we had the Severny branch with us because they have a remodel going on. In fact, so many people were there that the coat racks fell off the wall they were so overloaded! It was powerful to have such a big Sacrament meeting! 
I was released yesterday as a Sunday School teacher and was called to be an assistant to the Branch Presidency with Elder Norton. A lot of the Sunday School kids were sad that I will not be teaching them anymore and I do miss them but the new calling allows us to help the Branch President with his big work load and I love it! 

I am going to end with a huge miracle. Yesterday after church and fulfilling our calling, we headed home for dinner. After we ate, our plans fell through so we were calling people to try to set something up when some members called and said that some guy just got to the branch looking for the tall blonde missionary he met in the Summer. They assumed it was me and we got there as soon as we could. Turned out there were two men, Roman and Griorgi, who recognized me although I did not recognize them. Roman is a taxi driver who has driven people to and from the branch and Griorgi apparently talked to me this Summer probably back when we could street teach and he said I gave him a card but he kind of sent us on our way because it was not a good time. He said now they are looking for the truth and are wanting to know more! When we walked in, two members had started teaching the Restoration, having both served on missions, and we hopped in and finished the lesson with them. One member asked them if they would be baptized if they got a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and he said, "of course, we would not have come otherwise." We committed them to being baptized on February 12th and they said they are going to read and come to church and they really have sincere desire to know the truth! Afterwards, we were just in shock. Elder Norton and I have a goal of how many people could be brought to the waters of baptism while we are together and we also had high weekly goals and learned yesterday that when we set goals in faith and do all we can, the Lord does the rest. He does his work and we are merely instruments, He is preparing people in this city, He is our Savior and Redeemer and leads His Church- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Thank you all for the love, support and prayers!!

Till next week!
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - sorry did not get very many taken this week but this one, coat racks that had fallen down

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