Monday, January 30, 2017

Worldwide Broadcast

Good morning from Rostov! It is finally freezing on the Don, we have been spoiled with great weather up until this point, but the Russian winter is here! 

It was a way solid week, lots of big changes and lots of experiences! Started last Tuesday on a split with Elder Golovonkov while Elder Norton was on a visa trip. Elder Golovonkov only arrived a few weeks ago and just has a light about him. He is a happy one and is so thrilled to share the gospel with everyone, it is cool to see a Russian Elder with so much passion for the gospel! 

We are continuing to work with Roman and Grigori, they both have a desire to get baptized, but they have not been able to attend church yet due to work schedules. They are doing well with their Book of Mormon reading and they really want to come to church as well. 
We were able to meet with our other investigator Zita two times before she left for Moldova. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and she had great questions and understood it very well. She would even turn to some of the other people in the small house and teach them what she had just learned. We then started the Book of Mormon with her, reading the first few chapters of 1st Nephi. Once again she asked great questions so that she understood what was going on. She really liked the beginning of the Book of Mormon and said during these couple weeks at home in Moldova she will read, hopefully the whole thing, while she has time and a quiet place to read. She said when she gets back she will be more prepared to be baptized! 

We had a breakthrough with Giorgi this week, a long time investigator. One of his main concerns is tithing so we talked about it with him this week with President Butenko who was a huge help in explaining tithing. After teaching and testifying, Giorgi committed to pay tithing after his baptism, however he would not commit to being baptized. He wants to wait till Spring but won't even commit to a date in the Spring time. He is making progress though! 
As far as active members go, we were able to meet with the Sister Cherkashin and her mom who have been in the church longer than I have been alive! It was great to meet them and hear about their conversion stories. We talked about the power of the Atonement with them using Mosiah 24 where the people of Alma are strengthened to get through their trials/burdens. The Lord does not take our burdens from us, but strengthens us so we can get through them ourselves. Sister Cherkashin told us that that was exactly what she needed to hear, she said it was, "just what the doctor prescribed." 

Thursday we gathered as a Zone for Zone Training and the Worldwide Broadcast training for missionaries around the world. Elder Brent H. Nielson, Director of the Missionary Department, led the meeting and that was sweet because he is making his first ever trip to Russia next week and is only going to 1 mission - The Rostov Mission! So we are gathering the whole mission together next weekend which we have never done before, it will be a really special event! 
The broadcast re-emphasized what we were taught last year, that our purpose is to teach repentance and baptize converts. Elder Nielson asked questions/led a discussion with a couple apostles and other church leaders and it was very inspiring and helpful. I really liked how they talked about our personal responsibility to live by the principles that we teach. We must live by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be repenting ourselves if we are wanting to teach it. 
There were some major changes announced to the missionary schedule! We now have a lot more flexibility with the schedule and are allowed to be agents of our own selves, just as President Miner so often teaches. We still wake up at 6:30am and go to bed at 10:30pm, throughout the day, we decide when to study, eat, etc. Planning is now in the morning so at night we can choose when to go to bed, and we have a lot more time on preparation day which is why I am writing early today. 

Friday we had a miracle. A less active women that the Elders have been contacting for months gave us a call and asked to meet at the branch which rarely ever happens. The meeting we ended up having was the most powerful lesson on my mission so far. She is so ready to come back and when we started our spiritual thought, she was so excited and told us she was spiritually hungry. She stopped coming to church about 6 years ago when her daughter was born because she has to take care of her, and has a mom that is against the Church. However, although she has forgotten some things, like the date of her baptism, she "has not and cannot forget the sensations she felt when she was baptized." She also said that she has not forgotten that everything she read in the Book of Mormon is true. It was a very emotional meeting and the Spirit was so strong, we all clearly felt Heavenly Father's love. It was moving to see how bad she wants to feel what she used to feel when active in the Church. Right towards the end, the Family Home Evening group starting singing "Come Follow Me" in the Sacrament hall which we could hear in the room we met in and it was a perfect ending to our invitation to her to start praying again. She offered a powerful kneeling prayer and promised that if she has a free minute during the week, she will give us a call to meet. I felt just a little bit of Heavenly Father's love for his daughter and just know that he loves us all and is always waiting for us with open arms to return to him. 

We are working with Zhenya to prepare to get the Aaronic Priesthood. When we first starting talking about it, he said he did not have much of a desire to get the priesthood but after studying it with him and discussing it, he told us that he does want to receive the priesthood. Friday we had our Cultural Activity of the transfer which was going to the ballet with him! We went to a show called Snegorichka and it was awesome, the theater is a big part of Russian culture and they put on a good show! 
After the show, we had a great taxi driver who actually played in the orchestra of the ballet and when he found out who we were, he was super interested and has all sorts of questions about why are there so many churches. He gave us his number and told us to give him a call! He has five kids and has a lot of potential!  
We are continuing to see great miracles and progress with those that we teach and in the Rostov Center Branch! Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!

Till next week!
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - Elder Norton and I in the theater, The Rostov Theater, After the Ballet, Matching suits!!, Rostov Zone

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