What a week! I am positive there will not be another week like the one we just had in terms of events and planning for them! Happy Valentines to everyone this week!!
Last Monday we were able to be a part of the farewell festivities for on of our Russian volunteers that was going home. We usually don't participate but we were there for translating purposes and it got me thinking of all the valuable lessons I have learned on my mission so far and what I need to do to keep learning and growing until the very end. I am so grateful for my mission and am going to give it my all these last 6 months!
After the first MLC, we gathered as a whole mission for the first time ever and that was powerful. I was up front with Elder Norton and got to look out to the whole Rostov Mission and just thought how blessed I am to serve with such incredible people. I wish I could have just recorded all of it but I will give a couple highlights. Sister Nielson talked to us about companions and how we can work with each other. She talked about their family and how when their kids got married, they married people that were not a part of the Nielson family traditions and it is an adjustment but everyone brings their own strength that adds to the family. The same principle applies with our companions who are all different but have strengths and that we don't!
Elder Nielson taught us about the atonement and how their is two 'powers' of the atonement - the redeeming power and the enabling power. We often only think of the redeeming power which cleanses us from sin but should not overlook the enabling power which makes a good man better and gives us strength!
He also said that he could go in a primary around the world and ask what are the two reasons we came to Earth? He said the two answers are always 1) to get a body and 2) to be tried and tested. He then asked us why we all get so surprised when we have trials? It is literally one of the two reasons we came here! He told us that we have a hard mission and gave us some insight on what goes into calling someone to Russia- he told us we are a very special group. They had a son who served in Russia and after taking the BAR exam told them, "I served a mission in Russia, I can do hard things." We don't choose our trials but we do choose how we respond to them. They are a requirement in this life to learn, grow, and become. We should embrace them and even be thankful for them, and if brave enough, ask for them.
Elder Nielson also gave us some perspective. Working world wide, he sees the big picture. He told us that after 25 years of the Church in Russia, we are exactly where Brazil was after its first 25 years with the Church. Brazil now has over 30 missions and almsot 2 million members. He assured us that the Restoration did not happen, but is still happening and we are still in stage one in Russia with the next step being more stakes and finally a temple. He also put into perspective the miracle that we are even here. He showed us his General Conference talk from 8 years ago in which he described the fact that the Church used to pray for missionaries to get to Russia and here we are and we often take that fact for granted. He thought he would never see the day!
We had a great question and answer session and one thing he stated was from President Packer who said in all his almost 50 years as an apostle, he never felt fear. Fear and faith cannot cooexist and if we have faith, we will not fear!
We then had an evening MLC for a couple hours and he taught us that if we don't speak up, we are part of the problem, we have the responsibilty to teach correct principles to those we work with. We then went around and shared our impressions from Conference before he offered a powerful, kneeling prayer. It was 12 hours of learning that I still have not completely digested. I will never forget that Conference!
Sister Miner told me to get to bed early last night and get a nap in today and I was pretty exhausted after this weekend but extremely grateful for the experiences and the Spirit that was with us.
This week will be week #1 with Elder Fisher, my new companion! We are going to get to work and I am super excited! Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!
Till next week!