Monday, March 27, 2017

Bilini's and New Volunteers

Hey everyone! 

It was a solid week here in Rostov, really busy with new volunteers coming in!

Last Monday we were in the Butenko home for Family Home Evening. President Butenko and his wife are just great people, true pioneers here in Russia. They have two young kids and I was impressed to see a well put together Family Home Evening! President Butenko and I have gotten pretty close and it was great to be in their home and talk about missionary work! They have great desires to share the gospel! After the spiritual thought, we planted some cabbage and then the young daughter put on a concert for us. So grateful for families like them that are active in the Church and do so much to keep the Church moving forward here! 

Tuesday we had our weekly staff meeting and then we had Train the Trainers with our three sisters that are training this transfer. We had a great discussion about how we were all trained and the things we enjoyed about our experiences as trainees and things we would change. None of the 5 of us in that meeting have ever trained before so it was the blind leading the blind but there was lots of great principles and ideas discussed! 

Wednesday morning we had orientation in the mission home with the three new sisters that arrived Tuesday night! Taking part in orientation has been one of my favorite parts of serving as an assistant, it is inspiring to see the new volunteers that come in full of faith and excitement and ready to get to work! We kept the tradition alive by making the Russian Blini for breakfast which I have gotten a lot better at after a few times of practicing. I was blessed to speak about the gathering of the house of Israel which is really our purpose on missions. Our mission is extremely unique in regards to the house of Israel, though, because if you look at the Bible maps in your scriptures of the House of Israel and go North which is where the ten lost tribes were scattered, it goes right into our mission! Sister Inkeles was telling me the other week that she thinks there is someone from at least 10 of the 12 tribes in the Rostov Center branch alone and was even able to name 8 of them! We also talked about legal procedures and tips and tricks for learning Russian. It was a great orientation and the new sisters are going to be great additions to the mission! 

We met a couple times this week with Elena! In our first visit we talked about recognizing the Spirit because she thought she had not received an answer yet but tells us how much peace and joy the Gospel brings her so we talked about the fruits of the Spirit and she realized that that peace and joy in and of itself is an answer! In our second visit about prophets, when we asked about her testimony she told us she knows the Book of Mormon is true. She said, 'why wouldn't it be true?' She said she even feels weird asking if it is true because she already knows it is! As we talked prophets and apostles, she told us that she has wondered why there isn't prophets and apostles today and it was awesome to share with her that indeed there still are living prophets and apostles! She gets lots of opposition, she says that her whole street knows she is going to the Mormon church, but she is staying strong! The street she lives on, is a blessed place, there are multiple members in that small area which just does not happen here. We were in a little store on that street getting a birthday treat for a member out there and we asked the lady working what to get for her and she was about to recommend champagne when she said, "Oh, that's right, you guys don't drink!" That whole street knows who we are and it just feels good out there, lots of potential in that neighborhood! We were also able to give Elena a blessing, she was having some bad tooth pain and she called later and told us how much better she felt! 

Thursday morning we got to teach Seminary to Anya, a 15 year old member, in their home. We talked a lot about avoiding sin and the sacredness of our bodies! We will be her seminary teachers for now and it is a great experience! 

We had a great district meeting, Elder Weston, our new zone/district leader did a great job getting everyone excited about finding. I have been thinking a lot about finding recently and just how we can still find even with the limits we have. We find by being true disciples of Christ, by being lights to the world, through service and kindness and people see that and naturally want to hear the message we have to share without us even talking about it! 

Friday we had a baptism in Rostov Center! We had the privilege of picking up Sister L. and the woman that takes care of her and we crammed ourselves into a taxi to the branch, Sister L. is a light to the world and I love her so much! The baptism was wonderful as always, Anya is a young single adult and will be a great addition to the branch! 

Sunday everyone kept asking me if I was crying because my eyes were watering non stop, thought I had bad allergies, but turns out I am sick(good head cold). A member told me I will have it for a few weeks but I hope that is not the case, don't worry though Sister Taylor made me some chicken noodle soup last night and I am already feeling better!

I got to translate for Elder Taylor as he conducted Teacher Council during the second and third hours. I was so impressed to see that all the teachers came and participated and  they truly council together and help each other. I remember when Elder Taylor started those meetings many months ago and it was a rough start but there has been amazing progress thanks to his efforts. 

After Church, we got to take the Sacrament to Sister Toma who lives in some very sad conditions. We arrived and she said she has no food and has been eating little pieces of the same chicken for three weeks. She can hardly walk and it just breaks my heart to see her live in those conditions but she is happy thanks to the Gospel!   

We also got to teach David last night, a youth member. We talked about Patriarchal Blessings and he will be getting one which brings our total to 16 people getting patriarchal blessings in the Rostov Center branch! 

I think that is it for my week! Love you all!  Thanks for 
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - New Missionaries/Volunteers, A for Anya's Baptism, Perks of living in the same building as the Taylors, Elder Fisher and me making Blini's for orientation, District meeting.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Good morning fam! 

It has been a rainy, busy week in Rostov with it being the last week of the transfer! 
Tuesday we got to do some service for Sister Pavlova, an active member. It had been awhile since we'd had been outside in our service clothes helping someone and it felt so good! She had approached me last Sunday and told me that she needed my height to paint some high up pipes. So we did that and moved some things in her yard and at the end she said, "for you this might feel like just simple service, but for me it is incredible. I have no one else to turn to for these things!" Service feels so good! 
Tuesday night we were in the Kirokasyan home. The Kirokasyans are from Armenia and have a big, young family and they are so great to us. We talked with the kids about patriarchal blessings and one will be getting one soon, more on that later. 

Elena is continuing to progress! She is getting towards the end of the Book of Alma already in the Book of Mormon and continues to make changes in her life to live according to the Gospel. She shared with us that she has been working really hard to improve her speech and she said that she feels so joyful when, at the end of the day, she knows that she went the whole day without saying a bad word. She is feeling the joy of repentance! She also shared with us that when things are chaotic or hard, she just opens up the Book of Mormon and she said it is like leaving the world behind and it brings her peace! Unfortunately, she was sick on Sunday and could not make it to church but we were able to go to her home last night for a lesson. She has a little home in her yard that she rents out to a women named Eriknaz who recently moved here from Armenia and is a member! Eriknaz is going to the Kiev temple soon so Elena had lots of questions about that and about family history so we had a good discussion about that and she is excited to look for her ancestors. She now has a baptismal date for April 8th and although we think she is already ready, she just wants some more time to get used to all of this! 

Thursday we had District Meeting and I was asked to give a spiritual thought on charity and love, one of my favorite topics. We all know that charity is the pure love of Christ and my favorite example is from Ammon in the Book of Mormon in Alma 20:26 when King Lamoni's father sees that Ammon loves his son so much that he lets them go and eventually is converted himself along with his people who become the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's, the most converted of all people in the Book of Mormon! All thanks to the love that Ammon had for Lamoni. It is visible when we love others and it has more power than anything that could be said with words! Charity can only be acquired through prayer and action, and not just once or twice but constantly. 

Thursday we also had our staff meeting and temple recommend interviews to translate for President Miner so we had a lot of time in the office! We made a monumental decision during staff meeting, though! We have been talking about technology for a while and how we could use it in our mission and President gave us the green light to get smart phones and test them out with the possibility of the whole mission getting them soon. It was quite the upgrade and we have been able to get in contact with some hard to reach members thanks to a texting app that everyone uses here and we can use the aaps as well in our lesson with Elena,  we were able to pull up our family trees! We also got new computers in the office, so it has been a week of upgrades! 

We met with Aleksander a couple times this week, he has been so busy recently with work that it has been harder to meet. He said that he just recently started paying tithing and has been blessed with a lot more work! He is going through a lot of hard things right now and we continue to testify to him and he continues to have hope that things will get better! 

Friday we were in the office making travel plans for transfers! We had a power outage but were able to get them all done! As for me, I will be staying in Rostov with Elder Fisher for one more transfer! This will be my 7th straight transfer in Rostov, but will be my last. Still feels like I got here yesterday, but it was already 8 months ago! I am going to "leave it all on the field" as President Miner says during these next 6 weeks so I can leave Rostov knowing that I did all that I could here! 
Friday night we had a great activity. One of the members that is an artist taught us all how to paint! It was really fun and she did a great job teaching us. I will send a picture of my work so you can get a good laugh. It is supposed to be a flower! 

The main event of my Saturday was that I finished the Book of Mormon in English! I love that book so much and it really is true and I just want everyone to come to know that for themselves. It helps me so much, every day. There is guidance and principles on every single page that can help us all in our daily lives. It truly is the word of God and I know that from the Holy Ghost, the warm, comforting feelings that I have as I read. Read the Book of Mormon every day and feast upon the wonderful truths inside it! 

Sundays are the busiest, most stressful days of the week as we manage our callings in the branch while still trying to minister to those that we are teaching as volunteers. We had the Miners with us on Sunday and they gave incredible talks. Our former investigator was there to get some bedding from us and he said that he liked that sacrament meeting more than any other and that it was really inspiring! It is always a special meeting when the Miners are in town! 
This Sunday and last Sunday have been especially busy due to the fact that the traveling Patriarch is coming to Rostov next month. He typically only comes once every few years so when he does come, there are a lot of people wanting to receive Patriarchal Blessings. We were in charge of the interviews, scheduling everyone and making sure it ran smoothly. It has been going really well and there are already 14 people in the Center branch that have been interviewed and have their recommend to get their Patriarchal Blessings. I read my blessing just yesterday and was reminded of how blessed we are to have that guidance. One member last night said it is literally like scripture made just for you and I totally agree. It is impossible to not feel Heavenly Father's love when we read the scriptures and our patriarchal blessings! 

Today starts a new transfer and I am excited to get to work! My theme for this transfer is to act (see 2 Nephi 2:14). Elder Nielson taught us, that leaders don't wait, they act, they make things happen. At the same time, though, I am striving to submit to the will of the Lord cheerfully and with patience in all things (Mosiah 24:15).

Love you all!  Thanks for all the updates, love, prayers and support!!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - District, Phone upgrade, Art Night, Said goodbye to my legendary winter boots (well worn) haha

Monday, March 13, 2017

Armenia Round 6

Good morning

Another week in the books for Elder Tucker! 

It was an eventful week with a visa trip and zone conference! We are still having a harder time getting lessons set up but hope to see that change this week with some new plans and goals! 

We had a great lesson with Elena as she continues to progress towards baptism! We taught her the Word of Wisdom in the Sheremetev home and we were a little nervous to teach it because she has been progressing so well and we were worried that it would be hard for her. As we got to the end of the lesson and committed her to live according to the Word of Wisdom she said, "yes, it should not be too hard!" Turns out she just recently quit smoking before she even heard the commandment not too! When we asked her when she quit, she told us that she was still smoking when we met her just a few weeks ago but she felt inclined to quit and has! It is amazing what the Spirit can do without us even knowing! She has also started sharing the gospel with her husband! They are high school sweethearts and she has been asking him questions like "do you want to be with me forever?" and "where do you think we go after this life?" He does not believe in anything but she is planting a good seed! It was awesome to see Brot. Sheremetev offer to go over to her house right after our lesson to introduce himself and plant another good seed! 
Elena is already reading in Alma in the Book of Mormon and loving every page! She was not able to come to church on Sunday but we went over to her home and talked a little bit about the prophet and gave her the movie 'On the Lord's Errand' about Thomas S. Monson that she committed to watch! She does not feel ready to be baptized yet and we will confirm a date with her this week! 

Wednesday we had Zone Conference! It was a really good one/  It gave me a lot of guidance and answers that I have been praying for recently! I have been studying consecration a lot and both Pres. Miner and Elder Burgoyne talked about it and how our missions are really the only time in our lives that we can consecrate all our time and everything we do to the Lord! We are on a mission to be consecrated to the Lord! 

Sister Miner talked first about finding and how we cannot preach the gospel but we can be lights to the world! We identified that in our mission we need more youth and families. To find them we need to plan activities for them and put ourselves in situations where we can interact with them like on transport or in a park, etc. 
Sister Miner also talked about conversion and used the example of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's in the Book of Mormon. She had us list our "weapons of war" that we need to bury to be converted just like they did. We realized that our list is the same as the list for an investigator and it helped me realize that we are all in the same process, trying to further our conversion to the Lord! 
President Miner talked about repentance and it was my favorite hour! We are told over and over to teach repentance and to do so we need to understand it ourselves.  Pres. Miner is such a good teacher! Repentance is truly a process, even life long, but it is so joyful,  if you remember the most important "R" in repentance which is the Redeemer. Without him, repentance would be simply behavior modification. With him, we truly can change, improve, be forgiven, and progress! He can change us, forgive us, and help us to not keep making the same mistake!

Thursday we were up bright and early for visa trip #6! Although in the end everything worked out, it was not the smoothest day. We got stuck in the elevator on our way down from our apartment which made us run a little late. There were some problems in the Armenia airport with someone's passport. And on our final flight to Rostov, we were about to hit the ground and the plane started moving from side to side and it got a little scary! Landed and everyone started to clap (which is typical in Armenia and Russia), but it was not over! Had an extremely rough landing and the plane continued to make weird sounds and movement.. We stayed on the plane for a long time on the ground and they announced that there was some sort of problem but we were safe! I remembered that I had prayed at the beginning of every flight except that one so I was not feeling as protected! Although it was not the smoothest trip, I was with great people! Our visa trip group has been together since the MTC and they are all great. It was especially great to reunite with Elder Thayer, a good friend from before the mission who I have seen less in Russia than I did in Utah! 

Friday got to have an interview with President Miner! Always feels great to talk to President! We talked about my plans after the mission and also plans for the rest of my mission. Sounds like I might be leaving Rostov soon, but this is the last week of the transfer so we will find out soon! 

Saturday got to translate for President Miner then had some awesome lessons. We met with little Bogdan and Nikita and talked with them about prophets! They were able to come to church as well, love those boys! 

We were also able to meet with Sister Natalia for the second week in a row! She said she was thinking all week about how we testified to her that God loves her. We read with her the story of Lehi and his family and how they were commanded to leave everything behind in Jerusalem and how hard that must of been. Then Lehi received the commandment to send his sons back to the land that they had just left! We talked about how we can either be like Laman and Lemuel and murmur and focus on how hard the commandments are or be like Nephi who, although it was probably hard for him to, he went and did as the Lord commands without complaining! She is on the path back to activity in the Church which is not going to be easy,  she stopped coming to Church many years ago but knows that she needs to come back!  

That is all from me! Love you all! Can't tell you all thanks for the love, support and prayers!!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - Sister L's  home, Rostov from up high, Visa trip crew, Me and Elder Thayer, pic on the plane (I guess I did not get the message to wear a grey sweater..haha)

Monday, March 6, 2017


Hey everyone! 

It has been a sunny, warm week in Rostov! Spring is here! 

It has been a good week, even though it was pretty tough to meet with people. We have dropped a couple investigators and some people that we have been working with were not able to meet this past week so we are really trying to find new people to work with! In an effort to do so, we went to Selfree, the English school we used to serve at, last week. I had not been there for a really long time and the workers were so excited when we came! They have a lot more students and they are all in the age group that we are trying to focus on from 18-30 so we hope that our service there will lead to teaching opportunities. We are going back tonight

We are still working with Alexander V. who continues to progress! We fasted with him and his wife on Sunday for strength to overcome weaknesses and temptation! He keeps reading and coming to church and yesterday he even set out all the hymn books before sacrament meeting started! All the members have been really supportive in his return to activity and we will continue to meet with him and strengthen him in hopes to get him the Priesthood soon! 

Elena is a golden investigator! She is so prepared which is pretty evident by the fact that she lives on the same street at two active member families and another member from Armenia just moved onto her property, the odds of that are just too slim! She has read all the lesson pamphlets we have given her, twice. She loves the Book of Mormon and is already in the book of Mosiah. We taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ this past week, but she had already started repenting on her own thanks to her Book of Mormon reading. She read that it is a commandment to not use the Lord's name in vain which is a habit she has had since childhood because she hears it all the time. Since reading that, though, she has been really trying to stop and has even been correcting people that are with her that take the Lord's name in vain! She explained that when she repents she really feels a relief from the burden of sin that we all carry! She has been experiencing some opposition at home from relatives that try to convince her that we are nothing but a sect but she responds to it by reading the Book of Mormon to back up what she believes and by responding confidently, "I am going to get baptized!" She is on track to be baptized at the end of this month! It has been incredible to see her discover the good news of the Gospel and to see the scriptures and teachings of Jesus Christ  which have such a powerful impact on her. She is definitely tasting the sweet taste of the fruit of the Gospel. All because some members of the Church were bold enough to invite her to meet us and were willing to share their testimonies! 

Friday night we had an activity with all the Young Single Adults in the Rostov district! They asked all the American volunteers to put on a cooking class with some American food. We decided to make Sloppy Joes with everyone and it was a success! We had a good turnout and a lot of fun! 

Saturday night we got to meet with Sister Natalia B! Elder Norton and I had an extremely powerful lesson with her a couple months back but have not been able to meet with her, since then. We talked with her a little about the Plan of Salvation and the importance of this life to prepare for the next life. Although inactive, she has such a strong testimony. She knows for a fact that the Church, Book of Mormon, and Plan of Salvation are true. She wants to come back to Church so bad it is just hard and scary,  due to her family situation and due to the fact that she has not been coming for many years. But she is taking steps to coming back and we are going to meet with her this week with one of her good friends from the branch and help her on the path back! 

Sunday was a great fast and testimony meeting as always, there is so much power in fasting. It is hard to fast but there are so many blessings that come with it! Testimony meeting is just the best of the month in Rostov! A lot of primary kids bore powerful, short testimonies! Sister Luda was also able to testify once again! It was a bit of a hectic Sunday with members coming up to us with different questions and other things. We are the assistants to the Branch President and the Mission President which sometimes results in a lot of people coming to us for interviews but it always works out with the Lord's help! 

We hope to have a great, miracle filled week ahead of us, as we strive to find new investigators and push the work forward in this great city. 

I will be heading on a visa trip on Thursday so please keep us in your prayers as we fly!  Thanks always for the love, support and prayers!!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - Stuck in the Elevator, Making Sloppy Joes for activity