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)