Monday, May 8, 2017

Return to Krasnodar

Hello from Krasnodar aka Paradise! 

Well, I am not going to lie, it has been a challenging week no doubt about it. However, I have grown a lot, made a lot of changes in my work, my testimony has been strengthened, and my flame of faith is burning brighter than ever. I am grateful for trials and challenges and how in the end, they really are for our good. It has mostly been tough, because we are white washing our area, meaning we are both new here. It is my first time white washing and is a lot harder than I thought it would be but I think the hardest part is over and sooner than later we will be fully adjusted and working! 

First few days of the week were also hard because they were filled with goodbyes in Rostov. As the days got closer to leave, it just got harder and harder! Monday, the Butenko family made a ton of Borsch and my favorite cake for us and for all the youth that had not returned home yet from the Conference which was way nice of them! Monday night, we were in the Inkeles home and saying bye to them was hard as well, they are like family to me, especially Sister Inkeles who is like a second mother to me. 

Tuesday morning I got be with Elder Norton which was great and we visited Sister Ludmila for the last time, probably the hardest goodbye of all. As we walked out of her apartment, she stood at the top of the staircase crying and it just broke my heart. I love her so much and I am so thankful that the Lord sent me to her to help her as she regained her eyesight and came back to Church. She will always have a special place in my heart and she told me that her door is always open for me. 
Tuesday I attended MLC for the last time, it was just a short one over Skype. We talked a lot about trying new things and balancing our work - we tend to focus on one aspect of the work and the others fall away but we need to find while we teach, teach while we find, while still reactivating, and serving! It is always a blessing to be taught by President Miner! After MLC, we had "Train the Trainers" which I have attended multiple times but it was different this time as I am actually a trainer and it was inspiring! 
Tuesday night we were with the Kiokasyan family, another great family from the Rostov branch that is Armenian and they made us some incredible Shashlik, I will send pictures. All the goodbyes were hard, but we definitely we were not hungry the first part of the week!

Wednesday morning was orientation in the Mission Home and that was where I met my trainee, Elder Feldman! He is from Reno, Nevada and is just a stud. He is shorter than we all expected, but is a bodybuilder, so he has got me beat in that regard. He has been adjusting quickly to Russia and it's unique characteristics. Having always been the younger companion my whole mission up until now, it has been interesting to see Russia through his eyes and it has made me realize how much I have gotten used to it! He tells me I walk to fast but other than that, we are getting along well! Training is also a new experience and pretty similar, I would imagine, to parenting in the regard that everything I do, say, etc. is seen/heard and he follows suit so I am constantly aware of what I am doing and trying to set the best example as possible for him which has helped me a lot to improve and be more diligent! 
Wednesday night Elder Norton and his trainee took us to the train station to help us with our big heavy bags and it was hard to say bye to Elder Norton as well, knowing that we will not see each other until we are home! My heart ached a little as the train pulled away from the station and soon the city of Rostov was disappearing over the horizon but a few hours later we were in Krasnodar! Had a rough arrival seeing as we had four huge bags and it was a late night,  but I was grateful to walk into a very nice apartment and a big bed! 

Thursday morning we had a great District Meeting about finding new investigators, specifically through members and we decided to fast as a district to find and we have already seen huge success! We have more potential investigators than I have ever had since the law came out last year and even got two referrals last night. We have high faith in this area and this week we should be teaching lots and finding new investigators even with the holiday tomorrow

Thursday night we picked up Yegor for Seminary just like we used to when I was here last year and got caught in a huge rain storm! Here it will be sunny one minute, a downpour the next, and back to sunny the next, I love it! 
We got to serve Rustam a few times this week! He welcomed back "Brother Tucker" on the phone before we went and served him in his home and taught him about the Book of Mormon. Saturday morning, he sent us to the Rinok to get his groceries because he recently got surgery and cannot leave the house. That Rinok can simply not be described, hope to show it all to you one day but the people there know us because we are there weekly with Rustam but this time we were without him and it was a miracle that we were able to find all that he asked for from the certain people that he knows!  Afterwards, while we were waiting at the train stop, a man came up to us and asked what we were selling. He soon asked where we were from and when I said America, he immediately asked, "Is your Church on this certain street, which he named" (which is the address of the branch). Turns out he had come to English club in the past although he hardly spoke any English. He gave us his phone number and told us he is very interested to meet with us! It was a much needed miracle and reminder that 1) the Lord is preparing people all the time and 2) people know who we are and we must be ready at all times to find/teach! 

Throughout the week, I was reminded of the words told to me multiple times as I prepared to enter the MTC. Everyone told me that the first few days would be hard, but to just hold on until Sunday, and that was exactly what I needed this week. Being back in the Krasnodar Branch for Church helped me so much. The Krasnodar branch is a special place, it is honestly like a big family. The people here are so great and loving, they are different than the people in other cities. Everyone was welcoming me back but they thought I was just here for the day for a split or something and they would ask where I am serving and I answered, "here!" and it was just a happy day. Some of the youth have matured so much over the past year and there were lots of new faces in the branch as well as most all the ones I knew and loved from a year ago! 

I was so grateful that Sunday was fast sunday! Helaman 3:35 was the theme of my week. I have prayed more than usual and fasted on Sunday and I cannot even explain how much peace, guidance, comfort, and joy that I have experienced thanks to fasting and prayer. It has been a humbling week but, just as the verse says, I feel stronger than ever! They are two basic actions, but they work, I know it and I experienced it this week! We got to break our fast at the Lund's home (the Senior Couple here) with all the youth which is always a great end to a great fast! 

Last night we were at Vitya's and his mom's place and when I walked in I said, "I'm home!" Vitya is like a brother to me and I am so glad that we get to be with them! We talked to them about missionary work and it turns out they share the gospel with everyone,  we read the section in Chapter 9 of PMG called, "No Effort is Wasted" because every conversation, act of service, etc. is a seed planted and we do not know when, where, and how it will get harvest but the conclusion we all came to,  is that we just have to plant! 

My theme for this transfer is to "Inquire and Rely" which means to pray more and rely on the Spirit because 1) I do not know what I am doing as a trainer and in this new area 2) the Spirit knows better than I do and 3) I have become to reliant on myself! 

Tomorrow is Victory Day so Happy Holidays to all! Talk to you on Mothers Day!! Thanks for all the love, prayers, and support.  


Elder Tucker

Pictures - Borsch, me and the Taylors, Shashlik, MLC, Me and my new companion Elder Feldman, Me and Elder Norton,  Our new trainees, A lady made us take this picture...haha, Volleyball this morning (notice the Ute apparel).

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