Monday, May 15, 2017

Victory Day/Mother's Day

Hey everyone! 

To my family - It was so good to see all of your faces yesterday and for us to be together as a a family. I was thinking about it last night and it is just crazy that over the past two years, I have only spent about 4 hours with you over Skype and have not seen Riley in the flesh for almost 4 years - I miss and love you all! 

This week was Victory Day in Russia! Victory Day is probably the second biggest holiday next to New Year's and I think it is the coolest holiday around. Russians take so much pride in their country and especially in their veterans that fought in World War 2. They lost millions of people in the war and they are eager to remember that every year. This was the 72nd anniversary of the victory and we got to go out in street clothes and attend the parade and it was great. I was in Krasnodar for the 71st anniversary as well so it was deja vu to be in the same spot watching the parade a year later! We went with the youth to the parade and then there was a barbeque at the Branch President's beautiful home,  it was a great day- I love Russia! 

Wednesday we met with Anya who I met last year when I was here because she would come to our English Gospel Group Discussions and we mostly got to know her and what she believes and started to teach the Restoration. She believes that Joseph Smith was a saint and that the Church is true, but she also believes many other churches are true so we will be teaching her about that this week. A member named Margo helped on the lesson and she is great, she is always asking, even begging, to help us on lessons. It is great to have a member so willing and eager to help! 

Wednesday night we went over to Eddi's house to help him with English. Eddi is the 16 year old non member son of Varvara - a long time member who served a mission and the son of Andrei - a non member who often comes to church with his wife and is just the best guy. I got to know Andrei last year when we served him by helping him build his house. Andrei got home on Wednesday night and when he saw me,  he gave me a big hug and even remembered my name! That part member family has so much potential and I hope and pray that we will have the opportunity to teach Andrei and Eddi to unite their family!

That night on the bus home, it was just us and the conductor, an older woman. We talked for the whole hour home  she was so friendly and asked about my family and everything. She had no interest in coming to activities or giving us a phone number, but it was a good seed planted and you never know what will come from it!

Thursday we had a great District Meeting about inviting the Spirit into our lessons and just teaching by the Spirit. Someone shared that more often than not, our first thought, if it is a "good" thought, is more than likely from the Spirit. I have started to recognize those first thoughts more and although I am not perfect at acting on them, I am trying to be a first responder to promptings of the Spirit! I was also able to teach about language study plans since we have 3 new volunteers in the district and having goals, plans, and motivation to learn the language is crucial!
That night we got Yegor for Seminary and before Seminary started, we met with him and read the Book of Mormon together and discussed it. We read 1 Nephi 4 which is full of principles, one being spiritual promptings. Yegor shared different times he has felt promptings and the times he failed to act and the times he acted and how much better it feels to act although it is scary/outside of the comfort zone. He is such a great kid and will make a great missionary in a few years!

Friday we met with Anatoli- the man that approached us last week and gave us his number. We taught him the whole Restoration and it went very well, he told us he understood everything and it really seemed like he did. Towards the end, it seemed like he was a little ashamed to pray and would not accept a Book of Mormon, but he took the Restoration pamphlet and committed to read it. He is a good man with 4 kids and we hope that we will be able to continue to teach him and help him come unto Christ! 

Friday night we had Student Council which we are a part of. We mostly talk about the work going on with less active youth and plan upcoming activities. The youth here are incredible! 

Saturday morning we were at the Rinok getting groceries from Rustam! It is quite the challenge to get all the stuff he needs in the busy market but the people out there know us and are pretty helpful. We were able to start the Book of Mormon with Rustam from the beginning and we talked about how the Lord always calls ordinary people and magnifies them- from Moses to Lehi to Joseph Smith to his young missionaries and everyone in between! It is His work! 
Saturday night we taught a less active member named Murad who was active and even served as the Branch Mission Leader earlier this year(go figure). He has since been baptized in the Seventh Day Adventist Church and called us to talk about the Bible, we gladly agreed. He seemed pretty shocked when he realized that we too believe in the Bible and that we did not disagree with the things he wanted to talk about. We read the 8th Article of Faith with him and explained that the Book of Mormon does not replace the Bible but rather supports its teachings while giving us an even deeper understanding - it is truly another witness of Jesus Christ. I asked him how he was baptized in the Adventist Church and he explained what sounded very similar to our baptisms in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I then asked if he received the Holy Ghost and he said no, our bodies are temples and the Spirit already presides in them. He challenged us to find in the Bible where the giving of the Holy Ghost is written. We read in Acts 8 where Peter and John give the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands and he had no answer to why he did not receive the same gift in the Church he just joined. We had a great conversation and he wants to meet again. After we met, Elder Feldman and I were talking with the Lunds about how the Church is so true. I am so grateful for the Restored Gospel and for the Church that has the restored priesthood and all the ordinances necessary to return to Heavenly Father. I am also grateful for the Scriptures - the Bible, Book of Mormon, and others for all they teach us! 

Sunday was a special day - Happy Mother's Day to the greatest Mom in the world!! (I mean ever!!)  Great day to Skype with my family!!

We are the youth Sunday School teachers, they are such a solid group of youth, there is not a lot of them, but they are all faithful members of the Church! Yesterday we talked about how we can improve our scripture study and they themselves came to the conclusion to make a group chat over an app to share what they study each day in the scriptures! It was so awesome to see that they have the desire to improve their studies and to help each other out!  Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!

Love you all!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - All from Victory Day/Happy Mother's Day to all our wonderful MOMS!!

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