Monday, June 19, 2017
This week can be summed up by three special experiences with three incredible people.
First is Anton. Last year when I was here, I become good friends with an active youth, Anton Antonov. I was excited to see him when I got back but soon learned that he had stopped coming to church at some point in the past year, although he actively attends Seminary. We have tried to work with him of course but he usually politely declines or is just too busy.coming back into the city from service, our tram stopped at on one stop and standing outside the tram was Anton! The odds of him getting on our same tram and are same wagon are too small and it was not a coincidence. There also happened to be an empty seat next to me that he sat in. We were able to talk the whole way back and catch up, he just graduated high school, and we talked about his future and possibility of serving a mission, etc. It was just a good conversation and I did not think much would come out of it but when I stood up from sacrament meeting , I was so thrilled to see him sitting right behind me! It was his first time coming since I have been here over these past 7 weeks and he came to School and shared great comments and after Church he gave me a big hug and said he would come more often. The Lord is always putting people in our path, and not just non members!
Next is Olya- a recent convert, single mom of two kids that we work with. She is so solid, you would never guess that she has only been in the Church for a couple years. We are trying to help her get to the temple to get endowed and she is so ready. We had a great lesson and discussion about it this week. But even more impressive than that, to me, was the discussion we had at the dinner table before the lesson. Olya lives with her two kids but there is also a young couple, Nikita and Nastya who were recently married. As we were eating our soup I was so impressed to hear them talk about their day. Nikita shared how he was able to share the gospel with someone at work who noticed that he has lots of American friends and wondered why. Nastya shared her study from that day in the Pearl of Great Price and could hardly catch her breathe she was so excited about all she had learned - she herself being a recent convert of less than a year. Olya then told Nikita how she was planning on him helping her introduce her brother to his brother who is the Branch President in her brother's city. We did not even ask about their missionary work or their studies, this was just a normal dinner for them. The Gospel is a part of them and sharing it is in their blood.
Last but not least is Misha B., a recent convert that I wrote about last week. This week we were privileged to help him prepare for his sacrament talk that he gavehe has been so nervous about for the past month and a half. When we met night and went up to the Sacrament hall for him to practice in front of us he got so nervous but then said, "let's do it." He went up to the pulpit and gave such a great talk about repentance and did it again . Many were worried about letting him speak because he just does not have any filters and many worried that he would say something off topic or something else, but he gave the best talk of the day. It was so sincere and powerful. He might have his fair share of challenges with his disability, but he understands the Gospel better than most and has such a sincere testimony of it. Seven weeks ago, we had little hope with Misha, it was hard to get his attention and he was physically dirty and not to loved in the branch. , standing at the pulpit with a fresh haircut, white shirt, tie and suit, he looked and sounded like a man ready to get the Priesthood. I truly feel blessed to see Misha through different eyes. When we meet with him I often think of the day he will be in his perfect form, as will all of us, and I just smile. Heavenly Father loves all of His children and it is such a blessing to feel a bit of that love from time to time.
Other highlights- Family History Training from a guy in Moscow. Get to the temple, do not take it for granted!
FHE at the Lund's for all the Single Mom's and their kids.
The Gospel is true! Share it with someone! Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!
Monday, June 12, 2017
С Днем России!! Happy Russia Day! Russia Day is a patriotic national holiday. On June 12, 1990 Soviet leaders signed a declaration of Russia's sovereignty. That document symbolized the beginning of democratic reforms in Russia. It also marked one of the first steps to the official dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Today is the first day of my last full transfer as a missionary/volunteer for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (beginning of the end). I have thought about what goal or theme to set as I usually do at the beginning of a new transfer. My theme will be the advice of Gordon B. Hinckley's father to him on his mission to "forget yourself and go to work." I am trying to put off all the thoughts and mixed emotions about going home and just work until the end and a great verse to go along with that is Alma 38:2 which reads "And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end."
Last Monday I received a testimony that God truly does answer prayers, often times through other people. After a rough week, I was praying to know what I needed to change to make things better and two of my good friends gave me answers to my prayers. The first came from Elder Chipman who suggested that I study the talk "Then Jesus Beholding Him Loved Him" from last Conference because the leader who gave it just toured his mission. It helped me a ton and answered a lot of questions I had. The next answer came from Matt Wilcox who suggested that I switch up my prayers and start doing "but if" prayers like you could say a prayer asking Heavenly Father to be a better trainer and to find 10 new investigators, but after you would say something like "but if "not..... please help me be patient as I learn and grow as a trainer and please bless me to be diligent as I try to do finding.." That was also some much needed advice and has helped me a lot this week grow closer to my Heavenly Father! Thanks guys for the great advice and an answer to my prayer.
This week was a lot better than last which felt really good after the frustrations of the week before. We were able to achieve the Standards of Excellence in teaching and finding and getting someone new to Church! We also did a good amount of service and still had some extra time which means we can accomplish even more! I really want to be able to keep moving the work forward and try to avoid the ups and downs of the roller coaster of missionary life but I know they are sometimes necessary.
night we were at one of our less actives, Vasilli P, We have been working with him for a few weeks and he came to Church and it was such a happy moment to see him walk in! We had read with him parts of 3 Nephi 18 and discussed the sacrament and he felt the Spirit tell him that he needs to get to Church!
In our mission right now, we are doing a weekly search in the Book of Mormon to answer questions of the soul, which is more like common questions we get asked and we are trying to answer them using only the Book of Mormon. This week during District Meeting we went over the first question and it strengthened my testimony so much to hear over 10 verses/examples from the Book of Mormon that answered "why bad things happen to good people." I am really thankful for this exercise that we are doing and I know it will be really helpful with our teaching and even after the mission as we meet those very same questions from others.
We got two new investigators this week, Volodia and Sasha. One was a former that just showed up to Church which we are grateful for because there is no teaching record for him. When we taught him this week he said that in other churches, people only go to Church when they need it, when things are going bad. He said, "I think we need to go to Church every week." We agreed :) The other is a 15 year old boy that lives in the Lund's apartment building who has great faith and is so happy!
We have seen a lot of progress in our recent converts this week!
We met with Diana who's next step is the temple! We talked about that with her this week and she is so ready, she even has an active recommend. We hope to help her get there this summer!
Next is Misha, another recent convert who has some special needs and is so in tune with the Spirit and says really deep, profound things and also some of the funniest jokes. President Palinkov asked us to get Misha a haircut and a new white shirt for Church which we did and he looked like a new man yesterday! He should be getting the Aaronic Priesthood soon and is giving a talk this Sunday in sacrament meeting.
This week we went to Vasilli G,, another recent convert we work with. A few weeks ago we talked to him about the Book of Mormon and he committed to read it every day! As we followed up on that, he said that although he did not quite read every day, he has started to read regularly. We were surprised to hear that after reading so much, he had not even made it past the Testimony of Joseph Smith in the very front but soon found out why. He shared with us how deeply he studied and pondered every word and the significance behind different dates, titles, etc. I loved his statement that, "if something is true, you can analyze, take it apart, ask questions, and put it to the test." I had never thought of that before but he is right. The Book of Mormon is true and we should not fear to study it deeply, ponder every word, and even ask questions.
was a good one! I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting. I have been asked to speak pretty much every week I have gotten here but then every it turns out I don't need to. So this time around I thought I was ready to give the talk I had already written but I felt like I needed to rethink it and after praying, felt like I needed to talk about serving in our callings. It went well thanks to the Spirit and Gift of Tongues. Remember that the most important calling in the Church is the one you have right now (President Uchtdorf) and they who the Lord calls, he always qualifies (President Monson). Have a great week!! Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!!
I love you all!