Wow, it has been a quick week. I hope everyone is good. Well, as far as our area goes, I have honestly been a little frustrated this week. I just did not really feel like we fulfilled our purpose. Most every lesson we had set up fell through and Tanya, the one who read the Book of Mormon and was preparing to be baptized, did not show up to the meeting we had planned with her last Tuesday. We have called her countless times and our phone just says "number busy," we had a member call and she got the same result. Another member saw her on the streets and Tanya told him that she would love to come back to the Church, but is a little offended that no one has called.. We hope and pray that her phone will start working or she will just return to the branch. I also had a visa trip this week and five hours in the branch for registration on Saturday which led to less time to teach. But this week will be a lot better!
Last Wednesday the Zone Leaders called and asked if we had done our cultural activity for the transfer which we had not so we all went to the Локо(Krasnodar) vs. ЦСКА (Moscow) playoff basketball game here in Krasnodar! Krasnodar lost, but it was way sweet and I was grateful for the opportunity to go!
Thursday marked my seventh and last visa trip! Although it was pretty eventful, it was my favorite one because I got to be with Elder Thayer who I respect and love being with him. We almost missed our first two flights due to the check in system being down in Krasnodar and due to Elder Thayer getting questioned in Sochi. In the end we made it back to Krasnodar safe and sound. We got through passport control in Krasnodar quicker and smoother than ever and we were pretty exciting thinking that we had made it through our last ever passport check! I walked past three officers and was catching up to Elder Thayer to exit the airport and go home when one of the officers said, "молодой человек!" ("young person") and I knew he was talking to me. He asked to see my passport and before long they had both mine and Elder Thayer's passports and were asking me to go into a room for some questioning. The men that talked to me were very nice and just doing their job. They asked about the Church and how I ended up in Russia. One asked, "Did you choose to come to Russia?" "No" I replied. "Who sent you here then?" "A prophet." "Is he alive?" "Of course." They soon realized that all was in order and let us go. We may not be allowed to testify or teach the gospel publicly, but when they ask questions, we can give the factual answers. I was grateful for the opportunity to share what I know to be true even in a hostile situation.
When we got out of the airport, we had a Black X5 BMW pick us up as our taxi to take us home. What was even better was the man behind the wheel, Aleksander. He had met missionaries before and had lots of questions for us that we were able to answer and clear up a lot of misunderstandings he had about us and the Church. We were also able to talk with him about the living prophet and I was grateful for two opportunities back to back to, in a round about way, testify about Thomas S. Monson and the Twelve Apostles. Aleksander did not believe that we don't receive money for serving missions, that we/our families pay for it, and that we get up at 630 am and go to bed at 1030 pm when there is no one around to watch. We hope to see him again at our weekly Sports Night!
Friday we had District Meeting and I was asked to give the spiritual thought. I talked about opening our mouth and the importance of it, as well as the consequences if we don't, and the blessings if we do. Sometimes it is easy for me to open my mouth and let my light shine but more often than not, it is still a challenge. I am really trying to focus on opening my mouth and putting in my efforts so that the Lord can work miracles through me. After all, nothing happens in missionary work until we find!
As I mentioned earlier, we had registration after our visa trip, during which we cannot leave the branch because we do not have our documents on us. But this time it just meant more time with Elder Thayer which was great. Saturday was also had Seminary/Institute graduation and there was a big activity for it that we planned in Student Council. All the volunteers sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth" for the musical number which was pretty powerful. The youth here inspire me!
Sunday morning we met with our recent convert Misha who should be soon getting the Aaronic Priesthood! We are getting him a white shirt this week and a haircut and he will be looking sharp on Sunday!
I was called to be Secretary in the Sunday School Presidency yesterday and my companion was called to be the Sunday School President and we are way excited about it! The Sunday School organization down here is pretty unorganized and reliant on the volunteers so we hope to be instruments to improve it! President Palinkov (Branch President) gave us great instruction yesterday, he is incredible!
We had a solid Break the Fast yesterday for the Youth at the Lund's home. I was asked to translate for their spiritual thought which I love to do. I love fast Sunday so much and the strength that comes from it. Hard to believe I only have a couple left on my mission. Hope you all have a great week!! Thanks for all the love, prayers and support!!
I love you all!
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures: Sunset at bball arena, bball arena, Elder Thayer and I bball jersey's, Sochi, our small plane (visa trip).