Monday, July 24, 2017

Goodbye Krasnodar, Hello Rostov

Hello from Rostov! 

It has been quite the week and I am currently emailing from my old desk and computer in the mission office in Rostov! I guess that leads to the transfer news - I will be serving in Rostov Center once again for the last three weeks of my mission. I am extremely blessed to be able to serve with Elder Weston, a great friend of mine, and to be an assistant to President Miner once again to end my mission. 

It was a great week, but also really sad as I left Krasnodar for the last time. We had less teaching opportunities with packing up and all of that, but we did have a good lesson with Zhenya B. Last week, he received an answer that the Church is true but did not really plan on acting on that answer. It was hard to hear him say that he would still probably go to the Church by his house because it is more convenient and that he has already read the Book of Mormon before and so why would he need to read it again? At that moment, the Spirit reminded me of what I read just that morning in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 28 and I was able to share with him verses 25-30 that if we are content with what we have and think "all is well in Zion," we will lose that which we do have. The Lord teaches us "line upon line, precept upon precept" little by little and therefore we must read, study, feast upon the words of Christ DAILY. It can't possibly be a one time thing. We are always learning and growing and improving. As we walked to the bus stop with him, he said he would probably start coming to Church soon and might even start reading. He is going to Youth Conference this week and I just hope and pray that he will have spiritual, strengthening experiences up there! 

Thursday was my 20th birthday and I was spoiled as always! I got to be on splits with Elders Foote and Romanovskii and Elder Foote made me a great pancake breakfast. We also had district meeting and the Sisters made me оливье, my favorite Russian salad. I got all sorts of letters, presents, phone calls, and texts that made me feel real special even thousands of miles away from home. The youth put a ton of work into putting on a birthday party for Sister Klimash, myslelf, and another member Nastya since all our birthdays are the same week. Also got to teach on our split and it was just an ideal birthday in Russia! Thanks for all the birthday wishes!!

Friday we were in the branch early cleaning the baptismal font for Christian's baptism!! Christian was found on our marshrutka back from the basketball game we went to last transfer by the Zone Leaders. He is from Cameroon, Africa and was taught by the Zone Leaders. The Branch President said it best yesterday. "I have never been to a baptism like that before. Not a lot of people there, but the Spirit was so strong." I was asked to be a witness for the baptism and it really was so powerful. Right when he came out of the water, he bore testimony with a tear coming down his face. Baptisms are so special. I was also able to be in the circle yesterday when he was confirmed as a member. He is a great guy and is already bringing friends to the Church! Our friends from Amway came for the baptism and I just feel like they are so close to being ready to hear the Gospel! 

Saturday morning we were at the Vokzal (train station) to say goodbye to Elder Feldman and then to Elder Foote and Sister Klimash. I got to spend the day with Elder Thayer and Romanovskii and we got to clean the whole 3 story branch which was quite the task but always feels good. 

Sunday was emotional as I spoke for the last time in the Krasnodar Branch. Although I still get nervous to speak, I felt the power and comfort of the Spirit and gift of tongues from the time I stood up at the pulpit. I was able to express my love and gratitude to them and talk about the importance of the Book of Mormon. I felt prompted at different times to testify and I  felt like I was an instrument in the Lord's hands rather than reading a scripted talk. I have grown a lot in that regard, public speaking and going off the script was far out of my comfort zone two years ago but has now become something I enjoy. I learned that the Spirit, when sought after and when I am worthy of it, will truly always be with me. 
I was so overwhelmed by the love and words from the members after Sacrament meeting. The Krasnodar Branch makes me feel like I am one of them. They are truly brothers and sisters to me and I will never, ever forget them. They will always have a special place in my heart and I know I will see them all again whether it be in this life or the next. President Palinkov gave me a hug which is a rare occurrence and he talked about me during Branch Council and he had everyone clap - I will miss him! 
From the branch, President Palinkov drove us home and we were so pressed for time but somehow got fed, packed, and to the train station on time. The Lunds were there and some members showed up to see me off. As I hugged them goodbye, I got pretty emotional and they all stood out the window until my train took off. Being without a companion on the train, I got a pretty good cry in for the three hour trip to Rostov. It was so hard to leave, but I am excited to get to work in Rostov and see other people that I love so much!  I have a lot to do and I am planning on working really hard these last few weeks.  Everyone warned me that leaving the mission will be harder than it was to leave home. I never thought that that could actually be true, but it is. Luckily, I have three weeks left before I have to say goodbye.  Thanks again for all the birthday wishes, for the love support and prayers!!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - Our Birthday Cake, Salt Lake City, Krasnodar Stadium, The District, me at the Birthday Party

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