Monday, July 3, 2017

Hot and Humid!!

Hey everyone! 

It is soo hot and humid now in Krasnodar! I love it though, I would rather sweat than shiver any day! It has been a great week in our area! We were able to hit the standards of excellence with ten lessons and more importantly, those that we are working with our really progressing and it is so rewarding to see.

Last Tuesday, like usual, we were in the Biletski home for Family Home Evening with the Lunds. This time, though, the Lunds asked us to do the Spiritual thought because they were just arriving back from Armenia. We did an object lesson about prayer that the whole family loved, but just in general it is incredible to see how that family has changed since last year when I was here. There is a new Spirit in their home and the little boys get so excited when the missionaries come over for Family Home Evening. The two little boys, Vladik and Illya, are my favorites. They cannot remember my name for the life of them so they call me Elder Tank and they love that name. The sisters told us yesterday that they kept talking about an Elder Tank in Primary and they had no idea who they were talking about. I love that family so much! It has been so awesome to see them change and to bring Family Home Evenings into their home! And the best of all, Sergie Jr. who we met with last week came to Church on Sunday for the first time in a long time! 

Wednesday we were in the branch from 10 am to 9 pm getting the Krasnodar branch in accordance with the new law in Russia. Pretty much we had to stamp or label ALL church literature from pictures, to magazines, to Books of Mormon, to Hymn books, and everything in between or throw it out. We threw tons out, I will send pictures, but it was quite the task considering we have a three story building full of literature from the 90' s till today! But lots of Papa John's Pizza made it worth it! 
Wednesday night we met with President Palinkov, the Branch President, and went over all sorts of things. He is incredible! 

Thursday was the hardest down pour of rain I have ever seen and we were at the Rinok teaching Diana which is technically inside but the "roof" still got us a little wet. We had a great lesson with her about Tithing and are continuing to help her work towards the temple! 
Thursday night we met with our investigator Anya and taught her the Plan of Salvation. It went way well and Elder Feldman was on fire! It was a "proud dad moment" to see my trainee boldly teaching and testifying in Russian! 
Thursday and Friday we had Elder Romanovski with us who is a new Russian Elder. It was so great to be with him. I love our Russian missionaries/volunteers so much! 

Friday we went to see Vova! Vova is praying more frequently and when we went over this week he had his Book of Mormon out on the table he said he has been reading a little! We are trying to get him to Youth Conference this Summer in Moscow, they are gathering all the youth in the entire Europe East Area and we hope he will decide to go! 
That night I got to interview with President Miner over Skype to renew my Temple recommend. We ended up talking for like a half hour. I am so grateful for President Miner and all he and Sister Miner do for us! They will be in town this week for Zone Conference and I cannot wait to see them! 

Saturday we went to the Rinok to get Rustam's groceries like usual. As we were buying a cow liver from a woman, she asked what we were going to make out of the liver which led to us explaining that we were just buying groceries for an older member of the Church who cannot do it on his own. She asked more questions and as we left, she thanked us for the good work we are doing as volunteers and was really impressed by what we do. It was so nice to hear those words and to know that our service is planting seeds and softening hearts. A lot of the sellers at that Rinok see us weekly and even know us and hopefully we have planted many seeds there!

Sunday was such a great Fast Sunday! Hard to believe it was my second to last! It started in the morning when our lesson fell through before church which allowed us to give a blessing to Sister Sveta, one of my favorite people. She told us right after, that right when we put our hands on her head, she felt better and she even testified about it in Sacrament meeting. I am always grateful to use the Priesthood that I am so blessed to have.
As we were greeting members at the front door, my mouth dropped open when I saw Sister Inkeles from Rostov walk in!! It was so great to see her, she promised she would come down to Krasnodar and she really did! She shared a great testimony in Sacrament meeting and her family is doing well up there! 
3/4 recent converts we are over bore wonderful testimonies yesterday, they are so strong! Speaking of them, this week I have felt the rewards of helping people get to their next ordinance that was heavily stressed by both President Martino and Elder Kacher. We found out yesterday that Olya P. who we have been meeting with and challenging her to get to the temple, met with the Branch President yesterday and is all set to go to the temple in Helsinki at the end of August to get her endowment! We also got Misha, who we have been preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, to meet with the Branch President yesterday. I called him last night and was so happy to hear that all went well and he should be getting the priesthood next Sunday!! Of course every missionary, including myself, has the prominent desire to baptize. But, as I thought of it last night, baptism truly is just the start, it is the first ordinance and covenant, and helping these wonderful people get to the next step/ordinance is just as rewarding. 

We had a wonderful Break the Fast at the Lunds yesterday that I got to translate for. They always make the best food and give a great lesson! I could not help but realize that this begins the last full month of my service as a missionary/volunteer. I am fighting back the tears while typing that, but I also can't wait for what lays ahead (next chapter in life). Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!! Have a fun, safe 4th of July!!

Much love!
-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
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Pictures - on the railroad, half of the stuff we had to throw out, the down pour, a member made us cookies (it says Tucker in Russian), on the railroad (again), stamping all the material

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