Monday, August 7, 2017

Fought a good fight, Finished my course, Kept the Faith

From Zach's Family - This will probably be Zach's last post, since next week he will be going to the Mission home preparing for his departure.  We just want to express our appreciation to all of you for all your love, support and prayers, through this wonderful journey.  We love you all!!

Hey Everyone (sorry this is a little long),

I will start by saying it was a week of miracles and tender mercies. By Tuesday night we had only taught one lesson and we had set an ambitious goal to teach 15 by the end of the week. We gave it our all and with divine help, we were able to reach that goal. More importantly, many that we taught kept their commitments and attended church, read the Book of Mormon, or started praying again.

It is hard for me to even write these next words, but this will be my last time writing home since next Monday we will be checking into the Mission Home for our last night. I am not going to try to summarize the last two years of experiences, trails, changing, growing, learning, teaching, inviting, and love in this email, but I would like to leave you with the words of Ammon from Alma chapter 26 who described the last two years of my life and what I am feeling right now better than I ever could.

1 And now, these are the words of Ammon to his brethren, which say thus: My brothers and my brethren, behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla (Salt Lake City) that God would have granted unto us such great blessings? 2 And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell? 3 Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the Lamanites (Russians), were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work. 8 Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever. 9 For if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla (Salt Lake City), these our dearly beloved brethren, who have so dearly beloved us, would still have been racked with hatred against us, yea, and they would also have been strangers to God. 11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. 12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. 13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice? 14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell. 15 Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work. 16 Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel. 27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites (Russians), and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success. 28 And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God. 29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again. 30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some. 31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us. 35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name. 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land. 37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.
Sorry that was a little lengthy but as he said, "I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." First I would like to thank all of you for the support and love over the past two years. I have a testimony that Heavenly Father has blessed me with the greatest friends and family and I would not be where I am today without you.

I will close with my humble testimony that I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. He knows us personally. He knew where to send me and where I was needed, He knew that although I would have never chosen to come to Russia, that it was the perfect place for me to serve and that He could use me here. 
I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I received my first testimony of the Book of Mormon when I read it whole-heartedly two and a half years ago. After studying it daily for two years in both Russian and English, that testimony has taken root and blossomed. The Book of Mormon answers questions and is often how I find answers to my prayers. Most importantly, the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior. I have personally experienced the power of the Savior and His Atonement as I have repented, changed, and grown and as I have seen my beloved brothers and sisters do the same. 
I love the people of the Russia Rostov-Na-Donu Mission. It has been a privilege and blessing to serve here under the direction of President and Sister Miner who are without a doubt called by God. I will be leaving a big piece of my heart here when we fly out next Tuesday morning but I know a huge part of my heart is waiting for me in Salt Lake City. 
Missionary work is the greatest, sweetest, most marvelous work in the world. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, from Salt Lake to Russia and everywhere in between. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in these latter days by the prophet Joseph Smith. Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today, through whom the Savior Himself guides His Church.  I am grateful to have been a representative of Christ, and will continue to do so.   I leave this with you in His name, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

Signing off from Russia,

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Такер
Строка за строкой

Pictures from this week

Seeing who can hang the longest after playing some soccer on P-day, Third biggest temple in Russia, in the little city of Novocherkassk (which Elder Weston and I had the opportunity to go there last week)