Monday, February 20, 2012

Feb. 20th Update!

Hello from Kurgan

       Wow what a week. So many great experiences and so many lasting memories. A lot better week than the one where I was sick. It is so awesome how Heavenly Father works. I was really stressed about stuff two weeks ago and I felt that nothing was going the way I wanted it to. I decided that I would read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. It says in PMG to do it so I thought that I would give it a try. Nothing happened right away but a couple of days later I had an experience that re confirmed to me that the Book of Mormon is true. We had a meeting with Galena who is a older lady and got surgery on her eyes, so we have helped her get groceries. We decided to have the firstlesson with her and we brought a member with us. His name is Andrei. As we were teaching her we asked him to bear his testimony of the Book of Mormon. He bore the most sincere testimony that I have ever heard. He is only 17 and he bore his simple testimony. I felt the spirit so strong. It doesnt take impressive words, you dont have to be eloquent or anything, all you need is a firm faith in Jesus Christ and the spirit will prick the hearts of others that hear you. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I promise you that if you read the Book of Mormon and you ask your Heavenly Father if it is true he will give you an anwser. Hey I even recieved an anwser so that means anyone can get one.
        This week we were able to visit Evan our newest member in Kurgan. He lives in very humbling circumstances. He lives in a hospital for people that cant live on there own and cant pay to live. We were able to go in and see how he was doing and teach him some follow up lessons. We decided that we would buy some waffley for him and some juice that we could chow down on. We walked into the hospital and all of the people that lived in there came out to greet us. A man walked out with a huge accordian and started to play it for us. He was really good and he even sang along with it. Yah that is on camera. We also had a poetry contest where Evan shared his poetry that he writes. It was awesome. We shared all of our treats and shared all the juice with everyone. People were so happy to see us there. It really touched my heart. Shaking all of there hands and just being a friend to all of them. I know that those people in the Hospital know nothing about the Book of Mormon or the LDS church but what they do know now that missionaries from the LDS church are genuinely nice people and that is what our church is all about. Being nice to others and loving all people. I felt that Jesus Christ showed his love for those people through us. I am so grateful for having this oppurtunity to represent Christ here in Russia.
        News on Igor. He came to church yesterday and he will be baptized on saturday. We had a great meeting with him a couple of days ago and we feel that he is ready. He is keeping all of the commitments and he told us that he wants to serve a mission. We will be preparing him for the Aarronic Priesthood. Igor is my hero. Being young here is tough becuase so many people drink, smoke, and have sex. To change your life, to give up your friends for something better is what Igor is doing. He really is prepared for baptism and to take upon him sacred covenants of baptism. I have seen him progress a lot. It is so great to see. Victor our other investigator has fallen off the face of the planet. We have no idea where he went. We pray for him that he will give us a call someday.

        The work in Kurgan is exploding. Transfers is coming up in two weeks. I will be done being trained and then I will be flying to Finland to renew my Visa. I cant wait. These past 11 weeks have flown. I have come to love the people of Russia. They are the greatest and most friendly people ever. I was able to have dinner at a members house the other day. That was very intresting. I was fed these weird meatballs that I have no idea what were in them. This very weird mushroom/fish salad.... Chan you would have passed out. I ate it and held it down haha but it was very difficult. I also was able to try some different kind of fruit drink. Let's just say that it was an experience.
        Oh yah I got my package from my grandparents, felt like Christmas opening it. I got a letter from Jullian also and then a letter from Melody my neighbor. Thank you so much for the letter Melody, it meant a lot. That was all. Im sorry if I dont get your mail, it is difficult to get mail here in Russia. Thanks again Grandma and Jen for the package and everything was in it.
        Chan ofcourse I want the video clip ha. Love the pictures also... I do have a lot of compition.
Well the work here is booming. In five years there will probably be a stake here in Yekat. Can't wait. Thanks for all of the mailand emails everyone.
Elder Flitton

-What a turn around from the last two weeks, right?? Just goes to show how blessed we are when we put our full faith in our Savior.
-Isn't that so exciting to hear about how well Evan is doing, and the progress Igor is making??!! Can't wait to hear about his baptism next week. Just keep them in your prayers that they will all stay faithful and get to experience such a special moment next week!
-What about that trip to Finland?? Lucky guy :)
-Man oh man is he right when he said I would have passed out with that mushroom/fish salad...what a trooper.

I sure do love this missionary!
Can't believe it has been almost 5 months down!!

"Yes, faith is a choice, and it must be sought after and developed. Thus, we are responsible for our own faith. We are also responsible for our lack of faith. The choice is yours."
      -Bishop Richard C. Edgley 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentine's Day week update!

Happy Valentines!
Wow I can't believe that it is already Valentines. I only have three more weeks left in this transfer and then I will be done being trained. That is so crazy to think, the time is flying so fast. It felt like it was yesterday that I was sitting in the Mission home meeting my mission president. I have really enjoyed my time serving with Elder Hronek, we have definately found a way to enjoy the work and have fun with it. We have come up with a lot of ideas on how to contact and how to get our investigators to progress. For example when we knock doors we have a scripture in the Book of Mormon ready and we ask the person if we can share a small verse from the scriptures. We then bear testimony and no one can question a sincere testimonoy. Elder Hronek and I have seen a lot of success and we have also seen a lot of down times, but as I said before we know how to cheer each other up. I really enjoy the work. There is no greater joy than preaching the Gospel and inviting people to come closer to their Heavenly Father.
This last week was kind of difficult. I got sick Tuesday night and was sick all day Wednesday. It was a bummer because we had to stay inside all day. The good news is that i'm better and whatever that bug I had is gone. On thursday the zone leaders came down to our city. I was supposed to get my mail and packages but they forgot them in their apartment. That was a huge let down, I was looking so forward to getting mail. But it is all ok because the senior couple is coming down to Kurgan and they are stopping in Tumen where the zone leaders are, so I will get my mail at the end of this week. I can't wait ha. On saturday we had a "ward party", we played ping pong and watched the "Testament". For refreshments we had a cake, some cookies and some juice. I guess that is what you get when you have missionaries plan a event. It went very well, we had a good turn out and we got some new investigators out of it. It was nice to talk to ward members and just have fun.
Well we did have a baptism date set for Igor if he came to church yesterday. We called him saturday night to remind him. He said that he would be there. Well Sunday came and he wasn't there. It was a big bummer because we have to move his baptism back another couple of weeks. If only he just came to church he could be baptized. He has only been once and we feel that if he would have come this week he would have been ready for baptism. We dont want to baptize him if he is not ready. We want him to be a solid member and not to go in-active. That is what happens to a lot of people here in Russia. The Provoslovnik church loves to persecute the members here. We have a lot of less active members here in Kurgan. We work very hard with less actives and try to visit them as much as possible and try to get them to come back to church.
Our investigator Victor has fallen of the face of the planet. He wont anwser our calls or texts. We have taught him all of the lessons and we had a baptism date ready for him, but we haven't seen him for two weeks now. We had to move him back to the former investigators. It was really discouraging because he was a really good friend. We started teaching him when I got to Kurgan so we have been working with him for awhile. Sometimes I just don't understand because he was progressing and was coming to church. Hopefully he will call us back soon.
We got two new investigators, im way excited for them. We have a meeting with one of them tonight so im pumped. We have been working really hard these last couple of weeks to find some new investigators. The Kurgan branch needs more members.
Well I have good feelings about this week. I cant wait to start working with our new investigators. I have really enjoyed my time here in Kurgan. I love the people here, they are the greatest. I know that if you work your hardest and show your faith the Lord will bless you. No matter how hard things get you can always put your trust in Jesus Christ and he will pull you out. I have a new favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon. It helped me in the MTC and it helps me even more here in the field. Alma 36:3.
Thank you everyone for your emails and all of the support back home.
Elder Flitton

"As Christ followed the Father under any circumstance, we should follow His Son. If we do so, it matters not what kind of persecution, suffering, grief, or "thorn in the flesh" we face. We are not alone. Christ will assist us. His tender mercies will make us might under any circumstance."
     -Walter F. Gonzalez

weekly update!

Hello from Russia

Well this last week was kind of a rough one. All of our meetings with our investigators fell through. We were only able to have one meeting with one of our investigators. Yesterday were met with Egor and he has been progressing. It was the first time that he has attended church. I was so happy to see him there. He even stayed all three hours. We set his baptism date for the 18th of February. Elder Hronek and I are thrilled about him and all of the progress that he is making.
We did a lot of door knocking this week. We talked to a lot of people and we also had a lot of doors shut in our face. I knocked this one guys door and told him that we were representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and that we had a message about Jesus Christ. He started to yell at me and then slammed his door. The good thing about being a missionary and learning a new language, when people yell at you and talk really fast you have no idea what they are saying. When people slam there doors it doesnt get me down, but I just feel bad for those people. If only they knew why we were really there and how great the message we have to share with them is. It can be discouraging sometimes but Elder Hronek and I find away to keep positive. Elder Hronek and I know how to make each other laugh so that is nice.
Funny story of the week. We had a follow up lesson with Evan and one of the members house. There was a random man there that was scary. When I think of a Russian I think of a giant, with a bad eye and a very deep voice. Well this man was exactly that. To add to it he was drunk. He was a very different person. He had faught in the war and was very grumpy. I was scared and I got to sit next to him. All I did was just smile and that cheered him right up. He would get this huge smile on his face and would cheer up every time that i smiled. So grandma thanks for always telling me to smile. It worked this time and I became this mans best friend.
Thank you everyone for your emails. I will try to write you. Sorry if I dont anwser back to your emails, give me some time and I promis that I will. Thank you for all of the support back home.
Elder Flitton

An email to Jeff:

We really didn't have much success last week, all of our investigators figged on their meetings that we had set up. We only had one meeting with egor and it was yesterday. We have the 18th for his baptism. He is awesome. So last week we just did a lot of contacting. We knocked a lot of doors and were able to talk to people. WE only got one return appointment and that is today so hopefully that turns out good. It is really hard to work with the members here. Russians are a very pecuiliar people. We try our best to get the members involved. It is hard becuase we only have one person that has the melchizadek priesthood that comes to meetings and he is our branch president. So pretty much the missionaires run the show. We try our best with the members.
This last week was probably the coldest week so far. It got to -30c this week. I have to double my clothing and wear my scarf on my face, I look like a terrorist sometimes. You got to do what you got to do to stay warm.
I love my companion, we get along great. We havent had any disputiations or fights so that is good. He is a great elder and I learn a ton from him.
The language is definately a struggle. This week has been really difficult for some reason. I have gotten down on myself sometimes but I just think to my self that it will only take time and faith. So i just show my faith and do my best.
People love to talk to us because we are American. That is how i usually start my conversations with people.
I have settled into kurgan. I love this city. It is a very poor city but the people here are great and I love them. Could you send me your recipe for hootnane panckakes? I want to make them really bad.

Sounds like our Elder is hanging in there! Hopefully, Egor's baptism yesterday went smoothly and was full of excitement, happiness, and the Spirit! I will make sure to post tomorrow's email faster than these last two!

I love you all and am grateful for your love in return. This experience is so special for not only Elder Flitton, but for each one of us to be able to learn more of and grow closer to our Savior. Keep the faith.

"If you have determined to live righteously, don't become discouraged. Life may seem difficult now, but hold on tightly to that iron rod of truth. You are making better progress than you realize."
    -Elder Richard G. Scott 

First Baptism!

I don't think there was a full big family email this particular week, only personal emails to a few family members.
I don't want to copy each email in its entirety, so here are just a few snippets from each:
Elder Flitton, Evan, and Elder Hronek at Evan's baptism!!

         "I was able to baptize someone last week. I have never felt so much joy before in my life. As I baptized him I realized that through baptism we can make it back to our Heavenly Father if we are faithful. That is now possible for Evan. THe joy I cant describe in words.
I was studying chapter 8 in pmg and it made me realize how important goals are. Thank you for that last email. I was reading this morning in pmg about hope. If we have hope and do good works all will come out good in the end. That is an awesome promise from our Heavenly Father."

"I cant believe that it has already been 4 months, it is so crazy to think. The time is definately going fast. Everything went great at the baptism. Our branch president didn't come so that was really the only thing that didn't go according to plan. But we were prepared and the service went great. "

"I read in PMG this morning about Hope. I learned that if you hope for good things and you do good works everything will turn out for the best. I have been reading in the scriptures about Moroni. I love how he goes to each Nephite city and strengthens it. I think that is what we have to do with ourselves. If we strenghten ourselves we can hold off the Lamanites(temptation) and come out victorious. I love reading the scriptures. I learn something new from them every day. "

"I was thinking today when I get back from the mission we are going to hangout like the whole week. Yes I am a mommas boy. I hope all is well at home with Katie and Anna. I cant believe that Katie is going to be a senior next year and Anna will be in high school. Guess what? You are getting old but your looks dont show it. Every time i show pictures to people they always ask me who is this lady, I tell them that that is my mom and they say "WOW she sure is beautiful" I say yah I know. I love you mom."
    (I HAD to add this because it is the sweetest thing I have ever read. Christy, you are a lucky woman to have such an incredible and loving son!!)

"There has been something on my mind that I want to talk to you about. I have been thinking about my mission and the kind of missionary I want to be at the end of my mission. I read a scripture in 2Timothy the other day. It is the one that says I have fought the fight, I have kept the faith. That has been on my mind a lot. I think the way I work on my mission will decide how Heavenly Father will recieve me. He will have open arms and a smile on his faith and he will say "my faithful servant, you have kept the faith. There is a place prepared for you in my kingdom." That is how I picture it. I don't know why that has been on my mind so much, but it just makes me work harder and harder. I want to be the best missionary possible."

Wow. It has been almost 5 months. This boy is a man now. I can't get over the wisdom and faith that he is showing and sharing. I think it is safe to say that we are all feeling the blessings at home from Keaton's efforts all the way in Russia. 

"Brethren, our religion is a joyful one! We are most blessed to bear the priesthood of God! In the book of Psalms we read, "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, int he light of thy countenance." We can experience this greater joy if we but look for it."
    -Dieter F Uchtdorf