Monday, March 25, 2013

December 2012

December 3, 2012

Dear Family

  Winter is officially here in Russia.  They say the first of December is the official day of Winter.  So winter just came, honestly it feels like it has been here for awhile.  We had a huge snow storm on Saturday.  It left a ton of snow on the ground.  Saturday night us Elders for about 2 hours went out and shoveled snow at the church.  I have never gotten a workout like that before in my life.  The church walkway and steps are now free of snow and now all the little babushkas don't have to worry.  I'm still soar a little.
  I can't believe that Monday has already come.  It feels like it was just yesterday writing an email.  It seems to me that I have written a ton of emails so far on my mission.  I'm sorry if they just kind of get a little dull or boring sometimes.  I have gotten really good at typing now ha.  Good thing I took typing class in 7th grade from Ms. Stubbs ha.  
  December is here and it's the season of giving.  You are all very lucky that you were able to watch the Christmas Devotional.  I wish so bad that we can watch it.  Maybe President will show it at zone conf next week.  I can't believe that next week I will have been in Russia for a year!!!  The time is going by so fast here in Russia.  Is it the same back home?  It sounds like President Uchtdorf gave a really great talk.  I hope that I will have the opportunity to watch it.  I remember in the Mtc I was able to see the devotional.  It is so crazy to look back that long ago.  The MTC feels like decades ago.
  So lately Elder Oneill and I have been struggling to find new investigators.  We have been searching really hard for at least someone to start to teach.  So far no luck.  But we are still praying and searching for that person on the streets here in Ufa.  Elder O'neill and I are still teaching the same people.  They really aren't progressing.  But nonetheless we are teaching them the best of our ability.  Please remember to keep those people in your prayers that don't know about the gospel or are trying to understand the Gospel.
  Tomorrow we are flying to Yekaterinburg from Ufa for zone leader council.  I am very excited because I get to see all my buds.  We are leaving way early tomorrow and then that day we will be at Presidents.  That night we take a train back to Ufa.  They told us to bring extra bags because there a lot of Christmas packages.  So we are bringing my big luggage bag to stuff all of the goddies in it.  BTW I got a package from Grandma and Grandpa Flitton.  So I got it. I haven't opened the presents yet.  We actually have a little Christmas tree in our apartment. So I put a little blanket underneath it like we do at home and put the presents around it.  It reminds me so much like home ha.  I will send a picture next week.  It is awesome.  Thank you so much for the package.  I can't wait to open the presents on Christmas.  I love you Grandma and Grandpa.
  Here in Ufa we have a bakery across the street called Lidos.  It is the greatest thing ever that happened to Ufa.  I think Elder Oneill and I go to Lidos like 3 times a week.  It is so great.  It almost compares to Glauses bakery...maybe not, but sure close.  Also I haven't explained but Elder O'neill and I have started a vegetarian diet.  We have been doing it for the last three weeks.  Suprisingly I have been doing pretty well.  I thought I was going to die at first but now I am doing great.  I feel like I have put on some weight so far on my mission.  So we have decided no meat and sparingly on the sweets.  I know that I just said we go to the bakery 3x a week but I only allow myself 2 things.  I have seen a huge difference.  I feel a lot more healthier and those love handles that I am so well known for are starting to get go away. So mom don't worry I am taking care of myself:)
  Well I just want to end with saying that I love all of you and that I hope that this Christmas season is good for all of you.  I am missing all of you very much but I know that right now this is where I need to be.  Only one more Christmas away from home so it is no biggie.  Please remember me in you prayers.  I will keep you in my prayers as always.  I love you all. Pleas be safe and know that  your love and support are felt here in Ufa (ooofa).  
  Oh ya before I forget today I am going to be buying some new shoes.  My shoes have put up a very good fight but it is now time for them to meet their maker...:) I think they are ready.

December 9, 2012
Dear Family

  It is really good to read all of the emails this week.  It sounds like everyone is getting ready for Christmas and a baby ha.  I feel as if there have been a lot of baby arrivals on my mission.  I can't believe that Christmas is in three weeks.  We here in Ufa are planning to have a dinner and maybe a white elephant.  It should be really fun.  About the Nativity scene... I haven't seen any around but I will keep my eye out. If I do see one I wll let you know and I can go buy it.  This is for everyone, if you would like any kind of souvenir now is the time to tell me so I can plan accordingly.  I will make a list so by the end of my mission i can have a nice checklist.  Just remember that I have limited space in my luggage ha.  So little things are perfect.  
  So I just realized that this is my second Christmas in the field.  I remember before the mission thinking about how it was possible to celebrate Christmas.  I remember thinking to myself that there was no way and that it was going to be really depressing.  But now it is like I can't wait for it to come.  We have a lot of great plans lined up.  We have planned to go to a member who can't walk and stays inside all day.  We are going to go to her house and sing carols and watch the movie Joy to the World.  It should be really fun.  Her daughter is one of our investigators and she also has a hard time walking so it should be a really good night.  They were so happy when we told them that we wanted to spend Christmas night with them.  Their faces lit up and they had the biggest smile.  I can't wait.  I also have planned my Christmas morning ha.  Going to wake up at 6 and open gifts that are underneath our little tree.  Next time I will send a picture of the tree and the gifts.  It is so awesome.  I am very excited to celebrate Christmas this year.  And it is crazy that it is my last one in the field.  Christmas is going to be good.
  Last week Elder O'neill and I had the opportunity to go to Yekaterinburg for Zone leader council.  Elders that serve in Ufa get to fly to Yekaterinburg.  It was a really fun experience.  The plane was very small, there was about 12 of us.  The flight was an hour so it was really quick.  We finally got to Presidents and were there all day.  It was a really good council.  I learned so much. I also learned that I have a lot of responsibility as a Zone Leader.  I really enjoy being at Presidents, I wish that I could stay there longer.  But we talked about Christmas and New Years.  For Christmas he gave us the opportunity to stay inside that day and enjoy the day or go out and do missionary work.  We have decided that we are going to visit members.  We also get to sleep in till eight or take a 1:30 nap.  On the mission I will take a nap whenever it is allowed ha.  For New Years we are going to be in all day.  We aren't allowed to go out on the streets.  Things get crazy in Russia when it is New Years.  I remember last year in Kurgan when our drunk neighbor knocked on the door all night telling us that he wanted us to go with him to buy Vodka.  Never forget that one.  I am excited what crazy story this year that New Years will bring.  All in all Zone leader council was great.  I am so thankful that the Lord has trusted me with this responsibility.
  Lately Elder O'neill and I have been struggling to find some new investigators.  The work here in our area is going really slow.  We are working really hard and we are trying our hardest to be 100% obedient.  But nothing seems to be happening.  We now that this is a trap that Satan has put in front of us.  He wants us to get discouraged and get down on ourselves.  But that isn't happening with us.  Elder Oneill and I have grown really close together.  We are always laughing and having a good time.  I love that about a mission.  No matter how hard things get, you have your companion.  I am so thankful that I have a great companion.  Please continue to pray for us so that we can find at least one person to start to teach.  Thank you.
  Last week I had the opportunity to go on splits.  I went with Elder Krivov.  He is from Samara Russia.  He has been on his mission for a coulple of months.  He is awesome.  We had the greatest time together.  The cool thing about going on splits with a native is that you can learn so much from them.  THey are like your personal tutor for the language.  You better believe that I was all over him during language study ha.  He is a great missionary and has such a strong testimony.  It is so cool to be with a fellow saint from Russia who has such a strong testimony.  It is awesome to see that the Gospel really does have an effect on everyone.  Slowly the Russians are growing.  I am so thankful for that split that I went on.  I hope to have a Russian companion.
  This last week I have been studying a lot about Repentance and what true Repentance really is.  I think the majority of us feel that Repentance is some scary word and involves some scary stuff.  Well we shouldn't think like that.  Repentance is a gift from our Heavenly Father.  Without Repentance we have no way to return to the Father.  No unclean thing can enter into the presence of God.  Luckily we have repentance so that we can have the opportunity to return back to our Heavenly Father.  So what is Repentance?  I quote nothing so this isn't doctrine, I'm speaking from my own point of view.  Repentance for me is humbling yourself enough and understanding that in order to return and receive all that the Father has we have to view ourselves in the flesh of man and desire to view ourselves as the child of God that we truly are.  I read a talk about how there are two phases in us.  There is the spiritual phase that lets us know that we are literally children of our Father in Heaven and that he loves us.  And then there is the other which is the carnal man, the flesh of man.  Satan's big tool for getting us to fall is having us focus on the carnal mind.  When we focus on the carnal mind we make excuses and we justify a lot.  We become spiritually deaf.  That is why we need to understand that we are Children of a loving Heavenly Father.  We need to view ourselves in the spiritual phase.  True repentance is when we come to ourselves and see our selves in the carnal mind.  We see the mistakes that we have made, we see the sins that we have.  That is when we rely on Christ and his mercy.  Christ is always there with open arms to recieve us.  If we only become honest with ourselves.  Repentance has a new meaning to me now.  I know that if we try our hardest to do what is right the Lord will always raise us up.  I'm so thankful for the Atonement.  Without the Atonement we would not be.
  Thank you everyone for your emails.  I love you so much and miss you dearly.  Please enjoy this time of the year.  Please know that I love you all so much and can't wait to talk to you on Christmas. I will let you know the time and everything.  Love you.

Elder Flitton

December 17, 2012
Dear Family,
  Yes it is true, the weather here in Ufa is freezing.  Btw, mom I wasn't able to get some new shoes.  My normal summer shoes took a big hole in them.  They are history.  So I have been wearing my nice winter boots.  I really like them.  But I am going to need a little more money to buy some normal shoes for after the winter season.  Doesn't have to be done asap but just a little heads up.  Thank you Daniels family for the warm winter boots that you bought me at Mr.Mac... They are saving my life literally.
  Last week was a big week for Elder O'neill and I.  We had President coming into town on Wednesday with his wife and daughter.  They were coming for Zone Conf.  We had Zone Conf on Friday but all the zone in Chely came up to Ufa.  So we had two zones here.  We had to make sure that everyone had a place to stay.  Luckily all went well and all of the Taxi's were on time to pick up President.  For the first night we had the zone leaders from Chely stay with us.  I was way excited because my MTC companion Elder King is a ZL.  We were able to talk for awhile.  I have never been able to serve around him.  So this was way nice.  He is doing awesome.  We made some plans for after the mission...  But that night we decided to have a feast.  We bought these really different noodle things.  Let's just say the next day my stomach didn't agree with them.  Unfortunately I was sick at Zone Conf.  Luckily my body allowed me to go and suffer through zone conf.  I was so glad when it was over becuase I was able to go home and get in bed.  It was a really big bummer becuase this zone conf is the christmas one.  It was a huge downer but I'm better so that's all that matters.
  Sunday before church I had the opportunity to do my interview with President Rust.  It was so great.  He tells you exactly what you need to hear and what you need to do.  I am so thankful for a inspired mission President.  He also told me my transfers.  I will be staying in Ufa with Elder O'neill for another transfer.  This next transfer is goin to be a long one.  A usual one is only 6 weeks.  This one is 9 weeks.  They are doing this because they are changing the time in the MTC for missionaires.  Therefor we have to adjust it here so it is equal.  That means that my go home date gets moved up and extra two weeks.  I feel very strange writing this but I will be coming home around September 18th.  I only have 6 more transfers left.  So there you have it.
   Lately I have been thinking a lot about God and who He really is.  I read in the scriptures the other day that if we are obedient in this life we will be able to recieve all that the Father has.  That really stuck out to me.  I thought to myself and wondered.  God has everything, He has all power, wisdom.  He can do anything.  If He can create worlds, we can create worlds.  If He can create cosmos, we can create cosmos.  Most important if He can create Spirit children so can we.  We will be able to do everything that God can do.  As I wrote down my thoughts and as I looked  back on them there was a main theme that stuck out.  It is love.  God has a perfect love for all of us.  Everything He does if for us, because He loves us so much.  All we need to do is to be obedient.  Now that is easier said than done.  But we have help in doing so.  God has given us families and He has given us the Gospel to strengthen our families.  He has given us a Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson to lead and guide us.  He has given us the temple.  It think the temple is the number one help mate.  There we are able to come so close to Him.  There we understand truly our purpose here.  I wish that everyone could go to the temple but God has set requirements. Only those who are obedient may enter.  So let us all be obedient so that we may have the opportunity to go to the temple and truly understand the Love of God.
  Family I love you so much and I am so thankful for next week I will be able to talk to you.  Next Monday I will let you know exactly when ok.  I will send an invitation to your skype so please mom give me your skype address in the next email you send.  Thank you everyone for your emails and support.  I wish that I could email everyone individually.  Know that I love all of you and that I am so thankful for the opportunity that has been placed in my hands to serve a mission.  I am so grateful for this work.  It is the hardest work that I have ever done.  It drains me to the point of exhaustion.  It pushes me to the point where I want to give up but I know that there are those who are home right now praying and fasting for me.  I am eternally indebted to you for this.  I thank you again for your prayers and support.  I love you all. 
  Dad Happy Birthday!!!! Hope that this week will bring you joy.  Know that I will be thinking of you especially on that special day.  Wish I could be home to celebrate it with you but next year.  Love you Dad!
Ps If anyone is wanting to send a package in the future, I would really love a CD burned with all of the talks by Bruce R. McKonkie.  I have fallen in love with him.  Thanks.
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! talk to you on Tuesday:)
Elder Flitton

December 24, 2012
Dear Family,

  So I can't believe that today is Christmas eve.  I woke up this morning thinking to myself that Tomorrow I get to talk to my family.  I can't believe that the time has gone by so fast.  I remember last May when we skyped.  I was still in Kurgan.  Now I will be in Ufa.  The time is really going fast.  Alright news for the "CALL" tomorrow.  I will be calling at 7:00pm here in Russia.  So that means 5:00am back home.  It is going to be really early for you I know and I am sorry about that.  The internet at the church is really slow so we have been trying to find a member that we can go to.  We found one and the night time is the only time for them.  So 5am be ready for the call.  Before the call I will be sending you an invite to the skype so if there is a random name it is me ha.  I am so excited.
  Yesterday at church we were able to watch the First Presidency message.  It was really good, we had to watch it in Russian so us missionaries didn't get the full affect ha.  But is was very spiritual.  As the Quire was singing I felt the spirit so much.  I thought about you guys back at home.  It put a big smile on my face to think about my family back home enjoying this special holiday.  I started to think about when we together will be able to celebrate this holiday.  I can't wait for the next Christmas to share it with you.  I love you.
  So tomorrow Elder Oneill and I will be waking up at the normal time and opening our gifts.  I got your package and I got grandmas/grandpas and then I also got the Capson/Nielsens package.  I haven't gotten Chandler's yet.  Hopefully that will come soon.  But morning we will be opening gifts then we will have our normal studies and then we pretty much have the day to ourselves.  We are going to have a dinner at the church as a zone.  We are really excited and then I get to call you guys!!!! I can't wait
  In our apartment we have a little dvd player that we watch movies/listen to music on.  We have the film the Testaments.  Honestly we watch it every meal ha.  I have fallen in love with this film.  The part that is so spiritual for me is when Christ shows himself to the Nephites.  The part gets me every time when he heals the father.  I have been thinking a lot lately about my Saviour and how this holiday season should be centered around him.  It is really sad to see the Russians.  They don't really celebrate Christmas as much as we do.  They don't celebrate it till January and it is just another light holiday.  They focus their celebrating and give most of their attention to New Years.  It is sad to see that New Years takes precedence over Christmas here.  I am so thankful that back home we give the whole month of December to celebrate Christmas.  Christ did so much for us and we owe him so much.  God really did give us the PERFECT gift.  I am so thankful that I will be able to see and talk to you tomorrow.  I love you.
  This morning I was doing my reading in the Bible.  I have gotten to Job and I am really enjoying it.  Today I read the 28th chapter in Job.  It talks about what is the most important thing in this world that we can receive.  He starts talking about how Gold and crystals and ruby's and all of these precious stones don't measure up to receiving knowledge and Wisdom.  He talks about how we cant receive knowledge and wisdom from the earth and we can find it in the sea the only place that we can receive it is from God.  He says that we can receive knowledge and wisdom from Fearing the Lord and avoiding evil.  I looked up what Fear the Lord means and it says in the footnotes reverence.  So it took me to the TG and I started to look up the scriptures that it offered.  It took me to DC, I forgot where it is but it pretty much said that we need to humble ourselves before God and then we will be able to know the desires of our hearts.  It really got me thinking about Humility.  I think the Lord is telling me something.  I need to humble myself a lot more.  Lately I find myself with pride and sometimes putting my self above others.  Reading this today really helped me.  I know in the past I have worked hard in trying to be humble but I need to try a lot harder.  I am thankful that Christ has given us all the opportunity to change and become better.  
  Family I love you so much and I am so thankful that tomorrow we will have the opportunity to talk.  I am so excited.  Please come with questions, lots of them.  I love you so much and I hope that this Christmas is special for you.  Know that I love you and pray for you.  Thanks for all that you do for me.  Talk to you Tomorrow.

I haven't done Q and A for awhile so I am going to do it because this is a small email and I have a lot of time left.

Yes there is snow on the ground.  We got a big snow storm last night so this morning was really white.  Usually it doesn't snow for awhile and it gets really dirty.  But we got snow last night so it is clean today finally.

How is the work going?  It is really slow but we are excited for this winter because we know that we are going to find a lot of people.  The other day we knocked doors in our apartment building.  Out of the 25 apartments 2 of them want us to come back and talk with us.  We are so excited because tonight we are going back to one of them and we are making them cookies and giving them a Proclamation to the World.  It is going to be great.

How are the investigators?  Great we have one who is progressing very well.  His name is Edward, he is from Armenia.  His wife is the Relief Society President so it really helps to have her there.  We have a meeting with him tonight about Repentance.  He is having a hard time praying.  He says that he isn't worthy to pray.  So we are going to talk to him about how everyone sins and that Repentance is for everyone.  We are pumped for him.
Zone Conf?  Yah it was a big bummer to be sick but it was good to be there.  We watched the movie 17miracles, it was a good movie.
Favorite Russian food?  I love Palmeni and making Russian pancakes they are called Bleenie.  I have become quite the cook. 

December 31, 2012
Dear Family
 I can't believe that last week I talked to you over Skype. Thank you so
much for that wonderful hour. You all looked so great. I can't believe
how much Anna and Katie are growing up. It was so good to see Grandma,
Grandpa, and Jen. Thank you so much for making the trip down to the house
that morning on Christmas. Chandler thanks for being there also I am just
so grateful for a loving family. That was the fastest hour of my life. I
wish that we could have had some more time. Looks like we have o wait till
Mother's day... I can't wait ha. But really thank you so much for getting
up really, really early on Christmas and talking to me. It was very
needed. I love you guys so much.
 So tomorrow is New Year's and I get to sit inside all day ha. I have got
some plans to make some kind of fany meal ha. I'm quite not sure what yet
but we will see and I will let you know in the email next week what I
created. But tomorrow we get to watch the movie "It is a Wonderful Life".
I remember last year when I was in Kurgan and watched it. I am so excited
to watch it tomorrow. It is probably one of the greatest movies ever
made. That is probably because it is the only movie that I have seen in
the last year. But it does remind me about being home on Christmas eve
watching it on ABC and having the fire going, ah great memories. But I
hope that you all have a great New Year's.
 The weather here in Ufa has been great. It has been snowing for the last
week and it is so awesome becuase it gets warmer when it snows. The worse
is when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, it is a nightmare. So
right now I am enjoying the weather. This last week my companion went on
his Visa trip so I stayed here in Ufa and went on a threesome with the
other Elders in the city. We had a blast. We went to dinner at a huge
mall that is called MEGA. It is probably as big as Fashion Place mall.
But we went to Ikea for dinner and ordered the Meetball challenge. You get
40 meatballs and then some gretchka(boiled buck wheat) the Russians love
it. But it was the greatest meal that I have had in a while. It is so
cool to see Ikea here in Ufa. Honestly being at Mega reminded me of back
home. Probably wont go back there again ha. But go to Ikea and order the
meatballs ha you wont regret it.
 This week Elder O'neill and I are going to Yekaterinburg for zone leader
council. We leave on Wednesday and get on a train for 16 hours and then
get to Yekat early in the morning. We are going to be at Presidents for
two days and then we get back on a train Friday evening to Ufa. So I get
to do a lot of traveling this week. I am really excited because I love to
travel. The Russian country side is so beautiful. I love taking train
rides also just because they are so classic. And plus I get a ton of time
to do some studies and write some letters. So it is going to be good.
 Yesterday at church for the third hour we had a combined meeting with the
Relief Society. They talked about the importance of holding Famiy Home
Evening. Before the mission and growing up I just wasn't for Family home
evening. That is probably one of the biggest error/mistake of my life. I
need to appologize to you, mom and dad. I am sorry that I was such a butt
and never wanted to do it. I just didn't understand the importance of it.
Now it has really sunk deep. Now I don't want to sound like a nerdy
missionary who all of a sudden knows everything and understands everything
but I do know that Family Home Evening is one of the greatest/most
important things we can do as a family. Katie and Anna be excited for
Monday nights now. Be excited to be able to have FHE. I was a terrible
example and now I ask for your forgivness. Please let Mom and Dad do FHE.
Free your monday nights so you can have it. I know with all of my heart
that the most important work that we can do as a family and as Saints
starts in the home. FHE is for our benefit and will help us build eternal
realtionships. As they talked about FHE yesterday it got me so excited to
do FHE with my future family. I can't wait to grow together and learn from
each other when I get back and when we can start doing FHE. It is going to
be the greatest. Family I love you and I want you to know that there can
be a fresh start to everything. Let's try to make FHE a time where we can
grow spritually and build those Eternal relationships, because the
relationships that we have here on earth and the joy that we feel being
together carries over into the Eternities. FHE is so important and I can't
wait to get back home and be apart of it once again. I love you.
 So today I took some money off to go and buy some new shoes for the
summer. Just want to say thank you to all that have put money on my
account. It really does mean a lot. Thank you Grandparents for all of the
support that you give me. Grandpa Kay thank you so much for the help, I
love you. Also all those that have sent me letters I thank you. The
support that I recieve back home is so strong and I am eternally grateful
for that.
 I am so excited for this New Year. I remember last year thinking to
myself that I have a full year to serve my Heavenly Father. Well that year
has come and gone so quick. I have made so many lasting realationships
here in Russia. Ivan from Kurgan is my greatest friend and I miss him so
much. I pray everyday that the Lord will send me back to Kurgan so that I
will have more time to spend with Ivan before I go home. He helped me
recieve my testimony that I have today. I will eternally be grateful for
that man and hope that in this life I will be able to see him again. But
if it isn't in this life then in the next one, which I know will be. I
will always remember Igor and the sacrifice that he made to change his life
so that he could be baptized. I will never forget the day when he was
baptized and we were able to talk to him about recieving the M.
Priesthood. He had the biggest smile. My dear Vera who was the last
person that I baptized in Kurgan. She is my dear Russian Grandma. I will
never forget the night that we saved her from perishing in the cold
freezing water ha. Her smile and laugh has never left me. I can see here
smiling righ now without any teeth and hearing here one in a kind laugh.
She holds a special place in my heart. Last is Natalia. She is a pioneer
here in Russia. I know that someday ALL of her family will recieve and
enjoy the blessings of the Gospel. She is a inspiration to me and helped
me understand what it means to be patient and enjoy life. I have made so
many more lasting realationships in 2012 that I could type right now. But
the people that I have listed are the ones that have changed/impacted my
life the most. I will have the opportuntity after this life to enjoy
eternal life with them. I pray everyday that they will remain faithful and
hold fast to the iron rod. I know that in the end we will all have the
opportunity to meet together after this life and enjoy what our Heavenly
Father has in store for us. It makes me so happy. I am so excited for
2013 and the things that wait for me.
 Family I love you so much and I hope that you have a great New Years.
Thank you once again for all that you do for me. Remember that it is
always better to look up. Love you
Elder Flitton

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