It is 2013!!! How was everyone's celebration? Mom I hope that you get feeling better soon. That is really scary I hope all is well. Also Chandler thank you for the picture. I am glad that it was easy and that you were able to enjoy your time on the laughing gas. It still amazes me that 2012 is over and that 2013 has already begun. I am very excited for this year. There is a lot going on this year and I am so excited to experience everything.
Now don't worry, I was safe on New Year's. It wasn't like anything in Kurgan. I am so grateful for quite neighbors as well. I was able to get a great night sleep so all was good. New Year's day were inside all day. I was able to make some yummy creamy, Chicken, cheese, potato soup. Probobaly one of the best soups that I have ever made. I think when you cook something yourself and when you eat it, it just tastes better ha. But my companion really liked it so I'm assuming that it was tasty. After lunch we had the opportunity to watch "It is a Wonderful LIfe". Definately my favorite movie. I was sad that we were only able to watch it once. If anyone hasn't seen the movie you need to watch it. It will make you so happy.
I had a really great New Years. Oh yah I was also able to buy some new shoes. I tryed to pick out some shoes that weren't so flashy ha. Russians just don't make normal black dress shoes. Sooo I have some pretty interesting shoes that I will be coming home in at the end of my mission ha.
Last week Elder O'neill and I had absolutely no time to work in our area. Wednesday we had to get on a train for 16 hours to Yekaterinburg. We got to Yekat thursday morning and then went straight to President's for Zone Leader Council. I just want to say that I am so blessed to have the opportunity to go every month for this council. The spirit is so strong and it is just really great to see other missionaries in the mission. I love the close/tight mission that we are. There are only about 56 missionaries so everyone knows each other pretty much. Unfortunately since our mission is so small we won't be getting a lot of new missionaries. Here in the Yekaterinburg mission we have really small branches and they don't want more than 4 companionships in each zone. So we kind of at our max. But in a couple of months there will be a lot of older missionares going home. It is really weird to see missionaries going home. One of my really good buds is leaving at the end of February. It is a huge bummer because I am going to miss him a ton but there is a time for everything ha. But back to ZL council. I really enjoy talking as mission leaders and trying to figure out what we can do to reach our goals. It is exactly what we did in Heaven a really long time ago. We all counciled together and agreed that we would follow Jesus Christ's plan. Something that I have really grown to love and enjoy is setting goals. I hope as I grow older I will even get better.
I was reading in my scirptures in 1Nephi 10 where Lehi is talking about the Saviour. I love the name Messiah that is given to the Christ. I really wanted to understand what does Messiah really mean. So I looked it up in the Bible Dictionary. Messiah means Annointed. Christ was truly annointed for that calling that was given him. He was the one that was chosen in that grand council where we all met together. We all raised our hands in aggreance that Christ would be our Saviour, Redeemer and our Messiah. As you read on it talks about the history of the Jews a little bit during the time of Christ. The Jews were not looking for the carpenter's son who lived in Nazareth and who was deemed as a Nazarean. The Jews were looking for a King to save them from the Roman empire. They were looking for someone great to come out of Heaven clothed as a king with a crown. They were looking for this king to save them and to return to them the blessings of Abraham. They wanted to be lifted up. Their chosen one came but he was not the one that would come descending out of Heaven. He was born in a stable with stinky farm animals. He grew up in the poor city of Nazareth where he learned from his earthly father how to be a carpenter. He came unto his own but they recieved him not. After all of the miracles that he performed. Raising the dead, healing the lepers, giving sight to the blind and even the greatest miracle of all atoning for each and every one of us. He was still rejected. He was whipped brutally and had a crown of thorns placed upon his head. He was spit upon and people mocked him. He had to carry his cross to the place that he was going to be crucified. And after being nailed to a tree someone even said to him as he hung there, "if thou art the Son of God get thyself down". How Christ the Messiah must have felt. Knowing that before this life he was chosen by all of the hosts of heaven. That is billions and billions of people. The majority of them would reject him. I can't even imagine. But in the BD it says that those who were true seekers of Christ knew that he was the chosen Messiah. That he was the son of God. We members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints can look at the life of Jesus and know that he truly was and is miraculous. He is the Saviour and he is our Redeemer. We know that he lived a miraculous life. We know that he has come and that he will come again. Crowned and robed in glory descending from Heaven. I know with all of my hear that he Lives! Jesus is the Christ. He is our Messiah. So let us be the true seekers of Christ and not as the Jews druing the time of Christ. I promise you that Christ will come and again and how glorious that day will be. He truly is magnificent.
Family I love you so very much and I am so thankful for all that you do for me. Chandler you don't need to send me another package... I got yours!!!! Thank you so much. I am so grateful for all of the support and love at home. Thank you.
January 14, 2013
This last week has been a great week for Elder O'neill and I. We were able to find 2 New investigators. One of them is our neighbor and her name is Galena. We decided to knock all of the doors in our apartment building two weeks ago and when we knocked on her door she opened it right up and said come on in. We didn't have any time that night to sit down and have a lesson with her but we told her that we would come back the next day. So we went back last Monday and had a great lesson with her. On Tuesday I was on splits with one of the other Elders and we met with her. It was such a great meeting. We talked to her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. It was a really cool experience. After the lesson she said that she felt something really different as we talked. She said that this feeling is a good one. We told her that it was the Holy Ghost. We then invited her to baptized when she knows for herself that what we taught was true. She said of course! We are way excited for her. We are also a little worried for her because we know that Satan is going to do all that he can to get her to fall and not listen to us. Unfortunately it has already started. We went back on Saturday and she said that she couldn't meet because she is having a financial problem and that we need to come back in a week or so. We were way bummed when she told us that. We are praying really hard for her so that everything will be alright and that in a week we can return and start meeting with her again.
Also the Sisters found a guy last week as they were contacting out on the street. They passed him off to us so that we could teach him. His name is Eldar kind of like Elder haha. He is a cool kid. He is way prepared for the Gospel. We gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read it and pray about it. He said that he would. We have a meeting with him on Tuesday so we will see how things go. I am so grateful that the Lord has blessed us with two new investigators. After November and December working my butt off to find someone we have finally got someone. And not just one but two. I know when we do our best and we are patience with ourselves the Lord will bless us in His own time. I am so grateful for that concept.
It sounds like Utah right now is starting to look and feel a little like Russia... Well welcome to the gang! I am so thankful for the big warm coat and the thermals and wool socks. If I didn't have those it would be bad news. As missionaries here in Russia it is a challenge to stay in a good mood. When the weather is always freezing and the wind is always blowing it is hard to stay positive when you are out on the streets. It is definitely difficult when the Sun doesn't rise till 11am and then it sets at about 6pm. As a mission we have talked a lot about how we can stay positive and enjoy the work. We have made an emphasis to work and meet more with members and also to go tracting and not contacting out on the street. I really enjoy tracting(knocking doors). Every time you knock on a door you never know what you are going to get. I have a lot of funny experiences while tracting. It is probably one of the most funnest things to do as a missionary to find people ha. Last week when I was on splits with Elder Hatfield we were about to knock a door, when suddenly a older man walked out of his apartment. We decided to contact him but he wasn't really interested. He asked us if we would like for him to recite some Pooshkin (famous Russian poet). We told him that we would love to. He started to recite it and we had no idea what he was saying. He was using the archaic Russian Language and speaking really fast. He stopped half way through and asked if we understood. We just looked at each other and laughed and said no. He then just walked off. Elder Hatfield and I just laughed at each other and went and bought a candy bar ha. I love the concept of just being patient with yourself and enjoying life.
A lot of missionaries worry and they stress about the language. They are always worrying about if they are understood and are always preoccupied with things on their mind. They worry about the little things and forget about the important things. As missionaries we tend to forget the true reason we are really out here. We tend to focus our attention on less important things and forget about those things that matter most. I am so grateful for the concept of being patient with yourself and being patient with the Lord. When that man recited that poem to us and then just walked away, I could have gotten down on myeslf our complained. But we took that moment and made it into a happy/funny moment. This applies to all of us here in the world. Sometimes we just have to take a step back and take a deep breath. With school, work, church callings, sports whatever it is we need to just pause and ask ourselves if these things are distracting us from the important things. I like to think about the story of Alma. He had a son and I am sure that from the the day that he was born his father did all that he could to keep him on the right path. I am sure that he taught him the gospel and the important things that we teach children. But we all grow up. For Alma the younger he was preoccupied with his friends and slowly and slowly he started to forget the important things that his father taught him. Or with the brother of Jared. The Lord blessed him so much that the Brother of Jared started to forget the Lord. It wasn't then until he needed to figure out how to sail across the ocean when he turned to the Lord for help. Let us now take that pause or that break and really figure out how we can come closer and focus on those things that are most important. I am not saying take work off or drop out of school what I am saying is when we pray to our Father in Heaven we need to ask Him for that special help. Ask him for assistance to see the things that are reallly important and how to be more patient with yourself. This is something that I am working on and it isn't easy. I need to be more patient with myself and rely more on my Father in Heaven. I am so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who is even patient with us.
Family I love you so much and I am so thankful for all that you do for me. Thanks for the emails every week. It is my favorite thing to open up my email and see that I have some emails from home. Thank you so much for the support. Honestly I don't know how I could continue if there wasn't that support. I love you guys so much and I am eternally indebted to you. Love you
January 21, 2013
Well another week has come and gone. It sounds like the temperature back home is getting pretty chilly. Well you can have a little taste of Russia. This last week has been very cold. You know when it is cold when the snot in your nose starts to freeze and your eye lashes freeze every time you blink. Does it do that back home? I think that I am starting to get used to the Russian winter. All you have to do is just make sure that you are wearing thermals and have a nice coat and hat. Also it is required to wear gloves. Your hands will freeze even if you put them in your pockets ha. One day it was so cold that when we were walking home from buying groceries I didn't have gloves on and the tips of my fingers started to sting. When I got home I noticed that it was so cold that it split my finger next to my fingernail. It is terrible. Let's just say that I'm dreaming and praying for summer to come quick ha.
Last week we didn't have to much success with our new investigators. WE haven't heard anything from Galena and Eldar is way busy. Sometimes it gets a little rough when nothing is happening. But that is why you have a companion. I am so thankful for companions. Grandma do you remember that thing in my Patriarchal blessing where it talks about angels. Well I have found the answer to it. I will write you a letter and explain. But I am so thankful for the companions that I have had. It is the greatest feeling to come home from a rough day and just joke around with your companion. It doesn't really make sense, but I guess you have to serve a mission to understand. It is just so awesome that no matter how hard things get you can still be happy because you know that you are doing the Lord's work. I am so grateful for this.
So for the mission goals of 2013 we would like to focus on getting men the Priesthood in the branches here. The main goal for Russia right now is to start building stakes. And in order to start that you need the Priesthood. We need worthy, full tithe payers who have the Mel. Priesthood. Our focus is to work with the men in the branches and help them understand the importance of the Priesthood. When it all boils down to everything we need stakes so that a Temple can be built here and work properly. The Priesthood is very young here in Russia. But things are starting to take off quick. There are already 2 stakes, 1 in Moscow and the other in St. Petersburg. The Yekaterinburg Russia mission has a lot more progress before they build a stake here. But in the near future there will be one here. We have a man that we are working with. His name is Reshat Fayzoolen. He is a communist.... But he is the funniest, happiest communist that I have ever met. He is just one of those people that are always in a good mood. He is always making someone laugh. Every time we go over to his house he is always so excited. We have been helping him understand the importance of receiving the Mel. Priesthood. He has made so much progress and he talked with the branch president and will be receiving the Mel Priesthood in February. We are so excited for him. It is awesome to see someone change there life so that they can come closer to God and know Him better.
So I thought I would do a little history segment for Grandpa. Ufa is a very historical city. Before Russia there used to be people that had settled here in Ufa, kind of like the indians. They are called Bashkeerke. They had a famous leader and I am not going to try and translate his name into english ha. But if you look up ufa on the computer there is a good chance that you will see a picture of a huge statue of some guy on a horse. That is the man. I talked to someone about him and he said that this guy was a hero to these native people. He is like their Hercules. But when Russia started to settle they came to the city of Ufa and met these native people. Suprisingly they got a long and formed a really strong relationship. They became allies and started to share the land. Today there are some people that are descents from these native people. There are two languages spoken here In the city of Ufa, Russian and Bashkorskee. The area is called Bashkortastan. You can tell who is Bashkorskee and who is Russian. THey have a darker skin color and they have black hair. Just a little history for you. Also I'm not quite sure how valid this is. A member told me one Sunday. Ha
I have been studying lately about becoming perfect and in the same time being patient with yourself. I was reading the book of Lorenzo Snow and he does a great job explaining this process. He says that "as man now is, God once was. As God now is, man can become". That is so crazy to think that God progressed just like we are doing right now. If we look at who God is we see that he is PERFECT in everything. Now when we look at ourselves, intimidation creeps up and we feel that at this very moment we have to become perfect. Christ even said that we need to become Perfect just like the Father is. But it doesn't give a time limit or a due date ha. I like to think that this life here on Earth is the greatest time for us to DO OUR BEST to become like God. Lorenzo Snow said that day by day we can become perfect. He said that we can be better than we were yesterday and we can even become better than we are today. I think of the scripture Grace by Grace. I am so thankful that the Lord is so patient with us. He knows exactly how we feel because He himself experienced it. He knows that we can't become perfect over night. That is why he has given us the beautiful blessing of life here on earth. But it also means that we can't take this life for granted. This time is so important. It is like the study time before the big test which determines your grade and whether or not you pass the class. We can waste our time all that we want. It is our time and we can do what we want with it. But what usually happens when you procrastinate and the day before the big test you cram. Usually you do pretty poorly. Let us right now do our best to become perfect just like our Loving Heavenly Father. Let's take the time that has been granted for us to "study" and prepare for that big "test". The Lord will help us if we let him.
Family thank you so much for all that you do for me. I haven't gotten the calendar yet. Hopefull when I go to Yekaterinburg next week. I love you all so much and am so grateful for all the prayers that are said on my behalf. Thank you
January 28, 2013
Can you believe that February is on its way. I can't believe it. Where did the month of January go. I'm kind of glad that January went by quick because that means that Spring is coming. I can't wait for Winter to be over. I feel as if my body is just always cold. I have like an internal refrigerator/freezer in me. I feel like spring will never come though ha. But we can hope for the best. Sounds like things back home are doing great. That is so awesome that the 49rs and the Ravens are playing in the Super Bowl. As a zone leader I might have a Super Bowl party at the branch house on the projector screen and just stream it live from the internet....Joke, but that would be pretty awesome. I think President Rust would kill me ha.
Last week was a exciting week. My companion got sick on Tuesday and was out for three days. So we were inside for the majority of the week. Our apartment was pretty much quarantined. I have never loved fresh air in my life more than I did last week. So I had a lot of time to do some studying. I was able to prepare my Spiritual thought for Zone Leader council which is this week. We leave tomorrow from Ufa at about 8:00pm on a train and arrive in Yekaterinburg at about 12:00pm the next day. Got to love the train rides. I am so excited for ZL council this week. Every time I go I learn so much from President and from all of the other Zone Leaders. I am also way excited for the spiritual thought that I am giving on Patience. Next week I will include in my email my spiritual thought so you can hear it :)
There has been a lot of sickness going around in the mission. We have had two sisters go home in the last 3 months because of health. We had a sister in our zone that had to go to Moscow for medical treatment last week. It is way scary. Luckily she returned and is doing great. Please pray for me so that I won't get sick. At ZL council we will be talking a good chunk of the time talking about how to stay healthy and how to eat healthy so you don't get sick. Russians have a lot of strange superstitions about the health and other random things. I want to share some with you.
1.You can get sick if you drink cold milk
2.If you sit on the ground you can become sterile... That is why they always do that strange squat.
3.If you don't wear a hat out side you are going to get sick right away.
4.Can't shake hands underneath a door way (just random ones)
5 Men must cross there legs when they sit. They say if you show the bottom of your foot to someone, you are disgracing them.
6 Not allowed to whistle inside of a home.
7.If you are sick you must drink warm water with honey. This one I have actually tried. It works!
There are so many others that I could list but I don't have time.
Yesterday we took the sacrament to a man that can't come to church because he lost one of his legs and it is really hard for him to get to church because of the weather. This man was thee most sincerest man that I have ever met on my mission. Just his whole out look on life and his attitude towards his situation. It was really humbling to see how this man lived. He said no matter how hard things get I have the Gospel. I have the understanding that God gives me trials because he loves me and wants me to become better. He told us that we were doing a great work and that he was so blessed that we were serving his people here in Russia. He told us that no matter how hard things get remember that you have a loving family that is praying for you back home. The last thing he said was "Everything is going to be alright". I have never felt that much love from someone on my mission before. I remember in Priesthood when they asked everyone if two people could go and give this man the sacrament. No one raised there hand. I am glad that i raised my hand and said that we would go and give this man the Sacrament. If only all the priesthood holders in Ufa could go to this mans house and just see his outlook on everything and the spirit that he has. I feel that every man in that room would have raised there hands. They would have taken 30 min out of there Sunday to go and visit this man. I am so thankful that I was able to serve him and let him partake of the Sacrament yesterday. Service is so great. You can only know that is is great when you have actually finished serving someone and have that warm feeling inside of you. That is the spirit of service. I love it.
Well family know that I love you and I am so thankful for all that you do for me. Thank you for you prayers, thank you for you love and support. THank you everyone for all that you do for me. I wish I could thank each and everyone of you individually. Know that I am so thankful for all of you.