November 25 2009 (Photos to follow)

I just spent lots of time uploading photos, so hopefully you all enjoy those.  Most are from my visa trip that I wrote about last week.  A little pitch in for Erica– I saw your brother in Moscow, he’s doing great.  There should be a picture on my blog with him and all of us when we suprised him by attending his branch’s sacrement meeting when we were in Moscow.  We also went to see different cathedrals, libraries, buildings, museums, etc.  So these are just a few pictures that are some of the highlights of the trip.

This week has been quite busy.  On Wednesday and Thursday we had the Assistants come to Kemerovo for exchanges.  We lined up a lot of meetings with investigators and members and we got a lot of work done with them.  It was nice for them to be here because they were able to show us things that we didn’t know about– such as the branch directory that we didn’t know we had. (Kemerovo has on paper 90 members, but that’s only because when the Mission has a member move out of a major city where the church is located, they throw them into the Kemerovo branch… so we take a hit on the statistics for our mission, because is shows that a very very low percentage of members are coming to sacrement meetings (because they don’t actually live in Kemerovo).  So we found out that for reals we have almost 20 members here, and we’ve started calling and making contact with members that have left the church a long time ago.)

We have been working with members harder and have made some great plans for the future.  Last sacrement meeting was my first where the branch president wasn’t Russian and couldn’t speak Russian.  It was a long meeting seeing as people who were assigned to give lessons and talks didn’t show up….  But we are very hopeful about the work that we can get done here in Kemerovo.  The main limiting factor is still not having a church building.  We would appreciate any prayers for this building thing to work out.  The members are starting to doubt the attention that the Mission President is giving to Kemerovo because the paperwork is getting so slow and they’ve taken out missionaries from this area, etc.

Many of you have asked me about Thanksgiving here in Russia.  No, they do not celebrate Thanksgiving in Russia.  However, today we have to leave to go (again) to Tomsk because tomorrow we have been invited to a Thanksgiving fireside/party put on by a senior couple who is visiting for Thanksgiving.  I myself am a little miffed about having to be gone 2-3 days this week and stalling missionary work for a purely American holiday.  But oh well.  My companion and I realized last night that we still have an absurd amount of pumpkin in our freezer left over from halloween so we started making pumpkin pie last night as a suprise for those awaiting us in Tomsk! (see pictures) (I also got my haircut that day and my companion pulled out some styling gel and we just decided to look really cool while we were working on this pumpkin pie)

A spritual thought that I gave quite a bit this week is from Alma 32.  In verses… 38, 39 (if i’m not mistaken) we are reminded of what happens if we are not looking after the growth of our faith.  Sometimes we let scripture reading slip by or forget some prayers.  We need to remember that if we want that tree to grow we have to constantly work for it.  And we read in verse 42, 43 the blessings that we are promised and the fact that hard work and patience is required.  Sorry I can’t go into more detail, I’m really running out of time.  Maybe this can prompt a more indepth scripture study for some of you who are reading my blog.

Anyway, I love you all! Thanks so much for your letters this week

I also received more mail from….

Justin: lol, thanks for the letter, made me laugh. I really appreciated it.  And I’m glad you liked my letter.  I’ll see if i can shoot another your way soon.
Erica: thanks for the birthday present and the conference talk! conference talks are like candy to missionaries, so I really appreciated it.
yikes, I can’t remember who else I got mail from– I’ll recognize you next week.

Sara: Awesome news, i’m really excited for you. and yeah, i’m really undecided what to do about my situation that you mentioned. it’s a major problem.

hadley: send me some pics of your art studio! thats WAY SWEET that you’re doing that art program! I’m SOOO EXCITED FOR YOU! 😀

Chris: good stories, thanks! 🙂  I’m really running out of time, but I love you so much. miss you

parker: good luck on the science project.

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