This week I had to change to my new ldsmail account (they upgraded the system so that it works alright and therefore I will no longer be using this email, but my new one: firstname.lastname@example.org) and that took a long time, so I feel jipped, but oh well. I’ll see if I can still cover everything with the limited time I have.
While all of you are talking about how great spring is… the people in Siberia say the same thing! *big inhale* “ahhh smells like spring is coming.” but considering that it hasn’t gotten any warmer (-30 today), and the snow is still only piling up, it is really not quite the same.
This week has been pretty good. My companion and I have been getting along really well and we’ve recently seen many blessings from planning really detailed individual lessons for our investigators. Some of the past few meetings that we’ve been having with people who we didn’t think would be making very much progress have been very spiritual and we’ve been seeing a change in how they treat the time that we spend discussing the Gospel. Our zone is pretty pumped today because, other than it being P Day, we have a baptism tonight. Katya is her name– she’s about 22 years old, a physics major who met us through English club. (she always sits in on second group– my group– and it’s really fun to talk to her b/c she is a total physics nerd. I’ve shown her a couple xkcd comics and she appreciated them.) She’s so ready for baptism– it’s amazing. Before she decided her baptismal date she told the sisters that she needed a little more time to prepare because she knows that once she is baptized she will receive a calling and be asked to serve and help others in the church. I made cookies for the baptism this morning, and the baptism will take place at 7:00 pm this evening!
Tomorrow the President and Assistants will come to Tomsk and we’ll have our interviews. Which also means that I’ll get mail. 🙂
Things are going great in general. We’ve been having a pretty good week. It was tough getting going, me just coming back from Helsinki, but now we’re doing great. Our zone is very unified and.. yeah. Yes, mom, I’m eating enough, I’m warm enough, and I’m happy. 🙂
Yesterday I had a meeting with an investigator and we planned to discuss the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From the beginning this investigator has not shown very much interest in spiritual matters, but lately he seems more interested. We planned a very detailed lesson for him, but when we started the lesson, his concerns drove the lesson in a completely different direction. Thanks to our planning we were able to very tactfully answer all his questions using the verses we had prepared (we just didn’t expect to use them in that way) and then he told us of a dream that he had a while ago. He said he was standing in line waiting to be judged by God. He described how vivedly full of fear he was. He did NOT want to go through that door that lead to the judgement room. He said there was another door that was labled “back to Earth”, but there was a guard standing infront of that door to prevent people from returning. He was so afraid to enter the judgement room that he watched the guard and waited for the guard to become distracted. When the guard looked the other direction he ran as fast as he could, risking everything just to get back to Earth to postpone judgement.
The spirit was so strong as he shared this story. We were able to use the verses we had prepared to explain to him why we feel that fear and what we can do in life to prepare to stand before God– so that we can eventually feel ready and prepared to be judged of our deeds.
I know that God lives and I know that we’re here on Earth for a reason. God loves us and wants us to return. We can pray to him and he listens and answers.
Thank you all for your emails, especially Sean (yeah, i was freaking out when I saw two emails… :))
Good luck to Sara in the MTC (mom/dad, change her email on the list so that my emails now go to: email@example.com)
remember, new email: but i’ll probably create a filter for this one to just forward everything if I have time.
FINLAND WAS SO AMAZING! It was SOOO nice to have time with some of my good friends in Moscow and Finland. We were able to spend an entire day in the temple, and then we had fun finding things to do in Helsinki. We visited “the church of the rock”– a famous piece of architecture in Helsinki– which was very impressive. I loved it. Then we went walking around trying to find something else in Helsinki that is open past 6 on a saturday night (everything closes super early on the weekends). We wandered accidently into a Chinese New Year’s celebration, which was pretty cool, and then we went ice skating for the rest of the night.
While we didn’t have the most eventful or lengthy trip, I was able to simply talk to people that I have grown close to over the mission and discuss problems on eachothers minds about missionary work, life, the Russian language, etc.
I feel refreshed and excited– it’s such a blessing to have this time to step back and look at what you’ve done and see how you can do better.
Also an elder from Moscow came to see us in the airport– Elder Anderson– and he called up all the other elders who I knew from the MTC (who were at a zone conference) and we were all able to talk with them for a few minutes, which was really cool (Elder Hansen, Mecham, and Larsen).
I also snagged a couple bags of corn tortillas from helsinki, mom, so I’m planning on cooking some of those enchilladas soon 🙂
And now things are finally normal (for the most part) and my companion and I can get down to work without any crazy travel things getting in the way. My companion is a great guy and we’re getting along quite well. He’s really cool and easy to live with. He’s especially great at putting himself on the line. Even though he’s still pretty new at the Russian language, if I tell him to talk about something in a lesson, he talks about it. He’s a great help for keeping lessons on track and he has great determination for doing the Lord’s work.
Today I read a great article from the Jan Liahona by Elder Holland about our future. It’s amazing how many members here in Russia let some small thing take them away from the church here. It feels like listening to a broken record when someone explains to you how they were offended by someone else and therefore, they don’t plan to come back to church ever again. Elder Holland said that our past is important, but only for certain reasons. We need to look back on our past to learn for the future, and the Lord blesses us with special memories– but they are only meant to aim us towards the future. We should not live in the yesterdays. Faith is something that always points towards the future. And further, if we dwell on the past enough to persuade ourselves to think that we can never change (a habbit or mindset, or lifestyle), or if we constantly bring up others’ past mistakes and decisions, we are in effect, denying the Atonement. Christ died for us so that we can move on and have a better future– so that we can change and so that others can change.
Thanks to all of you I’ve been blessed with some amazing past experiences, so sometimes for me it’s difficult to focus enough attention on the present and future. But I know that as we all try to focus on the present and the future with faith in Christ, we will only be further blessed with happiness. God sent us to this Earth, so if there’s anyone who is interested in us being happy it is Him– a great person to have on our side as far as power and ability to make us happy goes.
Well, thank you again for the emails! I’ve been having problems with memory cards and these computers at this net cafe, so it’ll probably still be a few weeks until I figure out how to send pictures 😦 But I’ll get some sent as soon as I can. Thanks for the pictures that were sent to me this week. And I think that’s about all i’ve got!
Happy Birthday, Grandma Harlan!
Andrew– that story was excellent! I love it! Wow, way to go! 🙂
Thanks so much for the mail, the emails, and the packages!!
This week’s email will have to be short just because of all the time i was able to spend reading your emails. Thanks– I feel very loved and remembered.
I got letters from Mom, Sister Warnick, Erica, Zoe, a very sweet Valentine’s Day package from the Innsbrook Young Women :), a package from home with food and christmas toys in it, and a package from Zoe– thanks so much for that blanket– it didn’t come in time for Christmas but it was perfect timing for Weezer day :).
This week has been crazy because our Zone leader had a conference in Novo to go to, so we were a threesome, me being the senior companion with two newer missionaries. Yesterday our Zone leader got back and so now it’s back to normal for today, but then tomorrow I leave to Novo to fly to Moscow, to fly to Helsinki. I’ll be in Moscow on the 12 from early in the morning until the evening, then we fly to Helsinki. We leave Helsinki on the 14th and I get back to Novosibirsk that evening. So thinks will be pretty crazy for me the next few days, but I’m very excited to see old friends and see architecture in Helsinki again.
Thanks again, everyone, for your emails. I read them very quickly, so I will have to reread them later today for the details.
But Sean– thanks man, it was great to hear from you. And wow, the water thing from Spain– great memory! Last night for English Club I told a big group of Russians all about our Road Trip (well, at least the beginning, when I got permission to go and how you guys picked me up. They were all captivated and I had to promise them to tell more stories from the road trip later, during future story times. So if you have any especially favorite memories from the trip– let me know! (that goes for you too, sam))
Mary– thanks for the email– it’s been forever since i’ve heard from you! I’m glad things are going well. 🙂
Zoe– thanks for your emails. I just got a ton of letters from you so I feel like I’ve just relived the past 3 months of your life for you 🙂
I haven’t read your long email you sent this week– i’ll catch up later today when I have time.
Taegan, also, thank you for the response to my request from last week. Glad to hear that things are going well. what is all this about people getting married? you wanna fill me in on more details other than “so and so is engaged to be married”?
To the rest of the family members and friends that wrote me, thank you. It is always very encouraging for me to get mail from others. Thank you for reading my emails– it’s always nice to hear someone is keeping up with my experiences on the other side of the world.
I love you all, hang in there, be strong,
I’ll fill everyone in on my adventures in Finland and Moscow in the next email.
Justin Trapp– how’s the mission going? Any craziness going on?
Justin G.– thanks for helping my bro. *high five*
This week has been pretty eventful in finding out transfers and getting ready for transfers. Later today my companion, Elder Birtcher, will be leaving me and going to Omsk. My good friends from way back in the MTC will also be leaving me here in Tomsk: Elder Nelson to Irkutsk and Sister Calderwood to Ulan Ude. I’ll be meeting my new companion this evening. His name is Elder Brightwell and this will be his second transfer in Russia, so he’ll be what we call a “recycled greenie”– meaning that I’ll be finishing his 2 month training period. I have to admit, I’m slightly nervous. I did hope to someday be in a training position, but I just wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon. But luckily, I’ve heard nothing but great things about this elder. A lot of missionaries speak very highly of him.
Also coming up is my second visa trip, again to Helsinki. I’ll be leaving on Feb 14th for a couple days or so, going through Moscow and then to Helsinki.
This week I had some pretty amazing experiences that showed me the power of having the Holy Ghost with us verses not having the Holy Ghost with us. There has been some drama going on with the youth of this branch, which lead to several meetings/lectures to try to fix the problems that have been created. After a meeting with the Branch President, the youth came up a little workshop meeting that Sister Calderwood was going to put on about studying scriptures. Sister Calderwood started off the lesson, after we sang a hymn and prayed, by announcing that she wanted to speak about personal revelation, a very spiritual topic, and that she could not do that without the Spirit. And, she said, we don’t have the Spirit with us right now. So she told us that we are going to sing another hymn until we get the Spirit back and she invited anyone who was not willing to cooperate to try to feel the Spirit to leave. We sang three or four hymns. It was amazing how the room changed after each hymn. As each of the youth and missionaries in that room gradually softened their heart while singing we were all able to feel the Spirit enter the room. Following the singing, Sister Calderwood shared a short spiritual thought– not the lesson she had planned to share all week long, and we closed with another song and prayer.
I had several other experiences this week– some of dischord within our companionship, when we were in disagreement and arguing about things and seeing the consequences of not inviting the Spirit to guide us as missionaries; and some of very calming situations where we were able to teach powerfully and simply and easily as a companionship because we were both striving and desiring to be lead by the Spirit.
We met with an inactive lady with the sister missionaries this week and during the closing prayer Sister Kuhkta prayed specifically so that we can all live worthy of the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I think that sometimes we easily forget about the powerful effect of simply living in a positive, righteous way and consciously seeking for the guidance, presence, and comfort of the Holy Ghost. It’s amazing how badly things can work out when we try to do things on our own, and in contrast, how well things can work out when we do things while seeking the guidance and aide of God.
Thank you for your letters of support. Sounds like you Virginians have some exciting weather to deal with :). I don’t even want to try to think about how deep the snow here is– it’s crazy, it doesn’t get shoveled, just packed down because so many people walk over it. So essentially most sidewalks and parking lots have an increased elevation of 6-10″– it’s weird to think about.
Well, i’ll keep you all updated on my new companion, but wish me luck and pray for us! I just hope I can be a good enough example for him!
(I should be getting mail today too, I just realized)
Love you all!
Parker. I’m sorry. Middle school sucks, i know…. Keep your head up and keep smiling and things will work out.
Taegan– haven’t heard from you in forever. how are things?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRIS!!!!!!!!!!!!
С Днём Рождения!