Oct 17, 2011
Of Light and Palmeni (this is a filled dumpling)
Hello family and friends!
Gosh, this week has been quite the week, let me tell you. We had zone conference this week (which is when a bunch of missionaries and the mission President and his wife all come and talk all day about missionary stuff) and it was the coolest, most uplifting experience ever. I forget if I mentioned this in a letter earlier, but a couple of weeks ago I was on splits with another 1st cycler and a 2nd cycler missionary. Despite our lack of experience (in general) and language skills, we found a new investigator and shared with lots of people the Gospel. Well, this week I went on splits again, except this time it was just me and another 1st cycler out on the streets. And guess what...we found another new investigator! Just a couple of funny Americans going out, speaking terrible Russian and yet being able to find those who are ready to hear the Gospel and preach to them. So cool!
I had an interview with President Sartori during this zone conference that we had and that interview made me feel so dang good. He mentioned that I was already a great missionary and that I had done good work in the area I was in. He was impressed with how well I spoke and understood Russian and gave me some pointers on how to keep progressing well. I'm not sure if I've ever told you this, but near the beginning of my mission I was reading in Genesis about Jacob (Isreal). One of the experiences Jacob had was that he wanted to marry a girl named Rachel, but her father said that he needed to work 7 years for him before he could marry her. In Genesis it says that as Jacob worked those 7 years seemed to him to be but a few days because of the love he had for Rachel. I told him that its been my goal ever since I read that story to make my mission like that of Jacob; to love God and the people here so much that even the hardness of it all melts away and seems but a short while. I love my mission so much, including the hardness of it, I really do.
Something we talked about was also interesting too. He asked me how I recognize the Spirit in my life and how I listen to Him. It was an interesting question for me. For a long time I've thought about that subject, especially here on the mission, and have come to realize that I don't always recognize the Spirit. I told President Sartori about the time when I felt, followed and learned most from the Spirit, that time was when I was at BYU-Idaho during the Winter semester. I was taking a class from Brother Black on the second half of the New Testament, and every single class I felt the Spirit incredibly strongly. He helped me make connections to the Gospel I had never seen before and he always introduced the Spirit in such a way that I felt it strongly not only during the class, but after the class everytime I thought and made connections about what I learned. It's been a rare occasion that I've and recognized the Spirit so strongly as I did during that time, and President said it was wonderful! Afterwards, though, he said something shocking to me. He said that here on the mission I would feel and recognize the Spirit more often and more strongly than I had ever had in that class. His reason was simple, and true: the work I'm doing now is the work of God. The best way to feel and live by the Spirit is to do His work with Him, that of finding, teaching and baptizing. I was surprised at his comment, but I also happen to know it's true. How wonderful this work is.
We found, in our area, this week, which was a tender miracle. And, both times that we found, it wasn't truly us doing the finding, but rather it was them finding us. A German man named (oddly enough, most of changed his name) [...] told us he wanted to meet with us as soon as possible and learn all that we had to say, saying he felt something different about us that he needed to know. The other man, [...], ran to us as we were about to go in for the night and asked us to meet with him and his family and give them the Gospel and to give them hope and help them get over drinking and smoking. Each time we got a new investigator it was on the days and the times where we worked the hardest together, where we prayed the most dilligently and listened to the Spirit. It wasn't us that found them though, it was them that found us.
So many miracles to tell you about, but I never have much time to write these letters. Couple of things real quick. I bought my winter coat today! And I look like a true Russian when I wear it; most definitely coming back with me to Idaho when the time comes :) Very warm and good fitting. We went to some variety of Russian ballet after our zone conference, which was pretty cool! Also been a sucker for things like musicals, ballets, concerts, the likes, so it was cool to see a truly Russian one!
Anyways, better skedaddle for now. I'll probably send some picture via e-mail next week of the week after showing the apartment, my companion, the coat and whatnot. I love you all so very much. Be good now, ya hear?