Hello there everyone!
My golly gosh, everything went from brown to green this week, no kidding. Places where only dirt were at the beginning of this week are now filled with grass and trees that were just barely thinking of budding last Monday are teeming with super pretty leaves and blossoms. Cool beans! It's been a real day brightener to look out the windows and be out on the streets and just appreciate the awesome green stuff everywhere. As it turns out, the Russians don't have a word for blossom, they just call them flower. It made it when we were working with a member and excitedly I ran up to a cherry tree and said "what's this stuff called?" "uh...flowers." "oh. Cool! Sweet flowers!"
This week has really been an amazing one in the work too. We found some incredibly beliving people this past week (the 2 main ones, of course, are gone in Moscow now, but returning at the end of this week!). It's been so awesome going out and just finding these amazing people to teach. At times it can feel like you're working hard and not seeing much come from it, but this week I've felt like we should have worked harder to have been blessed with the people we've found and have the privelage to teach.
Cool experience time! I was asked last Sunday to give a talk this past Sunday on sharing the Gospel. No investigators were at Church last Sunday, which I think kinda got the members down, so I focused a lot of my message into enouragement for the members and simple things they could do for sharing the Gospel. Everyday that wee I wrote down ideas for my talk, looked up scriptures and just prepared for the talk (my first real talk in Russian in Church!). Sunday morning I was a little nervous about giving my talk, but everyone in the branch is my friend, so I wasn't really worried. That morning we held branch counsel before Church and while we were talking about home teaching and missionary work, 5 totally new people walked in, a bit bewildered, but were being shown around by a nice, smiley member. As it turned out, 2 seperate groups of people had just randomly, on their own, decided to come to Church. They didn't know anyone, and no one knew them, and it got our branch pretty excited. I was excited too, but also I was way nervous! My talk was aimed mostly towards members, and I was a bit too busy to have time to figure out how to adapt my talk. As I started my talk, however, I was rather impressed at how everything just seemed to flow. Though I didn't have any forethought about how to change my talk, everything went incredibly well. The 5 people were able to get a primer to the Gospel and the members were able to find out a little more on how they could share the Gospel. I really can't remember most of that talk now, to be honest, but I remember the feelings I had as I gave it, and just how good it felt. I was reminded of a talk given in conference that my friend Rebekah Hoggan reminded me of recently in a letter, that as we plan and study, we will be able to teach by the Spirit, not in front of it, but by the Spirit.
I honestly forget that sometimes, probably because I can be arrogant. As a missionary (and even before my mission) I think that I know the Gospel pretty dand good and can pull out of the hat anything that anyone needs at anytime, but I really have noticed a difference in how really studying things out, planning and praying will achieve the things that the Spirit wants done in any given situation. When we don't plan, study or pray about what we teach or talk about (at least, in reference to the Gospel), then we're flaunting our own little knowledge without the Spirit who bore witness of it to us. But regardless of our deep doctrinal knowledge (or knowledge of the Russian language), I've found that when I take to time to do first things first, all things fall into place and the Spirit is able to bear testimony to others, despite my skills.
Cool stuff for this next week! I have another visa trip, and I found out that I'll be able to go to the temple in Kiev again! That place is so dang beautiful and it reminds me a lot of the Rexburg temple, honestly. My favorite senior couple, the Williams from Saratov, along with President and Sister Sartori will be joining our group out to the temple, which will be fun.
So, rumor has it that Mother's day is coming up! Skype will very much to be an option, so if that works out for ya'll then it'll work well for us. Just to double check I'll send an e-mail when I get here next week and we can verify that things will work out alright.
Dad told me today how it's kinda odd that I've mostly been with other Elders my age out here in the mission rather than older people. I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that we, as a mission, are pretty young. of the 50 missionaries or so weve got, the majority are now under a year (or barely past it). All the old foggies are making their way out of the mission, leaving a lot of it to us. It certainly is easer to lean on someone else for their better language skills, but it's gotten to the point where we both as a companionship understand nearly everything and are able to express ourselves. Still rough at times, of course, but I guess I've at least just gotten used to it since for over half my time here in Russia I've been with someone my experience level. Good stuff!
Well, that's probably it for this week. Hope everything is going well for ya'll back there in the States! I miss you bunches, and especially you Mom. It'll be exciting to skype soon :). Be good now!