June 11, 2012
Hey there ya'll!
This has been a pretty good week what with Zone Conference and all! My absolute most favoritest senior couple in the whole world is leaving at the end of this cycle and it is so dang depressing. Sister and Elder Williams have been my parents while I've been here in Russia and we saw each other pretty consistently for District meeting and other activities that happened in Saratov. Probably my last time seeing them before I come back home was at Zone Conference this week, so that was sad. But hey! I've got their e-mail, and they wanted to check out my blog when they get back home. I gave them your e-mail, and I think they'd be tickled to hear from you when you get the chance, so I'll give you their e-mail. They've so dang cool! You'll love them :) Whenever I think of the Williams I think of how cool you, Mom and Dad, will be on a senior mission. Wouldn't that be wild if you got called to Russia? That'd be a blast :)
I saw my first cow when I came back from Zone Conference to Marks the other day. It was just sitting there munching on some weeds by where they dropped us off and the bus station, so that was cool. As we were walking home we saw another 6 or so just grazing around in the grass, so both me and Elder Stoddard got pictures by them. So cool! I'll share those when I've got the chance to send some pictures back at home.
As for Mom's question, I have no idea what Russia day is, but everyone's away for the holiday starting from today until about Wednesday, so I'll have to ask someone about what's with the holiday!
We have an investigator who accepted the invitation to be baptized, and so she set her baptismal date for the 21st of July (a day after Jaxon's birthday, pretty easy to remember!) so that's pretty cool. It'll be fun to teach her more this week and get the Relief Society sisters to befriend her. We're finding some good people here in Marks and the works going pretty well.
I know I'm jumping all over the place in my e-mail today, but I've got lots of emotions pent up I guess.
This past zone conference was an interesting one for a lot of reasons. We set a goal, this year, to have 200 baptisms. President, his Assistants and the Zone Leaders talked a lot about it last year and this year. But, frankly, it jsut hasn't been happening. The baptisms have jsut kinda stopped, and it's been interesting to see the changes that been going on. They mapped out the various revelations and things that have happened that have allowed us to do better and better and to just learn so much in the past 6 months. As a mission, we have a goal of every companionship having a baptism every month, and it's been a bit disheartening and saddening lately to think I've been one year out and haven't yet seen those I've taught get baptized. It's ok, and I know that's not my main purpose out here, jsut to see baptisms, but it's made us all think a lot lately.
The main thing that President Sartori pointed out this past zone conference was that the Lord is working on all of us and teaching us. He's humbling us and teaching us to do the work better and in the way that He wants us to. The revelations that President and his leaders have received in the past year or so have all been to make us improve as a mission, to raise our vision and hope and make things become realizable. It was taught, very powerfully, that our work never has, nor will be about numbers. Our work is for people; it's all focused on them and as to how we can work and do things to help them return to our Heavenly Father.
That all is simple, and understandble. But it was a lesson I really needed. So often it can be hard to be rejected one person after another. We talked to a very nice lady just a few days ago, who was having a really hard day, and life really, and we were about to pray with her and help her out when this random drunk guy came up and pushed us out and away, telling us that we were cultists and didn't belong in Russia. We had to go, without any means to contact this lady again, and it just tears my heart to think that people just don't get it and enforce their ignorance by sometimes violent means. So often it's easy to question whether or not you're really a good missionary when all these things happen.
But, you know, dissappointments and hard times are ok. It takes some patience, and a lot of gratitude to think that I can be here in Russia talking to people about what I know is true. 20 years ago, that wasn't possible; it just wasn;t. And yet now the work is growing; people are excepting the Gospel and plans are being laid for stakes and even, in the future, a temple to be here in Russia. Wouldn't that be crazy? It's gonna happen, and I think there will one day be an temple is Saratov. That's the game plan, and it'll be fun to tell my kids and grandkids that I was totally a part of that.
Anyways, enough of all that. My time's nearly up! Thanks a bunch for all you do, especially you Mom and Dad! I love you all, and we'll talk again next week :)
With lots of love