January 7, 2013
"Peterson, you're a good guy...you need to get married! Look, I know this girl, real modest; doesn't drink or smoke. Tell you what, here's her address" "Nah...I'm good thanks. Happy New Year though!"
Merry Christmas everyone!
Bet you didn't even know that it was Christmas today! Gosh, get with the times! Today is Russia Christmas and the post office where we write home isn't open today, so I'm writing home from the senior missionary couple’s home for the last time.
And why is this the last time?
Well, let me tell you. It's a fun story too. So, you know maybe that we were on "lockdown" during New Years Eve and New Years day and so we had a lot of time to clean the apartment, rest up a bit and get caught up on our paperwork. So here I was, doing dishes and listening to Christmas music when a thought comes to my mind: "you're not gonna be here for long. I was a bit surprised, and I didn't really know what to make of it since I don't exactly have thoughts like that one everyday. I thought that maybe I was just tired, but it made me think what would happen if I left the area at the end of the cycle (in 3 weeks) what kind of things I'd need to get done and how I could help Elder Treter run the area once I was gone (if I were to leave). As it turns out, around that same bit of time, Elder Treter had been thinking a lot about Saratov. He said that he didn't want to ask the Lord for a transfer but that he really wanted to go to Saratov at some point in his mission. Come to find out that he had a feeling that he'd be going to Saratov soon. Kinda weird, right?
Fast forward to Friday night. I'm in bed actually writing in my journal (every day now since the 1st! Woo hoo!) and trying to rush since I only have a good 5 minutes until I need to go to bed when we got a call from the Zone Leaders with some interesting news: we received an emergency transfer! There were some problems going on for the sisters down in Oktyabrsky area in Saratov (neighbor area to Zavodskoy, my first and third area) and President asked us to switch places with them. So, this Wednesday will be me and Elder Treter's last day here in Orenburg because we're moving to Saratov! Incidentally almost exactly 1 year ago I go an emergency transfer with Elder Riko to pretty much the same area for pretty much the same reason. Funny how that works out. It's really sad to be leaving Orenburg...it's been a really great being here, but I've had a dream for a long time to go back to Saratov. And, I found out that even though I won't be serving in the Zavodskoy branch like last time my branch will be meeting in the same building and we'll all see each other often because of how the schedule works out. Pretty cool that I get to see some of my best Russian friends again!
This week has really been a cool one too. President Sartori came down this weekend with Sister Sartori and visited the branch. We had our interview and it was one of the best of my mission. For a long time I've been really bummed a bit, I guess, that I haven't gotten to know President and Sister Satori more personally.There's not really any time or opportunity to do so so, just how it works out, but President started out our interview it a really cool way. He told me that it was sad that we hadn't had a chance to get to know each other more, but he wanted to let me know that he loves me and that the Lord loves me. He told me that my whole mission he's always trusted me; that no matter what situation or place he put me in, he could always trust me to do what's right and to do good things and be a good influence. Gosh, that was the coolest thing ever. He told me also that when I became a trainer he thought about it a lot and asked himself "why didn't I make him a trainer earlier?"
He also asked me a question: what's your favorite part of missionary work. I started out by telling him about an experience I had right before I went out on my mission. I'm not sure if you remember it or not mom, but when I was home and packing my stuff up or my mission you came into my room and sat down with me for a second. You told me something interesting: "Brian, I just want you to know something. Your success as a missionary isn't measured in how many baptisms you get." I remember being a bit surprised because I had never thought of that being a measure of success before. I told you that day "It's ok Mom. I just want to help people change." Those aren't exact quotes, I'm sure, but that was th whole jist of the coversation. I told President that and told him that ever since the beginning that's been my goal on my mission, but how surprised I've been that my mission has changed me more that it's changed any other person I've helped as a missionary. In looking back I've seen the growth I've made and the careful work the Lord has done with me as I've gone forth and tried my best. One of the biggest reasons I want to go back to Saratov is because I felt like Saratov helped me so much...and now I want to go back and see how much I can really help out Saratov!
I can't tell you how much President's comment and his question really helped me out and helped me view my mission in a different way. Moreso now then ever before I've seen how the Lord's worked with me and how he's shaped me and is still shaping me. Pretty cool.
I've only got a couple of minutes left, so I'll wrap this up. It's now for sure from President (so you can make this more generally known now) that I'll be returning for sure July 8th, and that's definitely the right thing. So no worries. Sorry I wasn't able to stuff more into this letter, I got a little soaked up by reading mom and Sean's letter. More next week :)
I love you a lot. Thanks for being the best! Until next week (from Saratov again!)
PPS. We had a cool experience, so I'm copying and pasting that section of my letter to President to ya'll so I don't forget to tal about it:
Little miracles have been happening all over the place in our work. Like I mentioned earlier we found 1 this week who also became new. Earlier this week we met with the new investigator's brother. He laughed at us coming an sneered a bit. Pretty cold meeting. But then, when we dropped by the second time on this wek our investigator couldn't meet with us but asked that we meet with his brother, the same one that laughed at us earlier. Come to find out that he is legitimately interested in God and that he liked our message. We're good friends now and he's making progress in reading the Book of Mormon. It's a real miracle to see that change happen so quickly in another person.
Alright, that's it. You're the best :) Thanks!