May 6, 2013
"You need to make brownies!" "What?" "Brownies." "Translate please." "Брауниз."
Hey there everyone :)
Well, nothing too crazy this week actually, but it was still really great! The branch mission leader put in his predictions as to when he thinks I'll be getting married (a year and a half from my release date is his guess) and this year the Russian muffin/cupcake things for Easter were just as gross as they were last year, but the boiled eggs sure were tasty!
The coolest things that happened, I think, were related to what happened on Tuesday. So, we were supposed to go to a District Leader conference shindig, and I had everything all prepared and I had a lot of things that I wanted to bring up on the council, but about 5 minutes before we were gonna walk about the door, we got a call from the assistants saying that President Sartori had just canceled the conference and was now asking us to go out and work,
Well, shoot! That shot a couple of cannon balls into the weekly plans. The ride to Samara is 6 hours by bus and so a good 6 hours that day and the next two days in which we hadn't planned a thing because of the conference just opened it's gaping mouth wide for it to be filled with...something! I was a bit peeved, because that was pretty last minute there, but I wanted to figure out why God told President Sartori that we all needed to stay. So, I prayed about it, and we went to work.
We came to find out that Sister F was in the hospital and needed a blessing pretty urgently and that no one else could come (because of work, illness and so forth), so we were in the right place at the right time to help. Also, her newly made friend who was in the bed next to Sister F, after having seen us give the blessing and hear about the Gospel a little bit wanted a blessing too. We gave her one, and a Book of Mormon, and we plan on seeing here again this week.
What was even cooler, too, was getting to the hospital. We were on the bus, and of course I get lost in White Rock without my trusty, slightly dusty, GPS, so getting my way around Balakova is as difficult as navigating more poor self around any other city of my mission, but we met a woman on the bus who, coincidentally, was also going to the hospital to meet her friend. As we walked together she told us about the upcoming Easter holiday and how she wanted to understand Christ more. "Oh boys, I've just got so many questions about religion and God and stuff, and I don't know how to find the answers." Well, we sure had some! :) In the end we gave her a Book of Mormon and both bore testimony of God's love and her personal relationship to God as His daughter. She was touched, so let's hope to get some future contact from (the lady!)! :)
The other cool thing, albeit not during the time of the canceled council/conference thing happened on Sunday. The Branch President was gone and Sister F, while in the hospital, didn't have time to prepare a lesson for Sunday School. Well...no one more than Elder Peterson loves to teach Sunday School, so I got to give a nice 45 minute lecture on the Plan of Salvation and the members personal role in the plan in relation to missionary work.
Something a member said touched my heart. We were talking about where we all would be whoever it was in our life (whether it be the missionaries, friends, family/parents) hadn't introduced the gospel to us. We all agreed that, at some point, we'd felt the Spirit that had brought to our heart the conviction that we know have that the Church is true. A member grandma, who is going through a bit of a hard time right now, said "I don't think that nonmembers can feel the Spirit at all! They don't even believe in God, Elder Peterson! How can you believe that they feel the Spirit." I was taken aback, and I didn't mean to, but I actually cried a bit. The members took their part in answering her question, but it reminded me of a time in my life when I thought that people who did bad things couldn't feel the Spirit. God has led my life to teach me that important lesson: every single person on this good Earth is given the spiritual sensitivity and gift to feel the Spirit. Of course, we do things that put a limit on how much we can feel and what effect it has on our hearts, but I reminded the members, like it says in Preach my Gospel, that no one has ever desired to salvation of men more than the very God that created them. If he desires their salvation so much, who are we to hold back our testimonies and our belief because we think that God has cursed others or damned them to certain doom. I know that as we put forth our efforts those who do not believe as we do will feel the turthfulness of this Gospel and this Church by our testimonies. I saw it many times before my mission, and I've seen it countless time here and I hope that I'll see it much more as I return. If only I could express just how much God loves His children and show you the evidences of that in my life and in the lives of those I've seen. It's true, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and the Book of Mormon is solid, concrete spiritual proof of everything I've said and done for these almost 2 years out here in Russia and all the bits of missionary work I did before my mission.
Man, can you imagine what the world would be life if we all bore powerful testimony life the prophets, like Paul or like Elder Holland? I wish I could, and I'm working on it. I'm so glad I get to learn all of this now :)
Anyways, enough of my yapping. Thanks a bunch for you letters and support! It's always awesome to open my e-mail and see all of you still talking to me and rooting on the work here in Russia and all over the world. By the way, 5 PM my time will work out just great! We'll see you all next Sunday (weird, right?). I hope you have a great week! Thanks so much!
I love you lots