May 27, 2013
"See those boys?!" "um..." "They're American cultists! Look at their devious sneaky eyes!" *Elder Lundberg and I wave* "Oh ho! Cultists!"
Hey there everyone!
I will warn you ahead of time that my shift key is working about half the time, so if something is supposed to be captalized but isn't you'll know that to blame! It's been a pretty good week, though we got some sad news: Sister Crane is getting trasferred! Yep, she's going to Solnechney is Saratov, so she's not too far off. We're all bummed, of course, but the good news is that we're getting a completely new sister from America! More details on that all next week.
Real quick here I'm gonna have to say...HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! С днем рождения :) I was trying to figure out when it'd be better to wish you happy birthday, whether this monday or next monday, but I decided that today would be better :) Man, it still seems like you had your birthday only a little while ago! I remember sending you that card while I was in Ulyanovsk. Weird how time goes, right?
Of anyone else on my mission, you Mom have been the most faithful in writing me every week, and I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate every letter you send. You have just as many adventures as I do I think, and it's always good to hear that everything is good with you back at home. I think it's true that the Lord does bless our families while we're out on missions. I'm not sure what blessings you've received, but I know the Lord has blessed and protected my family and especially you Mom while I've been gone. It's pretty cool :)
I've been meaning to bring it up for awhile now, but I always forget, but have you and Dad thought about serving on a mission? I think about the Williams and the Wings and all the other wonderful senior couples I've met here in Russia and I think about just how much of a difference you would make in coming out and serving. I hope the idea isn't scary to you anymore (or maybe as much as it may have been at the beginning), but it's still my dream that you will come here to Russia (maybe even right here to Saratov or Balakova!) on a mission. You two would do so much good, and it'd be a wonderful excuse to come back to visit Russia :) I'm not sure how logical that is...I'm not sure if anyone other than Eric has been able to return back, but gosh it'd be so cool if you served in Russia :)
One of the main focuses we've been making as a district has been helping our branch out here in Balakova to be really converted. The summer is always a hard time for Russians because they almost all have what's called a "дача" [dacha] or summer home behind the city where they grow their own fruits and veggies. That's good and all, but they go out there so often, especially on the weekends to tend for their gardens and whatnot that so many end up missing Church because they're out there watering plants. There's such a difference in the lives of those who willingly sacrifice that one day of the week and dedicate it to the Lord from the lives of those who simply don't. I feel like it was Dad, but once someone explained the Gospel and keeping the commandments like an investment. It really is that way, that as we through the hard times keep the commandments and show forth our faith in God's promises we're blessed abundantly both temporarily and spiritually (hope that doesn't sound too cliche, it's just really how it is). I've always been so lucky to have you and Dad and my examples in life of being strict in keeping the commandments and in being faithful. I've drawn on your strength and testimony often and I learned a lot from all those dinner time conversations about Isaiah and other scriptures! :)
I was looking back on your letter from last year how even when I was a little guy I hugged you and just loved giving hugs. Not too much has changed. You'll be hugged pretty good when I come back! Just as another reminder, especially since the time is getting a lot closer than I'd like to admit, but if there's anything inparticular from Russia you'd like, be sure to give me a shout-out and I'll see what I can do. I love you Mom, and happy birthday to you :)
Speaking of birthday on the [ ] of May, little N from Church has a birthday on that same day! Her mom came back from Moscow at least for a few days and while she's here we're going to be taking advantage of the situation and finally meet with her and N again. Ever since she left it's been impossible to meet with N, so hopefully with the coming of S we'll be able to help them out again!
I'm thinking of stories to tell from this week, and I don't really have a concrete story from this week, just kind of an overall cool experience. We've been contacting a bit more than usual lately and as we've been going out I've tried to make a big focus on going by the Spirit as opposed to your brain/logic. Of course, when you don't get a specific answer of when guidance is unneccesary you go by your gut and what seems right to your brain, but in contacting you have so many options and paths to take that I've found that, as often as possible, when you slow down or even stop to try and feel out what's right and which way to go, you get that answer from God. We saw that time and time again this week that as we stopped and searched for guidance and went by faith, we found those people who, this past week, were ready to hear a little something from the missionaries. I love my job :)
Anyways, that's what I've got for this week. Once more, happy birthday Mom and eat some cake for me! Have a wonderful week :)