Hey mom, dad, family, and anyone else who might be reading this!
Week two was just as awesome as week 1! The language keeps getting better and better. We have two new investigators, Vika and Kirill. We taught Vika about the restoration last night, and my companions throat was pretty sore so he didn't get a whole lot of chances to speak, but I was able to teach for about 30 minutes without any real pauses or anything like that, and I feel like she understood everything we were telling her. As I bore my testimony about the first vision, and the blessings that it can give her in her life, the words seemed to just roll off of my tongue, and even though I used the vocabulary of a 3rd grader, the spirit bore powerful testimony to me, and hopefully my investigator, that what I was saying was indeed true. There's been a lot of focus this week on the first vision for some reason. I sing in the MTC choir here, and this week we sang Joseph Smith's first prayer. The choir director told us some cool details about the song and about the Joseph Smith story in general, but he said something that really struck me and got me thinking. It doesn't matter that Joseph Smith was the one who went out into that grove some Spring morning in 1820, that was not the miracle. The miracle of the restoration is that Jesus Christ and God appeared to him, and that all of God's children are worthy to receive revelation from God so long as we just ask.
This week was full of all kinds of cool and funny experiences. My companion ended up getting some sort of food poisoning earlier this week, and he barely made it to the bathroom. We stayed in our residence hall for around 4 hours just to be sure that it wasn't anything more serious than that, and then we went back to work. The next day his voice pretty much went out, and he's been recovering from it ever since. It's been awesome to see how committed he is to this work, and how much he still contributes even though his voice has been so bad. There have been general authorities and members of the quorum of the 12 here since Sunday, so a lot of places in the MTC have been blocked off to keep the missionaries from trying to meet them. We were told we wouldn't get to see any of them, but Tuesday at our weekly devotional Elder Neil L Anderson spoke to us. It was a cool experience being in the choir with hundreds of other missionaries as we all bore our testimonies through song. He spoke to us about the doctrine of Christ, as outlined in the 4th article of faith with the addition of enduring to the end. He told us a story about Elder Scott, and some experiences he had serving in what I believe was Brazil. He spoke to a large group of people, many of which had traveled long distances for the opportunity to see him. After the conclusion of his talk, a sister gave him a letter saying that she really enjoyed his words, but that she had traveled for many hours and sacrificed a lot to hear an apostle's witness of our savior Jesus Christ, and that he had spoken only of doctrine. Elder Scott made a commitment that day that "he would always have Christ's name on his lips." As a missionary, I realize that I too have been given the call to proclaim the reality of Jesus Christ in all things I do, so I too have taken up the same commitment to always be a testament of Christ.
I've really enjoyed getting dear elders from you guys! Aunt Trish sent me one the other day and it made me smile knowing that I was in her families thoughts, you'll have to let her know I say thanks! I got your care package with the SD Card reader, so I'll send all of those over to you in one way or another. I've got tons of pictures!
I meant to mention this to you guys last week, but it completely left my mind when I was writing to you. When we eat lunch, all of the Russian speaking missionaries sit in a little alcove on the far side of the cafeteria, with a few pillars up that really separates it from everything else. The German speaking elders usually sit on the other side of it, so we've decided to call our little area the iron curtain. I thought it was pretty funny, haha, but it probably really isn't. I'm starting to go a little bit insane from lack of sleep, it doesn't seem like it would be very exhausting sitting down for 14 hours every day, but the 10 hours of studying is extremely draining. It seems like 8 hours of sleep is nowhere near enough, which is really strange. It's great though, I'm seriously loving how much I'm learning about the language. Our district has started speaking only Russian with each other on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and then just using as much as we can the rest of the time. It goes so much faster when you're completely immersed in it. Our teachers have spoken very few sentences in English, but we all somehow manage to understand and learn from what they're saying. Let me know how everybody's doing and if there are any super funny or cool stories you want to tell me! I love you all so much, and can't wait to hear from you!