Hey everyone! I think it's officially day 50 here in the MTC, which is absolutely insane to think about! It seriously has gone so fast, and I'll be leaving in something like 18 days, March 8th seems so much closer than it did when I got here, haha, I guess that's how time works! I got a message from my mission president today about instructions at couple of airports we'll be at and it seriously is getting me so excited to head out!
It's been a pretty awesome week here! This Sunday everyone from the other district left, so we reorganized all of the leadership, so now Elder Kramer and myself are the zone leaders here! It's been super awesome so far! A new district came in last night, so we got to have an orientation with them where we toured the campus and had a short devotional. We read them this poem called "Who are you boy". It was written by a Russian convert sometime around 2000, and it's just a really good reminder of why we're going out to serve and the immense change we can have on the lives of the people in Russia. I'm not sure how easy it would be to find, but if you can it's super awesome! Also, for our devotional this week we got to hear from Elder Rasband from the quorum of the twelve! It was such a humbling experience to hear from him. He talked about the divine nature of our call as missionaries. He gave a talk about the same topic some time ago, and he expounded more upon the process he goes through as he calls missionaries. He said he checked before hand, and there was a large number of missionaries in the audience that night, that he had personally assigned to their individual missions. I again have received a confirmation that Rostov is exactly where the Lord needs me at this time, and I am so excited to get over there and help those people!
Last week I told you all about Vika, and the issues her parent's had with the church. This week was basically a 180. She fasted and prayed that her parent's hearts would be softened, and that she would be able to receive permission for baptism. When we met with her this week she told us about how much her parent's had changed over the course of just a few days, and that she would most likely receive permission! We're set on a tentative baptismal date for this Saturday, which makes me so happy! It's so awesome to see the change this gospel has on people's lives! The language is really coming along this week. In lessons now its more of a conversation than it is me hanging on every single word trying to understand exactly what they are saying. It's sort of strange, it sounds so familiar now and I feel like I just know what they're saying when they speak. Obviously they're speaking at a much lower level so we can understand, but it gives me hope that I'll be able to be only somewhat confused when I get in country! That's pretty much it for this week, everything else is pretty much the same!
I'll just leave you all with a spiritual thought. I've been reading a lot in Psalms lately. It's seriously just full of awesome pick me up verses, most of which can be attributed to King David. I've done a little bit of reading about his life today to get a better feel for what all of those verses he wrote actually mean. David was such an awesome guy, I feel like there's so much we can learn from him. A lot of times we look at his encounter with Bath-sheba, and the murder of Uriah, and we discuss how even those with solid foundations can fall. After that experience though, David goes through a fairly extensive repentance process, but even though he does this, the last 20 years of his life were pretty miserable as a direct consequence of his actions. The thing that's incredible to me though is that despite the family feuds and open rebellion that plagued his personal life, he still attributed all that he had to God. This is evident in almost every single Psalm that he wrote. In Psalms 13 he says, similar to Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, "How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?" He then goes on to say, "But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me." Sometimes we, like David, feel as if God has altogether left our presence our forgotten us. This is not the case. It has never been the case, and it never will be. God and Jesus Christ are not hiding from us. Even though we are inevitably bound to face some form of trial or hardship in our lives, some greater than others, remember that Christ is always there to help you through it. He has descended below all, so that all may be brought back from those lows. When the repentant soul cries out, as Peter, "O Lord, Save me!" he will immediately stretch forth his hand and raise them up. Christ's atonement is real, and it is there to be used and called on daily. I know that is true. I see it in my life and the lives of everyone around me every single day. I love you all strongly, and pray for and think about you often.
Until next time,