Tuesday, March 22, 2016

First Full Week in Russia!


Hey Everyone! Another week down here in Stavropol! This week has been crazy awesome! Everything here is so different, but somehow still so much the same. It's still a bit of a struggle understanding people when I talk to them, but I'm starting to get the general idea of what people are saying, haha! We've done a lot of street contacting this week, and we talk with absolutely everybody. It was a little bit intimidating when I first got here, just because everyone here looks like they could pretty much break me in half without a second thought. After a week though, there's really no fear anymore. We have a lot of really interesting conversations with people here. Sometimes they'll go off on tangents that have absolutely nothing to do with the question we asked or what we were talking about. Either that or I just really don't understand Russian, haha! It's been really awesome though. 

We got a new investigator this week named Фёдор(I don't actually know if that's how it's spelled, but it's pronounced sort of like Theodore but with an "f" instead of a "th") He's super awesome. He's super in tune spiritually and he was really just prepared for us to find him on the streets. We'll probably set a concrete baptismal date with him sometime this week! We have two other investigators that are both making a lot of progress. One of them actually moved to Siberia for a month, so we've just continued teaching him over Skype. It's so cool being a part of this work. Seriously, the people here are so awesome. Our branch is the best, even though it's super small. This Sunday we ended up having 9 people in attendance, and four of them were missionaries! As a side note I'm really regretting not learning how to play more hymns before I came out because I'm playing for them now and if I don't know it super well I have to just use the right hand, haha! I actually spoke this Sunday, which was pretty fun! I'm sure it was riddled with grammatical errors, but I'm getting better every day! I'm scheduled to speak again in 10 weeks, so hopefully they'll be able to see some improvement by the time that rolls around!  It's crazy how much faster you learn out here. I've made so much progress since I stepped off the plane in Rostov. There's so many words that you just pick up, and the grammar just starts to make sense. You sort of start to recognize when you make mistakes because it doesn't sound like it fits, even if you don't know how to say it correctly! It's so hard to explain what it's like over here. I wish you could all just come see it and experience it for yourself, but it's seriously just the greatest.

I'll just leave you all with a spiritual thought from a story that's come to my mind a couple of times this week. In D&C 101 there's a parable about a man that purchases some land. He hires a few workers, and tells them to plant 12 olive trees, build a hedge up around the garden, and place a watchtower in the center. They go to work and plant the trees, and make the hedge. When they begin to build the tower, however, they begin to question their master, and they talk about all of the better ways they could be spending their time, and their master could be spending his money. They argue like this for a while, not getting anything done, and then they all fall asleep. "And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive trees." Sometimes we get a little bit caught up in asking why we've been commanded to do things, and wanting to understand exactly what the Lord's intentions were in giving us certain council. We get caught up in the alternatives, the things we could be doing better, and fail to recognize that the Lord knows all, and he gives no commandments unless there is a purpose. It's at these times in our lives that the enemy attacks, in whatever form that may be. I've found over this past week that the council of Gordon B. Hinckley's father is a pretty effective solution to this dilemma. "Forget yourself, and go to work". When we stop focusing on ourselves, and what we might think is best, and instead turn our focus to what the Lord wants us to do, we don't have to deal with the destructive results of the adversary's attacks. 

It's my firm testimony that the Lord has a plan for each and every one of us. One of the speakers while we were at the MTC said that this life is a lot like a tandem bicycle. In one seat, us, and in the other is the Lord. We can try and take the front seat, and steer the bike ourselves, but we're more than likely going to make some wrong turns. If we let the Lord steer though and just put our head down and pedal, he'll never steer is in the wrong direction, and we can get there a lot faster. I love you all strongly, and pray for you daily. Hope all is well back home or wherever you might be!

Until next time,

-Старейшина кэмптон
(Staryeshina Kempton)

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