May 5, 2016
Hello everyone! Another week is gone and I'm still just as surprised as last week that it's already Monday again! This week has been full of a bunch of just really awesome experiences! We ended up having Zone Training up in Rostov this Tuesday, and it turns out that the Marshrutkas that we usually take aren't in operation on Mondays. All four of us elders here in Stavropol ended up taking a train on Monday night and getting in on Tuesday Morning. I don't understand how, but the trip is about 3 hours longer by train than it is by bus, so we left at 9 at night and rolled in at around 5 a.m. the next morning! The compartments have 4 beds in them, and pretty much no space for anything else, but it was still super cool!
Zone training was super awesome, like always, and we got some good advice on how to contact families, so hopefully we'll see some more families in the coming weeks! Even though we did lose a few days, we were still able to get a lot done this week! We've been doing a lot more small shop contacting this week, and it's been pretty effective and pretty fun at the same time! There's a clothing store named White Brothers that we've gone to a few times, and have given the owner, Pavel, a Book of Mormon. We stopped by this week and he gave me a book from his personal collection of antique Russian books, and even though I can't read it right now, I'm excited to give it a read when I come home. We're pretty good friends with him now, and he even started following me on Instagram so I could follow him back and stay in touch when I get home, haha! He's a pretty awesome dude, and hopefully we'll be able to teach him some more!
One of our other investigators, Ali, asked us to make him some pizza this week because he wanted to try "authentic American pizza". It was a pretty good time, and afterwards we were able to have a really awesome lesson with him. This week we decided to focus on some of the poorer areas of Stavropol, and we've been seeing a lot of success there! We met this really cool family that was working on their car, and they told us to come by anytime and share our message with them, so we'll be stopping by sometime tomorrow! I also had the opportunity to speak in Church again this week, which was pretty awesome! I think it went way better than when I first came, and while there were definitely still grammatical mistakes, there were way less! All around this week has just been super awesome, just like every week over here!
I'll just leave you with a spiritual thought! I was reading in Alma 5 the other day, and verses 7-9 really just sort of hit me. This particular passage is Alma's words that he preached to the people throughout the land in an attempt to bring people back to the church.
7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.
8 And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.
As a missionary, I'm priviliged to see this every day in my work. It's really incredible to watch my investigators as they are awakened from that "deep sleep" and come to recognize and rely on Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. I know that I testify of Christ and his Atonement often in these e-mails, but that is just because it is so central to all that we do here on this earth. I know that this church is true, and I know that Christ is at the head of it. I know that through the infinite atonement of Christ, the bands of death have been broken, and if we only humble ourselves enough to accept it, we can receive the greatest gift of all, Eternal Life. I love you all, and pray for you! Hope all is well!
Until next time,