Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Snow Is Melting And The Sun Should Be Just Around The Corner

This has been a crazy week in Russia. It has been a heat wave with the temperatures in the 30’s all week and looking to break 40 next week. It is still raining each day and we haven’t seen the sun in about 3 weeks because of the clouds. However it is predicting sun on Tuesday and we are really excited. This is an amazing area and we are used to the weather.  Life has been so busy we still haven’t ventured out to really see the city. Our pictures this week are of our new apartment and the bed I referenced in our blog last week – ha ha. It has been soooo awesome to have a normal bed. This new apartment really feels more like home. We have been in Russia 5 weeks on Tuesday and it has been an amazing Journey.

This week we finished moving into our new apartment, cleaned and closed down our old apartment, moved all the furniture and equipment into our mission’s transfer apartment, had 3 different zone conferences, had two baptisms in our mission, put in about 8 hours in the office each day, and were able to teach a bunch of people in the evening. Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep, but did make time in the early morning to exercise, run and keep in shape.  Kathy and I slept in until 8:00 am this morning and it was awesome.

For those of you who haven’t experienced a mission let me tell you about zone conferences.  Our mission is broken down into 3 zones. We have missionaries in each zone and they are spread over a large geographical area. Some areas take a 13-hour train ride to get there from the mission home and we have many that are 4 or 5 hours away.  During zone conference all the missionaries travel into the main mission area for a day of teaching and spiritual thought. Kathy and I are in the central zone, so we attended the full day with our zone and then helped coordinate the other days. With all the missionaries coming into the mission home, Kathy and I are very busy coordinating their needs, handling their receipts and finances and also had several over for dinner. We also have the opportunity to teach with them while they are here in the city.  The mission president conducts the zone conferences and he did an amazing job.  The theme of zone conference is picked by the mission president and came from the Book of Mormon,

·         2 Nephi Chapter 31 Verse 20   Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life.”

This is an important message for these young missionaries to hear as they press forward with the sea of rejection and sometimes even physical attacks as they take the message of hope to the people of Russia.  Kathy and I are continually impressed by their faith, dedication and love of the people. The two baptisms on Saturday were an amazing confirmation of the changes people can make in their life with the gospel.  One man was about 80 years old and his eyes were filled with tears as he was baptized and explained what that meant to him. The other person was a young man 26 years in age originally from Nigeria, but had come to Russia on a scholarship 7 years ago. He was graduated from college, works in the construction building industry and is an amazing person.  We also taught a little girl who is 11 years old and has an amazing spirit.
Kathy and I don’t watch any TV so we don’t keep up on the Olympics. It has been fun to talk with people tracking the medal count, where Russia and the USA are so close in total medal count. They were definitely disappointed when the USA beat Russia in Hockey, but have been cheering all the athletes.  Kathy and I are happy and lucky to have each other as companions on our mission. I have had to be patient as she gets ready (she takes a little longer than my 10 minutes!) and she has had to be patient as I sing in Russian and try to speak the language. The sound of me speaking or singing in Russian still isn’t a pleasant sound, but she is tolerant as I work very hard to learn the language.

For those of you learning a language I pat you on the back. The Russian language is extremely difficult with all the genitive cases and special rules. The cursive letters can look different than the normal letters and there are 20 different words sometimes for the same meaning. It is a very pretty language once you listen and hear people speak, but the words all roll together and the emphasis on different letters make a big difference.  This week we are going to take an afternoon off and go to the Souvenir Fair (Den of Thieves), Church on Spilt Blood, US Embassy and Hermitage and take some pictures for our Blog next week. Stay tuned.

 Well, we close with our love and prayers for all our family and friends who are sharing this journey. We are in good health and spirits and know we were called of God to serve in Russia. Many of our friends are going through difficult times and we keep each of your in our hearts and offer special prayers on your behalf.  Our life wouldn’t be the same without each of you and we appreciate the e-mails, pictures  and thoughts that each of you send.

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