Monday, September 15, 2014

Falling Through, Omsk!, Exchanges on Exchanges, Shumways Arival

Доброе Утро!

This last week flew by as we were always on the move. We had two meetings in our own area before going to Omsk on Wednesday night. One with Sasha and the other with the other Sasha. The first Sasha is great and slowly progressing towards his baptismal date, but we're not sure how well he's comprehending everything and the significance it holds for him. So we're going foreward carefully with him. The other Sasha is Russian Orthodox, and started believing in God about three years ago. He's a bit of an antagonist, but will listen when we're on top of our game. Our meeting with him on Wednesday was horrible. He just argued with the member we had present. We had a meeting with him when we got back from Omsk and it was a lot better. We were pretty bold when talking about baptism and the athaurity, and how to know for yourself. We may be dropping him soon. We're a little confused as to why he's coming to church, and meeting, and reading the Book of Mormon. Those things don't really fit with what he says to us in meetings. We'll see what happens. 

OMSK! was fantastic. It seemed like a long time since I've been there, but when we were there, it felt as if I had never left. Less than two minutes after we got off the train on Thursday morning, Vanya called me. Not sure how he got my number, or how he knew when we were getting in, but he did. I was with Elder Hodgson on exchanges. We went to the Nikiforov's place for dinner and then went Home Teaching with Brother Nikiforov. They're my favorite family in Russia. Lyena and Tsvyeta the little Katie and Jane age girls acted exactly like Katie and Jane when we went over. They were jumping all over me, and being leeches on my legs the whole time. Made me miss all the kiddos back home. Friday was the Walkers last time doing district meeting lunch. My whole MTC group was there. Elders Lewis, Allen, Stucki, Hodgson and myself. Most likely the only time we'll ever be all in one city outside of Novosibirsk. 

For a Baptismal interview, we needed President Williams. Omsk is 10 hours from the Mission home, so it's not convenient to begin with. Then consider that President Williams was in Turkey, 5 time zones away for a Mission President Seminar after which he was in Kazakhstan for a while. It's just an adventure to do anything over here. 

After district meeting I was on exchanges with Elder Robley who serves with Elder Stucki on the left bank of Omsk. Elder Robley and I went to visit Sister Maria Kuzina. If you remember from General Conference in October of 2013, Sister Stevens spoke in the Relief Society session, and shared an experience she had when she visited a Sister in Omsk Russia. She visited the same Maria Kuzina. Here's the part of her talk about Maria. 

Maria Kuzina is covenant daughter of God who knows who she is andwhat God expects of herWhen she welcomed me into hehome in Omsk,Russia, thought was there to serve her, but soon realized that wasthere to learn from her. convert to the Church, Maria lives by thedirection found in Luke 22“When thou art converted, strengthen thybrethren.”8 She has faith in the words of our living prophet, PresidentThomas S. Monson, who said:
“Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to worktogether, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to brinsouls unto Him. 
“… When we act in faith the Lord will show us how to strengthen HisChurch in the wards and branches in which we live. He will be with us andwill becoman active partner in our missionary labors.
“… Exercise your faith … as yoprayerfully consider which oyour family,your friends, your neighbors, and your acquaintances you would like toinvite to your home to meet with the missionaries, that they might hearthe message of the Restoration.”9
Maria follows this counsel by watching over and ministering to the sistersshe has been asked to visit teach and also reaching beyond thisassignment. She has many friends who are less active or who have not yetheard the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Eacday sheexercises her faith and prays to know who needs her help, and then sheacts on the prompting she receives. She makes phone calls, expresses herlove, and tells her friends, “We need you.” She has family home evening inher apartment every week and invites neighbors, members, andmissionaries to come—and she feeds them. She invites them to come tochurch, watches for them, and sits by them when they arrive.
Maria understands Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s recent reminder that “aninvitation that is born of our love for others and for the Lord Jesus Christ… wilnever be seen as offensive ojudgmental.”10 She keeps list ofpeople who say they have been offended; she continues to minister tothem. Because they know that she loves them, she can tell them, “Don’tbe offended. That’s ridiculous!”
Maria is covenant-keeping disciple of Jesus Christ. Although she doesnot have priesthood holder in her home, she feels God’s power each dayin fulfillment of her temple covenantas she presses forward on thpath,enduring to the end and helping others participate in the work ofsalvation along thway.
It's all true. She is the Purest old Babushka in all of Siberia. She does know how to work the system. She has a list of missionaries that visit her house. I was number 133. From the past 132, here's what she's learned to do to maximize her time with us. We got there, and met in her living room. Talked, gave a spiritual thought, she shared stories and as she notices it's about time to go she says, "Let me go get some Tea." Then she went and got some tea, and salad, and sandwhiches that she had already prepared. She knows how to work the missionaries. It's fun to know that someone who spoke in General conference has experienced Left Bank Omsk. It's definitely an interesting place. 

Saturday morning we woke up at 4:30 to make it to the airport. Elder Stucki and Robley's apartment was freezing and they didn't have a lot of blankets so we didn't sleep too well as it was. I was surprised that most all of the core group of Youth made it up early and out to the airport on time to greet them. Elder and Sister Shumway are goign to do fantastically. (AnnaMarie, you can grab the airport picture from off of the Walkers' Blog). We helped everyone get taxis home and said goodbye to the Walkers for the last time. I'm hoping to get out to Idaho next year and visit them. :) 

I spent Saturday with Elder Carlson, and then caught our train back to Novosibirsk that night. Elder Jacobsen and I were both exhausted during church on Sunday. Last night just before coming home, we found a 24 year old guy, Michael, who walked with us for a while. We're hoping to meet with us tonight!
We got this letter from Presidnet Williams:
Dear Elders and Sisters,

What an amazing week! Sister Williams and I have traveled over 7,000 miles since last Monday, in order to be in a mission presidents' seminar with the area presidency. There, Elder Porter reiterated the things he first stated while visiting the Russia Novosibirsk Mission -- that "Now is the Time for the People of Russia" to receive the Gospel.

In witness of this, in your weekly letters since our member district conference and the associated zone conference, I have seen a dramatic increase -- at least three-fold -- in the number of miracles being reported. (Sister Williams and I still need to have two or three sentences summarizing those miracles, so we can share these in "The Vineyard.") It is gratifying to see all the Lord is doing in response to (1) the prophetic perspectives shared by Elder Porter, and (2) the increasing preparedness of our consecrated missionaries and covenant members to receive this in-flow of new converts!

Let me offer additional perspective, which became more clear and sacred to me over the past week, as we visited Kazakhstan briefly, and are now in Omsk:

As you witness these increasing numbers of miracles, and as you consider that these are clearly evidence of the "hastening of the work" and of Elder Porter's comments, there is still more understand. Please pay close attention to those who are coming to us in this manner. Isn't this evidence that the Lord has virtually "hand-picked" them? They may not know this, but it is my witness, borne of the Spirit that this is true!

What do I mean by this? I mean that these special souls -- who are the first in this "wave" of new people -- are the very "helpers" whom the Lord is providing to help nurture and fellowship the many that will follow them. These are the next generation of converts who will provide a foundation of love and leadership, in addition to the foundation we already have.

My message? "Prepare them well, by helping them realize they are of the blood of Israel who are coming unto the covenants. Like unto angels, invite them to act in faith and fulfill all of the commitments required in the lessons you teach. Then help them become truly converted before baptism. Help them read the Book of Mormon and pray to know God's will concerning them. Help them to discover their own family history and the power of the ordinances and covenants that will extend the blessings to their families and ancestors. Then, they will be firm and steadfast, never to fall away. God bless you all as you do this!"

In addition, let me say that we said a fond farewell to Elder and Sister Palmer, who served so valiantly in the mission office. Tomorrow and Tuesday, we are in Omsk to say goodbye to Elder and Sister Walker. And we are also extending a warm welcome to Elder and Sister Shumway, who have just arrived in Omsk to replace them.


President Williams

Lots of Miracles every day. Not only here but at home for each of you. I hope you can have time this week to take notice of the little miracles!

Lots of Love, 

Elder Moore

 Hot dog Ninjas
 Train Ride Meal
Maxime and Nastya Nikiforov

 The MTC crew
Elder Robey
Elder Carlson and I on a Mashrootka
Novosibirsk Subway

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