Monday, December 1, 2014

He is the Gift!

There goes November and Thanksgiving, and here comes Christmas and the New Year!

Первый подарок не был завернут, не был перевязан лентой, не был заказан по 
Интернету или в магазине. Первый подарок на Рождество был простой подарок, 
священный дар. Это не было золото или благовоние или мирра. Это был дар любви, 
и жизни, и мира, и надежды, данный Отцом всем его детям.  <<Бог так возлюбил 
мир.>>  И так возлюбил вас, и каждого из нас. Он дал Своего Сына. Он ест Христос. Он 
ест Рождество. Подарок небес. Рождественская пора, отыщите етот подарок, 
примите етот подарок, поделитесь подарок. (<<Он ест падарок>> видео, декабрь 
2014 г.)

So I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. This week was a crazy one. I guess that they all are these days so when I start writing that I had a normal week, know it was probably just as crazy as they have been. We didn't get a normal day this week. Last Monday we went to the post office! I will never ever send another package from a Russian Post office. So you're lucky I sent two. Those of you who'll be in Ironwood whenever they get there that is. To start off, it was -30 C or below all day Monday so we spent limited time on the streets. We got to the post office with nicely packed packages. Little did I know that they have to weigh out EVERYTHING! They took the candy and put it all on a scale in different groups based on what kind of candy it was. Then they took all the other things and weighed them all separately. Asking about all the things and checking their big binder to make sure it was legal to send beyond the border. Then we had to fill out the customs form for every little thing. From the USA you can just write "chocolate, $5" and call it good. Here you've got to write "Chocolate with nuts and wafers .893 grams, 250 Rubles and 56 Kopeek" So we were there for a while, but everything got cleared and everything eventually ended up in a box. But there's more! They don't tape up the box quite yet, they roped it up with twine and put it in the pile of boxes going to foreign places. These boxes will go to Moscow where they will be checked again, maybe even more rigorously. We'll see when (or if) you get the packages. :) 

Because of the cold, and a meeting with Victor falling through, we were left to stay in the apartment. We got some much-needed area book work done. We don't usually get time to call the area book. Tuesday we met with Fyoder. It's been a while so we played catchup, and sang a hymn before leaving. We're going back tomorrow. He said he wanted to sing Silent Night with us in English for the Branch's Christmas Music night. So now we just have to hope that the Branch will actually do a Christmas Music night. 

The Omsk Missionaries came in by plane Tuesday evening, and we hosted Elders Hodgson and Wallace at our place. It was freezing when they got in. I broke out my big fur Shopka for the first time. Fur is amazing. I mean Stormy Kromer's are great, but they've got nothing on the Siberian Shopka.

Elder Hodgson is the man. He took the whole breakfast time on Wednesday tracking the ants in our kitchen to find where they were coming from. As a result, we spent our lunch destroying an ant colony that was living in our kitchen window curtain rod. We took a cap off, flooded it with water and dumped out hundreds of hundreds of ants! After a few rinses and bleach, we found the queen ant. So hopefully that takes care of that! 

Wednesday was Zone Conference for our West Zone. It felt more like a Christmas conference as it was all about Christ being the first gift of Christmas. We received instruction and introduction on the He is the Gift initiative. The Church is going big! Big advertisements on Time Square for the holiday season, a "youtube takeover" where the only advertiser on the front page of Youtube will be the Church, and a few other things. So it was a good Christmas conference followed by a walk to the Mission home where we had our Thanksgiving Dinner. The departing missionaries bore their testimonies after the Dinner. Elder Batson my trainer is leaving on the 10th, and all the Sisters that came in with my MTC group are leaving to go home as well! The next three transfers, we're going to lose the big wave of Sister Missionaries that came out because of the age change. So a lot of cities are starting to go without them. We're going to have to try to adjust once they leave and figure out how to pick up the slack. The Sisters here do too much good work for their own good!

Thursday we had Elders Hodgson and Wallace stay for exchanges before going back to Omsk. It was good as we had enough meetings to fill both of our days.

Thursday it was freezing as well but we had meetings that miraculously didn't fall through (because they were in their homes), so we were out and about. Elder Jacobsen and his companion Elder Forrest were in town for their Zone's conference so we split up to cover the meetings. I took Elder Forrest and we went to visit an active woman. The doors of the underpass on Lennin Square in the center were all frosted over. Reminded me of the the movie The Day After Tomorrow... So that was fun. Saturday the Sisters' investigator Olga got baptized. It was the best baptismal service I've been to on my mission. People came, the musical number was great and so were the testimonies.  

Sunday we got our first investigator in a long time to church! Olga, our investigator Vacili's mother. When we were at their apartment and sang a hymn, she just said that she wanted to come to our church. So she did! It was the most stressful Sunday I've had in a while. She was a handful, but it was worth it. Right after church, Yulia was supposed to come to the Church. She wanted to meet, and we REALLY wanted to pass her to the Sisters. She was an hour late, but lucky for us there was a youth fireside so we dragged her into that. We didn't really know what she wanted when she came, but it was evident that she was going through some hard things and that she just wanted some friends. It was amazing to see the youth from both Right and Left bank walk up and introduce themselves and get to know her. We could tell though that she was searching. She was looking at the pamphlets on the table, and asked for a Temple pamphlet. (the fireside was about temples).  She's already read most of the Book of Mormon that we left her when we tracted into her a few months back. So I really want the Sisters to get on it and teach her. She just thinks it all too good to be true and doesn't yet understand how she can know for herself.

In the evening, we had a pretty intense meeting. Rana, our Uzbek grandmother has a son and a granddaughter with birthdays this weekend. She invited us over for their birthday dinner. They had a rather impressive spread of things along with a big dish of Plov. There were a couple other friends over, who were Russians. They were drinking Vodka and so Elder Stucki and I were trying to find a way out. It was good though to meet the two Russians they had over. We left them with very good impressions of missionaries of the Church. Sasha, the guy said to me. "Moore, this is Russia. Anything can happen here... So I want you to write down my number, and if you ever need any help or anyone is giving you grief, you give me a call alright?" So I said "Alright Sasha, I'll take your number, and I want you to have this Book. It's called the Book of Mormon. This book will bring lot of peace into your life". So I think they were the reason we were there last night. You never know where something will go! We got home smelling like Uzbek food and had planning and call in reports. I went to bed pretty exhausted last night. 

So as we get closer to Christmas, remember what it's all about. Check out the video in the link at the end of the quoted text. It's such a good time to be a missionary and be able to share this with people all day every day. Try and do what you can to help others know as well. 

“The first gift was not wrapped, had no bow, wasn’t purchased online or in a store. The first gift of Christmas was a simple gift, a sacred gift. It wasn’t gold or frankincense or myrrh. It was a gift of love and life and peace and hope given by a Father to all His children. ‘For God so loved the world.’ And so loved you, and every single one of us. He gave His Son. He is the Christ. He is Christmas. He is the Heavenly Gift. This Christmas season, discover the gift, embrace the gift, share the gift.” (He is the Gift video, December 2014)

Much Love, 

Elder Benjamin Moore

Elder Batson and I at our last conference together
MTC District
With the Sisters in our Group minus Sister Pimentel who's down in Kazakhstan
We got some pretty incredible frost on our balcony windows and balcony.

Underpass doors 
Rana's birthday party 

Have a great week. :)

One More! This is our Zone Picture President Williams sent our way.

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