Monday, February 2, 2015

Transfer Time, Novosibirsk--->Barnaul!


Is it February already!? This week is transfer week. The end of our 8 week transfer. We got calls on Thursday night with transfer info. After four transfers here in Novo, I'm headed down to Barnaul! It's on the southern end of the Russia part of our mission, and is about a 5 hour bus ride from Novosibirsk. So my train days seem to be over, and it's back to the good old buses. I'll be serving with Elder Yungfleish who is from Arizona. He will be starting his third transfer. I'll be the District Leader over our little district of six missionaries. Four elders and two sisters. I'm really excited to serve as a District Leader again. There is much more connection with the members than there is in any other calling. In our mission, we are striving to strengthen the Branch Councils. As we are a mission of branches, and the majority of the members are converts who haven't had the opportunity to serve on missions, they still need some help to get the ball rolling in the right direction. I'll get to work closely with our relatively new Branch President, and the Branch Council so that they along with our missionary district can be as unified as possible. President Williams says that after Sacrament meeting, and family meetings, that Branch Council is one of the next most important meetings in the church. The Branch Council is the heart of the branch, and if that's not going or working, then neither is home teaching, visiting teaching, member reactivation, or any other branch function. That's about all I've got going into these next few transfers... three of them. So I'm excited for that!

As for my last week in Novosibirsk, It was a very fast one! When you are leaving an Area, you can kind of measure how you've done there by figuring out whether or not you're leaving that area stronger than when you found it. I'm a big believer that every missionary has unique skills and talents that build upon each other as they influence the work in their area with them. Over the last four transfers, we've built our member book, and really gotten to know our members. Now, because we've recorded things in our Area Book, the next companionship won't have to start from just having a branch list with peoples names on it. 

So Last monday, we got a call right after email from someone who found an English class advertisement on the internet. I don't know who put it there, but it has my number, so we get these calls all the time. Симён called us and couldn't make it on Wednesday, so we agreed to meet on Thursday and talk about the same things we talked about in our Group Gospel Discussion on Wednesday. This week was about the Commandments, and how they are a blessing to us. He's a young 20 some year old kid who just finished University as something with techy stuff. He programs with the Ruby language, and spelunks, and mountain skis. Speaks English very very well, which few people here do. Anyways, he's open to talking about religion and is undecided, as he kind of weighs his options. We invited him to take our missionary lessons, and he was all for it. The fact that we believe he can find out for himself, and not just from the words of another person is intriguing to him. We're pretty excited about this investigator. We love all our investigators, but some of them are found on the streets between 6 and 9 pm, and the closer you get to 9 pm, the less receptive the people on the streets tend to be, as those people generally live lives that are farther and farther away from God and religion. So whenever people come to us, instead of us coming to them, it usually works out a bit better!

Last fall, we contacted Georgie on our way home. He was walking with cruches, and surprised us with his kindness and willingness to meet with us another time. A couple weeks later, we went to vist with him not far from where we live. We had a couple visits with him during which we met Lyocha (Aleksay), whose apartment it was. Well Georgie seemed to fall off the radar, and Lyocha, though nice, was never that into the discussions. Well fast forward a few months to this last P-Day when we were buying our groceries. We ran into Lyocha there! He was nice as ever, and invited us to come back over to his place. Tuesday night we called him up and went on over. The place was like a new world. Rather than five 25 year old guys living there, it was just him. He had over his aunt and cousin at the time we came to visit. We got to know his aunt Svetlana, and his cousin Andrei, and teach them about the restoration. They were engaged in the lesson and became new investigators. Svetlana prayed at the end as well! She thanked God that we had been able to meet and talk about such important faith building things. This is all a testimony to me that no effort is wasted. From the last contact of the night late last fall, to meeting with and teaching this family. The Lord knows what he is doing, even if we may not.

Another miracle for me was after testimony meeting yesterday at church. Margarita, the recently reactivated daughter of Sister Luba (who works in the office) bore another sweet testimony today. Luba came up to us after just to thank us for bringing cookies over and reaching out to them. She saw our simple act of service as a turning point for Rita's return to activity, as well as an answer to her many many prayers. I believe that the Lord waited until this time to reactivate Rita. Not more than two months ago, a member started a branch choir. It was a humble choir and nobody had any skills for leading, conducting or playing the piano. Elder Stucki or Elder Johnson would play the piano for them. After Rita bore her testimony in January, the choir director enrolled her into helping with the choir as she has had musical training. Yesterday, Rita testified about how these responsibilities are helping her get back into things, and she really is enjoying serving others again! It may have been that if the Lord had allowed for her to come back before there was any sort of choir, she may not have felt as much love and may not have felt needed, only to slip back into inactivity. The Lord's timing. He knows what he is doing. He will wait to bring people into the church until those branches or wards are prepared to bring them in. This is one reason that we are striving to strengthen the branch councils. When we do our part, God will do the rest. We are planning on meeting with Luba and Rita on Tuesday night at their place. When we talked about it with them, we asked if they could possibly get someone else over there so we would not be meeting two on two. They said that they'd either invite their friend who is a non-member, or Luba's older daughter who is also not a member! Another miracle waiting to happen. 

Now Elder Stucki and I are off to do P-Day things. We're going out to Papa John's they're the only ones here who do pizza the right way... and you don't even want to try and find real mexican food. 

Hope you all have a great week! 

For all you mid-westerners, winter's almost over. I'm ready for winter to be over. It's impossible to pack light when you need to lug around huge winter clothes. Since the cold -40 spell has let up a bit, and it's now only -20, we think that's just normal and go without thermals and stuff only to realize that -20 for an hour or two is still pretty cool. BUT, I'd rather have the cold than crazy bugs in Madagascar. :) 

Much Love,
Elder Benjamin Moore


The District!
Sister Naraikina with her art display in the library. 
Sister Zudova and her non-member husband Vladimir
Sister Luba and Rita
One More photo I just stole from Elder Stucki. This is my Arctic Fox. :)

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