You can send the picture with me and Sister Cisar to the High Council. Let them know that both of their Duluth Minnesota Stake missionaries in Siberia are doing well!
This week was like a big roller coaster! Lots of ups and down and twists and turns. The only thing, though, was that this roller coaster is in the dark, and you can't see the twists, turns, ups or downs coming. They just hit and you have to go with them! The beginning of this week was rather uneventful, as if we were just waiting in line to get on the roller coaster. The same old thing in our Barnaul area. Meeting falling through, contacting and that whole routine. Come Thursday, we finally made it to the front of the line and got on the roller coaster. Starting with the bus ride from Barnaul to Novosibirsk. We got in and had medical appointments for Elder Hatch that evening followed by splits with Elders Allen and Thatcher on the Left Bank of Novosibirsk. We stayed with them that night. Friday was mission conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was held at the Hilton Double Tree hotel in the center of Novosibirsk. Due to security concerns, we all showed up by taxi. Before the conference, we had stop by the clinic for Elder Hatch to give some Blood. We got to the hotel pretty early. By 10, all the missionaries were there and we awaited our guests. They came and we each filed by them and shook all of their hands. Elder Nelson and his wife, President Porter and his wife, President and Sister Williams and Elder Guschin of the 70. We had a great conference. Just incredible the stories that Sister and Elder Nelson shared with us. It was so interesting to see him in a non General Conference setting. Just the 50 missionaries. He said things he wouldn't normally say in General conference. Like "You've all done stupid things!! That's what repentance is for!" and when he answered the question "What does it mean to be a "Special Witness"", He broke down he word Witness to it's roots saying "Whit, meaning knowledge. A witness is someone who has knowledge of something, a special witness is simply someone with special knowledge. If you don't have any knowledge, some may refer to you as Witless, or maybe you've even heard the term Nitwit!" Great Conference.
After The conference with him, all of the missionaries went to the first branch building for Papa John's pizza. You should have seen the delivery people when they walked in to see 50 americans dressed up nice standing around speaking English and laughing and talking. haha. It was all the missionaries from the Russia Portion of our Mission. Kazakhstan attended the conference via Skype. I had 9 past or present mission companions there, and got a picture with all of them. Including Elder Lewis, my first companion, and Elder Kovrigin my 18th. It was good to see everyone.
The next day was the member conference! Since Elder Hatch had his medical appointments, we scored an extra day in Novosibirsk meaning we got to go to the member conference in person rather that over Skype in Barnaul. A lot of members from Tomsk, Omsk and Novosibirsk that I knew were there. Great to see them. Elder Nelson entered and shook our hands.
I'm running out of time to write this because I've already written so much today. Here's from my letter to President Williams that will cover the story of Julia!
Because of Elder Hatch's medical appointment, we stayed the night and attended the Member conference on Saturday as well. This was a divine miracle that we were still in Novosibirsk. When Elder Jacobsen and I served together last August, we tracted into Julia, who lives in the same apartment complex as a less active member. This was right after the summer conference with President Porter who invited us to tract and contact around the less actives. Remembering this council, we proceeded to tract after being turned away by our less active member. Julia a 20 year old girl answered the first door. Good conversation. Her father had died a year earlier which gave us a good opportunity to testify. She came to english, and church a couple times and we introduced her to Sister Koshalyova. Time passed. I moved to Barnaul, Julia moved 170km outside of Novosibirsk. A couple weeks ago, her mother who was fighting illness committed suicide, and Julia came back to Novosibirsk this last thursday. She called Sister Koshalyova who miraculously still had the same phone number even after being transfered to Akaden Gorodok. Obviously, Julia's life had been turned upside down. She wasn't able to come to the member conference as she was taking care of her four year old sister. After the conference, because the sisters were busy, we went over to Julia's and met with her. We testified of God's plan for us, and that we are all his Children. We told her about Priesthood blessings and she accepted the invitation to receive one. She was blessed with peace, comfort, and love from God, as well as a blessing to be able to sleep well which she hadn't been able to do since her mother's death. We left her apartment, leaving a happier, calmer Julia than when we came. Following up with Sister Koshalyova, I learned that Julia felt a profound relief after the blessing, and wants to go on a mission and come to church. She wasn't able to come to church because for the first time in weeks, she slept soundly. For 14 hours. She is planning on attending the youth night in Novosibirsk on Tuesday. From long before that cold, rainy, summer night when we tracted into her to this day, God has been very aware of Julia. My testimony of the power of the priesthood has been strengthened. This is my miracle this week. This is a testament to me that our Father in Heaven is the master planner.
The Gospel is true. This week was incredible. I have two more P-Days left which means two more emails from Russia. Hope all is well on your end of things!
First and last companions Elders Lewis (right) and Kovrigin (left)
Companions right to left: Me, Elders Lewis, Aubrey, Klein, Swenson, Jacobsen, Stucki, Yungfleisch, Hatch, and Kovrigin.
Elder Allen and I on a bus.The Zhelnorovich family from Tomsk!
Julia's apartment building that we tracted last August and visited on Saturday.
70 Year victory of WWII monument in Barnaul.