Today is my Dad's Birthday. How great is that that P-Day fell on the first of June? Happy Birthday dad. You've had a lot of them! But I hope that today is better than them all in it's own way. In Russia, it is traditional to wish people things on their birthday. Directly translating the way they say it, it would be something like this followed by a long list of typical things. "I desire to you...." So Dad, for your Birthday, I desire to you happiness, beautiful grandchildren, success at work, save traveling, joy, love, friends... and so on. What I really want though is to say thanks. I could never fully express my thanks for all you've done for me because all you've done is immeasurable. I hope you have a fantastic Birthday, and many more fantastic birthdays to come.
Also Congrats to Christy Moore for graduating last week!! You're the best! Better than all the rest!
On the Russia side of things, it was a long, stressful, busy week. Since last Monday we have been up to Novosibirsk again and back, twice. Another 20 yours spent on that bus line. Elder Hatch was transfered to Novosibirsk to be closer to the clinics, and what not. So now it is just me and my Rooski companion, Elder Kovrigin down in Barnaul. I realized that I'm possible the only American in this whole city. At most, one of few. It's the two of us down here verses 800,000. Lots of work to do, and no time to do it in. The next few transfers there will only be one set of missionaries down here so we have to close down the Central apartment. Not too excited for that, but someone has to do it!
In our mission, when an investigator commits to baptism and has set a baptismal date, a text is sent throughout the whole mission with the news. Something similar to this one that we received while in the office this week. "New baptismal date for Novo RB! Юлия on June 13! :)" For those of you who don't get much out of words in the cyrillic alphabet, that says Julia (With a German "J" which is like a Y). Now, since first names are far too common in Russia and there could be 25 Julias currently investigating on Right Bank of Novosibirsk, I knew better than to get excited right away. In the end though, that is the same Julia that Elder Jacobsen and I tracted into on September 7th of last year, and who we were miraculously able to visit and give a blessing last Saturday. She has since been in contact with the sisters and is being taught by sisters Fullmer, Lundquist and Conk who are the tripanionship of sister training leaders living on Right Bank of Novosibirsk. Julia is progressing towards baptism, and is having a lot of good interactions with the Russian youth. It's all a testament that the lord is mindful of her. So after all of that, I'll miss her baptism by 3 days. Keep her in your prayers that she can progress and be baptised on that day!
In my many trips to and from Novosibirsk lately I've been able to read a lot of General Conferences. This last week I particularly enjoyed this excerpt from Richard G. Scott's October 2003 address entitled "Realize Your Full Potential"<<With all my capacity I encourage you to discover who you really are. I invite you to look beyond the daily routine of life. I urge you to discern through the Spirit your divinely given capacities. I exhort you to prayerfully make worthy choices that will lead you to realize your full potential.
I will share one sure way you can begin to accomplish such growth. I have seen valiant missionaries brave icy wind, resist torrential rains, slosh through slippery,muddy streets, and conquer fear. Often they bear a powerful testimony, only to be rejected and roundly criticized. I have seen them struggle to communicate truth in a new language. Sometimes the listener stares in puzzled silence. Then there dawns the shattering realization that the message is not understood. But I wouldn’t change any of it, even if I could, because there are those golden moments of success that make all of the hardships worthwhile. Such rewards come when the Spirit touches a heart for eternal good because someone like you was there. To share truth in difficult circumstances is to treasure it more. When you push against the boundaries of experience into the twilight of the unknown, the Lord will strengthen you. The beauty of your eternal soul will begin to unfold.>>
I am a living testament of that last paragraph. If there are any missionaries that know about Icy winds, and muddy streets, it is those who have served in Siberia. More often than not, when I write these group emails, I'm inclined to share the "golden moments of success", and let me tell you that they really to make all the hardships worthwhile. Nothing brings more satisfaction out in the mission field than seeing God work miracles through you. In all the "difficult circumstances" in which I have been able to "share the truth", I have discovered the "treasure" that the truth is. The blessings that the Gospel of Jesus Christ bring into our lives, and more specifically into our Families are endless. Some of these blessings will come no matter what we do, or how we live. Whether we follow the commandments or not, there are some blessings we will receive simply because God is our loving Father. The choicest blessings, though, the very best that God has to offer us come to us when we do our part. He extends them out to every single person, and every single person has the choice to accept them or not. When we choose to individually accept the choicest blessings that God has to offer, we are accepting his Son, Jesus Christ into our lives. We are humbling ourselves enough to accepting HIS will over OUR will, and we are doing all that he asks of us. I testify that HIS plan is better than any plan any of us can ever thing up. His plan is perfect. It is a plan of happiness. Not A plan of Easiness, or even all of the time of funness, but whenever we choose to follow His plan, we will be on our way to Eternal Happiness.
I love you all, and I hope you are all safe and happy.
I want to share with you the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland which he spoke in his April 2012 General Conference address entitled "The Laborers in the Vineyard"