Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 2015

Thanks for the update!  You often say mom, "sorry for the dry letter," but honestly, don't apologize!  I love hearing about all the fun stuff that's going on, anyway, I don't have a lot of time left, so I'm going to make it a quick letter today!  Also, Nathan and Spencer sent me letter's this week, but so far Rebecca is the only one not keeping to that New Year's Resolution.  I'll give her a break though, it seems like she's giving it her all in basketball right now.  Just tell her whenever it's hard, that it'll be that much more fun when she's in another country and just wrecking all the competition.  Also good on Spencer for the only on Friday's Xbox, and reading the Bible.  Yeah not going to lie, I'm kindof glad I missed that stage of Seminary, I'm on a mission where we have an hour everyday to read, and I haven't gotten to read through the Old Testament.  I'm on my 3rd time through the Book of Mormon, and about 1/4 with D&C and not even close to the New Testament.  But one of my goals for this transfer is D&C, so we'll see.

Anyway, this week was insane and flew by soo fast, but was a tons of fun!  We had a member of the Area Presidency visit, Elder Kacher!  It was incredible, and so much fun.  He was super witty, but just spoke so strongly and with the Spirit, we had an awesome Zone Conference with him, and he picked on me a couple of times because when he was asking us questions and asking us to rate ourselves on a scale of 1-10 and everyone else was saying "7" or "8" I was there saying "5" for basically every one.  I realized that when there's a big discrepancy like that, either everyone else is wrong and I'm the only one who is right (the most likely of options of course), I'm not up to par and doing worse than other missionaries, or I'm not evaluating myself accurately.  It was a kindof light-hearted and fun experience, we were all just having a good laugh and Elder Kacher was too, but I learned from that, that I don't really know how to evaluate myself accurately.  I realized that I've had a big toll on myself for a while, because I have just been really hard on myself for not being perfect today.  I just wasted several opportunities before the mission and I don't want to do that here, but again that complacency tightrope just gets me everytime.  Anyway, I just learned that if I can learn how to accurately self-evaluate, than I'll be able to walk that tightrope much easier, it was a good lesson learned! 

He also visited us in Novgorod which was a lot of fun.  There was a fireside, and our Mission President, his wife, Elder Kacher, and his wife all spoke.  It was awesome, and such a cool experience to have a church meeting that made complete sense to me.  It was funny, my companion had to translate, and he's just a transfer older than I am.  He did really well though, shout out for Elder Crookshank.  (Also, as long as I'm doing shout-outs, shout out to Emily Watts and Maddie Giles, two of my friends from BYU who are leaving on their missions soon.  Emily all the way to Australia, and Maddie on the way up to Toronto, they're both awesome and super funny, and are going to have an amazing time).  Elder Kacher's focus was on the saving ordinances and why they are so important.  He had a member from the branch who had been recently baptized, recently confirmed, received the Melchezidek Priesthood, endowed, and sealed in the temple, all get up and just explain why they are so important.  It was super incredible and powerful just to hear his testimony of the importance of those ordinances, I wish I could do it justice through this email.  In another area, he met with an eternal investigator who has been coming to church, but refused to get baptized, and the man felt the spirit, and was baptized THE VERY NEXT DAY.  It was just so awesome having him here and getting to spend a little time with him.  I also got to talk to Sister Kacher a bit, and she said she'd pass on a hello to everyone in Moscow!  

Anyway, it's been an awesome and busy week trying to find people here in Novgorod.  One of the people who called us is still our most solid investigator and we're excited for what's in store for him.  ALso, Надя was up in St. Petersburg and she gave me a call from the mission office, it was so much fun talking to her in Russia and saying a quick hello!  Anyway, if you can pass on another hello to her from me, I'd really appreciate it!  I'm loving it her, it got super warm for a couple days, but it looks like it will dive back down below zero soon.

Love you all so very much, thanks for all you do and your thoughts and prayers on my behalf.


Elder Belnap

Please pass this on also mom!  I had more time left than I thought, and I forgot to share a quick spiritual thought!  There's a talk called, "Choose to Believe" by Elder Whitney L. Clayton.  Anyway, he talks a lot about how faith is a conscious choice, and that as we make that choice to believe in Christ and do the things that are required to grow one's faith in Christ, that we find that with time our testimony of him is unshakeable.  As we display our patience and hope that we have to come to know if he's really there and really our Savior, then as Alma talks about in Alma 32:27, that desire can grow and talk place in our hearts.  I love you all!  Have a great week!

Elder Belnap 

These are pictures that can't be shared because they are of Russian citizens.  Except for the food, that was just a super good Georgian restaurant we went to, IT WAS SO GOOD.  The other was of our game night at the Senior couple's house, with members of the ward and investigators.  The one with the girl on her phone is the sister of our recent convert Denis, who is now an investigator, because of the different man she's seen her brother become, it's pretty awesome!  The other has one of the young women in our branch, an investigator, and the young woman's older sister!  They were getting mad at me because I was too good at Jenga and they'd always set me up to lose on a turn, but they never managed to do it, it was really funny.  Anyway, going to get started on my letter to you and the rest of the family now!  

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