Monday, March 14, 2016

March 14, 2016

Dear Family and Friends, 

WHAT A WEEK!  First off, shout out to Caroline and Ryan for sending me a whole bunch of pictures from the face swap app, my favorite is either the one where Rebecca's face is swapped with mom's, it looks like Rebecca became a little Russian бабушка over night.  My companion and I were laughing for about 5 minutes.  Also, please let me know where Ryan is off too on his mission!  I was shocked reading that he just had his farewell!  Keep me posted on the updates of just normal life there, just so that I'm not too shocked when I come back :).

This week started off with 2 days of not being allowed to contact because of a holiday.  Monday was P-Day, which was then followed by a family night, so it didn't make too much of a difference (it just meant no talking with people on buses from point A to point B), but Tuesdaywas a wide open day.  It also happened to be Women's Day (кстати, с праздником!) which meant that we weren't allowed to contact, but that we could give flowers to every women in the branch!  That whole day was spent going about, buying flowers, putting them together, attaching invitations to a Relief Society event (for those of you who aren't members, that's the women's organization in the Church for all women 18 and older) for Saturday, and delivering them!  It was a lot of fun, we got in contact with a lot of Less Active members in the branch, and just had a lot of fun surprising people and making their day!  It was exhausting though, and we ended up just skipping lunch to make it everywhere throughout the city, fortunately we were with a member who had a car, but still, it took a long time.  By the end my stomach was growling worse than it does at the end of language study each day (seriously, just ask my companion, we do role plays and sometimes we just start laughing because it sounds like a cow just rolled over and died in our living room).  Wednesday was another crazy day of just breakfast and dinner, my companion and I conducted English Group which went really well.  Also yesterday with the kids was a party as always!

This week has been a hard week with the language.  I try not to get frustrated with myself and I try not to get frustrated with my companion for trying to speak Russian with me, but sometimes it just bugs me hearing so many grammar mistakes that he's making, and then making a whole bunch of grammar mistakes myself.  This week has just felt like I've been trying so hard to get this language, and no matter what my tongue is breaking everytime I try to get words out of my mouth.  I've been trying to not get frustrated with myself but it's just felt so hard this week.  Anyway, I was reminded today that Jesus Christ literally suffered for all of us, not only for our sins, but so that he could (as it says in Alma 7:12):  
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filledwith mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

The fact that he's here to succor his people according to their infirmities is so comforting to me, even with something as nonconsequential as this language.  One of the definitions for infirmities is, "physical or mental weakness."  I feel like this week I've just had a mental weakness in the brain when it comes to speaking Russian.  It's been hard, but I also know that faith in Jesus Christ doesn't only help me feel free of guilt and sin, it helps me with practical things, things that we deal with on an every day basis.  I feel the difference when I think about how there's an all might being wanting to help me, as opposed to when I think about how "I can't learn this language, I can't do this, I can't do that."  When I focus on the fact that he wants to help me, and that I've been called to serve speaking Russian, I find that words stick easier in my head, things that I saw a long time ago are called to my remembrance, words make sense that I can't ever remember learning.  It might seem like such a little thing, but that's been a little miracle for me this week, to realize that Jesus Christ isn't just supposed to help us feel free from sin, but it helps us in ALL things that we need help with.

I love serving a mission, and I love all the fun times I have here.  I'm grateful for this work and all the miracles I see daily.  I'm so grateful for faith building experiences that I experience every day.  I love you all so much, and I hope you all have a great week!


Elder Belnap

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