Monday, March 21, 2016

March 21, 2016

Dear Family and Friends, 

WHAT A WEEK!  I know I have said that a lot as of late, but seriously, this week was pretty crazy.  It started with P-day, and then we took a train up to our split in Nevsky, and oh how fun it was to be back!  We contacted for a large part of the day, and then we came home, had dinner, and then went up to the Stake Center for a lesson with one of my investigators!  It was so cool to see him again, and just see the change that has taken over him.  While Elder Simonsen and I were working with him, he was at about 2 packs of cigarettes a day, and now he's at about 5 or less cigarettes a day.  It's been wonderful to see that change taking over him, and the freedom that he is experiencing as he breaks free of his addictions.  He's a wonderful man, and he is planning on being baptized in the middle of April, I'm excited to report on that.  We then had Zone Conference the next day, which was just a day that got us all pumped up and ready to get out and work.  We talked a lot about a lot of different topics, but my favorite was when the Sister Training Leaders did a little activity on reverence.  They had us turn to our companion and talk about the funniest thing that happened that week.  Elder Crookshank turned to one another and started laughing about the time that I had a whole bunch of crumbs on my lap at district meeting (we had no time for lunch that day, so we just ate at the beginning of district meeting) and I walked  all the way over to the trash can with my legs bent at a 90 degree angle not spilling a crumb.  He and I were laughing pretty hard reminiscing, and then they told us to stop and join together.  They asked how many of us heard Sister Green reading a verse of scripture, to which no one replied yes.  After that they had us be perfectly quiet while they read 3 Nephi 11:3-7 again.  It was just a cool lesson about how when we tune out all the noise, we can focus on what's most important.  After that, we got to go the the Nevsky English Group before our train, and I got to see a couple of investigators and a ward member again which was awesome.  After the group Brother Andrey came up to me and said "You translate incredibly, and almost without an accent!"  That was pretty cool just going back to my first area and seeing just how far I've come, most definitely a tender mercy to have that happen.  Anyway, at the end we realized that we didn't have our tickets printed, and so we rushed because at this point we were already running late.  We had a suitcase full of materials and the printer took a while to hook up.  Anyway, we started panicking and by the time we got out of the building we had 25 minutes before our train left.  Elder Crookshank and I felt that we were just going to have to run taking turns with the suit case.  Anyway, we run a little less than a mile to the metro station, get in the metro, I walk down the escalator steps with the suitcase (about 40 pounds or so) and then up the steps too (keep in mind these are like the escalators in Moscow), we then ran to the platform, and we got there literally right as the train was pulling into the station.  We hopped on and a minute later it left.  We were sweating and panting and must have been quite a site, 2 guys dressed in suits just sweating like they've just finished a marathon.  I've heard that every missionary needs a running for transportation story, and I'm hoping that was my first and last :).  We also had a miraculous Sunday!  Our mission president and his wife were here, and it was just so wonderful.  We had 2 less actives who were there, and 5 investigators!  One of which told the Sisters after the meeting that he wants to get baptized really soon!  It was just such a wonderful meeting and we all felt so happy and wonderful, the Spirit was truly strong.  Our investigators, Pavel and Katya, came and were just having a wonderful time.  We have a table with Liahonas at the church, and they asked if they could grab them on their way out, and we said, "PLEASE.  Take them all!"  They're such a good couple and we've been super happy with their progression.  

In closing, I just want to share a little thought that my Sister Childs shared with as when we had a little district meeting on Saturday.  She just talked about how the Atonement heals perfectly and without a blemish.  She shared a quote that I can't remember exactly, but it reminded me of a quote by President Packer. It goes "The thought is this: the Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes isfixed. … The Atonement leaves no traces, no tracks. It just heals, and what it healsstays healed.”  What a wonderful promise that is!  That we can be completely free of guilt, and completely free of all the mistakes and errors that we have ever commited, and will ever commit, in this life.  It was a powerful moment with her as she testified of her daughter who recently got married to a Haitian man who has a 6 year old daughter.  She said when they got married, that she had a pang of doubt, which was soon washed away with assurance that this man had repented, and forgiven, and was 100% ready to be a wonderful husband to her daughter.

I love you all so much and I hope you have a great day!


Elder Belnap

Here's me enjoying my pancakes on Масленица

Me and Elder Crookshank after our "make it to the train" sprint

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