Monday, April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016

Dear Family and Friends, 

I don't know what it is, sometimes the days seem so incredibly long, but then the weeks fly by!  This week was in all honesty, a very hard and trying week.  In the last 2 weeks, we've managed to have one lesson with an investigator. It's been really tough, because we don't feel like it's been for lack of trying or lack of trying to meet people.  We've received several numbers, return appointments, all that jazz, but it's just all fallen through.  At one point this week I was pretty down, we were in the church building yet again, trying to get the firewall set up, as well as the internet.  Anyway, my companion and I were just so done with the madness.  By the time this problem was finally fixed, it took out 15 hours from our last 3 weeks, just sitting, one of us on the phone, while the other tried to be productive without getting really frustrated with the whole situation.  Anyway, this last day I was just really, really fed up.  All I really wanted to do in that moment was sit down, pull out my iPod Classic from back home, and listen to one of my favorite gym song.  (For those of you who don't know, it's Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson, judge me if you want.  I also have no idea why I loved playing that song at the gym, but I did, and I won't apologize for it).  Anyway, I instead got on (the internet was fixed on 2 of the 3 computers...just not the one we're supposed to do finances on), and noticed that there was a new Mormon Message up.  For those of you who don't know Mormon Messages, are cool little video clips that always share a good message about how we can improve and do a little better in life.  Anyway, this new message just talked about taking personal responsibility for our situation.  Instead of saying, "It's not my fault!" when it's a situation that may or may not actually be your fault, go ahead and DO something about it.  It was a very pertinent message in the moment, I called all the people I could, (no appointment came through) and just tried to keep an eye for what can I do to try and make the circumstances aroound me better, as opposed to giving up because of something that is out of my hands.  

This week was also interesting because Elder Coleman had a bit of a breaking point.  He's a good Elder, with a strong desire to serve and to help those around him, but he struggles with the language, and he feels that because of that all his other gifts and talents are just suffocated and of no worth.  Anyway, his emotions finally came to a head yesterday when we spent our night inside and he just talked out all his concerns and feelings with President Childs over the phone.  It has been really interesting for me to kind of get a window to the past with Elder Coleman.  I still remember one of the most bitter January days, (it was -22 C) when I just had the thought come to mind, "What am I even doing here?"  That ate at me ALLL DAY.  That night, I gave President Childs (my Mission President) a call and just shared with him some of my thoughts, concerns, and how I felt that I was wasting my time and my parent's money being here.  We had a nice long talk, and I came out of that feeling a little better, but what a change I've seen in myself over the last 3 months.  It's been cool being with Elder Coleman, because I literally have a window to my past. We had our meltdowns at just around the same time, in terms of duration on our missions.  I have no doubt he'll come out of this on top, because I did :).  I've also gained a lot of respect and appreciation for my first two companions who put up with me and all my whining about how hard it is to be a missionary.  It IS hard, but so very worthwhile and rewarding.  

At the request of momma Belnap, I'll share a bit about the situation with our one progressing investigator, Саша.  Саша, is a super cool, 28 year old who Elder Crookshank and I met a while ago.  He's Jewish in upbringing, and that's played a large role in our lessons.  He's made a lot of progress, but struggles with the idea of Christ and using his name when praying to God.  He's a lot of fun and is good friends with a lot of the young people in our ward which has been a real blessing, because they can help out on lessons.  

Lastly, today I got a really cool call.  As a mission, we receive a list of those who have a baptismal date, because a lot of missionaries served in other areas and worked with people for a long time, and it's always really cool to see who you know who's making progress to be baptized.  Anyway, this week when I was talking to the Zone Leaders, they said "we'll give you the list, and then we have a surprise for you at the end."  They gave me the list of names, and then said "Ok, here's the surprise."  Turns out, a man that I had contacted in December right before leaving Nevsky, has a baptismal date!  He started coming to English Groups, and then the missionaries helped him to come to church one day.  When he was there, he originally came with a mind to prove us wrong, but turned out he felt a warm, good, happy feeling that he had never before felt in his life.  He's been meeting with the missionaries, and coming to church, and he has a desire to change and become a better man, and he has a baptismal date for June 18th (Caroline's birthday!).  Anyway, I was just there on the phone overwhelmed with emotion, I was so happy!  As humans, we never know what ripple effect one right-or one wrong-action might have.  All we know, is that if we fail to act, we can be born and die without leaving a single ripple effect.  There wasn't anything special that I did to stop this guy, I didn't feel a big hand push me towards him, and a loud voice say "SPEAK!"  All I know, is that the Lord knows where each one of his children are, and that the Lord knows where his missionaries are too.  I read Luke 15 after receiving that call, and I just had a sweet feeling about how true that is, that the Lord knows each one of us.  That if he loses the one, he leaves the 99 and finds the one.  That like the parable of the prodigal son, he welcomes everyone back with open arms who comes unto him.  

I love you all so very much, but more importantly, I know that there is a God in Heaven who loves each one of his children very, very, very much.  

I hope you all have a fantastic week, 

Elder Belnap

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