May 9, 2016
Dear Family and Friends,
Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.
What a week! This has honestly been one of the craziest weeks of my mission, we were in St. Petersburg for splits (all it means is serving with other missionaries for a day just so you can learn from them and from how they work), a conference, and an extra night because the Office Elders accidentally messed up and bought our tickets for the wrong day! We ended up getting our calls about transfers on the way back to Novgorod on the bus! And that leads to the big news of the week...I'm leaving Novgorod! The family already knows that, but it's still a bit of a shock! I skyped my family on Christmas and on Mother's Day from the same spot! I'm off to Колпино, the place where my current companion started his mission! I'm super excited although I'm also very sad. There's a little 6 year old girl in the branch here who tried to keep me from leaving the other day, and even blocked the entrance to try and stop me. She'll come up to me sometimes and give me/show me drawings that include her, her brother, her mom, and me (is she trying to hint something?)! Just one of the many reasons I'll miss this wonderful city, all the people here are wonderful and strengthen my desire to become better eveytime I have the pleasure of spending time with them.
I've had a great run here, with great companions who have taught me a lot and helped humble me quite a bit. I love this language and the people, and I'm excited to see what is in store for me. I love this work, I love meeting people and talking with them. I never thought I would say that, but it's true. This is a message that helps people become better, and although even after my experience as a missionary I'll probably still try and get away from a salesman as quickly as possible, I've realized that when you're trying to share something with someone that you truly believe will help them, and that you've seen change your life, it softens the hearts of people. Not everyone of course, I'm still cursed out fairly often, and that's not going to go away anytime soon, but there are those who stop and listen, and hear the sincerity in our voices, and feel the Spirit of God (often manifested as a warm, good feeling) confirming to them that we're hear to help.
I read this verse in Helaman the other day, and shared it as a part of my testimony at Church.
I love that verse. I know that as we humble ourselves before God and say, "Ok, I'll do it your way, to the best of my abilities," and try to rely on God then we become firmer and firmer in faith in Christ. I love you all so very much and I hope you have a great week! Mom, I love you so much, thanks for being the wonderful mom and example that you are. I love you and I hope that your Mother's Day was as fantastic as you are. Thanks for giving birth to all 6 of us hooligans.
P.S. Three shout-outs go to my Brother in Law who's bday was 2 weeks on the 27th ago and I forgot to congratulate him (sorry Ryan, love you bro), Sister Giles serving a mission in Toronto who's birthday is the 12th, and to Christina Badiola on the 18th. Hope you all have (or had in Ryan's case) wonderful birthdays!
P.P.S. There's a law against sharing information about Russians, please don't pass these pictures onto anyone else after receiving them to keep their identity safe. Thanks!