Monday, July 18, 2016

July 18, 2016

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was tons of fun!  We were just on the streets for a large portion of the week, just being bold and talking to everyone.  President Childs told us that we should put things off to the 20th that can wait, so that's what we did.  It was scary every day when we first got out that we were literally going to go to everyone and talk to them, but after talking to the first person each time it was a lot of fun.  We just made it really fun for us, and when people saw that we were actually having a fun time doing this, they stopped and talked to us and we had a fun time.  Yeah, you're right mom, the people here aren't really aware of the law and it doesn't really effect them too much.  It makes me laugh, for the most part as soon as they find out that we are "Mormons" they either laugh and keep talking to us, or they'll say "до свидания".  Anyway, we'll have a different experience this week and I'm really excited for our conference tomorrow when we'll get everything answered for us.  

Today is also kindof weird, because we're going to be lying low so to say, and all missionaries got permission for a full day P-Day today, because we're not allowed to contact, so we're going into the city and I'm showing Elder Ward the sights.  He's pretty excited to see all the sights :).  It's weird wanting to talk to someone, and not being allowed to now, it'll definitely be an adjustment, but it also helps me see how much I've changed from the time that I didn't want to open my mouth and now I'm sad that I'm not allowed to.  I'm really excited though for the members and the opportunity we have to focus our service on them pretty much in its entirety :), as well as to help them feel comfortable reaching out to their friends, because now it all will happen through them.

This week I was studying about a lot of things, and I finished my loooooong study of the 4 Gospels in the New Testament, and now I'm on to reading Acts in the Bible.  It was really amazing just reading and becoming aware of the acts of Jesus that I wasn't aware of beforehand.  I really appreciated just gaining a stronger testimony that Jesus really did perform all those acts and that he is the perfect example of going about doing good.  That's something that we're going to need to learn how to do here in our mission now giving the changes, but given the wonderful example we have in the scriptures of the Savior, I'm confident that the work will press forward here in Russia and that people will be interested in what we have to offer.  

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!  I'll send pictures from our adventures today!  Love you all so very much. 


Elder Belnap

This is for you for Grandma and Grandpa: 

Also for you and for Dad for FHE:
Sit down with the family and you can watch this.  Ask questions about what can be done better in the family.  For example, "Is the TV on when family scripture study has yet to happen?"  

Just as a little sidenote, I was watching this talk the other day and just realized how much I would have appreciated Family Councils, especially the 1 on 1 and 2 on 1, especially in helping me overcome watching pornography.  Doing the little things at home will ensure that Nathan, Spencer, and Rebecca are all a little better prepared for the challenges at home.  Tell all the kiddos that I endorse having a place to charge the phones at the end of the night and that no matter what we're not allowed to bring them into the room with us, that we can go out and buy alarm clocks if the excuse for having them in the room is "I need and alarm."  Maybe it'll stike them a little differently coming from me :).  I love you both and I hope that you can have a good FHE discussion on this.  Also, Every 6 weeks, I can give a suggestion for a FHE discussion if you want, that way I can still kindof be a part of the wheel :) (have you made a new one yet?)  I love you both very much and I hope you have a great week!  

Here's some insights as to what will be happening now!  We'll have a mission conference tuesday where things will be discussed and where we will come up with answers :)!

Dear Leaders of the Russia St. Petersburg Mission,
President and Sister Childs have drafted the following letter to be read in an emergency district meeting to be held on the 14th or 15th of July. Please read and discuss it with your district! We are excited to see the miracles that these changes bring to our volunteers, the members of the Church, and others! We know that everything is in the Lord's hands. These changes will strengthen our members and help His work move powerfully forward!
Inspire the volunteers in your districts with the same spirit of optimism that we and the General Authorities share! Isn't it wonderful to be a part of the Lord's team? We literally cannot lose! The game is soccer, and angels are the players, with the Lord as the star forward. Our streak is 1,000,000,000,000,000 to zero, in our favor. We haven't lost a game and never will.
Thank you for your diligence and beautiful faces, we can't wait to see you all on Tuesday.
With love,
The Assistants

Dear Russia St Petersburg Volunteers,
We are writing to give you a brief overview of the changes in the way we will do our work because of the new law recently passed by the Russian government. With the new law that goes into effect on July 20, 2016, our work in the Russia St. Petersburg Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will change substantially. We feel a sense of great peace that the changes in the way we do our work will bring significant blessings to the Saints here in Russia as well as more firmly establish the Church in this great land.
On Tuesday, July 19th at 1:00 p.m. in the St Petersburg Stake Center, we will hold a special Mission Conference to discuss these changes in more detail.
Below is an outline of the most substantial changes to our work here.
 1) From now on, our young elders and sisters, as well as senior couples will be referred to as “volunteers.” The term “missionary” is associated with proselyting which the volunteers in our mission no longer do because of the new law. Therefore, please cease using the term “missionary” when referring to yourselves or others serving in Russia, especially when writing home. We are stilled called the “Russia St. Petersburg Mission,” but individuals serving here are called volunteers.
As a reminder, we strongly discourage posting any correspondence or information on public blogs or sites. Please remember that it is against Russian law to post photos which include Russian citizens.
2) The fundamental manner in which volunteers perform their service in Russia will be to engage in activities aimed at developing the Church and supporting Church members. They will serve in Church callings and will build closer bonds with members. They will build and strengthen the faith and testimony of members by visiting them in their homes, and also by supporting church activities and programs such as Family History, Self-reliance, Humanitarian efforts, and Seminary and Institute studies. They will support daily activity in the church buildings and give tours of the church meeting houses.
3) Volunteers in our mission will engage in a variety of community service projects and activities.
4) Volunteers will be encouraged to enhance their knowledge of Russian culture and language, with the intent of helping maintain a lifelong appreciation for Russia’s rich cultural heritage and fostering positive intercultural understanding.
5) The volunteers in our mission may no longer engage in any type of proselyting activities, such as street or transportation contacting, distribution of religious literature, or offering any form of invitation. In their daily activities, they may engage in casual conversation, and when asked, they may explain that they are volunteers for a Church. If the person shows further interest, they may give the  name of the Church and a brief explanation without discussing doctrine or teachings. They may also give the addresses of church buildings.
6) Importantly, our volunteers will build a deeper, more dedicated discipleship to our Savior through their unique service. The maturity and discipline required by these changes will bless them throughout their lives to be powerful instruments in the Lord’s hands to build His Church and Kingdom in any capacity.
We know that this important work is most assuredly in the Lord’s hands. Last week you received the initial statement from our Church leaders concerning this law. We reiterate the important doctrine of the Church that, “we believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” In the instructions we have received on this new law from our Europe East Area presidency they emphatically stated, “We are confident that the Lord will continue to pour forth His blessings on His Saints and upon the Church in  Russia. We will see miracles take place and the hand of the Lord made manifest in prospering His Church in this beautiful land.”
The necessary changes will require time and adjustment for us all. Facing these changes with faith and positivity will bring the Lord’s help and strength to the work we have come here to do. We would ask that your correspondence with your families, and with anyone else concerning the new law and these changes stay positive. Our leaders have stressed that this new law is part of a larger anti-terrorism law and is not aimed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have had good relations with the national government leaders in Russia for twenty-five years. We know that by staying positive, we can continue to build on this relationship and lift the esteem of the Church in the eyes of all Russian people.
We know that you will have many questions about these changes. Please come to the special Mission Conference with these and with your inspired ideas for moving this work forward in new and exciting ways. We feel strongly that you are some of our Heavenly Father’s choicest servants. Particularly at this time, we are grateful for your willing obedience and desire to fully follow the Lord’s direction while doing His important work.
With great love and appreciation,
President and Sister Childs

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