Monday, August 1, 2016

August 1, 2016

Yes the title of that email is true.  And no, there is no need to freak out, I'm not breaking any rules, we just have a big mission, and Kaliningrad is a part of that mission.  For any of you who don't know what Kaliningrad is, it's what Prussia used to be and I'm so excited to take off, although I'm sad I only got the one transfer in Sestrorezk.  It's beautiful here, the members are great, and 6 weeks is just not enough to get close to them.  Anyway, in Kaliningrad, I'll most likely be the 2nd Counselor in the Branch Presidency, and President Childs said that I can count on being there for a long time unlike my last couple of transfers, so I'm pretty excited for that.  Anyway, it's been crazy trying to pack again!  It seems like each time I'm getting ready to leave an area I have 5 more pounds of things that I want to take with me that I've accumulated in that area.  Here, it's more like 80 pounds, some volunteer a while back bought a whole at home weight set which has been fun to use for 30 minutes in the mornings.  

So, this week was interesting, because we're still not allowed to do too much, and almost all of our members are on vaction (10 out of the 15 are gone).  We had a lesson with the couple whom we are teaching, and they are progressing really well, we've noticed some lack of understanding about what baptism is, and so we focused our lesson on what baptism is, why it's important, and why it's not just a cool event that you do just for the experience of it.  They came out of that lesson with a much better understanding which was awesome to see.  We pushed their date back a little more just so that they can be ready for baptism, and they said that they're more excited now that they understand more of the why and what baptism enables us to do.  So although I'm sad that I won't be here for their baptism, I'm very happy that they'll be ready when they enter the font, and that it'll be a decision that they will be making to follow Christ, and now just one that they made because they really liked the Americans and they felt something good when they were talking.  So, I'm very very excited for them!  I'm also sad to leave my trainee Elder Ward, he's a little молодец, but I'm very excited to see how he handles his new situation with someone just barely more capable than him in Russian (it's fun because it forces you to learn!)  

Also, this Sunday since only 5 members were at church, President asked me instead of bearing a short testimony to give a full 15 minute talk right before the meeting, because one of the speakers was sick.  So, I'm getting ready to talk, and then all of a sudden two people from Novgorod walked in!  They were on their way back from Finland, and so they decided to stop by our ward for church and I was so happy!  It made me realize again, just how much these people you meet during your volunteer service become a part of your life.  They really just add to your family, and it just brought back so many fun and grateful memories about my time there.  It was so much fun seeing наташа  and маия, they're both awesome.  Anyway, I talked a lot about being a "light to the world" from Timothy 4:12, and what that means for us in this country more now than ever.  When we're examples to our friends and family of the faith that we believe in, it doesn't always lead to everyone joining the church, and that's not the purpose of being an example of what we believe.  What it does do, is create mutual understanding and respect.  I just want to give you a shout out mom for doing that over the years, you're not afraid to say what you believe in, you live your beliefs, and you've managed to make friends from all walks of life who respect you and what you believe in because you really do live it.  That was my challenge to everyone, as well as to remember the promise given in D&C 6:32 to them.  I know that as we live what we believe, that people don't have to agree with it, but they come to respect it and you can come to understand one another an a more personal level.  Because one thing that is common among all beliefs is that for the most part, people sincerely believe in what they claim to believe.  
I love you all, next week you'll be hearing from me an hour earlier, so make sure you get the email off in time Momma :).  I'm super excited and humbled for this new opportunity to serve, and it's going to be a blast.  Thanks for passing on the letter from Terri, that was fun to read, and I'm super excited for Ben too, that was awesome.  Anyway, I love you all, have a great week!


Elder Belnap   

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