Monday, August 15, 2016

August 15, 2016

Dear Family and Friends, 

Fortunately, they found another  flight that didn't have to take us through Moscow.  Yeah, it is a round about way to go on a visa trip, but for various legal reasons, some of which I'm aware, and plenty of which I'm sure I'm not aware, we have to go from St. Petersburg to Estonia as a group and receive that all at the same time.  Yeah I got to gather with the MTC comps again which was a lot of fun, I love getting to see them, my MTC companion is currently in Novgorod, so we talked about things there a lot.  Yeah you can just say колодец for a water well, and cement was one of the few words I still had come with me to the MTC from my time in Russia.  

I do translations at church meetings for one man who is American, but decided to move to Russia a few years ago for various reasons, as well as translations from English to Russian for our senior couple on occasion.  Those ones are super hard, just trying to keep up with things as they're moving at full speed, it's a talent like any though, and with hard work it'll hopefully get better.  The language is a lot of fun, and I've had an opportunity to really dive in here in Kaliningrad, more so than at any other point on my mission which has been a really cool experience.  I conducted my first meeting here on Sunday, which was absolutely terrifying.  I've gotten over my fear of speaking at church meetings, but conducting in Russian was a whole new ball game (especially because the church procedure language was not stuff that I've used before, now I know though).  I was really happy because one member asked if I have Russian roots because usually the volunteers don't pick up this quickly, and the only ones who do are the ones who have some roots.  I just told her that I pray a lot, I work really hard to learn the language, and I also have a lot of fun doing it.  Three steps that have really made learning Russian click :).  As the 2nd counselor I also have access to the church material to help me fulfill my calling, and I just want to give a shout out to Uncle Dave/President Goff, Dad, and so many other wonderful examples in my life of people who take on such a heavy responsibility, with a full time job, and family responsibilities, and do it so very well.  You're all examples to me, and I don't feel nearly qualified to be doing some of the things that those very many examples in my life have done.  But the Lord qualifies him whom he calls (Jeremiah 1:5-9, are some of my favorite verses in relation to that).  

We've been trying to be busy this week, but we haven't been able to get meetings that we were hoping for, so we had a lot of time where we just had to try our hardest to be effective.  We're going to put a big push this week to find service opportunities at museums, parks, members, and anywhere where they will take us.  The Area Presidency has promised that here in Russia, what we need to do at this time is show them examples of Christ-like service, and it will soften their hearts and open them up to the message of the gospel.  I know that that promise is true so we're going to give it all we can.  

I love being a volunteer in Russia!  We're the guinea pig stage right now, so we're just trying to figure everything out, but things are going in the right direction, and I'm super excited to see the promise in D&C 123:17 fulfilled.

Love you all, have a great week!  

Elder Belnap  

Picture from the VTC (volunteer training center haha), turns out I'm the tallest in the mission right now ;)

Caught in a rainstorm, and the companion on his birthday (today!!!!  we're going bowling).  My companion is Elder Hawkins, from Utah, grew up on a farm, he's a lot of fun, we get along really well.  He's super funny, although sometimes we don't understand each other because of the very different upbringings.  I've been learning a lot about farm life though, and he's been learning a lot about city life.  Anyway, love you!

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