Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17, 2016*

Dear Family and Friends, 

First off, thanks for all the pictures mom!  My takeaways from all your pictures: 1. Tristan takes after his dad 100%.  I was laughing to myself about that 2. Your accidental pictures are some of the greatest archaelogical finds we've had in this century, your coffee table one had me laughing a fair amount. 3. Spencer has gone from boy to man. Rebecca has gone from my little sister, to a woman. 4.  I miss sitting in that family room with Grandma and Grandpa, I love them very much, and they look so cute all huddled up.

This week has been interesting at times, but definitely one of my favorites to date.  Because of new things with the law in Russia, we had to spend a couple days this week making sure that all documents, everything, was in order, as well as going through our church building and doing the same things.  So that took up about 2 days and was a part of the not as fun parts of this week, but still had to get done, and is worth doing to make sure that we're in complaince with the law on all levels.  We've had several people come randomly to the church which has been really cool.  Our Branch President asked us to be in the ward building on certain days, and we have up on a bulletin board the times when we'll be in the building, and those are times where the members know they can come to practice the piano, let their kids play in the primary room, prepare for talks, you name it.  We've already had several experiences where especially at those times when we're scheduled to be in the building, people coming up and asking about our English Group (which we don't have anymore), but then we tell them about the Game Night, and in that way we've found 4 new people who are really cool!  

We have one investigator working towards being baptized, he's really incredible.  He says he's always trying to get his family interested, was talking to his nephew about it, loves reading the Book of Mormon, and his dream is to get an article published in the Liahona.  We've had trouble setting a baptismal date with him, but last week I think I already mentioned that after a session of conference he said that he became richer spiritually and that he'll tell us what day he'll chose to get baptized soon.  We've been concerned that he has some misunderstandings of what is expected of him, and we've been working on that, just so that he is aware entirely of the standards that are expected to keep before he gets baptized (keeping the Sabbath Day holy, the Word of Wisdom, and other commandments).  I'm praying that I'll be able to share with you what day he will be getting baptized in next week's email :).  

We also had 2 awesome meetings in one day this week with members of the church who have stopped coming to church.  They were both very powerful spiritually, and we just came home laughing and smiling the whole way home just because of the great feelings that we were experiencing.  In one of the meetings the senior couple from Ukraine was with us (they are my favorite people in the world, always teaching us funny things, Russian sayings, songs, or nursery rhymes.  My favorite one is "танцы на завтрак, танцы на обед, танцы на ужин, вот и весь секрет" it's a little song and it translates literally to "dances at breakfast, dances at lunch, and dances at dinner, that's the whole secret" and it was used in the context of "if all you do all three meals is dance, then you'll get skinny real quick".  It makes me laugh everytime. Also, Sister B. is so funny and knows a bit of English, and she came up with a district meeting which goes, "Peace, Friendship, and Pies" (she came up with it on her own and was super proud).  Anyway, they're my Ukrainian grandparents, and who knows, when you're off in whatever place you get sent off to next, I might need to put them up in the house in Ogden for a time :).  Anyway, they were there for one lesson, just testifying of the strength of following and keeping God's commandments.  Before they were refugees from Ukraine, Elder B. had a very successful and respected business, but no matter how big they got, and how much his workers asked him to work another day so they could grow their business, he would always tell them, "5 days we work, the 6th day you spend with your family, go on a date with your wife, whatever you want, but on the 7th day, we give that to the Lord."  I love hearing members testify of truths they have come to know through experience and testing of the word :).  After that we went to another man's home, and we just broke the ice real quick.  We ended up showing him how to download the Gospel Library on his tablet and he was so excited and grateful.  We're working with him on taking the necessary steps to start coming back to church and repent on whatever he feels he needs to repent of that he mentioned with us at our meeting.  He's someone who is ready to come back :).

All in all, a great week!  Plus, I had to be on the phone with a lawyer in Moscow, (Олег Румянцев) don't know if he worked with dad or not, but next thing I know he said that there was someone who wanted to say hi!  Next thing I know I'm talking to Nadya!  It was so much fun talking to her in Russian, she told me that she still has a recording on her phone of David and I singing a song about New York when we were in the car, and that she'll listen to it from time to time to make her laugh.  We've gotten to know many a great person :).  This week I was especially struck by the verse in 3 Nephi 18:32.  Go give that one a read, I just love that we really have no idea when someone is ready or willing to receive the Gospel, or live in accordance with it, all that we can do is trust God, continue to be good friends and examples of our belief, and love all those who are around us.  Isn't that just such a nice comforting message?  Things really are in the Lord's hands, and we just need to trust him enough in order to do what we are asked to do and use our free agency wisely in order to bless the lives of those who surround us.  

Love you!

Elder Belnap

Food from our ward picnic, and my companion dancing with Sister B. to a traditional Russian folk song

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