Monday, October 3, 2016

October 3, 2016

Dear Mom/Dad/Family/Friends, 

Another great week in Kaliningrad!  The people here are awesome and each day brings something new.  I forgot to mention that last week one of the counselors in the mission presidency came, who was also the mission president 10 years ago in Rostov.  He and his wife are amazing people and it was so much fun to meet them and to get to know them.  

This week we've done lots of service!  For members and in the community.  We've actually had really fun service as you'll see in the picture I sent to you.  That day we had to run from District Meeting to make it on time for service, but we ddin't know that we would be climbing apple trees and collecting apples, anyway, at one point I unintentionally started doing the splits reaching for an apple and my companion told me to hold it while he grabbed his camera.  Anyway, that's how #AirBelnap was born and Sister Larisa agreed to come to Conference this coming week.  Service softens hearts!

We still haven't been able to meet with our investigator, he's been out of town, but hopefully this Friday will work out for him.  Anyway, one of the things we are doing is going to Early Morning Seminary at 6:15 in the morning a few times a week to support our 3 awesome young men in the ward.  They weren't forced to do Early Morning, they chose to do it, they have been coming on their own (with a couple of exceptions).  Two of them are from a family where the parents aren't members, but the parents have supported them going and have encouraged it because they have said that they have been so much more pleasant getting up in the mornings after choosing to go to seminary.  Anyway, they've inspired me and have helped me become a better volunteer here.  Plus, I've been learning more and more about the New Testament that I didn't know.  

Watching them and being with them has caused me to think about how often in our lives we choose not to do things because it's easier to choose the other way out.  These incredible мальчишки (boys) have left a lasting desire on my mind always to not take the easy way out.  They could have told their teacher, "no" and she wouldn't really be in any position to say "yes" because the parents would have gone with the kids either way.  No, they know what choice is the right to make, and although it's been hard for them, they come, and they make that sacrifice.  Oh sometimes how I wish I could be the example that they are to their friends right now of living according to what they believe when I was their age.  They don't quiet down when people do things that they don't think are right, they share their opinions respectfully and walk away from things that they don't want to partake in, and what's awesome, if they have respect from so many people for it.  Anyway, I love all them so very much, and thinking about them reminds me of what President Thomas S. Monson said (now two) conferences ago:
 "May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day—whether to make this choice or that choice—if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice."

I kow that that is a doctrine of truth taught by a prophet, and it gives me guidance in my life each and every day.  I love you all so much and I hope that you have a great week!


Elder Belnap

Some more pictures!  

After zoo service, one of the workers gave us a ride on the little kids train that goes around the zoo, it was a little too much fun.

This picture we have dubbed #AirBelnap for obvious reasons

In Russia if you get a bus ticket where the first three numbers add up and equal the last 3 you have to eat it and it's called a lucky ticket!  So here you go!

Elder and Sister Babskov, the coolest Ukrainian refugee senior couple the world has ever known.  I absolutely love them. 

 Also one member had us all over for a spiritual thought and dinner the other night, her son is serving in Chicago right now, and I actually met him at the MTC!  Fun, right?

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