Monday, December 12, 2016

December 12, 2016

Dear Family and Friends!

This week went by really fast and it was a really good week! Thank you for many a birthday wish, and a special thank you to Terri who shares the same birthday as me and wrote a really nice note.  And Emily Watts who took a screenshot of a snapchat taken in honor for my birthday.  

The birthday was really, really, really good.  And I'm sorry, but it's not possibly something that I can share over the email.  I've been getting teary eyed all week thinking about the experiences of that day, and the love that God has for me and all His children.  I had one of the most tender moments of my mission where I just felt that God loves all of us, and that we are children of God.  I also, for various reasons involving my responsibilities here in Kaliningrad, as well as the fact that it was my birthday, had to talk to President Childs 6 times.  I can only imagine if he had to talk to each volunteer here in our mission (about 60) 6 times a day, and how he would have no time for anything else.  He's such a good man, and I'm glad he doesn't go home until I go home.  It's comforting :).  In other news, we found a store that gets all incredible American projects, including DOUBLE STUFFED OREOS!!!  Don't EVER take the extra little stuff for granted, it makes all the difference in the world. Anyway, I celebrated with a couple of Oreo sleeves shared with my companion and the other Elders in the district.  We actually did the celebrating on P-Day, so the day before my birthday, and we got some nice шашлык from a butcher shop as well as eating those Oreos.  By the way, the no sugar thing fell off for a while, but I'm back on the horse.  

I also got to go on a couple day split with Elder Houston, because Elder Larson was getting transfered, and Elder Tribe had a visa trip, so I arranged for us to stay instead of flying into Peter and being up there for a couple of days without a lot to do.  It was really fun, he's on his 2nd transfer, and his Russian is killing it.  I've made it my personal goal to help him speak better than me by the time I leave the mission. I love this quote from President Ezra Taft Benson,"We can choose to humble ourselves by conquering enmity toward our brothers and sisters, esteeming them as ourselves, and lifting them as high or higher than we are." This was said in his conference talk, "Beware of Pride" in April of 1989.  I don't fully understand how to lift people higher than we are if we''re not also lifting ourselves up, but as I've thought about it it's made me think about what the Savior said in Matthew 6:28, 30-32 when he said:
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

As we exemplify the Savior and try to focus on lifting others, our Heavenly Father knows our needs and will bless us for our desire to serve and help others. I love that promise in these scriptures, and the challenge to think less about "Me, me, me" and "I, I, I" but to truly try to help and serve our friends, those in our families, and anyone that we might meet.  I'm grateful for this Christmas season to remember the Savior and the peace that his Gospel brings.  I've felt that peace in my life as I try to help others understand that peace, and my understanding has been strengthened and deepened as I try to help others.  Try and think about Him at this time of the year where we remember His birth. Share some of the peace that only Christ can bring into our lives, and it will strengthen your understanding of that very same peace.  I love you all very much and I hope you have a great week!  Thanks again for the birthday wishes!


Elder Belnap

Pictures are with the Бабсковы and with my covered oreo...yum!

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