Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 29, 2017*

I'm sorry that I'm giving you such a title, but that I don't have pictures for you, just as a forewarning, I might have them next week as I gather some from other people. I was really touched mom by what you wrote about Grandma and the days leading to her passing, as well as the days following.  I'm glad that things seemed to go very smoothly, and that it was a very spiritual and family filled moment.  I miss her very much, as I'm sure you do, but I'm glad that her passing went well.  

In other news, this week absolutely flew by.  It was so much fun, and so busy.  On Monday we met with an American guy who has lived in Russia since about 6 months before the fall of the Soviet Union, and that was really fun.  He's a good man, who served a mission and has a strong testimony, but has stopped doing some of the basics.  He invited his friend over to participate in one a discussion, and it went really well.  We also got to give a very spirit filled blessing to Scott's (the American) mom, who is a wonderful lady who has stage 4 kidney failure and said she's somehow just plugging along.  She reminded me a lot of Grandma about 7 years ago or so, or whenever she had recovered from her first stroke, but before the second one.  

We also got to represent the church with stake leaders and President and Sister Childs this week at a memorial for the end of the Siege of Ленинград which was a very special experience.  We got to learn more about just the suffering these people experienced during 3 years of being completely shut off by the Nazis.  There was one way that they were able to get supplies, but it was very limited and it was done by driving trucks across in the dead of winter when the lakes had frozen over into a part of Finland not under Nazi control in order to get supplies.  The truck drivers would drive with the truck doors open just so that if the ice started to crack, they could jump on out and have a chance of surviving.  We carried a big bouquet of flowers through the cemetery, and there were all these huge mass graves from the time, and it was just sorted out by year.  It was a very touching experience.  

I also got to go back to Новгород this weekend!  We went with President Childs, and I absolutely love that city and being around the Childs.  Just getting to ask them questions and hear about their experiences.  I asked a question on the ride down about really pondering the scriptures and how they've tried to really think about things deeply and check for their own understanding, and really think about what they're reading, because sometimes I feel that I'm just surface level thinking about things.  Anyway, President Childs told us about a time where he really wanted to understand Isaiah better, and so he would write a 5 sentence synopsis of every chapter, and what it was actually about, and he said he had to do a lot of thinking in order to put it in his own words and have it really make sense, as well as a lot of background study.  It also just worked out that the family from the little city a few hours away was up visiting for that weekend, and so I got to see the 10 kids, as well as translate, say hello to денис for whose baptism I was serving in новгород.  It just reminded me how hard it will be to say goodbye, I love the people here in Russia, and don't ever want to say goodbye.  That's why I like the Russian saying, "Мы не будем прощаться, мы скажем до свидания."  It means "We won't say farewell, we'll say until we meet."  Anyway, it was such a tender mercy, and oh so fun.  I got to meet with my investigator саша who's doing really well, and translate for President Child's talk, everyone was shocked at my Russian speaking now, I guess that's what happens when you serve in a place for your second area and you come back almost 8 months later.  

Anyway, I love you all, sorry that it was a bit of a travelogue this week.  To wrap things up I'll send you a verse that I really liked from my scripture study.  It's Matthew 10:42 and it reads:

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

I was thinking about that verse a lot, and for me it meant that whosoever will serve those in the name of Christ, not for his own lot or sake, will in no wise lose the reward of eternal life.  I know that as we try to mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, that we are blessed and happy, knowing that we are doing the will of God.  I've experienced that feeling many a time, and it always brings me great peace.  I love you all so very much!

Have a great week!

Elder Belnap

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