Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27, 2017

Dear Family and Friends, 

What a week!  It was so good and flew by just so fast.  I really can not grasp entirely how it just flew by, and hear we are and it is almost April.  I'll start by wishing you с прошедшим днем рождения (a belated birthday)! I would have wished you a happy early birthday, but that's unlucky here :).  I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it and had a good time out and about with Aunt Carolee.  I'm also glad to hear about all the good things that are going on, and that you are enjoying your favorite thing--taxes.  Also, I never knew that you had a Native American "sister" who lived with you for a time.  Or maybe you did tell me, but I just didn't register that you actually had someone live with you for a time.  Can you fill me more in?  I'm interested.  Also, yes Dad I am interested in family history, I just don't know entirely how to do it, and you'll have to show me a bit when I get home.  If you want to come pick me up, you'll have to take care of that quickly, and I have a request to show you Kaliningrad if we do go :). 

Speaking of Kaliingrad, it was so much fun.  It feels like my home ward there.  Not many people knew that we were coming, and so it was a big surprise for many.  They really are my family down there.  I went on a split with Elder Ward, and we went to go running with the previous branch president (leader of the congregation in Kaliningrad), Президент Крот, and he had no idea I was coming.  He came up and gave me a big bear hug. We just talked about life, how he is doing, he is doing a lot better, we talked about some gospel topics, how the ward is doing and how we can help. It was just one of those experiences you live for, where you feel the Spirit, and see such wonderful people that you have come to love.  Our visit also coincided with the baptism of a younger man that came to the church about a week or 2 after I left on his own and completely of his own volition, he was just interested what was there.  I went to the Secretary's office and talked with Брат Кудряшов, he's the one who poked his head in during my skype call.  He finished up finances and we just talked a bit, how things are in his family.  He's the only active member of his whole family and just the biggest most lovable man I know, and he needs support.  At the end he said that he's always glad to see me and talk to me, and President Krot said that he's sure I'll be back at some point, I'm just not the type of person to fall away.  I really hope I can introduce you to all of them someday :).  

We also had a really good meeting with our investigator Tamara.  She came over to the bishops house and it was just a really good meeting.  I love being around the Childs, they are just so good, and I really do love both of them so much.  They inspire me to be better, do better, and really love people.  They are so concerned and in touch with individual people.  I know that they find the strength to remember names, really care, and truly love the people that they meet, because they pray to have charity and share that love with others.   It makes me think of this wonderful talk called the Character of Christ.  Christ never turned inward, but rather was always focused on others, and he was never selfish, but rather selfless.  What wonderful things we can learn about sincerity and love from the Savior of mankind.  As I try to study his example, my love for people grows, and as I pray the same thing happens.  

I love the opportunity to serve this people and the blessing it truly is to try and teach them about Christ, the example for us all, and if we learn from his example we can learn that, yes, we do make mistakes and that there is consequences for sin, but that we can repent quickly. I love this quote from Elder Holland: 

"If there is one lament I cannot abide, it is the poor, pitiful, withered cry, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” If you want to talk about discouraging attitudes, that is one that discourages me. Please spare me your speeches about “That’s just the way I am.” I’ve heard that from too many people who wanted to sin and call it psychology. And I use the word sin to cover a vast range of habits which bring discouragement and doubt and despair.

You can change anything you want to change and you can do it very fast. It is another Satanic falsehood to believe that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say “I’ll change”—and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend—indeed, you had better spend—the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as it did for Alma and the Sons of Mosiah."

As we focus on him, we can learn how to repent quickly, learn how to love, and learn how to be forgiven.  We can learn how to keep working on our personal growth while not getting upset when the said personal growth isn't as quick as we would like.  We can learn the blessings of obedience to God, and the true joy that it brings.  We can better understand the great responsibility we have to use our free agency to make correct decisions.  

I love you all, I love Russia, I'm so grateful for the people here, the language, all of it.  It's a beautiful, miraculous place.  I'll hear from you next week!


Elder Belnap

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