Monday, April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017

What a week!  Plenty of things to share, but I don't really know where to begin.  First off, I'm fine after the terrorist attack, fortunately no one I know was injured, and there were several miracles that kept the volunteers out of the metro that day, and if it hadn't been bad weather that day, several were planning on gathering right by that metro for playing some outdoor basketball (funny how all the days before and all the days since have had uncharacteristically nice weather for Saint Petersburg).  Here's the short version that my mom asked me to write her: Well, this all happened on our Preparation Day, and we were at the рынок (marketplace), about a half mile from the metro station where the blast occurred, shopping for a new suit for my companion, and we got a call from one set of Elders that they saw a bunch of ambulances and police cars in that area, and that we should leave.  And as my companion and I were leaving we got another call from another set of Elders saying that they heard from an investigator that there was a terrorist attack.  We got in contact with President Childs, he confirmed that there was, and that we can't use transportation, and that we need to get an accounting for everyone in the mission.  So we started walking the 2 or 3 miles to the mission office. There was supposed to be a second blast in a different metro that we walked past on the way home, it was a bomb disguised as a fire extinguisher, but for some reason or another it didn't go off, and it was about 5 times the size, very grateful that it did not.  We got an accounting for everyone in the mission and everyone and we had to stay inside the night while we found out more information and got a better feel for what is going on. 

Anyway, that's all that happened with that this week.  We had to stay out of the metro for a while this week, the US embassy suggested that we stay off on the weekend as well because there were rallies, so it made it interesting doing our work without the metro.  We had a lot to get ready for transfers this upcoming week so that was really fun.  We also had a skype lesson with an investigator in a mission where a friend is serving that wants to know more, but speaks limited English, so that was really fun.  

The best thing this week was unequivocally General Conference.  So many answers received and just a joy to listen to a Prophet of God speak.  I was blown away when he got up and I felt in my heart that President Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet of God on the Earth today.  One of the overall themes for me from conference, was the blessing that it is to choose.  It didn't seem to me as if there was a talk on free agency, but I felt time and time again to write down thoughts pertaining to the wonderful blessing we have to choose, and particularly to choose what is right.  I love it when people here sometimes call us crazy for "losing" 2 years of our lives and that we've been brainwashed.  I love answering "no, I'm perfectly aware that our decision seems to be crazy to you, but it is my decision to do this, and no one else's. I want to be here and serve on a mission."  As we take responsibility for our choices, both good and bad, a sense of great peace comes over us.  

After the Sunday Afternoon Session of Conference, we felt the need just to get outside for a bit (to that point we had been inside all day), but we also had to weekly plan.  So we decided to take a "weekly planning walk" and discuss our plans for this week and what needs to get done.  We started talking about investigators, and I had just finished saying, "What needs to be done to grow our teaching pool?" When a man stopped us and in English said, "Are you the LDS?"  Well, we had a fantastic 30 minute conversation with him, exchanged numbers.  Turns out that in 1997 he worked in Moscow with members of the church and has always been impressed by the light in their eyes, and he told us that's how he told it was us, and that the suits confirmed it, the "LDS uniform" as he calls it.  After that I said, "well, I guess THAT is how we grow our teaching pool." to which Elder DeVol nodded and said, "Enough said."  Miracles are happening, and often we just need to do what feels right in order to see what the Lord has in store.

I love you all so much, you are in my prayers, and I hope you have a great week!  


Elder Belnap

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