Monday, March 5, 2012

My Last Letter from the Mission

Well my dear fam,

This is the last letter I'll be sending on home. Kinda strange to think about. I love you all a ton and I'm super excited to see you all soon. Yes mom, I would love to come to seminary. And don't worry about my sleep. I'll be completely fine.  Matt, HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I hope you had a wonderful birthday! I can't wait to see you, bud!! I love you all so much. And I know that this work that I've had the opportunity to participate in is the Lord's work. Jesus is indeed the Christ. God is our loving Heavenly Father. I know this with all my heart. See you outside of baggage claim!

Старейшина Буш

Monday, February 27, 2012

Elder Bush Speaking in Church

Spencer will be speaking at our church on Sunday, March 11 @ 11:00 am. Anyone is welcome to attend. The church is located at the intersection of Lake Emma Road and Greenway.  Just so that no one is uncomfortable, most men wear slacks, a dress shirt and tie, and most women wear dresses.

I wanted to point out that the open house (announced below) for Spencer is for his friends and our neighbors, not for the members of our church, who will be able to see him at church on Sunday.  We want it to be an intimate setting for Spencer to be able to visit and catch up with his friends.

Love for the People

Dear Fam,

I have absolutely no idea where this past week went. It seemed to have just disappeared. Winter has for some reason returned to Vlad. Seemed for a few days that all was getting warmer and winter would be all together a fleeting thought. But, it was either Tuesday or Wednesday when I awoke to a snow covered Vlad and the cold had once again returned. Well really, it was the wind that had returned which made it feel a lot colder. Some days, it's really weird to think that back home, it's warm enough to go to the beach.

It's amazing to me to see the Lord's hand in my life. And while the opportunities and spiritual sensitivity to recognize them have been greater, I know that we all have that chance to see His great hand in our lives daily. I'm thankful for the molding, trying, refining (if you will) experience that I've been blessed to go through. And it's an enormous blessing to still have another week ahead of me. It's taught me a lot. Mostly about me. And my Savior. I'm absolutely sure of one fact... I'm in need of His atoning mercy and love. His grace is greater than we can really understand. His love is pure and unchanging. He is the Prince of Peace, an everlasting peace that fills me in my time of need and in my time of rejoicing. I'm extremely grateful for the lessons I've learned and relearned and learned once more while I've had the chance to represent our Elder Brother, even Jesus the Christ.

One lesson I'll quickly share was impressed upon me since we had quite a lot of time dedicated this past week to contacting and our finding efforts. First off, the Lord wants to see our desires and our efforts. Our efforts, however monumental they may be, are meaningless when our desire is absent or misplaced. Sincere desire to do the Lord's work or more importantly, to fulfill His will, is essential to receiving the Lord's intended blessings. I know that. Second, even when we have a true and righteous desire and we put forth all of our efforts, we may not receive the results we desired or hoped for. And it's super important not to let that simple fact influence your faith, desire, or diligence. Really easy to say. Hard to actually do.

I had a neat experience this past Saturday when we gathered as a district to street contact. Every once in a while, we all gather in one area to strive to cover the whole area and increase our chances of finding someone who's interested. Just so happened that this past weekend, we gathered in the area of my birth where I served with Elder Waltman and where we made quite a lot of memories. It was neat to walk those streets once again and remember all the times Elder Waltman and I had worked there. That seems like so long ago! People weren't so interested. And while the reactions we got weren't really any different than what we got 2 years ago, I have changed. A lot. 1) I understand more Russian. 2) I think I love the people a little bit more. At least I hope I do. The hardest thing I encountered this past week was when we strive to simply do good, to share a message of peace, comfort, and hope, and people turn that away in such a way that you weren't expecting. Even after 2 years, those reactions from people who you're only trying to help are still hard to deal with. But you continue because you love the Lord and you love the people.

Lastly, I want to take a second, and express an enormous thank you to everyone who has ever once prayed for me and supports me because I'm truly grateful for your prayers and love. I have felt the power of those prayers. I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful family and friends, and I really hope that you all know I think about you, I pray for you, and I'm rather excited to share stories about this wonderful land upon my return.

I love you all! I hope you have a fantastic week!

Elder Bush

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Open House

Elder Bush will be returning home in March, and we will be having an open house for Spencer's friends and our neighbors.  Feel free to stop by and say hello.

1349 S. Ridge Lake Circle, Longwood
Saturday, March 10 from 5-8 pm

Teaching a Family

Dear Fam,

Glad to hear from you today! All is well in Vladivostok. I'll quickly share some of the highlights of this past week... Well, actually, probably the biggest of highlights was that we had a fantastic lesson with the family we've been meeting with. As I may have already mentioned, one of the sons was baptized nearly 5 years ago and he's currently 15. It's been an awfully rewarding experience to get to know him and his family. His brothers are great! His youngest brother read 3/4's of the children’s Book of Mormon in only a few days! And they both came to church yesterday! That was probably the best part of the week. In fact, that was the best part of the last three transfers, seeing them at church with us and the members welcoming them back. They were surprised to see them and remembered them all being much younger since it's been several years since they attended. Interestingly enough, it's not just about getting people to come to our church or to go to church at all. This work is all about helping one another return home to Father in Heaven. Attending church is simply one way we grow closer to him as we enter into and keep our covenants with him. Honestly, I've really done nothing personally to make that happen. I've simply been an instrument in the Lord's hands.

I'm super grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the Lord. His work is the best. It's hard but it's the best. I know that the Lord is the Master Teacher. He is really good at molding us if we will just let Him teach us. I'm extremely grateful for all that He has taught me about me. I have so much more to learn and do. And that's the exciting part about this life, about the plan of our Father. We're here to grow continually.

We've seen a little more success this past week. The weather's been getting a little warmer. But I'm still wearing my shopka because other people are still wearing their shopkas. And besides, it looks great! :)

President Pratt is in Turkey right now for Mission President Seminar. So that's probably exciting for them! This week should be a good one.

Sorry I don't have much interesting to tell you. Oh! The new senior couple that will be working in the office flew in this past week and so Elder Steed and I have been helping them get around. They're from Bakersfield, CA.

Well, that's about it for this week. Hope you all enjoy sleeping in another day! Love you all a ton!

Elder Bush

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Best Two Years

Greetings from Russia once again,

How's the Bush clan doing? Mom, once again, I hope you had a very wonderful birthday! I love you a ton!! I was glad to hear from y'all and I pray you're all safe and happy. So here's the low down on my current doings:

I had the awesome opportunity to help with a financial training this past week that was put on by a senior couple who are currently living/serving in Moscow but travel all over the country to deliver this special training. The husband, Elder Heufner, served in the Navy for a long while and also worked for almost 30 years as a checker (I don't really remember what it's called but basically, it's like an auditor) for a large corporation and due to his background, he was called to serve as an Area Auditor for the Europe east area. Really wonderful couple and we (Elder Shannon and I) had the chance to show them around Vlad for a little bit. I was with Elder Shannon, one of the office elders, because both of our companions were in Korea this past week on a visa trip. President Pratt asked the both of us to take care of them by taking them out to lunch and then taking them to see the city. They enjoyed the pizza place we took them to and then we took them to a submarine/museum here in the city that I had never been to, but I've heard about. It was really neat! Especially because Elder Heufner had worked with submarines. We also took them to Cinnabon which they loved. :) Hard not to love a wonderful cinnamony frosting filled treat. :)

The training they did was really inspired. It really impressed upon me just how important the funds of the church are. The work our leaders do is vitally important and super sacred.

I was stuck working in the office this past week for several days while Elder Steed was gone. It was on the one hand, not so fun. On the other, it was great to get some good work done in the office and to help Elder Shannon accomplish important officy things.

We had a great lesson this past week with an awesome family we've been meeting with. I love teaching the gospel. I realize that I'm an awful teacher and I sure need to work on my teaching skills. Thankfully, I have the opportunity to learn for the rest of my life. In fact, I passed my two year mark this past week as you all very well know. And it's been really interesting to reflect upon all that I've learned. And it's sure been a lot. I can't really believe all that time has already passed. I'm immensely grateful for all that I've learned so far in these best two years and for the chance to continue learning in the time I have remaining.

I love you all! Sorry I didn't write a ton this week. There's tons of craziness as usual. I've been translating a ton for President since the last month we've been having branch conferences. Glad to have a little break from translating each week! Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Bush

Monday, February 6, 2012

Visit to Nakhodka

Dear fam,

Well, I finally got the splendid chance to see the wonderful city of Nakhodka! Guess that means I've finally made it to every city in the mission where there are currently missionaries. It was a really neat weekend. Well, to be honest, it was a very interesting, stressful, productive, and all around awesome weekend. It was slightly frustrating because President and Elder Steed had to work with some members who have been apostatizing and don't want to change/remain in the church. So in light of that, it was a little bit of a depressing trip to Nakhodka. But, on a positive note, I got the chance to work with some awesome missionaries there! It really was a super good experience to work with some missionaries who are tremendously younger than I and yet, I learned so much from seeing their examples. We had a great lesson with a member and later with 2 different investigators. One of them was really really interesting. And slightly paranoid. He thinks everyone and  his neighbors are after him and have been for several years. I'll tell you more about him later. :) Anyways, the more I'm involved in the Lord's work, the more I realize and am continually convinced that He leads the work. It's His work, His kingdom, His Spirit that directs us to bring about His will.

The city itself was uniquely beautiful. It's certainly a port city and from what I saw, it seems that a lot of the people there already know who we are. A lot of them immediately told us to keep on walking and that they were fine. Yet some of them were interested in hearing more from us or at the very least, they were willing to talk. The ride to and from Nakhodka was fun. We got the chance to learn from President Pratt what it was like for him to sing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir years and years ago. It's fun to get to know people better. I've really loved making new friends here while I've been in Russia.

I'm not really sure what else to share with you all. I've had some great studies lately in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. I love the verses in John 15 (specifically verse 2 and 5 I think) that tell about how the Lord purges us when we do what he wants so that we can bring forth more fruit as well as the fact that we must rely upon the Lord if we really desire to bring forth any kind of fruit. I know that the scriptures are from God. They're for us. Plain and simple.

Lately, I've been a little worried about my ability to love others. Let me explain why I say this... Charity, or the pure love of Christ, is what we're all striving to develop. There have been times when I've recognized in myself the beginnings and slow development of charity within me. Yet, at other times, I worry because I feel I'm losing charity. Because sometimes, it's hard to love everybody. It's difficult to feel that true love of Christ inside of you always. I'm simply grateful that I have the rest of my life to continue to develop attributes inherent in Christ.

I love you all! Just heard the Giants won the super bowl. Go Giants! Glad to hear Eli Manning is rocking it in the football world. I hope you all have a wonderful week this upcoming week. Sounds like things are clicking with the business, Dad. You're still in my prayers!

Elder Bush

p.s. the weather outside isn't so frightful. In fact it's warming up a bit. In case you were wondering. :)