Last week, the older Elders learning Russian and Ukrainian left, and that makes us the older Elders now. A bunch (I think 60 from both zones) left last week and only 5 new Ukrainian speaking Elders are coming in tomorrow. And then a few native speakers will arrive the week after if my memory serves me correctly. As a result, our districts are being split up so the teachers of the former Elders will have Elders to teach. The four Vladivostok Elders in my district (me, E. Zamora, E. Winkler, and E. Johnson) are being taken from our class and put in a new one with two other Elders going to Rostov, Russia. I'm bummed mostly because I've really come to love my teachers. They both have taught me so much, and I learn well from both of them. Plus, our District is Brother Beck's last one he'll be teaching because he's moving, and Brother Savage served in Vlad. But one of my new teachers was his trainer in Vlad and is an awesome teacher as well. I know the change is for the best, but it's still a bummer. I'll still see the Kiev, Ukraine elders all the time so that doesn't bother me at all. Anyways, enough about my complaining. Ha Ha!
Last week, Elder Quentin L. Cook came to speak and it was such a powerful and awesome address. There was a different spirit there. A stronger spirit was felt because he's one of the Twelve Apostles. It was so special to see him walk in and all the missionaries stand in reverence for his calling and position as one of the Twelve. Sister Cook spoke about music which was so perfect because I've really come to love music even more, as it conveys the Spirit of the Lord so strongly. I can usually feel the spirit testify of the messages of the hymns we sing so much more than I can when a message is simply shared in words. I hope that makes sense. She caused us all to contemplate on how the attributes of Christ are all represented in the hymns we sing, and I've started studying more the words in each of the hymns. The choir directors we have on Sunday and Tuesday both impress this upon us each time we sing. (By the way, I LOVE going to choir here; partly because the choir director on Sunday reminds me so much of Brian Regan but mostly because of the Spirit I feel when we sing as a collective body of missionaries. It's so powerful!) We sang “Come Thou Fount” (one of my favorite hymns) and the director opened my eyes to the meaning behind the whole song and about all the symbolism that comes from the Old Testament. Go study it if you can because it has such an applicable message to all of us. Anyway, so then Elder Cook spoke, and he talked about how this is a unique time to be sharing our message with the world because of the difficulties many people are facing now. The economy is poor, obviously, and many people are struggling. He related this to the panic of 1837, when the economy was doing horribly and how the Lord had Joseph send missionaries to England, and as a result of the peoples' struggles, their hearts were open because they were searching for God and truth. Elder Cook spoke a lot about Doctrine and Covenants section 112 and how many of the verses apply to us as missionaries. He told us that we should strive to live in such a way so as to invite the Holy Spirit to inspire us every day, and then he shared D&C 6:22-23.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?"
He mentioned about how inadequate he felt when called to be an Apostle. When Pres. Hinckley extended the call, he said that he had tried to tell Pres. Hinckley that he was not capable but Pres. Hinckley just waved him off and said in a way only Pres. Hinckley could, "Now I don't want to hear any of that." That made me laugh. :) He also said that Elder Packer has often commented to the other Twelve that he feels incapable at times to fulfill his calling. If Elder Packer can feel incapable, than what I'm feeling now as I'm struggling with Russian is normal. :) I know the Lord can strengthen me and stretch me and take me to new heights with my gospel knowledge and with the supercrazy-how-will-I-ever-be-able-to-speak-this language that we call Russian. I just have to have faith. And more of it. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf because I sure need them.
Tell Noah Garrett and Lucian Bates that I'm so grateful for their letters. And Grandma and Grandpa Bush for the pictures and Grandma and Grandpa Gee for the letters and cookies! THEY WERE DELICIOUS! :) I love you all so much. Continue to pray for me. I teach for the second time in Russian tomorrow night, so I'll need the help. Oh! I saw Elder Graham just a few minutes ago! He looks like he's doing so well! I forgot to mention to you last week to somehow get the word to him to take a long nap before he reported. Because once you're here, you won't take a nap for two years. :) Haha.
Love you ALL!