Well, it's been snowing quite a lot lately which I can't understand because it's APRIL, and it shouldn't be doing that! Haha! But that's my opinion. One day it can be beautiful and showing signs of a warm spring and the next, it's freezing cold with snow everywhere! I've come to realize that I'll never understand Utah weather and I guess I'm ok with that.
This Easter was the best Easter I have ever experienced. It was truly a unique experience to be on my mission, to be in such a special place as the MTC, and to hear from the Lord's prophet and apostles on such a hallowed day. Unfortunately, I left my study journal in my room and so I don't have my notes in front of me but how awesome were all the addresses in Conference?! At the end of each session, I found myself not glad the session was over so I could go eat or get up and move around or do something else. Instead, I felt devastated and said to myself, "Is that all?! I don't want to have to wait 2 hours for the next session!" I loved conference so much and I feel it was probably the best one I have ever witnessed. Then again, we probably all say that each conference. The greatest message I got from all the speakers was how important the family is in our life and in God's plan. How important it truly is to teach one another in the family those things that are of lasting importance. Thank you Mom and Dad for instilling in me all that you taught me. I'll be eternally grateful for the example you both have been to me.
So about Russian... I wouldn't say it's getting any easier but I'm beginning to understand more of the grammar and the principles behind the language. It is certainly stretching me. There have been points in my stay here that I have wished I could serve here in the states or somewhere in the world where my native tongue is spoken. I could convey my thoughts and feelings so much quicker. But like I've said before, missions are not supposed to be easy. When I let myself think all this, I stop and think of the Russian people. And I think of the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 91 I think? The one that says something to the effect that all men shall hear the fullness of the gospel in their own tongue. (D&C 90:11 "For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ.") When I first read this, I felt this tremendous burden placed on my shoulders. I felt so inadequate. And at times, I still do. But now when I read it, I realize I may not be fully qualified to complete that responsibility now, but the Lord does qualify His servants and makes them equal to their calling IF they turn to Him and lean on Him for their support. When I humble myself and turn to Him, the language is so much easier and I can feel my tongue being loosed. I have already experienced this in simple ways when I'm studying and when I'm teaching. Yesterday, I sat in class and looked outside and there was quite a tempest blowing. The tree outside was being tossed about and I had the song recalled to my mind "Master the Tempest is Raging." It hit me that I can either choose to be the small limb at the end of a branch or I can be a large branch or the trunk of the tree. I can let myself be blown about and tossed around or I can root myself in Christ and His infinite Atonement and be as the trunk, relatively unaffected by the tempest ragging around it. Just an interesting thought I felt was guided by the Spirit. Then on Sunday night, we had our usual MTC fireside but instead of a normal fireside, we sang almost the entire time. It was the perfect ending to the best Easter I have ever had. I sang in Russian most of the night and surprisingly I understood a lot of what I sang. But more than that, even when I didn't understand the song, I felt the Spirit of the Lord so strongly, testifying to me the truth of the words in the hymns of the church. It was so powerful and such a strengthening experience to me. And then I watched the Joseph Smith movie again. This time, it hit me that I want to be like his older brother, Alvin. I want to be the big brother that sets a good example for my family. I know I haven't been perfect at it, and I haven't always shown each of you the love and kindness you deserve, but I want you to know I love you with all my heart. And I'm so grateful we are united in the gospel. I love you all! Thank you for your constant love and support and prayers.