I'm so excited to leave on Thursday and so nervous all at the same time. Elder Johnson and I got up this morning around 3:30 to say goodbye to the Elders leaving for Kiev. And on that note, these last few days, I don't think I have ever given so many "man" hugs in my life. I really have come to love the Elders I have served with in the MTC. I have learned so much and have grown and changed a lot in my knowledge and feelings of the gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ. I laid in bed this morning trying to fall back to sleep just after 4ish and I felt a little overwhelmed thinking about all that will transpire in the coming days. I'm going to Russia. On the other side of the world! How crazy is that?! I'm so excited because I have this burning desire in my heart to go. All that I have learned throughout my life, all the spiritual experiences that Lord has blessed me with, it all has brought me so much joy and peace and comfort and I'm so grateful to have it in my life.
Elder Pace spoke a couple weeks ago about our Father in Heaven and shared many personal spiritual experiences that strengthened my testimony so much. I have come to feel in my heart, even more here, that Jesus is the Christ and God the Father is my Heavenly Father. They love me more than I can comprehend. Wow I love this work. And I haven't even really started 'working'. I love the change that it has wrought in me. I know I will change even more into the person my Heavenly Father wants me to become. Not that my personality will change and I'll be a totally different person, but Brother Savage gave us some parting advice yesterday. He counseled us to let the atonement of Jesus Christ change each of us as we serve. That change will be a magnifying and increasing of our abilities and our personality in a way that can only be brought about by relying on the Lord. I hope that makes sense.
Anyway, if you want to know how I'm feeling right now, it's a lot of things. SO EXCITED and super scared all at the same time. Some days, my faith is stronger and I feel I have a greater love for those I will serve because, as the scriptures say (1st John 4:18) “Perfect love casteth out all fear.” Other days, my faith falls short and I feel immensely scared of what's to come. Thank goodness for prayer. And the scriptures. And music. In class, we all give spiritual thoughts in Russian, so this last week, I decided to sing because nothing has ever brought the spirit more powerfully into my heart than music (you already all know this). My teacher, Br. Boyer, asked us to focus on a name of Christ and share about why he has that name. Mine was the Good Shepherd, so I decided to sing "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd" in Russian. I know my voice is terrible. I could never dream of being Mormon Tabernacle Choir quality or getting past the first round of American Idol. But the Spirit of the Lord entered the room when I sang. I felt it. Not because of my voice (although I feel strongly that there were angels singing with me making it sound a whole lot better) but because of the words I was singing. And I didn't even understand half of what I said. But the spirit isn't constrained by language. I know the Lord is our Good Shepherd and we all can come to know His voice if we will turn and follow Him. I know I haven't always been really good at that. Sometimes I want to say as Nephi did, “O wretched man that I am!” And since I sometimes feel inadequate and scared of what I will be doing soon, I turned to the Lord this morning in the temple and pleaded he would help me and lead me. I turned in the Book of Mormon to the index and my eyes first fell on the name of Amulek. I immediately thought of myself in his shoes. I haven't always been perfect and sometimes I do stupid things. Amulek wasn't perfect either, but he turned unto the Lord, and as a result, he taught with so much power through the Spirit. I felt this morning this peace as the thought came, "Spencer, Elder Bush, you can teach as Amulek did when in Russia." I love the temple, I love the scriptures, and I love the Lord. It was a tender mercy, about which Nephi speaks, that the Lord blessed me this morning with comfort to know that I will be made equal to this calling. Br. Savage told us yesterday, "I cannot promise it will be easy. Actually, I can promise it will most definitely not be easy. It will be the hardest thing you ever do. But the Lord qualifies all those he calls." I already have seen that come to pass and I know it will be even more apparent and more real to me in Vlad.
I have loved my MTC experience and I'm proud to have joined the group of people wearing the "black name tag". Oh by the way, Brother Seamons (one of my branch presidency members) spoke on Sunday night to the MTC. He served as a mission president in the Leads England mission, and he spoke to us about the black name tag. Every time I look at that tag, I see my name next to my brother, Jesus Christ's name, and I feel to honored to serve a mission. I love you all so much!!!!!!!!!!!! I pray for you day and night. God be with you til we meet again.
Love your son,