Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Stressful Week

Well, this last week sure has been a crazy one. First of all, I've been transferred to Ussuriysk and am now serving in Center with Elder Williams. I'll try to get you some pictures soon. And wow, is it different here! I am still trying to get used to the quietness and lack of craziness that I've become accustomed to in Vlad. It's beautiful here too in its own unique way. The weather is really rainy. I think Ussuriysk is the land of puddles. :) I'm really kind of excited to be here in Center because this is Brother Boyer's area and where Brother Savage served (both my teachers in the MTC).

Now I don't want to sound like I'm complaining but the stress of this last week getting to Korea and back and then to Ussurisk has taken a bit of a toll on me. This may sound silly but there’s just been a lot of craziness and a lot of change all very quickly, and I don't think I was prepared for it. Keep praying for me. I certainly could use it.

Secondly, Korea was amazing! Absolutely stressful but amazing! I tried really hard not to let it stress me out but that was pretty hard. So due to a little miscommunication, Elder Winkler and I got to the bus station in Vlad later than we should have and had to get a bus to the airport that was an hour later than the one we should have been on. Thankfully, traffic wasn't bad, so I started to feel ok after several phone calls to the assistants trying to figure out if we would make it. Then the police pulled our bus over which killed 10 precious minutes of time and stressed me out like crazy. The last thing I wanted to do was miss our flight and waste the church’s money. Thankfully, we got there just in time and got through passport control and security with enough time to spare. Getting to the airport and to Korea and to the temple was all a very big experience for me especially since it was just me, Elder Zamora, and Elder Winkler. We were all new to Korea and had no idea where we were going with the exception of some printed out instructions. I just kept reminding myself, other elders have done it. We'll be able to do it too. We found the temple and I absolutely loved it! The endowment had translation so I was able to listen in English and Russian. I really loved doing it in Russian since I understood a lot of it.

We went to Dondemun which is the shopping place where you can get tons of ties. We got lost getting there but that's ok. We found it eventually. Well, I'm about out of time. I'm so sorry this letter is so short and lame and not very informative. I have pictures but I don't have time to send them so I'll get them to you next week. :)

I love you all so much and I very much appreciate your prayers.

Love Elder Bush

p.s. McFlurries in Korea... Oh so tasty. :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm Going to Korea

Привет everybody!

Glad to hear almost all is going well back home! Matt I'm so sorry to hear you wrecked on your bike! Sounds like you're taking after your older, clumsy, unable to ride a bike brother, Elder Bush. ;) Hope you feel better soon, bud. Love you! Trev, you just keep on thinking you dress nicer than me. ;) Just wait until you go on a mission and the only thing you really get to change is your tie. Which I'm pretty excited to get a bunch of ties in Korea this next week! Trying not to think too much about it though. Got to stay focused. Just so you all know, I leave on Wednesday and get back on Friday. Should be interesting. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures. I can hardly WAIT for the Temple!!!! It's gonna be the best temple visit ever! And I'm really excited to be with Elder Zamora again! :) Note: The missionaries in Russia have to leave the country every three months to renew their visas. The missionaries in Vladivostok go to Seoul, South Korea. There is an LDS temple there, so they get to attend the temple and do some temple work.

We should find out about transfers tomorrow (I think) so I'll update you all next week.

So last week, I completely forgot to mention something... I went to a children's hospital a week ago on Sunday and Monday. There's a boy there named Сергей that is a member of the church from Находка. He is there being monitored for something. Anyway, we came in and he met us in the "lobby" which really isn't much. There's a security guard sitting at a desk. There are these vending machines that pop out these little containers with blue covers to go over your shoes, which you put on to go back into the hospital. We went back and sat in the hallway and just met with him. We gave him a Book of Mormon and read with him about Ammon cutting off the arms of the Lamanites (what boy doesn't love that story!). It was an interesting experience that taught me you can meet anywhere with anyone and share a spiritual message and pray with them even when it's not удобна. Sorry I can't think of a good way to translate that. It kind of means comfortable... Oh convenient! There you go. Anyway... So the hospital was just like I had heard but just more real. The walls and floor, all just concrete. The lights give the place an eerie sort of feel. And there's little hand made drawings and paintings on the walls but they don't help lighten the mood much. Quite an experience. It really made me reflect on our experience in the hospital with Matt and the blessings we take for granted.

I had another amazing experience with the Lord loosening my tongue this last week. I was again on splits with Elder Stewart this last Wednesday, and I set up lessons with Татьяна (a lady that works in the Mission office), Баба Гала, and Лионид (the man that's paralyzed and was baptized earlier this year). He moved and now lives in our area. I prayed a lot that the Lord would help me, and He did. So much. I've never been able to speak so much and so clearly before. I love teaching in Russian more than English, when I have the Lord's help.

Just so you know, we have an investigator named Сериога. (He's from Uzbekistan. A lot of Uzbeki people live here and work here, probably for the work opportunity). He's super nice and loves to meet with us. We found out, though, that he can't read Russian. Just speaks it. And the Book of Mormon has yet to be translated into Uzbeki. Hopefully, our future plans in meeting with him will help him feel the power of the Book of Mormon. That book is really why I'm here in Russia. I love that book so much.

It's interesting getting to work with different companions. I've come to realize how laid back I am. I desire to be prepared and yet some things I've learned to just not worry about and everything will be ok. (Now for the usual missionary sort of thing to say)... I have loved serving with Elder Waltman. (and I really mean that) He has taught me so much as my trainer and friend, and I hope to serve with him another transfer. So we'll just have to wait and see.

Interesting Russian fact... (besides on Сахалин) there are no lawn mowers it seems in Russia. Whatever grass there is, it just gets cut by weed whackers or they let it grow.

Dad asked me what my favorite scripture is (I think Bishop Spencer wanted to know). Oh goodness.... There's too many scriptures to choose! The first that comes to mind... I love Alma 7:11-12 about the atonement.

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Christ knows perfectly everything we feel and he is the one that can succor us. I also love Ether 12:27 because I can recognize that when I humble myself and turn to the Lord, he makes more out of me than I could have done on my own.

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

I love you all so much and I'm immensely grateful for all the prayers and love that you send my way. I LOVE YOU!

Love, Elder Bush

p.s. I heard I got a package! I don't yet know who from but whoever you are, thank you!!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The time is flying by!

Привет family!

As far as what we do... обычна (I think I spelled that right; means usually) we have lessons with less active or inactive members. We also have lessons with бабушкы that can't come to church. As far as how many lessons I've had with investigators... not too many. But hopefully, that will change soon. We have a huge area we cover now and more investigators now so we'll see how that changes. Yes, we do a lot of contacting, but there are lessons squeezed in there too. We try to space out our lessons enough that we have time to travel to and from lessons and contact on the way or stop by potential investigators or former investigators. Fun, fun, fun.

Well, this last week, I got to anoint for a blessing for the first time in Russian. Unfortunately, I didn't have it memorized yet. It will be next time. Баба Галя had fallen this last week and hurt her side so she asked us for a blessing. It was a very powerful blessing. I've never felt the spirit so strongly when giving a blessing. Elder Waltman said some amazing things that helped comfort her in more ways than just physically. It’s interesting to note how such awesome experiences can be followed by stupid opposition. Needless to say, some guy confronted us later in the day and was strongly opposed to us being here and told us to go back to America. I could have gone without that encounter.

Lately, I've really started to feel the ups and downs of serving a mission. Some days, I'm so excited to do the work and talk to people. Other days, I find myself struggling to push myself out the door or to turn and talk to the person sitting next to me on the bus. It's quite an emotional rollercoaster in a way that I've never really felt before. Before I forget, about the buses here... I don't think I've mentioned this but all the buses here are from Korea I'm pretty sure. Often times, there's Korean already written on stuff throughout the bus and Russian signs have been added to it. Oh and the streets! All the streets in downtown Vlad have been turned into one way streets. I assume that's to help with the traffic because it can get pretty bad. So we'll see if that helps. As a result though, there are a ton of traffic cops out monitoring traffic. They also monitor pedestrians crossing the street. We crossed the street this morning (where there used to be a cross walk; not any more) Luckily, the cop on the corner was busy writing a ticket for someone else and he didn't see us.

As far as Russian goes... Thank you so much for the prayers. It's certainly getting better, just taking time. At this point, I've come to be 'content' with not understanding everything and just realize that it will come with time.

Thank you all so much for your support. You have no idea how much that means to me. I pray for you all the time.

I love you all!
Elder Bush

Sunday, July 4, 2010


С праздником family!

I'm pretty sure that means "with the holiday". It's what everyone says on holidays. Anyways, Happy 4th of July! It sure felt weird not seeing any fireworks yesterday, although it was the 150th birthday of Vlad this past Saturday. That was a little crazy because there were a ton of people on the streets this weekend. There were several stages set up on the square and lots of really loud music playing. The Russian President came to Vlad this last weekend which was a pretty big deal. There were lots of police everywhere. A Cinnabon opened up here in Vlad this past week so we went and it's actually really tasty. It's right next to the square. Anyhow, to first answer mom's question... how do I do laundry? We have a washing machine that we use. I don't think any dryers exist in Russia so we always have to hang up our clothes. Elder Waltman told me that Russians think they have washing machines and dryers that are combined together because "they spin really fast to dry out your clothes." No, no, no, that's just the spin cycle on the washing machine. That's not a dryer. :)

We moved this last week out of the cockroach infested apartment in 2nd River to the apartment in 1st River where the sisters had been living. They got moved to Sakhalin in the middle of the transfer for a complicated reason I won't take time to explain. So anyway, we're now in a monstrous apartment on the ground floor of our apartment building and I love it! I love not having to climb stairs and having more than two rooms! It's great! Once we unpack and we get electricity in the main room and hallway, I'll get you pictures of it. The washing machine we have in this apartment is tiny, though. I've never seen one so small! I can fit maybe 5 shirts and that's it. And it takes forever to wash things! Almost 2 hours. I need to play with the settings to see if I can shorten the time. So now, Elder Waltman and I cover 1st River, 2nd River, and Baliyava, so we'll be super busy from now on.

Yesterday, Baba Galya cornered us into making chicken with her so we helped her make fried chicken and she taught us lots of words (not that I remember any of them). I took some pictures of her and her apartment yesterday and last week so I'll send those to you. Sorry if the pictures haven't been all that great. I'll try to send more of the city. It's hard because I feel really weird taking pictures in Russia, partly because I don't want to take pictures of anything I'm not supposed to, but I'll try to get more that I think you'll like. I tried to take pictures of one of the cool painted walls but they're pretty much all blurry. I'll send those to you so you can have an idea of what I'm talking about but I'll try to take more sometime if I get the chance.

We had a classical concert at the church this last Saturday. It was really cool! One of the members here has a beautiful voice! She sings opera and I was blown away! She sang “Time to Say Goodbye” (one of the songs Andre Bocelli sings) and it was super good. We also met two girls that came to the concert (one from America and one from Denmark). They were really nice and it was really great explaining things about the church in English. We might have a family home evening with them and some of their Christian group friends at the Magill’s tonight. We'll see.

We stayed in one of the other apartments in Vlad between moving from 2nd River and 1st River. Sister Pratt picked us up there on Friday morning and on our way to the 1st River apartment, we got pulled over by the cops. When they turn on their lights, they always say something through a loud speaker (which no one can understand. Not even Russians.) So the guy came to the window and told us we couldn't make a left turn back where we had turned. Then he realized Sister Pratt was American and asked who speaks Russian. Elder Waltman and I were then told to get out of the car and Elder Waltman went back to the cop car and was told to get in the back seat. I just stood outside between the cop car and the Pratt's car. In the end, he just let her off with a warning. (probably because the cops hate dealing with Americans because they can't spell their names.) She was definitely relieved.

Well, it's been an interesting week. I just realized I don't have my cord for my camera. I think it's in my other bag back at the apartment. I'll send more pictures then next week. Hopefully they'll be good and you'll enjoy the view I have here in Russia. I love you all. Hope your week goes well!

Elder Bush

p.s. I got letters last Tuesday from Grandma and Grandpa Gee and Bush and from Mrs. Frappier. Thanks so much!!!