Well, this last week has sure been a crazy one. I found out last Tuesday, when I was at the bus station dropping off Elder Kozodoev, that the Lord had decided to transfer me. I've come to learn more this last week that it is the Lord who decides where we serve and do His work. President told me he hadn't planned on transferring me but prayed long and hard to know who to put with my companion, and in the end, felt the Lord wanted me to serve with him. So, I'm now on Sakhalin serving with Elder Naumov along with Elder Pavlov and Elder Zamora! Sakhalin is an island just north of Japan. I was super excited to be serving in the same city as Elder Zamora. He's such a stud. Elder Naumov was one of the assistants when I came into the country and is a little particular and stubborn and persistent and awesome all in his own way. It will be a great experience serving with him. I'm just super grateful to be serving with a companion that loves the work, loves the Lord, is a native and yet knows English pretty darn well. :) Flying here was interesting. And to be honest, I was super sad to leave Usserisk. I knew and felt comfort in the fact that it's what the Lord wanted. But it was super hard to leave such awesome members. Hopefully, I'll see them again. So the flight situation... I had to meet President Pratt in the airport before he left to Moscow to get discs for General Conference to take to Sakhalin. (See note at bottom.) Except, I didn't know when exactly or where I would meet him (although the domestic side of the airport is smaller than I realized; now I know that) and I had no cell phone and basically, I was a little freaked out at the possibility of not meeting up with him since I was the lifeline to Sakhalin getting conference. Thankfully, we met, exchanged stuff, and then I waited for a while to be able to check in. While checking in, I noticed my bag was almost 5 kg too heavy. The girl at the desk just looked at me and since I hadn't said a word to her, she probably assumed I didn't speak a lick of Russian so she didn't do anything about it and just let me go without paying the fee. Lucky me. In the end, I made it here safe and sound.
I'm leaving for Korea on Wednesday and I come back on Friday night. Although, I don't return to Sakhalin. I go back to Vlad for the weekend because Elder Zamora has to do something there on Monday at the consulate. And then on Monday, we fly back to Sakhalin. So we'll see how emailing home and p-day in general goes next week.
So, General Conference was good. I wish I could say it was just awesome, but listening to all of it in Russian made it difficult to love it. I had expected that Elder Zamora and I would get to watch in English (and it certainly was possible) but our leaders just didn't feel like making that available. I know I should have just loved it but focusing in Russian made it difficult to get as much meaning out of the sessions. Plus, the translations play the English really faintly in the background so sometimes I could hear English and it made it hard to focus on one language. I was super surprised at how much I did get out of the sessions though. While in the MTC, I listened to some conference in Russian and was absolutely lost. I actually understood a lot of conference and could follow the translator as he spoke a million miles and hour. I prayed really hard during the first session for the Lord to help me #1 get over the disappointment of not watching in English and #2 that he would help me understand, learn, and grow. I will say that listening in Russian was a cool experience because it forced me to focus and draw out all that I could understand and listen to the spirit and apply what I was hearing. By the end though, I was fried. :) 10 hours is a lot of Russian.
I loved the story from conference that you shared, Mom, about the truck needing to follow in the tracks of the vehicle in front while traveling through a mine field. Trevor, I have not always been a good lead Hummer. I have strayed and hit a few mines in my time. But if you can do all you can to stay on the tracks of going on a mission to serve the Lord, you will never regret it.
Honestly, I can't really think of all the other stuff I loved. I really need to look at my notes. Oh! President Monson's talk on gratitude was great! And President Uchtdorf's on pride and being humble. The best way to be more humble... Think less of yourself. That's so true! I need to stop thinking about myself, and get to work thinking about others!
I love the prophet. I know he is the man the Lord has called to lead His church. Follow him. It's that simple. I know this church is true. I know without doubt that it is true and will bring happiness to all those that study the teachings of the Restored Gospel of Christ. They will understand and come to see the big picture. This life is so vital and yet so small in the grand scheme of things. That's one reason I've decided to serve this mission. I want to give this big picture to others so they can resolutely direct themselves and their families through this life and onto the next where they can live forever if sealed in the temple of our Lord. I'm super excited to go to the temple this next week. I love the House of the Lord. It is where His spirit dwells in abundance.
So Sakhalin is interesting. It looks a lot more like home than anywhere else I've been in Russia. The branch here is pretty strong and we have our own building, which is pretty nice. The members are great, although I haven't met very many of them yet. I have really been impressed at how the Lord has been working through me lately to speak His words and share His message in another language. I'm blown away at how much he has helped me learn and yet in awe of how much I don't know and need to learn. All in time.
If anyone has sent me anything, I'll probably be getting it next weekend while I'm in Vlad. (My computer froze earlier and I came back to the post office later in the day to send this. I don't have much time but I wanted to make sure I sent this and you all got it.)
I love you all so much! I hope this email makes sense since I kinda got interrupted. Hope you have a wonderful week!
NOTE: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a General Conference twice a year, in April and October. Most members of the Church are able to watch this conference by satellite, but in some areas of the world they have to wait for DVDs with a translated version to be sent a couple of weeks later.