NOTE: Spencer's Grandpa Gee passed away this week.
Hey there everyone,
Well, this week has been a bit of a roller coaster for me. Now that I have tears running down my face sitting here in the post office, I hope I can get through all this email without anymore crying. Gosh darn it you gotta love Grandpa Gee. He certainly wasn't the average grandpa. Oh, he could sure make us all laugh. Remember how he called Bruegger’s Bagels, booger bagels. I thought of that every time I ate a bagel. Oh and sometimes before we would pray before eating, he would sing, "Bless this mess oh Lord we pray." :) On Thursday, our cell phone rang and I saw it was Pres. Pratt. I picked up the phone and he was in Kiev, Ukraine going to the temple shortly thereafter. I was pretty jealous. I've seen pictures and that temple is just gorgeous. I really want to make a trip there someday. Anyways, President then relayed to me the news about Grandpa as he had received it through the mission office from Elder Bodell. I didn't really know what to feel. As he spoke to me, I just was shocked because I hadn't expected anything to happen. I thought he was doing great and would be out of the hospital. Of course, I started crying and trying to hold back tears, I spoke with President about what I knew and who Grandpa was, etc. After I hung up, I just sat down and again, trying to hold back tears, I smiled and thought of all the wonderful things I had experienced with Grandpa. I continued working throughout the day because the Lord's work moves on. He comforted me immensely and I felt such peace and was able to focus on the day's work. That night however, was really hard for me. My companion and I talked for a little while and as I laid in bed, I couldn't hold back the tears any longer. I felt such sadness because I knew I wouldn't see him for a while. The last time I saw Gramps was as they dropped me off in the MTC and I regretted not giving him a bigger, longer hug goodbye. Not knowing it would be my last chance, I just sort of rushed because I didn't want to make it harder for them, and I later felt like I had just gone in a hurry and hadn't really even said goodbye or thanks. I love you Grandpa and I'm sorry I didn't give you a better hug goodbye. Thanks for all you did for me. "Did you hear that, grandpa?" :) I guess I had just planned on being able to sit around and tell Grandpa and Grandma stories of Russia and all the things I've learned and experienced. It was really hard to move past that feeling at first. But once again, the Lord blessed me and comforted me in my time of need. He still is comforting me.
Yesterday was a super cool experience that I don't know that I will be able to accurately convey but I'll try. The branch President here on Sakhalin decided to make Christ and His atonement the focus of the talks given in Sacrament meeting as well as the lesson he led in the third hour. First of all, during sacrament meeting, a young woman who returned from her mission several months ago shared an awesome thought. She posed the question "What things does God speak to us when we have written accounts of someone hearing his voice?" He testifies of His Son Jesus Christ. When Christ was baptized, the people there heard the voice of the Father proclaim the divinity of His Son while the Holy Ghost descended upon Christ after his baptism by water. When Christ appeared to the people of the American continent, the voice of the Father was heard again proclaiming, This is my Beloved Son in whom I have glorified my name. Hear him. (paraphrasing that since I don't exactly remember) And then when The Father and Christ appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, the Father said, This is my Beloved Son. Hear him. The Father doesn't say, Follow my Commandments or something else important. He says the most important thing. The one thing He wants all of us to know and remember. He testifies of His Son. That he is the Savior and the Redeemer of all mankind. He is Jesus the Christ. During the third hour, while President Letagin testified of Christ and His atonement, I felt the Spirit so strongly testify to my heart that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior and His atonement, His sacrifice, makes it possible for us to return to the presence of the Father. I thought about the atonement differently though because it pointed my thoughts to Grandpa. The atonement is the first key in affording me the opportunity to see Grandpa Gee again. Secondly, being sealed in the temple makes that desire a very real possibility. If I live worthy of such a blessing, I can continue that relationship with Grandpa and all my loved ones, all of my family after this life since we are sealed together for time and all eternity. How awesome and comforting and just plain awesome. "Did you hear that, Gramps?" We can be together forever.
I've been praying a lot for everyone at home. Especially for Mom and for Grandma. I love you Grandma. I know you'll be with gramps again. :) I hope all goes well at the viewings and the grave side service. Of course, I want to be there, but I have felt the comfort and reassurance that all will be well. Please Mom and Dad, tell all the family hello for me and that I love them all and miss them of course.
We had a super fun Family Home Evening activity at an awesome family’s house. They made super delicious food (none of it really Russian. It was more Korean. And there was curry and yummy desserts.) They are just super nice. Earlier in the week, Elder Naumov and I had helped the Brother of this family with the house he's building. It had snowed like crazy that day (last Tuesday) and we had to carry a ton of plywood sheets through the snow into the house. My feet were FREEZINGGG!!! I only had these really cheap chinese tennis shoes I bought on the reenok. (I don't know how to change the keyboard into Russian right now. Weird.) I had my good socks on and they helped at first, but in the end, my feet were just soaked. Oh well. :) Then on Saturday evening, we had a branch Halloween activity where we played games as a group, ate food (treats=YUMMMM) and played board games. Let me tell you, that was pretty hard at first doing it in Russian. Elder Zamora and I were super lost at first. But most of the people here on Sakhalin actually speak English too, so that helped a little. I also took comfort in the fact that Elder Pavlov who’s from Moscow didn't understand what was going on either and he understood all the words being said. It was just a tricky game to start out with.
The biggest difference between Sakhalin and all the other branches in the mission is the impact of member missionary work. The branch mission leader really stresses that and it really makes a difference. I'll clue you all in later on how things are going with the work here. But basically, the Lord is blessing us with lots of opportunities to teach and share the greatest message in the world with everyone.
I miss you all but I hope you have a great time enjoying the company of family and friends and remembering all the great times we've all shared with Grandpa here on earth. Don't worry, we'll get to see him again. :) And he'll be looking down on us. I'm excited already to go back to Korea and attend the temple because I know that is the place where the veil is thin, where I can feel his presence and his love. I love you all! I hope you have a safe trip back home.