This last week, on Tuesday, we went to Хабаровск (Khabarovsk) for zone conference. And it was absolutely amazing!!!! Probably one of the best days of my mission! Well as far as just the feelings I felt that day. The spirit was so strong and taught me so much. I have also felt the opposition of that feeling this last week and I've recognized how the adversary tried to get me down or distracted or to forget who I am and what my purpose is. He's really good at that but I've been praying that the Lord will help me be even better and overcome that. I need to remember who I am. I am a child of God, called to help the rest of His children, my brothers and sisters, know of Him and His restored gospel and ultimately do all they must in order to return to Him. I can’t forget that.
Khabarovsk was cold like I said. I'll try to send a couple pictures. It was -5 C. I think. It started snowing as we left. When we got off the bus on the tarmac to board the plane, I had such a cool feeling as the snow was blowing around us. (That's the big thing about Khabarovsk. The wind is pretty bad.) The city was beautiful, though, and the airport was the biggest one I've been in here in the far east. It was really nice. So anyway, we took a flight on Tuesday morning from Sakhalin (around 8) and got there around 10ish. I think. We made it to the church by 11. Coming back, we had a flight at 8:30 and we were home by 11ish. All in all, a crazy day but very worth it. While at the conference, I felt I should share my testimony about Grandpa. That I know the plan of Salvation is true. That because we've been sealed in the temple, this life is only the beginning of eternity. That our family can live together forever. It was powerful and inspiring to hear the testimonies of all the elders and sisters here in the north zone. I got to meet a sister from Moscow who is now here and Elders Kevern and Kildew and Johnson. I came to find out that Elder Kildew lived in Snow Hall (which was in my ward) at BYU the semester before Elder Stewart and me, and that Elder Johnson's dad was our bishop. Crazy huh!? What a small world! Four Elders in one mission (probably one of the smallest missions in terms of number of missionaries) that all have close ties to one place at BYU. I've been to Elder Johnson's house, and I meet his little brother and sister and I had a ward activity in his backyard (which Elder Johnson told me was his job to take care of). I'm still kind of going crazy about this. I'm really excited, though, because this means I'll probably be able to see Bishop Johnson again after my mission and thank him for all his support while I was at BYU. He was awesome.
I was informed this last week that I've been spelling something wrong... шапка (hat). Haha, silly me. Russian spelling isn't usually too hard because most words sound like they're spelled. Oh well, it happens.
I didn't realize, before coming on a mission, the friends that I would make here. Not just the elders I would serve with. They're all amazing and I'm confident that many of our friendships will continue on after we all return home. There are so many awesome examples that help me improve. I also didn't realize the examples of the members would have such an impact on me. They have gone through a lot to be members of the church. Many of them support one another, but the numbers here are so small. So few families are part of the church as a complete family. I think of my family and how awesome it is to have such support from each of them. They each have a testimony and they support me in the work I do. The members here are just awesome. They help us so much in doing missionary work because they understand the joy that comes from the gospel. It changes lives. I've had a glimpse of that. And it's such a great example to me.
I heard an interesting thought this last week. In reference to D&C 19, what would life be like if we didn't have repentance? That was an interesting thought that really made me ponder on how much I value the atonement of Christ. I make stupid mistakes all the time. I'm beginning to realize that breaking the commandments only hurts one’s own self, and that keeping the commandments (or even the little rules) helps us be safe and happy. Really happy. Not just happy for a little time, true happiness and peace, that cannot be described unless you do what the Lord asks of you and you experience it for yourself.
I've bought probably some of the last things I'll need for winter... I found boots today for a decent price! Elder Naumov is jealous and he wants them. :) I also bought another шапка (hat) this last week. It's the same as what I bought for Matt; rabbit. I figured, the one I had gotten a while back is really big and kind of unusual to wear unless it's really cold. So I've been wearing my rabbit one lately. Even it isn't quite as usual to wear right now. It's not quite cold enough apparently. But I think it is. :) And it's nice and warm and the lady gave me a discount since I'd bought one before from her for Matt.
I read a sweet quote I had written down I while ago from Elder Maxwell. " When we prove dependability, the Lord will take care of our capability." I really feel I haven't proved myself dependable yet. I've been so concerned about my capabilities (like speaking the language) that I've forgot about being dependable at all times to do the Lord's will.
I love you all and I'm super grateful for your support. I'm really glad to be hearing things are going well back home. :) Love you!
Пока пока (bye bye)!