This last week has been one of the most interesting spiritual experiences of my mission. I've spent so much time on my knees praying to the Lord for help, guidance, strength, and comfort. I realize my challenges are little and not that significant, but the work I'm a part of is the most important thing I could be doing right now, and I need His help so much to accomplish what He would have me do. In particular, I remember one morning this last week where I got ready for the day quickly and had a lot of extra time before studies started. So I knelt down and prayed. In fact, I poured my heart out to the Lord. I had just read my patriarchal blessing prior to that and the blessings that the Lord has promised me sunk deep into my mind and heart. I want so badly to fulfill all the Lord has in store for me and to qualify for the blessings He has promised me because I know in my heart that that is where true and lasting happiness can be found in this life. So amongst all my other worries, concerns, and stresses, I knelt down and poured my heart out to the Lord like I have never done before. And I testify to each of you that the Spirit I felt and the love I felt from the Lord was overwhelming and comforting. I knew in that moment that the Lord was ever so aware of me. He knows the things I'm struggling with. He knows my weaknesses and my inadequacies, and I knew in that moment how much He loves me. I felt such hope, the kind of hope President Uchtdorf talked about a few conferences ago. (By the way, we got General Conference issues of the Liahona! It has been so cool to read the talks from the prophet and apostles and see what I understood in Russian and what details I completely missed. I understood more that I realized as I compare my notes. Yet there are things I didn't even hear that have been exciting to discover.) I knew then that I could overcome all the obstacles before me with His help. I knew I could love my companion and overlook the things he does that have driven me up the wall. While this week hasn't been perfect, I can look back now and see how the Lord helped me and gave me an increase of love.
I also finished the Book of Mormon for the first time while here in Russia this past week. (Not my first time ever, just the first time while on my mission :) ) I decided to follow the prophet Moroni's words that are found in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon and pray to my Eternal Father in Heaven and ask him with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ if the Book of Mormon is true. I know I had done this before and I had already received an answer, but I wanted to put it to the test once more, so I again knelt down to ask. Before I could even begin praying, a warm feeling came over me along with that butterfly feeling you sometimes feel. :) I felt in my heart and thought in my mind, “Elder Bush, you already know the answer I will give you.” I smiled and preceded to express to Heavenly Father my desire to ask once more and to feel a witness of the Book of Mormon, the evidence that Joseph Smith didn't just make it all up or create his own church or new religion but that he in fact was a Prophet of God called to restore the Church of Jesus Christ again onto the earth. That warm assuring feeling increased and filled me with a happiness that only comes from Heavenly Father. I just knew within my heart that that Book is true. The work I'm doing is true. Hard, frustrating, discouraging, and yet rewarding, life changing, true, and worth it. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Without it and continuing revelation, we have nothing. It works hand in hand with the Bible to shed forth light unto all the world that Jesus is the Christ and we all have to come unto Him in order to return to live in the presence of our Father. I love that book with all my heart.
Last night, we had a lesson with an investigator named Анна (Anna) at a member's apartment. The member's name is Ирина Хай (Irina Hi) and she served a mission several years ago in the Russia Екатеринбург Mission (the same mission where Justin Ebanks and Jonathon Tharpe served). Well, I asked her if she knew Justin and she did! She pulled out a picture of him from her collection of mission photos. She served in the same district as he did when he first came to the mission. So, if there's any way to pass on a привет to Justin from Sister Ира Хай, that would be great! Such a small world.
Well, I love you all so much. I'm super grateful for your prayers. They're definitely making a difference and helping me so much. Every day has its challenges, but I've really come to learn that if I want to be the happiest, I just need to share what I know. When I share the message I have, that's when I'm truly the happiest. I forget about myself and the things that trouble me, and I realize how much more important it is to fulfill my calling and bring others unto Christ. It's funny how one could forget that when he's had so many experiences with it. It's just hard to fight the discouragement sometimes. Anyways, enough rambling. I'm super grateful for all of you and I love you all so very much! I hope you all continue to enjoy time together at this special time of year!