Monday, December 13, 2010

Twas the...week before my birthday

Thank you to everyone that wished me a happy birthday! It will definitely be different celebrating a birthday while serving on a mission.

So this week has been a long one. First, we had the police called on us for tracting in an apartment building around 8ish in the evening. Someone didn't like that, I guess, and called the police. We left the building just as they got there. They didn't even stop us because they were expecting someone who was actually disturbing the peace.

We had Family Home Evening last week with two awesome families! I just love the families here on Sakhalin! The members are amazing! And super generous! They are always feeding us and insisting we keep eating. Usually at FHE, we have little sandwiches or cookies and tea or hot chocolate.

On Tuesday, we went to the hospital with a member to visit a friend who was in pretty bad shape. This hospital looked a little better than the last one I was in. Hopefully, in the future, as this friend gets better, we'll be able to help him get his life on track.

Next, we have an awesome investigator named Anna that we're teaching now! It's been such an experience for me because I'm pretty sure she's the first person I have ever taught from the beginning and have taught so much. She has great desire to know if the Book of Mormon is true. I just hope and pray she receives an answer for herself and comes to know that it's true because the blessings that can follow will be enormous. Now, when I say that, I also have noticed in the lives of others after their baptism that life doesn't immediately get easier. In fact, sometimes, life gets harder. Families disagree and problems arise. Getting baptized doesn't mean that life just becomes perfect and that the Lord blesses you every second of every day in the ways you expect Him to. It means you open the door for opportunities in the future. Namely, living together with your family forever and finding the peace and joy that comes from following the commandments of the Father, from having more scripture and having a living prophet on the earth. There are so many blessings. Sometimes, they're just hard to see.

I met a guy on the bus this last week who suffers from drug addiction. I started to share some of our message with him, and as I learned more about him, I felt inside that this man needed the knowledge that I've been blessed with. I spoke to him, testified to him that I know the gospel of Jesus Christ can help him overcome his addiction and problems, that there's a prophet on the earth today (he really liked that), and he turned to me as he was twitching sitting there next to me and looked in my eyes and told me there was something different about me. He told me there was something sincere about what I was saying and that despite me being so young, he knew I had truth. I still haven't gotten a hold of him, but I sure hope I can and that I can make a difference for him in coming to know who his Savior is and that Christ can help him. As I spoke to him, the words just came. And I didn't feel as though they were anything out of the ordinary. But it touched him enough that he wanted to know more. This work is real and true. If it wasn't, 19 year old boys would have ruined it a long time ago.

This last week, I wore my badger shopka (big furry hat) for the first time! It was so warm and super awesome as it was snowing pretty good this last week. At first, I felt a little funny because she's a little big, but she's a great shopka. I took a picture outside the apartment of a member named Love (translated into English). That night, we trekked out into the north to find a less active member. I was glad I had my shopka. We walked a long ways. In the end we found her home, talked with her twin sister, and honestly, I didn't expect much from it. But the next evening, we were at the church and someone knocked on the door. It turned out to be her! She came and we had a short lesson and encouraged her to come back. And she came to church yesterday! It was such a cool experience to see her come and to see a slight change come over her.

While we were walking up into the north part of our area, I was walking ahead of Elder Naumov along the road and there was a single set of prints in front of me. The thought came to me that Christ is the one that goes before us and prepares the way for His work to move forward. It was as though He had already trekked through the snow to prepare Arina (the less active sister) to meet us and to have a desire to come back to church. I know the Lord goes before us and prepares the way for His work to go forth.

This week has had its challenges, but I'm doing alright. Keep praying, because I need the Lord's help. I'm learning more than I thought I would, about others and about myself.

Thank you all for all your love and support and prayers and just everything! Thank you again to everyone who has wished me a happy birthday! I'm super grateful!!!

Love you all so much!
Elder Bush