Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Far East

Merry Merry Christmas!!

It was super great to talk to you all and to see each of you! I know I was probably super awkward and can't seem to act like a normal person. ;) I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas.

This past Christmas has been a really neat one. It's been a little cold here in Vlad. Like I mentioned, it's really because of the wind. The last few days, I've had some pretty cold moments where you just have to close your eyes and hold on. My shopka has been nice and toasty. It's the shape of my head that's been undermining the shopka's furry warmness. Since my head is rather long from front to back, it makes it difficult to find a hat the fits well. I always have to get a big size so it can get on my head yet there's always a little room on the sides in between my head and the wall of the hat. So, when the wind comes rushing by, it tends to find that oh so little space and likes to freeze the sides of my head by my ears. I don't know if that makes any sense. But, basically, the size of my head is trying to do me in and keep me cold. Otherwise, my shopka sure does the trick. That and a scarf.

This past week, we held training for the leaders of the mission which included all the zone leaders and district leaders. We did it by Skype, and it went pretty well. Elder Steed and I had to spend some time preparing for it. We were both grateful that overall, technology cooperated with us and all went well.

We continue to work with an awesome family here in Vlad that has a son who's a member. The parents have 6 boys which is really unusual for Russia! I may have already mentioned something about them... It's awesome to see so many shoes sitting in the entry way. Feels like home.

Christmas Eve, we spent most of the morning participating in and translating for some training for using the church's MLS program. We're the first mission in Russia that doesn't have any districts which have been brought online to use MLS. A member from Moscow came to hold the training and it went rather well. Translating is always a blast and it sure keeps you on your toes. My brain was a little fried after it all, but it's always a fun challenge. Later that afternoon, the missionaries here in Vlad gathered at the Pratt’s and had a small dinner and treats along with a short devotional. It was a really neat experience. I was asked to share a little thought regarding Christmas and I turned as I often do to the hymns. I noticed that in Joy to the World, there is a line which reads, "let every heart prepare him room" and I thought and pondered about what we can do to prepare room in our hearts for the Savior. He is our Lord and we must let Him in. As we keep our covenants, we offer to the Lord the greatest gift we can. Our righteousness and faithfulness is completely in our control and that's what the Lord desires of His children. Christmas was a special day when I got to ponder about the Savior and His role.

I love you all a ton. I'm enormously grateful for your support and love. And humor (thanks, Trev) :)

Take it easy and have a wonderful New Year’s!

Elder Bush

p.s. Had a neat experience this past week stopping by a potential investigator’s house, whose number we lost. My comp and I were on a bus heading to some less active members and had planned to stop by this guy’s place in the center of Vlad. I was thinking to myself, "Should we maybe head to the less active member at the farthest point and work our way back? Or should we keep going?" I distinctly felt, "you need to go to Makar's" (the guy I mentioned). Turns out my comp felt the same impression and we thankfully followed it. When we walked up to his building and opened the door, he was walking down the hall to the door about to leave and we were able to make contact and get his number. Super nice guy. It was a very small but very real miracle. I love the tender mercies of the Lord.

Picture at the Southerland's in Korea for our last Visa trip.

Elder Bush's Christmas Call:  We got to use Skype this year for our Christmas call, which was great because we could see him and he could see us.  He couldn't believe how much his sisters have grown up.  He mentioned that he was glad he got to see them before he comes home or he might not recognize them at the airport.  He looks good and looks happy.  We enjoyed seeing him interact with people in the office and especially when he had to take a phone call and we got to hear him converse in Russian.  He also received our package while we were talking, so we saw his reaction to receiving some Twix candy bars (his favorite).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Last Visa Trip to Korea

Dearest of dear families,

Thank you all again for wishing me a happy birthday! It was indeed a very happy birthday as I made my way back to Russia. Transfers and our visa trip were a little hectic, but as far as I know, we didn't have any major problems. So I would say that's a success of the week! As of now, Elders Zamora, Winkler, and I are the oldest missionaries in the mission. Weird. Super weird.

Really quick, before I forget, I'll let you know about our Christmas calls. So, we can use Skype this Christmas! Well, other elders and sisters were able to last year as well but since I was on Sakhalin without a senior couple, we didn't really have the option. So, this is the plan... I'll be at the office in Vlad to use one of the computers with Skype at 8:00 am my time on Monday the 26th of Dec (that works out to be 4:00 pm on Sunday the 25th of Dec, Christmas Day). So, I'm pretty sure I'll be using the former senior couples' skype account that is on the office computers. I'm not sure what their account name is but what I'll do is call you from their account. So, by Monday morning, send me an email and let me know which Skype account you want me to call. In the event that our building loses internet (which isn't uncommon) I'll give you my phone number and you can call me at 8 if I haven't already called through Skype. Can't wait to hear from you all!

So, to put it in a nutshell, the past week has been a whirlwind. Monday, my companion spent the evening packing and getting ready to head home. Tuesday, the other elders and sister heading home arrived along with my new companion! (He’s actually a former companion... Elder Steed!) I'm super excited to get to work with him again! He was my comp while we served in Khabarovsk a little less than a year ago. Hard to believe time has flown by that fast. There was a little stress throughout the day as transfers were already beginning and missionaries were beginning to move from city to city. I'll have to tell you more about transfers once I'm home but it really is the craziest process. Trying to coordinate getting missionaries to and from the cities, making sure they all have companions throughout the process, making sure they'll make their buses or getting them taxis to hop on a flight or a train. And on top of it all, my visa trip coincided with the transfer. So, there was a little craziness but like I've said before, what's the mission without a little crazy? On Tuesday night, we had the chance to be at the departing fireside at the Pratt's apartment and to hear from the departing missionaries. It was a neat experience to see them as they prepare to move on the next part of life. Although, it was a little hard because hearing them and realizing they're going home throws you off your focus a little. You start to realize you don't have much time. And part of you wants to return with them because being a missionary is super hard. Yet, the other part of you wants to remain and do everything you possibly can to fulfill the Lord's will and further His work amongst His children. It was an enormous blessing to be in the temple and to return and refocus on the work. I flew to Korea on the same flight as the missionaries going home. It was neat to say goodbye in the Korean airport. (Side note... I realize I've mentioned this before but I'm a firm believer that Korean Air is one of the best airlines ever. The food on the flight which only lasted 2 hours was fantastic! So much better than a bag of peanuts.) We got to Korea and while we were there, we found out our flight that was suppose to return on Friday had been canceled. Thankfully, there was a flight that returned on Saturday. So, we were able to make it back. While in Korea, we had dinner at the Southerlands, the couple that lives there. It was a wonderful little early birthday present to me to be in the home of such a loving family. We had dinner, made cookies, and sang Christmas carols. A simple little Christmas celebration. As we finished, some of us took the chance to bear our testimonies of the Savior. And the Spirit was felt by all. The flight returning to Vlad was great. It was a ginormous plane! It had 2 seats on either side and 4 in the middle. I can't remember which Airbus model it was. But anyways, it was a smooth flight. We grabbed some donuts and bagels at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks before we took off. Funny how a donut and a bagel are the best thing ever when you've gone a while without them. Lastly, as I already mentioned, the temple was wonderful. The Korean temple workers are heavenly. As we stayed to do more sessions, they simply told us in their English, "We love you." It was touching and a sweet experience for maybe the last time to be amongst the Korean Saints.

So, I'm back in Vlad. Yesterday, I spoke in church and it went ok. I talked about covenants. Something I feel we all need to strive to understand better and be sure that we're always mindful of keeping our covenants. Had the chance to do a little tracting yesterday. Needless to say, it wasn't that fruitful. But, it sure was fun and we did meet some nice people!

I hope and pray you all are safe and in good health. Merry Christmas to you all! Can't wait to hear from you in a week!

Старейшина Буш

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Week in the Office Organizing Transfers

Hello everybody,

Thank you so much for the birthday wishes! Weird to think that I'm going to be 21. I really don't even feel like I'm getting older.

Anyways, this past week has been a bit of an office week, which has been a little hectic and slightly stressful. But it was good to get a lot of work done that will hopefully help transfers this next week run smoothly. Transfers really are quite a big deal here, along with visa trips, which by the way, I'll be in Korea (hopefully) this Wednesday. And I'm not really sure when I will return. Again, hopefully, that will be on Friday. But we'll see.

So, like I was saying, transfers are a huge deal. It's such an ordeal to organize and make transfers run without any problems. My companion and I went through the travel information Sister Pratt had gathered and wrote out instructions for all the missionaries to make sure they get to where they need to and don't forget anything.

Thankfully, we were able to have a few lessons this past week as well. I've really enjoyed rebuilding this area here in Vlad for the assistants. It's had its challenges just like any other area, but it's been fun. I've really loved to be able to interact more with President Pratt. He really is such an awesome leader. That's one thing I've come to learn while serving here. Our leaders may never be perfect in the church, but they are truly inspired. The mantle they wear is super important.

I love the Lord and His work. Lately, I've felt the burden of my assignment. There's a lot to do and a lot to keep track of, but I know that the service we all render on behalf of the Lord leads to enormous personal growth and blessings for those we serve. I'll always treasure this enormous experience I've had.

I love you all so much. I'm really sorry my letters lately have been really short and not very descriptive. Partly, it's been because I have had a harder time lately knowing what I should even write. Partly, it's because I'm in the office and it's easy to get distracted. Please remember that I love you all a ton. Your support means more than a million bucks.

Старейшина Буш

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Week Full of Little Miracles

Howdy folks!

Things are great here in Vlad! This past week has been a fun one. I'm super jealous you're all watching the Christmas Devotional. We don't get that here. Although, we could watch it on the internet I guess if we wanted to watch it on pday. Real quick, I just wanted Grandma Gee to know that I got a letter from her today! Thanks Grandma! To answer your question, yes, I have had the privilege to meet and work with Elder Collinsworth. He's a great missionary. And super tall!

Anyways, during this past week, I started writing down little miracles that I see each day. It's been a really cool experience to see the Lord's hand in the work each and every day. We've had a lot of success these last few weeks working in the area book, which is the book where we keep all our records of past missionary work that has been done in our area. In fact, we've done something really interesting this past transfer here in Vlad. In the past, the assistants have spent a lot of their time dealing with taking care of all the little problems and have worked in the office along with working with president and leaders of the mission. And in this past transfer, we've had a returned missionary here in Vlad hired on to work as a driver for the mission and to work in the office, so we've been able to get a lot off of our desk and now we're able to get out of the office. In the past, the assistants have struggled with being able to work in a specific area because there simply isn't time or the possibility with all the other things they were being asked to take care of. But, this past transfer, we've brought back our area and have had the opportunity to do a lot more work in it to try to "bring it back" if you will. We found, or rather the Lord led us to, 4 new investigators this past week. It's actually a family that has a son who's a less active member. They are super nice and there are 6 boys in the family, which is super unusual for Russia! It's really really comforting to walk into their home and to see tons a little kid shoes in the entry way and to just feel the feelings you get in the home of a big family. They have a son living in America presently, in New York to be exact. I love getting to know people while here. People are so cool!

Some other really quick miracles: as assistants, we help President Pratt by translating for his presidency meeting held weekly by Skype. Since one of his counselors is on Sakhalin and another in Irkutsk, technology really comes in handy. I translated into Russian during this last week’s meeting, and I have really come to notice how much I love Russian. It's such a beautiful language. I know the Lord helped me so much to speak clearly, almost correctly, and loudly. (You’d be so proud of me dad, speaking loudly.) We often go to Subway for lunch or dinner when we're near the church. And usually, the service isn't the greatest. They're almost always out of things. And I mean like essential things to make a sandwich. Like cheese. But, this past week, they had great service! That was a miracle. And the sub was actually really reallyyyyy good. We also have had a lot of fun tracting. I'll tell you more stories once I'm home. Although, I will tell you really quickly, it was really neat this past week because we met with a less active member and then went tracting in a building not too far away and the first stairwell that we tried, there was a family that knows the member we had just met with and we're planning on meeting with them. I know the Lord leads this work. I have no doubt. We just have to have faith.

I love you all to death. You're all so awesome. Tell everybody back home I love them!

Elder Bush

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving in Vladivostok

Dear Fam,

Sure sounds like you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And the holidays are off to a great start! I think my favorite part of this past week is being able to now listen to Christmas Music. There really is quite no other time like this. The Christmas season is the best. Right now, I've made a goal to finish Jesus the Christ before Christmas and it's been awesome as I've delved deeper into that book. Talmage truly wrote an inspiring book.

So, first off, I have to say a big thank you to Matt and Sarah for their letters! They really lifted me up and I was super excited to hear from both of you! You two are the best! :) To answer some of your questions, things are great here in Vlad. The work is slowly moving forward. We had an insane day of snow this past week on Wednesday! We got all bundled up and faired the boisterous weather. It was quite an adventure. We tried talking to people on the way but due to the weather, that didn't turn out to be very successful. :) The wind was insane! That was the best part. Wednesday's snow added on top of that made it super duper fun. I got to wear my new shopka and she held up greatly against the foul weather. Thursday wasn't nearly as bad. It stopped snowing, although the wind was still quite a factor. (more about that later)

Thanksgiving in Vlad was wonderful! Just like home! Except without the family and friends of course. But it was wonderful to be surrounded by my present family and friends here in the city. We had all the great foods, Turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, fruit salads, and pies! It was all very very yummy. And unfortunately, I think my tummy has shrunk because I had a very hard time getting down one full plate. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and played some fun trivia games and scripture chase charades afterward. All in all, it was a great day to remember all the things I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for you all. Because you are a large part of the joy that I have in this life. I'm enormously thankful to the Lord for all the tender mercies He plants in my path. That He allows me to even be a part of His work here on the earth is a miracle in and of itself for which I'm enormously grateful. I'm thankful for Heavenly Father's plan for all of us. For the big picture that it gives me, that it gives us all.

Immediately after thanksgiving dinner, we scurried off to a lesson with a potential investigator named Valeri. We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and he agreed to read it. I love meeting with people. I've noticed that the Lord has helped me really develop a love for the people as I've met with them. After that lesson, we hurried off to another lesson with a member and her friends. Trying to find her house was a nightmare! Needless to say, we eventually found her house. The hard part was the wind. It was blowing so hard we nearly fell over several times. I felt as though I was back home in a hurricane! But, it was freezing instead of raining. Boy was I glad to get inside after that adventure! Russians don't usually drink hot chocolate themselves. They prefer tea. But I've noticed lately that members have been making us homemade hot chocolate because they know we Americans love that hot chocolate!

Last pday, my comp and I played basketball outside our house and it felt great to get some physical activity into the day! We're hoping today will also work out. We kind of noticed that it's hard to get activities together here in Vlad, really just in our mission because in many cities, it's hard to meet up at a common place, have some planned activity and still have enough time in the pday to get everything else done that we need to.

As far as souvenirs, I should have plenty of room to get what I want to get for everybody. Again, if there's anything in particular that you all want, make sure to let me know/remind me because I'm now in Vlad and will most likely not be moving anymore. So, I can begin the collecting process. I stopped by the souvenir shop here in Vlad and found something I may end up getting before I head home.

Lastly, I'll end with this. The Lord wants us to have faith. We just have to have faith in Him and He will help us accomplish His miracles. So many people have no idea of the blessings that faith in our Savior Jesus Christ can bring. They are uncountable. Innumerable. I know the Lord and our Father in Heaven love us dearly. Never lose sight of that fact.

I love you all a ton! And I hope you have a wonderful upcoming week!

Elder Bush

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Hey there gang!

This last week has been fantastic! Getting to travel to the other cities and work with the outstanding missionaries of our mission is quite an honor. It was weird to return to both cities because it brought back so many memories. It's so weird how you look at things differently when you return to a familiar place because of the experiences you have had elsewhere. It really wasn't even that long ago that I was serving in Khabarovsk. Although it feels like forever ago since I've been in both Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude in the time span between. I love the members in all those cities. I got the chance to see several of them while we were there and they are inspiring. To give you a quick example, there is a member that is from Ussurisk that lived also in Vlad when I was serving here over a year and a half ago. My trainer, Elder Waltman and I worked with her for 3 months while I was here, and she came to church maybe once that I can remember. In the time that I've been serving in all the other cities of the mission, she has become super active and her mission papers are almost completed! That is just the coolest thing ever to hear! No effort ever goes wasted. And this past week, as we were in Usserisk, she helped us on a lesson with a recent convert. She has such a strong testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. She is truly a light, and I could see in her such an awesome future missionary.

Our travels all went well. I brought my shopka with me to Usserisk (it wasn't really quite cold enough to be needing such a hat, but I knew we would be going to Khabarovsk and had a feeling it would be needed and appreciated there, and sure enough, it was pretty cold up in Khabarovsk. I talked with a woman on the street in Usserisk and explained to her why I looked a little ridiculous for November weather (since hardly anyone wears big fur hats there) and when I told her I was heading off to Khabarovsk that night, she quickly agreed that it was a fantastic idea I brought my shopka with me. I had the privilege of being on an exchange with Elder Johnson (my former BYU bishop's son) and Elder Collinsworth (you all know who that is - or if not, he played basketball at BYU) and it was an awesome opportunity to learn and grow from them. I love the friends you make here serving the Lord.

While in Khabarovsk, we contacted during the day and then had a sweet activity in the evening with several of the members where we learned how to make "позы" (pozi) or "бууза" (buza) in buritian. It's a special food that I think I told you about while I was serving in Ulan-Ude and it's unique to the people that live there. You make a pasta like dough that you wrap around meat and you steam cook them. Then, with your hands, you bite a small hole in the side and drink out the juices that have been cooking inside and then I like to fill the little dumpling like thing with sauces (like ketchup) and then scarf him down! They're really tasty. I'll have to get an actual recipe and then make them once I'm home. It was a great activity, especially for the members because they need opportunities to bond together, to talk, and the just become better, closer friends. We w home the next morning on a really old plane. I had to laugh because I think the seat I sat in was the most uncomfortable airplane seat I've ever been privileged to sit it. BUT, it did recline a considerable distance which made up for it. Upon landing (which always seems to be the best part) several panels in the ceiling came loose and were dangling down as we taxied into the airport. I just had to laugh. :)

I love you all a ton! Hope you have a fantastic week and enjoy your Thanksgiving! :)

Elder Bush

p.s. Fallon, I got a letter from you! I wrote to you a letter already but I have to get some envelopes! I'll try to get it off to you ASAP!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stress, Prayer and Miracles

Dear group of people that birthed me, raised me, and suffered me to be in their midst, (aka my family)

Yeah, so I was trying to be funny with the above phrase but it's not really working. Anyways, before I forget, it turns out my long lost letter that I thought was from Fallon is actually from a Bush (not sure which one) and it has been officially lost. So, I'm sorry Grandma, Grandpa, or Uncle Derek if you sent me a letter and I haven't gotten it. I love you all and hope all is well in California! I think about you often and keep you always in my prayers.

One other person I thought about last night and I'm hoping he's doing well is Mr. Martin. (I sincerely apologize that my English sounds awful.) Pass on a big hello to him and my best wishes. Also, say hi, if you get a chance, to Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Whitcomb at Lake Mary. Can't wait to see them again someday!

This past week has been a stressful one but a great learning experience. If you all don't mind, I'd like to share a really special experience that I had this past week that accompanied most of the stress. As you all are very well aware, we have to travel every 3 months to Korea to renew our visas. I guess to be more specific, we go to Korea to pick up our second passports that already have our new visas for the upcoming 3 months. A few weeks ago, I made, what seemed like, the enormous trek from Ulan-Ude to Vladivostok that took me to Irkutsk and then to Khabarovsk, and then finally to Vlad. This past week, Elder Steed was scheduled to go on his Korea trip and it would require him to make a similar trip with the exception of a layover in Khabarovsk. He began his trek Tuesday afternoon which was already cutting it close considering his flight to leave for Korea left the next day at 2:00 from Vlad. (Quick side note: Tuesday was actually the beginning of a series of events that just didn't seem to go or work out as they should have. We had a weekly meeting with President and Sister Pratt and after lunch, we returned to the meeting to find we had no power and we were scheduled to have a Zone Leaders' Council at 2 pm mission wide by Skype. But that had to be rescheduled. Then we spent the remainder of our day trying to record the conference I told you about onto DVD discs to be sent to the different cities that don't have satellites and there was craziness that went into that.) Anyways, so, Wednesday morning, I was awoken by a phone call just after 6 am from Elder Steed (this is 4 am his time) saying that their flight has been delayed by about an hour. So, this wasn't great news, but we figured if things still went forward from there, there wouldn't be any problems. After several phone calls with President and Sister Pratt and Elder Steed, we came to learn that his flight was delayed until 10 o'clock his time, noon our time and he would most certainly miss his flight to Korea. This in and of itself wouldn't be awful but the big problem was in the fact that Wednesday was the last day on his visa. So, he had to get out of the country then or we were all afraid he would be deported. My companion and I discussed all the possible options and talked more with Sister Pratt. In the end, we decided to fast for him that the documentation he had received saying his flight was delayed and therefore, did not catch his connection, would be enough and that things would work so that he would be able to return and continue serving the Lord and His children. We knelt down, and I offered the prayer. As soon as I began to speak, the Spirit flooded the room and a feeling of comfort filled me. I knew immediately that everything would be okay. Tears filled my eyes and I had a very hard time getting the words out as I both felt the comfort of the Spirit and thought about Elder Steed and my love for him and how desperately I did not want him to be forced to leave our mission. With a little stress, we (Pasha, our new mission driver, an returned missionary who served in Moscow; Tatyana our visa person; and I) all got in the car and raced off to the airport. President Pratt, his wife, and my companion, Elder Williamson, had already left to go to Korea by this time. And so I was feeling a little stressed and I wanted to make sure everything would work out. Yet, as I would begin to worry, I quickly remembered the comforting assurance of the Spirit that I had earlier felt, and I once again knew all would be well. We got the documentation and everything worked out to extend his visa by one day since he couldn't make the latest flight from Vlad to Korea on Wednesday. So, he flew out on Thursday without any problems, thankfully. To make a long story short, Elder Steed made it to Korea and returned to Vlad on Sat with my companion and by now, is already in Ulan-Ude. I'm so grateful for the assurance of the Spirit that gives us peace and comfort. A peace and comfort that cannot be duplicated or matched by other sources. I know the Lord is mindful of us. Sometimes, life is crazy. But He is always mindful of us and helps us through the crazy moments.

I got to work most of the week with Elder Clark, Elder Steed’s brand new companion. And we had a blast. I got sucked into the office and had to take care of some problems related to last week’s Area Conference and trying to make it available by internet to the other missions of the Europe East Area. But thankfully, that all got figured out and all is well. Yesterday, I was privileged to sit in on ZLC (zone leaders' council) that we started by Skype and then our internet died so we conference called for the remaining hour. It was a very spiritual meeting that was certainly inspired. I really love working in this mission. I love the Lord and His work. This next week, we're traveling to Usserisk and Khabarovsk to do exchanges with the Zone leaders there. It should be an awesome week! Hopefully all will run smoothly.

I love you all so much and I'm extremely grateful to have you all supporting me. I pray you have the best week this next week! Have fun! Stay out of trouble!

Love you!
Elder Bush

Monday, November 7, 2011

Oh shucks, my pictures are gone

Well, my dear family,

I'm trying to stay positive but I think that the computer I'm using just deleted or corrupted the file that I had on my thumb drive that contained previously all the pictures for the first several months of my mission. And I'm not too excited about that. But, I'll try not to think much about it and hope that my companion and I can figure out how to maybe fix it. I did absolutely nothing which makes me not all that happy. All I did was plug it in to see if it worked and to check my pictures, they were all there, so I safely removed it and then realized I needed to add some pictures to it so when I plugged it back in, for some reason, the file was corrupted and says all my pictures are gone. Not cool. But what can you do? Just shake your head at technology I guess. Sometimes it's fantastic and other days, it bites you.

So, back to more important things. I'm loving being back in Vlad! As I mentioned before (maybe) Vlad looks a lot different. Everything just seems nicer than I remember it being. For example, the road from Artyom (the city where the airport is) to Vlad is completely redone finally and is absolutely wonderful! You can sleep in the car on the way there if you want! Before, it was the craziest, ricketiest, loudest car ride ever! I don't really know how to put it, but things just seem newer and nicer and now I understand what's happening around me and what people are saying. So in general, the city just has a new yet familiar feel to it. I called Baba Galya last night, my dear babushka that I came to love my first two transfers here and it was so awesome to talk to her! She's doing great although she can't see anything anymore. She said she remembers me although I doubt it. She's had tons of missionaries here in Vlad since then so it wouldn’t surprise me if she was just trying to be nice by saying she remembered. Oh, how I love that grandma!

Serving as assistant sure is a little crazy. The phone is always ringing and you always seem to be busy with one problem or another. But it really is an awesome opportunity to learn and grow and I hope the Lord will continue to mold me these upcoming months. So, here's the update on the past week...

I might have mentioned this to you, maybe I haven't, but I took a train from Ulan-Ude to Irkutsk and met some really neat people on the way and talked for a while with them. My flight from Irkutsk to Khabarovsk and then to Vlad got delayed by 12 hours so I spent the night in the airport with Elder Miller, the senior couple from Ulan-Ude, and youth from Ulan-Ude going to a youth conference on Sakhalin. That wasn't one of my more favorite memories, but I will say I was extremely happy to sleep in a bed finally come Tuesday night. Wednesday, we took a taxi to the airport and met the new elders coming in! We then took them back to the Pratts' apartment and had dinner there and got to know them. There were three new elders and 1 new sister! The sister's name is Sister Huber and she's from Magna! She went to Cyprus as well and knows Lisa! What a small, small world we live in. Thursday, we worked in the office some and I was feeling a little sick but that happens. The new elders got to participate in drawing on the street with Elder Winkler and the Vlad missionaries and it went really really well! One of the new elders that will serve in Ulan-Ude with Elder Steed was given 1000 rubles by some drunk guy (the equivalent of $30). Crazy. Your first day, you get money and the guy refuses to take it back and leaves you with it. Yeah, that 1000 rubles is definitely going in his journal. Friday, planning day and we ended up in the office again finishing up some things.

This past weekend, we had a special regional conference. Saturday there were two sessions and the topics were under the direction of the general authorities who spoke, but the talks were delivered by local leaders and members. It went pretty well. I had the privilege to translate for President in both the priesthood session and in the general session. Thank goodness I grabbed a Russian Handbook 2 because President talked a lot out of the Church Handbook and it was so much better that I was able to read some of what I translated. The Lord really does help us to do what we are called to do. Sunday, after dealing with a few technological problems, we were able to watch a broadcast in Russian and in English that was from Salt Lake and our speakers were (I think, I missed the first speaker because I was helping with trying to get the Russian to work) Elder Clayton Whitney, Sister Barbara Thompson, and Elder Oaks and President Uchtdorf. The talks were wonderful once we got the problems fixed. Thankfully, there were a few members that speak English in the branch that translated while we tried to get the Russian translation on. But man, is translating hard!

One last thing... Just in the last couple days, I've really come to recognized just how much President Pratt does. I don't think anyone can really understand until they're in his spot but honestly, he has to wear a couple hats in a very very big area of the church. He's a Mission President and he answers for all the missionaries in the largest mission in the world geographically. He's also in essence the acting stake president so he answers for everything related to the church and its members in the same area. He really has a huge, full plate in front of him. The only way it's possible to do what he and his wife, what any servant of the Lord does, is due to the fact that it's the Lord's work and He helps His servants enormously. Otherwise, the plane would have crashed a long time ago.

I love you all and I'm super grateful to have your support! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Bush

Friday, November 4, 2011

What does an assistant to the Mission President do?

President Pratt sent this explanation in a letter to Elder Bush:

As an Assistant you will help train and set the tone for missionary work throughout the mission.  You will have a direct impact on every missionary serving in the Russia Vladivostok Mission.  In this new calling you will continue to be an example of obedience, scripture study, work ethic, language ability, proselyting skills, and all other aspects of missionary work.  Your burdens will be heavy at times, but your blessings will be great.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tansferred back to Vladivostok

Dearest of dear families,

I know this email may be a little off in regards for timing but I wanted to let you know why I wasn't able to write home on Monday. So, I got transferred. You probably already figured that one out. I left Ulan-Ude Monday midday and took a train for 8ish hours and got into Irkutsk to meet a snow storm. Our flight was supposed to leave around 1 in the morning Tuesday but our flight was continually delayed until 1 in the afternoon. At last, we made it to Khabarovsk and my flight continued onto Vlad and I got in around 11 that night. Didn't sleep much. None at all really. And because of that, I'm getting a little sick. But I'm super excited to be here in Vlad again serving with Elder Williamson. He's a great missionary and he goes home in 1 transfer. I'm sorry to keep this short but I don't have a lot of time since there’s always a ton to do. I would however ask you to keep me and the missionaries of this wonderful mission in your prayers. I don't know why but President and the Lord decided to give me a huge assignment and made me assistant to the President along with Elder Williamson. So, basically, I could sure use your prayers and most assuredly, the Lord's help.

I love you all a ton. So much. Thank you for your letters and your updates. I always love hearing about the news back home. Mom, I'll get back to you ASAP about the vacuum bags. Thanks so much for buying some! I may just need a couple. We'll see, I actually packed up all my stuff when I moved here and threw some junk away so I'll probably be alright with just a couple.

Good luck to everybody back home! Love you!

Elder Bush

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zone Conference in our new building

Dear Family,

WOW! This past week has been awesome!!! Mostly because President Pratt and his wife and the assistants were here this past week along with the elders from Irkutsk. I love seeing Elder Zamora! He is honestly one of my best friends.

First of all, after I wrote home last week, we hopped on a bus and drove for about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the biggest datsan here in Ulan-Ude. A datsan is a Buddhist temple and at this particular one, they sell a lot of things there in the area from Mongolia! It was cool to see all the stuff they had. Elder Steed and Elder Bean bought some really sweet slippers made from camel fur! Yeah, I tried them on. They're the most comfortable things ever! We took a ton of pictures and it was really neat to see more of the culture here that is quite unique to Ulan-Ude since many of the population are Buddhist.

I had the privilege to be on an exchange with Elder Steed and man do I love serving with him! He is such a great Elder and friend. Like I've said before, I always love serving with him. This past week, as we were praying before our daily planning session at the end of the day, I listened to him and realized just how much he has grown in the last 4 transfers since we served together. Those days in Khabarovsk really shaped us and he has become an awesome trainer here in Ulan-Ude.

On Thursday, we had the awesome privilege to have zone conference at the new building! It was very exciting! I was asked to translate for the native Russian elders who are serving in Irkutsk which was a really neat experience. It was pretty hard at times, especially when we watched some small film clips for the training we received. But I had a really neat experience in listening to the Spirit's promptings. Some people may have heard of the gifts of the Spirit and that some of them include the gift of tongues and of the interpretation of tongues. If there's one thing my mission has taught me (which it has taught me far more than one thing) it's that the gift of tongues is real. Think about it, no amount of studying or really good language skills should really allow a person to be able to communicate as fluently as missionaries can in a matter of two years. After studying German for 3 years and comparing my experiences, I can testify that the Lord has blessed and helped me immensely! As I translated for the elders, I felt the words come easily to me. It wasn't difficult or at least as difficult as I thought it would be because the Lord's hand was in it. He helped me so much and it was really a neat experience to feel the Spirit guiding my thoughts and helping me recall the words I have learned previously but may not have used. That all being said, I also ended up with a huge long list of words I don't know yet and that is by far the greatest way to find out what you need to learn. Just try speaking or translating in different circumstances or settings and you'll always find you don't know something. There's so much I don't know!

Saturday, we did service at the branch to prepare for the first meetings that would be held the following day. It turned out to be a cold day and the first real snow of the year fell. But shortly thereafter, the sun broke through the clouds and melted all that had fallen. It's definitely getting colder and I have a feeling winter here in Ulan-Ude must be awful! Anyways, yesterday's meetings were wonderful in our new building! It's such a beautiful building and one of the coolest things was that 100 people were there at sacrament meeting!!! 100! That hasn't happened here in a long time! Never since I've been here. The most I had seen was high 70s maybe 80. It was great to see many new faces and many less actives return. I hope they stay! Because the blessings of the Lord we enjoy as we keep our covenants are astronomically awesome!

Basically, I'm doing really really well. I told President Pratt in my interview that I've never been doing better. That's mostly because I love my companion so much. He really has been such an awesome companion and example for me. He's pushed me and supported me in my weaknesses and it's been so awesome to learn from him each and every day! I love Ulan-Ude. We'll see what transfers bring in about a week.

I love you all and I'm super grateful to have you all as part of my family! Please, tell Sean congrats for me! (All my cousins are going to get married before I get home!) And tell all the extended family I say hi! And I love them!

Elder Bush

p.s. Sorry I forgot my camera cord again. Have no fear! Pictures shall be on the way ASAP!

p.s.s. OH! And, since my huge suitcase died and now I'm left with a medium one and two that are basically carry ons, I had an idea. If you all or anyone really really wants to send me a package at any point between now and when I go home, the only thing I would ask for is for vacuum space saver bags because that would be awesome! Just an idea. If it doesn't work out, no big deal. Thanks!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Another great General Conference

Well family,

It's great to be a member of our family. Really. Think about it... we all love each other. We get along (most of the time). We enjoy each other's company. It's great to be in such a family. It is a divine blessing from the Lord. Don't ever let yourself take that for granted.

This past week, like I said I would, I bought another shopka. It's black and super super nice fur. It's made from mink which is one of the nicest furs you can get a shopka made from. It was a little expensive but I bought one along with my companion, Elder Patterson and Elder Bell got a muskrat one. So, we'll all definitely stay warm this winter. 

The work has slowed down a little bit as of late. But we keep on working hard and trying to do our best. My favorite part of the past week was undoubtedly general conference. So many things were impressed upon my mind that it will probably take a few days of reviewing my notes to really recall everything I enjoyed. One thing stuck out to me from Elder Waddell's talk as he quoted President Monson who said something to the effect of, "Missionary work is one of the hardest labors in which we can endeavor." As I pondered on that, I had to agree and yet, I know that coming from the prophet, who I'm sure is a lot better at giving up of himself for others, does a lot more than what I or any other missionary is called to do. It truly is a demanding work but it prepares us so well for life ahead. I could think of no other thing I could possibly do right now that would be more worthwhile or important than a mission.

Elder Holland's talk in priesthood was outstanding. Very Elder Hollandish. And just what the priesthood holders of the church needed to hear. Elder Scott's talk helped me realize again that I really need to buckle down once again and memorize more scriptures. Not just so I can teach more effectively or know the scriptures better, but so I can enjoy the Spirit of the Holy word of God that He has blessed us with. Yesterday was a very hard day for me. Mostly because I was struggling inwardly in my attempt to do all the Lord requires of me and to be moldable. If that makes sense. As we spoke with people on the street between general conference sessions, I felt the Lord bless me with more love and desire to help the people amongst whom I serve. I looked into the eyes of a man named Sergei, who we often see near our apartment building, who was drunk and smoking a cigarette down the last bit he could. I looked into his eyes and knew he is a son of God, my brother, and I wanted so badly to help him overcome his addictions. It's hard for me to pass on my feelings in words but I want you to know that I know that our Heavenly Father loves each of us so much. More than we can understand.

This next week, President Pratt is coming for zone conference and we'll finally be meeting in our new building! Should be exciting and simply uplifting to see and learn from him and his wife. I've really come to love them too. I love all the missionaries that I'm serving with. They're great young men. Today, we're going to head off to see a datsan which is a Buddhist temple. Should be fun! I'll be sure to send pictures. Sorry that this email is so short. Promise to write more this next week. Remember that I love each of you a ton! Please tell Grandma Gee I love her! And Grandma and Grandpa Bush and Uncle Derek that I love them and have been thinking about them!

Elder Bush

p.s. There can be miracles. If you believe. It's all in the faith and acting diligently. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm blessed to work with great people

Hey there everybody!

All is well here in Ulan-Ude. It's funny how each city I've served in becomes my favorite with time. This past week has been a spiritual one, mostly due to prayer and the camaraderie we share amongst the elders in our district. I really have been tremendously blessed to be the district leader of such stupendous missionaries. One because individually, they're great people. But secondly, because they work so well in their companionships. I've seen a lot of successes and miracles amongst the elders here in Ulan-Ude. More than ever before. And most of all, I've seen wonderful changes in myself and in the elders of the district in becoming closer to the Savior as we labor together in His work. The longer I serve, the more I realize that I am so far from perfection.

The senior couple here had us over for cake and milkshakes today before they left on their Korea trip for the birthdays of Elder Bean (Elder Steed's comp) and Elder Patterson (my companion). They really are such a funny couple and so loving in their own special way. We've really come to love them and feel very much a part of the Price family (that's their last name). They shared a tender experience with us just before they left about how the Lord has been blessing them since they've been gone. I know the Lord protects and watches over and blesses His servants. He loves us so much.

To tag onto that thought, I'll share with you all something I caught a glimpse of this past week. I've always wanted to know how missionaries were able to always come home and share with family and friends that they had come to know the Savior on their missions. I guess for the last little while, I've felt a little jipped because I've wanted to feel closer to the Savior, to feel as though I've come to know Him better through my missionary service thus far, but I felt as though that desire just hadn't been fulfilled yet. And I didn't really know what to do in order to fulfill my desire. I study the Lord's word every day. I pray now more than I've ever prayed before in my life. The book, "Jesus the Christ," in company with the New Testament has helped me to better understand the Lord Christ and His mission, but yet something still has felt as though it lacked. This past week, I didn't really have a monumental spiritual experience or manifestation. In fact, I don't really know that I did much of anything different in my daily routine besides simply trying to do better than I did the day before. At some point, I came to ponder about the Savior and the work in which I labor presently and it hit me. The experiences I've been having all along have been helping me come to know the Savior and I didn't really even notice or realize it. Now, I ask you all to please not misinterpret my words here because I in no way will or can come close to comparing myself with our Savior, Jesus Christ. But I strongly feel, thanks to the impressions of the Lord's Spirit, that the experiences I have gone through thus far on my mission have helped bring me one small step closer to Gethsemane. Speaking of our Redeemer, He willingly drank the bitter cup and took upon Himself the sins and infirmities of all mankind, a cup He would rather not have drunk. He had so much love for the Father and for all of us that he went through with the greatest act of love that has ever been completed. Again, I in no way compare myself to the Savior. I simply can say that I know in a very small way what it feels like to do things or press forward in a work that at times can be very discouraging and on one hand, your natural man self doesn't want to continue on. And yet, you go on because you love the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. I apologize if my feelings don't make much sense. It's hard to adequately pass on in word what I feel. In short, my mission has taught me things that I could not learn in any other way. I know the Lord loves us. I know Christ is the Savior of all mankind. I know God is our Heavenly Father. And I cannot deny what I know to be true.

I've really come to love the people I serve. I realize that much of what I've written today has probably been repeated in my previous letters. But I just want you to know just how grateful I am for the Lord's benevolent and generous hand in my life. It's been a rewarding experience to train a new elder because I've come to realize just how much Russia has become my home. I love this place, and rarely do I find myself discovering minuses or things that are less than desirable or for that matter, comparing what's here to home.

This past week had a little bit of the usual craziness since one of the companionships had to move to a new apartment. So we spent one day packing up and moving in. I will say, we did do a great job getting everything up four flights of stairs in the narrowest staircase ever! I'm surprised the fridge made it.

Lastly, rely upon the Lord. Because you're a lot better off when you do. I was called upon last minute to teach Sunday School this past week and was extremely grateful to have Heavenly Father's help. He is mindful of us. And aids us as we rely upon Him.

Oh yeah, last week, I saw a kid walking around with a USF sweatshirt. That was really weird and completely unexpected.

I love you all a ton and wish you all a wonderful, fruitful, safe, fun week!

Ст. Буш

p.s. I think I might buy a shopka today. Maybe next week. I don't know. I'll send you pictures once I get it!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Week of Miracles

How is everyone doing?!

Great to hear from you all! Glad to hear conference was so good! Hopefully, we'll get the disks and be able to watch conference this upcoming weekend. We'll see if things work out. 

This past week has been a fantastic one! I had one of the greatest lessons of my whole mission this past week with a woman and her daughter who are interested in the gospel. They really are so awesome! The Lord is preparing His children to come closer to Him. Elder Patterson talked to the mother on the bus one day after district meeting and all he really talked about with her was that he was a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ which really struck her as interesting, the fact that our church bears Christ's name. After that, she wanted to read the Book of Mormon, and she continues to tell us, "How could this book not be true?! Or be made up? Of course it's true!" Now we just have to help her see what that means for her, that the Book of Mormon is true. For the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and our message leads us to act and not simply to learn helpful or nice information. They love the feeling they have when they meet with us. We helped explain to them several times that that is the Spirit and He helps us know that what we're hearing or learning is true. We've also continued to meet with several other investigators, and simply put, it's been great to be a part of the Lord's work in this very special part of His vineyard. People often ask us, why on earth would you come here to Russia or even to this part of Russia, to this city of all places to do what you're doing? Because we're all children of Heavenly Father. And He loves all of His children. They probably ask that question because all they recognize or see are the material imperfections or unpleasantries (sorry I can't spell or think of any other words that make sense in English) that can be found in their city when in fact, if you take a moment and just look around, you can find a lot to love. Mostly the people. Why do missionaries always say "Love the people" when they tell future missionaries advice? Because it's the key to success in the Lord's work. For He loves each of us perfectly. And how can we expect to get anywhere in His work, or for that matter in this life, if we're not willing to do it His way?

We had a little miracle this past week. Yesterday, at sacrament meeting, we had 10 investigators in attendance! Isn't that crazy?! I think it is! One of those in attendance was a woman we had talked to on the street the day before and had invited her. I'll be honest, people don't usually come when we invite them. Rarely does that ever seem to yield any fruit. But this woman came! And brought her granddaughter with her! The rest of our investigators had member friends invite them and had support there and it's just awesome to witness and be a part of! The members here a really great at helping us and doing missionary work all on their own. They love to share the blessings the Lord has poured out on them. How wonderful it is to behold!

I had a neat experience on the bus ride to the library where we write home each week. We were talking to people on the bus and as we were about to get off, we walked up to the front of the bus and there sat a man who collected money for the bus fair. I thought to myself, "should I talk to this man?" And I began to doubt that he would be interested. He had seemed pretty angry at one point during the bus ride and I thought to myself, "I really should talk to him, but it would be a lot easier to just get off the bus." At this point, this rough looking Russian man turned to me, and with a smile began to talk with me. We got to know each other and he asked for an invitation before I could even turn the conversation to the gospel. His name is Aleksei and he taught me today that I should never hesitate to talk to anyone, no matter what I, imperfect Elder Bush, may think. I pray the Lord will touch his heart and that he will call or show up someday just as that woman did yesterday. The greatest thing I've really begun to grasp lately is that there's nothing that happens in this work without the Lord's hand in it. For it is His work. If we expect to assist in His work, we better expect miracles. If we doubt miracles can happen, we will not assist in this work. I know it.

This past week is probably such an awesome one because I've seen little miracles each and every day. And because I've felt the spirit witness to me that this work in which I am participating is true. There is nothing more important on the face of this earth than the work of the Lord. I didn't understand that for myself 1 1/2 years ago. And as I'm starting to come around the bend to the homestretch of this mission, I'm beginning to realize that 2 years is not enough. I have so much to learn because I know so little. 

I love you all so much and I pray for you always. I hope this next week brings lots of smiles, fun, and blessings from on high.

Elder Bush

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Crazy Week of Travels

Dearest family,

Y'all ain't heard from me in quite some time! Sorry about that. We didn't really know where to go in Korea to find internet and we all thought that we would be able to write a little more at least in the airport but they closed the cafe right when we got there. To sum up, the week before I left was a little hectic in trying to prepare for Elder Phillip's and my absence since our greenie companions would be serving together and we wanted to make sure they would be prepared for all that. Saturday morning (a week ago) the branch did service at the new building cleaning up the territory around the building and it really looks nice there. The building is beautiful and we can't wait to move. The only reason we haven't been able to and they keep putting it off is they're having trouble getting the contract in place for water to the building. Something's not working in the communication between the church and the city and maybe some other people in between. So, anyways, someday we'll move there.

Elder Phillips and I left Ulan-Ude last a week ago Saturday at 4 in the afternoon and took a train which arrived in Irkutsk just after 11 pm. We hopped in a taxi and stopped by the senior couple's apartment to pick up Elder Zamora and then we were off to the airport to wait for our flight which left at 3 am Sunday. Waiting is never my favorite activity in the world, but we eventually got on the plane. (We flew Korean Air which was awesome!)  We got into Korea at about 6:30, got our stuff and headed to the temple where we were met by some members who took us to the English branch. That was really weird! It felt like being home, which at first I really didn't like that feeling. I've really come to love a smaller branch where everyone speaks and sings and prays in Russian, but I learned some great things from the speakers and it was a great experience. We found a Russian woman who lives there and tried to meet with her later in the week, but it didn't work out. We did a little shopping, met up with Elder Phillip's friend who's a member serving in the army near the South Korean, North Korean border and went with him and several of the Seoul Korean missionaries to a war museum. That was interesting and felt very touristy. His friend then took us on the base nearby to buy American food at the grocery store there, and that was intensely weird! In fact, I didn't like it very much because it was far too much like home. Literally, you walk on base and all of a sudden, you feel as though you've returned to America. The roads, the yards, the buildings, the people all speaking English, it was just plain weird. I did get peanut butter though which was a plus. I've been loving that the past few days. :) Elder Phillip’s friend thought we were crazy when we asked for 4 jars of peanut butter.

We got to go to a family home evening at an American member's home which was way fun! They have an adorable little girl who has started talking and it was crazy that I couldn't understand her! I felt as though I was hearing a Russian again for the first time and couldn't for the life of me understand her! She really is super cute. We had waffles for dinner and whole American milk. You all know how much I love my milk. ;) We had a wonderful spiritual thought afterward. I love the feeling of going from friendly conversation to teaching about the gospel. I always love conversing with people because it's always interesting to learn more about someone. Yet, the feeling of the spirit as He accompanies our words as we teach of the gospel of Jesus Christ is incomparable.

So basically, we flew home, got into Irkutsk late Wednesday night, got on a train Thursday morning and returned to Ulan-Ude. Oh before I forget, we also went to Costco thanks to the senior couple allowing us use their card, and I bought a new suitcase since my big one was is completely trashed. It's probably the same one that I looked at before my mission. It's a little small but great quality and hopefully, it'll hold up and do the trick. Saturday, we had a baptism here in Ulan-Ude which was, as always, a very spiritual and wonderful experience. The father of a family who had already all been baptized earlier was baptized and they're all looking forward to having the opportunity to be sealed in the temple. One of their daughters, on a mission in St. Petersburg, is probably SO excited to hear that her father finally made the decision to be baptized. The gospel is all about the family.

We have some awesome investigators we're working with now that just popped outta nowhere! One is a 10 year old boy named Misha and his mom and grandma. They all love coming to church because of the comfort they feel there, and they've expressed interest in being baptized. A little over an hour ago, we met with Misha before school and he prayed at the end of our lesson! It was one of the greatest experiences of my mission! To hear a 10 year old say such a simple and yet heartfelt prayer!

Saturday evening, we had a branch talent show and we (the missionaries) did a cooking show skit thing where we had the senior companions speaking with our junior companions behind us but they stuck their arms out and pretended to be our arms. It was absolutely hilarious! And we were glad everyone liked it and that we pulled it off since we came up with it last minute. We "made" American pancakes and made quite a mess considering our comps couldn't see what they were doing. Hopefully, I can get a copy of the video and show you once I'm home.

Well, I guess in a nutshell, that was my last two weeks. Sorry if it doesn't make much sense. Basically, I'm doing well and loving where I'm at. Hard to think I don't have much time left. 6 months is so short. Thus, I must thrust in my sickle with all my might and have all the faith I can muster to allow the Lord to work miracles through me. That's all I'm essentially called to do. Have faith and do His work. If you do it His way, miracles will come.

I love you all. I pray for each of you. I'm so glad to hear how the Lord is blessing all of you. :)

Elder Bush

Monday, September 19, 2011

No letter this week

We did not get an email today.  Spencer was traveling to Korea and must not have been able to get to a computer.  If something comes later in the week, I will post it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hello from the other side of the globe

Do you ever stop and wonder how far apart we really are located from one another? Crazy. You're all on the other side of the globe! The best part of it is that I know the Lord is watching over me and you, and despite the distance, everything will be okay. First off, thank you Mom for your email and your insights. The atonement really is such a beautiful subject. So deep and yet so simple. The more I learn, whether it was in school, or Russian, or the gospel, I realize just how little I really know. Thank you, Dad for your email too. To answer your questions, I would have the means to listen to a talk on CD if you were to send it. Just let me talk with President Pratt to make sure that would be ok to listen to and I'll get back to you (hopefully) next week. A week from now may be a little crazy since I'll be going to Korea which requires me to take a train out of here to Irkutsk and then fly who knows where to eventually get to Korea. While traveling is a bit of a drag at times (especially taking a flight at 1 am and arriving at 7 in Vlad or the flights Elder Waltman took with Elder Jones for ZL's council... remember those, Elder Waltman? Not the favorite part of the mission) traveling is however at times pretty exciting and always an adventure.

The work is picking up some here in Ulan-Ude. Honestly, I would have to say that it's not really picking up because of anything we the missionaries have done. It's all from the Lord. Random people just show up to church who want to know more and meet with us or members invite their friends who desire to know more about us. The important thing I've learned on the mission thus far is that we must do everything we can to bring about the Lord's work and then He can begin to work miracles through us and amongst our surroundings.

One thing I wanted to mention to you all, especially to Mom and Dad is that I'm super grateful for how much you write to me. You always write to me just enough to keep me in the loop, and while to someone else, they may just seem like meaningless details, they're really important to me and it's super helpful to know more about what's actually going on at home.

I'm not really sure what I should share with you all about this past week. Got to meet with a young guy who's pagan. Yeah we'll see how that progresses. He prays to many gods and he also speaks a bagillion miles an hour. It takes just about every ounce of my being to follow him when he speaks. We also met with a woman that Elder Patterson talked to on the bus about the Book of Mormon. It was really neat to hear her as she told us that normally she's never interested in talking with people about religion or about God, but for some reason, when Elder Patterson asked her if she believed in God, she felt something inside that really got her interested and led her to want to read the Book of Mormon. We helped her identify that as the Spirit. It's so awesome to see how the Spirit works and to realize the power that His impressions can have on us. It reminds me of President Joseph Fielding Smith's comment in the Gospel Principles manual chapter 7 on the Holy Ghost. He talks about how seeing an angel or even the Son of God would not produce the same convincing feeling as can the Holy Ghost. How true is that?! Just look at Laman and Lemuel! They saw an angel. They heard the voice of the Lord and yet with a little time, they seemed to forget it all and returned to murmuring and breaking the commandments. We also met with this guy named Aleksander. It was a very interesting meeting since he has a hard time focusing on the topic at hand and he seems to be a little more interested in the fact that we're Americans. Although, he did tell us yesterday he has two dreams: to go to France someday and to see where Mormons live (Utah). Due to his research and things he's heard and seen, he's become super interested in learning more about the Mormons. I guess why I tell you all about this is because this past week, I've really come to love in a small way each of these people. Despite their differences, they're all children of Heavenly Father. They are my brothers and sisters, and I love them and want them to have the joy the gospel has given me. Many people we talk to daily share that they're already happy or they already have joy. Some even think that it's insulting that we Americans would come to Russia (a very historically rich religious country) and assume that what we have is "better" than what they already have. The point is not that what we have is "better" nor is it a question of nationality. We share with everyone the fullness of the gospel as it has been restored in our day by a living prophet. Why wouldn't you want something that would make you even happier, even stronger in your faith in Christ, or even closer as a family? If I hadn't received a personal conviction that the Lord in our day did call Joseph Smith to be a prophet, if I didn't know the Book of Mormon to be true, the last thing I would ever really want to do in this life is walk around and talk with people about probably the most controversial topic ever in the history of mankind: religion. But, I know it's true. And I cannot deny it. I am compelled to share what I know because it's true.

I love you all. Sorry this letter this week may not be all that interesting. But I hope and pray we will all realize how blessed we are to have the fullness of the truth. That knowledge most certainly doesn't make us "better". It makes us more responsible.

LOVE you!
Elder Bush

p.s. Tell Grandma and Grandpa Bush and Uncle Butchie thank you for their letters! I love them so much!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

A little paint on my suit... yeah that's worth it.

My dear family,

How is everybody doing? Sounds like things are well. And it sure sounds like things are going well with the beginnings of the business. I continue to pray for you dad and I know the Lord will continue to bless you all.

Last week after writing you all, we got a phone call from the other elders that they had met one of our investigators, who has been impossible to meet with lately, at the bus stop near the church. So, we ended pday a little early and headed off to the church to meet with him. We talked outside for a little while (he didn't have time to go inside the church and actually meet because he was in the area to see someone else) but while we talked, we began talking about the plan of salvation. After talking some, I offered him a pamphlet so that he could read more about the Plan of Salvation, but he didn't express interest and told us he wouldn't read it. We continued to talk and Elder Patterson then grabbed his pamphlet and tried to give it to him. This time he grabbed it and showed interest. Funny thing was, it was in English. But, he expressed interest in reading it and reading the Russian translation as well and pretty much I learned from that experience, sometimes you have to try again with maybe a little different approach. You never know what will happen. Later that evening, we had FHE (family home evening) with the branch president's family, and it was wonderful to be in their home! You could immediately feel the spirit as you entered the home and as we started FHE. We're really striving to work more and more with the members and the branch president and branch council, which he invited us to attend this past week, and basically, things are going well in Ulan-Ude.

Tuesday, Elder Phillips (my zone leader) and I had a sweet experience. After district meeting, we headed off to the church together to attend a meeting for zone leaders and district leaders that would be held via Skype. How cool is technology? Yeah, it's way cool. From Vlad, the assistants were able to join together elders on Sakhalin, in Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, and Ulan-Ude. We're all pretty far apart. Think about that... From Vlad to Irkutsk is practically the distance between you all and Trev right now. It's so cool how technology can be used to help the Lord's work to move forward. It was such a helpful meeting because now I know what I'm supposed to do as DL! and how I can improve district meeting.

To go along with what I just wrote above, I have a couple really neat stories about prayer and faith. When we arrived to the church on Tuesday for the meeting, we got into the family history center and turned on the computer and realized we needed a password. We then attempted to call the family history center consultant but she was unavailable. (Her phone may have been turned off or didn't have service). So I prayed silently that we would get through. The next time Elder Phillips tried, we heard a dial tone and got through and she gave us her password. Once we got Skype opened up, we realized something was wrong with the internet because we couldn't get on to add President Pratt as a contact. As I examined all the possible internet related stuff I could find while talking to the assistants by speaker phone, I said to Elder Phillips, we should pray. As I began to bow my head, I looked over to the router and I began to see the status light, which had remained off the entire time, flash which meant we had service again! All I had to do was simply express faith in the Lord, and he made everything work. I feel He sometimes waits to see if we will simply turn to Him for help when we're in need and once we've made the turn, he shows us a very simple but evident answer that I cannot deny. Anyone could tell me, oh Elder Bush that was just a coincidence. There was just a problem with the internet connection but it came on with a little time. No. I know the Lord answers our simple prayers and I know He did last Tuesday because I felt the Spirit testify to my heart that that was the Lord's hand we saw. And boy was that a great meeting we had. The Lord made possible that meeting for us (the alternative was linking us by telephone into the Skype conversation without video which would have been awful because cell phone reception in the church is awful). To add onto this all, as Elder Steed and I were on an exchange, we were searching amongst the dacha's (basically all the little Russian homes that are on the outer parts of town) for a member’s home and we couldn't find it. Once we thought we had found it after asking several people, we realized the house didn't have a doorbell and the fences were too high to be able to see inside. I had tried to call her several times already, but she too had been unavailable. So, I turned to Elder Steed and said, "Let's pray right here in the middle of the road." So I prayed that we would be able to get through to her and after I finished, as I called, I also got a ring back tone and soon got through to her and figured out she would meet us at the church later that day. So cool!!! Prayer works in very simple yet very real ways.

Being on an exchange with Elder Steed was great! I love serving with him. Elder Patterson and I got to teach a few lessons this past week with investigators which was especially great for him because it's hard when you don't have that many people to teach.

This past Saturday, we decided to go try the painting here in Ulan-Ude. It was pretty fun and successful in Irkutsk and so we decided to try it here. I was the only one who had done it before, so I was kind of in charge of the drawing and painting. At first, no one seemed interested at all. As in no one was even coming up to see what we were doing. Think about it, six guys in suits painting on the back side of wallpaper in a crowded street with shops on either side... yeah I'd be super interested to see what on earth they were doing. (By the way, have you ever really thought about how funny that sounds in English? "What on earth are you doing?" Translating that into Russian doesn't make any sense.) So anyways, with time, people began flocking to us and were really interested. We got to talk to a lot of people. And it really was a lot of fun. I don't know how, since we, the missionaries, completely blanked and didn't tell the members what we were doing, but somehow, some of them found out and showed up to help. We'll definitely include them even more in the future because it's super helpful having them there. Through it all, I got lots of paint on my hands and a little on my suit. At first I was a little bummed but in the end, I realized, whatever doesn't come out will remind me of what we did that day. Who knows? Maybe what we did, talking to people about the Plan of our Heavenly Father for us, about why we live here on earth, where we came from, what will happen after this life ends, why this life is so important, maybe all of that will help at least one person come closer to Christ. Two girls called us yesterday and showed up to church all by themselves. Might I emphasize, by themselves. We never truly know the fruits of our labors.

It was great to have the youth back in the branch yesterday since they returned from the YSA conference in Yekaterinburg, which seems to have been a blast. That stuff is so important for the young people, especially in Russia.

Well, I love you all a ton. Hope all is just dandy back in the sunshine state! The weather has been getting colder here the last few days. Crazy to think soon it will be time for jackets and coats and scarves and shopkas. Good luck to each of you!


Elder Bush

Monday, August 29, 2011

Working, Working, Working

Dearest family,

The work keeps moving on. Elder Patterson is a beast and he never wants to ever quit which is super awesome to have in a companion. The work has been a little challenging lately since it's been hard to meet with anyone, but we've learned a lot these last few weeks and probably the most important thing is to always remain positive. Just don't let hard times get you down! Is that really hard sometimes? Of course. This past week, I thought about the Metros for some reason. I sure miss Ben and I hope all is well with him. Tell him I love him to death! I wrote to Jolyn when I was in Khabarovsk but I haven't heard back from her. She should be heading home soon if she isn't already. Anyways, I was thinking about Brother Metro and how much I love his example. I'm sure he had some hard times and met some disappointments just like the rest of us, but you never would know it when you're around him. He's the example that has been carrying me through this last week. Just smile and go forward with faith. Thanks Brother Metro for your example.

Some news... President Pratt (Mission Pres.) announced this past Korea trip that we can't send packages home anymore through Brother Southerland because he doesn't want us to be abusing Br. Southerland's kindness. I was bummed when I heard this but I understand why. So basically, I won't be sending home any souvenirs or extra clothes or anything which kind of limits me on what I can buy and bring home at the end of my mission.  Which reminds me, my big suitcase that's with me here in Ulan-Ude has taken a bit of a beating. The worst thing is the wheels. They've been absolutely demolished. After the train ride here, I pretty much dragged my suitcase around until the wheels came completely apart. So we'll see what I can salvage. It may mean I need to find a cheap bag to replace it. We'll see. And as far as extra things, unfortunately, I may just end up having to pass things on to other missionaries or throwing stuff away I don't need. I hate to do that since I'd rather not waste anything, but the bags are getting a little heavy so we'll see.

We've talked again to a lot of really neat people. Probably the biggest distinguishing factor of Ulan-Ude compared to the other cities of the mission (besides the fact the so many of the people are Buddhist as compared to Russian Orthodox or simply Christian) is that so many people are so nice and willing to talk to you! They're also very apologetic when they turn you down. Which is kind of funny because that hasn't ever really happened on my mission before. Sunday was probably the best day yet because, well, it's Sunday. What's there not to like? The branch seemed a little smaller since all of the young adults (which is a very big portion of the branch) were in Yekaterinburg for a huge YSA conference that was for the Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and Vladivostok missions. Hopefully, they had a great time. Sacrament meeting went well and then for Sunday school, the branch president asked the missionaries to lead the lesson. So, we all prepared a really sweet lesson about missionary work and started out by showing probably my favorite short film from the 2011 youth theme video called "We Believe." It was the clip with all the young men that invited each other to church 1 by 1 and now there's 26 of them coming to church together. It's all about inviting. That's our work as members. We invite and share what we know by word and deed. The missionaries are full time teachers just as Elder Bednar said in conference a few years ago. They're called to teach. We are full time finders. We covenanted to do that when we were baptized. The lesson actually turned out wonderfully and the members really enjoyed it. I know the Spirit guided my words along with the words of all the other elders. Our new companions did a great job preparing and sharing their part of the lesson. They all have such faith!

We found out yesterday that the opening of the new building is getting pushed back a little more, so we won't be moving in this week as we thought but probably in the middle of September maybe around Fallon's birthday! Or near the end of the month. It's going to be such a great blessing to have a building!

Anyways, yesterday, President Baldakov (the branch president) talked in priesthood about the temple since he was in Kiev not too long ago when his son Ilya was sealed. It was a powerful lesson to hear his testimony of the temple and to hear his gratitude to the missionaries for the work we do, which helps people obtain the blessing of attending the temple and entering into covenants with Heavenly Father. We definitely felt the spirit yesterday which is probably my favorite part of Sunday. It's a time to rest and to learn. 

I've really thought a lot about the impact of a mission lately. It's a humbling experience. And that's the way the Lord intends it to be. Never in your life do you really have the same opportunity as you do when you serve the Lord full time. I've begun to ask myself, do you really serve full time? Are there times you begin to think about yourself instead of those whom you're serving? How could you improve? I think that's one of my favorite things about new elders is that they come with new ideas and they're more that happy and willing to try them instead of getting stuck in the rut of doing the same thing over and over again. They're constantly improving, and it's so helpful for us with whom they're serving. 

I have one favor to ask of you all. Can you pray for me that I'll be able to write in my journal? I know that probably sounds silly, but since I have to do nightly calls with the companionships in my district, it's been even harder to record stuff I want to remember. I know your prayers will help as I try to work more effectively and quickly so that I record what's most important about each day. (Yeah who would have ever thought a journal would be important to Elder Bush?)

I forgot to mention we went running this morning with one of the members in the branch, and it was pretty chilly out which was weird. But the weirdest part of all is that Elder Patterson got stung on the inside of his lip by a bee. He made us stop and take a look because he felt something hurting inside his mouth so I took a look and pulled the stinger out. Yeah, weird huh?  

I know that Christ lives. He is our Lord. I love him and I'm striving to love the people that I serve. I know He is patient with me and I'm so grateful for the patience. I pray I'll continue to slowly progress each and every day. I love you all and I continually pray for you that you'll all be safe and happy.  Have a great week!

Love always,
Elder Bush

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Lesson on Love

Dear Mom and Dad and the Family and everyone else who may read this,

I want you to know, especially Mom and Dad, how much I love you. I don't think that in the mission culture, it just so happens that trainers and trainees take on the name of "papa" and "son" because it truly is a unique experience to train a new missionary. I really have learned so much from just two weeks of the experience. I also feel so much responsibility and it really gets me down when I don't feel I'm succeeding or reaching my potential because I feel it affects my companion and that's the last thing I want to happen. If there's anything I must work on more and that I want to accomplish, I want to make sure my weaknesses don't affect the beginning of his mission. I don't know if any of what I just said makes any sense but I pondered a while about that this morning and I hope I can continue to steadily improve so as to be the best possible example and trainer for Elder Patterson.

He really has taught me so much. And I love it. This certainly isn't my focus now but the thought just occurred to me that I can't wait to be married and be able to learn from my spouse. It will be such and adventure and rewarding experience. Anyways, this past week was a great lesson in love. You have to love the people. Love them with all your heart, even when you don't want to, because it has a profound impact on the progress of the work. It has a profound impact on how you grow as a missionary, as an individual, as a son or daughter of Heavenly Father. When we take it upon ourselves to serve God, we forget about ourselves. We give up ourselves, take up our cross 'daily' as Luke says in chapter 9, and we follow Christ and never look back. It's so hard to do that sometimes. I'll tell you all right now that forgetting about yourself completely and entirely is insanely hard. It takes some time to really work at it and accomplish it. But it is possible. Craziest part about it is once you think you've figured it out, you realize that you can do even more to give of yourself and to focus even more on others. You would think that simply leaving home and your family and friends would be enough. Not. The Lord requires more. You stop thinking about home nearly as often or letting your mind drift to past memories. Enough right? Nope. It takes even more. At least it has for me. And there's nothing more rewarding than losing yourself in the work of the Lord. You come much closer to your Savior. I still have some distance to cover and a bit of a gap to bridge but I can see the progress I've made thanks to the Lord's help.

I found out the other day that Sveta, the girl that Elder Miller and I were teaching got baptized this past weekend on Saturday. I'm sure it was a great experience for her and I pray she will never forget it. I also pray the Lord will continue to use me as an instrument in His hands to affect the lives of others. We never know the effect we have on others. You just never know. So, do everything you can do bring about good about you and the Lord will use you as an instrument for the benefit of others. Galatians 6:9 be not weary in well doing. Never stop doing good. Never stop serving. Quick story... So, we missionaries often find ourselves on the streets here in Russia. Go figure since we walk most places. Or take buses. But we're pretty much always on the streets and talking to everyone we see. I have seen the examples of past companions who always asked to help people that may have been in need, and I too have been striving to offer help at any setting that help could be offered. Rarely does anyone ever take you up on the offer. Even if a babushka is carrying 10 grocery bags filled with potatoes, carrots, cabbage and beets to make some borsch (keep in mind she's going uphill and she also lives on the 10th floor) for some crazy reason, she'll still turn you down when you offer to help. That has never made sense to me, but I have a hunch it's due mostly to the untrusting nature of many of the Russian people who have a hard time trusting those around them. This past week, we talked again to a lot of people and offered to help many that seemed they could use it. I reminded my comp that despite rejection, we must continue to offer our help because we never know who will accept it. On our way home Saturday night, we walked between two apartment buildings not far from the church and I noticed a babushka who was slowly making her way down the street as she carried two large grocery bags. We changed paths and made our way over to her and offered to help. She was astonished and told us we were like angels from heaven! She couldn't stop telling us how handsome we looked and how nice it was that we had offered to help. To her, we seemed to have come out of nowhere as though we were angels from above. We slowly walked down the street to her apartment building and offered to take the groceries to her door but she insisted that she see us off at the bus stop. We talked and talked and talked and she told us all about her granddaughter who speaks fluent English and has many American friends that have come to visit. He name is Nina and she was so loving. It felt so good to help someone and not that we expect it but it is rare that we're ever thanked for the service we try to provide. She generously thanked us over and over again and gave us her number and invited us to visit. We hope to see her this week sometime. Never ever forget to offer your help.

It's been so awesome to see my son (new missionary) grow and to see his faith. He talks to everyone. Really he has no fear which is so awesome. Continue to pray for him. He really will be instrumental along with all the other missionaries that have come with him in helping the church grow here. I'm convinced they will help fulfill prophecy. I pray I be here long enough to aid in the fulfillment of that prophecy as well as the church begins to explode here. By the way, we got to see the church building's interior this past week and wow, does it look amazing! As we walked into the chapel, Elder Patterson and I were immediately hit by the Spirit. It was a wonderful experience I will never forget, and this new branch will be a blessing for the members here. We had an interesting pday last week which made seeing the new building even greater but I'll tell you all more about that later.

I love you all so much. I realize my letters home have changed a lot throughout the duration of my mission. I've come to realize training that a lot of the crazy cultural differences are not so crazy to me anymore. I really don't seem to notice that stuff much. So I'm sorry if that's what you enjoyed hearing about. I'll try to pay more attention to it all. It is really neat to relive things though through your new companion. I hope you all have a fantastic week! Love you ALL!

Elder Bush

Monday, August 15, 2011

Contacted 142 people in one day

My dearest of dear families,

How art thou? How dost thine doings go back home in the homeland? Ok enough of this gibberish. I'm so glad to write to you all this week! This last one has been another great chapter in the mission. Hard to believe so much time has flown by and that so little time remains to serve the Lord. (Yeah I know I still have a little over 6 months but honestly, that's nothing.) This is the time to shine and it really is quite exciting to be a missionary of the Lord at this time. Mom, Dad, and the whole rest of the family, I know that this work is not just a good idea or a good thing that we do because we want to do a little good in the world. It is the work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am his representative, and that is a lot of responsibility. Some may wonder why the Lord entrusts such a great responsibility with such young inexperienced folks. But I'm starting to really understand why. It's because the Lord loves us so much and he knows what we will become if we will give up ourselves in His service. He molds us and shapes us. And boy, do I have a lot of rough edges that I thought were already smoothed over. It will take a lifetime in fact to really smooth out most of my rough edges. But, serving the Lord is the Lord's way to jump start and in reality begin that arduous process. I've never done anything harder. Probably never will. It is really hard sometimes to fulfill the Lord's will when inside you have reservations or don't want to because you know how hard it will be or how much effort it will require of you. I must testify to you all though that it is worth it. I know that the Lord knows me inside and out. He understands me perfectly and is probably frustrated with me sometimes. But I'm certain He is pleased with me as well when I strive to give it my all and fulfill His will. I know Jesus is the Christ. He has overcome the world and through Him, our burdens can be lifted and our sorrows can disappear. He restored His church again to the earth in its fullness through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Of that I am certain and can never deny.

I love my mission. If you can't already tell. Probably because it's not 'mine'. Once I started to realize and continually remember that this mission is not mine but the Lord's and I am simply here on His behalf, I started to understand much more the meaning of the work in which I was participating. This past week has really been a test of my faith and thanks to my companion with a ton of greenie fire, I have been stretched and pushed and I know that I am coming closer to being the missionary the Lord desires of me. I love the elders in my district, so of course, district meeting went well. They all are so awesome and full of desire to serve the Lord sincerely that it's hard not to feel the Spirit in their presence. We talked mostly of logistical things during district meeting and about changes in the mission and unfortunately, we didn't really get to anything that I had planned. But that will be saved for tomorrow's meeting. Anyways, what has really struck me about this past week is the faith, desire, and diligence of the new elders. They truly have been called at a time when the mission is in need of them. They have no fear. Elder Bush has a lot of fear at times in his mission. I have also let the people really get to me at times. Khabarovsk was a difficult city that really beat me down and kept me from opening my mouth and declaring the good news of the gospel with all those amongst whom I was serving. But these new elders, despite their enormous language barrier, talk with everyone. I mean everyone. They're not afraid to say what they can. It reminds me of earlier times in my mission when I overcame my fear and really pushed myself. Irkutsk was a great city in which I really pushed myself as well. But these elders, especially my companion have helped push me and teach me like no one else before has been able to. Wednesday of last week, we had no lessons that worked out. The whole day was going to be filled with street contacting. So we set some admirable goals. We both figured we could probably talk to 60 people during the day and receive a few contacts. 60 people is a lot, and it takes a good effort to reach a goal like that. We left our apartment just after 11 after language study and returned around 2 for lunch. It that short time, we reached our goal and surpassed it by 20! I was blown away. I had never before talked to so many people. Many of them weren't interested. Many of them were really really nice. We later set a goal to try to speak to another 60 people in the evening with the remaining time we had after working a little in the area book and finishing some studies we have to do as part of our new training program. We again started talking to everyone. And I mean everyone. If they walked past us, we talked to them. Again, we were met with many people that weren't that interested. And with about 4 minutes left, right near our apartment building on the way home, we met our goal and talked to 2 more and in the end, we had spoken with 142 people. Only one man had expressed much interest and was willing to take a book of Mormon and gave us his number so we could get in touch. And we met him just before we got home. It was a long hard day in which we talked to everyone we could. The best part of that day was during my prayers that evening as I knelt beside my bed. As I prayed, I thought about all the people we had talked to. Their faces and words ran through my mind over and over again. And there were so many!! The Lord knows each of them and loves them so much! As my mind reflected on all of them, I was overcome with that feeling of love for all of them and I prayed so hard that he would bless Igor and Hatasha, Vladimir and Sergei, Alexander and Sasha, Yulia and Dima. We continued to talk to tons of people the rest of the week and testified of the divinity of the Savior, of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and that the church of God has been restored on the earth. I know all of that with every bit of my heart, and I am privileged that I can declare that message each and every day.

We also got to see the new church building that we'll be moving to soon. It is almost finished being built. It looks awesome!!!!! I'll have to send you pictures soon. (Unfortunately, the battery is dead in my camera.)

Well, I'm doing well in short. My health is good. Although I miss really working out. I may start waking up a little earlier to get a better work out in in the morning. Oh that reminds me, Ulan-Ude doesn't have hot water right now in the apartments. And hasn't for a while. It's supposed to get turned back on today but we'll see. So, basically, we've been taking cold showers for the last week and a half. Which is awful. (not that I'm complaining) but cold showers are certainly not on my list of "wow that's awesome! I’d definitely do that again!" things. What we usually do is boil water when we first get up, kind of like I did with Elder Waltman over a year ago and then take it in the shower with me, get soaked with the ice cold shower water, soap up, and then rinse off with the warm water in our huge soup pot. Yeah, it gets the job done but I will be so happy when the water gets turned back on.

Oh and Mom, you would be so proud of me. I'm actually able to cook some things that my companion compliments (I think he's just being nice since I'm his first comp in the mission field).

Well, I love you all to death, to the Spirit World, the Resurrection, Judgment, and the Celestial Kingdom! (hahaha aren't I just hilarious?) But seriously, I really do love you all a ton. Hope your week's a grand one! Good luck back at school!

Elder Bush