Monday, January 31, 2011

I met the nicest man I've ever met in Russia

Всем привет (Hello)!

Ну, здесь кажется, что все хорошо (Well, it seems that all is well). How is everyone back home? This last week has been a busy one. Elder Zamora was with me and my companion in a three-some companionship because his companion was in Korea. This next week, his companion will be in Vlad for leadership training so we'll be back in a three-some again. It's a lot of fun to serve with him and to see how much we've grown and how strong he is. He's such an outstanding missionary. So, we spent this last week running all over Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, since we covered the whole city instead of just the northern part. And we did a lot of street contacting this last week, which has been really hard for me lately. My faith has been small that we would find anyone even remotely interested in our message. I don't know why this has been so hard for me lately. I just had gotten tired of walking the streets all day or between meetings and being turned down by everyone. I had a conversation with Elder Thellmann about it and shared why I felt that disappointment can be such a difficult emotion to overcome while serving a mission. I know this message is true. I know it with all my heart, and I would never say otherwise. It means so much to me. It is the reason I have such a strong love for my family. It is the reason I'm here on a mission. And it will have (not just maybe or kind of...) it WILL have the greatest incomparable impact on anyone's life that makes the decision to search for themselves to know if it's true. It's either true or it's not. It's either the most important message that could ever be shared, that the Lord has restored His church and authority again on the earth through a living prophet in our day in preparation for His Second Coming, or it's the biggest lie ever. And since this message I share is so important, it becomes really hard to accept that so many people are turning it down. I know it's their choice, and I know that's one of the most fundamental principles of the plan of our Heavenly Father: agency. But it's so hard to just be ignored when you know how awesome it would be if they just came and looked for themselves. I hope I'm making an ounce of sense. If I was here selling something like alarm systems, I wouldn't be surprised if people turned me down. But the Restoration and all that comes with it is a lot more important than some product distributed by a salesman.

So, as you can probably tell, it's just been kind of a tough week for me, but a week I certainly needed. A mission is such a neat experience because I can ponder and reflect and see how the Lord is guiding me and helping me, shaping me into the person He desires I become. I'm sorry if some weeks my letters sound so much alike, and I hope I'm giving you enough details and interesting stuff so they aren't boring.

While I was pondering one day this past week, my mind recalled a quote that I had heard from Elder Magill, one of the senior missionaries. One day, he said something along the lines of "Wherever you are, be there." Hello Elder Bush? Why do you let yourself think of the future so often? Why don't you focus more on the present, on your calling, on the opportunity you have to teach the Russian people? Because in a year, that opportunity disappears. Isn't that so crazy? A year and I'll be back. It just hit me that this mission is going so fast and I need to take advantage of every opportunity and focus on each moment and don't let the future cloud the vision of today.

We've lately been seeing little success here in Yuzhno and so we decided as a district to fast this past Sunday. It was an amazing experience, especially starting our fast. Elder Zamora called us and we prayed together by speaker phone. It was a very moving and powerful experience where the Spirit bore witness to my heart of the importance of my service here in Russia. I thought about how grateful I am for super sweet technology like cell phones that brought four of the Lord's servants together at different parts of the city to begin a simple yet important fast. We began to see fruits of our labor this past Sunday and it strengthened my testimony of the power of fasting.

By the way, what Josh said was all right! His advice was golden and it would be wise to follow his counsel. :) (See below.) I'll be sure to send home some emails with similar advice before Trevor heads out. I have always loved being the guinea pig, and I've sure learned a lot. Here's one quick tip... Don't worry about what kind of clothes you bring because you start to care less and less how "fashionable" you look. And bring the necessities only. If you stand over your suitcase and wonder to yourself, "Do I really need this?" don't take it. The less you bring, especially to the other side of the world, the less you will throw away and the happier you will be come transfer time. :)

This last week, we were walking home after a lesson we had with a member outside. (She is kind of like a nanny and we meet with her when she's outside with the little girl she watches, who is usually fast asleep in a stroller.) Anyways, you get a little cold standing outside there for about an hour so on the way back, I was dreaming of a nice warm apartment where I could warm up and do language study for the day. While we were walking back, contacting and sliding on all the ice that was everywhere, we talked with a Muslim woman and her two little girls. They invited us to come back in thirty minutes. So we returned and there, I met the absolutely nicest man I have ever met here in Russia! He was the husband of the woman we met and he simply opened up his home to us. We shared a lot about families and I learned a lot about the Muslim faith from him as we talked. I don't know that he will be all that interested in accepting our message because they plan on going back home (to somewhere in the middle east... they left because war had broken out in their homeland and their home had been destroyed) sometime and accepting Christianity would be dangerous as far as I understand. But I could see the light of Christ in that man. He had us call him Uncle Misha since we couldn't pronounce his true name. Gosh! I still can't get over how nice he was! And he had a huge family! Every few minutes I saw a different child or grandchild.

The branch had a wedding reception for two of the members here this past weekend. We were invited and it was really nice. We left once they started dancing. :) But some great missionary work came from that activity, which was part of the couple's intent. The branch here on Sakhalin is so awesome like I've already told you.

Well, I'm not sure if there's anything else interesting I could tell you. I've been eating great lately! And by great, I mean the food we've been making has been tasty. Maybe not great for me, but it's been varied and yummy. :) We made pizza this last week, yummy pasta, burritos, plov (rice dish)... I love having a companion who likes to cook because it brings some variety to the meals, and you learn some sweet recipes.

Well, I love you! Thank you all for your letters this past week. :) Keep praying for me that the Lord will direct me and that I'll stay focused and be sensitive to His directions. Stay safe!

С любовью (With love),
Старейшина Буш (Elder Bush)

Spencer’s cousin, Josh, just left the MTC for his mission in Oakland, California and he sent some tips regarding the MTC for his younger brothers and friends.

1. The Orange Juice is a lie!
2. If you want a warm shower after "gym period"!
3. Praying for safety during "gym period" doesn't make you invincible to stupidity.
4. Knowing how to tie a tie would be an advised
5. This is the best place for "ghosting" ever!!! (I’m guessing it’s some kind of game.)
6. Just because a Sister Missionary flirts with you, that doesn't mean you can flirt back! I mean really. *annoyed*
7. The laundry soap is cheaper at the Bookstore than at the laundry room.
8. If you're purchasing office utensils/journal materials, the discount here rocks!
9. If a girl faints during lunch, mass hysteria won't help things!
10. Love your district.