Well, the world is a pretty small place! The longer I serve a mission, the more we as missionaries make connections to people we knew back home (especially since half the missionaries here are from Idaho). That's crazy that Elder Patton (a missionary serving in Florida) and I were in the same BYU ward! He definitely looks familiar! Please, pass on to him a huge hello and I hope he and his companion are having an awesome time there in Florida! The world is such a tight place.
Matt, you need to be more careful with knives. ;) Now you've had as many stitches as me! (NOTE: Spencer's brother, Matt, got a pocket knife for his birthday and ended up getting four stitches in his thumb the same day.)
My companion's birthday is today! I love when my companion has a birthday because we get to have yummy food and cake, and I don't feel bad for eating junk food. ;) Today, the plan is to head up the North Elders’ apartment and have a birthday lunch with them since they were the "fathers" of Elder Steed. (They were his trainers the first three months of his mission) So that should be fun. Hopefully, we get everything done that we need to. The birthday while on a mission is a lot different than back home. A lot different. But I hope we make it an awesome day for Elder Steed! (By the way, his first name is Joshua... Joshua Steed.:)
So, lately, I've been struggling a little bit. My mission seems to be going far too fast and there's not enough time to do or learn or master all the things I want to. The longer I serve, the more I realize I have so far to go in order to reach my potential. Lately, the work has been slow and a little discouraging, and I've just personally been struggling with it all. I don't really know how to express this all in words. It's simply just a feeling that things aren't quite right, and somehow I need to change and get my head fully submersed in the work. It's as though I get discouraged and my head pops up out of the water because I just can't seem to find what we're looking for under the water. What I really need to do is strap on the oxygen tank and stay down there searching. Search until we find. One thing I've pondered on is how the Lord phrases things by the means of extremes. He doesn't just ask us to put in a good effort or try hard to do His work. He asks us to give Him everything. Give all your heart, might, mind and strength to Him and to His work. Lately, for whatever reason, probably because of discouragement, that has been very, very hard for me. Now I'm not talking about the fact that I'm breaking rules and completely slacking off, but I feel I can give more and stretch myself so that I can find that joy in the work I'm doing as well as peace of conscious knowing that I've done everything I could have. If I'm making any sense at all...
Anyways, I'm working hard to stay positive and give it my all. Your prayers are very much appreciated. :) This past week has been a good one. We met with several less active members and I've loved feeling of their spirits. The Russian people are deep down a very loving people. One of our members gave Elder Steed his tie because Elder Steed complimented him on it. One thing you'll learn is that you don't compliment Russians about their possessions if you don't want to end up taking it home. (Ok that's not always true but very often, it is the case.) They're a very giving people. Yesterday was fast a testimony meeting and I love bearing my testimony of Christ. He is everything to us. Which, by the way, I received the discs of Grandpa's funeral! Thank you so much, Mom, for sending those to me. I'm not sure how you all recorded it but I am extremely grateful I got to hear the services. You could say it dug up some tender feelings, but it also rekindled that spirit of the Plan of Salvation and knowing I will see him again. Honestly, it was kind of weird to hear familiar voices but it was a great motivation for the day. It reminded me once again of the importance of the message we carry. Despite the fact that so many people reject us or turn us away or tell us to go home, I know that the knowledge we share is what everyone needs to hear. It is more important than anything else in this world. And it will bring more joy and comfort and guidance and just plain happiness than any other source. Hearing all the talks and prayers reminded me that I need to talk to everyone despite all the rejections I'm tired of getting. It reminded me that being positive, keeping an optimistic spirit about you is so important and in fact, invites the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you and comfort you when you need it. As I've been studying some of the missionaries of the Book of Mormon, I've seen how even great missionaries, far greater than I, were met with even greater challenges, disappointments, and struggles. They also worked mighty miracles despite their difficulties. I took great courage and comfort in the words of the scriptures and the words of my family to know that all I'm doing is worth something, even when I don't seem to see much of any result. I may have gotten a little tired from pushing that rock but I haven't finished the task the Lord has sent me to do so I shall push on.
I also got a package of cookies and candy from Grandma Gee! It took forever to get here but I got it! For some strange reason, it took 3 months to get here and went through Germany but oh well, the cookies were delicious and I got the chance to do a comparison between Russian Snickers and American. I think American won despite the fact that the Russian one was gooier and seemed fresher. That was probably on account of the 3 month delay. So, thank you Grandma! :) I LOVE YOU!
Tomorrow is a holiday here in Russia. It's women's day! Or something like that. So, we're going to have a culture activity and we're planning on going to a museum with some of the members from the branch. Apparently, it's a really cool museum so we'll see. If I haven't already mentioned, I love the members in this branch. I love all the members here in the Far East. They truly are pioneers. Modern pioneers.
Well, I'm not really sure what else to tell you all. I know lately, I haven't told you all us much about the culture or the country or interesting things that I see. I'll try to do better. :) I love you all a ton and I'm super grateful to have all of your support.
Tell everyone back home that I say hello and I wish everyone well.