Thank you Mom and Dad for sending such awesome emails this week. Mom, yours reminded me that I have parents who love each other. :) While every child in the history of the world has probably always found parental love or public displays of affection (yes dad, I mean you kissing mom in the kitchen when the kids are watching) :) to be undesirable, I must say that there is comfort to be taken from the fact that I know without a doubt that my parents love each other and are jointly united in the cause of raising our family and taking care of each of their children. Love you both. :)
I loved conference. I missed the two Saturday sessions unfortunately because my flight came into Khabarovsk from Seoul too late, but I'll see them some time and get to hear Elder Oaks’ awesome marriage talk or so that's what I've heard. It's funny watching conference as a missionary with other missionaries because many of the talks apply differently to us as we mature in the mission, just as they apply differently to us in life. From the very get go, I absolutely loved President Uchtdorf's address Sunday morning. It applies very much to those amongst whom I serve. It applies to every single member of God's family. We shouldn't expect a sign or grand answers or visitations or ginormous confirmations. Although we must also remember that they are very real and very possible. It reminded me of teaching institute a few weeks ago and talking about the ministering of angels. Elder Holland had a great quote that basically said something like, we shouldn't be expecting from God heavenly messengers and visitations to help strengthen our faith or give us grand answers to our prayers. Yet we must have faith and be mindful that there are servants of the Lord that serve amongst us that may be unseen and could just as well manifest themselves unto us if the Lord saw fit to do so. This all tides in very well to Elder Bednar's talk about revelation and how we shouldn't overlook the simple pattern the Spirit usually follows in revealing truth to us, line upon line, precept upon precept. That's how it's usually always been. Although it's very possible that the Lord could answer our prayers with an intense, immediate, and very complete revelation, just as comparable to the turning on of a light switch in a dark room, illuminating all that surrounds us. Yet, it is more common that the Lord opens unto us knowledge and truth, for instance regarding the truthfulness of the restoration of Christ's gospel in our day, over a long period of time just as the light begins to creep over the horizon when the sun begins to rise. It's also comparable to a puzzle. Each of us must piece together the pieces of revelation the Lord has blessed us with and then we will see before us the grand picture. I love the perspective the restored gospel gives me. I know without doubt in my mind or heart that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's church once again restored onto the earth in our day. Thomas S. Monson is His beloved prophet who delivers to us the Lord's will. I loved all of the talks I was blessed to hear and I learned much. Now, I just must apply it to my work and use it to help me become better, to develop Christ like attributes, instead of just using it to do better.
I love Seoul. It is a wonderful city. A city blessed with a temple within its bounds and unfortunately, the temple was closed this past week while I was there. We still were able to stay in the dorms but it was simply that time of year when the temple undergoes maintenance and repairs. It was still edifying to be near the temple though and to interact with those that serve there. I flew straight into Seoul from Khabarovsk which was wonderful because it cut out a flight to Vlad and just dealing with that all. I was the last one to fly in and I met up with the other missionaries there. We decided to be a little adventurous and took the Express train from the airport to the temple instead of the bus. It was actually kind of fun although we were a little lost for a bit. Mostly because we took the express train instead of the simple subway which is a straight shot to another station that turned out to be right next to the subway station. Seoul is pretty easy to get around so it all worked out just fine. If you can find a subway entrance and you know where you need to end up, it's pretty easy to find the way to get there. We actually ran into a really nice member in the subway station and he helped us find where we needed to go as well. While in Seoul, we did some shopping and a little site seeing. Elder Conly and I made the trip to Seoul Tower on Friday since we had an extra day and didn't fly back to Russia til Saturday. It was super cool and I took great pictures of the city! It will be great to see the city next time at night because I hear it's beautiful. We also met Chinese members from Taiwan who were visiting Seoul there at the tower. They came up to us and asked kind of jokingly if it was our pday. We then explained we were from Russia and were just waiting to fly back the next day. We even got to help them get a hold of an American member in Seoul so they could attend the English ward this past weekend. Kind of cool how things play out sometimes. :) The day before, I called Brother Southerland from the subway station and we agreed to meet at the temple at 5. He then took us all back to his home and we had dinner with him and his wife. They were so loving, so sweet, and so hospitable! And they had a beautiful apartment. It was wonderful to be amongst such friendly members in a distant land and to feel that close bond we all share in our faith in Christ and His restored gospel. We played a little Apples to Apples (brought back great family memories) and had a small testimony meeting to end the night. I love learning so much from other people and their experiences and hearing of their testimonies. It was such a wonderful evening.
All in all, it was a great Korea trip that will be even better when we have the chance to go to the temple next time. I'm humbled to be a servant of the Lord. He loves each of us so much. Never lose sight of that. Ever.
The work has still been going slowly. Yet, it has been wonderful to serve amongst the Russian people thus far, especially in Khabarovsk. I love this people so much. I may not always understand them and it may be difficult at times but I truly can say I have come to love them. And I know that love will only grow. When they do things that may not always be pleasant or understandable, I have to remember they are children of Heavenly Father, my brothers and sisters. And their behavior is not part of their identity. If I can help them see the need to be as Christ is, they will hopefully grasp the beauty of His example and change to do and be as the Lord would desire each us to become and do. (I hope that makes even a slight bit of sense.)
We played Jeopardy for English club this past week and it was a lot of fun! We afterwards watched How Rare a Possession, a video about the Italian man who found the Book of Mormon in New York. The night before that, my companion and I were prompted to visit a less active member who hasn't opened the door to missionaries in a while. She turned out to be home and let us up to talk for a few minutes. We may not have been able to drastically help her, but we both felt we were prompted to visit her and invite her to conference. I hope we helped.
Well, it's been a good week and it should be another great one ahead of us. Love you all and I'm grateful for all you do on my behalf. Thanks to Grandpa Bush for sending me a letter updating me about march madness. :) I always love hearing from you Gramps. Hope you enjoyed some FL sun this past week. :) Thank you Brother Bates for your letter this past week. Loved the photos (with the exception of your car wreck. I agree a paid off truck is better than a new truck but I know the Lord will take care of you and your family.)
Love you all back home! Good luck this next week!