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