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