Monday, September 5, 2011

A little paint on my suit... yeah that's worth it.

My dear family,

How is everybody doing? Sounds like things are well. And it sure sounds like things are going well with the beginnings of the business. I continue to pray for you dad and I know the Lord will continue to bless you all.

Last week after writing you all, we got a phone call from the other elders that they had met one of our investigators, who has been impossible to meet with lately, at the bus stop near the church. So, we ended pday a little early and headed off to the church to meet with him. We talked outside for a little while (he didn't have time to go inside the church and actually meet because he was in the area to see someone else) but while we talked, we began talking about the plan of salvation. After talking some, I offered him a pamphlet so that he could read more about the Plan of Salvation, but he didn't express interest and told us he wouldn't read it. We continued to talk and Elder Patterson then grabbed his pamphlet and tried to give it to him. This time he grabbed it and showed interest. Funny thing was, it was in English. But, he expressed interest in reading it and reading the Russian translation as well and pretty much I learned from that experience, sometimes you have to try again with maybe a little different approach. You never know what will happen. Later that evening, we had FHE (family home evening) with the branch president's family, and it was wonderful to be in their home! You could immediately feel the spirit as you entered the home and as we started FHE. We're really striving to work more and more with the members and the branch president and branch council, which he invited us to attend this past week, and basically, things are going well in Ulan-Ude.

Tuesday, Elder Phillips (my zone leader) and I had a sweet experience. After district meeting, we headed off to the church together to attend a meeting for zone leaders and district leaders that would be held via Skype. How cool is technology? Yeah, it's way cool. From Vlad, the assistants were able to join together elders on Sakhalin, in Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, and Ulan-Ude. We're all pretty far apart. Think about that... From Vlad to Irkutsk is practically the distance between you all and Trev right now. It's so cool how technology can be used to help the Lord's work to move forward. It was such a helpful meeting because now I know what I'm supposed to do as DL! and how I can improve district meeting.

To go along with what I just wrote above, I have a couple really neat stories about prayer and faith. When we arrived to the church on Tuesday for the meeting, we got into the family history center and turned on the computer and realized we needed a password. We then attempted to call the family history center consultant but she was unavailable. (Her phone may have been turned off or didn't have service). So I prayed silently that we would get through. The next time Elder Phillips tried, we heard a dial tone and got through and she gave us her password. Once we got Skype opened up, we realized something was wrong with the internet because we couldn't get on to add President Pratt as a contact. As I examined all the possible internet related stuff I could find while talking to the assistants by speaker phone, I said to Elder Phillips, we should pray. As I began to bow my head, I looked over to the router and I began to see the status light, which had remained off the entire time, flash which meant we had service again! All I had to do was simply express faith in the Lord, and he made everything work. I feel He sometimes waits to see if we will simply turn to Him for help when we're in need and once we've made the turn, he shows us a very simple but evident answer that I cannot deny. Anyone could tell me, oh Elder Bush that was just a coincidence. There was just a problem with the internet connection but it came on with a little time. No. I know the Lord answers our simple prayers and I know He did last Tuesday because I felt the Spirit testify to my heart that that was the Lord's hand we saw. And boy was that a great meeting we had. The Lord made possible that meeting for us (the alternative was linking us by telephone into the Skype conversation without video which would have been awful because cell phone reception in the church is awful). To add onto this all, as Elder Steed and I were on an exchange, we were searching amongst the dacha's (basically all the little Russian homes that are on the outer parts of town) for a member’s home and we couldn't find it. Once we thought we had found it after asking several people, we realized the house didn't have a doorbell and the fences were too high to be able to see inside. I had tried to call her several times already, but she too had been unavailable. So, I turned to Elder Steed and said, "Let's pray right here in the middle of the road." So I prayed that we would be able to get through to her and after I finished, as I called, I also got a ring back tone and soon got through to her and figured out she would meet us at the church later that day. So cool!!! Prayer works in very simple yet very real ways.

Being on an exchange with Elder Steed was great! I love serving with him. Elder Patterson and I got to teach a few lessons this past week with investigators which was especially great for him because it's hard when you don't have that many people to teach.

This past Saturday, we decided to go try the painting here in Ulan-Ude. It was pretty fun and successful in Irkutsk and so we decided to try it here. I was the only one who had done it before, so I was kind of in charge of the drawing and painting. At first, no one seemed interested at all. As in no one was even coming up to see what we were doing. Think about it, six guys in suits painting on the back side of wallpaper in a crowded street with shops on either side... yeah I'd be super interested to see what on earth they were doing. (By the way, have you ever really thought about how funny that sounds in English? "What on earth are you doing?" Translating that into Russian doesn't make any sense.) So anyways, with time, people began flocking to us and were really interested. We got to talk to a lot of people. And it really was a lot of fun. I don't know how, since we, the missionaries, completely blanked and didn't tell the members what we were doing, but somehow, some of them found out and showed up to help. We'll definitely include them even more in the future because it's super helpful having them there. Through it all, I got lots of paint on my hands and a little on my suit. At first I was a little bummed but in the end, I realized, whatever doesn't come out will remind me of what we did that day. Who knows? Maybe what we did, talking to people about the Plan of our Heavenly Father for us, about why we live here on earth, where we came from, what will happen after this life ends, why this life is so important, maybe all of that will help at least one person come closer to Christ. Two girls called us yesterday and showed up to church all by themselves. Might I emphasize, by themselves. We never truly know the fruits of our labors.

It was great to have the youth back in the branch yesterday since they returned from the YSA conference in Yekaterinburg, which seems to have been a blast. That stuff is so important for the young people, especially in Russia.

Well, I love you all a ton. Hope all is just dandy back in the sunshine state! The weather has been getting colder here the last few days. Crazy to think soon it will be time for jackets and coats and scarves and shopkas. Good luck to each of you!


Elder Bush