Hey there everybody!
All is well here in Ulan-Ude. It's funny how each city I've served in becomes my favorite with time. This past week has been a spiritual one, mostly due to prayer and the camaraderie we share amongst the elders in our district. I really have been tremendously blessed to be the district leader of such stupendous missionaries. One because individually, they're great people. But secondly, because they work so well in their companionships. I've seen a lot of successes and miracles amongst the elders here in Ulan-Ude. More than ever before. And most of all, I've seen wonderful changes in myself and in the elders of the district in becoming closer to the Savior as we labor together in His work. The longer I serve, the more I realize that I am so far from perfection.
The senior couple here had us over for cake and milkshakes today before they left on their Korea trip for the birthdays of Elder Bean (Elder Steed's comp) and Elder Patterson (my companion). They really are such a funny couple and so loving in their own special way. We've really come to love them and feel very much a part of the Price family (that's their last name). They shared a tender experience with us just before they left about how the Lord has been blessing them since they've been gone. I know the Lord protects and watches over and blesses His servants. He loves us so much.
To tag onto that thought, I'll share with you all something I caught a glimpse of this past week. I've always wanted to know how missionaries were able to always come home and share with family and friends that they had come to know the Savior on their missions. I guess for the last little while, I've felt a little jipped because I've wanted to feel closer to the Savior, to feel as though I've come to know Him better through my missionary service thus far, but I felt as though that desire just hadn't been fulfilled yet. And I didn't really know what to do in order to fulfill my desire. I study the Lord's word every day. I pray now more than I've ever prayed before in my life. The book, "Jesus the Christ," in company with the New Testament has helped me to better understand the Lord Christ and His mission, but yet something still has felt as though it lacked. This past week, I didn't really have a monumental spiritual experience or manifestation. In fact, I don't really know that I did much of anything different in my daily routine besides simply trying to do better than I did the day before. At some point, I came to ponder about the Savior and the work in which I labor presently and it hit me. The experiences I've been having all along have been helping me come to know the Savior and I didn't really even notice or realize it. Now, I ask you all to please not misinterpret my words here because I in no way will or can come close to comparing myself with our Savior, Jesus Christ. But I strongly feel, thanks to the impressions of the Lord's Spirit, that the experiences I have gone through thus far on my mission have helped bring me one small step closer to Gethsemane. Speaking of our Redeemer, He willingly drank the bitter cup and took upon Himself the sins and infirmities of all mankind, a cup He would rather not have drunk. He had so much love for the Father and for all of us that he went through with the greatest act of love that has ever been completed. Again, I in no way compare myself to the Savior. I simply can say that I know in a very small way what it feels like to do things or press forward in a work that at times can be very discouraging and on one hand, your natural man self doesn't want to continue on. And yet, you go on because you love the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. I apologize if my feelings don't make much sense. It's hard to adequately pass on in word what I feel. In short, my mission has taught me things that I could not learn in any other way. I know the Lord loves us. I know Christ is the Savior of all mankind. I know God is our Heavenly Father. And I cannot deny what I know to be true.
I've really come to love the people I serve. I realize that much of what I've written today has probably been repeated in my previous letters. But I just want you to know just how grateful I am for the Lord's benevolent and generous hand in my life. It's been a rewarding experience to train a new elder because I've come to realize just how much Russia has become my home. I love this place, and rarely do I find myself discovering minuses or things that are less than desirable or for that matter, comparing what's here to home.
This past week had a little bit of the usual craziness since one of the companionships had to move to a new apartment. So we spent one day packing up and moving in. I will say, we did do a great job getting everything up four flights of stairs in the narrowest staircase ever! I'm surprised the fridge made it.
Lastly, rely upon the Lord. Because you're a lot better off when you do. I was called upon last minute to teach Sunday School this past week and was extremely grateful to have Heavenly Father's help. He is mindful of us. And aids us as we rely upon Him.
Oh yeah, last week, I saw a kid walking around with a USF sweatshirt. That was really weird and completely unexpected.
I love you all a ton and wish you all a wonderful, fruitful, safe, fun week!
p.s. I think I might buy a shopka today. Maybe next week. I don't know. I'll send you pictures once I get it!