Dear group of people that birthed me, raised me, and suffered me to be in their midst, (aka my family)
Yeah, so I was trying to be funny with the above phrase but it's not really working. Anyways, before I forget, it turns out my long lost letter that I thought was from Fallon is actually from a Bush (not sure which one) and it has been officially lost. So, I'm sorry Grandma, Grandpa, or Uncle Derek if you sent me a letter and I haven't gotten it. I love you all and hope all is well in California! I think about you often and keep you always in my prayers.
One other person I thought about last night and I'm hoping he's doing well is Mr. Martin. (I sincerely apologize that my English sounds awful.) Pass on a big hello to him and my best wishes. Also, say hi, if you get a chance, to Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Whitcomb at Lake Mary. Can't wait to see them again someday!
This past week has been a stressful one but a great learning experience. If you all don't mind, I'd like to share a really special experience that I had this past week that accompanied most of the stress. As you all are very well aware, we have to travel every 3 months to Korea to renew our visas. I guess to be more specific, we go to Korea to pick up our second passports that already have our new visas for the upcoming 3 months. A few weeks ago, I made, what seemed like, the enormous trek from Ulan-Ude to Vladivostok that took me to Irkutsk and then to Khabarovsk, and then finally to Vlad. This past week, Elder Steed was scheduled to go on his Korea trip and it would require him to make a similar trip with the exception of a layover in Khabarovsk. He began his trek Tuesday afternoon which was already cutting it close considering his flight to leave for Korea left the next day at 2:00 from Vlad. (Quick side note: Tuesday was actually the beginning of a series of events that just didn't seem to go or work out as they should have. We had a weekly meeting with President and Sister Pratt and after lunch, we returned to the meeting to find we had no power and we were scheduled to have a Zone Leaders' Council at 2 pm mission wide by Skype. But that had to be rescheduled. Then we spent the remainder of our day trying to record the conference I told you about onto DVD discs to be sent to the different cities that don't have satellites and there was craziness that went into that.) Anyways, so, Wednesday morning, I was awoken by a phone call just after 6 am from Elder Steed (this is 4 am his time) saying that their flight has been delayed by about an hour. So, this wasn't great news, but we figured if things still went forward from there, there wouldn't be any problems. After several phone calls with President and Sister Pratt and Elder Steed, we came to learn that his flight was delayed until 10 o'clock his time, noon our time and he would most certainly miss his flight to Korea. This in and of itself wouldn't be awful but the big problem was in the fact that Wednesday was the last day on his visa. So, he had to get out of the country then or we were all afraid he would be deported. My companion and I discussed all the possible options and talked more with Sister Pratt. In the end, we decided to fast for him that the documentation he had received saying his flight was delayed and therefore, did not catch his connection, would be enough and that things would work so that he would be able to return and continue serving the Lord and His children. We knelt down, and I offered the prayer. As soon as I began to speak, the Spirit flooded the room and a feeling of comfort filled me. I knew immediately that everything would be okay. Tears filled my eyes and I had a very hard time getting the words out as I both felt the comfort of the Spirit and thought about Elder Steed and my love for him and how desperately I did not want him to be forced to leave our mission. With a little stress, we (Pasha, our new mission driver, an returned missionary who served in Moscow; Tatyana our visa person; and I) all got in the car and raced off to the airport. President Pratt, his wife, and my companion, Elder Williamson, had already left to go to Korea by this time. And so I was feeling a little stressed and I wanted to make sure everything would work out. Yet, as I would begin to worry, I quickly remembered the comforting assurance of the Spirit that I had earlier felt, and I once again knew all would be well. We got the documentation and everything worked out to extend his visa by one day since he couldn't make the latest flight from Vlad to Korea on Wednesday. So, he flew out on Thursday without any problems, thankfully. To make a long story short, Elder Steed made it to Korea and returned to Vlad on Sat with my companion and by now, is already in Ulan-Ude. I'm so grateful for the assurance of the Spirit that gives us peace and comfort. A peace and comfort that cannot be duplicated or matched by other sources. I know the Lord is mindful of us. Sometimes, life is crazy. But He is always mindful of us and helps us through the crazy moments.
I got to work most of the week with Elder Clark, Elder Steed’s brand new companion. And we had a blast. I got sucked into the office and had to take care of some problems related to last week’s Area Conference and trying to make it available by internet to the other missions of the Europe East Area. But thankfully, that all got figured out and all is well. Yesterday, I was privileged to sit in on ZLC (zone leaders' council) that we started by Skype and then our internet died so we conference called for the remaining hour. It was a very spiritual meeting that was certainly inspired. I really love working in this mission. I love the Lord and His work. This next week, we're traveling to Usserisk and Khabarovsk to do exchanges with the Zone leaders there. It should be an awesome week! Hopefully all will run smoothly.
I love you all so much and I'm extremely grateful to have you all supporting me. I pray you have the best week this next week! Have fun! Stay out of trouble!