Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Far East

Merry Merry Christmas!!

It was super great to talk to you all and to see each of you! I know I was probably super awkward and can't seem to act like a normal person. ;) I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas.

This past Christmas has been a really neat one. It's been a little cold here in Vlad. Like I mentioned, it's really because of the wind. The last few days, I've had some pretty cold moments where you just have to close your eyes and hold on. My shopka has been nice and toasty. It's the shape of my head that's been undermining the shopka's furry warmness. Since my head is rather long from front to back, it makes it difficult to find a hat the fits well. I always have to get a big size so it can get on my head yet there's always a little room on the sides in between my head and the wall of the hat. So, when the wind comes rushing by, it tends to find that oh so little space and likes to freeze the sides of my head by my ears. I don't know if that makes any sense. But, basically, the size of my head is trying to do me in and keep me cold. Otherwise, my shopka sure does the trick. That and a scarf.

This past week, we held training for the leaders of the mission which included all the zone leaders and district leaders. We did it by Skype, and it went pretty well. Elder Steed and I had to spend some time preparing for it. We were both grateful that overall, technology cooperated with us and all went well.

We continue to work with an awesome family here in Vlad that has a son who's a member. The parents have 6 boys which is really unusual for Russia! I may have already mentioned something about them... It's awesome to see so many shoes sitting in the entry way. Feels like home.

Christmas Eve, we spent most of the morning participating in and translating for some training for using the church's MLS program. We're the first mission in Russia that doesn't have any districts which have been brought online to use MLS. A member from Moscow came to hold the training and it went rather well. Translating is always a blast and it sure keeps you on your toes. My brain was a little fried after it all, but it's always a fun challenge. Later that afternoon, the missionaries here in Vlad gathered at the Pratt’s and had a small dinner and treats along with a short devotional. It was a really neat experience. I was asked to share a little thought regarding Christmas and I turned as I often do to the hymns. I noticed that in Joy to the World, there is a line which reads, "let every heart prepare him room" and I thought and pondered about what we can do to prepare room in our hearts for the Savior. He is our Lord and we must let Him in. As we keep our covenants, we offer to the Lord the greatest gift we can. Our righteousness and faithfulness is completely in our control and that's what the Lord desires of His children. Christmas was a special day when I got to ponder about the Savior and His role.

I love you all a ton. I'm enormously grateful for your support and love. And humor (thanks, Trev) :)

Take it easy and have a wonderful New Year’s!

Elder Bush

p.s. Had a neat experience this past week stopping by a potential investigator’s house, whose number we lost. My comp and I were on a bus heading to some less active members and had planned to stop by this guy’s place in the center of Vlad. I was thinking to myself, "Should we maybe head to the less active member at the farthest point and work our way back? Or should we keep going?" I distinctly felt, "you need to go to Makar's" (the guy I mentioned). Turns out my comp felt the same impression and we thankfully followed it. When we walked up to his building and opened the door, he was walking down the hall to the door about to leave and we were able to make contact and get his number. Super nice guy. It was a very small but very real miracle. I love the tender mercies of the Lord.

Picture at the Southerland's in Korea for our last Visa trip.

Elder Bush's Christmas Call:  We got to use Skype this year for our Christmas call, which was great because we could see him and he could see us.  He couldn't believe how much his sisters have grown up.  He mentioned that he was glad he got to see them before he comes home or he might not recognize them at the airport.  He looks good and looks happy.  We enjoyed seeing him interact with people in the office and especially when he had to take a phone call and we got to hear him converse in Russian.  He also received our package while we were talking, so we saw his reaction to receiving some Twix candy bars (his favorite).