Sunday, January 15, 2012

An Exciting Week of Travels

Hola семья моя,

Well would you look at that... I'm trilingual!

How's everyone doing in the Bush family? Glad to hear from you as always and I pray you've all enjoyed this past week's adventures. I'm convinced that life is simply full of adventures, one right after another. I realize my letters always seem to say stuff like that, but pretty much, I'm convinced that each week on the mission is an adventure.

I think one of the neatest things I saw this past week was the examples of such stellar missionaries that are in our mission. I love each of them so much and they teach me loads each and every day. This past week, I had the awesome opportunity to do an exchange with Elder Johnson in our area here in Vlad before Zone Conference. (That’s the Elder Johnson whose dad was my bishop at BYU - small world.) I loved learning from him and seeing just what a mission has done for him to help him shape and grow. Zone Conference here in the South Zone was held in Vladivostok as usual. The South Zone has the most Russian native elders in it so I translated for that conference and it went really well. Translating is super fun and super hard at times, but I really can't impress you all about how influential the Spirit is in helping the Lord's servants bring about His work. There are those that may read about the gifts of the Spirit and feel that those may have existed in previous times like in the Bible. But I testify they are real and are among us in our day. For I have seen them amongst the Lord's servants. Each zone conference has similar topics and yet unique topics that are covered and discussed to meet the needs of the mission and obviously each zone. President and Sister Pratt both focused a lot of their training on the doctrine of Christ. They broke down the differences between the doctrine, the principles, and the applications of the gospel and how we must strive to teach clearly the doctrine in order to answer the question “Why?” The principles of the gospel then answer the “What?” and the applications answer “How?” It was a really neat training that opened my understanding as to how I can improve in teaching so as to invite others to act based on a clear understanding of the doctrine of Christ. After the South zone conference, Elder Steed and I hopped in the mission van and went off to the airport to catch a flight to Sakhalin. We got in that evening in time to get to sleep and arise for a day of fun while on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. It was really weird and awesome to be back on Sakhalin and to see all the snow and meet with some of the members! I love them so much! The next day, we jumped on a plane early that morning (Friday) and were off to Khabarovsk for zone conference. It was certainly a little colder there, but I felt great to back in Khabarovsk. The branch has moved and so we got to meet in the new building, had a great conference, and Elder Steed and I even did a little work in trying to check up on some people that may have fallen through the cracks and stopped meeting with missionaries due to transfers. We met with one family, and it was so good to see them again. I hope and pray they will continue reading the Book of Mormon and act upon the message it contains. The mother is the sweetest woman from Georgia (yes the country, not the state). Sadly enough, it was probably my last time to ever be in Khabarovsk and it was hard to say goodbye and realize that I will most likely never see again that city and the people there that I have come to love so much. We had a bit of a surprise right before sacrament meeting. One of my substitute teachers/tutors in the MTC who is from a city outside of Khabarovsk came to visit and showed up at a sacrament meeting. I don't know why but I was super excited to see her and it was simply strange to think that she helped us learn Russian on the other side of the world and then almost two years later, we saw each other in Khabarovsk where she was baptized. Crazy. Later that evening, we had some dinner at the senior couples' apartment and then headed off to the train station to catch a night train back to Vlad. It was the nicest train ever!!! And I slept great! Oh, and my favorite part of the week... we found chocolate chip cookies in the store that tasted and looked like Famous Amos cookies and they were made in the Netherlands. We ate them on the train. :)

I certainly can't forget to wish Grandma a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Hope it was a wonderful day! :)

Basically, that's my week in a nutshell. Should be a fun week coming up. We'll be taking a late flight to Irkutsk on Wednesday and be in Ulan-Ude for the weekend. Should be exciting! Love you all a ton and I'm grateful for your prayers and support. It means the world to me!

Elder Bush