Well I am officially at my three week mark as of today! Only eight more to go, it's crazy to think about. I feel like I've been here for eight already so I'm sure they will fly by. Thanks for the chocolate gummy bears, they are great! Everyone loves them in my district so they were put to good use. I remember now that the computer attachment thing for my camera might be the thing I left in St. George or it might be in the computer already so maybe check there. We'll figure it out. I got a letter from Ian and Elliot a few days ago. It was very sweet, Jon and Jenny typed out a letter and then they drew pictures and signed their names (except Elliot). Ian drew me a Batman and Spiderman, it was great! And this turned out to be really funny because Elder Welch received the exact same letter a day before me with the same subject and everything haha. He said that he is going to call Jenny on it haha. I memorized the missionary purpose in Russian now, so I say it everyday. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be so I am also tackling the first vision this week. We'll see how that goes. I have finally realized why people say that Russian is so hard- it's because of all of the grammar and case rules. Every ending of a word in a sentence you say changes based on how you are talking about something. There are six cases and each case has different endings for pronouns, adjectives, nouns, etc. It is crazy!
The grace lesson went well on Sunday. It was a very different experience teaching missionaries versus the priest's quorum. Our Branch President also sat in on our lesson, so it was very nerve racking! He is probably the scariest guy I've met haha. He is very serious, no room for messing around. I think he was a Mission President in Novosibirsk before this. To give you a description, he recently dyed his hair black and he tans and is like 6'2 or 6'3. Anyway, after the lesson he said that we did a good job but we could've done some things better teaching wise. So he pointed some things out that will be helpful in the future. I learned from teaching on Sunday that the Spirit will teach the things that you don't say. It's pretty cool.
So we have Firesides every Sunday here and Devotionals every Tuesday. Last night we had Pres. and Sister F. Melvin Hammond speak to us. He is an emeritus seventy. They taught about The Book of Mormon. They're testimonies were some of the most convicting I've heard in my life, next to Elder Holland's talk a year ago. The main thing that stuck out to me was that we need to read FOR and WITH our investigators and members in some cases. Reading FOR them means knowing the material and knowing how to teach it. They were mission presidents in Bolivia Cochabamba and they related a story about a man who couldn't read but knew that the book was true just by feeling it against his chest. There are chances that people we come in contact with might not be able to read so we have to read FOR them. And reading WITH them means to read out loud with them. We can't just hand them the book, point out cool verses, then call it good. We must read WITH them. He also talked about how we should commit to reading The Book of Mormon at least once a year in English, and then if we learned a second language, read it in that as well. He said that after 100 times of reading in English and Spanish, he never gets tired of it! This is something I want to keep up during and after my mission- reading daily in Russian and English to keep up the language and to feel the Spirit in Russian.
I have started writing down blessings I notice throughout my day every night in my journal. I wish that I would've been doing this longer, it's amazing to see how the Lord blesses us and how we don't recognize the blessings. There are many that I have taken for granted and I am just now realizing how much the Lord loves us and really is watching each of us. I challenge you guys to do this, you will grow closer to the Savior and feel the Spirit more in your lives, I promise!
Yesterday we had a tracting experience. We had a substitute teach us and then we went and tracted to his "house." I told Elder Moss that we would only be showing up with our Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, nothing else like notes and stuff. It was amazing how much better we were able to speak and teach. We challenged Tomas to read The Book of Mormon and we got him to pray. He said he didn't know how and so I was like "shoot, how do I say this to him?" But then I was able to just teach him in very simple Russian how to pray and he did it! It was a really cool experience to have. Anya and Valera are doing good as well. We're teaching them later on this week. Anya testified to us that she knows the church is true, so now we're going to start teaching her the gospel of Jesus Christ lesson. Very cool stuff!
I love all of you and hope that you are doing well!
Love Always, Elder Keown