Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 2, 2012

Dear Family!
I hope you have a wonderful new years. Since most places will probably be closed on Monday, we are doing it today. There has been great weather here because it is not too cold, there is a light snow. We were able to meet with a few new investigators through referrals. Here in Perm, I really love the members, and they are very helpful and want to do the best they can to help others and the missionaries. I am having fun training. It was different getting used to, but my companion is excited about the work and trying new things and putting himself out there, and it is nice to hear him really try. He is not shy, so I think he will be comfortable talking, not caring about mistakes, and learning the language well. This evening, we are to be at home. Tomorrow we are to be at home except for church, which is one hour. There is an investigator here in Perm I started teaching a year ago. He moved to Moscow, but he came back here. I thought he would be ready for baptism. He has some doubts still, but I feel that he will be baptized someday. I know that our leaders really do not lead us astray, and as we trust them and the Lord, the Lord will prepare the way we need to go. I know that the Lord really gives me guidance and helps me get through my struggles. We already got January Liahona, and I enjoyed the first Presidency Message. 
I love you all, and I am glad that you had taught me so much in my youth. Good job for reading the scriptures too. Mom, if you want to ask questions on email, I can also answer you this way. I love the Book of Mormon, and I never get tired of it. I learn things all the time, and it has given me much understanding. I love you all. Have a happy New Year, and I wish you all the best. Bye. -Elder Larson

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 19, 2011

Dear Family,
I am having a good time, and it is fun but interesting to be in Perm.
I got to see some of the members, and some of the people that aren't
recent converts anymore because they were baptized a year ago. I was
here in Perm exactly a year ago. It is different because I know a lot
more Russian, and I am a lot more used to things, but a lot of other
things are still the same. It is a lot different training. I forgot
how it was just coming into the country, and I forgot that there
probably is quite a large cultural shock, but I am excited, and the
new training seems like it will be good. I did say goodbye to Elder
Ray and tell him that you appreciated his letters, Dad. Maybe he can
get in touch with Erik since Elder Ray also lives in Provo. He was a
great missionary. I will be calling this week probably Sunday night
around 7 or 8 meaning your Christmas morning. I said differently last
time, but I think that it will be better this way for doing the calls.
I am excited and hope I know what I can say to make it exciting. There
has just been a lot of moving around this past week and getting
planning. This week is actually zone conference, but I think that we
will be able to get started with our work, and I am excited to really
get out. I am grateful for my blessings.
Right now I am reading in the war chapters of the Book of Mormon. I
enjoy that part. There is one time where Amalakiah sends lamanite
forces to attack weak parts of the Nephites, but they were actually
made strong. I thought about how we often just neglect and avoid our
weak qualities. If it is not being used, it is not doing any harm. I
thought thought that I should not just accentuate my good qualities,
but the Lord would probably want us to try to reach towards perfection
in all things. I know that through Christ our weaknesses can be made
to strengths. I love you and how you are a strength in my life. Talk
to you on Sunday. Bye.-Elder Larson

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 12, 2011

Dear Family,
I am having a great time here, and a lot of interesting things have happened this past week. there were 2 trainings, 1 for a set of 9 week new missionaries, and the second was actual zone leader council. I learned a lot, and it is always fun to hear from and learn from President. We had a meeting with the daughter of a recent convert who had agreed to be baptized, so that was pretty exciting. She wasn't comfortable with setting a date, but she seemed very excited and ready to learn more. We had passed her off to the sisters, and they have a meeting with her tonight. She is a great woman, so I feel confident that she will progress towards baptism here in the near future. I had a nice birthday. Since there was a training on my Birthday, I did get cake, a few other treats, and a lot of happy birthdays frrom other people. On Thanksgiving, there was turkey, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, banana pie, green beans. rolls. It was tasty. It feels a little colder this week, but it is clearer today compared to what it has been.
I received a transfer. I will be training in Perm (I will be in one of my former areas). I am really excited. I have had many great experiences here in Ekat and especially with Elder Parson. I am very glad to train though, and it has been a great desire. I hope to get a lot of work done this next transfer and see a lot of miracles.
I will probably call you using a calling call on Christmas morning (your Christmas eve) around 7 to call you. tell me if that will be fine.
We just got the conference Liahona. There are some great talks and things happening and information in there. Sorry you only received a small first letter. An emergency unrelated to me came up, and we had to quickly do something, but it turned out okay. Now I can continue. I know that Christ is my Savior. Sorry I lost my trains of thought, but I want to tell you that I love you. I have learned a lot about Christ recently, and I know that he is my Savior. It is interesting to know how he would act in every situation and what he would say and do in a modern day society. What about the people of Ammon. I know that we can come closer to Christ. I know that in our society, we can be examples and especially this time of the year we can remember Christ. I love you all. We will talk soon. Prepare questions to ask me that you want to know, maybe send them next week so that I can tell you answers and already know how to answer. I will try to prepare some info. Love you. Bye.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 5, 2011

Dear Family, 
I had a great week this past week. We found 2 new investigators. There is the daughter of a recent convert (older woman), but she has come to church twice. Her mom and son are members, she is really friendly, so hopefully she can feel the Spirit and also go through the conversion process. As I have said before, with single woman, we often pass them on to the sisters, and the sisters were able to meet her at church. They set up a meeting with her, so hopefully we can smoothly transition her to the sisters. It also sometimes gives the people more opportunities to meet because we are sometimes out of town. Another man we met on the street was very interested in the Book of Mormon. We came to his house and have met with him twice. He is considerably tied to Orthodox religion, but he is really searching for truth. He says he needs time, so hopefully we can get back in with him and he will be ready to move on and apply some things. He is really a nice and inquisitive man. At the end of the week, we were at Church in Ufa with President. On Sunday was Russian election day, so we could not proselyte, but President and Sister Rust did some training and we also did some training. We did an activity where you related objects to principles of the Gospel, and it helps us during times when people ask a strange question or get distracted. We want to listen to, not ignore the people, but at the same time, we want the to learn, feel, and live the Gospel. It has been fun serving with Elder Parson for the past transfer. He has helped me push myself and become a little better as a missionary. 
In Ufa, it was snowy and pretty, but in Ekat, there is not a whole lot of snow, and it is kind of dirty. Today is a nice day though because the weather is not too cold. It sounds kind of cold there, more cold than usual. Make sure you don't freeze. I am just kidding, but after being here for a while and talking with people and seeing the weather, it is weird to imagine a place that just really doesn't get below freezing. It is very convenient, and a lot of people are kind of surprised that there is never snow when I tell them about where I am from. Thanks for the Birthday wishes. I hope it is a very great birthday. Mom, as you advised, I will buy myself a birthday/Christmas present. I intend to buy a new suit today. My old suits are getting worn down, and I think that would probably be a fairly good present. 
This past week, there was also a training for a half group of fairly new missionaries. After brand new missionaries come in, there is a training program that is 12 weeks, or the 1st 2 transfers of a missionary's mission. During that period of time, there are 2 trainings with President, and this is their last training that we help with. There will also be one tomorrow for that group because it was so big. there were 10 new missionaries from that group. next transfer, there will be 6 new missionaries, so our mission is now fairly young. There are role plays in many training opportunities, and I really enjoy role playing, and I think that it is quite helpful.
It is nice to hear that you are keeping up with basketball, Dad, and thanks for putting money on,  Mom. I received a nice birthday congrats from Madison, so that was cool too. I love you all. I hope you have a good next week. I sure will. On my mission, I have learned how (hopefully) to better recognize spiritual promptings. I have looked back and seen that a lot of them come form my thoughts, and a lot are somewhat random, and I almost just randomly follow some without any opposition. The large key is being worthy of those promptings and making sure not to drown them out. If we hear them at all, it is  likely that we act on them I think. Of course not always do we not act on them, but we miss 100% of the shots we don't take, meaning we cannot act on spiritual promptings that are non existent, which come from obedience. My companion and I have been talking about things like that recently. I know Christ loves us. I love you. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011

Dear Family,
I really enjoyed your letters this past week. There is a lot of news and interesting information. It sounded like you had a fairly simple Thanksgiving. That is nice. It was probably strange that it was so quiet because I have never had a quiet Thanksgiving. I always love it though. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Holidays. We went to President Rusts and ate there. There was turkey, stuffing, sweet mashed potatoes, vegetables, rolls, and some pie. It was really tasty, and we did it as a zone, we talked about what we were grateful for, and we watched a mormon message about gratitude. It was really pleasant. The next day, President Schwitzer, the area President, did a devotional for the missionaries, and then for the members. He talked with us about teaching people and including repentance. He emphasized that teaching people how to repent will get people closer to baptism that simply teaching the things they need to know. He talked about having members befriend and support them and he talked a lot about love. It made us question how much we really love the people. It was very inspiring and something that stuck out to me is that we should help everyone we come into contact with come unto Christ. It does not mean that they all need baptismal dates, but should be happy if we simply made someone's day a little better.
We have been spending some time on the streets, and we have been trying to incorporate questions of the soul more often in our approach, and it has been quite helpful. We have met some fairly strange people, but recently someone who was very happy to have come into contact with us. I have been having a great time with Elder Parson, and I think I am having one of the best times on my mission. We have many different experiences, but we are also having a lot of cool experiences with people. A recent convert that we have is really trying to do missionary work, and her daughter is really interested to meet. We might have the sisters meet with her though because our schedules might not fall in line very often because we are sometimes out of the city, and we sometimes pass of members of the opposite sex so that they can relate better with the sisters, and they can take women with them on a meeting for a member.
I am having a very enjoyable time on the mission, and I have been learning a lot. I especially recently have been learning a lot of new things that I am surprised that I didn't know earlier, and dissappointed that I didn't know earlier, but all is well. Preach my Gospel is great, and no matter how many times I have read it, I still read things from there that, on a regular basis, I had never noticed, but have a large significance. It is nice to hear that Matt is engaged. I hope all of you are doing just jolly. Have a great day. I love you.-Elder Larson

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

Dear Family!
I am having a great time on the mission, and I am really enjoying serving with Elder Parson. He is very kind and motivates me to improve and do my very best. He is young and wants to learn everything, and it has inspired me again to always be striving for better. I have been having a lot of fun. We were on exchanges with some Elders in a different city, and they had a few cool finding ideas. They offered to donate Books of Mormon to libraries if people would be interested to read them, and they want to offer to put liahonas in dental offices. We also want to give it a try, and we recently have been wanting to try singing as a way to attracting people to talking to us and wanting to know more. My companion has a good voice, and we hope that together singing hims it will sound good enough to where it will touch people and really inspire them to know more. We will see how that goes.
Happy birthday Grandma. Happy very very late birthday Erik.
I left out a little bit of information from last weeks letter. There is a doctor in Moscow that wanted to see some of the hospitals in our mission. To be honest, the government hospitals are not in good condition, but the private ones seemed pretty nice. It was just interesting that I was translating for the Doctor a lot of the time. There were many cognates, but a lot of those cognates I did not know what they were in English, but it was an interesting opportunity to help and take a looking at various equipment in the hospitals. Also last week, there was a young man who wanted to get baptized in a lake, so he was baptized in the lake, and there was a very thins layer of ice starting to form. It seemed really cold, but it was very beautiful.
To answer a question Shane had, but maybe you would like to know what my schedule is like as an assistant. There are not a whole lot of steady factors that make it different from the standard missionary schedule. 2 large differences are Tuesdays and Sundays. On Tuesday starting at 9:00 we have calls with zone leaders to know more about how their zones are doing. After that we have office meeting, and we plan with President for upcoming meetings, conferences, interviews, or missionary training. On Sundays, President likes to visit various branches, seeming to cycle through or going for special reasons, and we often go with him. Other than that, we might have exchanges or little things we help with President here and there. We help him communicate with a church employee about maintenance, we set up interviews for him, we sometimes translate, and we sometimes help with missionary trainings. Whenever President needs us, we should be ready to help him, as that is the first priority, but he and his wife are very kind and generous to us. I feel like they know so well how to connect with people, and I have learned so much from them. Shane, I come home on or around March 8.
Thank you for wishing me a happy thanksgiving. I will be having thanksgiving at President Rust's home. They are holding Thanksgiving meal for missionaries in Ekaterinburg. President Schwitzer, the area president, will also be coming on saturday and doing a devotional for the missionaries. Russia do not celebrate or acknowledge thanksgiving in any way or even have a comparable holiday, but I really enjoy thanksgiving. Russia also does not have Halloween, and I cannot remember if they have valentine's day, but they have many other holidays and New Years is the big holiday like our Christmas. Mom, I got the package you sent for my birthday last week. I guess it arrived quickly.
It is cool how Brother Woods will be the bishop. I really like him. Thank you for your letters this week. I love you. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011

Dear Family,
I am having a really good time here on the mission. It is wonderful to hear that Matt is getting everything in order and also that Erik and Alesha are doing well up there in Provo. To answer Shane's question, I weigh around 73 or 74 kilos so around 165 pounds I think. and I am just as toned and in shape as possible. Just kidding, but I do not think that I am in completely terrible shape. I could lose a little of the belly, but I am satisfied with where I am at. It is nice to hear that some cleaning up was done at the home, and it is okay that you threw some things away. If in doubt, throw it out. I am excited to see some of the changes that may have happened around the house. I hope that grandma starts to get feeling better.
I did have the opportunity to see that little girl get baptized in Perm. It was great, and it is great that 3 members of the family are church members. I liked Perm, and I feel like Elder Ray is having a lot of good experiences. Elder Oaks at Area Conference talked a lot about leaving behind traditions that are not in coordinance with Gospel teachings, and he focused a lot on the basics, particularly tithing and sacrament meeting attendance. He gave a few statistics, but he spoke boldly about some things that need to be happening. An earlier talk was about the necessity of marrying and not waiting and the importance of temple marriage. It was really good.
After his mission, Elder Ray wants to go to BYU (rotc I believe), because he wants to become an air force pilot, and serving in Perm helped him decide that because there are a lot of jets that fly over. Elder Ray also likes dancing as a hobby, so he will likely continue that. I think he is scheduled to go to BYU in the winter. That is the extent to what I know about his plans. I really like Elder Ray. Regardless, he is from Provo, and maybe Erik will even have some sort of an opportunity to meet him if he wants to. He leaves back home on December 15th. Elder Ray is one of the smartest, yet most humble missionaries that I know in terms of Gospel knowledge, especially in relation to prophets, apostles, conferences, and church doctrine. He has a solid testimony, and he loves the work.
I met an african here today in the internet club, but he looked really familiar. I do not remember when it was, but he says that I met him in Perm. He studies there, but works here I guess. hopefully we can set up a meeting with him.
In the work, we want to work with some members and help them become better teachers so they will be helpful on our meetings and more confident when they share the Gospel with their friends. Anya, the young lady that we met, came to church and is still meeting with the sisters. She seems like she is doing well, and her mom is also reading the Book of Mormon in french, which she really enjoys. I hope that they can be baptized soon, but they are really great. President Rust is very personal with people, and the cool thing that he tries to do is be at those baptisms which he can, and he opens his house for meetings, and encourages fellowship. He shows interest and makes an action. There is a young man that the sisters are teaching who plays basketball, and he even told that young man that he would be willing to come and watch one of his games. He is one of the best people persons that I have met, and I am learning a lot.
Sometimes we can translate for President, and my companion is learning a lot of words, and he is getting me excited about always continuing to learn and improve, and I think I would like a profession in which I could use russian.
I love you all. When does Shane go home. Is that okay for me to know? I just don't know if he goes home right on the date that he got there or when he has his last transfer. Has Tyler Clason received his call? I know that the Lord never leaves us alone as long as we rely on him and do those things that he asks of us. He has given me so much, and sometimes I worry, but he always helps me and everything turns out all right. Have an excellent week. I love you. Bye.-Elder Larson