Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31, 2010

Hello Family!

It rained here the past few days. It got considerably cold, but the rain did not last too long. It does not seem to rain here very often either, at least as long as I've been here. That was a great talk President Oaks gave about blessings, and I was listening to a talk recently a little bit about blessings. We have a CD of an older General Conference with President Hinckley. The talk said that the result of blessings should not reassure your faith, but as said in Ether, a result only comes after your faith. Elder Cordon has really been thinking about that a lot, and he is helping me question and grow my faith. We got an investigator this week. His name is Roman and we met him on the street. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and he came to church the next day. We also have another meeting. I am really excited. We also helped on a dacha this week, and I can explain those later, but I have short time. We will help at one today too. Elder Rasband is coming next week, and transfers are happening next week too. I don't know if that will affect email or not, but I will know whether or not I get transferred next week. I love you all, and I know that God cares for each one of you. In any struggle, turn to him. Although you will have to endure any trial patiently, If you turn and trust in the Lord, he will ease your burdens. He will answer your prayers. I love you all. Bye.- Elder Hans Larson

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24, 2010

Hello Family!

We actually recently got mail, because it only comes every six weeks, and the transfer is actually in its latter end. I got the misdirected dear elders that you sent when I was in the MTC the first week. I thought that was funny.

Kurgan is not too large. It takes about 50 minutes to go from one side of the city to the opposite side by bus, and that is the big city part. There is water in Kurgan. There is a river that is not too far from where we live and there is a small lake right next to where we live as well. I have not seen a jet statue, but there are two Lenin statues in the city. There is also a monument for World War 2 Veterans with something call the eternal flame, oblast, and a massive plack of people who served and gave their life. There is another statue of a general there. There is an altogether different monument for people who gave their lives to the more recent wars Russia has been involved with, and there is a statue in the park. I have seen most of those with just daily activity. The sun gets up very early now. This morning I unintentionally woke up at 4:19 and it was already fairly bright outside. When we go to sleep at 10:30, it is still a little bright as well. I actually do not eat a lot of traditional Russian food because we make our own food. We have had blin though, which is like a thin pancake. I have also eaten other Russian pastries. Bread is very inexpensive here, and I eat that all the time for a snack. A medium sized loaf is probably 50 american cents.

I am understanding more and more, but it is actually a lot tougher to speak, but I will keep going strong. Elder Kordon turned 20 on Thursday, and the zone leaders came that day as well to do splits. Elder Ellsworth from Mesa, Arizona and Hanson from Utah. Elder Hanson has been here 6 months and Elder Ellsworth a year. They are very good with Russian, and they are also great, motivated, obedient missionaries. They taught us after coming home from a zone leader conference the importance of faith in the work. Every action we make needs to be motivated by faith, especially in missionary work. If we exercise faith for the people we serve, miracles can happen. We need to know the Lord will help us in all things if we put our trust in him. Recently we have been teaching the Atonement to help people understand the sacrament, and how Christ suffered for us so that we can return to him. Sometimes on the street, you see people who are drunk, poor, or hurt. Christ suffered through it all - all their pains he has felt. He can lift our burdens. I love you all. Remember Christ and his Atonement always. He loves you even more. Bye. -Elder Larson

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17, 2010

Hello family,

Thanks always for the updates. It is nice to hear about the experiences that you have. That's great how you got the pictures. President Paul is from Germany.He is the Area President, which means he presides over Russia and Eastern Europe I believe. He is really great, and positive, knowing we have a great potential. This week, I had some experience with a drunk man. We are not supposed to talk to drunk people, but I initially didn't know. He realized we looked different, so he started to talk to us, but he wasn't fully aware and alchohol was on his breath, so I found he was drunk. He was a nice man though. Often, we also get a lot of people that yell for us to come talk to them, I think because we look different and are interested that we are Americans. I understand more and more each day, but it is still fairly difficult to get what I want to say out in a way that makes sense. It is easier sometimes to speak and understand, while other times, I seem to start back from square one. It will come. I just need to trust in the Lord and exercise the faith that through time he will give me the ability to speak to people. I must not bury the talent though, so I have to remember to speak even if I can only speak little. The biggest challenge for the work right now for us is finding people to teach. We seem to be on the streets a lot looking for and talking to people who might be interested. Many people just walk past us quickly, not wanting to hear anything or having the time for it. Others listen, but are not interested because they believe everyone has their own faith which is in their hearts, or they already have their own religion. It is typically the Russian Orthodox Church. The last type of people we meet do truly seem interested, but they say time is low, and we lose contact with them. Yesterday we found a man who seemed really interested, but he lives 200 km away. He says he will call next time in town. I know there are people out there looking for the truth. We will find them, and they will be able to truly come unto Christ.

One way we have tried to find is through English club, which was held twice a week. Due to ineffectiveness (President Paul talked a little about this too. In Moscow, once they got rid of English, baptismal numbers went up) It has been cut to one time a week. People are really interested in learning English, and almost hanging out with us, but when the Spiritual thought comes, they just aren't interested. All of the people that come are great people. They are funny, smart, and some know English quite well. What we might try to do is do private English lessons with people, along with the agreement that it would be incorporated into the Gospel lesson so that they can learn the Gospel and not just English. After acting on Gospel principles, commitments, and feeling the Spirit, they may want to continue. That is just an idea we had, but we have not done it. Last P-day, we actually looked at a Russian Orthodox Church in the city of Kurgan. One companion was on the visa trip in Finland, but my other companion and I descided to look at it. It was very elaborate, with beautiful artwork of Saints, Mary, Christ, and Apostles. We also look at an oblast and monument commited to the people that fought in World War II. This week, we also visited with members to try to receive some contacts. They are very kind, and help me when I try and speak. They like the missionaries, and we want to strengthen them and help them get involved in the work. Originally, there were 4 missionaries in Kurgan, but now there are three, and maybe there will be two, so we shut down and moved out the other apartment this week. I am learning a lot here in Russia. We are all children of God, and we all have struggles, challenges, and temptations. Like you said, though, people can only change if they have the desire to. Maybe they do not realize they have a desire, maybe they don't have a desire, or maybe they need help with their desires. Let our hearts always be filled with righteous desires and help others accomplish their righteous desires too. With faith, and the Lord's help, you can always make a difference in people's lives, including you own. Love they neighbor as thyself. Rather than than picking at their weakness, work with their strengths and desires to add to those weaker points. I love you all. Thanks for all of your support and news. Let the Lord take part and support you in all your doings.-Elder Larson

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10, 2010 Hans's 1st Email From Russia!!!!

Hey family. It was nice talking to you all. I know it didn't seem like a long time, but that's just the rule. It sounds like Shane is having a good time, and it sounds like you had a good Birthday week, Dad. Sorry to get McKell's hopes down. She wrote me wondering if there is snow or if I need to wear a hat, but at this point, we don't have to wear our suit coats. When the sun is shining, it is quite nice outside, and in the bus and walking, it even gets hot periodically. Well, since you called, a few interesting things have happened. At church, the Branch President had work at first, and the 1st counselor wasn't there. They are both really good men, but they didn't tell us that they wouldn't be there. So we had to get the sacrament prepared and conduct the meeting. We found this out 5 minutes before the meeting, so we started probably 15 mintues late. All was well though and it was a learning experience. Another interesting thing is many people that speak English naturally want to talk to us. Although they are from Kurgan, they did work and study in the US. We have talked to about 6 people like that in thte past few days, so hopefully they will come to English club so that we can teach them the Gospel. Our ward had 18 people atttend Sunday, and there is probably 4 total priesthood holders, but it is very nice, and we have our own building. I am sick, but I will get well soon, and the Lord will strentgthen me. Always remember the Lord in all your doings. do not take for granted any experience that you could be grateful for. WIth gratitude comes blessings. Well. I love you all. It was nice talking. Bye.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hans Leaves the MTC April 27, 2010

Hey family. I love you all. Thanks for the last treats. I am going to depart today. I don't know what to expect, but I am excited to go serve the Lord. This week was a quick last one, and the MTC has been great. We all spiritually grew so much, and we all strengthened in our relationship to go out and preach the gospel. I won't forget the MTC, but now I am at a new chapter in my mission. Last Tuesday, we had a devotionaly about truly becoming a disciple of Chrst. Changing and solidifying your identity from the average person to a disciple of Christ. He really emphasized that we did not go on a mission to be average, but to excel and do all we can. Sunday we had a departure devotional. Some of the MTC presidency talked about how to make our experiences successful. Obedience was the major point, and I know being obedient will make me successful. Our zone president also told us a story. There were some turkeys. They were all nice, good turkeys, but one of the turkeys saw some eagles flying in the sky. He wanted to soar like the eagles, so he convinced the eagles to come down and teach him and the other turkeys how to fly. The turkeys promised they would give 100% effort, no matter how long it took. The turkeys worked their hardest day in and day out, and finally, their training was done. They were now ready to take off flying. When they first started to fly, it wasn't too high, but the harder they flapped their wings, the higher they went. When they were up amongst the clouds, they had seen things that they hadn't seen before. They had also seen things that they could not imagine before. had they not learned to fly, they would miss out on these great opportunities. When the turkeys got too tired, when they have literally given it their all, they come back to the world. When we were at the MTC, we were learning how to fly. Now we are ready to fly. There are things and companions and distractions that would like to bring us back to Earth, but we must flap harder, relying on the Lord that he will give us the strength to stay airborne, and more importantly, reach new heights. At the end of the mission, we must return back to Earth, but we will have had great memories, experiences, and unimagineable times that have changed our lives and differed us from being the average turkey.

I love you all. thanks for supporting me and raising me with the desire to serve the Lord. BYE. - Elder Hans Larson