Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28, 2010

Hello family!

First off, Happy Father's Day. I completely forgot until my companion told me right after email last time. He also forgot, but remembered as we left the internet place. Now I am writing this week about it. They do not have Father's day as far as I know, but they do have different Holidays very often. There are many provaslavni holidays, and other cultural ones. Yesterday was youth day, a few weeks ago celebrated the collapse of the USSR, and there are other various ones that occur which are not as apparent or well known. Some of the Holidays here are over a few day period as well.

Today, in the letters I recieved from you all, I have just been informed that I have already been on my mission coming in on 6 months. I haven't been paying a whole lot of attention to that (Days just fly by), and that is a pretty crazy, but uneasy thought. That means 1/4. I have a lot to learn still. I still have a lot to do. Thanks for writing, Erik. I wasn't the best writer when you were on your mission, so don't worry if you don't think you don't write enough. I know your thoughts are with me and the other Elder Larson (Shane). You are very blessed as you keep the commandments. I can visualize it. It is such a simple concept, and yet we all seem to forget it at some time or another. That is why the atonement is such a great blessing, and that is also why living according to Christ's gospel and teachings is such a blessing to us. There are the basic commandments (10 commandments, praying, reading scriptures, which are so highly important. I realize here that reading the Book of Mormon is so necessary every day to remain close to God), but there are also the commandments to serve, love one another that really will bless your life if you constantly strive for them and build the Christlike attributes strongly into your character.

This week, we visited a lot of members. The zone leaders came down to do splits with us, and they gave us some good counsel about contacts from members, so we have been trying to focus on that. The last four baptisms in this area have been from personal interest in the church or a referral from a friend. We hope to do better with that. I don't know if I said, we only have two missionaries here in Kurgan (my companion and I), two in Tyumen, and two in Surgut, so in our very spread and large zone, we have 6 missionaries. It is strange to think about. We have zone conference in Tyumen this coming up week, so that should be another really good learning experience. When we meet with members, they are often single women, so we need to find men. Many of the men work different schedules, so it is hard to get them on meetings. We do have one man though that is always willing to help. His name is Brother Stanislav. He is actually not a member (he is excommunicated), but he is very solid on his gospel understanding, and he is one of the most friendly, kind, and funny men. He is hoping to get baptized in September, and he is working with out branch president to keep him on the path.

I talked a little about living conditions in the last letter. Being here is so humbling because you see some very great people, and you realize that who they are is not based on what they have. We have a very nice apartment, possibly the best in the mission (you saw the view). It is great compared to any other place. There are some people who live in a place with a room around the size of Erik's room for their home. They have a community toilet, shower, kitchen. I guess you can look at it as living in an apartment with many roommates, but your room is even smaller it seems, and the places are relatively old. The happiness of these people is not based on their possessions though. Their happiness is based on their relationships with others and whether or not they are living according to the principles of the gospel.

We do not have any progressing investigators, but we do have some people that seem interested. We met one young man named slava (he is 22 but he looks like he is 17 or 18 years old) who came to the ward piknik. We talked with him last night, and we wanted to give him a Book of Mormon. He was suspicious, so he didn't take it, but we have another meeting with him, so hopefully he will take and read it next time.

All else is well here. It was nice to here about all you. It was nice to hear about Elder Rallison and Elder Larson. Well I love you all. Remember to read your scriptures daily. A good sit and reading of the Book of Mormon a day keeps temptation away. I love you all. Bye- ELDER LARSON

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21, 2010

Elder Rasband's visit to the Russia Yekaterinburg Mission (Hans is kneeling in the front row on the right)

Hello Family, We supposedly have the nicest apartment in the mission. I have not really had time to take a whole lot of pictures, or I have forgotten to take pictures, but I will hopefully try to remember and get some better ones to you someday. If you ever send a package, could you include some pictures of the family. People commonly ask to see pictures, and I feel pretty bad to say I don't have any. It is my fault, but if it is at all possible, could you send those. Thank you loads.

Recently it has been hot, and the hottest temperatures I felt here have been in the 90's fahrenheit degrees. Yesterday, it rained quite a bit, and the weather changes very rapidly here. Last week, there were very strong winds that caused a lot of damage to the trees. Today is partly sunny, windy, and feeling fairly nice outside so far. I have almost forgot about the sun, and it isn't very weird to me anymore to see the sun go down over the horizon at around 10:15 in the night. Everything is green here in Russia too, and just a little bit outside of the city, it is quite beautiful country. I generally do not go there. It is only 15 min. from the city, so it is not very far, but we only go to help on dachas or if there are ward activities there. In terms of total time on the bus, it takes a while to get from where we are to the edge of the city, out, and back. We do not live in a centralized area, but we live more on the edge of the city. We are trying to figure out how to better use our time, because we do need to come home for lunch, and it is basically necessary to use a bus each time we leave the home.

Again, my Russian is improving. I am understanding more and more, and I want to work on speaking better so that I can express my thoughts, and really speak with the people. This week I had an opportunity to eat native Russian food at someone's house. We met a lady on the street, and she said she would like to have us over. We got to meet her daughter, son and law, and her friend. She is and older woman, so her children were a little younger than mom and dad. We had potatoes, chicken, homegrown apple juice, pirog (vegetable stuffed fried dough), and a could soup (I forgot the specific name, but it had sausage and herbs inside). The family was very interested to talk to us, but we didn't have a lot of time to teach them the gospel, so we will most likely return. We gave them a Book of Mormon to read, so we hope we can talk more about it next time. We also had a ward picnik on Saturday. We shared a spiritual thought, and a few of the English club members came. Hopefully we can get some more non members to come next time. We really want to start working a lot more with the members. That will be the key, and sometimes it is tiring to commonly be on the street. It is difficult sometimes to meet with members and people because there are often single woman that we need to visit with, and there are only a limited number of men in the ward with varied schedules living in different locations. I shouldn't complain because there is another branch in the mission that has no priesthood holders and the missionaries there are the branch president and ward clerk. Our branch president is president andrei. He is really good, and we have been trying to work with him to better the ward.

It is important to exercise gratitude for the things you have (both physical and spiritual), but the physical things we have will not come with us. Talents, abilities, and qualities will come with us, so those are the most important things to develop in this life. The Lord wants us to use our abilities to help others, and I suppose that the most important use of physical things here on this Earth should be to develop our spiritual selves. We too should not be proud of what we have, but continuously give God the recognition. We can act like Ammon, who was happy and proud in the Lord his God.

I love you all. Continue in following and remembering Christ continuously. I am learning a lot and excited to be serving the Lord.Bye - Elder Larson

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 14, 2010

Hey family,
All sounds well. We have morning exercise here, and we also walk around throughout the day, but since I have not been doing anything rigorous since high school, I think I am gaining weight. I haven't thought to really check, but it just feels like I eat a lot at meals, so mom, don't worry about me not eating enough. Thank you for the letter grandma, I forgot to congratulate Blaine, but I think that is splendid. Erik, still exciting news, and those are outstanding numbers Shane is getting.

Tuesday night we came back to Kurgan on the train ride. we had been in Yekaterinburg to hear Elder Rasband and his wife speak, which was really amazing. The main points I got from his talk are being completely obedient, wearing yourself out in the work, and loving the people. He highly emphasized loving the people as a whole, and through that love you can find success and happiness on the mission. He said to find meaning in all the good deeds you do in the day. Sometimes, you don't really know how much a difference you are making. He also shared about how he had a huge hand with the Huntsman corporation in opening the Church in Russia.

On the train back, we taught a man the first lesson and gave him a Book of Mormon. I hope he contacts the Ekat (Yekaterinburg) missionaries and gets in touch with them. He seemed very interested, he asked good questions, and we taught the lesson with the Spirit. Wednesday was a fairly normal day, Thursday was planning, and we got to reserve a hotel for the mission president. He came to Kurgan to talk to our ward and establish some leadership changes. We went on splits with the assistants, and they speak really good Russian, and we altogether had a good learning experience with them. President (on Sunday and a Saturday fireside spoke on the importance to coming to church rather than the dacha on Sunday, and really establishing strong families. Later, we did a ward counsel, and my companion had an opportunity to translate. There he emphasized how important it is for the ward to work together and really help each other care for those who are struggling in the ward and also seeing what we could improve. Not as many people came to church as we would have liked, but I was excited to see a few inactive members there. After all the church business, President Alcott and his wife came over to our house for dinner. We had tacos and fruit salad, and it was a really great opportunity to spend some time with president, here his advice, and find out what we need to do. I feel like we might need to start work from the area book and really trying to get members help in finding contacts. That is the best way, and on the street, we haven't been finding a lot of interested people. It is important to always find all those elect people though, and every soul has a great worth in the sight of God.

Russian language is getting a lot better for me. the Lord is helping me a lot. Sometimes I do not understand, but I can usually understand now generally what people talk about. I can learn words quickly, but my speaking, grammar, and conjugation need to improve. I am having a great time. My companion's birthday is today, and he turns 20. Always remember to strengthen each other and follow the commandments. The Lord will greatly bless you for even doing the simply things. Just remember to love.

I love you all. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7, 2010

Hello Family,

So when is Erik going to get married? Maybe you could send me a wedding invitation? Sorry I haven't sent any pictures. I forget, and I actually haven't taken a whole lot, but I will try to take and email some. Today I am in Yekaterinburg. It is a massive city compared to Kurgan. I will be here today, and work here tonight, stay at the mission home, then we meet as a mission tomorrow. Tomorrow we will here from Elder Rasband, and I am very excited to here from him. I feel like I will really learn a lot and be edified from this experience. After that, I get on a train tomorrow in the evening, and I will arrive back in Kurgan late tomorrow night. Elder Cordon will be moving to serve in Ufa, while Elder Pearson and I are staying in Kurgan. I feel like it will be better as a traditional companionship, and I am excited to see what we will be able to get done.

Last week I told you about a dacha. It is like a small house/shack out in the country where people have gardens in the summer, and nearly everyone has one. We helped a lady move wood pieces there, and she has started coming back to church. What happened is that piece of wood with nails came into my shoe right after my companion told me about it. The Lord was really watching after me though because the first nail went in between my big and second toe, while the second nail was just beyond my heel. I was fine. Quite a miracle. Well, I got slighly cut short on time because I had to wait for a computer. I will write more next time. I love you. Bye.
-elder Larson