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