Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010

Hey Family!
First off, I want to possibly answer questions. I only write an email to you guys and the President. There is really very little time to write other letters and get them sent here. I only get mail every 6 weeks, so things aren't quite in chronological or real time order by the time I get to read letters. Thanks for all of your letters by the way, and that was a nice picture grandma sent. Just this last Wednesday, I received letters from the 19th of June up until the time you sent the wedding invitations, because I already got the invitation. She seems like she would be a very nice girl, and it was fun to see them together. Some people have been asking me what job she has, but I don't remember. Could you tell me again? It is unfortunate to hear about all the pet surgeries going on, but it sounds like all turned out well. It is also unfortunate that you all didn't go to Havasupai, but at least you still went camping and had a good time. Speaking of good times, Shane looked like he had a really fun time at the zoo, at the birthday, and at the baptism.

We are still meeting regularly with Michael, and he is great. He quit smoking, and I think it is really great to have been part of his quitting process, so now he just needs to remain that way for a little while to make sure he is worthy and ready to be baptized. In the meanwhile though, he is telling basically everyone he knows about the english club we have here, and the gospel. It also helps to use him as our online networker.

I go on my visa trip today. I will go to Finland, and I will come back Wednesday. They do the trips very fast, and try to get them done within a day, but living in Kurgan, it takes a little longer. I will be able to attend a temple sessions though, so I am excited about that.

We are now officially in a threesome, but while my companion was on his visa trip, we were a twosome. My new companion is a little shy, so I hope that while he is in our companionship he will be able to build confidence and language skills. He is from Utah, and he came into Russia one transfer before I did.

A stressful thing happened this week. We took on a translation service activity, thinking that it would be would be a few pages, but the sister in our ward gave us 70 pages of technical flooring advertisements, stats, and instructions. We thought we had a week, but then we had a day, and then we completely humbled ourselves and acknowledged that there was no possibilty in translating this piece of material. We talked with her, michael, and her friend who gave the translation to us, and we had got it all figured out to where we didn't have to do the translation. We are always looking for service, and it seems hard to come by, but when it does come, it is very difficult (or impossible) to continue or finish.

It's hot again here, but also very windy today. I am having a really good time here, and I am also getting to a point of fairly good understanding. I can understand the essence of almost everyone that talks to me, depending on their age, and what they are talking to me about. Speaking could still be a little better, but I feel like that will just come with time.

We have been talking a lot about priesthood, temples, families a lot recently since the temple in the Ukraine is about to open up. We are really blessed to have a few temples fairly close by back at home, and someday, people all across the world will not have to go far just to visit the temple. Remember the great blessing, beauty, and importance of the temple. By going there, we can save ourselves by also saving others. I love you all. Bye.- Elder Larson

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Zone Conference-July 2010

(Elder Hans Larson is Left and Center)

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010

Hello Family!
It sounds like everyone is doing well. that is very exciting how you are going to Havasupai again. That was one of my most favorite trips. (The mission) It really is a blessing and so greatly exciting. You are excited to leave on a mission before hand, and it feels just like life when you are going through it, but when you look back on specific experiences, blessings, and realize the work you're doing, the importance really hits you. Your testimony also continuously grows on the mission, and you realize how important it is to live the Gospel and follow Chirst. We have had some really exciting things happen because that boy is inviting his friends to hear the Gospel. It is really great that Elder S Larson will have that baptism going on. I am staying again in Kurgan for this next transfer, so we plan to baptize Mike on Aug. 7. He still has to quit smoking, but he is really accepting, learning, and sharing everything really well. This is my first city, and this will be my 3rd transfer here. I will also be in another threesome, as my companion (Elder Pearson) is staying here with me, but we are also getting another missionary (Elder Olson). He was one group ahead of me in the MTC, so I got to know him a little bit.

This week has been good. It has actually been a little cooler here the past week, and there has been some cloud cover and wind. We met another boy interested to hear the Gospel, and he also speaks very good English. We will probably need to teach him in Russian, but he understands a lot of English, and he wants us to teach him in English in order to practice. We seem to connect a lot better with the young people whenever their interested. I think their minds are a lot open to different ideas, and they are willing to search and learn rather than just accepting things as they are or as they have been told. What is great about our church is it really is all about learning and revelation, and it is amazing that you can receive answers to your questions, no matter what they are. I am starting to understand quite a bit now. I know it sounds like that everytime, but I do continuously get better. We went to get pancakes though at a restaurant, and the lady used some food or drink terms, and I didn't understand a word she says. Maybe I need to be more accustomed to those kind of foods and drinks that have unique names. I only have short time, but I love you all. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010

Hello Family!
There are many nationalities here in Russia, although you can only tell a few apart. As heard from others, there are different cultures in different areas of Russia, and when people move within Russia, they seem to take the culture with them. Most people generally look the same, but there are definately categories that you can say people look like. There are also People that moved to Russia from different areas of former USSR. There are people from Khazaksthan and other -stani countries or even some Asian countries (possibly Mongolia). These people look asian, and they are dark. You have the standard Russian people who are generally white, but some have a dark tint to their skin, making them look almost Mexican. Other Russians are light skin with dark hair and crystal blue eyes. There are also many Russians with light hair, eyes, and skin. Most Russians are not very tall, but they are usually bulky. Russians seem strong, and you see every so often, really big Russians. There are also Bashkirians and Tatarians that live in Russia, and they look more Asian. I have only seen 1 black person on the street. It is rare to see, but there are more in different areas of Russia. Some are from Africa. There are many Jehovah's Witnesses here, and we are often mistaken for them. There are also many Muslims here.

The dress here is about the same as America for the older generations. In general, dress is a lot looser in certain modesty aspects, but not really a whole lot different than America. The young women have a modern style of dress (it looks like America to me), but the boys dress differently. The boys were a lot of sport slick tops and bottoms. Boys and men also wear short shorts and fish net shirts (which is completely normal). There is a hairstyle here were it is commonly popular to keep the hair bangs long, and wear hair in kind of a mullet. Men wear a lot of nice pointy dress shoes, and they really try to make themselves look nice. In terms of piercings-For the young men, it is very rare to see people with pearcings, at least more so than in America. Many people have tattoos, just like it is in America. I do not see extremes in style here as nearly often as in America, but in general, people look the same as in America, except racial diversity is more greatly evident in America.

The exciting thing that happened this week is we got to meet with Mike again, the boy who is smart. This week we met with him 5 times, and he is great. He keeps every commitment we give him, he prays, reads, and wants to learn and follow what we say. He has been sharing the gospel with acquaintances, and he is even making a good song about Joseph Smith. He is in a band, and he can play various instruments, and sing well too. Every time we meet, he is really great. We want to commit him either today or tomorrow for baptism, depending on whether we can meet with him today. He is very humble in everything, and it is fun just to speak with him, because he is focused on the right things in life. We will continue to meet with him more. We find out about transfers this week because this is the last week of this transfer, so hopefully I can finish the lessons with him regardless if I get transferred or stay. My visa expires on the 28 of July, so that means I have to go out of the country to get it renewed before that time. According to the current method and place, it only take about 2 days to complete the process, and I also get to go to the temple.

Everything sounds good back at home, and in Argentina. I had the opportunity to teach and think about Christ this week. Some people do not realize or access his atonement in full. Some people think living outside of the law is more free and liberating than living with guilt under the law. If we do truly realize the atonement, we recieve blessings of living within the law while being free of any guilt, because we can continually access the atonement. I know that Christ truly suffered for all my pains and sins, and I am grateful that we have the knowledge ability to be forgiven. Let us always forgive others, and share with them the great message we possess. I love you all. Bye- Elder Larson

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5, 2010

Hello Family!

Thank you for the happy Fourth of July. It truly is a great day, and I have become more grateful for our freedoms since I have been in Russia. It sounds like great things are going on at home, and the wedding plans are really coming into place so that all will turn out dandy. It is also great that you are all recognizing those blessings the Lord has given you. It is important to keep the Ammon attitude and be prideful in the Lord. He truly does pour on the blessings. Some real great things are happening here. We had our zone conference in Tyumen. It was excellent, and it address probably every concern and trouble that was on my and my companion's mind. It is really great that we can trust our church leaders, and that they receive revelation from God specifically for us. It really was a good time there. The bus ride back was interesting though. We only had one, two minute break for the 3 hour ride, and the bus driver felt like he was driving slow. My companion fell asleep, but he told me when he woke up, he questioned whether we were moving at all. It was pretty funny when he told me about that.

It did rain today. Forecast was accurate. It often rains here in the mornings or in the nights. It rained this morning, and now it is humid and partly sunny outside. I have been hearing that it starts to cool down starting in August, so I will be sure to tell you when it starts getting cold.

We had an amazing experience on the bus. A young man comes up to us wondering about English club. He said he didn't think he spoke english that well, until he started speaking in near-perfect English. He is 16 years old. On top of English club, he said he wanted to learn about the Gospel. We wrote his number down, and thought the experience was great. Yesterday, we again met with him. Come to find out, he must be a near genius because he knows Russian, English, French, Spanish, and German. He plays multiple instruments, and he always excels in school. To earn a little extra money, he gets paid for writing articles on various topics. He said he knows there is a god, but he was fed up with the Orthodox religion. He wants something new, and he was particularly interested in an "American religion" He was struck to find out that we pray from our hearts, and he was a humble, personable boy. We meet with him again tomorrow, so we are really excited. As we were walking to meet him, another person asked us who we were, and we set up a meeting with her as well.

чтобы показать вам что-то по-русский, я решил писать. That says, "In order to show you something in Russian, I decided to write." I understand a fair bit now, but it is still difficult to speak well. I want to start working on that, so that I can better communicate to people. I do learn a lot though, and I am really excited to be here. It was fairly difficult to find those keys on the keyboard to type it though.

My companion is really great. He works hard, he is funny, and he is obedient. We are really working hard here in Kurgan, and he told me he would like to serve with me again.

Something I learned this week- We are reading in the Book of Mormon together as a mission, and we are almost done. Yesterday I read something in Ether though. It talked about faith, and said that anything is possible with faith. Even if our goals don't seem like they can happen, or we begin to become doubtful, turn that around. We don't know the Lord's plan, and he works in mysterious ways. Work hard, in faith in everything that you do, and the Lord will bless you and make up the rest. Even if things happen that we didn't have in mind, he lifts us up and blesses us with those things that will most definitely be better for us. I love you all. Bye. -Elder Larson