Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30, 2010

No, I have not gotten the package yet mom. Maybe something that will make you and grandma feel better together: there is a lady in our ward that is dad's age and she looks much older. She is very kind to us young missionaries (much like you and grandma are nice to me and Shane). She does have a problem though, and it is with her husband. He is a drunkard, and he drinks every day. He yells at her just for the amusement, and he refuses to bath for long times on end. The house she lives in is very, very small. The only escape she feels like she has is relatives. It is tough to live with someone that constantly yells or complains, but add alchoholism, smelliness, and live in a very small space, and it would be even tougher. Just hold on a little longer and try to find those good ways to escape offered by the Lord. Rely on him, and he will help lift you.

It is good to hear about the football team. I do not think that I write grown up. It is just as grown up and very great to include those funny stories. President Monson does that. We got to see the Ukraine temple dedication broadcast, and it was amazing. President Monson threw in a ton of jokes as well throughout each session and the cornerstone laying. He poked funny at the translater and threw him for a loop when he started talking about his favorit old songs and what mongrol meant. He also acted very silly towards the audience at the cornerstone laying (including petting a man's head saying he had nice hair that he should give to the bald man behind him). He thought Elder Nelson had a good hand in putting some morter in the stone (as he was a doctor( He also bor his testimony in Russian), and he called a lot of the little boys tigers. He was really funny and also spiritually uplifting. It is great that these people have a temple so much closer to them. The members were all very excited to see such an event happen. I was excited for them, and I am glad that there are some strong members willing to make sacrifices to receive the great blessings.

In Ufa, there are a lot of Muslims, feeling like it is almost 50% here. People look like they are asian and almost native American. It was a hotter summer here than in Kurgan, and though I thought it was cooling down, today was also warm. There are more hills here, but about the same amount of trees, and it is slightly cleaner here than in Kurgan. Central ufa is also a more modern city. I am staying here again for this next transfer that is coming up.

We do not have a whole lot of investigators right now, but we are talking with many people on the street and trying to find more people who are interested. Something funny that happened to me this week is we came across a man. We asked if he believed in Christ, and he said яа сам, which means I personally, and we thought that he was trying to say he was Christ. What he meant is that he believes that he doesn't need anyone else to tell him what to believe in. Then he wanted to shake hands, and he said he was 60, and he was proud to be that old. As a way to show his health he wanted to have a competition to see who could squeeze stronger. I didn't want to squeeze my hardest for fear to hurt his pride? (I don't know), and then we parted was after that. I also told him that my dad was older than him. Many people here do not live that long, and they look very old. Dad would have been stronger than that man. It is sad to see some of the people here who drink often, but also shows clearly visible, that the Word of Wisdom brings many blessings if you follow it. The members we have are really kind, and funny, and you can also see in them how much the gospel blessed them in their lives as compared with others. That is so important why the others get a chance. Well, I love you all. How is Molly, Matt, Ryan, Leisha, Nathan, Kirsten, and extended family doing? When do other missionaries leave? I love you again. Bye-Elder Larson

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23, 2010

Well, all the excitement is now over, but it sounds like you all had a good time with the wedding celebrations and everything. So, Erik is all moved out now and just living on his own? That is really strange to think about, and it will be stranger to see when I go home. Good ward news too over there. It sounds very exciting. It is good to hear that there are a lot of friendly people where Shane is at.

Here, it is raining right now, and it is probably 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It is actually pretty cold. It hasn't rained like this here for around 3 months. Just last week, it was warm, but it did recently get cold. I don't have to buy a winter jacket, because previous missionaries left their jacket in my last apartment, so I will be using that, but I will have to get some warmer shoes soon. We had a zone conference this last weekend, and it answered all my questions. It is very cool to see that our church leaders are inspired for the benefit of us. If we listen to them, we really should be able to find answers to our questions. There will be a new program for teaching and following Preach My Gospel taught to the missionaries at the MTC next May, but we are learning about it now so all the missionaries in the field will be prepared when that change comes. Old missionaries will be on the same page as new missionaries. It will be established to help missionaries be more focused on the basic doctrines and following the Spirit in order to become better teachers. We will learn about this through our zone leaders. There will only be zone conferences quarterly. I think Shane heard about some of these changes earlier than we did, although discretion is still largely up to the Mission Presidents. My president went on a senior couple mission to Novosibirsk, but he tries to speak Russian, and he actually gets along alright, and he can understand a fair bit of Russian.

We met a man this week who also came to church. We found out though that he is not in our area, so we gave him to the sisters to teach. It felt good to see that we are all part of the same work, so we all must work very hard to make the good things happen with God's help. We also had splits this week. I taught English again here in Ufa (Dyoma does not have English), and I got to be with Elder Steiner. Also, something interesting is we met a man that had lived in Salt Lake and in Miami. He was very excited to see us, but he was not interested to hear or meet with us about the Church. We just had a small conversation in the park, but at the end of the conversation, he gave us his number so that if anyone gave us problems, we would be able to call him. Strange, but a very nice offering. He was a very nice man, and respected us highly. There is a man (out of town right now) who is American that lives in our ward. He went to Ukraine on his mission, but he married a russian woman (a woman from the ward I am in who is very nice) who went to BYU. She knows English well, and they have a wonderful family, but they decided to live here in Russia. We also had a fun service project while I was on splits to help take a woman who could not walk out of her home. It was probably on the fifth floor, and there was no elevator, so we literally carried her down on a chair. She had not been outside for 3 years, and she was very grateful we could help.

Maybe winter will come soon. I hear it is cold. I am having a good time here. Something that Elder Rasband told us when he was here is to find the good in everything that you do everyday. That way, you can know if you are having success in life. Do those good things, and realize the difference you make. I love you all. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010

Hello Family,
Congratulations, Erik and Alesha. You are now married. A new sister in law, and Erik out of the house. It sounded like a great moment, and now come the activities back at home. Then comes getting used to the married life and making the most out of every minute. How delightful. I got a letter from grandma, thanks for the letter, grandma. You always seem so quiet grandma, but thanks for those letters. It tells me that you are still there and still going. Gabe had some good news about the baptisms that he received, and those pictures Shane had were also great to see. It is weird to think that it is winter in Argentina right now, and it does look a little cold.

I was very quickly moved to a different area of the mission because an extreme circumstance happened in that area, and I was in a threesome, so I got transferred. On Monday night (10:00) , President called and said I had to leave the next day to Ekaterinburg, so I quickly packed and left, without knowing the reason. When I arrived, I found out that I was going to Ufa, farther west in the mission. I also saw my first companion, Elder Kordon, and I found out that I will be serving with him. Now I am in a very small outer town of Ufa called Dyoma. I came by a train that took 15 hours to get here. It is a very, very small city, and takes about 45 minutes to walk around the main central part of the city. I Ufa itself, the Church has a very nice building, and the city is very large and modern. In fact, there are a few McDonalds here. There are not a whole lot of members, but there are some very strong members, and we have a hard working branch President and Counselor. Due to a youth conference in Nobosibirsk, our branch president will be the only Priesthood holder in town this week, so we might end up doing a lot of contacting, ideally finding men or families to teach. I am excited to get working there, and I will probably stay there a while now, but I don't completely know because transfers will shortly officially end. It is finally cooling a little bit down, but it is still considerably warn depending on the amount of wind or clouds. This summer has supposedly been one of the hottest in around 20 years, and it only rained twice (as I have heard) this summer in Ufa. Last winter was the coldest that winter has been for a long time. We wonder when winter will come, but everyone says that it does not come to stay until November.

We really do not know completely what is in store for the future. We make plans and goals, but sometimes change occurs. I am not sure what kind of things are going down in Kurgan. The Lord wants us to always move forward. All is never lost, but all can always be gained through hard work and steady reliance on the Lord. I wish you all love and hope you continue to work with any change the way that the Lord would want you to. Bye. -Elder Larson

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 9, 2010

Hello Family!
Exciting news about Erik. I can hardly believe that he is getting married and moving out, but it is really a great thing. An older lady on the street said that we should wait to get married when we are 32 years old. It is good that you are not getting married at age 32 and I am excited to hear how the wedding, celebration, and later honeymoon goes. I cannot hardly believe that Forrest comes home from his mission in two months, it sounds like a lie, and Michael left on his mission about a year before us, but it is also weird how he is coming back already in December. I am really learning a lot on the mission, and I have had some very unique experiences. I have made some mistakes, but I have also been growing, developing, and learning to where I hope to be a refined, excelling, prepared for life missionary the time I finish the mission. We will have zone conference and a branch conference here in Kurgan this weekend coming up, which will also be Kurgan day. Maybe our President planned conference on that day because we would have probably had to stay inside anyway because there would be drunk people. This week was a normal week. One companion had to travel because there was only one missionary in Tyumen, because his companion was on a Visa trip in Finland. When I went to finland I went on bus to Tyumen, From Tyumen to Moscow by flight, flight to Finland, there about 3-4 hours (time for the temple) and then straightway back. Maybe I have said, there are only 7 missionaries in our zone, and each companionship is in their own city. We are 3-4 hours from Tyumen, and Surgut, is 16 hour train ride from tyumen, so we only see other missionaries 2 per transfer (exchanges too). This past week was actually very hot, but finally the weather has cooled down, and what I hear is that it should continue to make it's was down. fall starts in September, and at the end of October is when it starts to get really cold. As for our investigator Michael, he has been acting strange. He does not want to be baptized until he has a complete knowldedge of everything. We want to emphasize the importance of baptism and why we do it, and then see if he is ready to get baptized some other time. we did start teaching a little girl like Madison, and she too wants to be baptized, so we are looking forward to that. I am getting pretty good at understanding Russian, but I just have to learn to speak better. It will all come, and apparently I am learning at an alright pace. Well, I'll here from you all in two weeks. I love you all. Remember that through faith, everything comes. Maybe I told you about the talk I read called you know enough, and we really do. Share what you know through the Spirit, and be planted on the foundation of Christ.

с любовью- Elder Larson

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2, 2010

Hello family,
Things are going well here. The visa trip to Finland was quick, but it was cool to see my MTC group. We all went together. The trip was hard because we have little sleep, but it was wonderful to go to the temple. It is a really beautiful temple, and Finland is pretty too. I forgot my camera to take any pictures, but maybe next time, I can take some to show you. That was a great compliment that Shane received, and it really is great to keep a positive attitude. He must be exercising great obedience because happy missionaries are obedient missionaries. Erik will be married shortly here, and that will be exciting, but it is a little strange to think about.

Things here are going alright. We set a new baptismal date a week later for him under the direction of our ward and mission president to make sure that he has fully quit smoking without relapse. So he should be baptized the day Erik is married. We have been meeting with some of his friends and some younger people, and we have been spending a little less time on the streets. It has still been hot here without clouds, and yesterday was completely sunny, and probably in the 90's. It should get cool sometime soon though as I have been hearing, maybe towards mid to late august, the temperature really starts to change. I had the opportunity to anoint a lady yesterday, and my companion gave the blessing. Also, a semiactive family came to all three hours of church yesterday, although the general turnout was small. It is tougher to work in a threesome. Just the dynamics of working, teaching, and travelling together are kind of ackward, but I can't complain. There are many things to be grateful for. I read a talk today called "You know enough" by Neil A. Andersen when he was in the seventy and it was really great. We have such a great knowledge being members of the Church, and it really blesses our lives. Let's again see how we can share it. I love all of you. I hope the new week goes well. Bye. -Elder Larson