Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 27, 2010

Hello Family,
Erik sent me a letter (thanks Erik), and I had a real enjoyable time looking through those pictures. You and your wife (strange to say wife) look really good, and it seems like you have really fun times together, though I did have to laugh at a lot of those poses. You know. Believe it or not, that was also the first time my companion had seen the family since I did not take any pictures from home. I wouldn't have guessed that you wanted to be a spanish teacher, and go to the University of Utah. Well, it will be great to have family close by. It is great that you have the new position at work and that everything is working out financially and you got the new callings. Here there are a lot of youth, and looking at them makes me realize how important that time of life is in shaping their future. You will influence those kids well.

Shane, what a cool opportunity to open up a new area from scratch. It sounds like you are already having an excellent time there in moving the work forward. Keep up the good job.

Fun fact- my companion knows Michael Middents. Since Michael is in the air force, my companion's dad is stationed in the same place in Louisiana. Just to make sure, maybe you want to ask the Middents about it. My companion's name is Brent Cordon. He had a language guide, and I saw the name of the person who created it. The name was Michael Middents. I had asked him more about who it was, and it comes to be that it is the Michael Middents that we know. Isn't that strange.

Mom, here are some answers- There are much more women in Russia than men. It could be because the men do not live as long (Men drink and smoke more than the women). People that want to travel and have a strong desire to learn a new language do try to do that. There is a head start here in Russia though, because learning some foreign language is typical in school. Everyone here knows the English alphabet, and a lot of products/ movie/ entertainment come from english or American roots. I can read Russian fairly well at this point, I cannot always understand the things I read, but I am fairly good at simply reading Russian.

I live on the first floor of a common apartment building (called dome дом) My apartment is fairly nice. There are three rooms (for study, for sleep, and for storage). the rooms are just normal, similar to rooms you see in the states. The kitchen is smaller, but we still have all the essentials. We have gas stove and oven and water heater. We have a room that just has a toilet in it, and a room that has a shower and sink in it. There are not a whole lot of bugs that bother me. mosquitos were bad, and I have a few bites, but soon it will be too cold for them I think. Cockroaches are not bad, and I haven't seen one since I have been here. There are many cats in this city where I live, all of different colors and appearance. There are also dogs that walk around, but not as many as cats. There are also a various type of dogs.

Dad, it sounds like you had a fun time with our talks. Too bad you cannot go to the temple, but that would be cool to get more names. It sounds like you all together take care of incredible amounts of names, and it is pretty cool how you have been doing that. I saw that picture of you and mom at the wedding. you to look the same to me. maybe I have told you, but there are a lot of people here that are older than they look (if they are really under 25), and there are a lot of people that look older than they really are (anyone really past 40). Oftentimes I take pride in having a healthy dad who looks better, stronger, and younger than most people that are younger than him. :)

This week we had a cool opportunity to help a lady in the ward put up wallpaper. Know I relatively know how to do it well, and it was a pretty fun ward activity. We went to a store called metro with the senior couple who helped us on meetings. The store was like cosco, but since I didn't have a whole lot of money, I didn't buy all of the stuff I wanted, but that was probably a good thing. I do not need any more money, but could you tell me how much money I have on my account? Another cool thing that happened is that an inactive member came to church on Sunday. He helped on the service, and he probably enjoyed the presence of the church members. Being friends to the people that are less active and even just letting them know you care can help them come back to church. I love you all. I am really excited for all of you, and it seems like you are all doing well. -Elder Larson

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 21, 2010

Hello Family!
Well, I am so excited to hear about Jeffrey Rodgers. He finally got his call, and know he just has to saddle up and get ready to go. Dad and Mom, you really helped encourage him to take those important steps. That sounds like it would be a good, exciting mission.That is weird how Blaine is the last one of our age to go on his mission, and he will be a really good missionary. All those bishopric changes aer also fairly interesting.

Mom wanted to know how the people are. The two large religions here are Muslim and Russian Orthodox no matter the age group. Some of the older Russians are more knowledgeable about their beliefs (both Muslim and Russian Orthodox), but few really want to argue by the means of scriptures. Most people do not really want to argue, they just are really attached to those things they believe. Jehovah's witnesses will try to prove their points by showing scriptures and such, but I do not often see them, although they are here. Younger people either just follow tradition in their beliefs, or they really search out. Many young people (our age) seem like they search for themselves what is right, unless they are just living and having a good time. Most people on the streets just avoid talking to us, say they are orthodox, then move on, say they are Muslim, then move on, or are really interested, so they continue talking with us. Very rarely do people argue with us, maybe because for most here, our church is still fairly new. a lot of people in my area have seen missionaries, and we often see the same people multiple times. I hope that gives mom a general idea of street contacting. Of course that is just a sketch based on previous circumstances. Every time you see a person, you cannot try to predict the person or what will happen, but you need to look at them as a child of God looking for an answer. You need to know that you have the answer that will bless them and even save them through Jesus Christ. In the moment it is hard to think that way sometimes, but I do know that they all are to be loved, and everyone deserves the chance to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I like what dad shared about the Elder who talked about a few people he and his companion went back to talk to.

Things are going well. We had splits, and we met with some members and went contacting. we took a less active man this week to visit and active, older lady. We wanted to teach her, but instead, we ate, and she really encouraged him to make a change in his life and really do better. I felt that it had an impact, and I hope that it really did impact him. She turned the tables. For preparation day today, we will play basketball for a recreational activity. This week, it had actually been a little bit warmer outside, but according to the trees, fall and winter should shortly come. Leaves are turning yellow to the cinnamon and amber colors, and it is actually quite pretty. I am excited to see and know how the cold feels, but the only problem is that it means there will be fewer people on the streets.

I Hope all of you at home are doing well. Shane- it sounds like you are doing well. you will treat your new area fine. Make the most out of what you have and be grateful always you all. I am really enjoying my time here on the mission and learning a lot. I am grateful for grandma and granddad's letter. I love you all. Remember who you are and where you will be continuing in obedience, faith, and hard work. Bye- Elder Larson.

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 13, 2010

Hello Family!
I am gaining some weight (Shane saw it in the face) . It is due to a lack of cardiovascular activity. The 30 minutes in the morning is just not cutting it, especially since we don't run for the exercise. oh well. It is really cool to see that wards across the world are on the same page. We talked about Job on Sunday as well. That sister mom was talking about is from the Ukraine. One of our members (who is the American) gave that Job lesson and related himself to Job. He got in a fight (supposedly he knows kung fu well and is okay at fighting), had us unload and reload a truck for service because they got the order wrong, he got stuck in the elevator, and he was on the bus all through the city about 2 or 3 times throughout, which would have taken probably 5 or 6 hours out of his day. He was fine and had a good laugh about his experiences.

It is good to hear that the brakes are good and that Erik is safe and that the kids are doing better and that Shane is having good times. I am also excited about Sean's news. When does Blaine leave for the mission? I am really happy for Brendan that he is on the mission. I think it will really build him and it is good that he is enjoying it. Thank you mom for the package. Right now, it feels like an Arizona mid November. It is kind of cold, and for the past two weeks, it has been raining on and off. Mom would be happy to hear I bought boots, so all my winter clothes are in order. It should'nt start getting really cold until the middle to the end of October I hear.

Dad, you said you wanted a story about my mission. Maybe I will try to include two. The first on relates to teaching simply, requiring faith on those you teach, and the fruit of your labors. We had the investigator Michael. We randomly met him on a bus, and he was practically a genius. New 5 languages, was the 5 best at Russian grammer for his age in Russia, had won other various competitions, and played instruments. He had done everything we asked him to, read, pray, keep the commandments, and even talking about the gospel to friends. But then he wanted to know more, searching for the answers, using wisdom of man rather than faith. He fell of the radar, but I am confident he will find what he is looking for in this church and find comfort and healing from it. He fell back to smoking as well. The friend (who he referred who was not as smart, couldn't read well, and smoked) started hearing from us. I left. What I hear from the zone leaders is that someone in my old area is getting baptized soon and it was a friend of Michael. Although we made a mistake teaching too deeply, our hard work allowed us for another opportunity and success in helping someone exercising faith unto repentance. I hope Michael too decides to move forward with faith.

The other story relates to love. Some people (including missionaries) after constant rejection or torment or comments, begin to bend and get angry at their situation. I have seen it, and I get frustrated, but you all know I am fairly calm. Others get made at races, religions, and the world. Christ loved people until the last minute and asked God to forgive the people that did not know what they are doing. People sometimes reject us as a whole (and maybe missionaries more often), but it really should not diminish your love towards them. It is hard, but remembering to love God and your neighbor as yourself are the great commandments.

I love you all. Bye- Elder Larson

Monday, September 6, 2010

September 6, 2010 старейшина ларсон

Hello Family!
I got an email from Madison, and she sounded a little happier. I love those children, and I want the best for them. It is wonderful to know that Madison is excited to be baptized. Maybe Madison can find a member at her school who can help her make it to church.

I don't know if you all have seen or talked to Shane Sorenson recently, but he sent me and Shane a message. He sounds like he is happy with life and that he has got a plan for the future. I really hope the best for him. It is funny how he looks though because he has a moustache and goutee. He looks much older than me. I still feel and look like a little kid, and I hardly have to worry about facial hair. In that picture of missionaries you all received, there is a Russian sister (the smaller one with dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and blue eye shadow toward the center of the picture) and a Ukrainian sister (who has orange hair). We do email at the same place, so she says привет, which means hi.

The reason why there are Muslims is because the Bashkortastan area is inhabited by people that originally had Muslim beliefs (Bashkirians, Tatarians, etc.) I do not know exactly where they come from, and you may be able to find out more, but the place was founded about 500-600 years ago. Some of the people are also from the -stan countries, or armenia. There are many different people and situations, so I do not definitely know.

That is a crazy story that Shane shared. I have seen some crazy things happen, but nothing to that extent and that kind of crazy. It is too bad that that did happen though. I heard about my past area that michael kind of fell of the radar, but 2 of his friends (who I got to meet with) have baptismal dates. That is not exact information as it is passed from the zone leaders, but I hope that will happen. A few funny things that happened to me a while ago. A man in the train had an empty noodle box and walked in front of our train coupe shouting pizza just for an excuse to talk to us. People will sometimes tell crazy stories to try to talk to us. A ton of the youth here will say hello to us, which is actually how the majority of Russians answer phones, to try to communicate to us in English. Some laugh at the fact that we respond often with an ordinary hello. Many are very friendly, and their age groups different, and they want to talk to us. A man we met also recently gave us as a gift his army belt buckle with the hammer and sickle on it. I let Elder Cordon have it since he has less time to get gifts. He recently passed his half way mark on the mission.

One nice thing that happened this week is we visited an older lady that made us tasty food. Russian food is actually generally simple (focusing on breads, pastries, fruits, and vegetables. Generally people make food with very good ingredients and us their own vegetables which were grown on the garden. She was very grateful that we came out to visit her. I really enjoy speaking with older people.

The new Preach My Gospel simplified curriculum will help us focus a lot on teaching by the Spirit and according to needs. It is not a different Preach My Gospel, but it is simply a focus on those most important aspects of teaching. I understand people alright now, but I just want to love them. we only have 1 investigator, so we are spending a lot of time trying to find people and meet with our members. We have a service opportunity to help someone remodel this week.

I know that Christ is my Savior, and I am glad we can be his servants. I liked what you had to say dad about that duty to God. You don't need to be a missionary to be his servant or carry his name. I just get a great opportunity to hone into that servantship. I love you all bye.

Saturday, September 4, 2010