Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25, 2010

Hello Family! 
Thank you for the letters. Thank you Kirsten, it was nice to hear from you. I hope all goes well with the kids, grandma in Arkansas. Hi Molly and Trey! What is your address? Things are going well here. Thanks for the weather report, dad. It has not felt too cold yet. It has only snowed once, shortly melting after it fell, but sometimes, if I am lucky, there are puddles of water that have turned into ice through the night. I do not know what to do in the winter in terms of contacting. Ideally, we would be working with the members more and take less time on the streets. There were times in the summer where it rained cats and dogs, and no one was on the street, and we got soaked. Men have work or school often, and we cannot meet with women alone, so it is sometimes hard to meet with members and talk to them abot  In this area, we do contact a lot. It is still fine on the street to talk to people, and there are still many on the street, when it gets very cold, we will have to work differently I think. 
I would say I am still very far from speaking fluently, although it is not really difficult to get my points across. I just have a clear accent when I speak. Sometimes I translate for the Russian and Ukrainian during district conference. Understandinding is coming a lot easier, but it is still sometimes hard to pick out everything people say. Much of the food here is produced in Russia, but a lot of the fruits come from different places (surrounding countries, and also China often). There are many small fruit stands everywhere, and there are also small stores everywhere. We go to a fairly large store, and it ends up being around the size of Walgreens. In some of the mall type of complexes, which are in the city, there are larger grocery stores. in those places, there is pretty much everything you could buy in the states. There is a special place called metro, which is like a costco here. Other than that store, there are usually no Wal-Mart type stores, but there are many stores that seem to specialize in certain items. Electric store, sanitation store, phone store, flower store, food store, hair cut salon, etc.We went with the senior couple, because you need a card, but that place was just like costco. There was everything, and in bulk. There are sometimes fruits here in Russia that you do not commonly see in the states. We recently got something called Persimmon in english. I am not sure because it has a different name in Russian. In terms of American produced goods, there are not many. Outside of food, I do not know, but a lot of specialty sauces come from America (i.e. tabasco sauce and peanut butter). The young people do need to qualify for the university. If they do well in school, they might not have to go to college (which could be compared to community college), and they can go straight to the university (college or university).Most can have the opportunity to go to the University. There are a lot of students that go to technical schools as well. I do not think that there is a tuition for school, but if you want to go to a better school, or some special programs, then I think it costs money. The thing with Russia that is similar to Europe, is the children start to specialize often at a young age. Going through the normal programs do not cost money, but if you are older and have already passed the natural course of school action, it costs to go back to school. (I am not necessarily sure about all of this, but it is what I have seemed to gather)
My companion comes from a military family, and his dad and brothers are pilots in the air force. He has travelled many places and live in places like Guam, Kuwait, Louisiana, Nebraska. He worked before his mission and actually worked at superstition mall in Gilbert. He is fairly large and strong. He wrestled when he was younger, and worked out before. He is goofy at times, but he seems to get really serious when the situation calls for it. He can sometimes get easily frustrated at things, but he is working hard to love and be patient with everyone. He is a deep thinking, and he really wants to do what is right according to the scriptures and the words of the prophets. He is 6 months longer than me on the mission, he is talkative, and he is good with dealing with the people. Once I go home, I can tell you all about all my different companions. I write their names in my Preach My gospel, so I will remember them.

If I write to much, just tell me, but I wanted to answer your questions. This week I was in Finland, and I had the opportunity to go to the temple. Finland is beautiful right now, and I really had a good time in the temple. It is very peaceful, and I know it truly is a house of God. There are often people from different countries there, so it is also cool to see that we are all children of God, and we can meet in the temples everywhere to do the work for our spiritual brothers and sisters. This week we have an opportunity to watch Bashkirian dancing for a cultural night, and there is a ward halloween activity we will be having Saturday. I love you all. Thank you for the support and your letters. Bye.- Elder Larson
Happy Birthday Erik. How old are you? 23. oooh. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 11, 2010

Hello Family!
Well it sounds like there has been some interesting news about football (Max Hall and Marcus Wheaton). I hope the MRI scan goes well, mom. It sounds like dad had a fun job with service. We g to help on older woman put up some styrofoam ceiling. It was the same lady that we did the wallpaper for. Thanks for the weather report too, Dad. It sounds like it will be cold. It has been foggy, but it has not already snowed. I am kind of excited. Shane, I do not think that I am a capo. It just seems to me that I do all the talk and you do all the action. Just kidding. I know that you and I are both doing a good work. It sounds like your missionaries are doing a lot of switching around. Something interesting here is that for this next transfer, there (from what I heard) will only be 1 change between 2 people in the mission. Everyone else is staying where they in with the same person. There is even an elder in my area who left on the mission 2 transfers before I did and he has been in the same place since. I believe this is his 7th transfer in the same place, and a transfer is 6 weeks. Thank you all for the letters. I did receive them from mom, grandma, and I did get Alisha's letter. We found a place closer to do internet, so I may be able to write home some letters (it is okay to write handwritten letters to friends). Thank you for that next year calender. It will be very convenient, and thank you for the pictures from home.
We got to see General Conference in English, so that was very cool. There were some pretty amazing talks spoken. President Uchtdorf really had some good talks about pride and keeping life simple to focus on the important things. I did enjoy that talk also about the 14 points of what a prophet is and does. There was also many talks about raising kids and protecting them against the evils of the increasingly evil world. There were a lot of good points, and as Gabe said, it really did feel like 10 minutes instead of 10 hours of conference for me too. This month as a cultural activity, we will be going to a bashkurian dance, and next week we will go on the visa trip. I will try to take some pictures.
There were a few key activities that happened this week that helped me realize how much I love the listeners out there. i.e. family. My companion and I decided to drop by a man with a son on a mission. He was not a member, but he showed us pictures of his son. His son was serving in Moscow West. (interestingly enough, I saw some of the people who serve with him are some of the people that were in my MTC group, and we are all of the sudden linked together, even though coming and living in obscure or different places.) The missionary's father had a few beers to drink, and lives with a different family. The son prays for his father every day, I saw in a letter, and I can't imagine how badly he wants his father to change for the better. The father was hardly familiar with why his son was on a mission, and he did not want to here anything about the Gospel. He is working hard on a mission, although he comes from a hard situation. I also learned in conference that the youth really needs a strong support group in order to help them. Thank you mom and dad for being that strong, loving, support that helped me grow into who I am today. I still have a ways to go, and I see how I may have been a hassle in some ways, but I know there is great room for improvement. I love you all. Thanks grandma for the letters and support as well. She is included of course.
Oh. Mom, I don't know if you have already sent the package, but if it is possible, maybe you could buy a CD and send it in the package. It is Handel's Messiah performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. That is the only CD I would want as it is focused on Christ and Christmas, and maybe dad can help you know what it is if you don't know.
Until next week...пока. старейшина ларсон.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October 4, 2010

Hello Family!
It sounds like everything is going well all over. Shane is exactly right when he says that you cannot teach without the Spirit. We had special training with the Mission President, and he went over planning and goal setting with us, but it had some interesting and helpful information. He said that you will not always accomplish your goal, even if the Holy Ghost confirmed that the goal was a good goal, and that you did all you could to achieve the goal. You should set reachable goals that you want to achieve, but sometimes we just do not reach them. Oftentimes the Holy Ghost has you reach for the goal so that you can learn something else which he knew was necessary for you to accomplish, or so that you can have various learning experiences. After the period of your goal is over, you reevaluate and establish goals once again according to the Spirit. Other people should not impose goals upon you, and sometimes you have to work up to greater goals. If you want to receive recognition in goals, you are not properly setting goals. Goals should be the means and not the ends. The devil wants to discourage people by telling them that since they are not achieving goals, or getting good numbers that they are failures as either missionaries or people. We must find the good in everything we do, and we know that we are doing good in everything if we are living obediently and trying our best. Do not let the devil discredit your divine nature, or the true place on which you stand. If you let him do that, the Spirit will also leave.

What is interesting, is after we had received that counsel, on our way home, a man asked us what church we were from and then he made a bad comment. Right after the meeting, and always, the devil tempts us by using others and trying to take away the Spirit. We must constantly fight to maintain the Spirit in all that we do. Once that happens, we are unstoppable. We must remember our divine nature, and just keep going. Christ suffered for us because we are imperfect. If we do all we can and follow the commandments, and repent, he will cover us. How joyful. How positive.

Well, mom, I forgot to tell you that we do use some good filters here because unfiltered water is not completely clean. If you send me a package, maybe you could include family pictures in a photo album so that I can show everyone how cool my family is. Well actually, people ask to see pictures a lot, it would be cool to see you too and show them to people. I already tell people how cool my family is. Sorry that is slightly hypocritical because I have not sent any pictures home or taken many. I will try to do better. Thanks for those emailed pictures from everyone. If it comes down to it, I can probably just print those pictures from the computer. I showed my companion, and he really liked them. In terms of candy? Maybe trail mix or nutty chocolates. twixes or reeses fast break. I like most nuts, except cashews. I don't really need anything. If you all would like something, I can buy it some P-day.

The weather here is starting to be fairly cold. It was freezing yesterday (-1 and 0 degrees celcius), and this morning it was 2 degrees celsius. I have all my snow clothing, but it is fairly cold, and a lot sooner than I thought. Most of the leaves have fallen of the trees, and it is getting darker earlier. Our heating is on in the apartment. There is no air conditioning here, and we get heat from hot water that runs through open pipes and radiator next to the walls. We have not already watched conference, but we will watch it next weekend. This weekend, there was a big change here though. There were 2 branches in Ufa, but it has now changed into 1 big branch. The branch's callings disintegrated and a new presidency was established. The new president is my old branch president, and he is a really cool guy and strong church member. He is really funny, has no young kids, and excited and ready to do things. The change will really help people get into the attitude of helping each other, and it will strengthen a lot of the members. President Alcott was here for that, and he gave us that special training as well.

During the fall, there are many fairs where they sell harvest items- meats, crops, honey, knittings, pastries, fruit, and many other things. We bought some honey, and there was meat everywhere. It was like a large market just on the street. Dad, you should take up bee keeping again as a hobby. There are some Russian words that seem to coincide with star wars characters. My companion and I have been thinking about it and trying to figure it out. I love you all. Thanks for the support. Have good times. Bye.-Elder Larson.