Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29, 2010

Hello Family!
Sorry, I have a little less time to write this week. It sounds like you are all doing well, and it is nice to hear about the kids coming for Christmas. Sounds like Thanksgiving was fun. As a zone leader, we really are like the eyes and hands of the mission president for that area. We try to help and instruct the missionaries so that they are doing well, getting along well, and move the work forward in their areas. We monthly get trained so that we can help to teach the missionaries and pass on tasks or teaching from the president. We collect statistics, and we also do companion exchanges and conduct interviews for the baptismal canditates. I am really enjoying Perm and my companion. Members are working hard here to find people, and it is a strong ward.
I know that Christ is my Savior, and he is the Savior of all mankind. Although I am amongst people that are in a completely different situation than I may have been used to, we really are brothers and sisters, and Christ is our Loving Big Brother. He is the perfect example for all of us, no matter where we live or what our heritage is. We all have the heritage of God in us, and we can only recieve that potential and become like him through his son Jesus Christ. This year, I will have a white Christmas for the first time in my life, and I am so grateful that through Christ's pure life and perfect sacrifice, we can become clean like the driven snow. I know he is my Savior, and his love is all around us. Let us always remember his love. I love you. Bye. -Elder Larson

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 22, 2010

Hello Family!
That is really cool how you are doing so many names Dad. I really hope that you can break those records. That is a great work, and it is cool how you are so consistent in doing it. It sounds like Mountain Pointe just squeezed by, but it is great how Jack is doing well. It is interesting to hear about all the ward news. It is strange how there are so many deaths over there were you are. The Gospel really enriches life, and it is great how we have the knowledge of where we will go after this life. Snow has fallen here, and I believe it will now stay. It is pretty cold here, and it is exciting, but the main problem is that there are consecutively less people on the street. Good job for talking to Hung, mom. I hope he finds some strength.
We had zone conference this week. It was really great. Main points were that we need to talk to people to get to know them and help meet their needs. Even on bus or the transport, our president told us that we really need to get to know people. He said that people are on a range from 1 to 7. Sometimes we just need to bumb those ones (those who almost hate us and reject us and say names) to a 2 (just a little better). Or maybe they are ready for a bigger boost. Or maybe they are 6 or 7's ready to be baptized. Regardless of who we talk to, we need to always represent Christ, love the people, and have them think more of us when we leave than when we first met them. Just as Shane said, there is a large focus on teaching by the Spirit and teaching for the people's needs. We should also have specific prayers when we seek for guidance, really aligning ourself with God's will. We need both great attitude and effort to become great missionaries, and we must never feel like failures. Satan wants us to feel like failures, but God wants us to find and correct our weaknesses through Christ.
Shane- Remember to be very strong and faithful through the tough times. It may be difficult because you have already been through the area book, there are no contacts, or maybe it is hard to get men on the meeting, but remember to maintain a positive attitude. People always have the choice to accept you, but just keep a positive attitude and don't get discouraged. You are probably doing fine, so keep up.
It is good that you found the town on the map. There is not thanksgiving here, but the members sometimes celebrate it, as they see the American missionaries talk about it. Will will just go to district meeting to eat probably at the senior couple's home. I do not know how far from the railroad I live, but I live about 8 minutes from that hand statue. You noticed there is an intersection maybe at the statue, well I live on one of those streets. If you follow the straight street towards Ufa, it will be cut off by another street. Well if you just keep going imaginary like the street still goes, I should be 2 or three houses in, but I am leaving, so I guess it doesn't matter. I am going to Perm to be a zone leader. There are no district leaders in my mission. I am excited, but nervous. I will be serving with Elder Sare. I hear that he is a very great missionary, and he was a former assistant to the president, so maybe he can really help me and teach me. I have met him a few times, and he also seems like a humourous, great missionary. I hear that they have a great ward in Perm, that it is a beautiful city, and that it will be a little colder than here. There is also a senior couple there. I leave on a train tomorrow night to Ekaterinburg, and then there to Perm. I love you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 15, 2010

Hello family!
Thank you all for the letters and the thoughts. It was great to hear
from you all. It was great to hear from grandma and granddad, and it
was good to hear that his health is doing well. This week, the senior
couple came with us on some meetings. President and Sister John. He is
your age dad. Although they don't have a whole lot of Russian language
experience, they really bring the spirit. During district meetings,
they share great experiences and express a lot of hope and desire in
us. On one of those meetings, we met with a less active member, and
she came to church. She had not been to church for a long time, at
least since I had been here, which was August 10 so it was really cool
to see her there. We had exchanges this week, so I was just up in Ufa.
On the map, Ufa, looks elongated north to south, I believe. That is
the main city I am talking about. There is a river going around it
called the white river (белая река). I live south of Ufa (slightly to
the west), probably 5 to 10 miles away, but it is actually fairly
small. Dyoma. so look down, then a little bit left of Ufa on a map.
Sorry, it is kind of difficult to describe, but there is a train that
goes through Dyoma, so maybe you want to follow the tracks south out
of Ufa and see if they will go to Dyoma if the train tracks are
visible. We have zone conference tomorrow, so I am very excited, and
this will be the last week of the transfer. Missionaries have been
staying in places longer. President wants us to get closer to the
members and build relationships with the leadership, so much might
stay the same. I think there might be some switch up though. you will
know next week. We may be moving homes this week though, staying
within our area.
It has been raining a lot here, but it sounds like it will be getting
colder here. It is cool how Erik is getting into soccer. Thanks for sending the package,
but I will tell you when I receive it. I was reading in the Book of
Mormon today, and I noticed in Alma, I think chapter 8. I don't
remember, but all of the people were rejecting him in a city, and he
was discouraged. He went out of the city, but an angel told him not to
be discouraged. The angel told him to lift his head, and be glad that
he was keeping the commandments of God. remember to keep your head up
and remember those great experiences in life and look at the blessings
you do have. I love you all. -Elder Larson

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 8, 2010

Hello family!
This was an interesting week. Snow came yesterday morning, but then melted and turned into rain as the day went on. It is looking a lot more gray here as the plants are losing their leaves, and it stays dark for a majority of the day. It is still not extremely cold outside. Dad's news about the forecast feels as if it has been accurate. Here in Ufa, snow has not stayed, but sometimes the puddles turn into ice through the night. Our address is Levitana (левитана) 7, 2. It is in Dyoma (дема), which is about 20 minutes away from Ufa. I also know the church address. Bulevard Tyulkina (булварь тюлькина) 4/1 in the city Ufa. Maybe you can find that on the map. Mom, you said many of the houses look old. Many of them are old, and many look old. You do not often actually find a good looking home from the outside (those apartment buildings), but the inside in the rooms are completely different. Many people remodel, and it can look very nice. Our place is quite nice on the inside, and it looks very old on the outside. I guess you can't always judge a book by it's cover, but sometimes you can. The cover of the Book of Mormon for instance has a very powerful cover, and it is a very powerful book. Houses are often different here though.
I had a strange week. My companion had some problems on his visa trip, so I was in a different area for three days. I was with Elder Ray and Elder Kupaev. I really enjoyed the time there, and we had some good experiences. Elder Kupaev is Russian, and it was very cool to be around him and learn a lot from him. They are very good missionaries and motivated to do the work, so it was great to see little differences they do that I can work on. One thing that I really enjoyed is how much he loved and really shared a concern for the people. Of course he can communicate with the people easier, but he also seemed to love them and really care for them more. It was an example to me, and it is something that I would like to work on. If we become more Christlike, people will be able to feel our love for them. Our area book is something that you use to keep record of investigators, members, less actives, and potential investigators. Some of the papers are very old (10 years even since the last entry). The address on one was nowhere in the city, so I thought it was wrong. I realized that the address was misspelled, and that is why we couldn't find it. A few letter were switched, and we found the actual place. Although the lady was not interested, we found the place after no missionaries had been there in 10 years. Record keeping is very important, and it is great how you are doing that kind of work dad so that people can be found, whether or not they are ready for the gospel at this point in time.
Shane, I really enjoyed the pictures. Thank you. Great job, and congratulations on the baptism. That is weird that Forrest is back home. It feels like he just left, but I guess we can say the same things about ourselves.
Now for an interesting story that happened about 3 weeks ago. No one worry or be afraid, but it was just interesting. It had nothing to relate to my personal well being. Remember that one time a lady was in the bulk trash, I came into the house to tell everyone, and we went out to see that there was a woman. Well, my companion and I were walking, and in the alley, he thought he saw a body. We had to walk by the alley a few times, and we still were not sure because there were other people just standing, and girls had just walked by it. We walked by, and there was a dead body there. The people across the body were the police. We did not know what happened, and it was shocking, but it does make you think about life. Life is really a precious thing, and living the gospel really does enrich our lives and keep us from situations that might get us killed. We are taught to stand in holy places, and if we do so, we are promised blessings. Even the blessing of eternal life if we live the gospel and endure to the end. 
Sorry to end on that note, but I just want you all to make the most out of life. Love big, and enjoy the time of life in righteousness. Despite what happens, having a good attitude in any situation only makes the situation better. I love you all. Thank you for your letters and support. Again, I love you. Bye. -Elder Larson.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 1, 2010

Hello family!
It is nice to hear from you. I enjoyed the pictures from Shane. They look fun. It is sad that Brother Curry's brother died so young and unexpectedly. That is the one that I had probably seen occasionally? I don't remember if he has other siblings or where they live. Mom, that CD is particularly a Christmas theme, but it can be listened to all year round to center the thoughts on Christ. Thank you for getting that. It was fairly cold yesterday. It was around zero celsius last night on the street. It was more difficult to contact because there were just not a whole lot of people on the street. It snowed a little bit the night before last, but the snow melted through the day. Last night, we did visit though with an older woman. She was very kind and enjoyed us to be there, but she is leaving to England to live with her daughter for 3 months.This week we had the opportunity to go to a Bashirian dance concert for a cultural activity. It was very enjoyable, and it was Folk Dance, very similar to what I had seen at the BYU folk dance concert. There is a dance they performed where there involved sword fighting with sparks, so that was kind of cool. They also performed a famous Ukrainian dance. I cannot remember the name, but the men wear baggy red pants. It might be the Hopak or Hochak. On Saturday, there was a baptism from the sisters. Artur was baptised, and we had the opportunity to take an investigator there to see the baptism, so hopefully that will help her. Artur is a cool kid that is about our age, he knows a fair bit of english, and he used to be completely atheist. He decided to be baptized, and he is a very nice boy. After that, we had a small halloween party for the ward and friends. Our mission president was there and then at church. Wednesday, my companion will go on his visa trip, so I will spend a day in a different part of town, about an hour and a half away by bus. I don't know how far it is, but buses usually are fairly slow. In our town, we just walk because it is so small, but to go to the city and around the city, we take buses. To get to the church, it is about an hour trip altogether.
I liked what Shane had to say about trials and testing your faith. In this area, things have been a little slower in finding people and being able to meet, but It is essential to keep moving forward, and ask in prayer for what to do. Sometimes it is hard, but we can always receive guidance on what to do. I know that prayer works, and when I ask specifically, faithfully, and intently to act upon what I receive the Lord gives me exactly what I need. I like what dad said though, that it does not come all at once. We also need to be patient, and continually receive more and more. We will be 20 years old up here soon. Time really is going quickly. I hope everything is going well down there. Too bad halloween wasn't so big. Here in Russia, it is not really celebrated at all amongst the public. I love you all. Help others, be an example, and always remember to express kindness. Bye.-Elder Larson