Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 19, 2011

Dear Family,
I am having a good time, and it is fun but interesting to be in Perm.
I got to see some of the members, and some of the people that aren't
recent converts anymore because they were baptized a year ago. I was
here in Perm exactly a year ago. It is different because I know a lot
more Russian, and I am a lot more used to things, but a lot of other
things are still the same. It is a lot different training. I forgot
how it was just coming into the country, and I forgot that there
probably is quite a large cultural shock, but I am excited, and the
new training seems like it will be good. I did say goodbye to Elder
Ray and tell him that you appreciated his letters, Dad. Maybe he can
get in touch with Erik since Elder Ray also lives in Provo. He was a
great missionary. I will be calling this week probably Sunday night
around 7 or 8 meaning your Christmas morning. I said differently last
time, but I think that it will be better this way for doing the calls.
I am excited and hope I know what I can say to make it exciting. There
has just been a lot of moving around this past week and getting
planning. This week is actually zone conference, but I think that we
will be able to get started with our work, and I am excited to really
get out. I am grateful for my blessings.
Right now I am reading in the war chapters of the Book of Mormon. I
enjoy that part. There is one time where Amalakiah sends lamanite
forces to attack weak parts of the Nephites, but they were actually
made strong. I thought about how we often just neglect and avoid our
weak qualities. If it is not being used, it is not doing any harm. I
thought thought that I should not just accentuate my good qualities,
but the Lord would probably want us to try to reach towards perfection
in all things. I know that through Christ our weaknesses can be made
to strengths. I love you and how you are a strength in my life. Talk
to you on Sunday. Bye.-Elder Larson

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 12, 2011

Dear Family,
I am having a great time here, and a lot of interesting things have happened this past week. there were 2 trainings, 1 for a set of 9 week new missionaries, and the second was actual zone leader council. I learned a lot, and it is always fun to hear from and learn from President. We had a meeting with the daughter of a recent convert who had agreed to be baptized, so that was pretty exciting. She wasn't comfortable with setting a date, but she seemed very excited and ready to learn more. We had passed her off to the sisters, and they have a meeting with her tonight. She is a great woman, so I feel confident that she will progress towards baptism here in the near future. I had a nice birthday. Since there was a training on my Birthday, I did get cake, a few other treats, and a lot of happy birthdays frrom other people. On Thanksgiving, there was turkey, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, banana pie, green beans. rolls. It was tasty. It feels a little colder this week, but it is clearer today compared to what it has been.
I received a transfer. I will be training in Perm (I will be in one of my former areas). I am really excited. I have had many great experiences here in Ekat and especially with Elder Parson. I am very glad to train though, and it has been a great desire. I hope to get a lot of work done this next transfer and see a lot of miracles.
I will probably call you using a calling call on Christmas morning (your Christmas eve) around 7 to call you. tell me if that will be fine.
We just got the conference Liahona. There are some great talks and things happening and information in there. Sorry you only received a small first letter. An emergency unrelated to me came up, and we had to quickly do something, but it turned out okay. Now I can continue. I know that Christ is my Savior. Sorry I lost my trains of thought, but I want to tell you that I love you. I have learned a lot about Christ recently, and I know that he is my Savior. It is interesting to know how he would act in every situation and what he would say and do in a modern day society. What about the people of Ammon. I know that we can come closer to Christ. I know that in our society, we can be examples and especially this time of the year we can remember Christ. I love you all. We will talk soon. Prepare questions to ask me that you want to know, maybe send them next week so that I can tell you answers and already know how to answer. I will try to prepare some info. Love you. Bye.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 5, 2011

Dear Family, 
I had a great week this past week. We found 2 new investigators. There is the daughter of a recent convert (older woman), but she has come to church twice. Her mom and son are members, she is really friendly, so hopefully she can feel the Spirit and also go through the conversion process. As I have said before, with single woman, we often pass them on to the sisters, and the sisters were able to meet her at church. They set up a meeting with her, so hopefully we can smoothly transition her to the sisters. It also sometimes gives the people more opportunities to meet because we are sometimes out of town. Another man we met on the street was very interested in the Book of Mormon. We came to his house and have met with him twice. He is considerably tied to Orthodox religion, but he is really searching for truth. He says he needs time, so hopefully we can get back in with him and he will be ready to move on and apply some things. He is really a nice and inquisitive man. At the end of the week, we were at Church in Ufa with President. On Sunday was Russian election day, so we could not proselyte, but President and Sister Rust did some training and we also did some training. We did an activity where you related objects to principles of the Gospel, and it helps us during times when people ask a strange question or get distracted. We want to listen to, not ignore the people, but at the same time, we want the to learn, feel, and live the Gospel. It has been fun serving with Elder Parson for the past transfer. He has helped me push myself and become a little better as a missionary. 
In Ufa, it was snowy and pretty, but in Ekat, there is not a whole lot of snow, and it is kind of dirty. Today is a nice day though because the weather is not too cold. It sounds kind of cold there, more cold than usual. Make sure you don't freeze. I am just kidding, but after being here for a while and talking with people and seeing the weather, it is weird to imagine a place that just really doesn't get below freezing. It is very convenient, and a lot of people are kind of surprised that there is never snow when I tell them about where I am from. Thanks for the Birthday wishes. I hope it is a very great birthday. Mom, as you advised, I will buy myself a birthday/Christmas present. I intend to buy a new suit today. My old suits are getting worn down, and I think that would probably be a fairly good present. 
This past week, there was also a training for a half group of fairly new missionaries. After brand new missionaries come in, there is a training program that is 12 weeks, or the 1st 2 transfers of a missionary's mission. During that period of time, there are 2 trainings with President, and this is their last training that we help with. There will also be one tomorrow for that group because it was so big. there were 10 new missionaries from that group. next transfer, there will be 6 new missionaries, so our mission is now fairly young. There are role plays in many training opportunities, and I really enjoy role playing, and I think that it is quite helpful.
It is nice to hear that you are keeping up with basketball, Dad, and thanks for putting money on,  Mom. I received a nice birthday congrats from Madison, so that was cool too. I love you all. I hope you have a good next week. I sure will. On my mission, I have learned how (hopefully) to better recognize spiritual promptings. I have looked back and seen that a lot of them come form my thoughts, and a lot are somewhat random, and I almost just randomly follow some without any opposition. The large key is being worthy of those promptings and making sure not to drown them out. If we hear them at all, it is  likely that we act on them I think. Of course not always do we not act on them, but we miss 100% of the shots we don't take, meaning we cannot act on spiritual promptings that are non existent, which come from obedience. My companion and I have been talking about things like that recently. I know Christ loves us. I love you. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011

Dear Family,
I really enjoyed your letters this past week. There is a lot of news and interesting information. It sounded like you had a fairly simple Thanksgiving. That is nice. It was probably strange that it was so quiet because I have never had a quiet Thanksgiving. I always love it though. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Holidays. We went to President Rusts and ate there. There was turkey, stuffing, sweet mashed potatoes, vegetables, rolls, and some pie. It was really tasty, and we did it as a zone, we talked about what we were grateful for, and we watched a mormon message about gratitude. It was really pleasant. The next day, President Schwitzer, the area President, did a devotional for the missionaries, and then for the members. He talked with us about teaching people and including repentance. He emphasized that teaching people how to repent will get people closer to baptism that simply teaching the things they need to know. He talked about having members befriend and support them and he talked a lot about love. It made us question how much we really love the people. It was very inspiring and something that stuck out to me is that we should help everyone we come into contact with come unto Christ. It does not mean that they all need baptismal dates, but should be happy if we simply made someone's day a little better.
We have been spending some time on the streets, and we have been trying to incorporate questions of the soul more often in our approach, and it has been quite helpful. We have met some fairly strange people, but recently someone who was very happy to have come into contact with us. I have been having a great time with Elder Parson, and I think I am having one of the best times on my mission. We have many different experiences, but we are also having a lot of cool experiences with people. A recent convert that we have is really trying to do missionary work, and her daughter is really interested to meet. We might have the sisters meet with her though because our schedules might not fall in line very often because we are sometimes out of the city, and we sometimes pass of members of the opposite sex so that they can relate better with the sisters, and they can take women with them on a meeting for a member.
I am having a very enjoyable time on the mission, and I have been learning a lot. I especially recently have been learning a lot of new things that I am surprised that I didn't know earlier, and dissappointed that I didn't know earlier, but all is well. Preach my Gospel is great, and no matter how many times I have read it, I still read things from there that, on a regular basis, I had never noticed, but have a large significance. It is nice to hear that Matt is engaged. I hope all of you are doing just jolly. Have a great day. I love you.-Elder Larson

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

Dear Family!
I am having a great time on the mission, and I am really enjoying serving with Elder Parson. He is very kind and motivates me to improve and do my very best. He is young and wants to learn everything, and it has inspired me again to always be striving for better. I have been having a lot of fun. We were on exchanges with some Elders in a different city, and they had a few cool finding ideas. They offered to donate Books of Mormon to libraries if people would be interested to read them, and they want to offer to put liahonas in dental offices. We also want to give it a try, and we recently have been wanting to try singing as a way to attracting people to talking to us and wanting to know more. My companion has a good voice, and we hope that together singing hims it will sound good enough to where it will touch people and really inspire them to know more. We will see how that goes.
Happy birthday Grandma. Happy very very late birthday Erik.
I left out a little bit of information from last weeks letter. There is a doctor in Moscow that wanted to see some of the hospitals in our mission. To be honest, the government hospitals are not in good condition, but the private ones seemed pretty nice. It was just interesting that I was translating for the Doctor a lot of the time. There were many cognates, but a lot of those cognates I did not know what they were in English, but it was an interesting opportunity to help and take a looking at various equipment in the hospitals. Also last week, there was a young man who wanted to get baptized in a lake, so he was baptized in the lake, and there was a very thins layer of ice starting to form. It seemed really cold, but it was very beautiful.
To answer a question Shane had, but maybe you would like to know what my schedule is like as an assistant. There are not a whole lot of steady factors that make it different from the standard missionary schedule. 2 large differences are Tuesdays and Sundays. On Tuesday starting at 9:00 we have calls with zone leaders to know more about how their zones are doing. After that we have office meeting, and we plan with President for upcoming meetings, conferences, interviews, or missionary training. On Sundays, President likes to visit various branches, seeming to cycle through or going for special reasons, and we often go with him. Other than that, we might have exchanges or little things we help with President here and there. We help him communicate with a church employee about maintenance, we set up interviews for him, we sometimes translate, and we sometimes help with missionary trainings. Whenever President needs us, we should be ready to help him, as that is the first priority, but he and his wife are very kind and generous to us. I feel like they know so well how to connect with people, and I have learned so much from them. Shane, I come home on or around March 8.
Thank you for wishing me a happy thanksgiving. I will be having thanksgiving at President Rust's home. They are holding Thanksgiving meal for missionaries in Ekaterinburg. President Schwitzer, the area president, will also be coming on saturday and doing a devotional for the missionaries. Russia do not celebrate or acknowledge thanksgiving in any way or even have a comparable holiday, but I really enjoy thanksgiving. Russia also does not have Halloween, and I cannot remember if they have valentine's day, but they have many other holidays and New Years is the big holiday like our Christmas. Mom, I got the package you sent for my birthday last week. I guess it arrived quickly.
It is cool how Brother Woods will be the bishop. I really like him. Thank you for your letters this week. I love you. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011

Dear Family,
I am having a really good time here on the mission. It is wonderful to hear that Matt is getting everything in order and also that Erik and Alesha are doing well up there in Provo. To answer Shane's question, I weigh around 73 or 74 kilos so around 165 pounds I think. and I am just as toned and in shape as possible. Just kidding, but I do not think that I am in completely terrible shape. I could lose a little of the belly, but I am satisfied with where I am at. It is nice to hear that some cleaning up was done at the home, and it is okay that you threw some things away. If in doubt, throw it out. I am excited to see some of the changes that may have happened around the house. I hope that grandma starts to get feeling better.
I did have the opportunity to see that little girl get baptized in Perm. It was great, and it is great that 3 members of the family are church members. I liked Perm, and I feel like Elder Ray is having a lot of good experiences. Elder Oaks at Area Conference talked a lot about leaving behind traditions that are not in coordinance with Gospel teachings, and he focused a lot on the basics, particularly tithing and sacrament meeting attendance. He gave a few statistics, but he spoke boldly about some things that need to be happening. An earlier talk was about the necessity of marrying and not waiting and the importance of temple marriage. It was really good.
After his mission, Elder Ray wants to go to BYU (rotc I believe), because he wants to become an air force pilot, and serving in Perm helped him decide that because there are a lot of jets that fly over. Elder Ray also likes dancing as a hobby, so he will likely continue that. I think he is scheduled to go to BYU in the winter. That is the extent to what I know about his plans. I really like Elder Ray. Regardless, he is from Provo, and maybe Erik will even have some sort of an opportunity to meet him if he wants to. He leaves back home on December 15th. Elder Ray is one of the smartest, yet most humble missionaries that I know in terms of Gospel knowledge, especially in relation to prophets, apostles, conferences, and church doctrine. He has a solid testimony, and he loves the work.
I met an african here today in the internet club, but he looked really familiar. I do not remember when it was, but he says that I met him in Perm. He studies there, but works here I guess. hopefully we can set up a meeting with him.
In the work, we want to work with some members and help them become better teachers so they will be helpful on our meetings and more confident when they share the Gospel with their friends. Anya, the young lady that we met, came to church and is still meeting with the sisters. She seems like she is doing well, and her mom is also reading the Book of Mormon in french, which she really enjoys. I hope that they can be baptized soon, but they are really great. President Rust is very personal with people, and the cool thing that he tries to do is be at those baptisms which he can, and he opens his house for meetings, and encourages fellowship. He shows interest and makes an action. There is a young man that the sisters are teaching who plays basketball, and he even told that young man that he would be willing to come and watch one of his games. He is one of the best people persons that I have met, and I am learning a lot.
Sometimes we can translate for President, and my companion is learning a lot of words, and he is getting me excited about always continuing to learn and improve, and I think I would like a profession in which I could use russian.
I love you all. When does Shane go home. Is that okay for me to know? I just don't know if he goes home right on the date that he got there or when he has his last transfer. Has Tyler Clason received his call? I know that the Lord never leaves us alone as long as we rely on him and do those things that he asks of us. He has given me so much, and sometimes I worry, but he always helps me and everything turns out all right. Have an excellent week. I love you. Bye.-Elder Larson

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 7, 2011

Dear Family!
I feel really good this week, and I have been enjoying the mission. It is getting a little cold here, but I am still doing fine, and I think all of my clothes are all warm enough. Mom, I don't think that I need any money, because I looked at one of my accounts, and there is a bit there, it was almost strange to see. I read in the Liahona about the story of how the sister from here prayed about the Book of Mormon, but I don't know who that woman is. I asked an older member in the branch, and she did not know who she was. Since it was in Sverdlovskaya oblast' it can only be in Ekat, unless it was in Revda or some smaller place, but I think that maybe that is where she is from, where she lived, but maybe she had moved some other place, but I am not sure.
This week, I got my new companion Elder Parson. He is very willing to learn, really fun, and really nice. He is learning a lot, and it is fun to be with a new companion sometimes. It helps you create a fresh view and understand in which ways you can change for the better. He is from Brigham City, he is into health and fitness, and he is quite smart. He is around 8 months on the mission, so he is still fairly young, but he really has a strong desire to serve. He went to BYU before the mission.
There is a fun story that happened. Maybe I told you about the young lady named Anya who is really smart and wants to accept the Gospel but works with the sisters. The sisters were having trouble getting a hold of her, so they passed a letter on to us just in case we saw her on the street. The next few days we were going to be at President's to send of the older missionary and greet and do the intro for the new missionaries, so I doubted that I would see her any time soon. President asked us to go the the bank and help him deposit money in the account, and near the bank was Anya. She was very grateful, and since then has gotten back in touch with the sisters. The sisters are having trouble getting a hold of her because she is busy working on a project about our Church and the good qualities of the church. Anya thought about that befor she met us, and she is not even a member yet, but she can see that the Church is a positive, helpful organization. Hopefully others will open see and open up their minds after she does the presentation.
The new missionaries are all very great, and they seem really excited to serve on the mission. They are all smart and dedicated to being obedient and serving the Lord, and with them, it was fairly easy to tell right from the beginning. They talked with people on the plane ride to Russia, gave people Books of Mormon, and some agreed to meet with missionaries in their various areas of residence.
We will go to Perm again this week with President and a senior elder doctor with their wives to look at some hospitals. We will also watch the baptism of a little girl who is the daughter of the woman that recently got baptized. Now their whole family will be baptized except for 1 of the sisters.
Good job for bearing your testimony mom. It sounds like things are going well at home, and continue looking for those service opportunities that you are doing so well at. 
Sometimes when we visit different places that I have served, people seem very kind to me. I feel like I haven't done a whole lot, but maybe I have done those little things. Small acts, like mom was talking about, can really make a difference in others lives, and it can help them feel God's love through you. I love you all. I hope you have a wonderful week. Bye. -Elder Larson 

Friday, November 4, 2011

October 31, 2011

Dear Family!

I have had an exciting last week. We had done some travelling with President. I was able to go to Perm (where I had previously served) and witness a baptism there and also do exchanges. I had the opportunity to teach at some time the woman that was baptized, and her daughter is a great member who was so excited about the mother's baptism. there is also a younger sister who is 12 years old, and she has made some comments suggesting that she too, now, would like to be baptized, so we will see when that will be. Elder Ray is doing very well, and this is the beginning of the last transfer of his mission there in Perm. He is working hard, and he has seen a few baptisms and really loving the opportunity to serve. His companion is russian, but is great and speaks english well. We also had the opportunity to do exchanges with some younger missionaries. They work hard and they really enjoy doing the work. I learned that one of those missionaries also likes to go bow hunting so that was interesting.
We also had the opportunity to drive with President to another city, but the snow started to come down pretty hard. There was slush on the road mixed with snow(It has been snowing for about the past 4 days, and there is a relatively large amount. It was cold a few days ago, but it can be a lot colder.) As we were driving, someone in front of us tried to pass a truck, but they started to skid, they tried to recorrect, running into the truck and they went off spinning onto the side of the road in a field. We stopped, and it turned out that she was completely fine, and it was good that there was not really any oncoming traffic. Later that day, we saw the same thing, but moving into oncoming traffic, involving a few cars. It did not seem like anyone got seriously injured, but it was interesting to see those crashes and scary to know that it happens fairly often. President drives well, and we were never close to harm.
It will be cool to see day of the dead for you, Dad, and that is nice how you got to see Kirsten and the rest of the family. That is good how mom's knee feels  a little bit better, and it sounds like Shane is working very hard.
For the next transfer, I am staying in Ekaterinburg, but my companion got a transfer that we had known about for quite a while. He will be going to train in Ufa. I will be staying in Ekaterinburg as an assistant, and Elder Parson will be coming to be my companion. He was the zone leader in Ekat, and he is still fairly young on the mission (around 6 or 7 months I think in Russia). We will come together Wednesday, and what I have seen is that he is very solid, he works hard and loves the work, and he has good russian. It will be a change, but it will be fun. There are a few interesting things coming this month, and the new missionaries come in a few days.
I think that I will be warm. I did buy a hat, and it is a warm hat with fur. Last winter I had bought some fur shoes that keep me pretty warm, and I have gloves, so it will be warm and good, and I want to make sure that I be warm rather than cold. I thought the other day I didn't need to put gloves on quite yet, but I needed them as my hands got cold. I learned my lesson and I am wearing gloves.
We are trying to find right now. We just cant seem to keep ahold of those who are truly interested and find those that really want to hear the Gospel, but we are continuing, and now matter what they choose, I am having fun doing it. You have got to make it fun, and I know there are people waiting. I hope you all are having fun. Continue with your missionary work and trying to find how you can bring up the Gospel. I love you family. Bye.- Elder Larson.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011

Hello Family!
I am doing well here and having a fun time being on a mission. It is starting to get a little colder, a little darker, and it sounds like Friday that it will be quite cool. I think that today I will go and buy a hat. I received a nice letter from Madison. She writes very well, descriptive, and I feel that I have seen her grow a lot. It sounds like you had fun Dad helping those little kids out at saint Vincent's and also doing service there at the cemetary in guadalupe. There are a lot of cemetaries in Russia, and often we walk through a cemetary on our way to President's home. It is pretty, but there is often some trash, so it is nice that you cleaned to make a place that should be peaceful even more peaceful. Here, almost all the leaves have fallen as well.
The ward will probably be completely different when I get back it sounds like with so many new people coming in. We had the opportunity with President to visit another ward in our mission, and he drove there. There are a few places that we can drive to in around 5 hours, and President likes how he can choose his own schedule that way and not be so dependent on the train schedule, but when it snows, President probably will not be driving to those other places.
There were a few baptisms that happened this weekend and some coming next week in our mission. It is interesting to hear about baptisms of people that I may have been around in other areas but just weren't ready. There was a referral that I could not get a hold of or meet in Perm, but she was baptized on Saturday, and the mother of a young woman will be will be getting baptized on Wednesday. Some people just need the right people at the right time, and that is why we are sent to serve in a specific place at a specific time. The missionary that is in Perm right now is a great missionary. It is Elder Ray who's blogs you see. I know that some people are not quite elect today, but that our influence has a lasting effect on people and can help them come a step closer to being elect.
Thanks mom for understanding my decision. I will tell you if I think otherwise.
That is cool how Tyler and President Clason son are going on the mission soon. It is nice to hear about the mission from other missionaries because there are so many great experiences, sometimes sad experiences, but experiences that shape our lives. Thank you parents for helping shape my life. Have a good week. Have a good surgury whenever it will be. I love you all.- Elder Larson

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 17, 2011

Hello Family,
It sounds like things are going very well there in Arizona. It is finally starting to cool down here, and it seems to be dipping close to freezing. Some of the Elders from the mission use an adapted P90X as part of their morning exercise. I have also been learning a lot being around President Rust. He is a very gentle and understanding man. He is very successful, but he and his wife are also very humble. It is also interesting to hear that Dad is planting since everything here is dying. It sounds like Erik is also doing well, and I am so glad to hear that Shane is working hard. I am trying to work hard too, but it feels like I can always be doing better and I can. Recently I have had the opportunity to hear from President, other missionaries at trainings, through email from Blaine and Shane, and we also saw a missionary who is part of another mission who was with us in the MTC, and we shared a few ideas. This week there was training for missionaries who have only been here 3 weeks, there was zone leader council meeting, we had a visa trip in Finland (I got to go to the temple) (We also met an american who got married to a finnish woman through who is slightly related to my comp. It was strange. She spoke perfect english, but he was a really funny man, and they were able to give us a ride. They had two daughters, and they hadn't watched conference, so we gave them a commitment to watch Elaine S Dalton's talk.) I also went to a place called Surgut with President, which is a northern place. We got to interview a young woman who got baptized, and we helped President with interview and talk translation. I think that as we find and teach people, and even outside of the mission, there are many ways to share the Gospel and it is important to be creative. Our mission has recently set goals, and we are trying to be more open and accept change if it is what the Lord wants so that we can accomplish his work here, and the Lord gives us many talents so that we us them in building up the kingdom as well. Some missionaries do plan of salvation chalk drawings in Moscow, some do Book of Mormon stands, we have been focusing a long time on teaching, but now we want to look more closely at our statistics to see what we can work on, and Blaine sounded like he had a pretty successful open house. I also get excited when I hear about how missionary work is going in other places, knowing that everywhere, the Lord's work is going forth. With the elections and Mitt Romney in there, there will probably be a lot more opportunities for you to share a little bit about the Gospel. Matt's going to Jamaica? cool. Pig hunting will also be fun.
When I was in Finland, I saw some things in preparation for Halloween, so they probably celebrate it, but here there is nothing, and I almost completely forgot about Halloween.
I am really enjoying the mission, and it truly is a wonderful time to dedicate life to the Lord. If we forget ourselves, and give to the Lord, he really can carve us into whatever we need to be. I have seen some people change on the mission, both converts and some missionaries, and the Lord gives us so much, and he asks for so little in return. I love you all. Bye- Elder Larson

Monday, October 10, 2011

October 10, 2011

Hello Family!
I had a great week this past week. I had the opportunity to do some exchanges with some younger, less experiences missionaries, but it was great. They were very excited about the work, loving missionary life, and looking for any way in which they could improve. Missionary work truly is great, and I love how we had such a joyful time while we were together. I got to take a look back at them, and sometimes they worry or maybe doubt themselves because of language skills, but I have seen that the Lord really watches out for missionaries and as long as we are doing his will we can be confident that our effort counts but is also effective, no matter our skills or abilities. The Spirit is great and directs us to what we need to do. I have an experience with the Spirit that happened this week when I actually didn't act on a spiritual prompting to grab a letter for a less active member. I was to pass it on, but I did not bring it seeing that I would not have a chance to give to the desired person. I thought that it would not be necessary, really on my wisdom, but a sister missionary from the other branch came, and I could have given it to her. In conference, President Monson talked more about the necessity to follow the spiritual promptings, and I want to better follow them. Oftentimes we get no second chance, but I was given another chance. The same prompting came again this morning to take the letter, and I had no idea how I would pass it on or to who, but I knew I needed to take it. Here at internet, the sisters came, although I have never seen them here before at this place, and I was able to pass the letter off. The Lord gave me another chance at a small opportunity to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and I was very grateful for it.
Right now in Ekat, there has been a turn to warmer weather. Today is sunny and nice, and I am actually just in my suit top, but it has not gotten cold yet, but everything is yellow and brown looking. I am interested to see the winter and cold, but I think more towards the beginning of November there will be snow, but we will see. It is really nice, and winter is pretty until it starts getting very cold.
That's wonderful how Shane's companion came over and that you had an opportunity to talk with him and learn about Shane and his mission. He sounds like a very nice young man. I really enjoyed conference here, and I felt like it was very associated with missionary work, and a sharp call to moral cleanliness and daily study of the Book of Mormon. That was nice how you got to see some of our friends and see how they are doing a little bit. I wonder how Davis looks? I wonder how Shane Sorenson is. Hopefully those friends may be interested more in the Gospel. It is also great to hear about Hung.
I will try to answer the questions about school, but unfortunately we might have to discuss some things over the phone at Christmas about it. If I can get a scholarship that will cover tuition, then I think I would like to go to school in April, and hopefully I can find work in Utah so that I will be able to pay for the other items and housing, unless Erik really would be fine for me to live there with him for a while, but I would not want to burden any other person financially. I think that since I will go to school at BYU, I should probably go to Utah as soon as possible to get my life moving forward. It would be a good think for me to work in the summer though, because then everything would be fairly sure, and if I had tuition scholarship, things would go very smoothly. But I actually haven't thought a whole lot about this. I will think some more (but of course not too much as to distract me from the work), and I think next week maybe make a more sure decision, but also I am not sure which classes that I would take as well so I would need to figure that out. Do you know if the scholarship is likely, because that will be a large factor in deciding? Thanks Mom and Dad for keeping an eye after this. It is an important decision. I love you all. I received a nice letter from Jenny and it is interesting how Ryan is forging. I hope you all will continue to be worthy of the Spirit. I am grateful for all that you have given me. Good bye. Love you. -Elder Larson

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3, 2011

Dear Family!
I am having a great time here in Russia. that is really cool how you have seen some conference. I am really excited to watch it this next weekend and see what I can learn. Did you see Randall Bennett speak who came to speak to us in our mission? Wow, Shane has over 4 times as many missionaries in his mission than in our mission. That is cool how he gets to serve with his old companion again. Mom wants to here some news about Russia, so I will try to share some news. I got to visit Kurgan this weekend, and the missionaries there are really working hard, talking to people, and living their missionary purpose being really good examples for me. They had a baptism, which was a priesthood holder and great to see. Our investigator Anya we passed off to the sisters. Being that she was a 14 year old young woman, we figured that it would be better for them to meet with her. She went to church for the 3rd time this week and her mother came as well. She also has a large ambition to tell as many people as possible that the Church is not bad and that a lot of good comes from it. Here it has been raining or at least cloudy every day for about a week, and it sounds like it will continue to be like that for a while. Mom, on P-days we do not do a whole lot special. We do our studies, clean the apartment, write home, buy groceries, and then we have a few hours before we need to start working again. We looked at buildings one time, or saw the sights, in the past, we have played frisbee or basketball. The problem is that P-day is on a Monday and none of the museums are open on Monday, but if we wanted to we could switch that to a different day to accomodate. Sometimes we go out to eat and in the past I have made good meals. Also, we sometimes go around looking in stores. Seperate from P-days, you can periodically do a cultural activity which are sometimes ballets or a type of folk dance, but we can somewhat choose. Then if I need to mend something or would like to study a little bit more or write or think, we also do that on p-day. Maybe Shane's P-days have been more interesting than mine, because mine have not been to extraordinary. Maybe he can even give some ideas. I also like that I can just talk with my companion.
This week I have been trying to focus a lot about charity and love. In doing acts of charity, it helps us become more humble. I have been thinking about accentuating the positive a lot and especially in the characteristics of others. Erik after his mission told me that I will need to learn that. I have been trying to look for the good, and it makes me happier, and I do not feel guilty about looking at the faults of others. Christ is the perfect example of charity and love and he also called people to repentance. He did not focus on the fact that some people sinned, but he focused on the path of repentance, forgiveness, and becoming a different person. I know he is my Savior, and I am glad to be his servant. He takes recomittment each day, but it feels really good at night to know you have done as the Lord has asked you to do. Of course every night isn't like that because I may have messed up quite a bit, but I know the Lord loves us, and through him we can have success and happiness. I am having a great time on the mission really learning how much the Lord loves me and being able to spread his love to other people. I love you all. Bye.-Elder Larson

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 26, 2011

Hello Family!
Things are going really great here. This past week, 2 missionaries came in to the mission. The ones from Ukraine and Moscow. They are very kind and very sincere in their testimonies. The elder has only been a member for about a year and a half, but he is really excited, and he was actually found by missionaries who went street contacting. He is the only member in his family, but he is very loving, and they are both excited to do the work. I enjoy seeing knew missionaries, and they help me to learn because they are just so excited to do the work.
Also, that young woman we told you about last week came to church again, and she seems very committed to coming. Before she met us, she had learned about the church, and had been searching for something, so we want to help her and find out where she is at in her search for truth. She is very smart, and it is fun to see someone so young really search for the truth. She is 14. I found it interesting because that is the same age that Joseph Smith had posed the same questions in his life.
It is cool to hear about the baby that Nathan and Mindy had. I was also unaware that Nathan's back was getting so bad. I hope you get feeling better mom. Everytime you feel the pain, just remember Christ's love. He has felt all of your pain and understands your situation. It is sad to hear about your friend Kim. I wouldn't worry about it. You did your part in trying to reach out and help someone. Continue helping others. It is just sometimes sad that people abuse the things that you give them, but you in doing that you have come closer to Christ. It is great to hear that Erik feels better, and it was nice to receive a letter from you mom and grandad and grandma Larson. That looks like a nice elk, but that is kind of a funny story how you split it between 2 people. Cool snake too, kind of scary. It is nice how Matt is dating a nice woman. Is she a member?? She also has two kids. That is cool how they are really supportive of each other. I am able to email other missionaries if I have time, and I hadn't heard about Jeff Rodgers too much, but I wrote him and he wrote back, and he sounds like he is doing well there in Chicago. He says he is close to down town and he can even go there on p-day.
Shane, there are right now 45 missionaries in the mission, excluding senior couples. At the end of the year, there should be 50 missionaries. There is someone in my branch that is actually from Argentina, from Buenos Aires. I want to know if he is from your area or around the place you're at. Which ward do you go to? My branch is called Verkh-Isetsky. How many missionaries are in your mission? That is cool how that woman was baptized and was feeling better already the next Sunday. We have a lot of older women in the branch, and they are very strong members of the church.
Now it seems that we are really moving into the fall season here. I hope you all will have a good conference. Pay good attention to what everyone says. We will watch conference a week later here. I have really learned on my mission that it is really a great opportunity to hear from your leaders, and we really need to know and heed there words especially in an increasingly evil world, so that we can be strong and firm on the Gospel foundation. I love you all. Have a good week. Be a good example for others and true to what you know. Bye.- Elder Larson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011

Hello Family!
Once again, sorry that the letter did not get off last week. I did write it last week, and I had plenty of time, but somehow I saved it instead of sending. This week you get a 2 for one. Dad, I hope you got an elk or Ryan or Matt. From my last week letter, you heard that we had Pres. Bennett came and talked to us, and we tried our best to apply what he said, and we got an investigator, and there were 2 that showed up to church. In August, we were walking on the street, and we tried to find a copy place. We went to the wrong one, but a lady wanted to speak with us interested that we were American. She showed us where to go, and we talked for a while with her and her daughter. For the past month, we have been seeing them as we go by to our recent converts home. We talk a bit, and we gave them a Book of Mormon. The daughter Anya(14) is very sharp, and she started to read the Book of Mormon, and she talked her mother into going to church, so we met them at the bus stop, and we went to church. They enjoyed it, and although we never had an official meeting, we feel as if they are very prepared, and they are pleasant people. They know french very well, and Anya has a desire to come more and to meet with us.
There was a new set of missionaries that came in (8 alltogether including a sister from Finland). It has been fun to see missionaries come and go, and it has also been fun to help in the organization of their travel from place to place. The office elders take care of that, but we also help out a little bit in knowing how it works out. Our mission is very young now, and there are many miracles going on. Hung sent a small email and it says that he created a profile on, so it sounds like he is doing alright. There are also 2 missionaries coming in this week from Moscow and Ukraine. My trainers left from the mission last week. It is interesting to see the contrast and how much you grow in 2 years. The new missionaries are coming out of the MTC now quite prepared, and there is also a lot that we all learn while on the mission. I hope that Erik and Alesha start to feel better from their colds and more at home. Now that Erik is in Provo, I don't know if he could look up someone by the name of Paul Gallo. He is a great young man, returned from a mission in Moscow west before I left for my mission, but maybe it would be fun for them to get acquainted. Paul's brother was one of my best friends at BYU who is ironically serving a mission in the Provo mission. I hope that grandma has a fun time in Arkansas. I hope all the kids and family are doing well. I love you all. It has been getting cooler here, so that's also a little exciting, but I am really enjoying life.
If you have any specific questions or want to know something, please ask. I will try to do a better job in answering but maybe your questions can help guide me in making more interesting letters.
I don't know if I told you, but my companion's great great grandfather Zachariah Bruin Decker, and my great great grandfather, Mons Larson know each other. As I was reading through our family history, I came upon the name Decker, I asked him about it, and his family tree had a link. We had been part of the same company at the hole in the rock. His family stayed in southern Utah, and they now live in Cedar City. Family history is important, and it is cool what kind of links we might be able to find between people. We really are all God's children.
I love you all. Bye. I checked to make sure you got this at the right time this time so hopefully it does.-Elder Larson

September 12, 2011

Hello Family!
This past week was really wonderful, busy, but I learned a lot. I had a lot of letters from you all the past 2 weeks, and it seems that life is going well. I am grateful that you all have so many blessings. Mom, just keep doing what you can and pray for the strength to do what the Lord wants for you. I was happy to hear your's and dad's comments about celestial marriage, and I too know that will happen and that is what we are working towards. Erik, it was nice to here from you, and I congratulate you on getting that job at the MTC. I didn't think you could get hired without being a student of BYU. Missionary work is great and it is nice that you and Alesha already have plans to serve a mission when you are older. Too bad that you couldn't get that elk dad. Maybe next time. It is wonderful that Jack's girlfriend is getting baptized on Saturday. Now she has accepted the Gospel truth, and I feel like that will be a good example to a lot of other youth. Simply to answer on your question about school next spring, I would want to go if I could start supporting myself at the same time by working. I would like to go as soon as possible, but I don't really want to worry about all the sign up and such until after my mission. I would give you two permission to select some of my classes if you would want. Shane, that is cool how you are a zone leader now. That is a lot of missionaries that you are over. It is almost half of our mission, and it is great how you have such a responsibility.
This week, we had the zone conferences, and it was amazing. We had a member of the Europe East Area Presidency come and help teach as we had the conferences. He is a member of the 2nd quorum of the seventy and his name is Randall Bennett. He is really great, energetic, intense, and really brought the Spirit. He came in large part to us to repentance. It was very spiritual, enjoyable, helpful, humbling, and it was exactly what our mission needed. Our mission had been talking to people less often, and we had gotten into the mindset that contacting was not effective. Of course it is best to get referrals from members, but he woke us up to the fact that when they do not give referrals from members, just dropping by people will not do a whole lot of good in finding investigators or really helping the inactives. If we work with inactives, we need to be working with the members, or we will not really make any lasting difference, and we should always be in the mindset of finding and fulfilling our missionary purpose. The missionaries all took it very well when the conferences came to a close. I really want this part of my mission to end out very strong. I have had priceless experiences, and I know that in doing what the Lord wants us to do, we receive incredible joy. It is really fun to be a missionary, and I enjoy hearing from the other missionaries from the ward, and I feel that they are working hard in the areas that they are serving. It is getting a little cooler, and I am starting to feel the full fall coming on. My mission President and other leaders are great, and I know that they really point us to what the ward wants us to do. Although I don't have any planned baptisms coming soon, it feels like there have been a fair bit of baptisms happening in the mission. I love you family. Bye. -Elder Larson

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29, 2011

Hello Family!
This week I did exchanges with a missionary in another area, and we had the opportunity to do some service. It was at a garden home, and the weather and the scenery made it look just as if we were in Pinetop near grandad's home. It was really pretty, and that was a really great opportunity. When we serve each other, it really helps us grow closer, and even though I had never met that family before who we served, I felt very close with them in the end. They were both active and return missionaries, and we were able to get a lot of work done. We actually just cleaned up his garage and help move a few things from the house. Since President Rust came, our mission has focused on obedience, diligence, and love, and that love aspect is very important for the work and just to have happiness in general relationships. It has been great to serve with a few various missionaries even if for only a short period of time because it allows us to learn from each other, perhaps show love, and develop teaching skills.
Mom, I hope that you're feeling better from cutting the trees down. Dad, it sounds like it was a good time on Sunday listening to how the other missionaries are doing. It is exciting that so many people from our ward are out on missions. I am excited to here about Alex as well that he is out and doing work. How is Erik doing with the job, and how is the rest of the family doing. Tell grandma that I say hi to her too. Grandma, when is the last time you read the Book of Mormon? I think that it would be great if you started. Even if you can't remember the words, I know it can have a calming effect in your life. I hope you are doing well.
Like Shane said, time is going by quickly. I might write again this week or sometime next week because we will soon have zone conferences and a member of the Europe East area will be there. I am excited to see him, and then after that, some new missionaries are coming. I am having a great time, the gospel is so important. I love you. Good bye.-Elder Larson

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 22, 2011

Hello Family!
Congratulations mom and dad, that is great that you celebrated your 25th wedding anniversary just recently. That is a long time to be together, and that's the way it should be. Eternity is a long time, but a forever happy time. I hope that Erik will find a job there. Maybe funny request, but Blaine's brother is going to have a baby sometime soon who is Erik's age. Has Erik made any mention as to when he intends to have an addition to the family? It has been cool here recently, but it has been very nice whether. We walk in our suit jackets, and it is just about perfect weather. 
Thanks for helping out with that debit card situation. I had purchased new shoes, and I needed to take some money out of the bank and pay at the store. I haven't used the card very often since I have been here. As for the regular missionary needs, The money we are given is plenty enough to live well. For those personal purchases, I have not made a whole lot. President allowed me to call the company, so they understood the situation. 
Good job dad for saying the prayer. That way maybe people wonder where you from that you say the prayer slightly differently.
I do not live to far from the President. It is about a 25 minute walk, and it is pretty through a little forest cemetary in the city.
I am having a really great time on the mission. Like Shane, time is going by really quickly for me. Our recent convert is doing very well, Elena, and she said that she is ready to accept a calling if they give one to her. I was able to visit Perm, and a family that lives there is very generous, kind, and happy. They were baptized in December last year when I was there, and they are doing very well. They are very happy, and the husband is such a gentleman and treats his wife with great respect. They are having a child next year, and I know that the Gospel really just blesses their and our lives. Mom and dad, have you ever thought about serving on a senior couple mission? If I were you, I would think about it a deal and make plans to go on one. There are some great senior couples that I see, and some (even amidst poor health and old age) really get a lot of joy out of serving. Especially in a place like Russia, people love the senior couples, and they are a great help to the wards and missionaries. So think about it. I am not saying get ready to hop up and leave, but make some plans for the future to go. I think that would be great. You are already great, but a mission on top of a marathon and dealing with the heat would just make you polished stones.
I gave a little talk in church on Sunday about the Book of Mormon. I reflected on some of the excuses I gave back in school and how I just needed to reset priority, and I focused on how it helps us resist temptation and come closer to Christ. President and Sister Rust have been talking about caring for the lost sheep of the ward and making a personal record and history so that your ancestors can read and understand you down the years. The meeting was great and I felt the Spirit. I felt like the Spirit really stemmed from the love that the ward members have one towards another.
The Lord has blessed me greatly since I have been here. Soon, there will be zone conference with a member of the Europe East area presidency, so I am excited about that. I have had many great experiences, and opportunities to grow. It has been great that I can change through Christ and the principles of the Gospel.
I love you family. Continue the good, hard work. Keep up Shane. Bye.-Elder Larson

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 15, 2011

Hello Family!
It sounds like things are going well with some little changes. Brian moved out and now there are some new youth there. That is a cool deal that Erik can get that deal to go to UVU for a lot less money. They have been married a year already, wow. It sounds like  a lot of changes are happening. that is cool how the young men did that trip to the temple and that you were able to do confirmations. Our mission is going on a mission trip this weekend (the members who want to go to the Kiev temple). It is great to see how highly some people value going to the temple even if it is so far a way. It is a blessing that we do not have to go somewhere like Oklahoma just to go to the temple. I did a guess, but maybe it's about that far to go to Kiev from here. But, Kiev is a lot more convienient that Finland because an international passport is not necessary and it is a lot less expensive for people to go to Kiev. Kitchen is getting painted. Mom, that is pretty cool to hear that you have been seeing parrots up in the palm trees. I didn't know Arizona was becoming such a tropical place. This past week has been a lot warmer, but I am glad it will be getting a lot cooler, although I do not mind the heat so much. The sun has been kind of nice.
I have kind of an interesting experience that happened. I went to Kurgan this weekend with President Rust and his wife, and my first area was Kurgan. We were only there for a day, but I was in Kurgan about 1 year ago. We went to church and I was able to see some of the people again. Some of the people did not seem to have changed at all, some people may have gotten worse (fortunately i didn't really see much of that), and some people have become different and more enhanced people. I am sure those people that seemed not to have changed actually did, because they are still coming to Church, and they probably have made a lot of inner and personal changes that I cannot see. There is one person that I did see though who I felt made some large changes. It was a youth, and He had become a lot more confident in his beliefs and his conduct. He had been given a calling as teacher, and he taught very well. He is solid in the Gospel and does not seem to waiver. It was great.
The situation just made me think about which direction we are going in life, forward or backward. In the moment and even over time, it is sometimes hard to know, but if we are continual doing the good habits that our leaders tell us we should do. Read, Pray, partake of the sacrament, follow the promptings of the Spirit, we can be assured that we are doing well and getting better. When we do have those fall, we can make changes, and through Christ be lifted. If we have struggles, Christ's mercy can lift us. I encourage you to take a look at yourself as if it was exactly a year ago in time. Where are you at, where do you want to be? With the Lord, all is possible.
Elena, an older woman was baptized on Saturday. It is great to see people that have been prepared, and she is a great, loving woman.
President is a large man, and his wife is very kind.
I love you all. Good bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8, 2011

Hello Family!
It sounds like things are going pretty well down there. Dad, it is interesting how you went to work in camo, and that is great how you dress nicely after the temple so that you can increase the chances to talk to people more about the Gospel. It seems kind of fun. Mom, I hope your back feels better after moving Erik and getting him out. That is a great act of kindness from Jordan, and I hope that I can be that kind of friend. That is what the mission has helped with. I would like to be able to continue serving people in ways that may be even a seemingly big sacrifice. Well, it is great that Erik is up there. I've got now Erik and Alesha and Kirsten as family being in Utah. It was also good to hear about Matt and that he seems to be doing well.  What are Erik's Utah plans? Dad, it is good to hear that you're always learning. I liked the thought about the Book of Mormon, and continue learning. There is a John Bytheway talk that I heard about Sunday, particularly addressed to youth, but there was a principle that I really enjoyed. I feel like you really exemplify this principle dad. Going to church, you should not really have a bad experience due to the poor quality of the talks. Even if a talk is not interesting, you can make your own personal talk on the same subject so that the Spirit can whisper something to you. I am not saying that talks or lessons that you listen to are poor, but I feel that each talk and lesson you hear really makes an impact and personally influences your life. Thanks for your example. I read Shane's letter today. I don't know why I didn't get some last letters. It's okay Shane, we always have things to work on, but I guarantee that you have grown tremendously already.
This weekend, there will be another baptism for an older woman in our area. I have only met with her twice, but she had been preparing for baptism, and the missionaries before me had helped prepare her. She is great. She is very happy and accepting. At first she was unsure, but she talked to her family, and she decided to be baptized. On Saturday, she will be baptized.
This week, our mission lost a few older missionaries (6) and gained 5 new ones. Our mission is really close, so I knew most of those missionaries fairly well, and it is great to see the energy of the new missionaries. Oh, yes. There is something I have to tell you, not to make you trunkie mom (ask Erik if you are unsure of the meaning of the term), but just to inform you of a decision that I made. In our mission, the visa only lasts 90 days or 3 months. Since the transfer lies at a strange spot, and it is a trouble just to simply get a new visa, I either had to go home slightly early or slightly late. about a month in either direction. I have decided to go home in March 8, which is the later date. The decision has already been made, but I thought that I would just let you know what is going on and what exactly to be waiting for. Thank you for your understanding.
It was a little chilly this past week here, so I am excited to hear that it is warming up. I know this Church is true, that obedience is essential, and that through Christ we can continually progress. Continue progressing forward, overcome obstacles, and do not dwell on past mistakes. I love you all. Bye. attached is a picture that an investigator from my old area took of me and my companion Elder Zhdanov a while ago. -Elder Larson

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August 1, 2011

Hello Family!
I have really been enjoying this week, and there has been a lot of rain and the weather is cool. It is very strange to me to think that it is very hot there with no water when it is so different here. This summer has not been hot for very long periods of time. Really nice weather but just strange. Interesting news going on at home. I hope Molly's health is okay. That is fun to hear that Erik and Alesha are moving soon, and it is great to hear that there are some living options. Does Erik have in mind what he will be doing there when they are just getting started?  It is fun to hear that Shane is a district leader. I bet that is fun for him. It seems like he has not written in a while. I may not write on some Mondays in the future just to warn you because I may be travelling, so do not worry. This past week, we had the opportunity to teach an older woman, and she expressed some concerns about baptism because she wasn't ready. We gave her a date, and although she didn't agree, she said she'd talk to her family about it, so we hope she feels the Spirit tell her she should, and her grandson is a member, so hopefully he helps her see that it is necessary. I get to spend a lot of time with my Mission President and his wife, and they are very great and loving people. I learn a lot from them, and I feel like I am growing a lot on my mission. It is cool how you went home teaching together mom and dad, and that you saw David's farewell and saw some family. Family is most important. While we were visiting another area with President, My companion and I spent some time with the other missionaries there, and they did something I really liked. I don't know if we will incorporate it in our companionship, but they shared each others testimonies, or experiences from the day that added to their testimonies. It was fun and spiritual, and sharing testimony really does have the power of bringing people together.
If you are still wondering about where we live, there is a stadium nearby with some soccer fields by it if you are still trying to find where we live. the stadium is called central stadium, and we live very close to it. Family, I am grateful for what you have given me in life. I have learned a lot on my mission, and I see some things with a different perspective. I know that Christ is my Savior and that through him we can find happiness and salvation. I see many people that are slaves to sin, and it is sad to see, but if we live in the bounds of righteousness, we can have freedom. I love you all. Have a fantastic day. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, July 25, 2011

July 19, 2011

Hello Family!
I was glad to read your letters, and I really enjoyed the letter that mom had written. I thought it was really powerful, and I feel that you have grow a lot since I have been on my mission. It is a pretty cool effect that is going on that being on a mission is such a great blessing to those around and families. Thank you for raising me to go on a mission. I am having a really great time. It is really cool how Shane had a baptism this past weekend. Baptisms are really just a wonderful experience, and It leads life into happiness, if we are willing to keep those covenants we make. We obey and serve the Lord, and he will infinitely bless us. Oh, sorry that you didn't get a warning that I wouldn't be writing yesterday, but we had to go to a different city to pick up a missionary. He will be serving in my place in the area where I am currently serving, and I will be moving to a different area in Ekaterinburg. President Rust called me to be an assistant, and I will be serving with Elder Decker, who was in my group at the MTC. I have a lot to learn, but I feel like I will have the opportunity to learn a lot and learn how to better love and work with others and do the Lord's work here.
Good job dad, it sounds like you do a very good job indexing. It is fun how you went to the movies with Kylie. Continue to be a good example for the children. I know they love you all greatly, Mom.
This week, we had the opportunity to speak with a Cuban. He is black, and I try not to miss the opportunity to talk to black people when I see them in the middle of Russia. I don't always get to, but this time, I asked him if he spoke English, he did not. He spoke spanish and Russian really well. He has lived here 10 years, he has a russian wife and a child, and he works as a trainer and as a musician at a club. He was really nice, and he said he may be willing to meet, ut we will see what happens.
Shane, I too will be doing a little training after getting back, because I have gotten a little more stomach weight. Continue the hard work. Let us all press on in the work of the Lord. I love you all, and I would like you to reread together the note that mom wrote to me. I really enjoyed it, and I would think that dad read it, but I really did enjoy that. Family should be the reason that we do anything we do why we are here and any position that we are in. It's God's plan, and in order for it to work, it's got to be done God's way. I love you all. Bye. -Elder Larson

July 18, 2011

Dear family,
I am doing well, but it has been raining quite a bit here. It feels like I am in Oregon, and it is a huge contrast from last summer. I don't think I live near those smokestacks, sorry mom. If it is by a lake, then it is too far west and not enough north. Where I live is an area slightly seperated from the rest of the city but not far. It is by the Uralsky heavy metal factory, so it is in that division of the city, and in that division, it is on the northeast edge where I live. It is by some new building. I am excited to hear that Erik will be in Provo. Means that he'll be close by and we can even possibly go to the same school. We had the opportunity to give a blessing this week to a sister missionary in our zone. She is a convert of about 3 years, but she is one of the most faithful people I have met. It help me understand how much faith really makes a difference in life, and her mood and situation really changed after the blessing. I know that priesthood power is real, and it helped me know how blessed I am. I thank you dad for being a worthy priesthood holder in our home, and I know that has influenced my life greatly. I would be down for that marathon if you are really serious about doing it. I believe that you can, it would be pretty macho (you agree mom), and as long as you prepare well, I don't think you would die. There is a sister in our zone that has ran a marathon in the past. But it would really be fun. My companion and I run periodically.
President Rust is great. He hasn't served a mission, didn't finish school, but he says that he has made big changes in his life through the atonement of Christ. He and sister Rust lived in Utah, he worked in an oil company, Shell, they moved, he stayed, another company came. The company he worked for wasn't honest, he didn't keep his mouth closed, and they fired him. His mom said not to worry, and Chevron asked about him. He got on with them, moved along a line of promotions till he was asked to go to Moscow where he lived for 10 years, until he retired after he was called as President. He is very loving, hugs us, and wants us to work hard, work with members, and help build us up.
Thanks for the package mom. It was healthy and tasty. I love you all. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11, 2011

Dear family,
I am doing well, but it has been raining quite a bit here. It feels like I am in Oregon, and it is a huge contrast from last summer. I don't think I live near those smokestacks, sorry mom. If it is by a lake, then it is too far west and not enough north. Where I live is an area slightly seperated from the rest of the city but not far. It is by the Uralsky heavy metal factory, so it is in that division of the city, and in that division, it is on the northeast edge where I live. It is by some new building. I am excited to hear that Erik will be in Provo. Means that he'll be close by and we can even possibly go to the same school. We had the opportunity to give a blessing this week to a sister missionary in our zone. She is a convert of about 3 years, but she is one of the most faithful people I have met. It help me understand how much faith really makes a difference in life, and her mood and situation really changed after the blessing. I know that priesthood power is real, and it helped me know how blessed I am. I thank you dad for being a worthy priesthood holder in our home, and I know that has influenced my life greatly. I would be down for that marathon if you are really serious about doing it. I believe that you can, it would be pretty macho (you agree mom), and as long as you prepare well, I don't think you would die. There is a sister in our zone that has ran a marathon in the past. But it would really be fun. My companion and I run periodically.
President Rust is great. He hasn't served a mission, didn't finish school, but he says that he has made big changes in his life through the atonement of Christ. He and sister Rust lived in Utah, he worked in an oil company, Shell, they moved, he stayed, another company came. The company he worked for wasn't honest, he didn't keep his mouth closed, and they fired him. His mom said not to worry, and Chevron asked about him. He got on with them, moved along a line of promotions till he was asked to go to Moscow where he lived for 10 years, until he retired after he was called as President. He is very loving, hugs us, and wants us to work hard, work with members, and help build us up.
Thanks for the package mom. It was healthy and tasty. I love you all. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011

Hello family,
I hope your headache goes away mother. It was nice to see the pictures Shane (maybe it will motivate me to do a little better in the picture taking area). How strange it is that Alex leaves so soon. I hope Erik gets the job. I would love to see him there in  Provo. Hello Jeff Rodgers. Mom and Dad, could you forward my emails to him at . Too bad your team lost dad, but it is always fun regardless, and too bad Alex could not go with you to the temple. I saw advertisements for transformers 3 here, and I think it only came out a week later from America, so they have all the same big films here too it seems. I probably didn't mention the quartet because I made a mistake. (Not a good excuse). I cannot remember the English name to the hymn we sang. I sung the male version of alto, so the 1st tenor?. When we practiced, we did some part change ups, so I remembered the second verse, but then when we performed, I sang that same part for the 1st verse, so I started singing the wrong verse. I caught myself pretty quickly, and people said they like it. It was fun. I enjoy singing, but there is not often an opportunity to sing like that.
It has been kind of warm here. I must have forgotten how your weather feels like.
This week, one of the best things happened on my mission. I was able to see someone get baptized from the start to the finish, and she was really great. One of the best parts is how much the members and the ward got involved. She was a member referral and came to church before we even met each other. members helped at the meetings, members sat by her, and members had a large role in the baptismal service. I was able to baptize the sisters' convert a few weeks ago, but it was great to see a ward member baptize Lidia (our investigator). That member is also a rock solid man. Lidia really helped me see how the Lord prepares people, and she really was prepared and accepted everything. She had somehow stopped drinking coffee before we had talked about the word of wisdom, and she understood the purpose of tithing right away. It is really exciting to be part of the Lord's work.
Happy 4th of July. In celebration, I would like you to sing or read the hymn, America the Beautiful together and discuss what the words say, the blessings you have received, and obligations we have in respect to those blessings. I thought about it a little bit, and it touched me. I have met President Rust, and he and his wife are great. We will have zone leader council tomorrow, so we wil get to know him a little bit more. I love you family. Bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011

Hello Family,
This week has been going well, but a little different because of transfers and problems with visa trips and other things. Elder Zhdanov left, and Elder Pearson came on Wednesday. I am excited again to work with Elder Pearson. He still has great ideas, he has changed a little, but I love being with him, and he is also bringing in some new ideas from his experience. At the end of the week, I was also with the zone leader from the adjacent city because my companion had to go on an unplanned trip to Finland. It is cool how all the little ones are there in Arizona. I hope you all are having fun. I hope the medical tests go well. It is strange how brad is already home, and how Alex will soon be leaving. I hope all the check ups go well mom. I live on Shefsckaya street in the northern part of Ekaterniburg called Uralmash/ Elmash. Ural heavy machine factory is located nearby. I live in a new building towards the edge of the city.
There is some exciting news that we will have a baptism on Saturday. She is amazing, accepts everything, and it has been about 3 weeks since the time we started teaching her. It has been a huge miracle, and it really helps me see that God has the power to change hearts. We simply need to invite people and we don't always know who is ready. I will still be here for a while. NExt week, I will have a new mission president. President Allcott has been great. I am really loving this time, and I really love how simple the Gospel is. Following commandments, we receive blessings. If we mess up, we can sincerely repent and change through Christ so that we can follow the commandments, and receive blessings. It of course isn't so easy to always do, but we have so much help given from God to keep us on the right path. I love you all. Be Healthy. Don't miss me too much, just kidding, not really. I don't know. I love you all. Sorry, I just have a blank of thought today. I know that Christ is my Savior, and I know that through the teachings of Christ we find happiness. Good bye.-Elder Larson

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20, 2011

Hello Family,
This week was a very good week. Dad, it sounds like you did a good talk. I like it and it sounds like mom liked it too. Happy Father's day. Sorry I didn't notice. It is on a calendar I have, but I just didn't notice I suppose because they do holidays a little differently here. There was someone who did a talk this week end though and it was really interesting. He did not ask for participation from people because it was a talk, but he asked some questions and gave answers as if it were coming from the crowd. For instance, he asked women about which traits they like to see in a man, and he answered on the question himself with something they may have thought of. It was interesting and he wanted to focus on becoming more like Christ and developing traots tjat really matter and that people admire. Sounds like a good ceremony that Alex had. I am also very excited to hear that Jeff is on the mission and that he is already there serving and enjoying his time. I am glad to here about all of the youth who are really making good decisions and changing their lives to become more like Christ.
It is cool how you all got to see the grandchildren.
We have got a baptismal date for an investigator, and we are excited because she is great. She is a member referral, but she is accepting of everything, and she has really put forth a lot of faith. Her name is Lidia She lives only 10 min. walk from us, and members have been helping. She is around 58, and she really enjoys what the Gospel brings to her. She will be baptised July 2 if not early depending on ward activities happening around that time. She has really shown me that there are people that are ready, waiting for the Gospel and recognize that it is right even without a huge knowledge, but she is accepting and learning, and she also enjoys church.
My companion received a transfer to Dyoma (a place where I have previously served. My 2nd area). I am going to serve with Elder Pearson (he was one of my first companions when I was in a threesome.) This will be my 2nd companion that I have served with twice. I enjoyed serving with Elder Zhdanov. I like Elder Pearson a lot, and he works very hard, so hopefully we can work hard together and have some great experiences again.
Mom, the mission has not really helped me know what I want to be after my mission, probably because I try not to think about it, but I have found out a few things I like. I like to work and serve others. I like Russian language, I like to solve problems, and I like to write and fill out papers. I also really love to teach people about Christ and help them come closer to him. I know that part will be a life long mission, but as for the other stuff, I am really not sure. It has really been dark, windy, rainy weather for a long time, but I am really enjoying my mission. I love you all. Good Bye. -Elder Larson

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 13, 2011

Hello family,
I am doing well, and I was glad to hear from all of you. I am doing well. We had Zone leader Council, and I learned a lot about planning and how I can better plan and goal set in order to get things accomplished. It has already had a good effect on our attititude, and we have a good week coming up her. We also think that we will have a baptismal date with a woman today. Her friend invited her to church, she has been  3 times, she is very nice, we have met with her once, and we feel like she is ready for that challenge. It is weird to hear that Brad will be going home soon, but from the sound  of his leaders, it seems like he had a great time, and was able to make a difference in many people's lives. It is sad to hear about all those fires. My companion is from Donetsk Ukraine, and he lives with his mother at home and also has a sister who is 2-3 years older than him, but he is 23. This is the last week of the transfer, but I feel like there is a likelihood that I will stay here, and I am glad, because I feel that there are some good things going on, but we will see. I did not ask directly if he had been to the castle, but I am pretty sure that he has not.
There are a lot of people divorced in Russia, and it makes it difficult for the Church a lot. It makes me grateful for my family, and I see that it is a stability and a foundation in a literal sense. I am grateful and love my family, and a strong family is centered on love for God, Christ, and each other. If we follow the commandments and follow the prophets, we can have a lot of happiness in our families. I suggest you two for family home evening to read together proclamation to the family. I don't think that there are secrets to becoming a happy family, but a lot of times we forget, which is why reading scriptures and words of the prophet is important to help us remember the commandments. A lot of problems also occur if we start thinking about ourselves more than our companions or others. It is interesting to see that sometimes amongst companions on the mission, but it is also great to remember that Christ is here for us and repentance works, and no matter what goes wrong, we can always make it on the right path with his help.
It would be cool to see Erik and Alesha near me if he goes to school at BYU. Bye. I love you all. -Elder Larson

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June 6, 2011

Hello Family!
I was glad to hear from you this week, and I was also glad to hear from Shane and Madison. It sounds like Madison is happy, doing well in school, and I had actually never seen that feather thing, but it looked pretty cool in her hair like that. Madison, I hope you are reading your scriptures, and then your days will be even more happy and fun filled. Be a good example and help out your brothers and sisters, and I know you can even be a great example for your family. A miracle we had in the work is we were able to help someone do a renovation in his home. His wife is against the church, but since we've been going over and helping she has become friendly, kind, and she is actually quite funny, although she still doesn't let us pray in front of her. We are putting up some dry wall ceilings, and it has been fun to learn how to do a few new things. It is also fun to help this member. He is really a gentle man, and we are preparing the room for their new baby that comes in less than a month. This was the last Sunday that our Mission President would attend our ward and also a 70 quorum member was there at church. He is from Russia, but he is a nice man. Also, a sister from the church invited a friend, and we set up a meeting with her and her friend next week, and it showed me that the Lord really does soften people's hearts, and that we all can play a key role in missionary work with the help of the Spirit.
So you watched Andrew zimmern in Russia, it sounds cool. I haven't been to a huge market, but there are quite a bit of markets that are just in the streets, and actually next to our home, there is a market that had a variety of vegetables at a really good price. A lot of the -stani people are involved in shipping and trading of produce, so you have a lot of darker skinned people that don't speak russian, there are a lot of grandmothers on the streets that sell things. I have not been to a big market in Ekat for food, but I have been to a big market for clothes and it is interesting. A lot of times you will even see chinese or vietnam markets where they sell those items.
I have tried tongue here, and I don't really like it a whole lot, but all of the pastries are really good. In the Urals, there are I believe nearly all natural resources and many minerals, stones and ores. I don't know if they have a rock museum, but it would be good to know. It sounds like everyone from the ward is getting married or leaving. It seems like a lot is changing. Thanks for the package. The weather is nice today, and it has been cloudy and rainy all last week, and it was disappointing to hear it will rain again. Last summer it was so hot and sunny, but so far this summer has been very wet. It will be good for produce and the price of food. I know that serving the Lord we can really be blessed and be happy. I know that he knows our needs and only through him can we find the answers to our needs. We get our new President the 1 of July, and that is when the Alcott's go home. They have been really great. I hope you are all doing well, working hard, counting your blessings, reading your scriptures, saying your prayers, and following the commandments. If not, you can always change, and through Christ, he will help you get through anything. I love you all. Good bye- Elder Larson
For Alex. -Charity has really helped me on my mission, and I especially realize how much it can bless our lives. I have a few examples of charity. Between our loved ones, we should have a great amount of charity, although we take them for granted a lot of times. It is like a companion. You need to work on loving the ones around you and serving them, and thinking about them at the same time thinking about Christ, and it helps you become more humble. It helps you become happier and think about others more than yourself.
We need to not judge those that we do not know. We do not know their circumstances, why they do what they do exactly, but we must love and serve them. Sometimes we cut them down, sometimes we act better than them. If they truly do have an inadequacy, we should help them up, not beat them down, and we should never act like we are better than them. (You can refer to the story a wrote probably in Feb about the drunk man by the church.
Through charity we become like Christ and we become humble ourselves, although through our talents, abilities, and skills that we have been blessed with, we can make a difference in the lives of others.
I ran out of time. COuld you please remind me next letter, and I can write some more.