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