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.