A lot has happened this week and it’s always hard to know what to include because i could write novels every week about everything i saw and felt and experienced and learned. But today I wanted to talk about what a genius our Heavenly Father is. He is the ultimate planner and designer and executer of all that is good. I want to share some experiences that happened in the last 48 hours and how they all connected. perfectly!
 On Saturday we received mail and we had to take these Preach My Gospel surveys on line and so while she was taking hers, sister carver was like, “here’s some light reading for you” and handed me the mail she had received. (we’re best friends and we read each other’s mail haha) and i was looking through christmas cards she received and the Hoopes parents are from her home ward and there was a picture of Ron and Erica and the kids and i was like, hey i know them! and then i saw this dearelder from a man from her home ward who shared some spiritual insights he had recently received so i started reading that, too. and i was really struck by some things that he said. he shared D&C 121:33 and it basically says that God is constantly pouring down knowledge from heaven and to stop this power from the heavens is like trying to sop the missouri river with our puny arms. the man talked about the effect this scripture had on him, and how he was thinking about how he could better recognize, receive, and apply this revelation the Lord is constantly offering us. An hour later we received a call informing us that a member in our branch had the flu and we needed to teach the relief society lesson the next morning (we received this call around 7:45 pm on saturday night). as we started preparing the lesson we discovered that the topic was “learning with faith” and why learning/knowledge is so important and how we can better prepare to learn through the Spirit and receive revelation. I was so grateful that because of this man in Sister Carver’s ward, I had been thinking about that very thing all day! 
    our lesson went well and to begin, i asked the question, “what differentiates Nephi from Laman and Lemuel?” i remember when we visited Grandma Maw for Martin Luther King day last year, almost exactly a year ago, we were in sunday school and grandma said that she had recognized an answer to this question and said that the difference was that Nephi ASKED. he inquired of the Lord for understanding. and that’s what we need to do. Faith and obedience are so important, but they are so much easier when we ask for ourselves, find our for ourselves, and when we understand the reason. im so grateful that our church encourages questions and invites everyone to find out for themselves. In our lesson we also used the scripture, “ask and it shall be given…seek and ye shall find…knock and it shall be opened.” i love that scripture!!  so simple! and it turned out to ALSO be the perfect scripture for a lesson we taught in the evening!
we went and visited a part member family (and the part that are members are inactive) and the father is not a member of the church, but he says he knows it’s true. he described it as if he were in front of the door. and he knows what’s on the other side–that’s his faith. He knows Christ is on the other side. And he wants the door to be opened. but he knows it’s his choice–he just can’t lift his arm to knock.and he knows that that’s all it takes. Once again, knock and it shall be opened. Elder Hark also related it to Moroni’s promise. that if you ask sincerely with real intent,  “He will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost,” or, in other words, the door will be opened! It was so cool to see the Hand of the Lord in all of these experiences that prepared us to share these messages with the people here.
I know that He cares about the work that we’re doing in Ryazan…and He cares about these people. and truly when we open our eyes, we can recognize that knowledge, understanding, and revelation are being poured out from the Heavens and all we have to do is use our “puny arms” to knock at the door instead of trying to stop the “river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream.” I have seen such a difference in my personal study as I begin it with a prayer asking for new knowledge–new knowledge that will bless the lives of those i teach and interact with here.
I love you!!! have a great week!
1. you can discover why i am embarrassed/making such a face…look behind the present (this is when vladimir delivered presents from you guys to me at the thanksgiving party in front of everyone haha)
2. i look bald/like a boy but i wanted you to see the winterwonderland i live in!! the streets sparkle–it literally looks like fairies in the night just dance around and throw glitter EVERYWHERE and everytime it snows it’s just soft with huge snowflakes and we try to stare at the ones that fall on our coats while we’re walking but then we slip on the ice–must stay focused!!
3. this was on Christmas day–A COOKED GOOSE FOR EVERYONE!! and jess-thank you for the skirt! i was wearing it while we skyped but forgot to show you!
4. this is for my Maddie! this is my in Riga, in the airport parking lot in front of the latvian flags. i am with elder naylor. we are bffs–nicole and kendall should be proud!

5 TGIFridays in the airport mmmm mmm mm! chocolate milkshake after a rack of ribs? don’t mind if i do. i don’t remember ever being super impressed in america with tgifridays but as far as i was concerned, they were 5 star
6 happy new years!!
7. this is when sister carver and i went on a winter forest adventure with one of our members who used to less active but has consistently been coming for months! huge turn around! i think i’ve talked about her before, she loves nature and animals more than anything in the world. i love her! and she showed us which berries we could eat and there were these ones that made our breath taste like christmas trees. i should have loaded my pockets and brought them home with me and started a business! also don’t be alarmed–i am aware that i am the same color as the snow. and i look ridiculous in a furry hat. but i have come to terms with these things for the sake of survival. and you deserve to know the truth about what i look like these days. yikes.
8. oops gotta use the treasured brown sugar sister carver received somehow! ohhh how i had missed chocolate chip cookies
9. kickin it at the branch christmas party. mom’s peppermint butter cookies made us celebrities
10. when i received my mission call, this is what i imagined. all day every day year round. definitely not true but there ARE places like this. this is when we went to go visit the lady i talked about last week who has some severe psychological problems but we wanted to teach her daughter who’s like 18 and just had a baby. they live in the middle of nowhere and the elders laughed at us and told us we’d NEVER find it but alas! we proved them wrong. it was easy. this is me on the phone with them asking questions like, “so which direction should the “path” in the meadow be heading?”