Miracle weeks are always followed by more challenging weeks but weeks that are thus filled with different kinds of miracles because miracles are allllll around us we just have to open our eyes to them. So this week we got figged a lot (that means lessons fell through, etc.) BUT we were able to go to Raya’s house and sit down and talk to her husband. we went over there on New Years and resolved concerns/answered questions but we didn’t have the chance to teach or bear our testimonies and so we realized that that’s what’s missing and that is the most important thing! because if we don’t tell him the truth, the Spirit can’t bear witness to him that what we’re saying is true. and if he doesn’t feel the Spirit, he won’t be motivated to come to church because it takes more than curiosity. SO we talked to him about Christ and about healing. Spiritual and physical healing. And we talked about how we can come to know Christ as we apply His Atonement and seek this healing. And the Book of Mormon and the Bible teach us how. And we learn about the Book of Mormon and the Bible at church every Sunday. and as we come to understand the Atonement and use it in our lives, we appreciate it and we want to remember and ponder its significance in our lives. and we want to make promises with our Heavenly Father to follow His Son, and so we make covenants. and at church every Sunday we take the sacrament. This is our opportunity to renew our covenants, remember our promises, and remember our Savior and all that He has done for us. And we invited Raya’s husband to come to church. and he accepted. and he came!! 

 
We met him at Raya’s work so we could all walk together but right as we were leaving one of Raya’s “regulars” walked in to get their haircut so Raya said, “I’ll meet you in ten!” and so we just went with the husband. Whose name is Obeek. And Raya came late and left early but Obeek stayed for sacrament meeting and then left and then we went to see Raya after church to see what she thought and she was like, “he left after sacrament meeting? lame. next time he’ll stay for all three hours. and hopefully i will too.” yayayay we’ll be praying for that. 
 
We also went on many an adventure this week. constantinova was the most epic day of my life!!!! i was kinda worried because it was my idea and i was scared it was going to be a let down. it was elder hark’s second to last pday (today’s his last. so depressing. i hate change. can’t talk about it) and the zone leaders were in town and they wanted to go sledding and i remembered the hills in constantinova but didnt know if the snow was good or if there would be trees everywhere or if its illegal or if we’d just freeze to death because one bus goes in the morning and only one comes back late in the afternoon etc. etc. etc. so much pressure! but i trusted my instincts and just had a vision of how incredible it could be and i was right!!! we’d hike straight up these super steep hills in knee/waist deep snow (such a good exercise holy cow) and then when we’d get to the top we’d collapse and make snow angels and rest and picnic and we built a snow couch. then we’d sled down the other side and do it again on the next hill! it was soooo fun! and so cold. but so worth it. 
 
and we also had “culture night” (we get one every three months or something? but this was the first time we did something cool haha) and it was elder ottley’s birthday and sister carver’s and my half way mark on the mission (AHHHHH don’t want to talk about it) so we went out to dinner and to the theatre and saw this incredible play! did i understand what was going on? nope. was it still the best time? yep.
 
sorry this is repetitive to you mom and dad, but i’ve been reflecting a lot on this first half of my mission and about this upcoming half and about time and about how fast everything’s going and about how much this all means to me and how much i love it and how happy i am and how much i’ve changed and learned…. 
but my mission is so much more than just a learning experience or an opportunity for me to experience things and grow and change and it’s so much more than a self-discovery. i had already “found myself” before my mission. i had traveled and explored and served and worked and i had challenges and i loved people and had been rejected. i knew who i was and i knew my potential. but on my mission i have found something so far above myself–i have found the Savior. and the very real role He plays in my life every day. because I live the Gospel He restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. and sharing this and inviting others to do the same brings me profound joy because it’s true. and the Holy Ghost has taught me that it is true. and it truly is the path to Salvation and happiness. and i have found my brothers and sisters here in Russia–I have found the reality that we are all God’s children and we will never understand His love for us but thank goodness for the chance He gives us to feel a small fragment of that love. This week we met with Paulina again. Her mother, Natalya (different Natalya from our investigator Natalya), has psychological problems. and obviously this weighs on Paulina who is a teenage mother trying to raise a baby alone in a house with a mother who is pretty dangerous to be around. And as we met my whole body just ached. because i wanted to take Paulina and Jenya with me. and i wanted them to see themselves the way Christ sees them. And I wanted Him to hold them and bless them. and I wanted them to know, as I know, that He can heal them. and i wanted them to have so much joy despite the madness that surrounds them! and i want her to know how much I love them. and i wanted to somehow express all this in Russian. Instead my eyes filled with tears as I saw Paulina brush away tears from her face–she is so strong. And we told her that. and i said, “I really want to help. and this is the only way i know how. and i know it seems crazy, but by small and simple things, great things will come to pass. and as you read the Book of Mormon and pray everyday, you will see miracles. I promise!!” 
 
I love Jenya and Paulina and I love her mother, Natalya. and I know that this love is a gift from God. nothing else could describe love that consumes you–love that you feel towards someone you have spoken with for less than 10 minutes on the street sometimes. love that emboldens you and strengthens and comforts you. 
I love all of you and hope you have a great week!
 
 
1. this is for Maddie!! this latvian man helps us with our visas and agreed to hand deliver a note to my maddie
2. this makes me laugh every day every time. if you’re ever feeling down, just look at this picture.
3-7. snyegoorichkee!! snowflakes=new obsession. because we don’t have sand haha
8. Natalya (Paulina’s mom) and I. and the blue furry thing growing out of my shoulder is not a new accessory on mine haha it’s her hat she’s holding in her hand. 

9-10 theatre! (Irina BFF came with us)
11-13 Constantinova!!!
14. tiny sleds.
15. snow angel
16. trekking

17. snow couch
(sorry, they loaded totally out of order so try to guess which is which!)

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