Family! i am so inspired by all that you are and all that you do. Mama, thank you for sharing your spiritual experiences, they are so motivating and I’m so blessed to have an example like you. You truly are an answer to so many prayers, especially mine. I’m so glad you are feeling better!! I pray for your healing every day and I hope you feel those prayers. Dad and Blake you are quite the adventurers! I’m glad to hear there were no freak accidents with our accident prone father haha

Avenlea!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy birthday my darling girl! I hope all your wishes come true and I can’t wait for us to become best friends when i get back. you never let me hold you before i left but you WILL love me, so help me! haha Jess, you are super mom for all of your creative festivities.
Kev, I hope you are cherishing the sunshine and being home with the family. Nicole!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Last week at district meeting I shared what you said about just being hobbits and then totally unexpectedly I started balling (super awkward) as I talked about how hard it is to hear about my baby sister struggling, but how words can’t even express how proud of you I am for overcoming those hardships on your own by turning to the Lord. you don’t even need your big sister to protect you! I remember when you decided officially to serve a mission and since then every time i experience something really hard and painful, I just ache with the thought of you having to experience these same things, but then i catch myself before I pray that the Lord will protect you from such experiences because then I realize that the bitter and the pain simply sweeten the joy you experience on the mission. Like mom never realizing how sick she was until she got better. There truly is opposition in all things, and the scripture Alma 36:21 has a whole new meaning to me now: “yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” I will never forget Kevin’s farewell when he, with tears streaming down his face, read Doctrine and Covenants 122: 6-9 about how if EVERYTHING goes wrong, “if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way..fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.” I remember just being flooded with the reality of these words…especially for Kevin, who experienced things I can’t even imagine but who held on his way and is the greatest person I know.
I’m so grateful for you-my family–who has taught me so much about faith. Nicole–hold on thy way! I love you so much. I’m so grateful for scriptures like these that give us understanding and comfort. I think one of the greatest blessings of the Book of Mormon is that I know my purpose and who I am, who I can be–my potential…I know why I’m here and I have a goal. This goal is eternal life with my loving Heavenly Father, with my Savior Jesus Christ, and with my family and I know that I can’t let anything hinder this goal.
Today I finished the New Testament which of course concludes with Revelations. I remember the first time I read the Old Testament and New Testament cover to cover was in 7th grade and I remember walking into mom and dad’s room at night and sitting on their bed and asking dad what the heck it meant—dragons? scarlet beasts? locusts with lion’s teeth? I’m so grateful for modern revelation that helps us understand ancient revelation–that helps us understand things like the  book of Revelations. And i’m so grateful for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Nicole, remember that He is the teacher–the one that testifies of truth. the one who testifies of Jesus Christ and of God and who teaches us what we should say and do and where to go. So when your teachers in the mtc are being punks, remember who the most important teacher is–the Holy Ghost.
Revelations ends talking about the millenium, the New Jerusalem, the Celestial Kingdom, etc. and as I read chapter 22 I just longed to be there. in chapter 21 I think it talks about God wiping away the tears from our eyes–there will be an end to our sorrows and pain and then in chapter 22 it talks about the walls being ornamented with precious stones and there will be gates of pearls and there will be no night and no need for the sun because the light and glory of God and Jesus Christ will radiate and be our light. It’s like a beautiful dream! and we can’t even imagine it with our own minds which is obvious because John tries to explain it with his words and talks about it being pure gold but clear as glass which obviously contradicts itself in OUR minds because it can’t be equated to anything worldly. And no unclean thing can enter therein–nothing can defile it. I can’t even imagine being worthy of such a place and yet, I know that it is possible. We can be cleaned because of the blood of Christ.
This week was great in Podolsk (Dad, the baptism in Ryazan isn’t until May 11th….) Here are some pictures to illustrate.
1. my mtc teacher brother porter now lives in moscow so i got to see him when i was up there for a district meeting and this is a trick where you wrap your own arm around your waist but actually i hate it–it totally freaks me out because it looks so real. every time i look at this picture i just cringe haha im going to be so awkward after the mission
2. i forgot to mention that a few weeks ago, I let Elder Hamp cut my hair with kid scissors. it was hilarious. i wore a trash bag and afterwards we brushed off the hair on my back with a mop so as to avoid touching haha
this displays my haircut. also a toblerone we found at this fancy store!!! we bought it and indulged ourselves to cheer us up because we got stood up on our lesson
3. this is Hope!! she never ceases to amaze me. I love her so much
4. the zone leaders came in and after contacting we bought 100 ruble pizza (which is super cheap, by the way) and ate it in the park. IMG_0384 IMG_0397 IMG_0465 IMG_0472