Merry Christmas to my family!
We got 30 minutes to write home today, a wonderful Christmas gift. Wow where to begin! I am going to type as fast as i can so excuse all grammar and spelling. What a rollercoaster ride the last six months..i mean four days have been! I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows thats for sure. People are not kidding when they say the mission is the most difficult thing that they have ever done. After I left you guys we had a couple meetings and I was able to meet moe naparneeka, elder davis. (phoenetic spelling for your enjoyment). Elder Davis went to lone peak as well, i had no idea he had gotten his call. he will be serving in st petersburg. what a blessing stareeshna davis has been. we work and push eachother to the maximum each day and it has been fun to work with him. we have goals of being on time to everything, which is inherently impossible for me, so we sprint from meeting to meeting in the midst of a bunch of walking elders. it is pretty fun and funny. following our welcoming meetings, we went into our district classrooms where the headache called russian began. holy cow who would have thought you could create such a puzzle with words. our teachers are wonderful, but i find myself having to hold back as i try and understand their speaking nothing but russian. it has been helpful though as i feel that i have already graduated from a semester of russian 1. basically the rest of our days are in that classroom, learning russian and trying to teach a broken russian lesson to our investigator, alexeeyuh. you get the idea. so now we get into the juice and the fantastic christmas which i have been blessed with. on thursday i think it was, elder davis and i got called out of the classroom to go to the main desk. scary. however, we were greeted by president brown (mtc president) where he took us in his office and asked if we would like to eat lunch today with them and the general authority! sounds like bro nally hooked us up. anyways so that was exciting. we then got called down again yesterday to meet pres brown again and have him ask us to help with the sacrament today. we have become good friends with president brown and the nallys. last night instead of class we went and had a fun sing along devotional and then got to watch christmas carol with popcorn. what a treat! it was very relaxing and just enjoyable to think about the christmas spirit. we got pics by the lights that i will send at some future time. so then this morning we got to take part in the first mtc-wide sacrament meeting. elder davis and i ended up only being alternates, but prepared the sacrament and had a reserved front row seat! it was awesome! at the beginning of the meeting, in walks elder bednar! he and his wife gave beautiful talks and the spirit was very strong. so, as promised we were able to go and eat lunch with about 30 other missionaries and the mtc presidency and elder bednar! holy cow what a blessing that was. he truly is a representative of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. I got to shake his hand, he asked where i was going, i replied samara. all he had to say was, "i've been there. it's cold." hmmm i take that as a good luck. anyways at the end of lunch he stood and asked for question and answers. what a spirit that was felt during that time. i learned a lot about my calling and about myself. i took two things away from this day. first, we must follow the character of Christ. elder bednar spoke on this and i thought more about it throughout the day. he showed how at times when we would turn inside, that is when the savior turned outside himself and loved others before himself. in a nutshell, put off the natural man. what a blessing this was to learn and to influence my work. he also talked about testimony is simply a means to conversion. we must be converted. how do we do this? continue to gain testimony by the simple things: scripture prayer etc. this brings up the next point that he has become a man of god not simply because some crazy ability, but rather his knowledge of the basic gospel doctrines which are so true. all of his answers at lunch were based upon the simple doctrines established by prophets and scripture. so what do we get from this? quit asking the lord for simply blessing us with spiritual gifts and knowledge, and do the work needed to work on our testimony, and eventually conversion. i know the scriptures bear testimony of the savior, and that He lives. I hope to solidify this testimony into conversion so that the people of russia may know that i know this, and come to know this themselves. i love this gospel. i have never been so stressed, so challenged, so stretched to my limits, so tired. but for whatever reason i am entirely happy. this is the effect and blessing which the gospel and our Savior's Eeskuplenyuh (Atonement) can have upon us. I love you guys and love that we are an eternal family. I hope our hearts and thoughts can be turned to the savior this Christmas as i have seen an apostle of the lord have his entire life focused upon the savior and his service. Have a C Pajnyestvom! (Merry Christmas)