Hey there family!
Well there is definitely a little more of a tender feeling right now writing to you all. What a mix of feelings the news about grandma brings. I look outside the window right now and the sun is shining really pretty and the leaves are all changing, and I don't think that grandma would want it any different. I hope you are all coping with everything well and I will definitely keep you in my prayers. You will have to keep me updated on your Arizona visits and everything. What reality this adds to the work that I get to do. I can't wait to find that one person that will let this into their lives. I am sure that grandma is happy now and probably making lots of cinnamon rolls. I am super blessed now to have her spirit to support me. Sure hope you can all feel my love as well.
Well besides that the report was really fun of things going on in the family with little Tanner now becoming big Tanner. Man, that ward is gonna be so blessed to have another deacon and a boss like Tanner coming in. I hope you had a good time with your birthday and are lookin’ forward to the priesthood. It sounds like you all had a good time watching conference together as well. It was fun to sit in testimony meeting yesterday and have all the members talk about President Monson and how excited they are to hear from him. We will be watching this coming weekend and I am so excited. Can't believe it's been six months since I watched it in Kazan and a year since I watched it in Buena Vista. Man good times and a lot of change since then. We already caught the news about the age shifting for people to serve on missions. So crazy! That's like in a year for little Tanner already! That’s a joke mama! And you'll have to pass on my good lucks to big Andrew takin’ off on the mission. Man he's so lucky, I am in denial still thinking I am still just a fresh missionary. I always will be, but that will be so fun for him. And congrats to Jenni on the wedding, you will all have to put ribbons down the car and parade down the streets blaring your horns like they do here. Saturdays are crazy, and Russians love their parties.
As far as the week goes, it has been just a whirlwind. I have no idea where the time has gone. I love it here in Samara. I definitely still miss my peeps in Saratov, but I am so excited for what lies ahead here in Samara. It is such a nice city. It's funny how your perspective changes. It's awesome and my companion, Elder Brookhousen is so darn fun to work with. We just get on the buses and marshrytkas (little mini van things that fly around) and destroy those things. Everyone likes to make a joke of the crazy American "sectanties" since Samara is kinda the hub of the mission. We just had missionaries in and out of our apartment all week long. We had about ten in the apartment because there was a little leadership council for all the district and zone leaders, so we just had a party in our place. I thought of dad as Elder Brookhousen and I had to get up earlier and mix up some pancakes for everyone because all we had was milk and flour. It was a good time. We had that "conference" thing for a couple of days and it was fun to be around a bunch of the other missionaries that I hadn't seen in a while. So that was a good time, and then there has just been a whole load of planning and organizing we've had to do around the place.
Our zone covers Samara and Orenburg and Penza, so we'll definitely be on the travelling wagon again which I’m so excited for. The trains are so fun here. We had a couple of miracle ladies that we ran into on the street. Every now and then some ladies will just say "oh how beautiful!"….when they see us and keep talkin’. It sounds so darn funny because they are so dramatic in their Russian, but hey it's pretty nice I guess. They just don't see many clean dressed smiling young men round these parts. So we ran into a lady yesterday that just kept on dropping the beautifuls on us, we were dyin’. But she was so interested and called us last night saying how she had already read the introduction. So keep Natasha in mind. :) We are doin’ a lot of building up the area, sometimes the areas just get a little stale here so we're excited to just do the dirty missionary work. Here's a couple pictures of command central and we have also turned to candle light for our spiritual planning in the evenings. Just one of those stupid missionary things. And also, here's one of us signboarding- asking if life is after death. A lot of fun things and just some great work to be done here.
I've been doing a lot of thinking as well about developing charity and I've just learned a couple things. What I've found is that I always thought that charity was just looking at somebody and thinking that I love them, finding something good in them. That's a great thing, but oftentimes that's pretty superficial. As I've mentioned, if I am being completely honest it is a little bit hard sometimes to just say I love a Russian. However, I don't think that really is charity even if I did force myself to say that. What it really is… is that turning outwards and forgetting yourself. I think that learning to look at someone is definitely a by product of this. It may be something that you all already know, but when we forget ourselves- that is charity. We grow in faith and are more obedient. Then we are able to look at others with the love that our Father in Heaven has. I think especially in light of grandma, she was such a good example of that. Maybe we can try to do that a little bit better. It is pretty amazing what the Lord can do for you when you simply try. Well I hope you all have a good week and are able to have peace about everything. I am so grateful to have a testimony that everything will be ok. We are so blessed to have a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who simply want us to be happy. Have a good week and 'till next one!
p.s. yes I totally got the package...don't be mad at me for having to finish off Fast Sunday by breaking in and stealing a pop tart! Haha thanks so much I love you guys so much. Your too nice, we will have some very big parties here with some good food. Happy Birfday!