Well glad to hear that you all had a good trip and the fun stuff going on. Also glad that you had a chance to enjoy the letters from last week, it has been such a blessing the last few weeks of my mission to be serving. Things keep going good and we had another great week.
We had a good couple of first days and then split up for some big exchanges on Wednesday and Thursday of this week...we have really found that the best way to help missionaries out is just to get on exchanges with them as much as possible and just be as pumped as possible and trust that Heavenly Father will make good things happen. So, I actually stayed here in Samara with Elder Boyer (a Mesa dweller, former Toro) and Elder Taylor took off to Orenburg with his companion.
So- the big story of the week was with Elder Boyer. We honestly spent about five hours in the afternoon just pounding the streets- we didn’t have much success to be honest. We met a cool lady and also dropped by the former Natasha and Masha to say hi- they caught wind that we were back in the area. Anyways, they have slowed down meeting with missionaries, but they were pumped to see each other again and Masha made me a cute little book. Just a fun blast from the past. Anyways, it was pretty hot- not going to lie. We had a meeting in the evening at the branch and then had planned to end the night over at another set of elders for exchanges with them the following day- unfortunately we rode all the way out to the branch to have this guy fall through on us...so we dropped our bags off at the branch and then just busted out for our 57th hour of contacting on the day. Within about three minutes, we stopped this husband wife and their little daughter walking around. They actually stopped and talked to us- they are definitely the type that I usually have low hope for because they just have things going good for them and don't need the gospel for the time being. But they stopped- long story short they talked with us and we even got them to come with us to the branch and showed them around- they just drank that place up. It's a pretty shabby building, but it was a nice little tour. However, we took them upstairs and showed them the nursery and primary room which was fun for their little daughter. Anyways- we were pretty pumped. But the biggest thing was that when we came out of the room, I kinda had a feeling to stop them- there was a good sized painting of the First Vision on the wall there. I don't know if you've really seen a good painting of that- but that thing just seems to glow. Anyways, we just stopped them and said, "you remember how we said that our church is different from others, this is why." We continued to just testify of the First Vision and pointing at the Father and Son appearing to Joseph Smith- there was definitely quite the tender spirit that was there as we were able to stand in a rather holy feeling place and have a family feel that together. Long story short, we got their number and gave them a Book of Mormon and they are pretty awesome.
I definitely have thought a little bit about what the difference has been with some of these cool events happening over the last little bit- definitely it has been the simple fact that the spirit has touched peoples' hearts and that is what causes people to change and moves this work forward. I had always heard that but never really knew what it meant. I will be forever grateful for my mission and what it has taught me because I will want to have the spirit in my life not only to help an investigator, but for the rest of my life. There is a "quickening" power that the Holy Ghost has that as we daily repent and do all we can, we are strengthened and obtain the happiness and peace that is written about in the scriptures. I think I tasted this a little before my mission and throughout my mission, but wasn't doing really what it took. Don’t take me wrong- I've worked hard and everything, but this hard work was done with the expectation that Heavenly Father would make something happen for me. However, I have seen that we are placed in the same circumstances, but have the ability to call upon heaven for help and our loving Heavenly Father can quicken us or touch the lives of others as we sincerely repent and have that change of perspective.
Anyways- just a couple of thoughts that I have had and I am grateful for the experiences that my mission has brought me, but even more grateful for the lessons learned and the spirit which is felt.
You are probably wondering about Svyeta and Danil- they are both doing great. We taught Svyeta tithing and are just getting her to the finish line. Danil came to church, unfortunately was too busy to meet but came to church and that is what is important. He most likely won't work out for the 29th due to that, but it's ok, he'll get baptized and will be able to be more ready.
Sure love you all, hope you have a good week.
P.S. here's a pic at "revolution square" on our way down to the office every day. good ol' lenin