Dear Family and Friends:
This week has been filled with many trials, blessing, and tender mercies. This week Drew and I were made District Leaders. This definitely is a time of growth for the both of us and I am glad that we are able to go through it together. I know that I say it so many times in my emails home, but Drew and I have never been closer. Mom I am sorry for all the times that Drew and I fought. Please forgive us.
Things are getting better with all of us in my district. We are all still working on things, but I have faith that in the end all the things will work themselves out if we will all work hard at fixing them.
I have made a few friends that aren't going to Russia while I have been at the MTC. Do you remember the elder that I wrote about last week? The elders that we would always run into? Well I have become good friends with him. Mostly I like talking to him and he probably just talks to me becasue I don't stop. I don't know. What I do know is that he will be such a great missionary. In the short time that I have been here, he has taught me so much! He has a light about him that I can't explain. He is always happy and in turn, he helps others around him be happy. I love him even though I don't know much about him. The last time I was able to talk to him before he went into the mission field, and as we were talking, he answered a question that I had, but I didn't know were to go for the answer. It is amazing to see how the Lord blesses us and answers our questions in His time and sometimes through means that we wouldn't otherwise think possible. I had to tell you about that blessing because it was a tender mercy. Sorry Elder Winkel if I made you feel awkward, but I had to tell home about ya!
I am glad to hear that things at home are going well! I love you all and I pray for you every night. You are all examples to me and I look up to you all.
Update on Investigators:
Katya: Katya is AMAZING! She has had all the lessons and is going to be baptized this Saturday. I am so proud of her and I thank you all for you prayers for my investigators. They are really helping. Her faith is so Strong. in the words of the Savior, "In all of Zion (MTC) I have not seen such great faith" She knows the Lord loves her and also she knows that she is a daughter of God!
Vitalli: Vitallli too has great faith! I have honestly been blessed. He has accepted our invitation to be baptized on. We haven't taught him everything, but already I am able to see a change in heart. It is truly a spectacular sight to be able to watch somebody grow. I have see how the Spirit can soften a heart that has been hardened by the effects of time. I love this gospel because The Atonement WILL make everything right that is wrong in the world.
Theo: We haven't been able to teach Theo for a weeek and a half. I think that the group of 6 elders that found him might have scared him away. I feel for him because I want him to be able to experience the happiness that we have because of this gospel. It makes me sad that we haven't been able to teach him. Will you continue to pray for him that we will be able to teach him this week? I have faith that the Lord is preparing him right now.
This week I got to host the Senior couples. This time I helped and Elder and Sister Hawkins with their bags. We weren't related, but I always say, "Hi" to them whenever I see them. I love the Senior Missionaries. This makes me really want to do this with my wife 40 years from now.
At the temple this morning, we were having Breakfast and there was a sister who spoke Russian. I wanted to test out my language and so I went and spoke to her. She and I spoke back and forth for a bit and then I asked her what her name was. She said that her name was, "Jasmine, just like the flower. but prettier." I told her my name and She gaped at me. She said, "Many years ago in Armenia, we had an Elder Hawkins." My first though was to Eric. I don't remember exactly where he served, but if it was him, I am glad that the Hawkins name was honored so many years ago. She still remembered him to this day. That was kind of cool to experience.
In our lesson with Vitalli, he said that he had finally spoken to his family about the gospel. This took so much faith, strength, and courage. I learned so much from that. I thanked him for his example. He was shocked and said that we were the example. I love him so much. Although he is much more difficult to teach becasue he asks so many questions, I love it becaue he is helping me learn, and also helping trust myself more. The "Teacher" really was taught by the, "Student".
Mom thank you so much for giving me the story about the donkey in the well. I have been able to use it at least twice this week. No matter how much dirt the farmer tossed on that broken donkey, he shook it off and stepped up. There are so many ways that we can apply this in our lives. Please share that with others. It has helped me so much in my life.
Я люблю всех. Я знаю что Бог Любит бас. Я знаю что Он жив.
I love you all. I know that God loves you. I know that He lives
Go be great this week!
Russia, St. Petersburg Mission
December 23, 2015
Dear Family and Friends,
This week was so full of blessings and I was able to see, "The hand of God in all things". I did something different this week. I will tell you about everyday. I think that they are all very imporant.
Wednesday great as always just because I was able to write home and I was able to talk to you all. Ususally we do TRC which is basically Home Teaching. We did this and taught about the gifts of The Spirit. The lesson went well and the Spirit was felt. After our lesson we were going to just go back to class and Elder Rindlisbacher suggetsted that we should stick around to talk to the man that is over TRC. He was on the phone, but he told us to wait a bit. A lady walked in and she asked where the painging of Jesus was. I had no idea, but we motioned her in the direction of the right painting. Just then Brother Brown got off the phone and started talking to us about how it went. It was great, but all I could focus on was this woman that had walked in. She had found the painting, but she would fidgit with her fingers and then she would look at us, back to the painting and back at us.
Brother Brown finished and I told my companion that we should go talk to this lady. We wlaked over and we said, "You found it!" She said that she had, but she didnt know what the paining was depicting. It was of Jesus at the Second Coming. His arms outsretched, calling us all back to Him.
We talked to her for abit about the painting and also about some of her questions. After we had talked to her for a bit, we asked if she would like us to meet with her again. She said, "YES!" we made a plan for Saturday night and bid her a good night. When we were walking back to our class, Elder Rindlisbacher said something like, "You are so good at keeping your eyes open." I don't like to have this recognition, but it kind of felt good, not in a prideful way, but yeah.
Thrusday, we had a lesson with Vitalli. We taught him and the lesson went well. We extended an invitation to be baptized (a long time coming) and he accepted. He didn't want to set a day quite yet, but he would prepare himself. Great the mercies of God!
We interviewed Katya for her baptisim on Friday. She was ready and everything was in order. This was also a blessing of the Lord.
I looked up a few Mormon Messages and I came across a few.
Until We Meet Again (Mom)
An interesting quote that I heard from a Russian convert,
"YOU must put on the mask and be saved before you can put it on others and CAN SAVE them."
We taught Lisa (in English. She is a Gold tag). She knows Sign Language! I was really happy that I could realte to her that way. At the beginging of the lesson she did't want to pray at all. I said the prayer and we taught the lesson. When I could feel the Spirit tell me that she was feeling the Spirit, I asked her if she could feel the change in the room and what if felt like. She said, "It feels smooth in the inside." I told her that I felt the same thing and that this was the Spirit. She was so stunned and shocked that I could know when she was feeling it. At the end of the lesson, we asked her if she wanted to pray. The next thing she said was something that would create a question in my mind for the rest of the week. She said, "How can I say 'In the name of Jesus Christ' when I don't have that bond with him. What right (I don't know if that is the correct word) do I have to use His name?" We told her that she has every right and that she is a Daughter of God which allows her the ability to accept all blessings.
Katya was baptized and Vitalli came to the baptisim.
After we had finished talking she agreed to pray. In her prayer she said, "God, it's me again. Thanks for listening to my prayers again and again." How many times do we take prayer for graunted? I have a new found love and appreciation for prayer. This week try to switch up your prayers. Pray as the Savior prayed.
On Sunday, our Branch President was released. I loved him so much. He helped me through some hard days. I felt a bit cheated, but was gratious for the chance that I was giving to know him.
We got the PACKAGE!!! Thank you so much! I found Grandpa's cologne and jsut smelled it. We didn't know whetther to wait or not so we chose the latter.
I mailed home a package for you all for Christmas. I really hope you like it. It took a bit longer than I had expecteda dn I felt bad becasue we were missing out on Gym time. We came out of the store and then God's hand was shown forth. We ran into Theo! We shook hands and then he asked if we could teach him today at. We said yes and went on our way. I am so greatful for the Lord and His timing.
Please pray for the people in Danensk, Ukraine. They need your prayers. No missionaries are being allowed into the country. Please pray for them all the time. I love them and wish that there was more I could do.
This is all for now. I love you and want you all to know That I have a firm testimony in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Remember Him as we have this week for Christmas. Merry Christmas to all and to all a great day!
Russia, St. Petersburg Mission
Sorry guys. Today I was in a hurry and I did't correct my mistakes. My hands were freezing and they wouldn't type. We will just blame it on learning Russian...haha! Just don't judge too quickly.
Russia, St. Petersburg Mission
The Light of Christ- 12/30/2015