Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Saratov Week 5 - "Shoulder to Shoulder with the Savior"

February 9, 2015
All is well,

I am realizing how much more I need to actively exercise faith in Christ. (you know what? You could study faith in Christ every day for yearsss and not even get it perfect, at least that's what I think) I can't believe how simple our baptismal covenants are, how easy they are to remember, yet how difficult it seems to be to actually FULFILL our covenants. However, I have noticed that remembering Christ ALWAYS makes things lighter. This morning I reread in Moroni 7 that before you can ever have faith or hope, you must be humble. I need to ask that Heavenly Father humbles me, because you can't plant a seed of faith in cement. Heavenly Father would rather use clay than old crusty playdough, and
that's what I want from my mission. I really want to be that soft clay, I want to be an instrument. 

Also this is my dear companion's last week in Russia. Sister Busman is doing wonderful. Thanks to her, I love slow cooked scrambled eggs (weeeird, right mom?) also I love Swedish chocolate (which is sweet sweet milk chocolate with little shards of salty black chocolate in it, and oh goodness the first 3 times I tried it I hated it, but now I have really fallen in love with the combination).

She is starting to merge into thoughts of home a little, which she feels bad for (oh sweet sister Busman) but OF COURSE that is normal right now. How can she not? I am so grateful for the things that she has taught me about obedience and about loyalty to God and to always do the right thing when no one is watching. Sister Busman is a missionary who has literally given HERSELF to the work, not just her time. She is the most consecrated and good intentioned missionary. She will be someone that doesn't look back on her mission with regrets in mind, because she just kept pushing. I can't even picture her as a normal person at home now. She has been shaped into a missionary. She came and did exactly what God needed her to do in Russia. (side note... I have lost my third pair of mittens. It's so easy to lose them on the bus) 

We have been struggling with keeping investigators lately... we have been finding and teaching AMAZING (seriously amazing) people, but they end up falling off the face of the earth. Literally. Their schedules get stuffed with work or their phone number changes. Even when we warn people during lessons when they feel the spirit to "REMEMBER HOW YOU FEEL RIGHT NOW" warning people that Satan will tell them to stop meeting with us or that this isn't important. They still manage to fall off the face of the earth. It's so frustrating, we're fighting against a power that is so scary and real.... so we've been working on finding a little bit.  

I am going to have to say that Russian people are about fifty times more pleasant in the summer than in the winter. I am beyond grateful that I am serving two summers rather than two winters :) This week has been a little more difficult than most... I feel that I am just now experiencing what people mean when they say that Russians are tough cookies. I will explain to you how a normal day of contacting in Russian winters goes. "Hi, my friend and I moved here to share a message that is very dear and precious to us, it has changed our lives and we want to share it with others." and here are just a few of the usual replies, "did you know that you are from a sect?" or "не надо" (no need) "I'm in a hurry." or sometimes if you are lucky you get the "GET AWAY FROM ME." When we tell people why we are here they often act like we just pooped on their car or something. 

Well. One day.... rejection after rejection after rejection (and a couple snide and sassy comments later) I had had enough. It's so hard to feel as though we are not wasting time and literally paying for it all at the same time. I just started to cry. It hurts so badly having something that you know is so pure, something that you know will bring them happiness, and having them slam it down without even knowing what it is. It's hard giving your all and putting your whole heart into a conversation just pleading with these people and testifying with all that you have about it, and being rejected. Oh it hurts, it really does. Then my companion said to me, that yes, it does hurt, but that it's the sacrifice that we are willing to make, so that they too can at least have the opportunity to accept it, or to reject it. That reminded me of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. That he paid the price, the price is paid, the gift is ours if we will only accept it. Being a missionary gives me so much gratitude for the atonement. Knowing that when we are rejected, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the greatest missionary who ever lived. After that thought I brushed off my shoulders, gave my companion a hug, and continued down the slushy, snowy path to make sure that everyone could receive the opportunity to accept the sacrifice that Christ has made for them.

Missionary work is tough! It certainly makes you rely on the Savior. 
I really wouldn't rather be any where else. 
This is the most useful experience I've ever had in my life, it's so so bittersweet, 
but it's so worth it. 


Sister Brooklyn Wilson 

Sister Wilson's last couple of paragraph's made me think of a recent General Conference talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Below are some of his thoughts and also a link to the entire talk entitled "The cost and Blessings of Discipleship"

With admiration and encouragement for everyone who will need to remain steadfast in these latter days, I say to all and especially the youth of the Church that if you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part.
For example, a sister missionary recently wrote to me: “My companion and I saw a man sitting on a bench in the town square eating his lunch. As we drew near, he looked up and saw our missionary name tags. With a terrible look in his eye, he jumped up and raised his hand to hit me. I ducked just in time, only to have him spit his food all over me and start swearing the most horrible things at us. We walked away saying nothing. I tried to wipe the food off of my face, only to feel a clump of mashed potato hit me in the back of the head. Sometimes it is hard being a missionary because right then I wanted to go back, grab that little man, and say, ‘EXCUSE ME!’ But I didn’t.”
To this devoted missionary I say, dear child, you have in your own humble way stepped into a circle of very distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said, “view[ed Christ’s] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and [borne] the shame of the world.”1

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