Monday, June 22, 2015

Bezi - Week 4 - "Pull up your socks"

June 9, 2015

All is well :) of course.

Once again I don't even know where to start... first of all some people asked if we're allowed to wewar sunglasses or not because I was wearing some in my last email. Well, I read the white handbook and I don't see anywhere that it says we can't wear sunglasses. My guess is that Heavenly Father would want me to protect my eyes even on my mission :) But just in case I called Sister Schwab and asked if it was allowed and she told me I could, so there we have it :)

This week we did a lot of contacting again. We've been getting up early in the mornings and just hitting the streets for 2 hours. Samara is such a good place and the people on the streets are much sweeter but I do admit that I miss Saratov a little bit at times! I was there for a whole year and my heart is still wanting to go back somedays. Those members are my best friends. But I am working really hard on building relationships with people here as well. It's so awesome praying for people and trying to love people and really seeing a noticeable difference in a person when you are sincerely striving to build friendships instead of members thinking that we are just people who need their help for a month or two and then the relationship is cut off as soon as we leave. I really want to somehow have an impact on these people and their lives while I am still here. 

L, the girl that I met the first week that I was in this area, has fallen off the face of the earth (she even had a baptism date and had heard the first three lessons!) And since then we have met a lot of wonderful people and so so many people who seem like they are so ready for the gospel... but they end up being a one time thing or they end up being totally not interested. Yesterday I was especially upset by this when we called a girl that we'd met yesterday who had told us that she has wanted a Book of Mormon for so long and was so excited when we gave her one, and then today we called her and she had blocked our number. Then we called another man we'd met on the street who was just begging us to help him to stop smoking and he had given us the wrong number. That pretty much brought me to my ends wits.... 

I have never prayed more fervently in my life for Heavenly Father to please please pleeease bless us with miracles and with people to share this amazing message with. As a mission we have a goal to baptism one person every cycle... yesterday I just felt my hope starting to run dry when I realized that we only have 2 weeks left in the cycle. I went into the bathroom and got on my knees and just prayed and told Heavenly Father exactly what I was feeling and honestly I was just having a "Oh God where art thou?" moment. 

Actually after my prayer I just picked up the phone and called the APs. I explained that usually I call President about most of my problems but I really wanted to talk to some of my comrades who know what its like to hit the streets hour after hour after hour. I didn't expect to get emotional at all but I totally started crying. It just breaks your heart to invest your entire soul into helping these people and praying your heart out for these things and seeing nothing. I really was having a heart break moment. I was so grateful for them though, they really gave me all the words that I needed to hear and honestly all that I needed to hear was a little, "wipe away your tears, pull up your socks, and keep going." They were actually a lot nicer than that, but pretty much they said to keep pushing forward and rely on God and don't lose hope. 

I really don't understand God's plans. I have no idea whether or not we will get a baptism this cycle. But God knows all things and I will keep praying for a baptism and for these people until the end of this cycle :) 

Love, Sister Wilson 

Faith also includes trust in God’s timing, for He has said,
 “All things must come to pass in their time.” (D&C 64:32.)

We are to work steadily, but realistically, 
and only expect to reap "in due season." (Gal. 6:9)

A reassuring promise is given us in this journey:
 “And any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, 
and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened.” (D&C 84:80.)


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bezi - Week 3 - "Not getting cooler anytime soon"

June 1, 2015
All is well :) 

This week we did a lot of contacting. We noticed that a lot of our investigators really aren't progressing, when people won't keep commitments time after time after time... maybe they need a little bit of time. We did splits with the sisters from Penza and the whole time it was just contacting. I have really come to love the way that each sister works individually out here, I love how much I can learn from each missionary. I have actually starting tracking qualities that I love in others and writing them down, one of the qualities that I have really fallen in love with out here is humility. Which maybe I love that quality because it is something that I am lacking a little bit :) 

We are praying for miracles every day and praying more fervently. I think we really could still pray more earnestly. I am just grateful for Heavenly Father softening people's hearts every day. If I can get a few good conversations in every day I feel really good. But something that my companion pointed out to me this week is that literally no effort is wasted. Literally. For example if we just talk to a woman on the bus with 2 young daughters and make really friendly conversation and help her to understand that we are normal people... well maybe 10 years down the road one of the daughters will be 16 and find the missionaries and desire to be baptized, and that mother will allow it because she knows that we are normal people because missionaries made friendly conversation with her 10 years ago. It really is nice to know that literally all acts now can bring miracles later down the road. 

The branch here has about 30 people who come reguarly. The branch president has been in office for about 20 years now, what a valiant man. There's quite a bit of drama in our branch and just some contention and I can't imagine how exhausting his job is. There are lots of grandmas and a lot of youth that are new converts, which a lot of those new converts went less active not long after baptism so we're working on leading them back to the fold by focusing on faith in Christ. 

I can honestly say that before my mission I had no idea what it meant to exercise faith in Christ. I feel like maybe now after repetition and studying and pondering I know what faith is, but actually exercising that faith is a constant battle. The other day I was thinking to myself about why my family has stayed in the church all these years. To me it just seemed like a habit coming to church and reading scriptures and praying because that's just how I was raised... but honestly what has kept me coming back and thirsting for more is the Spirit. I know that this church is true because of what I feel. Whenever I feel tempted to doubt, I try to recall what the Spirit has given me and recalling those feels gives me hope that I will feel them again :) 


Sister Wilson 

Alma 32:28 : “If ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, … ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed … for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bezi - Week 2 - "Summer is Here!"

May 25, 2015

All is well, actually everything is really really great :) 

We pray for miracles every day. And that is something that I will probably continue to pray for after my mission in order to help me to continue exercising faith in Christ. On a mission the miracle is that we find a new investigator, and maybe when I get home my miracle will be that I found my baby's long lost binky. 

Holy cow. I LOVE Sister Sotnikova. So much. I cannot say enough good about her. She has her weaknesses as we all do but she is such a hard worker and so humble and we are able to work so hard together, and it feels so good :)  I haven't laughed so much my entire mission. Honestly I kind of feel like a goofball sometimes and feel like I need to be more reverent or something but she is just so funny I can't even help it. She has a dry, witty humor and comes up with the most ridiculous senarios. I never knew that I would be able to laugh so much and connect so much with a 28 year old Russian woman. She is really my best friend. I have been praying to have more love for her, and maybe she's been praying for the same thing, because our companionship is super strong right now and we truly do love each other :) she is from Yekatinburg and when I showed her a picture of Tanner (who served his mission in Yekaterinburg) she said that she's seen him before, interesting right? She was baptized 6 years ago.

There is not a week that goes by that I don't have reflecting moments when I feel an enormous love and reverence toward my mission. I love my mission so much. 
I don't know who on earth would ever want to marry me without me being humbled by all the experiences I have had here. And I still have sooo much further to go. Proof of that is when we tried to return our vacuum today and the woman told us that it was broken and we can't return it.... I was so frustrated in that moment for not getting my way and I was so surprised at the angry feelings that I had, I haven't felt such feelings of frustration in a long time! Then I realized that I was being completely irrational and had no patience in that moment and that Heavenly Father doesn't get outraged when he doesn't get his way (when we break commandments or what not). So pretty much I had no right to be angry... interesting learning moments. Never even thought that I'd try to return a vacuum to a store in Russia anyway. I'd really like to see my mom trying to return it to be honest ;) 

Anyway all is well and I am happy and growing and LOVING the sun. It is apparently only like 80 degrees outside but it feels like 105. But honestly I don't care how hot it is... missionary work (for me) seem so much easier and more fun when its warm out and people are also a lot warmer :) Also I think that in Russia all mosquitos are born in one day or something. Because literally the night before there were no misquitos.. the next night I was eaten alive. LITERALLY 27 mosiquito bites in one night. Hallelujah that my mom provided me with $30 worth of top brand mosquito repellant. Last night it was really interesting to walk into a more forested area and watch as a herd of mosquitos tried to eat me but wouldn't touch my skin. It's like that mosquito spray makes my skin iron. I'm super grateful for it right now :) 

Our area is doing well! We've got investigators and we've been giving out lots of Books of Mormon :) 

Sister Wilson 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bezi - Week 1 - "Where do I even begin?"

May 18, 2015
Goodbye Saratov!
All is well :)

Holy cow. The amount of different emotions I have felt within the past week is insane. I seriously don't even know where to start. I guess I'll start from the beginning (that didn't sound cheesy at all) By the way this letter is SUPER long, so I won't be offended if you don't read it, but it is an interesting one ;) 

So. Monday, my companion and I went to Victory Park in Saratov. There is an insanely beautiful view if you go up on this big hill, and there I said goodbye to my lovely city :( man Saratov is such a good place. The members are my best friends, and the people on the streets are honestly some of the hardest, most stubborn people I've ever met, but I love them :) But really I can feel a huge difference with the people here in Samara. 

Victory Park - Saratov Russia

On Tuesday morning I finished packing all my stuff (it took me 5 hours to pack, such a pain in the behind) oh and by the way, one of my suitcases alone weighted 90 pounds, let's just say I'm glad I'm not going home anytime soon. At 4:00 there was pretty much a wolf pack of missionaries at the train station who would be heading up to Samara. My very first train ride in Russia :) :) :) We got to Samara at 2:00 in the morning. The mission's van driver came to pick us up and then would drop us off at our various locations throughout Samara. Guess where we'd be dropping by first? The zone leaders.  I never expected to see elder Graf at 2:30 in the morning in his pajamas, but that's exactly what happened :) he came out to help the elders bring there bags in and we said hi, shook hands, and parted ways just like we'd do if it were any other missionary. 

My new companion is Sister Sotnikova who is a native Russian. She is 2 cycles older than me and is a champion. I love contacting with her, she is very bold and isn't afraid of anybody. She is also very humble and motherly :) She is also very very very veeerrrryyyy superstitious. Probably the most superstitious Russian I have met. There have been a few times where I have stopped in the middle of our conversations and have to check to make sure that I am actually understanding correctly what she is telling me, then I'm always a little shocked when yes, I understood correctly. For example she thinks that people can turn into animals by the power of the devil (maybe that's true but I've never heard of that people) and she explained to me about how picking up money on the ground heaps other people's sins onto you because sometimes people throw money on the ground when they want to slough off sins or bad feelings. I'm sorry I really didn't have any charity in some of these situations and just told her, "No. I am sorry but that is absolutely not true." I am going to need to work on seeing from her point of view a little bit more this cycle....

The first two days of speaking straight Russian all day gave me a real big head ache, but now I am used to it :) I have been learning a lot of Russian slang the past week. I've always been against slang, but Sister Sotnikova told me that slang is the soul of any country. And... I agree. She says that if she hears a missionary talking and they use slang she automatically thinks that they are fluent in Russian. Because only people who REALLY live in a country know the slang and more informal parts of speak. Of course I won't speak slang with random people on the streets, but it will help me to connect to the youth and it will help with my understanding. So we'll see how it goes :) 

On Thursday I met a bunch of the members in the branch at English group, including K who is a new convert (Elder Graf and his companion were the ones who taught him before he was baptized). He is such a little punk :) he is a real jokester that's for sure. He walked us home from English group and just raved on and on about Elder Graf to me the whole way haha, he really really loves that guy. 

Yesterday at church I was feeling a little bit homesick for my ward in Solnechney, and then about halfway through sacrament meeting, through the window I noticed a girl run into the church building. It was my first Sunday here so I thought that it was probably somebody who was just running a little late. K ran out and got her because she was standing awkwardly in the hall and she came in and sat by him. I turned around to one of the missionaries who has been here longer and asked him, "do you know that girl?" he said no, and I then assumed that it was a friend of K's and it was her first time here. I kind of squirmed in my seat a little bit the whole time because the theme was temples and work for the dead... which can sound SO weird to people who have never heard of it before. 

At the end of sacrament meeting I ran to the back of the sacrament hall and grabbed her just as she was about to walk out the door. I asked her what her name was and if it was her first time. She said yes and I asked her to come sit down with me a minute. I asked if she was friends with the new convert and she said no. I was a little bit shocked and then asked her how she ended up here. She said, "my father is a taxi driver and he drove some of your boys not too long ago and they gave him this book." she then showed us her Book of Mormon and said that she just came to the address that was written on the inside. She said that her father also wanted to come but he was working that day. (I was honestly shocked, and it was so hard not to freak her out with my excitement of seeing such a miracle right before my eyes.) She said that she's been interested in our church for about 2 years now and once she got the Book of Mormon she had a little more direction on where to start with things. She stayed (happily and more than willingly) for all 3 hours, we managed to have a restoration lesson and committed her to be baptized when she receives confirmation. She said that she is totally ready to commit to this if she knows that it is true and understands that baptism is a big step. She promised to come to church next Sunday and we even set up another meeting for her this week :) I have literally never met anyone more elect on a first acquaintance to the church in my entire life. Her name is L and is a star :) I am pretty sure that I am in this city right now specifically for her. She loves swimming and rock climbing and sports and is SO cool. I love her. 

Sister Wilson 

Sister Wilson mentioned "Temples and Work for the Dead" 
These sacred ordinances are to allow people who have already passed on 
to accept the teachings of Jesus Christ. Follow this link to learn more

Monday, June 15, 2015

Saratov - Week 17 - "Transfers!"

May 11, 2015
All is well :)

Man what a week. I love love looooved skyping home and I can't believe that it will be my last time.... I have seven months left and saying that I feel like I am saying that I have 5 years left sometimes. Time is such a weird thing on a mission. Thinking back 7 months ago I was just starting my companionship with Sister Martinez, which I remember vividly, but thinking about all that has happened within that amount of time.... it is just insane. The amount of memories that I have is really so crazy being out here. That's what makes time go slow sometimes, just recalling all that has happened within that amount of time. The best thing is though that everything in front of me is good :) I have absolutely nothing to dread, nothing to be afraid of. Actually I do have things that I am afraid of, things that might devistate me actually. But I know that if I put my will in God's hands, and let him take care of things, and keep his commandments, and remember my covenants... then all will be well :)  

I found out my transfers early this week..... let's just say that I made a phone call to the mission president's wife about measurements for cooking, and somehow by the end of that conversation I got it out of her that I would be leaving my area and even switching zones. I've been in the Saratov Zone my entire mission so it's about time I leave and its about time that some other wonderful missionaries come to the promised land :) However, I was completely in denial and she was really getting a good kick out of listening to me just moaning and screeching over the phone. I LOVE Solnechney so so much. I had no idea that I could come to love a people in such a short amount of time. There are the most wonderful members here. The youth are incredible every where in this zone actually and so much is happening in Saratov. 

I didn't find out real transfers until Saturday night and I found out that I'm headed up to Bezi which is in Samara. That's actually where Elder Graf is serving right now (for those of you who don't know who that is, he's a good high school friend of mine), so it looks like we're making a swap . He will be serving in Oktyabirski, which is probably the most dangerous part of Saratov, so pray that he makes it home in June....... ;) 

This week was pretty crazy and my mind was in a thousand different places...... obviously. Transfer time in the last little bit has given me crazy anxiety (any former missionary understands that) But I am so ready to put my all into this new area and have a clean slate in a new area and with a new companion, who is Russian by the way. Something new is always a good adventure :) 

Sister Wilson