Monday, November 30, 2015

Kazan Week 11 - "Kazan Round Three"

October 26 2015

All is well :) 

It's definitely fall time here in Kazan. And I will get to watch it turn into winter because I will be finishing my mission here, and Sister Neilsen will be "sending me home". However there's a twist.... Another sister will also be coming up to join us, her name is Sister Thomas, we will be in a trio :) It's the first trio that I've ever been in and I've heard the ups and the downs to them, but honestly I am just excited. 

I've heard great things about Sister Thomas and we are more than willing to have another face in our companionship! I've met sister Thomas before and she's totally got a country girl accent even though she claims not to. She's also super tall and blond! So it'll be three little blondies walking the streets this cycle :) Sister Neilsen and Sister Thomas both have visa trips this cycle though so we won't be in our area until friday night. Tomorrow morning we'll take another 9 hour bus ride down to Samara. There will also be 7 people in our district instead of 4, which will be really interesting :) the more the merrier. Honestly.

This week was great :) we had lessons almost every night this week or activities going on in the branch which we could invite potential investigators to. We have so so many potential investigators, the hard thing is getting them from the potential stage to the investigators stage honestly.

One night this week we were on the way home from a lesson far away from our area that ended at 8:30 and we would for sure be late getting home because fewer buses run late at night... well... God provided for us :) On our way down the hill a young girl in her car asked if we were headed down to the bus stop. We said yes and she offered us a lift down. She ended up driving us half way home. Oh I was so grateful! Heavenly Father is so good :) 

One of my favorite days of the week was Wednesday. We got permission to go to an art gallery with a less active member. She's 70 years old and is an English tutor. She speaks perfect English actually. Last time I was in an art museum I was probably 12 years old and I hated it... this time I fell in love with just about every piece of art. I have turned into one of those kinds of people who cries when they look at beautiful art. Not to mention just seeing the culture of my Russian people in these paintings was so fascinating. There was a camera man there with his crew and they wanted to interview us because we were making such a fuss of how beautiful everything was, sadly we had to tell them no.... But that was a wonderful adventure, and once in a lifetime on a mission because all museums are closed on Mondays. 

I got to see one of my favorite members from Balakovo this week too, Z.! It was such a tender mercy to see him! It brought back so many memories from the beginning of my mission. We were able to catch up a little bit and I am glad to know that things are going well in Balakovo. Although one of my new converts, Sasha, who is about 17 years old has gone a little less active. I tried to call her not long ago, but she's been really busy. She stays in contact with the missionaries in her area though, which is a miracle. 

Also it was Sister Neilsen's birthday yesterday! She's 20 years old. We kind of celebrated it on Saturday and went to McDonald's and got hot chocolate :) it was great. And sooo fancy. You'll see the pictures. McDonald's in Russia can be real classy sometimes.

This week I realized a view things that were extremely hard for me to swallow. A few of you know that I have been struggling to find strength and keep my fire going lately... I have felt weak physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Coming to the end of my mission I feel like I should be on fire, but I'm not. This has been troubling me deeply. The conclusion that I have come to? I have not been able to access the "enabling power of the atonement" or in order words I am missing Christ's grace. Which is whose fault? mine. Why? Because Christ's grace is "sufficient for all men that HUMBLE themselves."  I can try to work with all my heart, might, and mind... but I feel like I'm missing the strength, and that is because I am missing grace... the enabling POWER of the atonement. Peter warns that "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" if grace is "sufficient for all men that humble themselves" then the only reason that that hasn't been available to me is because of....?... Pride :) Dang. I need God's help. And that help isn't coming because God resisteth the proud. There's so much that I've learned on my mission... and even though I only have 6 weeks I still have so so much more to learn. I'm really grateful for my mission, and I'm grateful for Christ and that he has provided a way to draw power from his atonement. This week I really hope to feel that additional strength as I humble myself a little more :) 


Sister Wilson   

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Kazan Week 10 - "It's Been a Rough One"

October 19, 2015

All is well,

This week went by so quickly it's bizarre. Sooooo so many ups and downs this week.

On Tuesday I get a call from an unknown number who says that there's a couple from Salt Lake City who would like a tour of our church building. Apparently they tried to come last week but they couldn't find the building. I was confused on why they wouldn't just call themselves and why they had someone else call for them.... and then I got to thinking that maybe it was Lexi and Parker who are on their way to Poland and Ukraine and they just decided to drop by. I thought to myself that there was not way that they would do that... but then my companion said it to me too and then that scared me hahahaha. But, thankfully... It wasn't :) as much as I would love to see them, I'd rather see them in 7 weeks when I'm supposed to. So we met S and K Schultz who are teaching law at a school in Kazan for 3 weeks. They also had their translators with them who follow them where ever they go and we were able to give them Books of Mormon :) 

On Wednesday we were on a bus for 9 hours to Samara... which actually went by surprisingly fast. There was a conference in Samara with President Kacher and Sister McConkie (the young woman's general president). That happened on Thursday at 1:00. But before then we had a mini zone conference. Right now our mission has had 49 baptisms this year, there are 33 companionships in the mission and president has set a new goal that he wants 40 more baptisms before the end of the year. So we pretty much had a pump up session on how we're going to reach that goal. And of course... it will be rewarded to us according to our faith :) 

Friday we took a bus home..... that was only 7 hours, but it was tiny tiny bus, a marshootka, so that was a little rough, but all in all the time went by really quickly. 

The work has been really slow this week. Honestly after that phonecall my steam went way down and it's taken some time to get over what happened. But I know that God knew that that would happen, I don't know if President Schwab has thought about that or not. Also we haven't been in our area, and I have had to stay off my feet due to some problems with my legs/hip/thigh. Pretty much I have never had any health problems until I turned 20, and all of a sudden I'm hit with a wave of elderliness. Also.... the wrinkles keep coming. I'm not even frowning or crying all the time :( My skin just keeps getting older.  

So we've been spending the last few days taking it easy on my legs, but we went out last night and I was feeling great :) and we started taking to this woman, L, who is a single mother who used to attend a protestant church but fell away because she was offended.... in the middle of our conversation invited us over to her house for tea with her daughters :) of course we said yes. We shared a lesson with them about the plan of salvation. We did so by making paper airplanes, and then explaining that in order for the paper to become an airplane you need a plan. And that God has a plan for each of us.Then we talked about Christ and asked everyone who the most important person on the plane is.... the pilot. Christ is our pilot, and he helps us to make sure that we have a smooth flight. We really felt the spirit and we had everyone's attention and closed when the Spirit was the strongest so that we'd leave that Spirit in their home. 

It is amazing to me that God trusts us to do this work. He could send angels, but instead he chooses 18 and 19 year old boys and girls to save his children, so that we could truly come to know the worth of a soul. Our soul is precious to us and to others, but our souls mean much much more to God than it means to you or to anyone else. 
That's why it means everything to God when we offer that soul to him. Giving ourselves to God allows us to become so much more than we could ever become on our own. 
The worth of a soul never goes down to God, because he sees us in terms of eternity. 
I'm grateful for my loving heavenly father and for the opportunity to serve him, even when things don't go right or when I'm misunderstood or when I feel hurt, I am just glad that God understands me perfectly. 


Sister Wilson. 

  1. 1. Jesus, Savior, pilot me
    Over life's tempestuous sea;
    Unknown waves before me roll,
    Hiding rock and treach'rous shoal.
    Chart and compass came from thee;
    Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
  2. 2. As a mother stills her child,
    Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
    Boist'rous waves obey thy will
    When thou say'st to them, "Be still!"
    Wondrous Sov'reign of the sea,
    Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
  3. 3. When at last I near the shore,
    And the fearful breakers roar
    'Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
    Then, while leaning on thy breast,
    May I hear thee say to me,
    "Fear not; I will pilot thee."
  4. Text: Edward Hopper, 1818-1888
    Music: John Edgar Gould, 1822-1875

Monday, November 9, 2015

Kazan Week 9 - "All Things Possible"

October 12, 2015
Sister Tweade and Sister Wilson
All is well :) 

I don't have a ton of time to write today.... (or maybe I have a lack of motivation to write today...) so I'll just give a little update on everything :) 

We had splits this week with Sister Twede and her companion. That was a blast like always and I will always be blown away by Sister Twede's ability to give out Books of Mormon. 

This weekend we will have a zone conference down in Samara with two zones, it's my first combined zone zone conference, so that'd be cool :) I'm so excited to see all my missionary friends. Also Sister McConkie (I don't know how to spell it) the1st counselor in the young women's presidency will be coming down to talk to us.

Well, our new convert, Z came to church on Sunday, which is a miracle because I'm always afraid of new converts being less active after their baptisms. But I'm counting that as a miracle :) Also, we had a branch activity and this African girl came and is from Gauna. She only speaks english and we were able to teach her and give her a Book of Mormon. That night she called us and told us that one of her friends wants to come to conference tomorrow, she said, "but... she's a white chick and she's Russian." I couldn't help but crack up... Then after I hung up the phone I immediately got another call from someone. It was a man and he said that he found one of our church invitations and has a problem with alcohol and really wants to quit and wants to meet. Two calls in a row, back to back even! That was pretty cool :)

A lot of our investigators have stopped answering calls lately or coming to church... which is a bummer, always is. But man am I learning patience from it :)

Conference was great. During it I realized that I am trying to carry all my burdens on my own, without the Lord's help. What a big mistake. Last night when I was all out of energy like I frequently am on Sunday nights... I just stopped and prayed, and asked for strength. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to do much that night, but I know that every effort counts and that Christ's atonement will make up for the things that are impossible to me. Because all things ARE possible through him.


Sister Wilson 

Brooklyn mentioned Sister Carol F. McConkie, a member of the Young Women General Presidency in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The following is a quote from Sister McConkie's recent General Conference talk "Here to Serve a Righteous Cause":

"In the work of salvation, there is no room for comparison, criticism, or condemnation. It is not about age, experience, or public acclaim. This sacred work is about developing a broken heart, a contrite spirit, and a willingness to use our divine gifts and unique talents to do the Lord’s work in His way. It is having the humility to fall on our knees and say, 'O my Father, … not as I will, but as thou wilt.'

In the strength of the Lord, we 'can do all things.' We continually seek His guidance in prayer, in the scriptures, and in the whisperings of the Holy Ghost." 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Kazan Week 8 - "Baptism"

October 5, 2015
All is well :)

This week was awesome because we had a baptism, which doesn't happen all too often so that was wonderful :) Z was baptized by the branch president. Sadly, many of the members were working that day so it was a humble little support group, but those who did come did such a good job at entertaining her little baby and she was so good and quiet the whole time up until the ordinance itself... then she started bawling. Of course :) 

There was one night this week where we only have 5 minutes left of contacting til we had to go inside, but my companion noticed an old old woman kind of hunched over standing by a building. We approached her and asked if we could help her home. She only lived about 2 houses over, but she lived on the 4th floor and it took us about 40 minutes to get there. I can't imagine how long it would have taken by herself. I asked if she had a family, she lived with her son, who is too lazy to go to the store himself so he commands his old mom to. She rolled up her sleeves and showed me dark dark bruises covering her arms. She said it was from her son. Abuse of the elderly really just makes me sick. I am so grateful that I have always lived in a home free from violence and that I have never been afraid to step foot in my house (except those times in high school when I broke curfew). I'm really grateful that my companion followed through with that prompting to help her! The whole way to her home she was just thanking us immensely and thanking God for sending her help again (because this happens more often than not). 

It's starting to get pretty chilly in Kazan, it's supposed to get down to 38 degrees this week already, darn it :( I'm going to miss the warm weather. I'm pretty sure I've turned a bit into a Russian myself... which is funny because Russians are usually super sensitive to the cold, in the summer I remember seeing people wearing turtle necks because it was raining or cloudy but really it felt like 100 degrees outside. 

Last Monday we took a walk around the Kremlin again (this big white and blue beautiful mosque, but not the Kremlin you are thinking of, the one in Moscow) with some members but this time we went inside, it's so gorgeous! So interesting, because I actually felt really peaceful inside the Mosque, I was wondering if it was the Spirit. They had us wear these head-robe things inside and Yana, one of the members we were with was just having the time of her life taking pictures.

 As missionaries we don't get to watch conference until this weekend, but I am so so ready. I am ready for some new revelation as to my own questions and some new insights. One thing that I've really learned on my mission is to really study the conference talks. I have a couple general conference Liahonas that are like gold to me, they're starting to look a little shabby. I have a few favorite that I always go back to :) also does anyone know what to do when your scriptures fall out of the bindings, cause that happened recently... actually it happened in front of everyone at zone training. That was embarrassing haha. 

I love love loooove my companion. I've been trying to be more easy-going with everything and just lighten up a little with how the work needs to be done and the results have been wonderful :) We haven't had any contention in our companionship and our patience and charity for one another is really growing. Everyone on the streets always asks us if we're sisters, we both have blond hair and my name is Sister Wilson and her name is Sister Neilsen. It's also pretty hard for people to pronounce my name for some reason, which in Russian you would say sestra Vilson. 

We found out that there will be another pair of elders coming into our area next cycle so there will be 6 missionaries in Kazan :) it's so fun to have bigger districts, there's only 4 of us right now. Also there are 5 new sisters coming in next cycle. So I'm hoping I can train again :) Also, I heard that Saratov is supposed to become a stake by the end of the year, but those could be rumors. But I hope not. That would be so so cool.

Sister Twede and Sister Hullinger are coming up this week for splits. Today we're going to a huge mall to find some winter gear for sister nielsen and maybe a noble fur coat for me (in my dreams).

Love you all! Thanks for everyone's support

Sister Wilson 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kazan Week 7 - "Charity :) "

September 28, 2015 

All is well :)

I feel like I'm on a constant roller coaster ride :) coming to the end of a mission is not easy by ANY MEANS. It's so easy to get distracted. The future feels so close sometimes you try to reach out to touch it but it just back fires on you and tortures you cause you're not there yet :) So I'm trying my best to make my days count instead of counting the days! My companion is doing a really great job of supporting me and carrying my burdens with me. We have a lot of fun together and her Russian is AMAZING.

Yesterday was interesting. Everything just kind of piled up on me (or in other words I piled it up on myself) and all of the tiny tiny things that could be done more perfectly just made me SO frustrated with myself. I've been out for how long? About a year and four months, and I feel so frustrated repenting for the same sins over and over and trying and falling repeatedly. I feel like I just can't forsake these tiny little sins, and the guilt is really getting to me lately. Yesterday at church through all the meetings I felt like the biggest drama queen trying to hold back tears, and then in Sunday school, there's that scripture about continuing in patience until you are perfected,

D&C 67:13 Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, 
neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, 
continue in patience until ye are perfected.

so I asked the question, "how can I find that patience?" as people started answering that question I just lost it.... the tears came and I was crying like a baby in front of the whole class. Then one of the members wanted us to all hold hands in a circle and pray for me, I know she had good intentions, but honestly that was just humiliating. After she finished praying my companion took me out of the room and just let me sob on her. I don't know WHAT on earth came over me. All that I can say is that I was frustrated with myself. Trying to be perfect is really hard. Because it feels so impossible. 

Something internal happened this week that affected everything around us. During planning we made a companionship goal to not give up on people in our contacting conversations, trying to keep things going and keep asking questions that could peak their interest. Well, that night all of our plans fell through, so we'd be contacting and it would be a perfect opportunity to put our goal to practice. The results were amazing. As we strived to really care about each person and discern their needs, as we changed the way we contacted... the people we talked to changed. Our conversations were longer and the people we talked to were very kind. It reminded me of the scripture "though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." When we contact without love, and real intent, it's as if we're banging pots and pans with the sound of brass in their ears, who wants to listen to that? But when we contact with real intent, it's like John 13:35 where Christ says, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." 

This weekend we will be having a baptism with Z :) She's been progressing so well and is ready :) 

Sister Wilson