What a trunky General Conference! After President Monson's talk during the Priesthood Session and Elder Scott on Sunday everyone wanted to just go home and start a family...good thing Elder Scott mention serving an honorable mission in his talk, or I think that a couple thousand of those 52,225 would be on a plane home this week... It was a great conference. It's way interesting how themes come up like that, huh? Like getting on with life and not wasting time with fluff, learning the duties of holders of the Priesthood, helping those in need, and tons more. It is always such a great testimony to see how the Lord coordinates the talks, and even the order that they're given. Of course there's no room to doubt that this work is led by inspiration from our loving Heavenly Father.
This week we took a little trip to Nakhodka. It was really cool to work with Elder Hatch and finally see the little beach town in the south. Way cool place. Kind of weird that church is in a Marine Officers Club...but it happens I guess. One funny story from when I was down there...we were contacting some people on the street, and I saw a really cool looking family, a couple pushing a baby in a stroller. I went up and told them that we're missionaries and then our conversation went about like this. "We have a great message that can really help families and help them be together forever. Would you like to be together forever?" After a long awkward pause the girl looks me in the eye and says "we're not together." I was at least a little confused, and didn't really know what to say. All I could muster was a phrase that doesn't translate well into English, so it's going to sound funny. (But to them it makes sense and isn't weird, promise.) "In what sense?" She says "Literal. We're not together." I invited them to church and to hear our message, and kind of just walked away in shock. I'm pretty sure the baby was someone's nephew or something...maybe they were brother and sister. Not really sure what I ran into there, but that was sure a response that I hadn't heard before. Weird huh? Yeah, my guess is that the guy was using his nephew to seem cooler for his girlfriend-to-be or something...smart guy.
So I have some jealousy problems. When I came to Artyom I replaced Elder Pavlov. He is much loved by the old women of Artyom. They kind of hold a grudge against President Pratt for stealing Elder Pavlov from them. That makes me the enemy. Ha ha. They'll get over it, but it's funny that on every single lesson we have with this one lady she talks about how terrible it is that Elder Pavlov is here, and how she wants him back. I try to throw in witty comments like "But then I wouldn't be here..." and the answer is usually just something way straightforward like "then you could go back to wherever you came from, and that would be fine." Russians are a super straightforward people...I've had lots of practice learning how to take criticism on my mission...but they're also always super ready to put food in your belly. Especially if you're skinny! The word skinnier in Russian is only one or two letters off from the word "worse" and they really mean it. When someone is the opposite of skinny they usually call him a "healthy person" or "full" and it's a compliment when it comes from babushkii...super funny.
Hopefully we'll be able to find some more time to spend in Artyom, to keep the work alive here. I know the Lord is preparing people to receive our testimonies and that there is a great work to be done. Thank you for your prayers and for all the ways that you support me. Even a small note that you send to me really picks me up much more than you realize. I'm really thankful for those who continue to write me or even drop short messages through my family. Even though I've been gone for over a year and a half now, I still have the best family and friends in the world. Have a wonderful week!
Also this week as we were on the bus headed for Nakhodka I began to talk with the various people that sat next to me as they got on and off at the different small towns on the way. I gave the first woman a Book of Mormon, and the second woman got flustered as we got to her stop and I still hadn't given her my number. My heart just goes out to those who live in places where the Gospel is not yet preached. There is going to be amazing success as towns and villages of Russia are opened to missionary work int he future. The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Those young men who decide not to serve a mission don't even realize how much they are needed and how they could help to bring joy and salvation to those who are living in unbelief, not finding the truth simply because they know not where to find it. 52,225 isn't a small number, but it could be much better. If you haven't made the decision to serve a mission, and you are able, or will be able. GO! Young men, women, senior couples, we need you. Answer the call of the Prophet and joy in the ranks. The Lord won't do his work alone, and there is a whole lot of work to be done. Answer the call.