Beautiful Russia!

Beautiful Russia!

Our great friend, Roma made dinner for us!

Our great friend, Roma made dinner for us!

Elder Rasmussen is very excited to see real food!

Elder Rasmussen is very excited to see real food!

Companion and friend, Elder Jake Rasmussen

Companion and friend, Elder Jake Rasmussen

Trifecta's Last Time In Estonia

Trifecta's Last Time In Estonia

With my wonderful friend, Faik.

With my wonderful friend, Faik.

Sunrise, at One P.M.

Sunrise, at One P.M.

Petrozadovsk District

Petrozadovsk District

Lake at Petrozavodsk

Lake at Petrozavodsk

North Zone Conference Nov. 2011

North Zone Conference Nov. 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner 2011

First Zone Conference with President Clark

First Zone Conference with President Clark

Neva River Fall 2011

Neva River Fall 2011

Visa trip, Oct 1st 2011

Visa trip, Oct 1st 2011

Oh my aching jaw...

Oh my aching jaw...

Hermitage Museum on P-day!

Hermitage Museum on P-day!

Me, Svetlana and Elder Loskutov

Me, Svetlana and Elder Loskutov

Birthday lunch with Kostya

Birthday lunch with Kostya

My friend, Grisha

My friend, Grisha

Service for Babushka

Service for Babushka

MTC Missionaries in Estonia

MTC Missionaries in Estonia

Waiting in Estonia...

Waiting in Estonia...

Visit from Elder Russell M. Nelson

Visit from Elder Russell M. Nelson

Elders Larsen and Anthony

Elders Larsen and Anthony

Our MTC teacher surprise visit!

Our MTC teacher surprise visit!

Podvodov family gave powerful talks!

Podvodov family gave powerful talks!
Pskov, Russia Branch

Vyborg Castle

Vyborg Castle

St Olaf's Castle Where We Do Service Work

St Olaf's Castle Where We Do Service Work

Beautiful Vyborg on the Sea of Finland

Beautiful Vyborg on the Sea of Finland

Vyborg

Vyborg

Misty day in Kaliningrad

Misty day in Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad District May 2010

Kaliningrad District May 2010

Russian MTC Group

Russian MTC Group

Russian MTC Zone at Provo Temple

Russian MTC Zone at Provo Temple

02 July 2011

Travel, Meetings and Good-Bye's to Podvodov's and Luna's.


Already a week of the transfer is over... This is going to be a fast transfer!

Things are going pretty good for Elder Anthony and I. This last week we had a lot of meetings and we also had a lot of traveling around. Thursday night we met with McCartney, my Namibian friend. He wanted us to come over and give him a blessing. Elder Anthony annointed and I gave the blessing. It was kind of weird to do it in English... All the words that would come to my head when I was giving the blessing were in Russian... He called us the next day after his analysis and said that everything is okay, and thanks for the blessing. McCartney just graduated from a international medical school and he will be going back home soon. Happy for him to go back to his family, but sad that he won't be in our area anymore. Great guy.

Friday: We met with a less active named Anatoli who is blind and hasn't left his house in years... He loves the missionaries, but we had no idea who he was until we were searching the area books and found him. We are hoping that we can find a wheelchair to take him out of his house for his birthday. We also stopped by the house of our investigator, Valeri, and we met his family there, his daughter and his wife. He didn't have time to meet with us, but wanted us to come in and pray with him. He is a really funny guy, very energetic. We think he might be trying to set one of us up with his daughter though, so....yeah. Yikes. Ha ha.

Saturday: We met with our investigator, Galina, who belongs to a religion that is a lot like Hindu and other Indian religions. She is very religious, but she doesn't have much of a Christian background and it seems like she is trying to convert us more than listen to our message. She said she wants to hear our thoughts and she wants to read the Book of Mormon, so we are slowly teaching her, one step at a time. She just has very different understandings of God, so it takes a long time to talk to her. Very nice lady though!!!!

Sunday: We helped Sister Raisa come to church, and the Podvodovs and the Lunas spoke, kind of a farewell from the mission if you might say.  They were really good talks. I was impressed with Sister Luna's testimony in Russian. She did a good job! After we took Sister Raisa back home, we had a meeting with our JW friends, and after that meeting, we decided that we are not going to meet with them anymore.  Something changed during this meeting, and they pretty much were attacking us and the Book of Mormon.  They didn't want to try to read the Book of Mormon, and they pulled out a bunch of anti-Mormon pages and began to read them to us. They had taken verses from the Book of Mormon and read them out of context so they sounded like it was made up. Even though these guys prepared this whole thing, and they have a mastery of the Russian language over me and Elder Anthony, we somehow were able to show them that these papers that their Church had printed about us were false and construed, and we testified that the only way that one can know if the Book of Mormon is true is by reading the Book of Mormon, not reading some paper that someone wrote about the Book of Mormon. They wouldn't even touch it, they acted like they would burst in flames if they did. Would not even try to consider it. They said they only read the Bible, but couldn't give a reason why the Bible should be the only book of scripture.  I respect others rights to worship how they want, but you can't tell me that it isn't true if you haven't studied it and prayed about it and received that answer from God. I can honestly say that I tried to listen to them and see what they said is true, but I cannot deny the testimony that I have gained through the knowledge that our Heavenly Father has given us through the Book of Mormon. One saint in the days of Joseph Smith said,"Satan could not have written this book (The Book of Mormon). It surely is from God."

Monday we had a special family night to say good-bye to President, but Elder Anthony and I could only stay for about 5 minutes, as we had to get to another appointment that we had scheduled with a family two weeks ago. It was weird to think that that was the last time that I will see President and Sister Podvodov and also the Luna's on the mission... But we'll see each other again!  We had a good meeting with this family that invited us over for Family Night, were the husband invited his non-member friends. She just had a normal family night with them, with a lesson from Brother Pyecheski's son, but we got to know his friends really well, and they want to meet with us! They even invited us to come on a trip with them. Ha ha. I felt the difference it makes when members get involved and help the missionaries with the work. It works SO much better.

Tuesday and Wednesday we were on a split in Vyborg with Elders Balabonov and Tekulve. I was with Balabonov and we got to meet with Igor, my friend who just got baptized, and we saw Sister Balkova on the street, after we went to the branch family night. I love Vyborg!!! I feel like if I moved back to Russia for some reason and had to live somewhere, I could live in Vyborg and everyone would already know me. The branch remembers who you are and genuinely loves you.  Tuesday we came back and had enough time to meet with Vova, who had lots of questions about prayer. He is nice and wanted us to pray so a girl would fall in love with him. Ha ha. We had a lesson about prayer, about Heavenly Father's love, and about free agency.

I did wish Dad a Happy Father's Day, but it was in a letter and seems to have not gotten to you yet, so Happy Father's Day (BELATED) I hope my letters are getting to you? I still haven't had a chance to send off that letter that was sent back to me, Mom. Sorry! As soon as I can, I will.


Yeah... It' weird that my family hangs out with my friends... But it is a good weird. Hope that the concert was good, Lee!!! Tell Kallie that if I had time, I would write her a million and one letters. But Heavenly Father has a different message for me to bring to other brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews, so I will just tell her lots of stories when I get home, and I will write her a letter especially for her soon. Tell Cody that I'm not ignoring his emails, but my mission president wants us to only email parents... Don't know why that rule came out? Sorry, Codes. Miss you!

ARGH! Just not enough time to write... I've got lots more to say, but I've got to run! Love you all a ton! Thanks to everyone back home for the love, the examples, the prayers, the good memories, and most of all, for sharing the Gospel with me in my life. That's the number one important thing, and if we apply the Gospel in our lives, we will be happy and feel the love of God, no matter who we are or were we live. The Gospel in and of itself is the Love of God.

Love you all! Be of Good Cheer. Keep smiling!
Blake

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