Monday, December 26, 2011


Hello all! For the family this is interesting since I just talked to you yesterday! In regards to that I am happy I got to talk to you. I know that often I am not the best at showing my excitement but I was looking forward to yesterday all week. I'll admit I was surprised by how natural it was talking to you, as if it hadn't been 6 months since we last talked. 

Our investigator got baptized on Christmas Eve! I'll admit that I was really happy that everything went well. I'll admit at times I got very stressed especially when it was 15 minutes before the baptism was supposed to start and she was not there. There were actually three baptisms that day and we combined them. All went well and Valeria felt great. Then on Sunday (yesterday) she received the Gift of the Holy Ghost and she was beaming.

I'll admit that Christmas did not really feel like Christmas since Russians celebrate New Years like Christmas. But it was still a special day. 

Our sink should be fixed today so we can have cold water in our kitchen. We came home on Thursday after a great meeting to find that our sink was leaking and we had a good layer of water on the floor. Quickly we turned off the water and called our landlord. He said he would be there at 11pm but was almost an hour late. He didn't fix it because he did not have a new pipe so he said he would return on Monday. Surprisingly I made it through all the phonecalls and dealing with cranky Russian neighbors just fine. I only cried from relief when it was all over and I realized how stressful and nerve-wracking the situation really was. I'll admit I opened one of my Christmas presents from Sarah that night and it happened to be the scripture Proverbs 3:4 "Trust in theLord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." That scripture was a great comfort to me.  

I am excited for the new year and for the chance to rededicate myself and evaluate where I am and where I want to be. In some ways it works out nicely that the New Year corresponds roughly to my hump day (9 months on a mission!) because I realize how fast time is fleeting and how precious and sacred this opportunity is. Now is the time for me to express my love to God through my actions and how Him my gratitude and appreciation. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wonder of wonders, Miracle of miracles

This week I am very excited to write you all and tell you about all the miracles I have seen this week. First off, I have a new companion Sister Workman. She is different from most of my other companions and we have a lot of similar interests in movies and tv shows. But it will be interesting to see how our working relationship will be. One thing I have learned is that it is one thing to be friends with your companions but being friends does not always guarantee a good working relationship. I'll admit that out of necessity I need to be more proactive in speaking Russian, which is scary because I can't use the excuse that my companion should know because she has been out longer. Sister Workman has been in Russia one transfer less than I have.

Thursday we had our transfer meeting and we got to meet the new missionaries and exchange companions. We had our stake Christmas concert and it was fabulous. The sister missionaries sang "What Child Is This?" and afterwords several people said that we sounded like angels. Most importantly, a lot of people came! Members, inactives, people from english club. It was great to see the hall so filled. And some people stood in the back for the entire program. 

The rest of the week we have been hunting inactives and trying to make contact with as many as possible. We have also starting carolling as a district and it is a lot of fun. Sometimes people give us strange or dirty looks but occasionally some people will stop and listen. But lately we have had some success with inactives. We dropped by one lady and she let us in! We explained that we were new in the area and trying to get to know everyone. We were only able to drop off our chocolate bar but she said she would come to church and see off there. 

Sunday was a day full of miracles. I was so nervous for Sunday because there was a lot to get done to prepare Valeria for baptism. I poured my heart out in prayer that everyone would work out and that I would have the language abilities to communicate everything.

First off, we attended International ward and Maria was confirmed! She was even able to be confirmed in Tagalog, her native language. I was so happy. Then we had a lesson and talked about her ancestors. She is becoming worried for their salvation and has been thinking of them and wants to do their work for them. She pointed out that since she is the only member in her family doing their work really is her responsibility. 

Then Russian church! Valeria AND Anna came! Anna is a lady who came a few weeks ago and no one knew that she wasn't a member. So when our ward mission leader asked if we got her number we were shocked to find out she was not a member. Since then I got her number and have called her a few times. When I asked if she wanted to learn more about the Church she mentioned that she had some questions and said we could meet after the holidays. I found out later from Sister Sorenson (President and Sister Sorenson came to our church) that Anna told Sister Sorenson that she appreciated the calls us sisters made. Really, the phone calls were very short and I had hoped that I was not bothering her.

I'll admit I have been very stressed out about Valeria. She has not been able to meet for two weeks and wants to be baptized. Everytime we tried to meet with her outside of church our meeting would be cancelled for one reason or another. So I was beginning to get worried and our lesson on Sunday would determine how things would work out.

After Sacrament meeting we had our lesson with Valeria and we were able to have a member on the lesson. That member really made all the difference because we had a lot of commandments to talk about with her. But Valeria wants to be baptized and that desire has helped motivate her. We discussed prophets, law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, Tithing, and the Sabbath Day. We managed to get through all of them and it she really enjoyed learning about them. Afterwards she said that she felt really encouraged and comforted. Valentina, the member, was great. Since she is a convert she had several stories to back up her testimonies and made sure that we did not forget to cover anything. Really, she was inspired by the spirit because as we talked about Word of Wisdom Valentina shared her struggle with giving up coffee and pointed out that it was hard at first. Later in the lesson Valeria said that she will give up coffee and said it would be hard but when we taught her she seemed to accept it and she was willing to give it up. Valentina was also very encouraging and pointed that that at her baptism she did not have a strong testimony about prophets but a few weeks later her branch president assigned her to give a talk prophets. She said as she learned more and grew in the gospel that strong testimony came. All in all I think that Valeria is ready for baptism. 

The miracles don't stop there. Two inactives came to church! And one of them was an older lady with whom we meet with about every other week. She has a cane and does not walk well so she would need a ride to come to church. So imagine my surprise when I got to Relief Society and I saw her sitting there. I was ecstatic. Then the lady who said she would see us at church came! 

Today we went ice skating as a zone on Red Square. It was a lot of fun and I didn't fall! Afterwards we went to Chili's. While I was at Chilis the phone rang and I answered. Last week we went inactive hunting and stopped by one lady's house. She was not home but we were able to get into her building and left her some chocolate and a liahona. Well, she called us and when I asked if we could meet she said yes! The Lord is richly pouring out more miracles and blessing than I could ever hope for. Truly, the Christmas season is a time of miracles and is perhaps softening some hearts. 

That was my week. All in all my weekend was pretty incredible. As I already said Christmas truly is a magical time and a time of miracles. All of this reminds me that this truly is the Lord's work and it comes in His timing. This has also reminded me that God truly hears our prayers and answers them. The answer does not come immediately but it comes. Also, I know that those things that worry us or are of great importance to us are very important to our Heavenly Father.

About the weather! There is more snow now which only started to stick yesterday. I still have not pulled out my winter jacket but it has started to get colder and I wear my boots more often. As to the new native sisters, I would love to serve with any of them. They are all great and full of faith. 

Time is just about up. Thank you for your prayers. They are always needed and always greeted with great love from me. Thank you for all you are doing to help me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Transfers, Kiev, and a Baptism oh my!

First off, I will answer questions about the protest: I have no idea what happened. We got a phone call from our district leader on Friday telling us to stay away from the Center of Moscow and not to wear name tags. As for Saturday (the day of the protest) I have no idea what went on or what the protests were about. I wasn't even in Moscow. I was in Kiev. But more on that later.

It has been an interesting week. First, Maria was baptized yesterday! It turned out to be a great baptism. The only day off she had was Sunday so it happened yesterday after church. She was so excited and although not a lot of people were able to come a good number showed up. A few of her Filipino friends came, a few American members, and some of the Africans. The baptism started on time and her friend, the one that introduced her to the church, gave a talk on baptism. I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and I think it went well. I'll admit I prepared for the talk but I had no time during the week to write anything down. But I just looked at Maria as I spoke and the words seemed to flow. After she was baptized she could not stop crying because she was happy. It was a really good day. 

Afterwards we practiced for the stake Christmas concert which will be this Thursday. As a stake we are singing O Holy Night in Russia. It's a shame none of you will be there because it is going to sound great.

On Friday we found out about transfers. I am staying in Sokolniki but Sister Rasmussen is leaving and I will be senior companion. I am pretty nervous but now the phone will be my responsibility. I am not training but my trainer, Sister Bullough is training again and this time a native. She is pretty scared and nervous so I told she would be alright. After all, I am still alive. Her response was, "You were easy to train! I didn't really have to do anything!" Sister Rasmussen will actually be serving with Sister Thrall, my MTC companion, and Sister Horspool, who was in my ward at BYU. I will be getting Sister Workman, Sister Horspool's companion right now. Although I have only been in my area for 8 weeks after this transfer I will be the second oldest missionary in the area. 

On Saturday we went to Kiev for our visa trip. Because Ukraine changed for day light savings and Russia did not we did not have a lot of time in Kiev. But at least we had time to do baptisms and we were allowed to sit in the Celestial Room. I'll admit that I am very nervous for next transfer for a lot of reasons so it was good to be out of the world and just feel peace for a little while. It was also fun to talk to the elders I arrived in Moscow with. It was also interesting to see how the dynamics and people have changed in the past 3 months. 

I'll admit it does not feel like Christmas is about 2 weeks away. Honestly, these next two weeks are going to be very stressful with transfers, the concert, and trying to get Valeria ready for baptism. We have not meet with her in two weeks. First she got sick and then work has kept her pretty busy. Luckily, President told Sister Rasmussen that she can come on splits with me to help with Valeria because there is still a work that needs to be done and if we can't meet this week we are going to have to move her baptism. In my experience, moving baptisms makes baptisms harder. We had a training this past week too and we discussed baptism dates and President pointed out that as soon as you set a date it is like painting a target for Satan. Ever since we set the date all sorts of obstacles have been thrown at us. 

So between training, transfers, Kiev, and the baptism not a whole lot has happened. We are continuing to meet with some less actives and trying to track down inactives. I'll admit the beginning of the week had some very hard moments which seem like a dream and I would rather keep them in the past. So essentially that has been our week, crazy and all over the place. 

Mission life is going well. There are definitely challenges but so far I am surviving and my President tells me that I am thriving. I know I have changed and progressed but sometimes it is hard to see the daily progress. But long term progress begins with daily decisions. I am doing good and excited to see how things will go. Now is a time where I need to have faith and really trust the Lord. In other news I am two books away from finishing the Book of Mormon and it really has blessed my life. More importantly I have learned more about the Atonement and been working to apply it in my life. 

I love you all and I am thankful that the Lord is watching over you in my stead. I know that this is the Lord's work and that He loves all of us and has so many blessing in store for us. 

-Sister Daniel

PS:It is official that missionary are going to Turkey. In January one of our senior couples, an Emeritus Seventy, are moving to Turkey to begin preparing the area to receive full time missionaries. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just another week

This past week I'll admit that not a whole lot happened. 

Last Tuesday was exciting. We got 2 meeting on a day that was not Sunday! It was pretty great although there was a lot of running around because we have district meeting on that day as well. Our last lesson for the night is that it was with an inactive member and her investigator husband. I'll admit we did not have a lot of time to plan so the lesson went all over the place. But a good thing came from it. We ended up gearing the lesson more towards the inactive wife and talked about the blessing of going to church. As we talked I told our families inexperience in Hong Kong and how long it took to get to churchand what an influence that had on my wife. At the end we asked if she would come to church, expecting that she would refuse. Instead she said, "Probably." And she said after listening to my story the 40 minutes on the train didn't seem so bad. In the end she did not end up coming to church yesterday but for that brief moment the Holy Ghost touched her and made her consider how important coming to church and taking the sacrament really is. 

The rest of the week I was sick. Despite being sick we still tried to find inactive members and try to make contact with them. Friday was probably the day I felt the worse so I ended up sleeping a lot but on the plus side by Saturday I felt a whole lot better and had more energy to work. Being sick is the worst. You want to work harder because you are sick and don't want to waste time but at the same time you get tired a lot easier. One night in particular I felt weak and then all these negative thoughts popped into my mind. All my weaknesses hit me full force. Thankfully, I recalled a talk from General Conference that I read that day and I analyzed those thoughts and to discover their source. Had I dwelled on them I would have felt discouragement so I tried my best to cast them out and come up with a plan to be better. 

The week had a lot of potential but a lot of the people we planned to meet with got sick as well so we continued to try to find and contact inactives. On Saturday I had the opportunity to help someone with their French. A member from Perovo is taking a French class and asked if I could help her. She did really well but I forgot how hard French pronounciation is at first. She would say a word and then she would have me say it. After she heard me she would look at the word and asked, "How do all those letters make that sound?!" She began to get frustrated so I told her about my experiences with French and helped her feel hope. I'll admit helping her gave me flashbacks to the MTC and my first year French class. 

Church yesterday was pretty exciting! We went to International in the morning and had a great fast and testimony meeting. During the meeting I looked at our investigator, Maria and she looked a little restless. When there was a break between testimonies she stood up and bore her testimony! She bore testimony about the power of prayer, the Book of Mormon, Jospesh Smith, and President Monson. I was so impressed and so happy because she was glowing. Afterwards we met with her briefly to plan her baptism. Everything is ready to go and she can't wait. I count myself as lucky to have been able to see and be a small part of her conversion process. She is someone I admire because her faith has led her to action. When her friends told her about the Word of Wisdom she gave up coffee and tried the commandment and the Lord has blessed her. Our district leader told us that when he was interviewing her he felt like he was interviewing the Brother of Jared.

Sadly, our other investigator is sick so we could not meet with her yesterday. We are trying to get her all ready for baptism on the 24th (which might end up being the busiest day of my life) of December and we are getting a little bit stressed because there are some things we still need to teach her and she still needs her interview. But this is the time to exercise our faith and continue to pray and do our best to do all we can. 

This next week will be a little crazy. We find out about transfers, we have a training on Wednesday, visa trip to Kiev, and culture night. Oh, and our baptism on Sunday! But I have a lot of high hopes for this next week.

I'll admit it is now December but it does not yet feel like winter. It is warmer today so most of the snow has melted. There will be snow on the grass but only on Tuesday did we trudge through slush. It gets cold at night but so far my fall jacket is still carrying me through. I imagine in a month's time I will look back on today as a happy dream of warmth.

Well, that was my week. I am better now and determined to serve the Lord with all my might, mind, and strength. And don't worry, I love the mission but the mission has made me more excited for real life and to see what else the Lord has in store for me. He has a much greater image of what I can become. I know that it is better to look up and to look to the Lord. He really does want to help us and most times all we need to do is ask in prayer. I love you all and am so grateful that you are in my life and I am so happy to know that the Lord is taking care of you. I love you all.

-Sister Daniel