Elder Buxton at the Kyiv Temple while on a visa trip

Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31,2011

Happy New Year!!!
First I want to thank all of you who wished me a happy birthday. I can feel your love and support and I hope you know and feel of my love and support as well. This week was another great week for me. We went to Ufa to have a zone conference there. It was so spiritual again. Each time right after the movie "17 miracles" we have had a testimony meeting and each time the spirit was so strong as the missionaries bore their testimonies. I will never forget the feelings that I had. Each time there was no other place on earth that I would have rather been, than sitting here in Russia over the holidays feeling the perfect love of God. I was also able to spend some good time with my boy Elder Aiken it was a real treat to see him. So funny thing you should mention the lack of toilet paper last year haha. It just so happens that this year I am living with Elder Khurdakormov again (because we live with the office elders) and I walked out of the bathroom the other day which has a plentiful supply of toilet paper and said "Looks like we'll have plenty of toilet paper this year Elder Khurdakormov." haha Elder Parson and Elison started laughing really hard and asked about the story. It was great. So that has been one of our topics floating around the apartment and Elder Elison said he was even going to write home about it. It's just funny that you would mention it mom haha.

So for my Birthday we will be semi-locked up. It's hard to believe that I am 21. I really sometimes feel like a 19 year old boy still. I know that I have changed but it's just wild. It seems that time is going by so fast it almost seems like it's standing still. I hope that makes sense. :) We will be inside for the first half of the day and then we need to go grocery shopping. Then we will hit up McDonald's together to celebrate. This week will be another busy one. We are heading up to Perm (the only city in the mission that I haven't been to yet) for a few days to do a district conference or something of that sort. Our schedule starts today that we need to be inside by 4 o'clock. Then we do get to go to church tomorrow for one hour at 12 by taxi then come back home and spend the rest of the new year in the apartment. Elder Parson and I were talking about new year resolutions this morning and I think that I am going to come up with some great ones. So as you know most of this year will not be on my mission but I want to continue scripture study habits and prayer each day. I will also read Jesus the Christ and I also want to set a high GPA goal. Yes, I'm a little more responsible than I was when I was 19, I guess. And of course be diligent in seeking for a beautiful daughter of zion. ;) haha That's just some of my goals for home. I have many more for both on the mish and for home. I really love being here. It's great learning from other missionaries and from President and Sister Rust. Like you said Gods plan is perfect! I know that I can choose happiness in the hardest of situations. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and doeth nothing save it be for the benifit of his children. I love it here. This week is Elder Zhdanov's last one. It's crazy to think. He passes on his love to you all. I will be able to send him off at the airport though. I'll pass on your love as well. I did get Wrandi's package but not yours yet. Thank you so much Wrandi your the best! Great gifts. I hope you all have a Happy New Year!!! Take care and God bless you everyone. :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011

Wow, what a great Christmas this one was. The week started off great and Elder Parson and I decided that we needed to do a Dan Jones. (for those of you who don't know what that is, it's when we stand up in the front of the bus and talk & share testimony to the whole bus) It was quite the experience. We didn't see any immediate investigator results from it, but who knows? It might happen. But what it did do is cast out the fear factor. After talking to a whole bus about the plan of salvation, it's a lot easier to chat with one person on the street. Also this week was the most powerful zone conference I have ever had! It was all about the true meaning of Christmas and how we can continue to keep Christ in our lives. Sister Rust shared 10 things that we can do to keep Christ in Christmas and that is what prompted the bus singing I told you about. The Office Elders and us decided that it would be a good idea to sing to the bus and try to warm some hearts rather than just preach to the bus so we tried it out. Christmas-eve morning we practiced singing together. Then we went to the Christmas program at the church and on the way we started singing. It was a great experience and the people really enjoyed it. So many people were smiling and just happy. A lot of them expressed gratitude and we were able to hand them all invitations as they left the bus. It was a great experience and we are planning on doing it again today. Also at zone class our gift for Christmas was that we got to watch 17 Miracles. Wow, that is such an amazing movie and it brought the spirit so strongly. It brought me to tears to see the struggles that the Saints went through to get to Utah. It really brought the spirit in for testimonies and a spirit of love and peace was felt by all who were in attendance. It was a feeling that I will never forget. I made sure to write all my feelings down in my journal and realized that I need to do more of that as well.

It was so great to call you yesterday! haha I realized I told you the wrong time when I heard Jamie or Wrandi in the back round say "I thought he said he was calling tomorrow." in a panicked voice. Because it really was tomorrow for me I was just about to go to bed when I called and told you what time. So in my head it all made sense that I would call tomorrow. So I went to bed got up and called you guys. It was a great phone call and I was so happy to see you all there. Cohen and Avery were probably my favorite though I'm not going to lie. I loved it when Cohen would get that mischievous look on his face and then pull the camera down. haha Avery is just a little angel. She is such a happy girl I was glad to see her a little more this time because last time she was really small and I didn't see much of her. Those two have already grown so much. I wonder if Cohen even thinks I'm a real person or even realizes that I will be home someday. I also wanted to thank you so much for the gifts that you sent. Jamie's present was really maybe the best gift I have ever received. It brought tears to my eyes to read the testimonies of my loved ones. I felt of your love in each and every letter. Thank you so much to all those who wrote. I love you soooo much.

The trip to Chelyabinsk was great! We were really busy. We really just showed up to church that morning, went to sacrament meeting and then translated interviews for President the other two hours of church and then left. It was great to see all the people that I know and love there. Nastia is going on a mission and her papers are being sent in this week! That is just so humbling and great to see her go on a mission. This Saturday will be her year mark and she already has her mission papers in! Wow, its so great. She will be a great missionary. I also got to meet her brother Vitally finally. He is a great kid and that will be great to see him go on a mission as well.

So this week I will write on Saturday here around 2:20 p.m our time. So I will let you do your own math this time because we saw what happens when I try haha. So just let everyone know to write me before that time. It's because we are having in days that weekend. Russia also pretty much shuts down for 2 weeks for the new years and no places will be open to do Internet. I love you all so much. I hope you had a Merry Christmas.
Tell Ina and Paul thank you soo much. There are so many angels in the world that love me. Pass my love on to them. Thank you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wow, this week has been so great! I love this time of year so much! You can't help but think about the family and the roll that they play in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I just want to thank all my family and friends for being sooo supportive and loving. I love you all and hope you have a very Merry Christmas!! And congrats to Wrandi and Tyson on the wedding!
So I have really enjoyed my time in Ekat so far. Responsibilities are different as an assistant but I have really enjoyed it a lot so far. President Rust is a great man and a great example and so is Sister Rust! They are both so loving and caring. We do spend quite a bit of time with President helping him train and help the missionaries. Usually we get to do some teaching when new missionaries come into the country, when we have zone conferences, and other situations like that. We also do a lot of translating. However our most important goal is still to find, teach and baptize. I love my new comp Elder P~. He is a great guy and I'm looking forward to serving with him. This week we had a really great experience. After taking the new missionaries to the office we had to order a taxi. The driver was such a great man. His name is A~ and he said that he has been struggling lately in life, feels down on himself and gets depressed from time to time. I was able to share with him the happiness of our message and how it really helps to know the plan of salvation. I told him that one reason why I am so happy is because I know where I came from, why I'm here and where I'm going after this life. He got really interested and we talked about life the rest of the way to President's house and then set up a meeting for Saturday night. We met with him in a cafe and it was an amazing meeting. He is such a sincere man. We were able to relate to him really well and explain how the gospel will help him. It was one of the most spiritual meetings on my mission and by far the best in a cafe that I have ever had. We knew that he needed to feel God's love and I know that we all felt it really strongly on that meeting. One question that he kept asking really stuck out to me a lot. Even though I have been asked this question many times. He kept asking why we are here, then when we would explain he would say yeah that make sense but how does that help you? We told him that it brings us happiness and joy and tried to explain it as best as we could. After the meeting I pondered that question really deeply and it just so happens that I have been studying the plan of salvation and how it is evidence of God's love for us. So to try to help myself understand a little more I asked myself the question similar to A~'s: Why does God want us to return to him, and what does he get from that? I mean because when we think about it He really doesn't receive anything. He is already all knowing, and all powerful and has all characteristics that we are striving to get. However one of those characteristics is an all perfect love for us. That's why he created the plan for us because we are literally his children. Just like earthly parents make sacrifices for their own children and lose a lot of material things in doing so, they get joy in seeing their children make correct choices and in seeing their children succeed and find joy and happiness. God sent his First Born Son here to earth to atone for each and everyone of us. They did that all because of love. I realized that this is why I do missionary work is because of love for God and for my fellow man. It's such a rewarding feeling to see someone change their life. I love my mission its been so great. It was great to see the change in A~'s countenance after our meeting and we are excited to meet with him on Wednesday. That story sounds a lot better in my head and in my study journal but I hope that it helped you too. So we are going to be pretty busy this week and I don't know when we are going to call but I'll call you and let you know when, if that's okay. I'm so excited. I love you lots. Take care.
Elder Buxton

Monday, December 12, 2011


Ahh, I'm so glad that you got the package. I know for a fact that I sent Wrandi a secret email about the package but she's just too twitterpated to even pay any attention to me ;) I told her about the package because I wanted you to be surprised.:) I didn't have time to write a note in there. I'm sorry, I just had to get it sent off.
So this week Elder A~ and I went to leadership training in Ekat on Tuesday. Then he went on his visa trip on Wednesday while I was at zone leader council. I was able to stay the night with Elder Z. We then got news that Elder A had problems on his visa trip and had to stay in Helsinki for a few more days. So that made me stuck in Ekat with Elder Smith :) (who I served with) and Elder Young. I did get both of my packages and they were perfect! Thank you so much. The cds are awesome. I love Alex Boye! So Elder A arrived back to Ekat Saturday morning. We got on the 16 hour train ride that night back to Ufa and arrived Sunday morning to make it back to church. So my last week in Ufa, we spent in Ekat. So yeah I did get transferred and I'm going to miss the people here so much. Plus this area is really catching on fire again with E~ and Z~ and also a miracle! S~ who I wrote about last year that Elder Ray and I contacted on the street. He came to church a couple times. He came back to church a few weeks ago and also yesterday and the missionaries are working with him now. He is a golden investigator. He is a very successful man and so humble and teachable. Yesterday he stayed for all three hours and really enjoyed it. It's just a testimony to me that no effort is wasted. We contacted him over a year ago. I didn't know if anything would come from it but now he is a progressing investigator and giving the missionaries lots of referrals. I really love Ufa so much! It's my second home for sure. Some good news though, I will be able to visit from time to time when President comes to town. I will be serving with Elder Parson as an assistant to the president. We are able to travel around with President Rust and help him teach and train. So I will be able to see the people that I love from time to time. Not that often but it is a little easier to say goodbye that way. I'm really excited for the opportunity to serve with Elder P~ and to serve around President. I'm going to miss Elder A~ though. We really got along well and worked hard together. I learned so much from him just on the outlook on life. He is a great example and will be training a new missionary in his 3rd transfer in the country. Wild right?

So the Sabbath was wonderful! E~'s family came again and it was great to see the ward fellowship them. We also had a really great meeting with A~ who is one of my favorite people in Russia yesterday. He is trying to quit smoking and has such a great desire to do so. He is working on it a little at a time. He is reading the Book of Mormon everyday and praying as well. He is down to 18 cigs a day from 66 cigs a day! Can you believe that?! He is such a champion! We read Alma's story in Mosiah 24 where the Lord doesn't take their burdens away but blesses them with strength that they may carry their burdens with ease. He is such a humble guy and I want him to be able to quit so bad. Tonight we will be having a family home evening with a lot of the members and Z~. Other investigators should be coming so that will be a good opportunity to get members and investigators mingling. Things are going really great. The Jensen's wanted me to pass on their love to you as well. I'm really going to miss them too. They are a great couple and great examples. You could say that they are like another set of parents. I love them so much.

So unfortunately I wont be able to call for Wrandi's wedding but I will be able to call for Christmas. On Christmas day here we will be able to Skype. So give me a lot of times that would work for you because there are a lot of missionaries in Ekat. We'll all have to work around each others schedules and stuff. So give me a wide range of when I am able to call you. I'm so excited it will be great to see you guys. I love you all so much!
PS The kids look so cute. They are in my prayers. Hagen is hardly recognizable! So big now. Give them my love!

Note to Jamie & Nate
I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know how much I love you guys. You are the best examples to me and I want you to know that. I want my family to be like yours, happy and Gospel Centered. You are the perfect examples of that. Thank you so much. I wish you happiness in the Christmas season. A time to reflect about our Savior and all He has done and given to us. I am so thankful for my family. I love you guys so much. I love you and look up to you. Have such a Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5, 2011

You asked about Christmas celebrations, unfortunately in Russia, Christmas is not that big of a deal. Their big holiday is New Year's. That's when the whole country celebrates. They pretty much take work off for two weeks. However, the members do celebrate and are putting on a Christmas program that they are so excited for. They have been practicing for a while already. It will be awesome. :) This week we didn't get to go caroling because it was the elections here in Russia. We weren't allowed to be on the street unless we had a meeting that we were going to. This week was a good one though. It was full of business stuff that we had to do but educational non the less. We went around on Thursday with Doctor and Sister Hatch (the med couple in Moscow) and checked out medical facilities here in Ufa. Elder Decker and I went and helped translate for them. It was quite interesting and informational. Sometimes we have to do things that don't really seem like "missionary work" but really once you think about it, that's what missionary work is, helping people out and doing things that need to be taken care of. This mission has been the best thing for my life and for me. Its been tough but I have learned a lot about myself and have had my eyes open to the world and how beautiful God's creations are. I try to view everyone as a Child of God because that's what we are. In the world there is a lot of bad that goes on. I see how satan tries to make people feel trapped and terrible about themselves but I know that there is one way to return to heaven and that is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If we allow him to heal us, all pain, all doubt, all heartache, all struggles, and all misfortunes can be made right through Christ. I know this:) We did have a week full of miracles as well. President and the Assistants came down to Ufa and did some amazing training on Sunday. It was very enlightening. Also the S~'s came to church again. E~'s family and that was a miracle. Z~ is also doing very well but got sick this weekend.

This week will be pretty crazy because we will be in Ekat from Tuesday to Friday. It's very possible that this is my last week in Ufa since I have been here for so long. But it's also possible that I stay. It will be hard to go if I do. I have some great relationships here with investigators and members. I will let you know if I get my packages when I go to Ekat. I can't think of anything that I need really. I love you so much. I feel of your love everyday and I love each package you send no matter whats in it. It's perfect. :) I love you all so much. Sorry this letter was short. I just didn't have much time.