Wow, this week was an emotional but great one. First off, I just want to thank everyone who has been praying for our family and for me. I have really felt the comfort of prayer and of the spirit. One blessing that I was able to receive was that I had my last visa trip and we had enough time in Finland that I was able to do baptisms, initiatories, and an endowment session at the temple. It truly was a tender mercy of the Lord. I felt that grandpa was near the whole time. He had probably been teaching the people that I did the ordinances for (all Russian) so he really is serving right along beside me. The temple was just what I needed to lift my spirits. Each time I go my testimony of the Plan of Salvation is strengthened. This time was really special because I was able to apply it to myself in a very personal manner. I sure do love the gospel and the knowledge of peace and happiness that it brings to each of us. I don't know what I would do without the knowledge of eternal families. It truly is a blessing and now I understand it even more. I was so happy to hear of the funeral services and the bond that the family had there. I sure do hope that we all continue to do so and let the atonement heal every wound. That's what grandpa would want and that's what the Savior made possible if we will just accept it.
Elder Parson and I have been studying the Plan of Salvation together in our companionship studies because his grandpa died too, just a little before grandpa. It is the only two phone calls of death that President Rust has received on his mission and it just happened to be his assistants within one week of each other. It really is a testimony to me that everything happens for a reason and that the Lord knows what he is doing. Both of our testimonies have grown a ton and we both are understanding the true meaning of the atonement. I can testify that I know the meaning of the atonement was all for love. Jesus has a perfect love for us. He understands all that we are going through. We talked about how it is easier to love and get comfort from someone who experienced the same things that you have been through (for example Elder Parson and I being able to help each other out in the time of our grandfathers' deaths) and how that's why the Savior loves us. That is why he can heal us because he has been through exactly what we have been through. He knows our every pain, and grief and I believe he also knows our joy and happiness and love. He is the perfect example of love and he knows us inside and out. That's why we need to love Him because He really did love us first and understands us perfectly. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. It really is so simple and it can all be brought down to one thing and that is love. God wants us to become like him, to learn and to grow and then to return to him for one simple reason because he loves us. God is love.
This week I am going to have an interesting experience. Elder Painter and I (he's not my comp, we are just going on a split because he knows the city) are going to Surgut for a few days (a city in our mission that was shut down about 6 months ago) We are going to meet with the members there and try to see if we can get some brethren active so that they can have a group leader up there and eventually become a branch again. So it's kind of going to be a cool experience. Surgut is way up north and it's going to be freezing there. We are just going to go up there and stay in a hotel and try to find investigators and stuff as well. We are just going to go wild and work really hard and speak with everyone that we see. Luckily we are going to fly up there and not take the 21 hour train ride. So wish us luck, we could use your prayers! Especially Big Al's since I hear that they are calling him REV now days. ;) Keep it up buddy!
I will say that I'm pretty jealous about the Jazz game haha. You couldn't have waited a little longer to cash in on the tickets Guy?! haha just kidding. I hope you have a great time. It sounds like it will be a great family outing. Be sure to give Jamo my love and tell him that I'm proud of him and that he'll be a great missionary. This is the greatest work on earth! I've never been so happy and satisfied with my life.
From Russia with love,
I love you sooo much. Thank you for the example that you and Grandpa are in my life. I really love you both so much and I know that Grandpa is helping me out right now. He hasn't started any water fights yet either but I don't think that he can hold off that long. I know that you really miss him but I promise you that he is nearer than you think. I had the opportunity to be in the temple (it just so happens I think that it was the same time you were there) last week and I really felt his presence. I was praying really hard and I felt the spirit so strongly when we were doing confirmations. One of the temple workers broke out into tears and testified to us that the spirits of the dead were right there with us. I know that Gramps was there. I started crying and I felt a warm feeling of love. I knew that the temple workers testimony was an answer to my prayers. Grandpa lives. He is teaching the Russian people up in heaven. He's having the time of his eternal life right now. It's hard for us to not have him physically here with us but he is here! I know that Grandma. Stay strong! I love you so much. I want to hug you sooo bad so I'm sending you an email hug and kiss. You are the best Grams in the world. I love you.