Elder Buxton at the Kyiv Temple while on a visa trip

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 27, 2012

This week was fantastic but also kind of a roller coaster. Unfortunately, it seems that S~ and S~ got a hold of some anti material or something because they aren't answering our calls. We texted them and asked if they were still interested and got no reply. :( They were so promising and golden! So we decided that we would just let them be for awhile and not call or text or anything. It was kind of a bummer but it's alright because there were a lot of ups this week as well. We went to Tyumen to do splits with the Zone Leaders there and that was a great experience It's always great to travel back to the old areas where I have served and see the people that I love. We then returned to Ekat and President was in Turkey this week for Mission President's Seminar so we had a lot of free time in our area which was really nice. We did sign boarding and had the question "What do you think? Why are there so many different religions in the world?" It has been a great success! It leads straight into the restoration of the gospel and that is the message that we are taking to the world. Each time we share the first vision on the street it's really cool because they get really quiet and we have yet to be interrupted while reciting the first vision. It brings such a special spirit and allows the Holy Ghost to testify to them. We have gotten a lot of numbers and even one young kid that we talked to came to church yesterday and is interested in meeting with us this week! Despite the opposition the Lord is blessing us with new investigators. On the way to Internet today we had a great experience as well. The phone rang and I answered it (of course) and it was a man speaking English. He said that his buddy gave him our number and that he didn't know that the church was in Ekat. He wanted to find out where the church was and meet with us as well. His name is M~ and he is from Nigeria. :) So we have a few promising new investigators lining up which will be super cool.
Also V~ is doing really great. The only problem with him is that he lives so far away and his computer is down right now, so we can't skype. But he is doing amazing and progressing well. He will probably get baptized when he comes into Ekat. We just don't know when that will be.
This week we are going to be a bit busy. We have some training for new missionaries and a few things that we get to do with President but we will be staying here in Ekat the whole week.
In one week I start my last transfer, kind of a scary thought.:( The weather here is really nice it feels like spring so we are going to play Frisbee today! Whoo hoo.
Well love you all,
Elder Buxton

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February 20, 2012

This week was sooo great! Elder Parson and I had a lot of time in our own area which is a really nice rare occasion for us. It was full of miracles! So first off when I was in Sergut, Elder Parson was in our area with Elder King and they were out on the street contacting. Well, they got really hungry so they went up to this kid about our age and asked him if he knew where they could find a sharuma(burrito type thing). Unfortunately, he didn't know. After he answered them, Elder Parson just started in, "well while we are talking to you, just so you know, we are here from America as church missionaries.... and we have a book of scripture that was written on the American Continent the same time as the Bible and talks about God's dealings with the people on that continent and how the Savior himself appeared to the people there. Elder P then asked if he would be interested. He said of course and took a Book of Mormon and and gave his number. We called him back and he has been reading the Book of Mormon every night before he goes to bed and is really enjoying it. He says that it's more clear than the Bible and it calms him down and gives him a peace. So we met with him by himself last Monday just in a mall and talked a little bit about who we are and we found out that he had already invited his whole work place to meet with us. So we set up a meeting at President's house on Wednesday. He showed up with a buddy and they are both so golden! We established our expectations on why we want to meet with them and then asked them what they want to get out of the meeting. They both said that they have the desire to come closer to God and know more about him. They want there to be more good in the world and less evil. It was a great meeting with an outpouring of the Spirit. They both took the commitment to read and to pray about the Book of Mormon. (Name) even pretty much bore testimony to (name) about the truthfulness of it. In the end we knelt down with them and had a kneeling prayer on the first meeting. It was great! Okay now for the second miracle! Remember our boy V~? The one who lives 250 kilometers out of the city and we got permission to teach him over skype? So unfortunately his computer is down right now so we can't skype but we still do have pretty much daily contact with him. So this last week we called him up and asked how his reading was going. He said that he read the whole Book of Mormon and knows that it's true. Then he said that after reading it, he gained a love for the scriptures and went out and bought himself a New Testament and is reading it as well. It was a huge testimony to us of the power of scripture. We only had one meeting with him before he left the city and invited him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. We also asked him if he would be baptized when he can to know that it was true. He said yes.:) He was sincere in his search for truth and got his answer. The Book of Mormon changed his life. He now has a love for scripture! So great. The Lord is really helping us along here in this part of his vineyard. Right now we have 3 potential Priesthood baptismal candidates. Oh yeah by the way N~(who I baptized) got her mission call this week to the Russia, Rostov mission. What a great experience to see! She'll be a great missionary. I have been so blessed with so many miracles on my mission. Some people may view the mission as a sacrifice but I view it as just one huge blessing. I have learned so much about everything. I realize that's a really general phrase but oh well. ;)
Crazy to think that Cohen can be 3 already! He was just a little tike when I left. Geez now when I get back Avery will be the size Cohen was when I left. Time really does fly! I think that it's cute that he says twain and ice tweam. Tell Jamie not to worry about it because I think that she probably does. ;) It's just cute.
That story about Jeana and Wayne really touched my heart. What great parents. Tell them that it is so great. It's true, I really don't see any down syndrome kids here. I have only seen about one or two my whole mission. I have actually wondered why. I hope that all goes well and let them know that they are in my prayers. Down syndrome kids are really so caring and loving. I doubt that they will need help but really if they do,I can translate. Right now that's a big part of what I do so they can give me a holla. :) when I'm home of course.
I'm loving the mish so much!
From Russia with love,
Elder Buxton

Monday, February 13, 2012

They're taking the Elders to Avangard:)

Elder Buxton at Salavat Yulaev
Bashkorstistan dancers

This was a phenomenal week! Wow, full of so many great experiences. First, we found a really great potential new investigator last week and we have a meeting set up with him tonight. His name is A~. He is a young man our age and is actually already reading the Book of Mormon that we gave him on the street when we contacted him. We weren't able to meet with him this last week because we flew up to Ufa to do some splits with the Elders there. Ufa is really my favorite place on earth right now. So many miracles happen there. The trip started great on splits with the zone leaders Elder B(from Heber) and Elder D. We had great splits and then the next day we had splits in my old area with Elder A and P. It was a great day. To top it off we went to the Baskirian Dancers which was the best performance I have ever seen in my life. Wow, it was really breathtaking. They danced so well. I wish I could send the videos to you but some of the pictures will have to do. Also Sunday, we had another great experience with teaching a large group of people. The Elders got a phone call on the week and a man asked them if they would be able to come out and meet with a few people. They of course said yes and it just so happened that Elder P and I were there that weekend when it was set up. (everything happens for a reason) :) So we go out to the bus stop that he told us to go to. We met him and then he said "follow me it's about a 30 min walk from here." We followed him out to like a recreational type place where people go to rest and have fun and this guy is their activity director or something. So about 20 people were there waiting for us. We started the meeting off just by sharing a little about the American culture and things like that. We actually also sang "Hey Jude" for them and they sang to us a few classic Russian folk songs. Then we got to the topic of our faith and why we are here in Russia. We had a good conversation with them and then one man asked who our prophet was? I answered that his name is Thomas S. Monson and that he lives. Then the room just got silent and Elder P whispers "the Spirit just came." It was such a clear feeling and then we all testified about prophets and the apostasy and so on... It was so powerful. After the testimonies we just set there in silence and then they all applauded us. It was great! They loved it and the elect stayed to learn a little more even though it was dinner time. (there was one drunk lady who was a little too friendly so we avoided her) We went on to talk about the Book of Mormon and the gospel. There were a few elect people there and I can see some good things coming of it. The man who brought us there is actually not interested himself in the gospel (but loves sharing it for some reason?) haha, He wants to organize a field trip to bring them into church for an activity. That would be great! It was a great experience kind of like "the sermon to the bus". I will include a more detailed letter of it that Elder P wrote. He is hilarious. I think you will get a kick out of it. He has quite the way with words. It's all true but a little over emphasized haha. I'll send that letter after this one. So this week was fantastic and I loved going to Ufa and feeling at home. It's always great to see the members and investigators that I have such a great relationship with and the missionaries as well.
I want to wish Guy a happy b-day and my boy Cohen on the 19th! Both are getting pretty old ;) I love you lots! Take care.
Elder Buxton
PS I love grandma so much! Tell her thank you soo much for the letter. She is the best Grandma in the world and please hug her twice for me. Candace also wrote a very touching email and I love her so much too! Tell her(Candy Cane) that we have a date for sure without a question. She'll know what that means. Please pass on my love to the family. Grandpa is helping me out I know it. I love you all sooo much. Sounds like the jazz game was sweet!!!!!! I'm jealous. Love you take care

This is our epic weekend as written by Elder P. I think that he needs to look into majoring in some kind of writing profession. He is hilarious.
The ballad of the journey to the sanitorium... experienced by Elders Parson, Buxton, Aiken and Penfield

They're taking the Elders to Avangard!
It all began on a blistering cold evening in Ufa, dinner had recently been eaten by The October Elders--Aiken and Penfield, when from the desk in the other room, the phone sounds a delightful melody. They hurried to answer it, not knowing who the call was from, but eagerly awaiting an opportunity to talk with someone new. The callers name was G~, and he had an interesting proposition. He wanted to set up a meeting, and in very short, somewhat opaque terms, hinted that there may be a group of his friends there as well. The October Elders were elated to have the opportunity to do as the early church missionaries had done, and preach the gospel to large groups at once, and with this in mind, they set up the meeting for that Sunday evening.
As luck would have it, these Elders were due for splits with the Assistants that weekend, and so they decided to discuss it more with the Assistants when they arrived. When the topic came up, everyone thought it was going to be excellent, except for Elder Penfield, who insisted that this was a kidnapping attempt. The meeting approached as swiftly as a laser through the night sky, and after a joyous Sunday dinner with the Chernikovka Elders, who stayed to do dishes, the October Elders and the Assistants went off to teach to the multitude.
The place for the meeting had never been established, but the only information the small fellowship of Elders had was a bus number and a stop. They had been instructed over the phone that their contact would be waiting for them there and so they, on a whim of faith, boarded the bus towards the mystery shrouded meeting.
45 minutes later, the conductor indicated to them that this was in fact the bus stop at which they were to disembark and so, they got off the bus. No sooner had their feet touched the ground, then a man in a winter coat and blue jeans approached them and said simply, "Let's go, it is about 30 minutes walk from here," -- and they went. They journeyed over the freeway, and then down onto a path that led to a small town, and then to a road through the woods. The frozen asphalt on the road pricked at their feet through their shoes as they made their journey towards the meeting. While talking with this "G~," they found out that their arranged meeting was a little different than they had expected, in that their would be as many as 30 people waiting to talk to them, and that the premise of the meeting was as simple as getting to know and befriending some Americans. All this they learned as they walked with G~, as well as the name of the Sanitorium where the meeting would be held-- Avangard.
They entered the marble looking entry way to the sanitorium, and were greeted by friendly faces, and were then lead up three flights of stairs to the ball room of the building where the meeting was arranged to take place. G~ left them there for a while in order to go and invite those within the sanitorium to come and listen to us and get to know us a little. They began to trickle in the door, one, two, even three at a time, and they did their best to be the normal happy people they usually are. Nigh unto 15 minutes after the first person had entered the room, the Elders decided that they had better get started, and in standard missionary fashion, they wanted to begin with a song. Elder Aiken gave a dejected groan as he realized that there was no piano in the room, but then he remembered seeing one just outside in the small attache room. They quickly put their heads together and decided that the only song that would be suitable for a situation of friendshipping and ice breaking like that which they now had on their hands was in fact, Hey Jude. Elder Aiken put on a marvelous performance, and the rest of them muddled through the lyrics, clapping and all, and everyone in the room felt a little closer after that. They then returned to the ball room, and took their seats, but the people there had a treat there for the Elders also. They decided to play two songs for us, both of which would be accompanied by an accordion-- which was a treat in itself. They sang One song called Kartoosha, and the other has not been remembered. Both were excellent.
After the singing of songs, the questions came in as usual, concerning the differences between America and Russia, and they were masterfully answered as well as any politician could have done, slip-sliding away from definite answers as to which was better. But then as the questions went on, some man kicked off the meaty section of the conversation and said simply " Tell us about your faith." Better requests are not often made to missionaries, and the Elders were more than happy to oblige the request. Not many words on the subject were asked when another man asked, "Who is your prophet?" Elder Buxton opted to answer the question and as he began his powerfully simple response, the spirit entered the room... he said "His name is Thomas S. Monson, and he lives." The room went silent, and Elder Parson whispered to the other Elders "The Spirit just came in." The Elders began to testify of the truth and share the message of the gospel with the people in the room. When they had finished their testimonies, their was again a silence... and then... Applause? The Elders were slightly taken aback as the group began applauding their testimonies, it was indeed the last thing they expected.
As the meeting went on, we found out that at least one of those in attendance was a little drunk, and had a newly acquired and burning passion for the smooth facial features of Elder Buxton, but the others were seemingly genuinely interested. Some got up and left, others stayed but all heard at least a small part of the truth that their souls are searching for. 9 people at that sanitorium received a copy of the Book of Mormon, and a few less than that number read the entire introduction of the book with the Elders, and felt even more of the spirit that had come to dwell there for a season.
Only time will tell what may come of this meeting, perhaps a sanitorium field trip will be organized, and they will come and visit the Ufa branch with that group of 20 or so, or maybe not. Perhaps some of them will begin investigating the church on their own. Who knows? But what we can tell, is that when they took the Elders to Avangard, they couldn't foresee, that the Elders would take the gospel to them.

Monday, February 6, 2012

February 6, 2011

Surgut Snow:)

So this week was a great week like always. We found a great new investigator named V~. He is a young man studying here at a university from time to time. He lives way outside of the city which is a little unfortunate. He is solid however. Just a young man, 19 years old and interested in religion. He took the commitment to be baptized and we are excited to be working with him. He did go back to his city but we have been keeping connected with him over the phone and looking into getting permission to teach him over skype or something. He is so sincere and really wants to find out if it's true for himself. One little story I will share is that when we showed him how to pray Elder P was explaining it and he said "well first we fold our arms, close our eyes and bow our heads. Then we start by addressing our Heavenly Father, thanking him for the things we have and ask questions that we want to know, Then we close in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen," Then we showed him an example and asked "will you do that everyday?" He answered "Yeah, just I'm worried that I won't fold my arms right. Will you show me how to do it again?" Of course we explained to him that that's not the important part. The important part is the words. It's a simple story but it really showed how sincere he was and how he wanted to do things that were right. We are really excited about him.
Then Elder Painter and I took off to Surgut and it was a great time. It actually is a nice city and the people there seemed very accepting. We were able to have a lot of great conversations on the street and place a lot of Book of Mormons. We were able to meet with a few less actives and help them get the desire to come to church again. There were 20 people at sacrament meeting which was great to see. The city just got shut down not too long ago. They are now meeting in a members apartment on Sundays. They usually don't have any priesthood on the meeting but this time a less active brother of an active member came and brought his 17 year old son so there will be 2 brethren that hold the priesthood. There is also this little deacon E~ who is such a little stud. He goes every week and passes the sacrament if they have someone to bless it. Elder Painter and I met with him and went over Duty to God. It was a great experience. I felt kind of like a Dad haha. It's really humbling and sad to see a branch struggle like that when we have such strong wards in America. But then I remind myself that this is how the church started, really small. Satan will try to do all that he can to stop it but we are stronger and will prevail. I don't know if I have already shared with you the plan that President Rust has put forward. It is that this mission will have a stake in it in 5 years! Its so exciting to think about! We will just have a few cities in the stake Ufa, Ekat, Perm and Chelyabinsk. It's so cool to think about. It will be a pretty big territory but it won't even be the biggest stake in the world so it's possible. It's great to see the members get excited about it here.
Everything really is going so well. You're so right when you say that nothing is a coincidence. It was great for Elder Parson and I to give each other comfort when both of our grandpas died and it really did lighten the burden to mourn with those who mourn. I really have felt the prayers of so many family and friends. I love you all take care!
Elder Buxton
p.s to answer your question, we do travel a lot on Sundays to different branches. In fact we are going to Ufa this Sunday to have a branch conference. It will be great to return back to my mother land. haha;) But we do also go to church in Ekat a lot. Did that answer your question? I love you lots.