I had a pretty miraculous week this week.
First of all, they created a district in Volgograd!!! For those of you who are not super familiar with the way that the LDS church organizes itself, the smallest level of church organization is a branch, which is what we have out here in Red Army. Branches become wards (what church organizations usually call themselves in the US) when a Stake is formed (a collection of wards). The church in our mission doesn't have enough members to support a Stake, but we do have enough to support a district, which is essentially like a stake, but instead of a collection of wards, it's a collection of branches.
This is huge news for us out here in Russia. It means growth has occurred here, but it also means that a bigger sense of unity is going to be developed between the branches in Volgograd Center, Volgograd Red Army, Astrahan, and Volshki.
When they announced the new district , all of the branches were gathered in Volgograd Center, and I have never seen so much joy in one room. There was a vote to sustain the two new district leaders, and people were raising both hands because they were so happy to finally be able to connect to each other.
It was actually just a wonderful day . I was able to see all the members I grew to love so much in the transfer that I served in Center. One of them, Nina, a newer member of the ward, came up to Sister Misuraca and I and gave us both big hugs and kisses. As she looked at us in the face she began to cry. She told us how much she missed us and how grateful she is for the missionaries. It's moments like that, that keep me going. Knowing that the work I'm doing does help change lives for the better.
Speaking of, we had a lesson with a less active member this week. She's a sweet babooshka who lives out in the country side with her goats. We were able to go visit her, and we knew that we needed to talk about going to the temple with her. So, after she had shown us picture after picture of her sweet husband who died, I testified that I knew she could see him again. Immediately, she began to talk about the temple, and we were able to commit her to reading the scriptures and praying everyday again.
The thing that's so great about missionary work is that when the Spirit is there, you are not doing the work alone. Hearts are softened and minds are changed because of the Spirit, and it's my job to invite the Spirit and help people make decisions that will keep the Spirit in their hearts.
Being a part of this work, Heavenly Father's work, is the greatest decision I have ever made. I've never been happier, and I've never seen so much joy. Sure, I miss home, but there's nothing better than seeing people change and become more joyful each day.
I love you all! I hope you have a miraculous week, too!
PANCAKES! We even made our own syrup!
The Volga River
Lenin Statue in Red Army
Lenin from the front
Sister Misuraca and the Volga
I call this one "Inspiration"
A strange fruit that we found at the store. I really liked it, but then again, I really like almost everything...Even mayo now. Russian mayo is pretty darn good.
More Lenin (We had fun that day)
Halloween. Sister Misuraca is Snow White. I'm supposed to be Little Red Riding Hood.
Attempted selfie with Lenin
District Pizza Party! This literally never happens, so it was really exciting.
The sisters in our zone sang in zone conference last week.
And then we all got up and sang in order to learn how to invite the spirit. It was great.
Back row: Elder Waterson, Elder Foote, Elder Ride, Elder Randall, Elder Brimhall, Elder Barnes, Elder Simenyook, Elder Tucker, Elder Thayer.
Middle Row: Elder Fisher, Elder Berger, Sister Kookoola, Sister Delong, Sister Montierth, Sister Marquis, Sister Misuraca, Me!, Elder Henrie, Elder Barlocker
Front Row: Elder Katcher, Sister Katcher, Sister Miner, President Miner