Monday, December 14, 2015

Russian Around, But Still Having A Lot of ApocryFUN! (Even though my muscles are Thor)

Sorry. I shouldn't have filled the subject line with all of those stupid puns, but I couldn't think of any really good ones, so I just ended up substituting quantity for quality. I hope you appreciated it.
Anywhonk, let's get down to the nitty gritty.

My new companion is Elder Rasmussen. I hope I included that in my last letter. Anyway, he was adopted from Russia at the age of 7 by a Mormon family, and the rest is history. He is a great guy, and was actually originally assigned to the Moscow, Russia mission. Unfortunately he was reassigned to the Ukraine when they found out he had dual citizenship (which meant that if he had returned to Russia, they would have forced him into the military). Then, while he was in the MTC, civil unrest broke out in the Ukraine, and he was temporarily assigned to this mission. Soon his "temporary" mission became permanent, and now he's reached his last transfer here, with moi. He actually opened up a Russian assignment here, which he served in for 10 months, but unfortunately, it didn't really work, despite the plenitude of Russians here. Oh well. He is a great companion, and I am starting to learn a lot of Russian. I am learning the alphabet which is cool, and I am learning a few words and phrases. For example, I know how to say "I know that Jesus Christ lives."
It is quite exciting. 
We have had a lot of success this week. We now have three people on date for baptism: Sarah, Ken, and David. We also have been teaching Michael, who is basically one of the best Christian men ever. He is way nice, and way Christlike. He has a lot of questions. I hope he ends up getting baptized. (In case your wondering what he looks like, he looks like that bald guy in Monsters University. The one with the tentacles, the mustache and glasses. He seriously looks a lot like that guy)
Sarah is having her life fall apart around her, and basically feels like God is trying to tell her something. We keep trying to tell her that WE bring the message God wants her to hear, and that the message will bless her life. She is starting to understand that, but... I suppose I'll just say she's intriguing in the fact that we'll think she understands something, and she'll say she understands something, and then a few minutes later, she'll say something that clearly shows that she didn't understand what we were stating. We have to state things several times, and I hate having to repeat things, because I feel like a broken record. We have to state things several times, and I hate having to repeat things, because I feel like a broken record. We have to state things several times, and I hate having to repeat things, because I feel like a broken record.
We'll see how things go with Ken. We only met him two days ago, and we haven't had our follow up appointment yet. He, too, is very interesting. In fact, he basically believes in the Pagan Norse religion. He kept talking about Thor, Loki, some other guys, Valhalla, and a few other things. His religion believes that all books of scripture are codices that lead to some rooms, or something. I don't remember what the codices had to do with anything, but it was something about rooms. Anyway, he really is a great guy. His beliefs are very interesting, and he is a wonderful person. Anyway, because of the whole "each book of scripture is a codex" idea, we somehow ended up talking about the Apocrypha. It's nice that the Lord prepares us for certain situations. I had recently restudied some of the doctrine about the Apocrypha, and I was very grateful that I had. We talked a little about what it says about it in the Doctrine and Covenants. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then go look it up in the Bible Dictionary. It's quite interesting. Also, read D&C section 91)
Anyway, it was one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had in my entire life. And I've had a lot of interesting conversations. I would never in a million years have pictured myself having a conversation like that with someone. I guess it just shows how important it is that we prepare by the Spirit, because we cannot plan for everything, but God does know everything, so if we trust in him, he will prepare us for these things.
My spiritual thought this week is found in 2 Nephi 10:20:
"And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea." 
I also like verse 23:
"Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves- to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."
I am not going to expound too much on this scripture. There are many applications we can find in these scriptures (and I encourage you to study this section of scripture, and liken it unto yourself), but I will say that I love that Jacob tells us not to hand down our heads, but instead to lay aside our sins. Yes we all mess up, but God knew we would mess up! That is why Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, so that we wouldn't have to hang down our heads. Our guilt and our insecurites and our weaknesses can all be taken care of by the atonement. We just need to choose now whether or not we will follow God and accept his atoning sacrifice. It is completely up to us. We have our agency. Grace and forgiveness are available to every single one of us, no matter what. So be happy, because it is our choice whether we are relieved from the burdens of our sin or weighed down by them. Cheer up your hearts! We can choose which team we want to be on, and we have been told which one is going to win. Have faith! I love you all! Farewell.
Elder Benge

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