This is our "Happy and Sad day" because we are happy for you but sad for us! We have really enjoyed being together with your son/daughter these last 30 hours and pray that all will go well with his/her last transfer home!
So many people have been counting down for me, I've been saved from having to do it myself. Instead, I can focus on the things that are really important like working! I don't feel like I'm going back to "normal" life because my life here seems normal.
This week was so exciting. I'm not even sure what kind of emotions I've been feeling. Going home is a nice excuse to use to get people to meet. We had some potential investigators FINALLY make an effort to meet to say goodbye. It was interesting to see who went out of their way and who politely brushed us off.
We visited a woman from our potentials list who has three kids who are adorable. Her ten-year-old son kept speaking English with us. He's a very polite, well-behaved kid. Her other two girls are twins, and they're only one year old. They kept her busy! She's interested in practicing English, and she was so nice. She would be such a nice addition to the branch. Our conversation didn't touch much on the church, but I hope the missionaries and the church can befriend her and help her see what kind of blessings are available here.
We also met with a former taxi driver that we've kept in contact with over the past few months. He said he's having a hard time in life and actually said he sometimes has suicidal thoughts. This is the first time I've seen him since he gave us a taxi ride, but he is openly looking for help and is ready to learn.
The other potential we saw was the primary president's daughter. She ALMOST came to church, but she was babysitting a neighbor's daughter and didn't know when the parents would be back. She also wants English help for her son. I can see her just falling in love with the church.
Church attendance was low, but the people are solid. I'm really going to miss everyone here. They've shown so much love. I know that sometime in the future we'll see each other again. :) The Church is true!
Я вас люблю! :D (I love you)
This week we were able to share the first vision twice and extend a baptismal commitment. I can't explain what a thrill it is to say those. I wish it happened more often. Another success of this week was return appointments. We met with two people a second time after our first initial contact. It was so great, and so miraculous. Everything is step by step. That was one of the topics I ended up studying today. God works line upon line, precept upon precept.
We talked with the primary teacher about how to make primary more interesting for the kids, and she really wants to help the kids gain a desire to come to church each week. She now is planning lessons from what she learns from the primary book instead of trying to just read the book with the kids. It really helps that she can teach with her own words. The singing part has also helped the kids pay attention. None of the members know any of the primary songs yet, so for a while, it will have to be the missionaries' responsibility to lead singing time. With time, I know the leaders will learn the songs for themselves. Like a member said, they haven't grown up in primary and have no idea how it's supposed to run.
We were able to donate the extra clothes hanging out in the branch to the hospice that we found. They really appreciated it and were so nice. I also called a woman from our potentials sheet who sounded SUPER excited to have Americans over as guests. We'll see if we can meet with her this week.
Today I had a wonderful talk with a man while on a bus. It was so refreshing, and so simple. I know that missionary conversations like that are not going to stop when my mission's over. In fact, they'll probably get better.
My mission has been such a journey, and I've learned so much. This last week, I'm excited to give it my all. I also want to share a part of my testimony.
I have gained a stronger testimony of Jesus Christ and of the reality of the Atonement. I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us, and I know that our personal light and our love for others grows through service. The scriptures are true. They are a source of comfort, answers, and knowledge. Everyone can learn, change, and progress, and weaknesses can be turned into strengths. There is an eternal plan, and God is just and merciful. God fulfills his promises. I'm grateful that I have been able to serve in Russia and experience the wonderful blessings that God has poured out here. God is a God of miracles, and miracles occur every day. I know that the Church is true.
Happy Pi day! In Russian, Pi is said "P" (like the name of the letter). That's why today is the best "P" day ever. We're in Vladivostok today with permission from the mission president to get some medicine for one of the sisters, and that also meant a blessed opportunity for sight-seeing, picture-taking, and souvenier-shopping. This day may have made up for a whole mission's worth of pictures and shopping.
March 8th was Women's Day. Thanks to all the women in my life! Tulips are a huge gift on this day, so there were lots of little stands selling tulips. Yesterday was also the first day of "Maslenitsa," a holiday to celebrate spring. There was a big gathering by the cultural center in Artyom.
One of the less-actives came to an activity late. He usually doesn't participate, and he didn't that night, but he was even quieter than usual. After the activity I asked him how he was doing, and we somehow talked for about fifteen minutes. He himself says it's too late to change his life and that he can't get what he wants, which is to go back in time and change something from his past or something like that. Even though I wasn't able to give him a perfect answer, I think he needed somebody to talk to. He has so much bottled up inside. That gave me a different perspective on the phrase "talk with everyone."
We visited another less-active and sang hymns with her. Even though it felt small and a little awkward, she was grateful for it and called it "miraculous" in her prayer. Also, her TV broke the night before, so she stayed up late reading the Liahona magazines. Oddly enough, today she was healthier and happier than usual. Coincidence? I think NOT!
We've also been trying to find a place where we can donate clothes that have collected in the branch, and we stopped by an old folks' home. They then pointed us to a hospice run by a church called "Path to Salvation." The lady that we talked with was very nice, and she shared her story of how she came to believe in Christ. As they walked us along the hall, Sis. Hawley recognized one of the grandpa's as one of the less-actives from our church. We have had no contact with him for about a year, and we randomly found him at this out-of-the-way hospice. I can't fully describe how neat this place was. The last crazy thing was that they have a giant blown up picture of Christ at the Second Coming that looks a whole lot like the one in our church. (It's the one where Christ is surrounded by angels, wearing white, hands outstretched.) I want to find the real picture and show it to them. We're going to go back soon to actually donate the clothes.
Those are some of the cool happenings in Russia. What a blessing it is to serve here!
I don't have much time today because we now have three sisters in Artyom, and that means trying to figure out how to let five missionaries write home from one computer. Sister Payne is staying with us until the end of her mission... I mean, our mission. All three of us go home together.
We were just working and hosting all week because of zone conference. I really can't explain the tiny miracles that happened. We also visiting a Russian Orthodox temple and had a long chat with one of their leaders and learned more about their religion. I hope the pictures speak more than I do.
I can hardly write about zone conference without crying. It was my last one. I felt like I learned so much about learning. The Kachers (from our area presidency) are such nice people. I also loved seeing everybody at the Sunday meeting, especially the people from Nakhodka whom I haven't seen for almost a whole year. That was a tender mercy. Artyom didn't have high attendance there, but the people who came are definitely strong.
I also can't express how wonderful I think Sisters Hall, Cox, Robb, and Jossie are. This mission is blessed to have some truly incredible sisters. Their examples are inspiring. I was blessed to serve with them this week. Even though I want to be so much better than I am, thankfully I'm better than I was.
Basically, I love missionary work and love being here!!!
From Sister Perkinson (mission president's wife):
Dear Brother and Sister Springer
We have been blessed this week to be edified by President and Sister Kacher, General Authority of the church and Area Presidency of our mission.
We have been encouraged to be urgent and use time wisely! We have been instructed to increase our ability to be led by the Spirit! We were reminded to teach Repentance and Baptize Converts, those truly converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
We were asked to have faith in Jesus Christ to overcome any mindsets that we may have. We were asked to learn to seek answers to questions of the soul thru the Book of Mormon and then teach this in our missionary work. We were asked to teach repentance as a blessing in our lives and that the atonement is for all people, no matter their past. We were asked to really work with less actives and seek to be led by the spirit.
Vladivostok Russia Mission Statement
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among his people, that they might have everlasting life. (3 Nephi 5:13)
We are a Preach My Gospel Mission!
We live by consecration.
We sow exact obedience.
We grow mighty faith.
We harvest precious souls.
We expect and facilitate daily miracles.
We talk with everyone.
We find with faith.
We teach repentance and baptize converts.
We are happy, dignified and hard working!
We Love God and show charity for all His children.
We are the Vladivostok Russia Missionaries!
We have a desire to live the Mission Statement that we recite daily in our studies and when we gather in District meetings and Zone Conferences.
These two sisters have been an amazing companionship in Artyom! Their love for the people will be missed! They both gave such sweet departing testimonies.
We are very grateful for Sister Springer's talents on the piano! She brings the spirit into each meeting with her talent!
We love sharing the gospel with your daughter and we are grateful for your prayers in behalf of our Vladivostok Missionaries!
President and Sister Perkinson
Vladivostok Russia Mission
Sister (Cectpa) Ashlin Springer is serving a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Russia, Vladivostok Mission. She will be serving from October 2014-April 2016. This blog contains weekly letters, pictures and contact information.