August 19, 2016


Provo MTC


Elder Neuffer

Week 5: Ready for Russia

On Thursday, August 18, 2016 11:32 AM, Gavin Lawrence wrote:

Hey everyone!
Well, like the title says, I'm about ready for Russia. I'm not packed and I'm incompetent with the language, but I just want to go!! We keep hearing more and more about the new laws, and honestly I could not possibly be more excited!!! Here's an email from an Elder in the Samara Russia Mission right now that got sent to one of the Elders in our zone:

"Well team, I've got bad news and I've got good news. Let's go ahead and start with the bad news. As you just read above, recent changes in Russian Federal law prohibit us from being missionaries and from doing essentially all of our basic activities such as street contacting, knocking on doors, calling ourselves missionaries, etc. We are now volunteers and should only be refferred to as such. I am now a volunteer. Avoid the "m word" in any and all e-mails. In connection with this my companion and I will no longer be travelling to Naberezhny Chelny and the project has temporarily been taken off the table. We are now living and serving full time in the city of Izhevsk. Now, the good news! I have the great priviledge of living in a country that has taken an active interest in doing something to combat the rising number and intensity of terrorist attacks we see in the world and to prevent these things from happening on it's own soil. A new set of laws has been introduced that according to some will grant the country greater security and allow the average person to live his life without having to worry about the possibilty of terrorism bringing it to an untimely end. I am grateful that people have a desire to see their own country made safer. I now live in one of the best cities in the mission full time! Izhevsk is great! We have a small branch here that is growing steadily and last weekend an entire family, mom, dad, and two sons, got baptized! The members here are great and they are really looking forward to the opportunity that they will have to work with us more as we determine the future of our activity in Russia. I think this law is really just an opportunity in disguise. In one way, it is a great opportunity to see the hand of the Lord in the work. For a long time, we have been His hands and now the only resources available to find new people are the members. We will see great miracles in this and every city because it is not the Lord's work that is frustrated, but the work of those who oppose Him. We will have great new chance to reach out to people that volunteers have never worked with before, we will be doing service in the community and hosting activities of all kinds. People are going to get to the know the "American volunteers from the mormon church" a whole lot better, and I think that all will be the better for it. We are going to play sports, help people with their gardens, whatever we can do to meet new people and uplift the city of Izhevsk. In a way now more physical than spiritual, we are going to be working to help the people of this city. We even get to do culture nights now! That means we can go to local sports games and be a part of local culture. We can see their museums and historical sites and become even better acquainted with the historical and cultural background of the people we serve. I for one am saddened that my time here won't be concluded by teaching about my faith, at least not publicly, but I have learned a lot over the past 20 months about the power of positive thinking and I have decided that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. But you don't stop there, you also go the store and buy a watermelon, and some bratwursts and some chips and then have a barbeque. A pity party will last as long as you want it to, but life isn't worth living unless you decide to make it that way. Like President Uchtdorf "I am fond of this bit of wisdom by Abraham Lincoln: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” It fits nicely with its scriptural companion: “Seek, and ye shall find.” So choose to be happy and stay that way!"

The Elder who got the email summed up some of the other things he's been hearing by saying that basically this law makes us three times more effective as missionaries. People apparently seek us out on the streets any time they need help with anything, and even though we can't teach them when we serve them they always seem to want to know more. I can't even describe how excited I am to get out in the field and start doing the Lord's work. ALSO! I sooorrrrrtttta forgot to mention this last week (and by forgot I mean intentionally didn't cause I didn't have the picture yet) But I got to meet with Neil L. Andersen last week. No big deal. It was just ONE OF THE COOLEST EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE AND HE'S THE APOSTLE WHO ASSIGNED MY MISSION So ya. That was pretty much the coolest thing ever. I got to meet with him because he knows Grandpa Lawrence and somehow found out I was in the MTC. So ya; basically the coolest thing that's happened to me yet in the MTC. The spirit is literally palpable when an apostle is in the room. It was amazing. Anyway, I'm about out of time for this week. Sorry that this email had to be so short. Talk to everyone in a week!
Sincerely,Elder Lawrence


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