Date

July 16, 2017

Area

Ulan Ude

Companion

Elder Memmott

MLC and McD's!

On Sun, Jul 16, 2017 at 10:37 PM, Gavin Lawrence wrote: Hey all! This week was incredible!!!! Just wow. I have no idea where to start. I guess probably from Monday.So we took a train up to Irkutsk on Monday morning, which was way cool. The train goes right along the huge Baikal lake for about 4 of the 7 hours, and the views are incredible. They don't transfer very well to photos though, for some reason. But trust me, it's incredible :) We got a nice surprise when we showed up to get on the train and were led into a business class compartment, which meant free food and way nice service the whole time.The next day we flew out to Novosibirsk early in the morning, got in around 9. The APs met us and took us back to their apartment, and then told us that we could sleep a little if we needed to. (We'd been up since like 3:30. We were both so excited to go see the city that we set off and took a walk around the city, we couldn't sleep! Novosibirsk is INCREDIBLE. Also it is HUGE. It's the third largest city in Russia, with around 1.5 million people. We found some cool stuff, but we were basically shooting blind since the APs had a meeting. When they got done, they took us on the Metro (Which is huge and SO COOL) and then toured us around the city a little bit. The highlight was definitely finally getting to eat at a Russian McDonald's :) We split up with them because they had to go do something, and ended up finding a group of kids who were playing soccer. We wanted to do at least some contacting while we were there, so we rolled up our sleeves and played in full church attire. We got some numbers out of it and handed them off to the APs, it was definitely worth it!The next day we got up, got ready, and made our way over to the mission home for Mission Leadership Conference. It went amazing! We got to meet a lot of the Elders and a few Sisters from the old Novosibirsk mission, which was a ton of fun. We talked a lot about the ways that our missions are run and how we can meld the two mission cultures with as few hiccups as possible. It's going to be interesting; they have a much different way of doing a lot of things than we do. President Perkinson was very much an advocate of personal agency in rule-making, with the White Handbook being the only rules we really needed (aside from some Russia specific guidelines), but their previous mission president favored a more specific, additional rule-based approach. President Lamb has been very sensitive to that and I think we should end up with a good blending of the two cultures that will help all of us.Anyway, we flew back to Irkutsk at 2 in the morning that night, arriving around 6 and then rushing to the train station to catch our train. Our sleep schedule ended up a little crazy, but after some sleeping on the train (and a little once we got home) we were basically back to normal.Sunday was by far the best day of this week (which is saying a lot, because Novosibirsk really was amazing!) A less-active member who has been recently coming again to church brought a friend with her, and we got to give him a tour of the church! It went incredible; sadly, because of the way things are here, it's not every day that we get to teach the first lesson, but when we do we're almost always just exploding with excitement! We gave the lesson while giving him a tour of the church, and I swear that the art on the walls was being changed just to fit where we were in the lesson. We didn't plan our route out at all, but we somehow ended up right next to all the pictures that we needed. The Lord was definitely guiding us around there :) We gave him a Book of Mormon, and he stayed for all three hours of church! It was a miracle and we're excited to meet with him on Tuesday and keep feeding him the sweet gospel food :)As if that wasn't great enough, that night we got a call from President Baldakov telling us that Dasha, Zahar's younger sister, had decided to be baptized that day during an interview with him! She seems to have liked how everything went for Zahar, so she asked to do the same thing he did and is going to be getting baptized on Tuesday (two days from now!!)) Obviously it's a little weird and non-conventional, but we're definitely not complaining. It's just a matter of time before their whole family gets baptized!! Hazar, the youngest in their family, turns 8 in January and was telling me at church how excited he is to get baptized when he turns 8. Luba, the mother of the family, is so ready, and we think she is just waiting for her husband. He's taking a bit longer to come around, but he'll get there. He got really sick this week, and Elder Memmott and I had the opportunity to go over and give him a priesthood blessing on Sunday. Like always it was an incredible experience. The fact that the Lord allows us to speak for him and to be vessels to so directly carry messages from him in giving blessings is truly amazing and something I hope I never take for granted!So anyway, just another week of fun and miracles! I think I can sum up my mission in those two words: Fun and Miracles. Obviously there are hard times, but the mission really is the happiest time of my life!
I love you all!! Thanks for everything, have a great week!
Elder Lawrence
Here are some fun pictures from Novosibirsk (Elder Memmott and I are way photogenic and also a little too fond of taking pictures)




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