Hey Family and all! (sorry if there wasn't a post from me last week, I got to open the greatest present in the world! Being with my family on Skype!)
That is so cool to see that the missionary work is booming in your area! This last year we had a golden year in our mission and broke record with the number of baptism in our mission for the month of December. I believe it was in total 62 for the year of 2012 and we're excited for the new year! I'm also so glad that you were able to finish (or will finish) the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. I started and then things got crazy and it looks like I'm going to just have to continue next year, however, I will be reading it in Russian next year all the way through...I might need more than 3 months though ;)
This last Christmas was my first Christmas ever away from home and really it was marvelous. New companion, familiar area, a wonderful district, bright new year ahead of me, and the opportunity to talk with you! When I was sitting there opening the package that you had sent me I was super excited. When I was at home, I'll admit that it was always my favorite part of Christmas was opening gifts for me...so again this year I was excited because I had a box waiting for me at home. After our conversation I opened the contents and was pretty satisfied, very grateful in fact...but I realized later that day that nothing - nothing - no gift on the face of the earth was better to open on Christmas than pushing that call button on the computer to talk with you all. It felt like we had never been apart, and yet I realized how much I missed you all. To hear your testimonies and stories made it feel like another Christmas eve (just with a little more attention focused on me ;) ) I thank my Heavenly Father with all my heart that I know with out a shadow of a doubt and with promise from God that my family can live together forever. I thank you and dad for making the decision to be married by the Holy Priesthood of God in His Temple so that our family could be sealed to each other forever. Can you imagine not being with the people you love the most forever. I cannot imagine it. If nothing else, that is the greatest reason to do all that you can with your callings, friends, and family so that "in the end of the ends" (as they would say in Ukraine) you can have that eternal unit together for eternity.
My Companion Elder Lugashok is doing wonderful and I will admit when I say that this is pretty hard. I'm realizing that I am not patient...at all. My humility and ability love are about as big as a snowflake, and that my pride...well he's almost his own person by now since he's grown so much ;) In short, I've got a good transfer ahead of me to improve ;) However, in closing I do want to testify of one thing that has immensely helped. As human beings we are very prideful, impatient, selfish, and "natural" (as is said in the scriptures), but we know that it is the Spirit of the Lord that brings to us the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to change us. Only when we yield ourselves to God can we become what we have the potential to be. When we are baptized by proper authority and by immersion (this preceding the necessary gifting to us the gift of the Holy Ghost) we covenant with God to do a few things: first, take the name of Jesus Christ upon ourselves, keep His Commandments, and strive to always remember him. When we strive and are willing to do this, what does the Lord promise to us? That his Spirit, or that Carrier of all things good and the changing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, will always dwell with us. If you want to change and improve, and I testify that the few times I was patient this last week was because of such, then fulfill your baptismal covenant. Seek to remember the Lord Jesus Christ, know the answer to the question, "What would Jesus Do," and then courageously and humbly do so. It will bring the Spirit into your lives. I testify of that. That's my goal for this week too: Be like the little children in our branch that so beautifully and humbly sang "I'm trying to be like Jesus."
I love you all!
PS, I have not received your package. Love you!