Monday, May 23, 2016

Sakhalin is Great

Hey there.  I am really enjoying Sakhalin! It is a great place, there weather is good and there are great members of the church. I am so glad to be here. The Branch President here reminds me of our Branch President in Irkutsk.  He is a really good guy!
I am not jealous of Cameron at all - I don't want to do summer school. It will be good though. I think back about the opportunities I had to study harder or do more things and I regret not doing more. I was kind of lazy and I wish I would have used my time more effectively.

That is great to hear about Austin and Mikal. Those pictures were very cute.
I believe that President and Sister Perkinson are coming to Sakhalin in a few weeks so I will hopefully get the package soon.

I like the topic of service and the program called "Justserve" that sounds pretty great. I had no idea that that it existed. I think there are some really great blessings hidden in service. I really hope we can all serve more each and every day. No matter if we are taking big or small steps, we need to be taking steps in the right direction every day :)
This week was a good week. We had a few lessons with our investigators and they are really great. One investigator named Elena is progressing really well. She asked us a bunch of questions about what rules we have at our church and what you need to do as a member. It hit me this week that she sees our church just as we see other churches. Let’s say that we see a protestant church or a catholic mass. We probably think... Hmm that's interesting I haven't seen that before. A thought I have had before at a protestant church "Oh that's interesting that everyone is standing up and speaking in tongues praying". But for those people, that is their form of worship. That is what they have grown up in, that is probably the only way they know to connect with God. Same thing with our church. When new people come to our church they probably think, why is everyone being so quiet? Why isn't anyone walking around the stage and speaking in a loud, powerful voice preaching to us? Why are they letting 13 year olds hand out the sacrament? Where are the guitars and drums? Where are the statues and crosses? It’s fun to notice the differences and try to see our church through other people’s eyes. Try it some time.

We also met with a few other people this week and they are all doing fine, nothing big is happening in their lives though. Some are trying to avoid the temptation to drink coffee, some are trying to figure out what they believe in. Some are battling to overcome their lack of faith and some are really doing great and they are feeling the happiness that comes from living the Gospel.
The Branch here has about 50 people coming every week which is one of the biggest branches in our mission. It is great to see how strong these members are and how dedicated they are to doing what is right. The members here so far seem to like me. I am replacing a Russian Elder that served here and I think they miss him. That's okay, I am feeling loved and and already having lots of opportunities to serve them.

Thank you for the support you give me, and I hope you have a great week :)

Elder Gardner

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