Monday, March 19, 2012

Soon--A Stake in Siberia!

This week was really good, and really busy. We picked up the new missionaries and spent a couple days with them, we had a baptism on Saturday, and the huge district conference was on Sunday.

The new missionaries came in Wednesday morning so we went with President Gibbons and President Gushin to go pick them up. We brought them back, had breakfast, then let them sleep for a while. We came back to the mission home that night and had dinner with them and did a little orientation devotional type thing. It was really cool, we just kind of explained a little bit about what happens here, and about all of the cities, it was cool, but all the new missionaries were really tired. The next morning we did a little training meeting with President and the trainers, and Elder Anderson and I cooked blini for all of the trainers and all of the new missionaries. Then we did the second part of the orientation where we introduced them to their trainers and went over the training program. It was really cool because at the end, President had all of the trainers and all of the new missionaries bear their testimonies. And those 5 new missionaries are awesome. They will be a really strong group for sure. Then we took them out to eat lunch. We went to a really standard Russian restaurant. It was cool they got to try some basic Russian foods like borscht. I also ordered some haladyets so that everyone could try some. It was actually way better than the stuff we had that one time at the member's house, and they gave us a bunch of bread with it so it was actually really good. Pretty much everyone tried it and most people even liked it. It was a fun time. Then we just brought everyone back to the office to do some of the boring orientation stuff and we sent them off on buses and trains. So it was really cool and really fun to meet all of the new missionaries and answer some of their questions. One of them went to Tomsk, but other than him I've never even been where they are serving.

The baptism on Saturday went great. Sergei had to baptize her twice because her knee popped out of the water the first time, but everything worked out. It was a really nice service. Marina has an amazingly strong testimony for the short time that she has been exposed to the church, it's really cool to see.
Right before Marina's Baptism...Elder Anderson, Marina, Sergei (who baptized her), and me.
The big District conference yesterday was also awesome. President Gibbons dissolved the three districts in the mission and combined them into one super district that takes up all of the boundaries of the mission. With all of that area, there are enough members and priesthood leaders for a stake. So he called a full district presidency and high council, and soon everything will be organized just like a stake, then soon after that it will be very easy for the brethren to create a stake here. It's really cool and yesterday was a really historical occasion for the church in Siberia. We spent a lot of time throughout the week preparing for it with President. One of the really memorable parts for me was when President Gibbons, and the mission presidency (which includes the new district president) had Elder Anderson and I come in and give our opinions on a few brethren from the areas we served and their capability to serve in positions like the high council. I was kinda nervous even because they were really listening to us and valuing our advice. Also, during the course of the week we went with President and the new district president to check out the conference hall in the hotel that we were renting, and kinda help get things set up for Sunday. We hauled the piano from the branch to the hotel on Sunday. I sang in the missionary choir during the conference, and that was sweet. Then this was interesting, all of these members came in from different cities, so Pres wanted to set them all apart right after the conference. so it was pretty crazy, we had to close of a section of the hall and get people out of there, then get the right people in there and kinda guard the doors so they didn't get interrupted, so that was also pretty crazy and fun.
MTC group before District Conference, only without Elder Harris.
So yeah those were definitely the main highlights of the week. Tonight we are going to Barnaul to work with the Elders there for a couple days, two of the new missionaries are there and we will do exchanges on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thanks Mom, you take care of me too much and sent me too much stuff. But hey, I thought of one thing that I would like that wouldn't be too hard. If you could email me my line of authority, that would be cool. And if you have a second, Elder Anderson has a little flow chart of his that's sweet. It has a picture of Jesus, then the apostles, then Joseph Smith and a couple other early apostle portraits, then it gets to actual pictures of people like his grandpa. It's really cool and I would like to have something like that if you ever have a second. Thanks. Love you.

Elder Topham
Me being awesome as usual.