Monday, September 10, 2012


Hey what's up everybody. Hey Mom, love you.

This week's been pretty solid, I think it's gone by pretty fast, it was stressful at times but everything went pretty well.

We spent a lot of time this week doing stuff for various conferences. Zone Conference (missionaries), District Conference (members), and Zone Leader Council. I guess when a General Authority comes out here you schedule all of the meetings you can in that week. In the time we were not doing that stuff we had some investigator lessons and some member lessons, so it was pretty busy.

Wednesday we had another test run for the District Conference and we got everything to run really smooth.

Friday was the combined Zone Conference. President Bennett came in and called everyone to repentance. Including having everyone go out street contacting for an hour before lunch. President Gibbons did a sweet job not backing down on anything that President Bennett said, but at the same time making it sound more inspiring and like he is really on our side, I think he did a wonderful job. I thought Elder Bennett's was really good too. He said a lot of things that a lot of missionaries needed to hear that will help many of us change. There are many new rules and restrictions now. A few were some older ones that President G wanted to clarify, some are from recent instruction given by the Apostles at the mission president's seminar and some are from Elder Bennett, the way he interprets the handbook. Most of them outlaw anything that can possibly take away any time or attention from doing missionary work. For example, no music except for P-day and even then only MoTab and Russian classical music. No meeting with any other missionaries to do activities on P-day. No culture night (which is very interesting because we had all bought tickets for a hockey game tonight to be our culture night for this transfer. The one culture night activity that I have been waiting for a year to do. So we are just going to have to eat the cost of those and try to give them away to someone). Oh, and here is the hardest one: senior couples aren't allowed to feed us meals at district meeting any more. And we can't have them at their apartments any more. There are many more but I think those are the main and most interesting ones.

My role for Zone Conference was to conduct the morning session, we also did a bunch of logistical preparation things.

Saturday afternoon we ran the technology for the Priesthood and auxiliary training meetings for District Conference. That one was pretty rough because after we had made a beautiful set up of running a hard wire across the ceiling right to where our state of the art broadcast equipment was set up, it wouldn't work. So we had to do plan B and run the thing with dinky web cams and WIFI. After the meeting we quickly found out that the router just went down and we reset it and ran the adult session and the general session almost flawlessly. It sounds like all of the cities got the feed really well. We also made sure that all of the Americans there had working headsets for translation (that is of course except the young missionaries and president Gibbons). Elder Anderson translated all of the meetings into English for them. While they spoke, Russians translated it to Russian.

So it looks like numbers wise the only thing holding us back from a stake is the number of active priesthood brethren in Tomsk. So President was impressed that the entire ZLC should go on a 3 day field trip to Tomsk in order to find and start teaching those future priesthood leaders. We are leaving tomorrow and coming back on Friday. Just this morning we changed the plans up a little. Because now President is going to move the Kemerovo group- this is a city with a tiny branch with one active priesthood holder that is about the same distance from Novo and Tomsk and is now a part of the Novo branch- to the Tomsk branch. And we are taking Elders Anderson and Harrison on the field trip as well and now 4 of us will go to Tomsk and 4 to Kemerovo and President will go to both cities. Going to Tomsk will be me, Elders Davis, Anderson, and Walker (all of us have previously served in Tomsk) and to Kemerovo, Elders Carr, Kelly, Bowler, and Harrison. So that is going to be an awesome adventure and I'm sure it will be a very spiritual experience going there with such a specific purpose.

Nastia will be going home this week, so we have a last lesson with her planned tonight to try to get her some good reading and praying habits. We have tons of numbers right now that we got as street contacts, that we haven't had enough time to follow up on and get meetings with. So we will have to spend some time doing that when we get back from Tomsk.

I think that's all. I think visa trips are all back to Helsinki now. Sounds like you did great at the volleyball tournament Dani, that one picture of you hitting looks like you jumped pretty high!

-Elder Topham