Today was the first Zone Conference that we attended. It is divided into two zones, North Zone (which we are in) and South Zone. We traveled to Moscow near Red Square to the Central Building where we met with about 40 missionaries and the mission president and his wife. It was a spiritual feast. We had a chance to meet some of the young missionaries that we have only heard of or communicated with by phone the past 4 weeks. I enjoyed getting hugs from some of the sister missionaries. and Dave received a candy bar from a couple of elders who were showing appreciation to him for work he had done for them this past week.
There was spiritual and "common sense" direction given. We are so proud of these young men and women who have traveled half-way around the world to serve the Russian people. After close to 3 months of intensive language training they are out among the Russian people. They saved to be able to pay for their missions, prepared themselves spiritually also and have left behind college, employment (or work), family and friends to come to a country where there is a totally different culture to serve the Lord. They are remarkable young people. They are full of faith.
We have missionaries in our mission serving from England, America, Latvia, St. Petersburg, Russia and other places in Russia. Today I watched a young Russian woman translate for a newer sister missionary who is Russian and couldn't yet understand fully the English. Our English missionary (from England) was translating into English for a senior missionary who still struggles w/ the Russian language. I was moved to tears as a young Elder, new to the mission who is from Russia bore a sweet testimony in English of the power the gospel is having on some of the Russian people he is meeting and the hope that the gospel can bring to those who have been without light for so long.
Some of them have sacrificed greatly to be here. One young elder, who is soon to return to his home here in Russia, came on his mission without the support of a loving family. I am sure there are others who have sacrificed as well in one way or another.
I am looking forward to getting to know them.I know that as I get to know them I will love them. I know I will be able to learn a lot from them. And we are enjoying very much getting to know the senior missionaries who are away from children, grandchildren and are working hard and don't believe in the word retirement! There is much a senior couple can accomplish that the younger missionary cannot, due to age and experience.
In 10 short weeks the Russia Moscow Mission is going to nearly double in size as it merges with the Russia Moscow West Mission. There is so much to do in preparation for the blessing of having over 100 missionaries here. Dave and I, as the office couple and secretary (me) and finacial secretary (Dave) to the Mission President, will have an opportunity of getting to know and serve these young missionaries well and from time to time, be a "parent" when needed. These young missionaries range in age from 19 - 23 or 24 years of age.
It is humbling to find ourselves in a country where the Church is so newly being recognized. It was only within this past year that the first Stake in Moscow was created. A stake consists of a group of wards (congregations) or branches, which are smaller than a ward.
It has been a truly wonderful day and we are grateful to this opportunity to serve as missionaries for The Church of Latter-day Saints.