Today was our Russia Mosow Mission Christmas Conference. All 142 missionaries were in attendance. How wonderful to all be together. /There were lots of hugs and laughs shared as missionaries saw other missionaries they hadn't seen in months (or weeks). Our newest missionaries who arrived December 18th had a chance to get acquainted with some of the others. There was wonderful instruction, great Christmas music and of course, lots of good food.
Let's talk about the morning first. A few months ago President Sorenson requested all of the missionaries to read the Book of Mormon and finish by New Year's Eve. The theme was "Faith to Perform Miracles." At the conference, President and Sister Sorenson both spoke of their love of the Book of Mormon and then turned it over to the missionaries to share their insights and feelings as they read the Book of Mormon. Several of the missionaries shared their favorite verse or how certain verses affected them or their favorite story and how it related to experiences they had or how it made them feel. It was heartwarming to see many of the missionaries we love bear their testimony about this sacred book, which goes hand in hand with the Bible and is another testament of Jesus Christ. Sometimes people feel that the Book of Mormon REPLACES the Bible. That couldn't be further from the truth. I have read the Book of Mormon dozens of times over the years and I get some new insight every time I read it.
We have many talented missionaries and several of them were asked to share their talents with us as part of the afternoon program that we enjoyed after lunch. A violin was rented and two of our elders played the violin. One young elder played the violin, the piano and sang. We heard young sister missionaries sing like angels, Elder Walker, part of a senior couple, played the saw. Yep, you heard right, the saw and it was hauntingly beautiful as his wife played the piano along with it.
Each zone which consists of about 1/4 of the missionaries, each performed skits, some based on experiences they had. Some were very funny. One of our missionaries played the part of President Sorenson and you could see the pleased expression on President Sorenson's face, especially since Eler Jewkes did such a great impersonation! It was such fun.
There was such a feeling of joy being there together, 142 missionaries strong. One thing was evident. We are ALL in Russia for a reason. We are ALL in Russia because the Lord called us to serve here amongst a special people. In some ways we are pioneers as we serve amongst the Russian people where the Church is still in its infancy. It is humbling and gratifying and hard, but it is wonderful and rewarding all at the same time.
Pictures to follow. Until next time, Dos vidonya.