Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Church in Russia

What has been our purpose here in this great land of Russia as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
There are senior couples who serve in different ways and have different responsibilities. Some of them serve in the wards and branches in our mission strengthening the still new church. Others provide humanitarian services, such as wheelchairs through the whole land to those in need. Others serve as auditors .....the list goes on.
As has been previously mentioned, our responsibility has been to make sure the mission runs smoothly through our service in the office.  Ordering supplies, preparing for returning and departing missionaries, funding cards and seeing that apartments are in good condition and that rent is paid on time and that the phones are in good condition and that each missionary in Moscow has a metro card and keeping up with mission history, water filters (we use water filters because the water here is not good and we want each apartment to have filtered water), among other responsibilities.
Why are we here? Why do couples and young missionaries come to Russia?
Christianity was introduced to Russia 1025 years ago. Despite 700 years of Soviet atheism, many of the Russian people  turned for spiritual nourishment to the Russian Orthodox church and others  to other Christian faiths brought to Russia in the 19th century.
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, some of the Russian people began to direct their spiritual quests towards a study of religious faiths just entering their country, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). It was in 1989 that the Church was authorized to bring the gospel to the Soviet Union. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles dedicated Estonia for the preaching of the restored gospel and offered a prayer of gratitude in a spirit of rededication in  Leningrad. (In 1903, Elder Frances M. Lyman of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated Russia for the preaching of the gospel).
In 1989 the first full-time missionaries visited Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). By 1990, there were 156 Russian members, 7 of whom were in Moscow.
Now in our mission alone, we have 19 wards and branches of faithful members and about 106 young missionaries and several missionary senior couples. (our mission is vast, as before mentioned, covering approximately the size of the United States), but there are many cities and towns without members of the Church.
Our missionaries share with us that people are hungry for the truth and light that the gospel can bring into their lives.
Shortly before we arrived, the first stake was created. Now a second stake has been created in St. Petersburg. The first stake in Armenia was just organized and we are close to having a couple more stakes. It is thrilling to see the Church take hold in this land and in the surround republics. We are blessed to have a wonderful young missionary elder serving in Moscow from St. Petersburg and another sweet sister, who just left to serve a mission in St.Petersburg. It is wonderful to see young Russian people serving missions in their own land. We also just welcomed our first Russian senior couple to our mission. They will be working in Public Affairs in the Church here.
Why are we here?  All of the missionaries here are helping move the Church forward in this great land and making available the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen.
As the office couple we have had the privilege of serving those wonderful missionaries who are sharing the gospel with the Russian people.

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