It is becoming more real to us that we will soon be leaving this great land of Russia. We are in awe of the vastness of this land, of the diversity and the culture of the land and the beauty and goodness of its people. We are just now getting a clue as to what these people have been through and the challenges they have endured and conquered as they have lived under the heavy thumb of Communism and were so long denied the freedoms we take for granted in the United States.
I have started reading a book called "The Silence of God" written by Gale Sears. It came highly recommended. I am learning more about the growth of the Church here in this land.
In 988 AD Prince Vladimir of Kiev brought Christianity to Russia. In 1037 his son Yaroslav the first laid the foundation for the "Holy Wisdom of God Cathedral" in Kiev, which still stands today. Since that time the Orthodox Christian churches have kept the light of faith alive.
But some are finding that the Orthodox church is not enough. They are looking for more truth.
In June 1844 the prophet Joseph Smith was planning on sending Elder Orson Hyde and Elder George Adams to Russia. He saw the empire of Russia in vision. However, shortly after, the prophet was murdered and they did not come.
In 1895 Tsar Nicholas ll issued a "Proclamation of Freedom of Conscience", meaning that the people would be able to "look about for truth." This was truly a miracle.
In August 1903 President Francis Marion Lyman of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dedicated the land of Russia "for the preaching of the gospel and that religious freedom might be given so all can worship without persecution." Alma and Johan Lindholf, the first members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia (having been baptized in Finland which was part of Russia) were present at the dedicatory prayer of opening this great land to the preaching of the gospel.
Elder Lyman petitioned the Lord to send servants "full of wisdom and faith" to declare the gospel to the Russians in their own language.
Here we are serving in the Russia Moscow Mission office, having the privilege of serving 106 young missionary elders and sisters and senior couples who are doing just that. They are declaring the gospel to the Russian people in their own language. These dedicated young men and women are sharing the light and opening doors to these wonderful people who have been waiting.
It is incredibly humbling to have played the tiniest part in seeing this come to pass. For Russia truly is blossoming as a rose in freedom and knowledge.
David and I can truthfully say that this experience in Russia has been a highlight in our lives and we thank God for blessing us with this chance to serve in this great land of Russia.
As we prepare to return to the States, we do so with mixed feelings and great love for those we are leaving behind.