Monday, September 8, 2014

9/8/14 Update From Lauren

Gah! Can you believe it! I have been here 6 months! (And now a little bit longer... almost 7!)

Time really flies in the field! The Lord has been so good and kind. I am learning everyday. It is such a blessing to be a part of the magnificent miracles everyday. Miracles are happening every minute of every day. The Lord really loves His people here.

So, I have left my first city! I got transfered to a new lovely (and much larger) city. It was hard to leave my first city, because I loved the people there so much. But, the Lord has shown me even more wonderful people here. The Lord has amazing children all over the world! I have a new companion as well! She is spunky and spirited and we work well together. There are lots of less actives that we work with here. They live in a cute little town just outside our city that is lined with tall trees and scattered with parks. It is lovely. 

In my Mission we have been focusing a great deal on opening our mouths and the blessings that come from it as stated in D&C 33: 8-10. It is so true. We have really been making an effort to open our mouths and speak to every single person, and the blessings have been remarkable. WE really have been "laden with sheaves" here. Sometimes it is hard, especially sicne I feel I cannot speak very well. But, the Lord ALWAYS fills my mouth to speak. The people understand, and they are willing to listen. And it is definitely NOT me. My Russian is sub sub par. It is the Spirit. But, as promised, miracles have been pouring out.

In short, we have been speaking A LOT. WE open our mouths all day. 

Sometimes with some funny results. 

Sometimes, though, my mouth is filled with some... not so spiritual things. For example, that awkward moment when you ask the Lord to bless you with "chastity" instead of "wisdom." Or another time when I asked a woman if she worked "often" but really ended up asking her if she worked "honsetly." She gave me the strangest look and told me she did. I just smiled and told her how great I was... well I am sure she thought I was the most self-righteous missionary she ever met! But oh well. WE were opening our mouths! And there were other people willing to listen. Then other times, opening our mouths gets some negative reactions - sometimes we are rejected. Or sometimes our messaged is ignored and instead the woman comments to me that "You could be pretty if you wore makeup." I was wearing makeup. Thank you. 

Then sometimes we open our mouths in other ways. Like to recieve food atop an already bursting stomach. They love to feed us here. There is one woman who feeds us every time we come. Last time she fed us a very interesting sadwhich like thing of a roll stuffed with ground meat. Well, this sounds appatizing and LOOKED appatizing, but then when we bit into it we found that half the meat was fat and the other half was crunchy burned bits of questionable substance. Luckily we had some searing hot tasteless tea to wash it all down. Nothing like liquid fire to wash down some slick, slimy, fat-laced sandwhich! But hey, we were opening our mouths. 

And that is the point. WE open our mouths. And there have been SO many miracles. The Lord has just been to kind to us. The greatest of Miracles of all was last Saturday we had a baptism for our Golden Investigator. This woman, with her kind brown eyes, walked into our church ond Sunday and was baptized 3 weeks later. She was prepared from the beginning. We opened our mouths to teach her, and they were filled, as promised. In addition to that, the Lord has blessed us with so many new investigators, all of whom are amazing. The promises from D&C really are coming true in this part of the world.

I am so honored to be a part of this mission. So honored that hte Lord gave me the opportunity to open my mouth and speak about this glorious gospel. Sometimes it is hard, sometimes we eat fat, sometimes we say strange things, but it does not matter because the Spirit is at work. This is the Lords work. He loves all of HIs children. And this part of the world is filled with some of His strongest, most special spirits. I love opening my mouth, I love this gospel, I love being in the field. Never miss the opportunity to share the gospel. Open your mouth, and it will be filled. I miss you all and I love you all! Thanks for your prayers and for your support!

Affectionately, SIster Poet

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Okay.....well.... sorry to start this email off so strange but the strangest thing just happened to me! A man just gave me a paper and asked me to go on a date. He knows I am American - that is the only reason why, but my oh my. That was an adventure.

Okay, so things here are going GREAT! We have three progressing investigators - The woman and the two little girls that we are teaching. I just love them all so much and we are making great headway! The woman I met on the bus is a seamstress. She told us that she felt that we were destined to meet! She is so lovely and charming and very fun too. We gave her the Plan of Salvation Lesson and she LOVED it. She has a young apprentice of sorts who also occasionally graces us with his presence in the lesson. I must admit, I LOVE her apprentice. He is a young many maybe 20 years old and has magic hands. He is bigger, and stocky and buff, very trendy with perfectly styled hair. He has a very manly Russian name and a deep voice.... then he creates little dresses with frills, and lace, and thin straps that are the essence of femininity. He is great, and we love when he sits in on the lessons. He is someone who is probably a little bit too cool for school, but he likes us. For the purpose of this email we shall dub him The Apprentice. I think he could become interested. Well, we gave him a Book of Mormon and are excited about that too!

Then there are the two girls. They are very interested. I will have to tell you about them. So, for the first girl, the girl I met on the bus, she is darling. She has a hard time understanding everything that we teach her but she has a great desire to learn and she says that she knows it is true! Now we are a bit worried because we may have to get a permission slip to teach her! But I am not too worried since she says she lives with просте ъаъушка, or simply her grandmother. And the other girl is also progressing. She is VERY intelligent. She speaks so fast and uses large vocabulary words (our member present told us that even SHE had a hard time understanding her sometimes). But she is great. She read the entire Book of Mormon in ONE night. ONE night! She says that she knows it is true and wants to learn more. She is having trouble lettering go of her former religion though (don't quite understand, since she talks so fast, we are working on getting it figured out.) But they are great girls. The latter girl, the very intelligent one, draws. She has very... uh.... interesting drawings. She creates horses with fire wings that have bird legs.... they are unique to say the least and go so well with her Japanese name that she insists we call her. I wish I could tell you what it was, but alas alack, I lack the ability to do so. Well, anyways, she always gives us pictures. One picture she gave us was of an elegant elk perched upon a grassy knoll with a pastel sunset caressing its golden fur. It looks majestically into the sky. On the back was her name and number so we could contact her. Gotta love the elk. We dubbed it the "reindeer," graciously accepted it, as it had her number on the back, and quickly shoved it in our extra copy of our Book of Mormon so no one could see us have it in public. Well, the next day, we were updating our Area Book and needed to put the new number into the Area Book, so we grabbed the Book of Mormon and opened it and.... the picture was gone. Well, that was fine, we have MANY Book of Mormons, it must have been the wrong one. So we opened the next one. No reindeer. And the next. Nope. And the next one.... uh oh. Soon, we had gone through the 7 copies of the Book of Mormon that we had and discovered the picture was no where to be found. We paused for a moment... thinking of who we had given a Book of Mormon to as of late... when it hit us....

The Apprentice

The Apprentice had the Reindeer.

The Elegant Elk.

With a Sunset

In the Book of Mormon

With a number on the back

Which he probably thought was OUR number.

So, we gave a big, burley, trendy man our number on the back of a majestic reindeer.... in a Book of Mormon

We died. We began to laugh, laugh so hard. I don't know if it was out of the humor or the dread at our recent accidental actions. We then realized there was no way we could ask for it back - but if we didn't he would think we gave our number to him... with a reindeer... and we could never go back to teach our investigator out of shame. But, if we did ask for it back it would be a little strange to say "Hey... could we possibly have our water colored elk back:? You know.... the one with the sunset and grassy plain? It had our friends number on it..." Well... what kind of friends do you have? Please, don't come back. So, we lay, on the floor, tears erupting from our eyes caused by both laughter and distress. Yes. The Reindeer was now in the hands of The Apprentice.

Well, sorry to make this somewhat anti climatic, but alls ell that ends well, we had one FINAL Book of Mormon at our door and we checked it and the Elk was inside. WE starting laughing and crying again, this time out of relief. Thank GOODNESS the Reindeer was safe in our possession. WE took it out, and will never put it near a Book of Mormon again. Now the Reindeer travels though our home. Sometimes I find it in my bed. Then Sister Brown will find it our sole picture frame, then again it is on the fridge. We have fun with our majestic reindeer. Oh, but it was almost a disaster.

Needless to say, things are going very well here. We are loving our area and I just love the people here. We have SO much fun. We are just living the dream as missionaries. I do miss you all so! I do know I am where I need to be though. And the work is really picking up. It is so great to be a part of miracles every day! The end of this week was a little... slow... but we realized somethings we could improve on and are working on straightening them out right away! We will keep working hard.

Okay, I am off now, but I love you! Be good, be safe! LOVE YOU!!

Love Lolo

Sunday, July 20, 2014


This is Annaliesa

I apologize for not keeping Lauren's blog updated. It is now current. She is not allowed to share names of her companions or anyone she meets in Russia or the places of where she is.  Due to Lauren's time limit on the computer, she sometimes writes things too personal to share and doesn't have time for a mass message. I apologize for the gaps in the letters, I'll post what I can.
We should be hearing from her again tomorrow and I will be happy to share her new adventures if things are sharable.

PLEASE feel free to contact her via email:
or snail mail:
Sister Lauren Julia Case Poet
Russia Yekaterinburg MIssion
620131 Yekaterinburg
ul. Rabochikh 9 Offic 1
Sverdlovsk Oblast

Thank you for supporting and loving Lauren during this important time in her life! If you can believe it she is almost a third of the way done!


Hello All!

So, on Saturday we had our first baptism! The girl that got baptized was golden. She was committed before I came to this area, but we still got to teach her quite a few lessons. She accepted everything that we taught her. She was already deeply religious and studied the Bible a great deal and was so excited to learn about the gospel. It was miraculous to see how God prepares His children! He is so aware of each of us individually and is so loving. Everyone is different, so He prepares us all differently, yet He is in each of our lives. I love it.

The ceremony was lovely. Quite a lot of people came! We have great support in our branch. It is small, but powerful. I just love everyone it it. Everyone worked really hard to make the ceremony lovely. We all sang, had two amazing talks (that I couldn't understand ;0p) that you could feel the spirit so strong. Our investigator was baptized in a beautiful white dress and she just radiated with the Spirit. It was a miracle. I felt so blessed. How great God is to allow us to be a part of this work!

And now, a funny story that happened the other day. My companion and I had planned to meet with a member family. We love this family. They were expecting us, and so they were going to leave the door unlocked for us to walk in. We found the apartment and walked in but no one was home! We walked around a bit, knocked on some of the doors in the apartment to see if anyone was home but they weren't. So naturally we called them and asked where they were! "We are at home!" they said.... we said "really?" and the replied that they were! We then realized that we were in the wrong apartment! Gah! It was hilarious. We got out of there as fast as we could and laughed all the way until we made it to the RIGHT apartment.

Russia is amazing. I LOVE it. The people, the food, the smells... but mostly the people. The people here are really special. I am honored to serve among them. I can't really speak very well, but I never feel discouraged because I know it will come! What is more is I get to to witness God in my life every day. When I show faith and open my mouth, he fills it,. It can be scary talking to people, but God helps me immensely, I love being able to witness that miracle every day and I am humbled by it!

Work here is great. Russia is beautiful and wonderful. I am so happy to be here! Sometiems I wonder, "why did I not want to go on a mission before? What took me so long to come?" I know that God knows each of us - I know that He knows what is best for us. The greatest honor we can have in this life is to submit our will to Him! He will bless us more than we can ever imagine! How great the gospel is! How great out God! How great our Savior!

I miss you and love you all! :0D May God bless you as He has blessed me!

Love Sister Poet


Hello My Dear Family! :0D

This is a group email about my Investigators some. I can't give you names or too many details about them, but I want to talk a bit about them because I love them!

We have an investigator getting baptized soon. She will get baptized with another little girl in the ward who will turn 8 that day! We are SO excited! This girl is GOLDEN! My companion found her with her companion before me; she was already very religious and when she got the Book of Mormon and started reading, she knew it was true. She had been wondering why she had not had this her whole life! This is great because she is willing to accept all the commandments, even though they are hard. She stopped drinking Coffee and tea - she didn't drink alcohol before. She was already living the Law of Chastity because she felt like those things should be saved more marriage! She is just great. We love her. She had some complex questions about the Plan of Salvation, and I was very happy that I was able to answer them! It was a little miracle for me that God allowed me participate. She speaks great English, so that is nice because I am able to teach more in the lessons - with other people I do not teach so much because I cannot speak. But it is great. I just LOVE her. I think my companion loves her even more than I do though! We got to clean out the baptismal font for her... it was REALLY dirty because the church has been remodeled. It was covered with paint and dirt. Now, when I say font, it is really more like a big, white plastic swimming pool with strange blue tarp lining the inside. We spent two hours cleaning it. It was REALLy fun and we sang while we worked. I loved it. My companion and I have lots of fun. She is a very loving person. She makes fun of me for saying sorry. If I say sorry, she says it too, and then will say it like 40 more times and then say "I am sorry that you are sorry because I am sorry that you are sorry." So, she has been helping me with that... though sometimes it is taken too far ;0p Still, she is so great, I love her. She has also started using "Llamas" or the "kitsune" as well. We have fun with that. It was fun to clean the tub - I felt like Sen from Spirited Away.

Our other investigators are not progressing, so we spend a great amount of time with our less-actives. I LOVE ALL the less-actives. Each one is amazing. They are all so special and loved. There are two I love in particular. One is a very kind woman who takes in stray animals. She has a very hard life though - she is estranged from her neighbors because she is a member and because she takes in animals... so, she is very lonely. She lives with her mother, and her 20 year old son, but her son ignores her. Still, she is so kind and loving. She is learning English so she asks me for help a great deal - I love to help her just because she is such a tender person. You can see in her eyes she is just full of love. We have been encouraging her to read the Book of Mormon again and she has been reading it in both Russian and English. We love her. Another less-active I love is also very kind. She, too, has a very hard life and has a few mental problems. She stopped going to church, but has been coming back recently. She told us she did not realize how serious the commitments she made were, but now she understands and that is why she is coming back. She yearns for peace, so we always try to teach her uplifting things - she is marvelous. She and I have a very special connection and she always gives me great smiles.

There is a member in our ward who is deaf and I also love. She is ALWAYS doing service - putting way chairs, organizing the hymns, just always serving. So, I help her. She cannot talk, and I cannot sign, but we can point and smile and so we work together. Sometimes we write things to each other - it is HARD to spell in Russian, but she is patient with me. There are only about 25 people in our branch, but many of them know how to sign, I love to see them sign with her. And it is great when she signs the hymns!! I just love this woman.

I get to conduct the music every Sunday. I can't conduct... at all... but it is okay because most of the time everyone is looking down at the words of the Hymns... so it works out! Haha! Still, I am grateful I can serve. I bore my testimony in Russian this past Sunday. It was choppy, and very short... but they said my pronunciation was great even though my grammar was a bit off, My companion told me I did very well, and she was very proud, and many people complimented me. so i felt good about that. Russian is REALLY hard... and I know I am not speaking very well, but I am not discouraged because I know the Lord is helping me learn.

Now for a huge miracle that happened this week. Like I said, I am really awful at Russian... but it is okay. I made the goal to talk to at least one person on every bus we ride. We ride buses to get around the city. Well, we got onto one bus that was more of a really large van. it was white and only had a few seats. Well, we got on and it was dead quiet. It is really hard to talk on buses because Russians do not talk when they ride the buses. They all sit and contemplate with stony faces. I have told you that they really only smile to people they know and if they genuinely mean it... well anyways, it is always a little tricky to start conversations on buses because of this. So we sat down and I just felt very uncomfortable - the silence was oppressing! It felt awkward, I felt like I needed to speak. I was scared, but knew I had to. A woman sat next to me and I smiled as big as I could to her - this is a tactic I use - I smile at people, and if they smile back, or look somewhat amused, I talk to them.... she smiled back and asked me "do I know you?" I get asked this a lot when I smile at people. I told her know, explained I was a missionary and what I was doing here. She was delighted that I was learning Russian! I could not understand her very well, but I somehow was always able to respond. I invited her to English group - A group we have every Thursday where we practice English. She was thrilled and told me that she would not go, but she would send her children! I was very happy! Then, the Lady sitting in front of us turned around and asked if she could have a card too! I was elated! Then, as we were leaving, the bust Driver asked for a card too and didn't charge us for the ride! So it was free!!! Then, when we got off the bus, one more lady followed us, told us we were doing a good thing and we got to talk to her a bit about the Book of Mormon. She wasn't too interested, but she did compliment us and told us we had a very special spirit about us. WOW!! It was a miracle. I felt so blessed. I know that this was not me, this was God. All "Success if given, not earned". It was a message to me from God that he can use any tool he needs to share the gospel. He can even use strange, lerpy, dorky me with my poor Russian. This is the true Church, and God wants all his children to have it. Those people may but they now know a little about the gospel! And what is more is it was a miracle for me to know that God will always help me if I am trying my best - it was scary to talk to those people - but God helped me do it. We are so blessed to have the gospel!! I am so blessed to be a  missionary! I cannot thank God enough for allowing me to have this opportunity!! God really does love His children. I see it everyday. There are miracles here everyday, sometimes they just come in the form of a smile, sometimes they come in an attempted Russian phrase by me, sometimes it is chocolate. But, there are miracles here everyday, and I am so grateful to be a part of them!

Well, family, I love you very very much! I hope that you are doing well! I think of you often and pray for you each by name every night - Ella too. I know that we will be a faily forever and I know it is though the Grace of Jesus Christ and our merciful Father in Heaven that we will be a family forever. I am so blessed to have you. I miss you! I love you! I pray for you!

Love Lolo 


Little children are the funniest. Russian children are so funny because they are even more blunt! Children are already so honest, but Russian children, wow! They just say it how it is! And they are not afraid to tell you if they like you or not! We have some children in our branch and two of them, sisters, are little fireballs! So funny. Everyone loves them and they are always hanging on a ward member like little monkeys. Oh it is so cute. The branch is very small, but very close. I love going there, even though I can't really understand. I know I don't understand, but I am never discouraged about it because I know eventually it will come!!

Yes, I missed the Easter Traditions too. One of our less actives asked me to write some American Easter Traditions for her in English (she is studying English). She is one of my favourite people here; she is so kind and so sweet.. She is one of the naturally kind people I know; she takes in stray animals, washes them, feeds them, then tries to find good comes for them. I love it. 

Everyone here has CATS! They are big and furry and always looked slightly peeved. It makes me miss home! Haha, but they are cute. And the Russians, they just LOVE their cats. They are always petting them, fawning over them, making art of them (no joke). I love to see them with their cats because it just shows how tender-hearted they really are. Yes, on the outside, they wear dark clothes and don't really smile, but on the inside, they are warm and kind! I love these little glimpses into them! I love when the smile. When you get them home, and when they open up, it is just WONDERFUL. I love the people here; especially the less actives in the branch. Each one of them is so wonderful! They are my favourite to visit and when they come to church, it fills my heart with joy! 

Everyone rollerskates here. It is cute.

Well, I love you so much, Please continue to tell me how you are doing. Keep me posted!!! MUCH LOVE



Happy birthday, my dear brother and I hope you are doing well! I miss you!

So, here I am in Russia and I LOVE IT!! When we came out of the airport we got into the car and started driving to the City. On our way we passed by the most lovely trees. They are all skinny and white and strectch their limbs up towards the melancholy grey sky. Russia is SO melancholy, but in a beautiful way: it is a well written tragedy that brings catharsis. Everywhere is the reminder of lost potential... their are tall buildings with fading paint that are just slightly dilapidated; the streets are all slightly dirty, and there is dust everywhere.... but it is SO beautiful! Everyone walks around with big coats and muted colors and set jaws. It is quite and gloomy and lovely, like a sad poem. I can't explain it except that I love it despite its sad feel to it... but then, there are times when the smoky clouds dissipate for a moment and the sun peaks through the grey, lighting the buildings washing the streets with a warm yellow and it speaks of hope. So much hope here! I know this because sometimes when I smile at a |Russian, they smile back. Not always, and if they do smile, it is small, brief, and tight... but I can tell they like it when I smile at them. The people here are hard on the outside, but on the inside they are like warm gooey soft bread. If you can get them to start talking, they just open up.

My companion is a native Russian. I just love her. She is so great. When she talks in Russian, I can't really understand her but that is okay because I know the language will come. She is so fun and very kind and patient. Though she doesn't understand why I say "thank you" so much. I told her it was because my mother always taught me to say it at least 3 times to someone when they give you something or they feed you or you go to their house... she said "well, you have said it many more time than three times." Haha.... she does not understand. Of course she commented that I also say "sorry" often, but I have been working on that. We get along very well. Sometimes I feel sad that I cannot understand, but it never lasts long because I just remind myself I just have to continue working hard...

I realized that I am the loudest typer here in the libary we are at,... woops. Those Americans...

Anyways, the food is delicious. I haven't not liked anything yet. I love it here, love the cold, the hats, the streets, the people, my companion. It is great. I don't really know what I am doing but that is okay because it will come. Sometimes I feel useless - I follow my companion around like a lost puppy! But I am still very happy. Very happy to be here. I just need to be patient.

We have not gone tracting or street teaching yet - we have had appointments! It is wonderful. The people here are so great. We have one investigator with a baptimsimal date. She was already sechedules for baptism before I came, and my companion told me she was golden and SHE IS! Oh she is wonderful. She runs with us in the morning. Yes, my companion and I run every morning in the chilly wind - it is refreshing. At first, I was slightly dissapointed because i felt I was not working because we were not out braving the cold and throwing Book of Mromons at everyoe; we just bounced from appointment to appointment then it was time to go home! I had so much fun I thought "is this really missionary work? Am I doing all I can?" but i guess teaching people is more important that teaching!" still, I feel like I am having more fun than I am working and THAT has me really worried! I want to do all that I can! What if I am slacking off? I don't want to do that in my first area. So then I think "Gah! I got to be doing more! I need to talk to more people on the buses!" Which is very hard to do when I can barely say "my name is" in Russian, let alone start a conversation with someone who has a set jaw and won't look at you! NO ONE speaks on the bus. They all look out the window or straight ahead... unless y ou are in love, if you are in love you stand in the corner of the bust with your arms wrapped around each other whispering sweet nothings as the bus jostles you about. I glance around, try to speak, and then find I have nothing to say because I don't KNOW HOW to say anything. Hahaha! And that is how it is for everything, not just the language, but with traveling, appointments, calling... everything! I think "I have to do more! I need to be more involved!" Then I realize... "oh, i have no  idea what Iam doing... so I start to follow my companion again, who pats me on the head and says something Russian that I can't understand.... but I think means something like "good dog." Just kidding, she does not pat me on the head. We walk arm in arm and talk and laugh as I attempt to speak Russian. I am really bad at Russian. And I mean, REALLY bad. But it is okay, it will come. I love it here!!

Okay, Now some slightly sad news: one of my bags got lost. Yes! I am so sad, but really it was a HUGE blessing because the bag that made it had my most handy and favourite clothes and all my books and most of my essentials. But, I lost many things in the other bag too and I was so sad! First, all my contacts, yes ALL of them, were in my other bag. So, good thing I have three very trendy pairs glasses I can sport. Second, I lost all my tolietries. I had my toothbrush, some eyeliner and mascara with me, but all of my makeup, deoderant, hair supplies, make up remover - gone. Lucikly I still have my oil of olay in my other bag, so I have that still! Then, I also lost some clothes and , the thing I am most sad about, the beautiful blue leather gloves that Dad bought me for my mission! I have been waiting all of the MTC to wear them and the day I could I realized they were in my other suitcase, lost somewhere in Russia... and I lost my green bag... SO SAD!!!! But, ti is okay, because everything I NEEDED made it to Russia... still, others were kind enough to donate bobbypins to me, so now I have four. I pin my bangs back everyday. It is easier that way.

So that is Russia. Now I will try to write small emails to you all. HOpe to hear from you soon!!! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spain MTC 4/3/2014

Oh I love to read your letters! They are candy! I am sorry I probably won't be able to write as long of responses. Like I said, I am here at the Spain MTC and I love it! I am sorry I was so negative last time in my letter. God is so generous to me and I need to learn to bite my tongue! I won't tell anyone about the secret. Thanks for all your love and support! I do miss you!|

During the week, things happen and I think "Oh! I need to write home about that!" Then, when I am here, typing, I forget what it is. I wrote in my other email a little bit about what we do, so that is nice.

This week has been really good. I decided after I wrote you I was being silly and I needed to bet better. So, i vented to Sister Haynie, told her I was feeling a bit discouraged, but I knew I was going to be fine, and I have been great since! There was one day we talked to a native Russian who was a real inactive person; her daughter works at the Temple, right next to the MTC so she came and we taught her--- well she taught us! Seriously, she talked the whole time, and has an amazing testimony, she just doesn't like to go to church because she can't understand it.... and she wanted to know why bad things happened to good people, but every time we tried to answer, she talked! Hahaha it was funny, and a good experience, though at the time I was a little sad becuase I COULD NOT UNDERSTAND HER!! Same thing happens when our teachers, who are native Russian speakers, talk in Russian! It is very discouraging... but after I talked to her, I felt a little bit sad and thought "I don't know if I can do this! I can't understand!" Then I remembered that God called me to Russia! And if I continue to study hard, He will help me when I need it. So, I decidede to work harder, and by the end of the week, I was able to understand SO MUCH MORE! So, I am so happy and grateful that the Lord blesses me that way. He is so kind and good to me, Mom, so many blessings! Always! Anyways, so I am feeling much better about that!!
Okay, well, I learned a lot. I realized one night while I was praying that I need more faith. I never thought I had a problem with faith, but I realize I do. I was praying to God, telling Him the desires of my heart, which right now are to change, I want to give myself to him completley, to be crafted into a tool that He can use, to dedicated my life to HIm! ACK! Mom! I cannot tell you how much I want that! Ugh! I can't even, express or say and it makes my chest tight and I just lkfjalsdjflsdfj! I don't know how to explain it! But I am so far, Mom! I am soooooo far! Haha... but that is Okay. When God shows me my weakness, it means I am coming closer to Him... anyways... as I was praying, the thought came to me that I don't have enough faith. Thinking that I am not good enough - that is not having faith in the Atonement. But it goes so much more beyond that!!! I think sometimes "Oh, James will never come back to church," or "I don't know if I will ever know this language... I can see myself going home and not knowing it" or "I am not good enough to feel the spirit when I teach. I know God can help others teach, but not me!" I can't really explain it, you see, I had faith that God can do those things, He can change hearts, He can give the Spirit to people when they teach, He can lead people to find those people who are ready, He can prepare people, He can fill them with the gift of tongues, he can do that, and I know that... where I lacked faith was that he could do those things with ME! So, I was resolved to study faith more... I know that if I try to exercize faith, if I am bold, coupled with the study of faith, if I understand it, find examples, and then apply those examples in my life, God will help me increase my faith. I know this! So, I got a brand new blue floppy Book of Mormon and I started to read and pray and focus on faith for just that Book of Mormon. I amr eading it through, and only highlighting or commenting on things that have to do with faith. I just started, so I am not far, but it is really cool to see. Faith is so powerful! And our faith here is an extention of the faith we had before in teh pre-mortal life. I am excited to see how the Lord will change me through faith..,


Thursday, March 27, 2014

3/37/14 Spain MTC

So Spain, it´s an adventure... so is using this keyboard. I have had more typos already in the past two minutes than I have my whole mission! So sorry if I misspell anything. I really like Spain. It is a beautiful place; there are big tall red brick building contrasted with light blue skys with streams of thin clouds that stretch accross the horizon. There are many windows in the buildings, giving the place a feeling of openess. We are right by the Madrid temple. It is so beautiful! We got to go this morning, and we will get to go every P-day. So lovely. The celestial room was the prettiest celestial room I have ever seen! I really like the MTC President and his wife - President and Sister Lovell. They are really great and they made me feel welcome right away! So, I felt very welcome! The MTC building is on Temple Square. It too is a tall brick building that is very lovely. The first three floors are the church, I believe, and the last three floors are the MTC. We eat at the top floor, sleep on the second, and then study on the third - so it is like the three kingdoms of glory! Haha! It is pretty great. The food is good - all of it is very warm and somtimes I think the meat is mystery meat, but I still like it. Their pudding taste like bubblegum, so that´s fun! I have not met all the teachers but so far I have liked them - though I admit, I miss my teachers in the Provo MTC, they were the best. Everyday we have "sport" and that is pretty fun. Everyone really likes to play soccer, and we all get roped into it, even if you are inept like me; I am really good at hitting the ball... with my face. Honestly, the ball loves every part of me except my feet. I got smacked in hte face really hard twice. But it is still fun! I just wish I wasn´t such an embarassment when I played!! The dorms are small and nice. The sheets smell clean - of yummy spices and something exotic that makes me sleepy. I really like it. Today is Pday so we get to go out into the city and go to a muesem or see some ancient castles! Best Pday ever! I am excited! Spain is quite wonderful!
I am so grateful the Lord gives us opportunities to grow and learn. I can already tell that I am growing by being at the Spain MTC. I can also tell that he really loves the people here. Everyone involved working here at teh tmple or the MTC are so kind and genuine all the time. They all shine with the love of God. IT makes me want to be better and to tune my life more towards Christ so I can have that same light and draw people to me. Heavenly Father is so aware of all his children! He loves them so much, and I am honored thatI can be involved in teaching them. Sorry I did not have so much of a spiritual thought this week! But even without grand spiritual moments and learning, I know that God is in my life and in the lives of everyone around me. He loves each of us, that is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, for us. What a blessing.

I love you more. I am going to eat and then will have 30 more minutes of email and try to write you each a little more individually. Love you!

Friday, March 21, 2014


I am going to the Spain MTC! What what!?!? Yes! So, on Monday Morning at 6am I will be leaving for the Spain MTC and will finish my training there. Exciting... and terrifying! It is strange, because the night before I found out, I was suddenly overcome with gratitude that I was at the MTC. I was so happy to be here! I love the people, the learning, the spirit, all of it! I was so grateful that the Lord continued to encourage me to go on a mission; and I was so happy to be here, at THIS MTC. Then the next day I get called to the Spain MTC! I am excited, but a little sad because I love this place; I think I have become comfortable here, which is probably why the Lord wants me to go! Haha! What a great God we have! He knows what we need when we need it! I am so honored He lets me be apart of His plan and that He takes the time to bless my life individually. I am sad to leave - I love my elders! They are great. Each one has a deep desire to serve and share their testimony. They are hard workers too. They learn the language so easily! I have learned so much from them and will be sad to leave them - we have all become very close! It is fun to see how the Lord works in their lives individually as well. He loves them, and He loves me, and He loves you!

I am sorry that as of late my letters have been choppy! I am just learning so much it is hard to put it all down and make it flow. Plus, I only have a limited time to write so I just kind of write whatever comes. It is amazing the amount I am learning; there have been a few motifs however. One theme I have noticed in my stay here is that God knows our name individually. I think I wrote before about the touching experience of watching The Testaments; yes, that movie is dripping cheese, we could have a nacho party that could satiate all of America, but there is still a powerful message in it. As I mentioned before, I was touched by Helam, the father; he spent his entire life preaching of Christ and waiting for him to come, and yet, when the Savior did come, he had been blinded during the catastrophe that came to the Americas when The Lord died. He had his son describe what the Savior looked like. Then, the Savior came to him, called him by his name, "Helam" and healed him. Helam was able to see the Savior, what he had been waiting for his whole life! I realized I need to make the Savior the focus of my life! What a wonderful, honorable thing to be called by name from the Crowd by the Savior! And the blessing is that he KNOWS are names! Each of them! And he has a calling for each of us to fulfill! This thought again was reiterated to me when I was reading 3 Nephi 11. In verses 17-19, it talks about how Nephi was in the crowd and the Lord called him forward. Nephi, too, had spent his ENTIRE life preaching of Christ and waiting for him to come. And when the Savior did come, Nephi did not clamor to see him, he waited patiently with everyone else in the crowd to see the Savior that this prophet had dedicated his life too! And then the Savior CALLED HIM OUT OF THE CROWD, BY NAME (!!!!! so exciting!!!) and Nephi just fell and wept at his feet. It made me realize that I need to work harder, I need to dedicate my life even more to the Savior, like Nehpi did. My greatest honor should be that the Lord knows my name. Finally, one more experience ingrained this thought into my soul, that it is an honored to be called by name by The Lord. It was a story of a man named Joseph Millett (Or perhaps Milett, or Millet... not sure... look it up, it is an amazing story). Anyways, he had heard from his children that a man named Brother Hall had run out of flower for the winter and needed more flower. Immediately Joseph Millett (spelling??) prepared some flour for Brother Hall. Shortly after, Brother Hall came to there house. He explained that he had prayed to the Lord for help to get flour for his family, and the Lord told him to "go see Joseph Millett." And so he did. Joseph Millett gave him the flour. Afterwards, Joseph Millett remarked that it was "a marvelous thing to know that God knew Joseph Millett." And that's the thing, He knows Joseph Millett! And He knows Lauren Poet! And he nows Annaliesa Peterson! And he knows EVERYONE. He called Jospeh Millett to the task to serve his fellow man and give Brother Hall flour. That was a calling, from the Lord; and he was called by name to do it! I realized that I need to be a servant that the Lord can call by name. I want to serve Him and honor Him so I can help others like Joseph Millett helped Brother Hall. Just as He said "go see Joseph Millet," the Lord says that for each of us. Sometimes he says "Go see Annaliesa Peterson," and that is a call from God, a call to you, by name to serve.

I realized this and I had the desire to work even harder. I want to be able to be a servant that the Lord can call by name. Then I had the most remarkable, humbling thought. He already has! I have a mission call to Russia, and at the bottom of that call is a signature from the Prophet, who speaks for God, saying that that call is a call from God. What an honor! But it extends far beyond that. Each of us that are here on this earth have been called. We have made the decision to follow Christ. Because of that, we were all called by name! And we have an obligation and the opportunity, and the honor to live up to that calling! We each have a calling, a call that we have been selected for by name! It is an amazing thing to know that God knows our names. He knew Joseph Smith, He knew Nephi, He knew Joseph Millett, and He knows you! Rise to the call! It is a blessing, an honor, a gift!

I am so glad that I have this call. I will do everything I can to endeavor to be worthy of it (yes I jacked that quote from Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility). I am glad and grateful He knows my name! What a blessing! 

Now, I must go. I love you so much and I miss you! I hope you are well. I will keep you in my prayers. Please continue to write! MIss you!!! 

Umm.... I don't know my Spain MTC address yet, but I will try to find out and then I will let you know ASAP but considering that I will only be there 3 weeks, the letters may not get there in time... you can just dear elder me!! GAAAHHHHHH!!! I miss you all so much! It is not even funny. And I love you even more than I miss you! LOVE YOU!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

3/13/14 Happy Birthday Lauren!

Today is Lauren's Birthday! Please feel free to send her messages at She will get those messages today! It is free to send her those messages in the MTC- make sure that you select the PROVO-MTC selection. She is not in Russia yet.
She is in unit 78 and her mission is RUS-YEK. departure date is april17.

This is Lauren and her companion! As you can see Lauren hasn't lost her sense of humor!
Lauren and Her companion in front of the Russian flag holding their name tags.
My adorably stylish sister and her companion. What beautiful sister I have!

She is so beautiful and has already made some great spiritual growth. She is doing well and loving the MTC. What a wonderful thing Lauren is doing. Happy Happy birthday to my sweet sister!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


No major update from Lauren

Here is a tid bit:

Hope. I have learned a lot about hope. I have not been studying it as much anymore as I usually study the topics that I am going to teach investigators (we have fake investigators) and lately I have been studying judgment (weird looking word). But I will tell you what I have learned about hope. I have learned so much! I realize that hope is necessary for faith. Hope is the optimistic factor of faith. I also learned that hope is provided only through the Atonement. The only way that we are able to hope is because Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us. The Atonement allows us to progress, but we can only progress is we have repentance. Hope and progression are inextricably linked. Our greatest hope should be to become like our Father in Heaven, but we can only do that through the Atonement. Does that make sense? I have it written in my journal in a much better way, but I don't have it with me unfortunately.

Lauren's email is: - She would love to hear from you

Lauren's Birthday is on the 13th! She would love to get some mail for her birthday!! 
Her MTC address is: 
Sister Lauren Poet
april 17 RUS-YEK
2007 N 900 E unit 78
Provo UT 84602

Monday, March 3, 2014

2/27/14-Part 2

Dear Mom, 

Here is a long email.

So, I wanted to tell you want I learned in the TEMPLE - I realized that this world was made for us to use! And the Lord "beautified' it so that we could enjoy it's splendor! When it was created, it was perfect, a celestial state. Then a really sad thought came to me!!! When we fell, the earth fell too, because it was under our dominion. This made me extremely sad because the Earth in itself did not do anything wrong - the earth was naturally obedient... it changed with the seasons, followed the pull of gravity, grew as it was instructed, and supported life as it was created to do so. But, because we fell, the earth had to fall as well. I remembered how in the scriptures it talks about how the earth groans with the weight of our sins - how badly the earth wants to be obedient! How hard we make it by destroying the earth so it cannot produce life as it was created and how we make it filthy with pollution and trash. It is in a fallen state, but does not wish to be. I just felt so sad for the earth, and the sea, and the trees, and just everything that was trying to be obedient but as in a fallen state because we had dominion over them. But then I remembered  the Lord would celestial the earth again -- it would become the celestial kingdom! So long as the earth remained obedient (which was it in it's nature - no pun intended), the Lord would celestialize it. I realized, that it is the same for us! We are like the earth. We naturally are pulled towards our Heavenly Father, but we are in a fallen state. But, So long as we try out hardest the Lord will no allow us to remain in a degressing state - He will help us reach a celestial state.... why? Because HE has dominion over all of us, the earth, the trees, the animals, the people - all of us. We are under His name so He will not abandon us. I am grateful for this. How much He loves all His creations, not just us, but the earth too!

Sorry you have a hippy child! Okay! Thought over!!

I have been studying language again. I realize that as true church leaves the earth, there is a new language that takes over. I call in "Language of the Apostasy" and it includes flattery, bribes, hypocrisy, lies, and boasting. More on this to come! It is a fascintatnig subject to me!

So, is it bad to have favourite teachers? Because I definitely have a favourite. His name is Brother Parson and he is just really a great teacher. I feel that he is the most effective teacher as well. He stays on point, he is very kind, and he speaks so we understand -- he makes US figure things out. He RARELY speaks in English. So much so, that when he does, it is weird. He has an amazing testimony - you can feel it when he speaks Russian and when he speaks English. He takes the time to get to know us as individuals. He is very much into role-playing, which I like because it forces us to use the language. But I also like it because it allows me to take on the perspective of an investigator and think about questions they may have or concerns that may arise so that I can better prepare myself for discussions. He is just a really good teacher. I have learned so much.. I have been studying verbs like crazy - if you know verbs, you can say anything. I used to have such a difficult time with verb conjugation in Latin, but in Russian, it has not been much of a problem - I know this is because the Lord is helping me - I need to learn Russian not for myself, but for the people I am going to teach. One time, while Brother Parson was praying I heard him say my name in the prayer - I thought it was very kind. He is a great teacher, I have great respect for him. HIs wife is going to have a baby soon and I now from watching him teach he will be a great father too! I hope I can know the scriptures and bear my testimony like him someday! 

My other teacher Brother Morris is also amazing. He is great with time managment. I am learning so much from him. What is more, is he has a great genuine desire to teach. He wants us to understand. He is very patient and kind, so I like him immensely. I am amazed with his testimony of planning - he is teaching me so much. He taught us how to create effective study plans. I am learning at a much faster rate now. He knows what it means to dedicate his time to the Lord. I hope I am better about that. I am already obsessed with my time, but he made me reaize it is never MY time. It is always the Lord's time, especially on the mission, and every moment counts. we teach him as an investigator too, and he always asks very interesting questions that are basic, but complicated at the same time. I like this becasue it really forces us to KNOW the doctrine and to seek out what things the investigator needs. He is a great teacher.

My Last teacher is Brother Ekkersely. He is also a great teacher. He is very very fun. We goof around the most with him. He keeps things light, yet serious at the same time. I really like him. He is fun. He teaches very well too - though he probably speaks englisht eh most. It is nice though because he clears things up for us that may have been confusing. He seems like a very d worker - he comes in whenever he has an hour to spare. I admire him for this. He is very smart and chill. He is also good at listening. There is one elder that he always takes time to listen too and talk to. He is a very kind person.

So really, I love all my teachers. They are all great!! Like I said, they are all married. They each have different things and yet they all work together to teach us. I love it! I love the MTC!

We sing in  Russian and like I said we pray in Russian. It is fun. The langauge is coming slowly, but it is coming!!!


Anyways, I have some bad news. Apparently I may have misread the thing - I may not be allowed to have a blog at all when I am in Russia! For now in the MTC it is fine. But, when I go there I will get more information and find out what is appropriate and not. I thought I could have a blog if I left out names and places of where we were - I thought I had to do that for every letter - but my companion thought we COULD mention names and places, we just coulnd't post ANYTHING on blogs. So, I will find out at let you know.

Anyways.... now for some other stuff. So. I am just here at the MTC. I love love love love love it. It is amazing. The spirit of the Lord is so strong here. Everyone is working their hardest and trying their best to serve the Lord. I love the feeling that it produces. I have noticed my English vocabulary that I have worked so hard to cultivate and nurture is starting to wane. I was somewhat sad, but then I realized it was actually a great thing because it just means I am making room for the Russian language. I am learning so much. I am amazed at the blatant blessings from the Lord that He gives me. I could hardly grasp Latin, but with Russian I am learning more and more everyday and I know it's because God is helping expand my understanding. He is opening my heart and my mind to receive the Russian language. I realized part of this was the difference of my motives. I was just trying to learn Latin for me, but I am learning Russian in order to become a better Missionary so that I can be a useful tool for God in Russia. I want to be of use to Him. I can only do this if I remove negative emotions such as pride, envy, contention and so that the Holy Ghost can fill me and teach what needs to be taught. I know that I, myself, do nothing; it's all the Lord. I just need to do my best to be living and working in a way that is acceptable to him so that I can feel the Spirit and the Spirit can teach. It really is an amazing thing. I am continually humbled every day at the honor it is to be a servant of the Lord. I used to get discouraged about the concept of being a servant for the Lord -- the reason being that I knew whatever I did I would never be a profitable servant; I could work and try, and work some more, but I would never be able to repay that incredible debt that the Lord suffered for me in the garden and on the cross. What was more, is my debt was continually growing as He would continually bless me. I do not deserve those blessings - I am already in His debt! I was saddened that no matter what I could do, I would always be an unprofitable servant. But then one day I realized something! It is true, I am an investment in the Lord, so therefore I can never pay Him back. Really, all of this is to help me so naturally I will be unprofitable, but I came to the realization that though I would never be a profitable servant, I could be a faithful one. I can work and work and work to show Him my gratitude. I can work and say thank you to show him how grateful I am and how humbled I am for this opportunity to serve. I get the chance to interact with more of Gods beautiful children, here in the MTC and eventually in Russia. I know that each of them are special. I know that He wants each of them to return to Him. I know he has a specific, individual plan for each of them... I am honored that He has selected me (and was patient with me as I came to terms with the call to serve) to be apart of His plan for those children. I know that I may never baptize anyone one (maybe I will, who knows!) but I know that so long as I work hard, those seeds are planted. That is a start. I am just happy and humbled to be a part even that much. How Great and Marvelous is our God! to come up with such a loving, specific, and nurturing plan for each of us! His plan will have the highest rate of return, it will have the highest success rate. I am comforted by the love of our Father and our Savior. What an immense sacrifice for both of them. I often think of the Savior bleeding in the garden and on the cross - what pain and agony He suffered just to give us OPPORTUNITY. Then I think of our great, merciful, Father in Heaven - how hard it must have been to watch His son suffer as He did! Yet He stood by and watched, and waited, and sorrowed so that we could have a CHOICE to return to Him. It wasn't guaranteed that we would all return to Him - He knew some of us wouldn't... in that way the sacrifice was heightened! But He knew that agency was essential, and He knew the price of agency, though great, was worth it. What a glorious gift both our Father in Heaven and our Savior provided for us. What a sacrifice for both of them. We need to take every opportunity and every choice and dedicate them to the Lord, so that we can return to our Heavenly Parents and our celestial Brother. I am so humbled by their love... I just hope that I can maintain a holy spirit about me so that I can be the faithful servant the Lord expects me to be. I have heard an analogy for it before - it is like piano lessons. Piano lessons are already paid for by a parent, just like we were already bought through the Atonement. However, it is choice of the child whether they practice or not. When we practice, or when we obey his commandments and use the gift He gave us, that is us showing our gratitude for the price that was paid for us. I thought it was a cool analogy. So, here I am, in the vineyard, I am working as hard as I can and I will continue to do so! I want to serve those wonderful children of our Father! I am excited to do so!

So, thank you for your letters - both the dear elders and the written letters. You have such beautiful handwriting! I really appreciate your spiritual thoughts. They are like spiritual candy, I pop them in and the sweet taste lingers throughout the day. I often roll them around in my mind and think of you words; thank you so much for the encouragement. Thank you so much for your love.