Friday, July 18, 2014

signing off

Dear Friends,

Our initial plan was that his letters would be posted on a blog for friends to check at their leisure.  However, because of security concerns in the area of the world where he is serving we have been asked not to post letters or pictures of missionaries or members or any communication about the conditions or events in the area he is working in on any public media, including blogs or Facebook, so we are discontinuing the blog and forwarding his emails to friends in their private emails, asking that you also refrain from posting anything we send you on Facebook or other social media.  This is not just a casual request, but is for the purpose of securing the well-being of missionaries and members alike and we know that obedience always brings blessings:).  If you are aware of others that would like an update I will gladly add them to my private email list if they let me know.  Thanks so much.

Julianne Young

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Letter July 9, 2014

Dear Family,
Just a few things for you. I am loving it here and I am starting to get little butterflies in my stomach because I will be in the . . . in 11 days! Wahoo! 

I get my travel plans on Friday and I will let you know what time I am leaving. I can call you from the airport and so I will let you know when but if you could all be home at that time...that would be great!  I would love to talk to you all for a minute or two before I fly out. 

Thanks for all the wonderful and heartfelt emails you have sent. They brighten my day and I really look forward to reading them. 

I know that the next two years will be hard but with the Lord's help and your prayers, I will make it through. 

I bear my testimony that a family is the greatest gift we have. I didn't realize how much every one of you meant to me until I left.

I miss you all a lot but I wouldn't wouldn't trade where I am. I know that this mission will change me, bless you, and change lives in the . . . You are in my prayers! Called to Serve!

Elder Young

This is Brat McKay, one of my MTC teachers.

And Sister Wriggley, another teacher.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Letter July 2, 2014

When I first started at the MTC, 9 weeks felt SO long and I wasn't sure why we needed it. Now. I am so grateful for the chance to be here. It is like living in a giant temple and the spirit is constantly here! I have grown so much as a person, a servant of God, and a powerful teacher of truth, than I ever could have imagined! I am sorry for the elders who get only 12 days...ya it's nice to get out into the field but all 9 weeks to completely charge your spiritual batteries, that is amazing! 

I want to testify that the Lord opens the windows of heaven for his missionaries. All of the new elders came in 2 weeks ago and I have made it a personal goal to help them develop spiritually and feel welcome at the MTC. We live in rooms off of one long hallway and every night, I walk down the hallway and pray for the spirit to direct me into whichever room needs a me to say something that night. I open the door and then ask whatever question or share whatever I feel prompted. Usually we get a mini devotional going and it is so amazing when the other elders share the powerful experiences that they are having. I bear testimony that the gift of tongues is real and that the missionaries here experience it every day. I have had experiences shared with me of elders on their 2nd day who give a prayer or a lesson in Russian and afterwards can't tell you what they said. It was perfect Russian and all the older elders and teachers understood but they didn't know what they were saying! That is the gift of tongues working! Miracles happen every day to increase testimony. Divine revelation is poured out on the MTC and I know I have received essential revelation many times so far. Now you understand why I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Don't get me wrong....I am dying to get into the . . . , but I won't trade this experience for anything!

You asked about music...right now I am the only Russian speaking . . . elder here but there are 2 new ones coming in today that I haven't met. There is a chance that I will be with the . . . elders because in the . . . , zebra companionships happen. That's one Russian elder and one elder of another language. I sure hope I get to serve with Verusneesus(elder...of course) Mortenson, he's serving in . . . and he is amazing...and very musical. :) 

This week has been a week of enormous revelation. I am  continuing to improve on the language but the biggest thing has been the revelation. I have had some big a-ha's about the atonement. I now am really beginning to understand the power that it can be in our lives and how to use that power. I am also beginning to understand the grace of Christ in a way that I didn't get before. I don't have time to share a lot but if you read the bible dictionary about repentance and atonement, and notice that both of them are about changing you. We are preparing to become like our father in heaven and the atonement allows us to become ever more perfect. 

I got to Skype with a sister from . . . on Monday and teach her a lesson. It was so amazing! I am SO excited to get to the . . . . I already love the people there. They are just like people in the states...nothing new or scary. They are SO dedicated to following Christ. I heard them described like a watermelon. They are hard on the outside but once you break through that hard shell...they are some of the kindest people on earth. 

The gift of music has been such a blessing. I am forwarding some pictures of the special choir that I was in...I haven't figured out how to get the card reader to work so I just have to forward other peoples pictures. Elder Woodward and I did a musical number for sacrament meeting, oh my father, and it was so beautiful. He is a violin performance major and he plays with SUCH beauty! I wanted to cry while accompanying him. Oh, and Elder Woodward is one of the new elders in our zone. We may end up playing that number for a devotional...we'll see whether that happens. The gift of music is one of the fastest ways to bring the spirit and I am so grateful for it.

This morning I got to help clean the temple...kind of deceptive term since they are re-doing the carpet and I spent all morning ripping out the old stuff. That is definitely the best workout I have gotten since getting here! Everything is tired and sore. :) It was great and I am so grateful for all the work that goes into keeping the temples clean and beautiful.

Oh, the other thing that has been one my mind...ONLY 3 WEEKS UNTIL THE BALTICS! I know that is still a good chunk of time but I am well past the halfway point and it feels close enough to touch! Oh, and I get to call home from the airport before leaving. I will let you know a time when I get my travel plans. I can't wait to bear my testimony to you in Russian. Remind me to do that. 

I am so grateful for the amazing teachers that are here. Sister Wrigley is an absolute saint! She has been through every hard experience a person can have and she still keeps smiling, turning to God, and building other's faith. Brat Mckay is a grandson of David O Mckay and he lives up to his grandfathers name. He was AP for something like 13 months and knows how to teach with power. He and James Ure are very similar! I am so grateful for these amazing teachers. They really care for us and spend so much of their time building us up. 

I have learned how important it is to turn the lesson over to the spirit. In preach my gospel it counsels you to just watch the person you are teaching and try to understand them instead of thinking of your response. We as missionaries are promised that if we do that, our mouths will be filled. That happened yesterday. I shared more in Russian than I have ever been able to and I was able to bear a powerful witness of the truthfulness of the gospel. I know that this church is true! As missionaries we are called to serve alongside the 12 apostles and I know that God has our backs every second if we will turn to him. 

I testify that the grace of Christ is the only way that we can return to our Heavenly Father. I testify that ministering angels will bless us at every step if we are living worthy of them. I testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Reading that Book will bring a power into your life like nothing else. READ IT! chetiatete! ( That is Russian for READ! in command form. :) ) I testify that the 12 apostles are called of God and that we are led by a living prophet today. I know that if we live like Christ, we will have a light in our eyes that will be visible to others! I know that we each have a special mission here on this earth and if we knock, ask, and seek, will be opened unto us. I promise that a mission is the very best thing any young man could be doing! Don't even question it! SERVE! You will change, you will see others change, and you will feel that power of Christ in your life and you will know that he is walking by your side. I challenge every person who reads this to get on their knees, pray and ask God to let you know one sacrifice that will bring you closer to Christ. Think of something you can give up....something that is keeping you from Christ. Give it up and then ask for the Lord to bless you for your sacrifice! I KNOW he will. Family, I leave my blessing with you. I know that the Lord is watching out for you and I know that you are being blessed. 
I love you all,
Elder Young

Letter June 25, 2014

First, I know that the 12 apostles and first presidency are prophets, seers, and revelators. I have been a few feet away from all of them this week many times and they are truly called of God.

And now, some info on my mission president. He is so spiritual and I know that he will do a fabulous job of leading our mission! After speaking with him, I just want to get out into the mission field! Well, only a few more weeks to go. I am now the music chairmen for the branch and I get to do all the music for devotionals and Sunday meetings! What a blessing music is! That is probably the thing I am missing most...I miss being able to just sit down and play the piano. Right now I only get to do that on Sundays! 

I am learning the importance of opening my mouth in courage! If we are shy about this gospel, we can't expect the blessing of heaven! Boldness, courage, and faith are oh so essential if we want the spirit. I have had several experiences this week were I have received revelation to share something in a lesson that changed it and know that we must have the spirit to teach! I am learning that an attitude of happiness is so essential! Smile, have fun, never let fear cloud your faith! 

I am now able to understand most of what is said in lessons and I am able to say almost anything I want in Russian! To be able to speak so fluently in a month...that's a miracle! The gift of tongues doesn't always give us all the words we need but it does bless us and we are able to see amazing progress over time!

I have a testimony that the church is true! I know that through that power of Christ, every aspect of our lives can be improved! I want you all to know that I know that I love you and miss you but there is no where I would rather be! I can't wait for each of you to experience what I am experiencing now! 

Side note, my mission is really musical! In the special choir of 38 people...6 were from the . . . states, more than any other mission! I am so excited to serve there with the amazing missionaries I have met here at the MTC! Another side note, my mission possibly has the most languages spoken in it of any mission on earth. I was told that if they did stake conference would need to be translated into 7 languages! 

I love you all,
Stay strong, be true, serve others, bless lives!
Elder Young 

Friday, June 20, 2014

It's Been a Month!

As usual, this will be disjointed but here are all the thoughts that have been on my mind for the past week.

I had another miracle happen this week....wait that needs some background.

Brat Seitz pulled my aside a few days ago to tell me about the . . . Mission. He gave me some great advice but the most important thing he shared was 10 things that are called "The Mission Culture." These are 10 things that every missionary in the . . . Mission should be striving for. 
1. We obey with exactness
2. We baptize worthy investigators
3.We love whom and where we serve
4. We seek the spirit
5. We act in faith
6. We offer a more excellent sacrifice
7. We are master teachers of the doctrine of repentance
8.We are master planners
9.We witness miracles
10.We match the grandeur of the message.

Some explanation of what these mean. First, we obey with exactness. Brat Seitz said that the . . . Mission is one of the most obedient missions in the world. He said that when his friends talk about things that elders did in their missions, he just shakes his head. He told me that the . . . mission is only for those who follow the mission rules with exactness. Second, we don't baptize just anyone. We make sure that anyone we baptize has a strong testimony and a desire to serve Christ to the end. Third, we don't complain about where or with whom we are serving. We love and dedicate our all, no matter where we are. Forth, we need the spirit because it is the true teacher. "If ye have not the spirit, ye shall not teach." Fifth, we put ourselves out there and act in faith. We know that through Christ all things are possible and we act in faith so that He can bless us. Sixth, we give up anything that isn't exactly in line with God's commandments and our calling as a missionary. As we sacrifice those things that may be important to us but are not necessary or distract from our calling, the Lord will bless us. Seventh, we know that repentance is an essential part of God's plan and we are prepared to teach with power and with the spirit. We want those we teach to KNOW how and why to use repentance. Eighth, we are master planners because through effective planning, we can be inspired to teach with power and be directed where the Lord wants us to go. Often the difference between a missionary with power and a missionary that goes through the motions is how well they utilize the tool of planning. Ninth, as we do our part, we expect miracles. We witness miracle because we have done all that is required to bind the Lord and call down the powers of heaven. Tenth, we dress, speak, and act to match the importance of the message that we bear. As we make sure that we act as Jesus Christ would, we will have people notice that we carry a light in our eyes and a spring in step that marks us as representatives of Jesus Christ. 

These things have really stood out to me and reminded me that the . . .  Mission is truly one of the most elect missions on earth. I have been called to serve and I am assigned to labor in the . . .  Mission and I know that as I give 100% of myself to the Lord, he will multiply my efforts beyond my wildest dreams. 

I decided that I was going to obey with exactness, witness miracles, and offer a more excellent sacrifice. I re-committed myself to all of the above on Sunday. I acted on my commitment on Monday and onTuesday I did indeed witness miracles. I was able to understand more Russian than ever before and I was able to say what I wanted to say in return. Now, it is far from perfect but it is like someone flipped a switch and now the language makes sense! I know that obedience bring blessings but exact obedience bring miracles. 

Another thing, God grants us our desires, I KNOW that this is true. God always has blessed me with what I most desire. Whether it is to get in shape, fix a personality flaw, learn a language concept, or make a friend. I testify that truly desiring something is a sure way to call down the Lord's blessings. Now, you have to want it enough to make sacrifices but when we do our part, the Lord truly does offer us miracles.

OK, now on to the coolest part of this week. I wrote about doing music for the 4th of July...well..I've dropped that because I am too busy. Here's why. I have been chosen to sing in a special choir that will be singing for the mission presidents conference this next week. This choir has 36 singers(9 of each part) who were chosen because of their musical training. We get to sing for the entire first presidency and all 12 apostles. Yep, that's right. All 15 of them. And they will be about 10 feet from us! We will sing Sunday through Wednesday and sing before each of the first presidency member's talks. We have to learn and memorize 5 pieces of music this week...that's more than one a day, and we have been told to drop anything else on our schedule that is needed so that we can be prepared. Elder Meredith is also in the choir. It gets better, at least in my mind, because there will be some ridiculous security around this next week and we have each been given a letter that will get us through all of it. What an amazing chance this is. This could be one reason that I entered the MTC in May is because God knew that I needed this chance to share my talents and I wouldn't have had it if I had come in earlier. 

OK, now that all the exciting stuff is shared, let me close with a powerful thought from Elder Ballard who spoke this week. 

"You can always follow the counsel of the apostles and prophet. We will not and cannot lead you astray. Know that we speak for the Lord and 'whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same' ."

I know that I have been called by a prophet of God and that I have a special mission to perform in . . . I know that the Lord has multiplied my abilities and he will continue to do so as I offer a sincere effort, a broken heart, and a contrite spirit. I have a testimony that the atonement of Christ is the enabling power to allow us to improve, repent, and find happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. 

Elder Young

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Letter, June 11, 2014

Date:  June 11, 2014

Elder Cook gave the devotional Tuesday and it was great. Things that he said that stood out to me.
"Don't be afraid to teach in your new language. God isn't going to let one of his precious children miss out on blessings because you didn't conjugate a verb correctly. Do your best and he will help you. Who the Lord calls, he also qualifies."

"Bear your testimony. One elder I served with was very shy but when I asked those we baptized when they knew it was true, each share a time when that shy elders simply words of testimony or truth brought the spirit."

I have seen my patriarchal blessing fulfilled while here. Mom and Dad, you will remember the stuff it says about bearing testimony...I have seen those promises fulfilled here many times!

OK, here's something exciting. I spoke with a sister from Idaho who accompanied a vocalist at a fireside and she told me that they need accompanists. I went to put my name on the list and they asked me to play for them. When I finished, they asked me to be in charge of the musical number for the big 4th of July MTC meeting! Ya, I'm supposed to find music, put together a group, and perform for the whole MTC in July. Oh, and since it isn't a devo, I get to pick fun, patriotic, music!

I have done a ton with piano since here. I have played for church every week and accompanied or sang in every sacrament meeting since getting here. Keep up your music because it will be used. Mom, thanks for the hymn arrangement book, it is being WELL used!

We had a bunch of missionaries leave Monday and so there are only about 18 Russian speaking elders here now but we have 24-32 showing up in our zone alone next Wednesday! Yep, the place will be packed! 500 new missionaries came today!

I was reading D&C 109:22-23 when I went to the temple last week and something stood out to me, those verses apply to all church member but especially to missionaries. Leaving the temple endowed with power to teach the world is an amazing promise.

I teach in Russian most days of the week and I am getting better at saying things. Look up a recent article about missionaries learning a new language in 9 weeks. It was written by a non-member for some magazine and they said that they only comparable system is used by the military and it takes 64 weeks. They interviewed an elder and asked how he could learn in 9 weeks what takes everyone else 64. He told them it was because we learn by the spirit. The article closed by saying, "whether you believe this or not, the results speak for themselves." I know that we learn by the spirit and it is OH so powerful!

Quick thing that might make you smile. All of the Russian speakers sit in an alcove on the side with iron pillars separating that alcove from the rest of the dining hall. We call those pillars the "iron curtain" and joke that the Russian speakers sit behind the iron curtain.\

I know that they Lord blesses and helps us as we work our hardest. Russian is so hard but I still have that feeling of peace that I entered the MTC with about going to the Baltics. I could go now and not feel stressed. What a blessing the peace of God is!

All my love,
Elder Young

First Letter

Date:  May 28, 2014

What a week it has been. Wednesday was  just general, get to know your purpose, practice teaching a little in English, and try to get to bed. My first few nights were really rough because I couldn't sleep bed and I got sick for a few days but I have been sleeping well for the last 3 nights and I am now almost completely better. Ah, quick story.

Monday, I told Elder Nally that I had actually slept well and that I was feeling much better. He said...ya we know.....he then said that I had been snoring my head off all night. ;) So, that's what happens when I am really tired and finally fall into a deep sleep. 

Ok, here's what you need to know about my district.

Elder Nally, from San francisco and it shows. he's got classy hair, a real 'people personality' and a love for having fun. He is my opposite in so many ways! however, He is very dedicated to serving an honorable mission and he is very thoughtful so we are getting along famously! 

Elder Meridith is from Rexburg and a lot like me. he is very dedicated to working hard and is really having the gift of tongues come to him and he is learning faster than anyone.

Elder Buck is our district leader and is from Sandy, Utah. He is 20 and has served 2 years in the marine corp. Super strong, really dedicated, super respectful...the ideal soldier. He is a really great guy.

The two sisters in our district

Sister Wilson is from Utah, I don't remember where, and is really smart. She is very reserved and quiet and so sometimes I am not sure how much she likes us elders. She will be a great missionary but certainly has a lot of places to grow in testimony and faith.

Sister Palmer is from....Boston.....yep. She is nice....looks way younger than 19....and will be a fabulous sister. She is also very quiet but really knows a lot about the gospel. 

OK, you will be a receiving a letter from me soon were I testify that the gift of tongues is important, here is the story behind that.

Sister Wilson took Russian in college and is very close to fluent. She is the best Russian speaker in the district. I can tell that she is used to always being able to do things...and do them well...and so she loves to be very prepared. We teach lessons in Russian every day and a couple days ago, she didn't have time to write everything out that she wanted to. She got stressed, lost the spirit, and couldn't teach. in her own words...I couldn't think of anything to say. I had a very different experience that day because I am not very good at Russian...probably the worst in the district and had Elder Nally interpret for me in the lesson. I didn't know much of what was being said but I followed the spirit and would interrupt and ask Elder Nally how to say things one word at a time. I shared my testimony 3 or 4 times during the lesson and felt the spirit so strongly. Our 'investigator' has committed to be baptized. What a difference it was...Sister Wilson could speak the language but lost the spirit...I knew only a few words in Russian and yet felt the spirit and taught with power. The spirit is the MOST important thing!

I know a few words . . .

I know true, tie, shoes, yes, no, good, what such! (used when English would say, "what in the world"), prophet, Joseph Smith, Christ, God is our Loving Heavenly Father...

OK...that's about it. Russian is hard!

My first few days were so hard. I was working so hard that I couldn't think...that 'my brain is fried' feel you get...ya...I had that for 3 days straight. I am doing much better now but like I said in my letter...there were times I was sure they were trying to kill me! :)

We have some fabulous teachers here that really teach by the spirit. Sister Jackson, Sister Riggley, and soon Brother McKay(He has been being our fake investigator). They have all served in Russia or  and really are great. Just a quick side note, I am the only elder here who is going to the . . . and will be speaking Russian. There are several who will be speaking . . .etc..but no Russian. My whole district is going to Samara Russia! 

Oh, another thing that is important.
I am a missionary...I am currently assigned to serve in the . . . We were told that all mission assignments for the next while could change at any time. They are opening a bunch of new mission and we could be re-assigned at any time. So everyone at home with mission calls....remember...that may not be final. There is a lot of good food here and I have gain a couple of pounds for sure..,.ya...couldn't help it. Another thing that I am more grateful for vegetables...compared to them...everything here tastes like sawdust! So, eat your veggies...they are one of a kind :) 

I may end up asking you to send an ipod and speakers my way....I am sure missing music. More than I ever thought I could! I didn't realize how much a part of my life it was. I sat down to play the piano for sacrament meeting and it felt SO good! I am going to miss having a nice piano for 2 years! 

This is just for all my friends. You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for being such great kids to hang out with. So many of the elders here had only a few friends who were kind of ...well...not the best kids. Thanks to all you people who have been great influences!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Setting Apart

DATE: May 20th, 2014
Event: Setting apart as an missionary

These are the priesthood brethren that were there for my setting apart-- great friends and mentors!!!  These men hold the same authority that Christ and his apostles held during New Testament times.  They laid their hands on my head and set me apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I was given counsel, as well as great promised blessings.  It is a great strength and comfort to me to know that I am acting as an instrument in the hands of God, formally authorized through the power of the priesthood, and that He will be walking with me as I faithfully serve.

This is me with Tanner and Caleb from my ward.  All three of us have our eagle, our Duty to God medallion, and a mission call.  Like the sons of Helaman or Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, we stand together in our faithful service to our God.  Although we will all be serving in different parts of the world, we look forward to an amazing reunion at the close of our two-year missionary service.

After my setting apart, Brother Hong took some great pictures of the crew that was there.
And a family picture (minus one brother who was in Utah for the week.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

This is the mission blog of Elder Bradley Young. I enter the MTC on May 21, 2014 and will be released in May 2016. I am called to serve in the . . . and will be speaking the Russian language.

I received my call on January 2 and opened it on the 3rd. Since then I have been learning the Russian alphabet, working, filling suitcases, and looking forward to May 21.

This is the Russian alphabet and it is very confusing. I am sure grateful for the gift of tongues because otherwise I would be lost! One thing that makes it tricky is the letters that look like English letters often say something else besides what they should! For example, the B says a V, the P says an R, and the r says a G. 

I know that while my mission may be difficult, the Lord has always been there for me and He always will. My mom will keep this blog updated while I serve.