A week ago, while Christmas shopping, I was drawn to everything Russian. I picked up a set of Matroyska dolls, a patterned scarf, a purse with Russian needlework. Turning to my friend, I said, “I think Stefan’s going to Russia.”
As the week progressed, Stefan and I both noticed our newfound proclivity for everything Russian– Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky and every newspaper article focusing on the giant of the north.
In fact, when everyone spun the globe and wrote down their guesses, Stefan and I both said, “Russia.”
Still, I think no one was more surprised than us when his letter actually read–
Dear Elder Lehnardt:
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Russia Yekaterinburg Mission. It is anticipated you will serve for a period of 24 months.
Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. As you serve with all your might, mind and strength, the Lord will lead you to those who are prepared to be baptized.
See the green area? That’s Stefan’s mission boundary (it’s the Yekaterinburg time zone). The blue area just to the east? Siberia.
Don’t worry about him. Most winter days only dip to -20, only rarely does the temperature plummet to -49. In fact the mission information said, “You won’t be able to buy a warm enough coat in the United States, just buy it in Russia.” And yes, the missionaries do wear bug fur hats and gloves all winter long.
Stefan could not be happier. Yes, everyone thought he’d go French speaking, but he told me over and over, “I don’t think so.”
He departs April 24th. Just a month after Ben arrives home and right in the middle of finals week at BYU. Everything will work out, but I think these next four months will feel like a rollercoaster ride for everyone at our house.
I am especially grateful my hints of intuition, nudges from the Spirit preparing me for his call. Oh me of little faith, I’ve been fretting and worrying and all the while God has been whispering, “He’s in my hands. In fact I’ll tell you where…” And I have the knowledge– Stefan belongs in Yekaterinburg– to sustain me when the lakes turn to ice and the politicians spew hatred towards Americans.
I’m going to be more faithful. And I know God will light the way, like a candle in the dark, just far enough ahead to lend me courage.