Serving the Lord in Russia

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Московский Российский Кол

 I thought I would post a short version of the events of June 4th to June 6th with Elder Nelson and the formation of the Moscow Russia Stake.  Some of these remarks are from a letter that my husband sent to our dear returned missionaries.

Saturday morning, June 4, 2011.  Elder Russell M. Nelson, President Gregory A. Schwitzer, Europe East President, and Elder Dmitri Marchenko, Area Seventy, began interviews about 8:30 a.m. with about 28 of the men in the district.  Stephen was assigned to give priesthood leadership training to the group of men who were being interviewed all that morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon as well.  I was asked to fix a light lunch for Elders Nelson, Schwitzer, Marchenko, and Stephen.

President Yakov Boiko, the man in the middle, the morning he was called to be the Stake President.

Saturday afternoon - the brethern finished calling the new stake presidency and patriarch, with their wives, about 20 minutes before the Priesthood leadership and auxiliary training meetings began at 3:00 p.m.  Elder Nelson briefly greeted the sisters in their training and then joined the Priesthood leaders for their training.  My husband said that Elder Nelson talked about the future of the church in Russia (roughly quoting):  "Tomorrow there will be one stake in Russia, but in the future there will be many stakes in Russia, and we will need many (Russian) missionaries."  He then asked rhetorically, "When will there be a temple in Moscow?  You'll decide."  It's easier to build a temple, he noted, than to build people worthy of the temple.  Elder Nelson also asked for remarks from Elder Dennis Neuenschwander who, as a General Authority and mission president in Vienna, was also one of the key people who helped the Church enter East Europe in the 1990s, and who now serves with his wife as a senior couple here in our mission.

President Stephen J. Sorenson - Russia Moscow Mission and President Kenneth M. Woolley - Russia Moscow West Mission

Saturday evening - I was asked to prepare a light dinner for 10 of us before the adult session of our District Conference.  At 6:00 our conference session began and we had nearly 500 people in attendance.  Stephen and I were asked to bear a testimony and Stephen gave his in Russian.  Other speakers were Elder and Sister Marchenko, President and Sister Schwitzer, Elder Nelson's son, Russell (he served in the Moscow Mission in the early 1990s), Elder Neuenschwander and Sister and Elder Nelson.  Elder Nelson recounted his involvement in the early efforts of the Church to gain entry into Russia, how he and Elder Ringger of the Seventy tried everything they could think of and finally the Lord worked his miracles in ways the brethren hadn't dreamed of.  He invoked an apostolic blessing on Moscow and the work going forward.

One of our senior couples, Elder and Sister Gronning with Elder and Sister Nelson.

One of our sister missionaries, a former sister missionary, and members of our District with Elder Nelson.  Stephen is to the left in the gold tie.

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, Russell M Nelson, Jr., Elder Russell M. Nelson, President Gregory A. Schwitzer, President Stephen J. Sorenson, and Elder Dmitri Marchenko

KLynn Lockhead, Relief President of the International Branch did the flowers for our Sunday conference.  They were as beautiful as the flowers at General Conference. 

Sunday morning, June 5, 2011.  On this beautiful spring morning the Moscow Russia Stake was created.  Approximately 1,058 were in attendance to witness the 2,926th stake of the Church organized.  Elder Marchenko conducted the business of  discontinuing the Moscow District and creating the Moscow Stake with: 
Yakov Boiko as Stake President
Vladimir Astashov as First Counselor
Viktor Kremenchuk as Second Counselor
Vyacheslav Protopopov as Stake Patriarch.
The following men were called and sustained to serve on the stake high council:  Dmitri Sedov, Slava Baltovsky, Igor Politov, Yevgeni Numerov, Anatoli Pushkov, Vladimir Morozov, Gregoriy Malygin, Aleksandr Prokhorov, President Vanik Arutyunyan from Rechnoy Branch, Brian Isert from the International Branch, Brother Uskenai, and Vitali Voloshin.

Elder and Sister Marchenko, the new Stake Presidency, Stephen and I, and Sister and President Schwitzer each had the opportunity to bear testimony before Sister Nelson spoke on how this is the day of greatest light in Russia, the greatest day ever in Russian history.  Elder Nelson spoke about more of the miracles that attended the Chruch getting into Russia and about some of the past heroes of establishing and strengthening the Church in Russia, as well as the wonderful future of the Church in Russia.  Words can't express the joy and gratitude that was in all our hearts to witness this historic event.

Elder and Sister Nelson and President Schwizter greeting people after the conference.  I'm on the far left in the bright pink jacket standing next to our Stake President, Yakov Boiko.

A few of our members and missionaries after the conference.

After the conference Stephen and I were invited to witness another historic event.  Elder Nelson, President Schwitzer, and Elder Marchenko set apart the new stake presidency and then Elder Nelson ordained Brother Protopopov as a patriarch.  Each member of the stake presidency were ordained as a high priest and then set apart in their calling.  Elder Marchenko asked Stephen if he would stay and assist him in some training for the new presidency.  Before that began Elder Nelson, President Schwitzer, and Elder Marchenko left with their wives. Stephen had the rare privilege of seeing the new stake presidency ordain and set apart ten members of the new high council.  Of course, each of them had to be ordained a high priest also.  For Stephen it was a rare, sobering display of the power of the Priesthood and the Lord's transforming hand in his work.  These three good me, who an hour earlier had been elders, now acted together as the three presiding high priests of the Moscow Stake of Zion, ordaining ten other men and creating a high council for the first time, all in proper order and with great spirit and power.  It was an incredible testimony to Stephen of the reality of Priesthood power and keys.
Elder and Sister Nelson leaving the conference.

Sunday evening - Elder Nelson and President Schwitzer and their wives again spoke at a Young Single Adults fireside with roughly 175 in attendance.  It was another spiritually spectacular event.
Young Single Adult Fireside

Monday afternoon, June 6, 2011.

Our missionaries before Elder and Sister Nelson arrived.  Beautiful!

Elder Nelson very generously offered to meet with us as a mission.  We were all in our seats by 12:10, quietly reading and preparing.  I spoke to our missionaries and told them how sharp, radiant, and smart they looked.  Some of President Woolley's missionaries from the Moscow West Mission were in town and were able to join us, along with President and Sister Woolley.  Elder and Sister Nelson and President and Sister Schwitzer arrived at about 12:30.  Elder Nelson asked to shake hands with each of the missionaries, and then we all joined for a group photo before the meeting began.  The Woolleys and we were invited to share a brief testimony.  At the end of my testimony I presented the Nelsons and Schwitzers with a small package of M&Ms (I give these out to our missionaries sometimes at our Zone Conferences) and told them the meaning behind this was to remind us of our "Moscow Miracles."  Elder Nelson responded to this with his version of M&Ms, "Moscow Missionaries."  They got a kick out of that and our missionaries had big smiles on their faces.

Sister Nelson spoke about the Atonement and about the importance of exact obedience, which brings miracles.  Elder Nelson spoke of repentance as a change of mind, knowledge, spirit, and the very way of life.  He noted his own model for life in his calling:  "Send me where you need me."  He invoked another apostolic blessing of health, growth, and progress on our mission and our missionaries.

After the conference we informed Elder Nelson about our mission goal of 120 new investigators from the time period of May 8th, when we announced that a stake would be created, to June 5th when the stake was organized.  The Lord allowed this miracle to happen.  Our total number of new investigators for this time period was 142.  Congratualtions to all of our missionaries!

President and Sister Sorenson, Sister and Elder Nelson, President and Sister Schwitzer, and Sister and President Woolley with our Russia Moscow missionaries and senior couples and 12 of the Russia Moscow West missionaries.

The miracles this weekend in Moscow were the result of the Lord's tender mercies for the hard work, faith, and obedience of ALL the members, missionaries, and leaders who have and do now live in Russia, as well as you faithful saints who have been praying for this to happen.  With loving gratitude we thank you! 

And now....... "Let us all press on in the work of the Lord."


  1. What a wonderful time for Russia. My son will arrive in your mission in a few hours. He is very excited to be part of it.

  2. Beautiful. It was really wonderful to read of the great miracles that are happening in Russia. What a blessing to be a part of it.

  3. Ah! I spy our missionary on the last row of one of the pictures above. Our son wrote us that he and his companion unexpectedly were able to attend the conference in which the first stake in Russia was organized. It does seem frankly miraculous to receive pictures of our son standing in Red Square, or posing in front of a massive bronze of Lenin. Growing up during the "cold war", a video of our missionary son watching a military parade on the streets of Nizhniy Novgorod is the last thing we could have anticipated. The light of the gospel is dawning over the entire world. We rejoice to see it!

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