Sunday, 22 March 2009


This morning we first went to the International Branch and then hurried to our Yugo Zapadnaya Branch after sacrament meeting. Chris & Greg Shepard have completed their mission and are flying home to Texas tomorrow morning, so we went to hear them speak and to say our goodbyes. We have shared so much with them and have such good memories of times we have been together. You always feel good when you are with the Shepards; they are not only fun to be with, but they have good values and are spiritually uplifting. We will really miss them, but will definitely stay in touch and look forward to getting together in the U.S.

Greg & Chris Shepard
(photo taken at the Christmas Mission Activity)

We were a little late getting to our branch, and Priesthood and Relief Society had already started. There were nine sisters in Relief Society this morning. I gave the lesson last week, and it was Sister Natasha's turn today. The theme of the lesson was taken from the Parable of the Ten Virgins and being prepared.

Elder Neipp and President Karneov were the speakers in our branch and gave good talks, which were translated for us by Elder Aiken and Elder Terrell. Elder Neipp has a wonderful voice, and he accompanied himself while singing "O, My Father." It is one of my favorite hymns, and he sang it beautifully. Of course, he sang it in Russian; but here are the meaningful words in English:

O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence
And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood
Was I nurtured near thy side?

For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth;
Yet oft times a secret something
Whispered, "You're a stranger here,"
And I felt that I had wandered
from a more exalted sphere.

I had learned to call thee Father,
Thru thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heav'ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I've a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.

When I have said my last mortal goodbyes to family and friends, I would like this hymn to be sung at my farewell (more commonly referred to as a funeral). It is my most cherished wish that one day I will be reunited with my dear family in that high and glorious place where we will be a "forever family." I pray for this blessing every day of my life and am so grateful for my temple marriage to the good husband to whom I am sealed. Nothing is more important to me in this world than my family, and I pray that each and every one will have the desire to also want these eternal blessings.

Sooner than it seemed possible when we arrived in Russia, our mission, too, is fast approaching its completion. Our visa expires April 30, and we will be flying back to the U.S. the day before. We will first go to Salt Lake and spend a couple of days with our family members in Utah, and then hopefully Todd will have found a minivan for us to drive home to South Dakota.

I am sure there will be more tears when it's our turn to say goodbye to our dear friends here in Moscow, but I expect I will have tears of joy to be reunited with our family, too. I love them so much!

Elder Wilhite & Elder Neipp with the beautiful voice
Yugo Zapadnaya Branch
Moscow Mission

Elder Chemezov from Ukraine & Elder Knuth
Yugo Zapadnaya Branch
Moscow Mission

Yugo Zapadnaya Branch
Moscow Mission
Photo taken March 8, Women's Day.
All the ladies received flowers and candy.

In the front row of the photo above are Elder Blodder & Elder Aiken from the Moscow West Mission, who are the office missionaries. Although we are now in the Moscow Mission, Elders Blodder & Aiken attend church with us on Sundays, since we still are meeting in the Moscow West Mission office. Elder Terrell (in front of Sister Ireland) and Elder Cannon (left of Elder Ireland), APs to President Collins, also meet with us in the Moscow West Mission. Elders from the Moscow Mission pictured in the photo are Elder Chemezov (back row, extreme left) and Elder Wilhite and Elder Knuth in the back row to the left of Elder Neipp. These young Elders and the others we have known in Tver and in Moscow are awesome, and we thoroughly enjoy our association with them. We love the members in the Tver Branch, and now we are blessed to be part of the Yugo Zapadnaya Branch. We will miss them when we return home.

Relief Society Sisters on Women's Day
Yugo Zapadnaya Branch
President of the branch Relief Society, Sister Natalia,
is standing behind Sister Ireland.


Elizabeth said...

I was just cruising around google images and found a picture of my son on your blog!!! He is Elder Mason Neipp, the singing missionary.

He always spoke so highly of the adult missionaries he had the privilege to serve with.

Thank you for being parent figures to our son. He comes home this fall. The time speeds by.

Sister Elizabeth Neipp

Joy said...

It is exciting to read about your mission and know of all the seeds you have planted as you have helped spread the "good news". We so appreciate your service to the people and to the missionaries.

The legacy you have left for your family in serving the Lord is evident in this blog.

Thank you again,
Jim & Joy Wilhite
parents of Elder Jake Wilhite
Moscow Russia Mission