Russian members strive to help build Church

"Boris Mokhov, now one of the district presidents in the Russia Moscow Mission, came to the Church along a path many have followed. Growing up in an avowedly atheistic society and home, and after the 1985 institution of Gorbachev's glasnost, he was surprised when his oldest daughter met LDS missionaries. Two young elders had visited her high school class and made a presentation about the Church, inviting any interested to attend Church services with them the following Sunday. Several of the young students did visit the Church, among them, Natasha Mokhov.

"Natasha told her older brother about this church, and he agreed to attend meetings with her. In time the missionaries taught them the missionary discussions, secured permission from the Mokhov parents, and baptized the two oldest children. Eventually the two younger children in the family also began going to the meetings each Sunday and were baptized. The parents were pleased to note a very positive change in the children's attitudes and behavior. They had worried earlier about some of their older children's choices of friends and activities. Now they felt increasing admiration for their resolution and integrity."On occasion, the Mokhov father and mother also attended Church services. The children, many missionaries, and Church members helped the parents gain an assurance that they belonged with the children in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Finally the baptismal day arrived, and Church service and growth followed. Approximately two months ago, the Mokhov parents and their four children were among 31 Moscow members of the Church to visit the Stockholm [SwedenT Temple, where they were sealed as a family for time and for eternity."

"The first family in Russia to receive the temple endowment and sealing ordinance was the Semionov father, mother and son from Vyborg. Two years earlier the father, Andrei, a young medical doctor of surgery, had met a devoted and generous Finnish family, the Jakkos, on a canoe trip. The Jakkos gently but persistently explained Church values and teachings to Andrei, and, sensing his genuine interest, maintained contact with him over a period of months. Eventually missionaries were able to present the discussions to the Semionovs and, as they were prepared, baptize them. The Semionovs were especially active in sharing the gospel with their neighbors, a considerable number of whom made the same decision that the Semionovs had to affiliate with the LDS Church.

"One of Andrei's friends told a former classmate, Yelena Petrov, about his positive impressions of Church teachings, especially about the emphasis on family ideals. Yelena and her small daughter were then visiting Yelena's mother in Vyborg for the summer, seeking relief from the heat, pollution, and bustle of Moscow in her tiny, one-room communal apartment, where bathroom and kitchen facilities are shared with two other families. When her husband, Andrei Petrov, then a Ph.D. student completing his degree in radio telecommunication engineering, came for a visit, they attended the Vyborg Branch of the Church.

"The Petrovs, too, were favorably impressed by the spirit and liberating teachings of this new and, as yet, largely unfamiliar Church. Missionaries offered to help them learn more. Following weeks of meetings, the Petrovs were baptized. As they returned to Moscow, the embryonic Church was meeting in the none-too-spacious but spiritually expansive home of the Thorntons. The year was 1990 and Dohn Thornton was employed at the American Embassy. In his free time he shared his knowledge and testimony with Russians, several of whom were to form the nucleus of the first Moscow branch in 1991. Having accepted various opportunities for growth through Church service, Andrei Petrov became the first Russian president of that branch and, in 1992, the first Moscow Russia District president."

"The Moscow Mission was and is blessed immensely by Americans living in Moscow, who virtually all told me at one time or another that they had set aside other appealing professional opportunities to come to Moscow and help build up a new Zion.

"Dan Souders moved from employment at the U.S. Embassy to Aeromar, taking a position of administrative leadership in a joint venture between Aeroflot and Marriott, providing meals on international Aeroflot flights. Pres. Souders served as original Moscow group leader as Russians began to attend meetings and become interested in the Church. He is a branch president again, now living in Moscow with his fine Russian wife and daughter. Albert Walling, recently deceased, headed Huntsman Chemical in Moscow, and served with unparalleled devotion and sensitivity as second group leader of the Moscow Russian saints, and as one of the first two Moscow District presidents. Through his example and teachings, he prepared a very substantial number of Russians for success in their Church service. Now the Matthews and Bennett families ably continue the work of the Wallings.

"The Gibbs family played a starring supporting role in strengthening the Moscow Branch while Daryl, a computer specialist, helped colleagues at Moscow's leading language university master state-of-the art computer technology and language-learning applications. William Atkin is a leading international attorney with Baker-McKenzie. He and BYU law professor Cole Durham have been centrally important in steering the Church's fragile frigate through rough waters of discriminatory legislation and unresponsive bureaucracies. The Neuberts, U.S. Embassy employees, provided successful youth conferences and Primary leadership training.

"Here I would mention BYU Professor Trevor McKee, who brought dozens of BYU and University of Utah students to teach English in Russian kindergartens. Their sterling example stood and stands in stark contrast to the pornography, violence and vulgarity entering Russia from the West through tawdry films and TV. These students and their leaders helped a considerable number of Russians form positive impressions about the USA, Utah and the Church, promoting, consequently, missionary success."

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