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Discovering the Twelve Tribes of Israel in Russia

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Three months before the end of my mission in Samara, Russia, I was sitting in the mission office chatting with some other elders when one of them mentioned he had met a member from the tribe of Issachar in a city far to the north. I nearly fell out of my chair. Scrambling for my backpack, I pulled my notebook out and checked my list. 

Ephraim. Check. Manasseh. Check. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and Benjamin. Check, check, check. Near the bottom of the list sat the name Issachar with an empty check box next to it. It was with great satisfaction and not a little reverence that I filled it in. I had done it. I had found an individual from each of the Tribes of Israel. 

My search for the 12 Tribes began in the Provo MTC when a visiting authority spoke about the abundant number of tribes represented in Russia and the surrounding countries. It took me the better part of two years to find all 12 Tribes, but during that time I learned of the spiritual significance associated with them. 

The gathering of the 12 Tribes holds an immense amount of significance in the last days. Since the time that the covenant people were scattered the Lord has promised that they would be gathered in again. But whether literal or adopted descendants of Israel, it is so much more than just a physical gathering. 

Part of the gathering of Israel is the restoration of the covenant made with Abraham. That covenant, passed down through Abraham’s sons, included the promise of the fullness of the gospel, posterity to share it with, and a place to enjoy its blessings. Ultimately, the blessings of Abraham’s covenants with God culminate in the blessings of the temple. This allows us to obtain eternal life and access to all that our Heavenly Parents have. 

President Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has said, “The gathering of Israel is the most important thing taking place on the earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty.”

The gathering of Israel is about finding, comforting, healing, teaching, and bringing God’s children into the fold. I invite you to consider your role in the gathering of Israel. What are you doing now? Is there something more that you could be doing? As you participate in the gathering of Israel, you will be blessed as Abraham of old. 

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Tyler Nelson
Tyler Nelson
After serving a mission to Samara, Russia, Tyler graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in Creative Writing. Tyler is the author of Away From The Sun, a short collection of his written works. He lives in Provo with his drop-dead gorgeous wife, enjoys playing basketball, playing the banjo, studying history, and collecting Pokemon cards. Follow Tyler on Instagram @therealtylerbnelson

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