The 1980s and 1990s again brought rapid change to Russia, causing many to seek for greater spiritual meaning in their lives. While traveling abroad, a number of Russians joined the Church and brought their new faith home with them to share with family and friends. In the early 1990s, small groups of Latter-day Saints emerged in St. Petersburg, Vyborg, Moscow, and the Russian Far East. Soon after, missionaries began to visit and answer questions from those who were interested in the Church.
Among the early converts in St. Petersburg were Viacheslav and Galina Efimov, who were introduced to the Church after their daughter met the missionaries through a friend. Though skeptical at first, Viacheslav decided to listen to the missionaries’ message. “From that moment,” he explained, “our life changed. We became a family. Although we had lived in the same house, we were each involved in our own activities and spent little time together. … Then for the first time in ten to twelve years, we began to spend more time together.” On June 9, 1990, all three were baptized. Four years later, they were sealed as a family in the temple.
Others like the Efimov family embraced the message of the restored gospel across Russia from Kaliningrad in the west to Vladivostok in the east. Russian Latter-day Saints actively served to strengthen each other’s faith and build the Church. In 1995 Viacheslav, then serving as a district president, was called with Galina to lead a new mission based in Yekaterinburg. For three years, they supported Church members in cities like Chelyabinsk, Perm, Tyumen, and Kurgan.
Such service brought purpose and spiritual strength to Russian Church members, helping them endure times of hardship. Viacheslav Efimov’s unexpected passing in 2000 was a trial for his family and friends. Galina, however, continued to feel close to him as she served others. In later years, she could often be found helping in the local mission office. Her example inspired many, including Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. After inviting her to speak during a 2011 district conference, Elder Nelson said that Galina “talked about how she and her husband are partners in missionary work. President Efimov is working on the other side of the veil, and she’s working on this side of the veil. They are still united in missionary service.”