Monday, March 18, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
Dear Friends and Family!
Interesting Fact - the 8th of March is International Woman's Day! Happy Woman's Day!
This was an awesome week. We had a lot of teaching opportunities that were just priceless. After about 2 weeks, we were finally able to meet with Yulian! He hadn't come to church for 2 weeks, because of various issues, but this week were able to meet twice in the park and we got him to church again! We taught him some of the commandments, like Sabbath Day, Law of Chastity, Scripture Study, Prayer, and everytime we asked him to do those things, he says, "I want to do those things". What kind of better response can there be? Anyway, He is already in the Book of Mosiah, almost finished. He remembers names and places and dates really well. He one time shocked us by saying that Lorenzo Snow lived in Brigham City, and various other things. He is really prepared and ready. He will be getting baptized this Sunday.
We got a Media Referral from Mormon.org. It is a 90 year old man and his caretaker, Joel and Tatiana. Joel is a Polish man who lived in San Francisco for 50 years and knows English, Russian, and Polish perfectly. He is a survivor of Auswicz and experienced a lot. He just loves us and the church. He knew a lot about us already, and he really wanted a Book of Mormon in Polish and Russian. He has lots of doubts about God, but he did say, "I am 90 years old. Convert me quick!". He is a jolly old guy that you just instantly love. His caretaker is a nice Russian lady as well. Well actually she is Latvian, but speaks only Russian. He is one of the highlights this week.
We started teaching Pasha, who came to church this last week. (The son who we visited in the hospital). That was also a great lesson, but he sees the Book of Mormon not terribly needed. He is looking for the meaning of life! The weird/cool/miracle thign that happened was that we talked to his cousin on the street the day after. We are now teaching him as well. On the second lesson, his cousin, Roma, was present. The Gardiners were there and we had a very spiritual meeting about what the Book of Mormon is. We explained that in John 10:16. that the Nephites are the other sheep that he speaks about. Jesus was called to preach to the house of Israel, not the Gentiles. There were other sheep that were NOT of that fold in Jerusalem, and this is their record. Pasha's and Roma's minds were so enlightened, and it was just an awesome lesson.
Our family is not doing that hot, to be honest. Everything we have taught them has kind of gone out the door. They are willing to meet, but not willing to do anything, like going to church, or reading. So it makes it really difficult to try to help them progress to baptism. In fact, nearly impossible. But we are going to still work with them!
Elder Abbott developed a hilarious new technique to contact - Streetlighting. There is a large intersection next to our apartment with 6 crosswalk lights. So we go in circles and talk to with people at the lights; they can't move and they can't cross, so they are stuck and have to talk to us. That is how we found Roma actually. I commented that he had a cool bike, we just started hitting it off. Missionary work is really the coolest. You are just talking to hundreds and hundreds of people every month.
We then, right after church, took a long, hot, and cramped bus ride back to Peter. We were stuck in traffic for about an hour and a half. But, the neat thing is, we made it to Peter safe and sound. We had an amazing Zone Leader Council with President Lawrance from the Quorum of the Seventy. It was just amazing and I took a lot of notes. I have a big Zone Conference that I have to conduct tomorrow, after which we are racing back to Pskov. I think every single week this transfer, we have traveled... It happens.
Well that is it for this week! I love love love being a missionary here. I have learned so much, and I continue to learn. Just feeling the Spirit's presence in everything you do and doing everything you can possible do to keep His presence is the most fulfilling and awesome work ever. The Church is true! That is something that I will never forget or deny. This is Christ's Church once again restored on this Earth.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Monday, February 4, 2013
This week was great! The first half of the week went by fairly slowly, and we couldn't get a single meeting for the first 4 days. So we ended up talking to lots of people on the streets, and stopping by addresses with no one home. On Wednesday, in the afternoon, we left to Peter and got there within 4 hours which is pretty fast. Normally, it takes anywhere between 5 to 6 hours. We have discovered these smaller private buses that you can order ahead of time that go a lot faster, and they all depart from this mall right next to our apartment. And they also cost about the same. So, we had another Zone Leader Council there with President Clark. Normal, we participate over skype on those, but we needed to go into the city anyways, so we decided to kill two rabbits with one bullet, as they say in Russian (two birds with one stone).
Our Zone Leader Council was amazing and I learned an incredible amount. We got into very interesting doctrines about obedience and The Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law. When I got into this mission, it felt like all of the missionaries made excuses and justified their disobedience by saying they live by the Spirit of the Law. We studied it all out together in our council and learned that the Spirit of the Law is the Higher Law that Jesus taught. It isn't what the law is trying to show, or the point of the law. The Spirit of the Law is living by the Letter of Law and having the Spirit with you, which would never saw to brake a law. It is giving more and not less. By justifying that you live by the Spirit of the Law you are giving much much less. It was way interesting and inspiring. We then had an awesome lunch at the Clark's and left to go back to Pskov.
We had another Zone Training Meeting, this time over skype. We had it at the Senior Couple's here in Pskov, who fed us an amazing breakfast of German Pancakes, thus the random statement of German Pancakes in the title. The Zone Training went very well. The next one will be in a month from now. So finally, we get back to Pskov and get back to work. We met with our new investigator Sasha (guy) who is a friend of a member here. He is progressing really well. The member, Masha, bore an awesome testimony about her baptism and her conversion which helped a lot. We met with a few others this past weekend.
We had three miracles this week:
1. Our investigator, Yulian, came back from Moldova after about a week or two. He called us himself and asked if there still will be church. And he came for all three hours again and loved it. We met and talked some more and he has read already into page 110 in the Book of Mormon and marking where he has got questions. He is incredibly sincere. Since our last meeting, almost a month ago, he has been praying everyday like we have told him to, and he really feels the Book of Mormon is true because he feels really good when he reads it.
2. Our investigator Family, the Lebedyevs came to church! All 6 of them! It was not easy for them to get all together and go on time. They came to the last 10 minutes of Sacrament Meeting. The wife loved Gospel Principles, which we held in the primary room so that the parents could be with the children. We haven't had a full family with little children in Pskov in years, so we kind of had no idea what to do. They then had Primary combined with Relief Society in the Nursery/Primary room. The family all loved it. Sergay had to go, so he took his wife with him, but the 16 year old daughter was thoroughly loving Young Women's and stayed with her 2 younger sisters who were playing in the Nursery with Relief Society. So, if there is any kind of problem to run into, I guess this is the best one to have. How to incorporate a family of 4 kids in the branch calling-wise...
3. We got a call from another investigator Sergay, who is one of my favorites. About a month ago, he fell back into alcoholism, and has lost all self control. He called me to tell me hadn't drank in 24 hours and that he admits that he is an addict and lost his self control. The is the first step in the 12 step addiction recovery program that the Senior Couple runs. Sometimes it is the hardest step, to admit and recognize your addiction. He is ready to move on. So we stopped by again with the Gardiners to do the program with him last night. He told us that when he first saw Elder Gardiner (the senior missionary), he wanted to be like him. He is ten years older but looks ten years younger than Sergay. He decided he wants to change his life and fix his bad habits. It was a powerful meeting. I have never seen Sergay so humble before.
This email is quite long! I did not realize. In other news, I am staying here in Pskov for my last transfer! This will be the longest I have been in a given area. I can't complain. This is probably my favorite area too. Well, the church is true! I am incredibly happy that I am a missionary. I honestly love these people with all of my heart.