Sunday, February 26, 2012
This week was so fun with Thanksgiving and we had President Schwitzer the Area president for Eastern Europe come and visit us. Pres Schwitzer was the mission president here in Ekat 3 presidents ago. He talked a lot about how he loves the people here so much. He only came to the City Yekaterinburg so we the missionaries in Yekaterinburg were able to meet with him and then he gave a devotional here. He talked to us about how we need to simplify our teaching and focus more on the principles and doctrines that will help people gain a testimony that this is the true restored church of Christ. He also talked about how the 2 reasons that people don't get baptized are fear and sin. We combat fear by finding friends for the investigators from the members. And we combat sin by not just telling a person to repent, but helping them to repent. He also talked about how everything we do here is to help people come closer to Christ and that our casual interactions during the day with people should also help them come closer to Christ.
For Thanksgiving we got to go to Presidents house to eat dinner. Oh my we are so lucky to be living in the same city as the mission president. We actually ate turkey and stuffing! I have never even seen turkey meat here before. It was like being home for thanksgiving. President is so good to us!
This week we finished teaching V alot of the commandments, but then her husband got sick so she wasn't able to meet with us or come to church on Sunday because she has to sit with him all the time. They are taking him to the hospital today so everything should be ok. She still wants to get baptised. We now need to decide though if it would be better to keep trying for her to get baptized on Friday or wait until next week or something. I don't know, I think it might be better to wait at least a little bit so that maybe we can announce to everyone on Sunday the baptism so more people can attend. So anyways she is doing really well. We have been calling her. She is just a little down because her husband is sick.
This week we met with T. We had a pretty heavy lesson with her talking about pre-earth life. She kind of got hung up on the fact that God might have created evil. That is why Pres Schwitzer's talk was so good for us. He reminded us we need to stick with the basics with her. That is what we are going to try to do this week. She has also been going to institute after we meet with her. So she has started to meet some of the youth in the branch.
We got a miracle meeting with a lady L whose son is serving a mission in Las Vegas. Her son met the church and got baptized in the states. He was living in Salt Lake City before he went on his mission. She is very prepared right now to receive the Gospel because of her son who has been telling her to read and pray and everything else. She also suggested next time that we meet her husband too. She showed us some pictures of her son with his companions and she showed us this letter that their mission president wrote to all the parents telling them not to send their missionaries sweets for Christmas.
Pres Schwitzer's talk also helped us with our investigator S. We realised that we have been telling him to repent and not helping or showing him how to repent. We are going to try to be better. It is going to be hard for him because he is a serious alcoholic. We need more ideas if you have any with how to help him. We are going to try to set daily and weekly goals with him.
I am doing pretty well. Sis Denning and I set up our Christmas tree that we found in our apartment. That was pretty fun. There have been some little signs of Christmas starting here, but new year's is a much bigger holiday for them so I don't think we will get quite as much of that here as in the states. Love you all!!!
This week was good. The Lord has been blessing us so much lately despite of our imperfections. We were able to set a baptismal date with V (babushka) for the 2nd of December at 6pm. She is such a prepared person and it is so great that she already has friends in the branch. She came to church yesterday on her own and loved all the meetings. The Branch members were really supportive of her especially since we could not be with her for Relief Society. After church on Sunday she has started to read more and try to understand more. She is also praying more. She told us that after we left her last night she prayed for our safe return home. So yeah she is amazing. She met with missionaries a really long time ago and she says this time everything is a lot more understandable. She knits really well and so Sis Denning and I decided we are going to buy some yarn and she said she will knit some mittens for us. Her life has been really hard she was an orphan and she grew up during the war and the depression and during the communist era, but all through this she has developed a huge faith in God. One of her legs is 5cms shorter than the other so she has to wear special shoes with one being taller than the other. She also plays the accordian at weddings. Isn't she so great?
Then we had a newer investigator T come to church again. She is about 18 years old and is studying religion at the university. She always has a lot of really deep questions. This week we talked to her about the trinity and that was kind of mind boggling to her. She had never ever thought about that maybe God and Jesus Christ are different people. Sometimes I just don't realize just what we do when we tell people restored truth. One problem is she has doubts about the existence of God because of all the things she is learning in school. Often times the teacher talks as if God is a made up concept. We keep telling her she needs to remember the experiences she has already had with the Holy Ghost and what she feels in her heart. She also was sad the last lesson because she said she didn't have very much faith. She is progressing though because she is reading and coming to church.
A came to church! She has been so busy, but this is the second week in a row that she came. It is a little hard with Anya because we can't really meet with her. She has been praying and reading a little bit, but until after she presents her project on the 12 of December its going to get harder and harder to meet with her. She is very studious.
V who plays basketball was kicked off his team. We aren't sure why yet but hopefully he will meet with us and we can find out. We have been praying for him and he said that he still prays every day, but has not started reading the Book of Mormon again yet.
One big miracle we saw this week was that our new member, N, who hasn't been to church since she was baptized came to church on Sunday! We were pretty busy so we weren't able to talk to her much, but she seemed really happy. Also we had Sister's Conference at President's house this week. All the sisters in the mission came into town. I got to see Sis Knol again. She is still in Ufa and is doing very well. I loved it so much!!! I learned a lot from it. I felt like I received revelation for my mission, for our investigators, and for my future life. President and Sis Rust talked to us a lot. They told us stories from their lives how they met and everything. Also the senior couple from Ufa The Jensens were there and The Hassells from the office came. So much fun! I am so lucky to be serving in Yekat.
Thank you all for your love and support! I love you all!
They don't have a baptismal font in Ufa because they are just renting part of a building. They said they might get a portable baptismal font sometime. That is why Zaharova's brother Vitaly was baptized in a lake.
We saw a lot of miracles this week. First off Pres Rust let us go with him to Chelyabinsk to see Sis Zaharova's brother get baptised!!!!!! He got baptised!!!! Isn't that so great! Sis Rust called us Thursday night and invited us to go drive down with them. Vitaly (her brother) got baptised in a slightly frozen lake which was crazy. I have some pretty cool pictures. I will try to send them sometime. Sis Denning was one of the sisters that taught Vitaly before she came to Ekat to serve with me. It was so fun to see Sis Zaharova again. She is doing well and said that she wants to go back on a mission as soon as she can. She has also been able to talk to our investigator V on the internet a bit about what he read because she read it all before she got baptised. So that has been good.
This week a lot of our investigators came to church! We had two in the Shartashki branch and 3 in the Verhisveski ( I am not sure how to spell it). One of the 3 is T our new investigator. She came with a teacher and another student from the university to learn about our church and ended up staying and talking with us after the teacher and other student left. She already has a good grasp of what feeling the Holy Ghost is and she said she felt it while she was in our church. Also A and her Mom were able to come to church. This was so good because we haven't seen A in a couple of week because she has been so busy with school. She is still doing really well and her mom likes us a lot and told us she has been reading the french BOM that we gave her and she likes what she has been reading.
We met with V and tried to do some damage control. I think he could pull through. He is praying every morning and night. Although he hasn't started reading the BOM again. He is still really friendly with us and it just feels like we still have a normal relationship even though all the bad things he read on the internet really hurt him. He also came to the church after all the meetings just to talk to us and Pres Rust happened to be there. Pres Rust loves basketball and talked to him abit about it. Pres Rust doesn't speak any Russian and V really doesn't understand English, but they threw out some names of players that they both understood. How come no one told me the NBA or whatever no longer exists? It turns out we might have to give him to the Elders because Pres Rust has told us now he want younger men meeting with the Elders and younger women meeting with the Sisters. V told us this week that he could never get baptised because he can't give up tea and coffee (he read something online about the word of wisdom). Its funny he has thought about baptism like that.
Our Babuska V came to church also. We met her when some members invited her to a lesson we had set up with them a couple weeks ago. It is so great when the members support their friends when they come to church. These members, the Bashkirovi, served a mission as a couple several years ago and so they know all about helping people come to church and everything. We also talked to V this week about baptism and she has a desire to get baptised. We haven't set a date yet with her but we are thinking and praying about one.There were other things that happened, but not enough time to write them all. I just have to say that I feel so blessed to be serving in Ekat. I love you all!!!!!!
So this week has been kind of up and down. We found out that our amazing new investigator V started reading bad things about the church on the internet and so he lied to us and told us he was going out of town to visit his parents. He agreed to meet with us tomorrow night, but I really hope he shows up and if he does its going to be a pretty hard lesson. He was accusing us of lieing about everything. I have never come in this close of contact with this before. Usually the people just stop answering when we call. So it is good he was willing to talk to us on the phone. He was saying things about how some guy wrote the BOM before Joseph Smith did and that the BOM has been rewritten 4000 times or something. It is so sad that it is all so ridiculous and yet so many people believe it. It is too bad that Sis Zaharava is gone. She read all that stuff and was able to see through it all. I don't know how we will be able to explain anything very well in Russian. I hope he will be able to see how we are being honest in everything we say and that we are not out to get him or something stupid. The phone call with him was just so hard. And then we had another crazy phone call. This lady called us and started asking me if she should get an abortion. I think we were able to help her in the end, but I feel less and less adequate with the language. No I am just kidding, I know that the Lord has blessed me so much. The fact that I can even understand half of what everyone is saying is a miracle. I know that there is a reason that the Lord makes us do things we aren't good at so we will rely on him and on the spirit. We were able to have a miracle meeting with our new member who lives outside of the city. It was a miracle because we were able to find a church member to go with us the night before and then the lesson it self was really good. This member, N, still has not come to church since she was baptised. We told her when she gets her paycheck she needs to take out the money she needs to get to church before she uses all the money. She gave us this HUGE jar of Russian jam from some kind of berries that I don't know. We were able to talk to A (our 14 yr old) by phone. She is so crazy busy with school. She is preparing a big presentation right now about our church for her class. She said if she does a really good job then she will be able to present it to the school and then even to the city if she is chosen. She was really excitied to find the scriptures about poligamy in Jacob for her project. Sis Denning of course is a miracle. She is so great. It is still so funny how we had to come all the way to Russia to meet each other. It is fun to serve with her. Well that is about it for this week other that we have about a foot of snow and it has been way below freezing for the last couple of days. Love you all!!!
Highlights from this week are we met with L and her husband U. They are the couple who have a son on a mission in Las Vegas. We committed U to coming to church when they get back from their holiday break. L has been to church before quite a bit, but Uree has never been before. So this should be great. They fed us caviar and told us that we have to come back again. S was drunk most of this week as you already know. He did come to church on Sunday though and that was really good for him. Its so sad though because I could really tell he has started drinking again because he has gone back to not looking very healthy. We met with V. She is doing great. She has been reading from the Book of Mormon every day. She says that she thinks that she would like to aim for February for getting baptized. T came to the branch Christmas party on Saturday. She is so cute!!! She has natural curly blond hair which is so weird for Russia. She was really into the Christmas spirit and even gave us little gifts. We have actually gotten quite a few gifts already. Anyways she wanted to talk to us before the party started and so we went into a room, but then this older lady not a member that had just happened to walk in to the church found us and came in and sat down and started talking about the french revolution. So we ended up not being able to talk to T. But then after we left the party we walked her to her bus stop and as we were walking away we yelled back to her "Merry Christmas". It was the coolest Merry Christmas I have ever yelled. Sis Denning and I decided we needed to buy Christmas presents for each other some how and so we went to the mall here and didn't look while the other one bought the present. It was way fun. We have a lot of fun thanks to all the good ideas that Sis D has. For Christmas Eve we went to President's for dinner and then I got to talk to you all which was so fun! And then Christmas we went to church and then we came home right after church for the first time ever and then we took a nap. Best Christmas present ever! We also got to watch some of the 1st Presidency Christmas devotional. And that night Sis Denning got to skype her parents too. Thanks so much for the Christmas package and all the notes and everything! It was so fun to see you all and see that you haven't changed at all. Well maybe Charlotte's hair has gotten a little longer and Cami has grown a little bit, but other than that... :D I love you all sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much!