February 17, 2014
To put it simply, this has not been a bad week. It all picked up on Monday night. After P-day ended at 6:00 P.M., Elder D and I did not have anything to do. The people with whom we tried to set up an appointment were not able to meet, so our schedule was clear.
To fill the time, we decided to do less active member drop by’s. One person, S, lives in a large dome, so we had to walk up and down the stairs trying to find his apartment, which was not labeled. We eventually found the door, but he was not home. A babushka who was doing something on the stairwell asked what we were doing there. Our reply was that we were looking for S. She immediately pointed to a door one flight of stairs up and said, “There. You want that door.” We asked back to her if S lives there, to which she replied, “I don’t know, but you want that door.” She kept looking at us the whole time, so it would have been rude to walk away. We simply walked to the door and tried knocking.
An older gentleman opened up and immediately said in Russian, “I don’t know Russian.” He looked at us, then asked whether or not we know French, in French. Our confused expressions said enough for him to understand, so then he asked if we speak English, in English. At this point we had established a common language and then began to talk. He was a nice man and was happy to speak with us. After a minute at the door, a woman came up talking in Russian. She identified herself as his wife and then we exchanged names. They are E and L. After another minute of talking, they asked if we would like to come in and sit down.
We entered their apartment, sat and began talking. The fun part was that E spoke English and German, and L spoke Russian and German. So during the whole conversation, we would have to say something to one of them and then translate it to the other. Then they would speak amongst themselves in German. It became a little difficult to figure out who was talking to whom at certain moments.
They told us that they met one another four years ago in Italy, and the first year of the marriage, they only spoke Italian to one another. Before long, they asked us to talk about what we believe. So we began teaching the first lesson from Preach My Gospel. E said that he was not interested in joining any religion, but L seemed to have some desire. They said that they would like to have us back again, so we are going to go over this coming week. It was a very unexpected and cool experience.
I’m not sure where that babushka in the stairwell came from, but I think that the direction she gave us was inspired, to say the least. I am excited to see what will happen with them in the coming week.
In addition to the interesting events of Monday night, we have continued spending time meeting with members. One recent convert told us an interesting story. He is divorced from his wife as of five months now, and because of this Valentine’s Day was difficult. He bought her a bouquet of roses, but when he went to give it to her, another guy walked up to the house to take her out on a date. This apparently upset him. It turned out that this all happened just twenty minutes before we were supposed to meet with him, so he had to catch a bus to come to us. He said that he thought a lot about walking back and punching the guy, but ultimately decided just to leave. As soon as he boarded the bus, all of his frustration washed away and he became very happy. Then when he told us the story, he started talking about how the Holy Ghost calmed him down and how lucky he is to have found the church. It was a cool visit that both Elder D and I enjoyed well.
On Sunday I gave my first talk in Sacrament Meeting. I decided to discuss member missionary work and used a quote by David A. Bednar as the focus of my material: “And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary as you participate in and love this holy work…” (2011 October General Conference, The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn, Sat. Afternoon Session – David A. Bednar) The idea was that Elder Bednar promises a blessing of protection if we do these two things listed: participate in and love missionary work.
I then talked about how members can better be involved in missionary work. The part of my talk that I feel was the shining moment was talking about how to better love missionary work. I used my time in the MTC to explain this. Neil L. Anderson came and talked to the missionaries about love and sacrifice. He said that if you love something you will sacrifice for it, and if you sacrifice for something you will grow to love it. As such, I encouraged all those who did not enjoy the work to first make a sacrifice, and then through sincere prayer and time, they would grow in affection toward it, which would lead to a general love. Some of the members came up to congratulate me on the talk I gave and said they enjoyed it.
The real highlight of my address came at one point while talking about the member missionary work King Lamoni and his wife did in the Book of Mormon, in Alma 19. I tried to say that the queen then awoke. The word for queen is, королева. But I actually said корова, which is the word for a cow. I basically referred to the queen in the story as a cow. One member caught my mistake immediately and laughed. She pointed it out to me afterward and said that it was very funny. We had a good laugh together about it.
Today I had to travel to Kiev in order to do registration. It has been a fun day because the place to do this is right in the center of the city, which is where it is the most European. Elder K, my trainer, had to do his as well, so we have been walking around the city together trying to find where to go. It has been a fun day so far.
That sums up my stories for the week and this next one should not be bad. We have two new people to teach and the weather is getting warmer here. It has been above freezing the past seven days. It is a nice change of pace, because the weeks preceding that were cold.