June 16, 2014
Well this week has brought forth a variety of experiences worth mentioning. To put the tone of the letter on a higher note, I will start off by telling the unexpected events of Sunday.
Currently our only investigator is a man named F. He came to Ukraine from Sri Lanka, does not speak any Russian, and barely knows English. He sells Sri Lankan tea at the markets here and typically works every Sunday. I originally talked to him on the streets because he is very dark skinned and that is something that it’s just not seen here. Up to this point he had not made it to Sacrament Meeting because of work and what I think was a lack of desire. But in the morning before church we walked to where he lives, woke up his land lord who then woke him up, and gave him the invitation in person. He could not work because none of the markets were open due to the rain. He was obviously groggy but agreed to come and showed up half way while the sacrament was being passed. We sat next to each other so that I could translate for him. It ended up being a much bigger challenge than I expected. I would translate a thought in my head and then say it in the most simple English that I possibly could. The problem was that by the time I was finished, the speaker had already moved to a completely different topic and I could not catch everything that was said. So instead, I would do my best to figure out the gist of the talk, and then just fill in any holes with my own commentary (of which there were many). It basically ended up being me giving three talks to him that used a rough outline from the speaker.
When Sacrament Meeting had finished came the point that the day changed. I looked at F and asked him what he thought. In very broken English, he said to me that before he came today, he had prayed for some kind of guidance from God. Something to give him direction. The explanation then went on with him saying that during our Sacrament Meeting, he had received an answer and felt extremely happy. This is a great example of the influence of the Holy Ghost. As I translated, I did my best to put the words as simply as I could, but I am certain that he still did not understand what I was saying. Whenever I would ask him a question, he often would not understand what I was asking. But no matter how little he was able to audibly take in, he still received an answer to his prayer given before coming. It is not the language of man that does any work, but the language of the Spirit. This was witnessed by myself as he and I talked afterward.
Later during the day, we came back together again to have a lesson. Our member present did not understand English so we would teach in English and then translate for the member. Likewise, when he said something, we translate his words for F. Through the whole lesson he seemed very happy. We talked about faith, repentance, and as soon as we came to baptism his face lit up. It was almost like a girl who is waiting for her clueless date give a first kiss. We asked him in the most informal way possible if he wants to be baptized and he said yes without hesitation. Overall, it was a very unexpected series of events, but made for a very enjoyable day.
With the bigger highlight mentioned here, we will now switch focus to the more down part of the week. Elder A and I were out trying to drop by potential investigators whose addresses we had. We, of course, would try talk with people we passed by, and one of these has taken the prize as the most unexpected one of my mission. I had crossed a quiet street and talked to someone in their thirties who was on the other side. His immediate demeanor was very kind and he ushered me to come off the street to speak with him. We chatted for a little bit which was completely fine. He then asked me a question which I did not understand so my response was to ask him to explain it. He then came very close to my face and started talking very loud, and in a couple of seconds he then head butted my nose. It did not hurt too much because he was only a couple of inches away. Mostly just very unexpected. He said something else not understandable and then walked away.
Elder A and I just stared at each other with some confused looks and then carried on our way. Shortly thereafter, we heard quick foot steps behind us and as we turned around, we saw this same guy jumping in the air with his arms outstretched in an effort to tackle us. He was pretty light so that did not work for him, but he then grabbed our heads and banged them together. He then head butted me again, but this time much harder because he had more room to swing himself, the whole time knocking off my glasses and name tag. I was ready to throw back a punch, but then he stopped cold and just walked off. He made it ten or so steps, turned around to say another thing that we could not understand, then walked away for good. It was five minutes after this occurrence that the rain came down incredibly hard, making us absolutely soaked.
The weirdest bit came the next day though, as we left our apartment. We came around a corner and the exact same guy was walking toward us with a can of tea in his hand. He threw his hands out to his sides and said very loudly, “BROTHERS!” He approached us and started telling us to be healthy and live good lives. We said very little and were mostly ready to fight back for when he hit us. Fortunately though, he just walked away with a smile on his face. Oddly, he was also a very well dressed guy and obviously had money. Not at any moment of our encounters did he do anything to seem drunk. We still do not know what to make of the matter.
That’s it for this week.