August 4, 2014
Monday took me by a bit of a surprise. Our plans for the evening had fallen through, so our backup was to wander the streets of Chernigov in hopes of finding someone to teach. Just after six, we received a phone call from an investigator from before I came here, asking if we could meet. We went over to his apartment and saw him waiting for us outside. He led us inside and as we entered his apartment he disappeared into a room then coming back without a shirt and wearing sweat pants.
He sat us at the table in his kitchen and then brought over a stack of about two hundred photos for us to look through. Our expectations were that we would talk for ten or so minutes and then leave, but he had something different in mind. It didn’t take long to realize that he was slightly drunk, but in a very cheery way. Without saying much, he left us at the table with all of his photos and started making us some dinner. We were more than happy and just let the situation play out as it was going to.
While sifting through the mountain of photos we would occasionally ask about the people in them. Several were of him as a younger individual when working out made up a large amount of his free time. He actually was a very tough looking individual, which I wouldn’t have guessed looking at him today, considering his gut is one of the largest I have seen. As he explained the photos, he told us that his wife had passed away a month ago and that he has been trying to focus on work ever since. I think that is a large part as to why he invited us over then.
Before we knew it, his dinner for us was made and we were sitting together eating. He has a large garden outside of the city in which all of the produce we used was grown. We talked about the importance of organically grown food and that we should never buy produce from the stores, rather it is better to purchase at the bazaar. It turned out to be a nice evening with one another, and ended with him pulling out a two liter bottle of mashed and frozen strawberries from his freezer and giving them to us. We then made plans to go visit his garden together. All of us enjoyed our time together.
On Tuesday, one of the members in the branch called and asked if we would be able to help her move some bags, as she came back from the countryside with a bunch of produce. We met her and her daughter at the train station as they came in, and helped them move ten or so large duffle bags full of potatoes, cabbage, broccoli and various fruits. When we made it to their house, she asked if we could stay to help prep some of it that she is going to give as a gift to a friend. It did not seem like such a bad thing, so we happily agreed. It was then that she laid out a large blanket on the floor and then dumped out half of a large potato sack full of green leaves. It was then our job to take each leaf and break off the stem, then throw away any parts that were discolored. It was myself, my companion Elder H and the member’s daughter Y all working together to get all of these leaves in good condition. We worked for a good three hours at it, and in the end were only able to prep sixty percent of all there was. It is probably some of the most boring work I have ever done, but talking to Y was a great time, so we were more than happy to be there. The mom, E, made us dinner of mashed potatoes and cabbage salad which was incredibly delicious, and then we were off to the church for our English club.
On Thursday we all traveled to Kiev for a zone meeting. In Ukraine a proportionally small part of the people own cars, which has led to companies that make travel businesses between cities. For about six dollars I can board a bus which makes the two hour trip into the big city from Chernigov. And there are busses which go to every city, small or large. Sometimes people here have asked me how much it costs to travel between cities in the U.S. I try to explain to them that we just don’t use the same travel systems that they do here, and it is the most strange thing to them. And to be honest, it is understandable. Having frequent busses that go all over the country is very convenient and its something the U.S. would be good to copy.
For zone meeting I was asked to teach for ten to fifteen minutes about the gift of tongues to everyone. It was a rather fitting topic for me because learning the language has been a steep uphill battle from the beginning. So I focused a lot of my topic on the importance of diligence and hard work. The gift of tongues is not something that allows people to accomplish great things with little effort, nor does it mean that you will become a master of things. Rather, it is simply an opportunity to grow and extend your capabilities. It went well, and many of the people seemed to enjoy my insights.
Yesterday the branch had a lot of changes. Just about every calling except for the branch president had been changed. After church we were invited to stay as they set apart everyone to their new offices. After the third person had gone, I decided to rest my head on the chair in front of me while I listened to the words of the prayer. Before I could even realize what was going on, I was completely asleep in the most uncomfortable position. Russian has this incredibly soothing tone that just puts me right to sleep if I am not careful. When I woke up they had ordained the last couple of people and my neck was hurting pretty bad. Fortunately, nobody seemed to notice it, even my companion who was sitting right next to me.
Overall, I would say this was a pretty good week. Attached is a photo of what we saw outside our apartment this morning. Apparently, the trash chute had become way backed up, so someone went in and started pulling out all of its contents. Just good stuff.