August 18, 2014
Since I have been in Ukraine I have become a little ashamed to be from Utah. To give some background about how this has formed I will start by talking about an experience while living in Billa Tserkva. This guy who would frequently come to our English practice came to us one day and showed me some lotion which he was selling. It was all written in English which is rather uncommon for a Russian speaking part of the world so I decided to read the label. At the bottom was a small not which stated, “Produced in Spanish Fork, Utah.” My immediate reaction was positive with a little bit of pride. Giving a shout out to the old country. It’s good. As we talked I realized that he was under a contract to buy their products and resell them to people here in Ukraine. The way it sounded made it seem like a really dishonest contract on the part of the company and one which is difficult to fulfill on his part. As this realization became more clear what little amount of satisfaction from having this product from Utah turned very sharply into shame.
Since moving northward to Chernigov, much to my disappointment I have encountered two more companies originating from the Provo area of Utah. Even more sad to me is that two members from out branch are caught up marketing these products. I was at the apartment of one member who started showing me her various wares for better health. She showed me a bottle that is a mouth spray to make teeth cleaner. The ingredients on the bottle read water, and some chemical that is similar to bleach. This bottle sells quite a bit of money here which is tough for people to afford because a really good wage is considered to be three hundred dollars per month. When I told a practicing doctor who attended school for ten years that I made twelve dollars per hour at my old job, she jumped a bit and said that it is way more than what she makes here. It is not quite clear to me, but for some reason Ukrainians find it very easy to jump behind miracle cure products. The other member who sells these goes on about how they are able to cure all sorts of dismisses. It is really difficult to see them in these situations.
My final encounter with miracle cures was this morning. It came as a relief to know that this company is actually stationed in South Korea, but the knowledge that one of the local church members has quite literally spend over one thousand dollars on their products is scary to me. Especially because her pension in only one-hundred dollars per month. The company called Nuga Best makes different devices that give massages and apply heat.
Elder H has been having problems with his hips lately so one of the members invited us to come try it out. We walked into their offices which were divided into two main sections. One with chairs set out for people to sit and listen to their seminars, and the other with twenty or so massage beds for people to try out after the discussion. A woman stood in front of everyone holding a microphone and talking about the different products. She then played for us some videos of a doctor explaining the effects of the pressure and heat and what benefits it has. According to his professional opinion, all types of cancer can be effectively treated by their beds. Apparently heat applied to certain areas is effective in preventing cancer and even taking it away from those who suffer with the illness. There were other claims as to how the pressure will solve heart problems and a host of terminal illnesses.
While watching the film I looked over the audience of which I was a part. They were all senior citizens with small pensions who are trying to do whatever they can to maintain their health. Each of them had attended these seminars countless times to use the beds for a half hour at the end until the day when they can afford their own. It is a strong example of the capable taking advantage of those in humble circumstances. The bed itself was comfortable and I can see the value for that, but those people around me are convinced that they are getting a much better value than it actually is. It’s really sad to see this situation.
Fortunately my week isn’t all depressing though. We were able to find a new investigator who seems very interested in meeting with us. He is a kid of twenty-three years old who we met one day walking through a neighborhood. I think we have a good future working with him.