September 22, 2014
This last week was spent between two areas while my companion was in Latvia in order to receive a new visa. The time was with Elders B1 from Georgia and B2 from Australia. Overall, it was a very refreshing to be with them. Our personalities meshed pretty well, which led to some very good conversations.
Monday went as follows: We met the zone leaders in their city and traveled together into Center Kiev where our companions needed to be, at which point we said “goodbye” and went off into the big city to enjoy our P-day. We started by having a nice breakfast in one of Kiev’s finer locations, McDonalds, and then went to get our emails out of the way. To continue our trend of eating in American restaurants, we met the Assistants at T.G.I Fridays, which ended up breaking our wallets because everything there is priced as they would sell things in America. It was nice though, to have a club sandwich.
From this point, we traveled by Metro to an area called Obalone, which has this very large mall called Dreamtown. Inside are many different stores from Italy and other places in Europe, which unfortunately don’t exist in the U.S. Chief among these is my favorite, Zara. Most things there are expensive, but just being able to try the clothes on and wonder about possibilities if money would be no problem is a reward in itself. After our adventures at the mall, we finished off our day by walking to Ukraine’s version of the Statue of Liberty. “Big Mama” as the missionaries call her. Around the base is a set of very large sculptures and old military equipment set up as a museum piece. It came as a bit of a shock to me how much there was, because we honestly expected there to be just the statue. From that point, we said goodbye to Kiev and traveled to where Elder B1 lives outside of the city in an area called Brovery.
The next several days were spent moving between our different cities to take care of business in one another’s areas. Elder B2 served in Chernigov for the beginning of his mission, so the majority of time in my city was used so that he could visit many of his old friends and contacts. It was a very fast and busy four days.
Elder H and I were able have a much needed experience on Sunday. A week and a half ago, our area seemed like everything was blowing up and there was tons of great success just around the corner. But when we turned that corner, things were not as pretty as we thought. A few people did not want to keep meeting, some threw us in the “Friend Zone”, and others were just too busy to do anything. So there was this moment for each of us where we just asked ourselves what was the whole point anyway. If no one wants to listen, then why try? For me it wasn’t so bad, but the thought did strike my mind for a minute or two.
As we were walking to a member’s house yesterday, we were talking about things that we can improve. Every person we contacted along the way would not even give us the time of day, so it seemed like something must be wrong. Just as we were coming close to their complex of homes, we talked with a younger guy walking past us. We just laid down everything in front of him and talked about the church. It was clear that we were missionaries and that is what we are interested in. He was interested in what we had to say and agreed to meet on Tuesday.
During the course of the week, I realized that working with investigators has a lot of similarities to dating. First off, there is the danger of the “Friend Zone”. You really want someone to become an investigator, but do not want to come off as being weird or pushy, so you try to move in casually. Have good conversations, bring up the gospel in the right moments, and just move forward step by step. If you are not careful in how it is done, they don’t realize that you want something more, and just see you as a couple of cool guys from America. And all at once, you are thrown in the “Friend Zone”. It’s a really tough trap of which to get out.
Then there is the challenge of getting dumped. The missionaries and investigator meet up a couple of times, stories shared, and all looks like things are going the right way. But then one day for no apparent reason, they stop answering your phone calls or texts, until you finally get ahold of them, and they say that it would probably be best to stop meeting.
The third great similarity is like the second, but from the other view. When you are the one ending things. It’s really tough. There is a part of you that wishes you could keep meeting, but deep down you know that it is for the best. Both parties are disappointed, it’s awkward to do and rarely, if ever, is it painless.
With all of these disappointments though, eventually there comes one person who just fits. They are right for you, you are right for them and everything seems to go well. That is not to say that it is without its pitfall and bumps, but at the end of the day all is moving in the correct direction. Leading up to a point where everything falls into place and someone decides to get baptized. Maybe the dating equivalent of that is making it official. Overall, everything is a learning opportunity, and even if things go bad, it’s just good to try in the first place.
Unfortunately, it is time to get back to normal missionary work and the week of Elder Hancock has come to an end.