October 6, 2014
This last weekend marked General Conference. Benefitting all the people in English speaking countries, leaving those needing a translation to wait a week for the church to get their programs together. This did not stop my companion and me from showing up at the church early Sunday morning to watch the talk given by our former mission president, Elder Jörg Klebingat.
It was very interesting watching an address from someone around whom we have spent much time. Everything he said fit the character of which I have come to know him. The topics covered are more or less the eleven months of zone conferences and letters to given to us missionaries summed up into a ten minute speech. Especially his comments on exercise which is right with his mind. This man loves the opportunity to exercise and takes it liberally as he runs a 10k every single day without exception. No meeting with him would be complete without him adding with a nerdy compulsion, some reference to the need of maintaining our health and the roll which daily exercise plays in this.
Above all, I think that the point of his which anyone should focus on the most is the comment about “becoming really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly”. I think this theme defines his life as his drive to become better and better pushes him. Repentance means a lot more than going from a fallen state to a redeemed one. Whether it be watching a bad movie, taking part in an inappropriate conversation or anything else that is in clear opposition of the counsel of the leadership of the church. Repentance to Jörg Klebingat goes into every aspect of self-improvement. For example, like watching a movie when you could be memorizing a scripture, or reading the news when time could be spent with kids. Anything that is living below one’s own potential is seen as a sin in his eyes, and this is the force that has driven him into the person he is. Being able to serve under President Klebingat was a great privilege to me. Needless to say, every missionary who served under his direction shouted with cheer as he approached the pulpit.
On Wednesday night, I was on an exchange with Elder S, who is one of the missionaries in my district. In the last hour of the day, we were walking around the streets near our apartment in an effort to contact people. One man who we approached was very quick to oblige our invitation for a conversation and walked us over to the side of the walk way so we were out of the traffic. He is heavily involved in the Russian Orthodox Church and would recite chapters of scripture to himself as he would try to find the verse which proves his views. Nothing about his demeanor was confrontational, and overall it was a very enjoyable contact. What it showed me is that you really cannot prove that any one religion is true with the Bible. This guy was pulling out several verses from memory that show priesthood lines to the Russian Orthodox Church and proved every point that he has. I have no doubt that someone does not need to look far to find a like character representing the Catholic, Protestant, or any other denomination. This man thanked us for the opportunity to talk and commented that what we are doing in Ukraine is a good thing. Walking away, my thoughts focused around the history of the Bible and how through the very nature of its inception, no concrete judgment can be made from the text.
Unfortunately, this week’s email is shorter than I would like because I took more time to focus on what I am writing. Enclosed are some photos from Elder Harrington’s and my trip to Pasta Basta which gives half off on Wednesdays to those people wearing a mustache.