October 13, 2014
Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed a decline in progress in the area of a companionship of missionaries in my district. On Sunday we were talking and decided it would help if my companion and I joined them in a fast. We began the next Monday night, going until four P.M. the next day. In order to help them we decided to plan to contact the entire duration of the fast, with goal of obtaining seven street referrals to pass onto their area. During the whole process, we walked a total of thirteen miles on no food or water and approached a “lot” of people. I tried to keep count from the start, but at one point just lost my place.
Unfortunately, in the whole time we were not able to find one interested person whose information we could pass to the other missionaries. But the whole effort did not go to complete waste. In the last two hours, we made our last turn onto a busy road and walked past a collection of tents with people outside campaigning for local elections. Elder H called out to me and said that he saw an investigator from the other area that had dropped off the map. We talked with her for a minute and she explained that during this time of the elections, she moves from one job to another without any breaks, but that as soon as the politics calm down, she will be able to start meeting again. When this info was passed to the other missionaries, they were very grateful to know that things are okay with her. We set out with a goal and did not make even one step, but at the end of the day we found someone else and were able to help, none the less.
Wednesday marked the first real zone conference under the direction of our new mission president. At one point, President Packer’s wife, Sister Packer, wanted to divide into groups of Elders and Sisters so that she could have a heart to heart with the girls. All of the Elders were cast out into a different room and President Packer used it as an opportunity for a Q&A.
I asked him a question about the role of exact obedience in our work, because it has seemed to me that the missionaries who are the most relaxed in rules tend to have the most success in their work. He used it as an opportunity to talk about never breaking covenants and shared a story with us. It was about a missionary from his personal mission, Saint Petersburg, Russia. This man had excelled well in baseball and faced a decision at the end of high school to be drafted into the Major Leagues or spend two years walking around in a suit. Obviously, he chose the latter of the two. According to our mission president, he was focused in his work and there was much good brought about, thanks to him. He was not perfect, and rough with his language at times, but overall had the attitude to improve. When this man returned home, he shortly thereafter married, and the next couple months were well lived.
Then one day before they were to hit their six months of marriage, his wife served him with divorce papers. As he inquired why this was happening, she responded the following reasons: “You vacuum the floors on Sundays, don’t always show the best language, and just don’t live as I was raised to live. In my house growing up, we never vacuum the floors on a Sunday.” This person had been raised with the focus of someday getting married in the temple, but missed entirely the reason for it. She was focused on the small details so much that she was ready to break the promises of working through thick and thin. President Packer used this to remind us of the covenants that we have made in life, and that they are the most important thing to uphold. It was an interesting insight which really struck a chord with me.
That night as we came back from Kiev, Elder H and I were approached by someone speaking English on the street. He told us that his friend is our neighbor, and that they would like to play soccer with the two of us during the weekend. Personally, it sounded like an interesting experience so I said sure and swapped information.
On Saturday, Elder Y and I left the general conference broadcast early and met this guy and a couple of his friends behind a school. The person who invited us has an odd voice and a really flamboyant way of running, but he showed noticeable skill in ball control and played well. We invited a potential investigator of ours, who is quite good a playing, to come. I myself have not seriously played soccer since the fourth grade, so I looked like a real fool running around the field trying to do something. We played for just over an hour and I was exhausted by the end. Everyone who came really enjoyed themselves and I was shocked at how fun playing soccer is.
This morning, our district woke up together at four A.M. and walked into the nearby forest for an early morning hot dog roast. They do not have legitimate hot dogs here so our substitute is these three inch breakfast meats for which we use slices of bread as buns. It was fun all the same. In the end, one of our missionaries, Elder S, took everyone in a line and had us close our eyes. He then placed a bag of something in my hand and did likewise for the rest of us. It shortly became apparent what his plans were to be as I felt the bag and recognized the flour inside.
His goal in giving everyone a bag was to start a water fight, substituting a messy white powder for a liquid. Without explaining the rules, Elder S yelled “GO!” and threw a handful of flour right into my face, making me the first contact. Everyone went crazy and we covered the ground like snow. I did not expect this at all, and it was an amazing idea. It was probably one of the most fun mornings of my mission. We left the fire site at eight covered in white just as many people were leaving their homes for work.
This week has brought a good range of experiences and really was enjoyable.