December 8, 2014
Though Voskresensky is still far from the prettiest place in the Ukraine Kiev Mission, it has brought me a large amount of success in the past week with regard to missionary work. During the course of the past seven days, we were able to meet with three different investigators and had the best lesson taught up to this point on my mission. The names of these three people are A from Nigeria, S and G.
A came from Nigeria two years ago to play for a professional soccer team here. Just over one year ago, he had an injury that prevented him from playing. Over the past year he has been training back up to the point of being able to play freely again, and in the past month has finally arrived where he needs to be. He met a woman here, became married and the two of them have a couple of months old son together. In September, two missionaries approached him on the street and they swapped contact information. Over the next months, their schedules did not match up, resulting in them only being able to meet one time since seeing each other along the sidewalks. Elder W and I gave him a call and much to our surprise, he agreed to meet. We set up to find each other outside a grocery store, and from there take a bus to our church building.
During the time waiting at the bus stop, he was able to explain to me his history over the past year of his life. Around the birth of his son, he and his wife lived in the same apartment as the wife’s mother and step father in the city of Kirovaghrad. The step father is very prejudiced against black people and would not allow A to be in the same room as him. Whenever he would get done using the shower, the step father would come in immediately and start cleaning every surface to “get rid of the dirt.” Everything came to a boiling point, resulting in A leaving the apartment and finding a new place in Kiev.
We arrived at the church, and shortly thereafter sat down for a lesson with each other in the Sacrament hall. The light coming through the windows diffused into light shades of orange, which contrasted nicely with the blue carpets and white walls. It was a very relaxing atmosphere that acted as a good setting for our lesson. We talked more about A’s plans for the future. Specifically, that he is going to travel to Vietnam this week to try out for a new team there. If all goes well, he will not return for some time, and just send money to his wife until he can find work around Ukraine.
We talked a lot about the nature of God, and he talked a lot about how much help he has been given from God in his own life. Our conversation led to Jesus Christ and the role which he plays. During this part, A closed his eyes and tears started to fall down. He talked about how long it has been since he felt such closeness to God, and that he wants to keep meeting with us. Honestly, I do not know if we will be able to keep meeting because he will be going to Vietnam, but it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my tenure in Ukraine. Independent of my future with him, I know that he will become a member of this church at some point.
The second lesson worth noting was conducted for a man named S. He is an incredibly punctual and down to business type of person. He has a very in depth understanding of the Bible and functions a little bit like a robot. It is good because we can be very straight forward with our teaching. If he needs to repent, we can say that very bluntly and he will understand it. The downside is that he wants everything to fit very clearly with the teachings of the Bible, and that is more difficult to do. He talked a lot about how the Bible is true and talked about the history of the Jewish people, ruins and old artifacts found in the Middle East, and other modern archaeological discoveries which further give credit to his understanding. In the end, he agreed to read the Book of Mormon and said that further visits would be very interesting to him. Honestly, I don’t think there is a whole lot of potential in him becoming a member of the church, but I have been pleasantly surprised before and it’s possible to happen again.
The third and final lesson worth noting took place with our investigator G. She has a husband who has been inactive in the church for the past year and a half and is currently trying to come back. She has shown a great interest in our meeting. We talked this week about the first lessons that missionaries teach. From the beginning, we gave her a blessing for the healing of the sick and she mentioned that she felt a strong warmth inside of her chest while we gave the blessing. We talked about how that was the influence of the Holy Ghost and she understood it perfectly. During the whole discussion she just was able to understand all the ideas we were conveying. She came to church on Sunday again which she said was very enjoyable to her. I have taught the first lesson many times over the past year and a half and have never had one go as smoothly as this had. Both Elder W and I agreed that it was a notable experience, to say the least.
This week has been good. There were not crazy adventures, but we were able to get a lot of work done. Attached are a couple of photos which more or less describe what the entire Voskrasensky area looks like.
P.S. People here don’t really celebrate Christmas. And the Christmas they do celebrate is on January 7th. Back in the Soviet times, they did not want a religious holiday so they put all of the focus onto New Year. Basically, they took the family, trees and presents and added a whole lot of liquor and fireworks to it. People go crazy here over New Year’s. We gave a spiritual thought to someone about how we should remember the Savior at this time of year, and they asked in the end why we did it. Because to them, the time of Christ’s birth is still a month away. It’s like talking about the Nativity before Thanksgiving has come to them. It made me laugh.