December 15, 2014
Well fortune shined its face on Elder Hancock this past week in the form of a phone call Monday night. In the past, calls for registration have had patterns of coming at inconvenient times and take up way more time than they should. This instance did, indeed, take up much time, but it was timely to say the least. This phone call informed me that on the following day I needed to meet our registration clerk in Chernigov on the following day.
I called one of the members there shortly thereafter to say that I would be coming up, and she informed me that it just so happens to be the same day that, one of my favorite people there, Z, planned to sign wedding papers at a government office Tuesday morning. Without consulting with Elder W, I said that we would be in Chernigov the next day no later than 9:00 A.M., which meant us waking up at 5:00. I also told her not to tell anyone that I would be coming. Including the missionaries.
Waking up and going to the bus stop proved to be a problem. There are two main points from which buses to Chernigov can be picked up from Kiev. We guessed as to which would be operating at six in the morning and guessed wrong. Fortunately, moving from one spot to the other was as simple as boarding the metro for one stop and then a short walk. The down side is that it threw us off schedule.
When we arrived in Chernigov, we went straight to the church building where the missionaries were holding their district meeting. To say the least, they were confused as to why we were three hours outside of our area in a completely different city. I told them not to tell our mission president because when I had “fictionally”, asked for permission, he had “fictionally” denied it. Some of them were not too fazed by it, and others could not process that we would actually do such a thing. After a couple of minutes I told them the truth and their morally torn hearts found rest.
It was great to be able to see Z again. All of the missionaries walked together from the church to the government building. Because many people here do not have much extra money to have a full wedding, a common practice is used for marriage where they just sign documents in front of a judge. There was not the biggest crowd of people there. Just very close family members, missionaries, and a couple of members of the church. We waited outside the doors while they took care of everything and then walked out together. It was a very humble ceremony without a wedding dress or anything really special, but it was enough. Afterward, we walked together back to the church and drank tea together while eating some celebratory cake.
From that point, the day went as follows: The elders in their district called up their investigator, K, with whom I became friends, and we all went to lunch together. After that ensued all of the headaches from a lovely registration process. Our clerk, Y, called and said that she was not able to leave Kiev, and everything would have to be done alone. It was a good test of my language skills to go to different government buildings and fight the monster that is Ukrainian paper work. But much to my surprise, my companion and I were able to get all of my documents.
When that long process finally came to an end, I met up with another friend and walked around the city together. We parted ways and I headed to the church building for a half hour to see some members and other people who frequently find themselves around missionaries. We then headed to the buses bound for Kiev and boarded one. This driver drove slower than I have ever had on a bus, and to make things worse, the heating was broken. We finally made it into Kiev at ten o’clock at night and just picked up a taxi while ordering some Domino’s pizza (an unexpected benefit of living in Kiev) to greet us when we were to get home. We got home and were able to eat some pizza just in time to go to bed at ten forty five. It was a long day, but probably one of the most fun and rewarding of my time in Ukraine to date.
Besides the unexpected journey to the north, this week also brought in some other unexpected surprises. We had a lesson with one of our investigators about the Plan of Salvation, and in the end she agreed to become a member of the church through baptism. The problem is that she is currently living in an unofficial marriage and they have a child together. This means that if anything is going to move forward, we need to figure out how to get them married. The next challenge is that all of the husband’s documents are in another city, and he just has no time between work to travel and get them. I really do not know what to expect out of this situation. She has one of the largest desires to become a member of the church that I have encountered up to this point on my mission, but there are a lot of hoops to get through before anything can happen. I have hope though, and know that even if I don’t get to see her in the water, some other companionship of missionaries will be able to.
The final bit in news started last week when we stepped into an elevator going up to the apartment of a member. A man, who had one of the most difficult to understand accents ever, noticed our name tags and started talking to us. We said who we are and his reply was to ask if we wanted to meet up some time. We swapped numbers and gave him a call a couple of days later. This fellow is from the country of Georgia, which explained his nature of slurring words together.
We met outside a store near by our home and walked together from there to the church. He noted that as soon as he walked into the church a defined feeling of comfort came over him. Our conversation started with basic things about each other and led to the story of the history of the church. It was all very interesting to him and we talked for a while about everything. In the end, an invitation to come to Sacrament Meeting was passed and well accepted. He showed up on Sunday and expressed desire to keep meeting. We will see how things go from this point forward.
Overall, not a bad week.
P.S. Enclosed is a picture of my companion sleeping with not one, but two “My Little Pony” plush toys. I will just leave it at that…
Additional Note: Well, 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’s. 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 had a spiritual thought with 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.