May 11, 2015
On one of the days this week Elder R and I left our apartment to travel to the church. What we encountered along the way started as a big annoyance, but turned into an unexpected opportunity to help someone. To get from our place to the temple site we travel along the railway car. There is a station about a minute walk from our door with a small outdoor shopping area nearby.
When we entered the station and went to the attendant to buy two tickets, Elder R pulled out a one hundred grivna note. Each ticket costs three grivnas so it is not a particularly convenient amount to change out. Most of the time though, the person will have enough. She did not. She told us that we would have to give some smaller denomination so Elder R pulled out a fifty. She said again that she could not change it out and told us to go find some smaller bills.
Here is why this frustrated us so much. First off, she is working at a main station, through which a lot of people travel. If it was some small end of the line place I could understand, but this woman should have expected that someone would pull out some larger notes. Second, the majority of attendants, if faced with the same situation, would have just allowed us to go through. If we board a bus and the person cannot change out our money, then they just say that we are riding for free that day. I can count the number of times where this hasn’t happened on my right hand. Third, the total cost of the two tickets is only twenty cents. This woman should have had enough money, and even if she didn’t should have just told us to go through anyway.
Elder R decided to just go along with it and walked into the nearby market to change out the money. We found a doughnut stand and each purchased a couple. On the short walk back we arrived near the doors just in time to see our railway car leaving from the platform with us missing it altogether. Both of us thought to ourselves how much we just wanted to kill that woman. While waiting for the next car, we stood on the platform and ate our doughnuts. A man walked up and said; “Boys, I don’t want to disturb your eating, but when you are done could I speak with you?” We of course dropped what we were doing right then and asked him how we could help. He explained that about fourteen years ago he was baptized into the church but fell inactive some time afterward. He then told us that he wants to restore the church to the place that it once held in his life.
We exchanged information and found out that he lives in another area of the city. After talking for a bit more, we parted ways and called the missionaries who serve around him and gave them his number. It was interesting to see the whole situation play out. How we had to deal with a situation, which just does not happen, and then to miss our car because of it. All that happened took place for a good cause. We met that man and then were able to get him connected with those who are serving around him.
This week also brought up a number of unexpected and good lessons. The first lesson was on exchanges with the elders serving in the office in which we taught their investigator from Vietnam named H. We invited the office senior couple along with us. The topic was about how to receive revelation and the role of the Holy Ghost in this process. It was very convenient to have with us the senior couple, because I, for the most part, had trouble understanding what H was trying to say, even though it was all in English. They also did a great job in answering his questions through sharing personal experiences. He enjoyed the subject matter about which we talked and seemed to get a lot. I was even more satisfied when he came to church that Sunday. It has been a good learning experience to teach people from all areas of the world here in Borshogovsky.
Another lesson started one day while we were out contacting. We were doing what we normally do when a man walked from the curb of the street and stopped us. It isn’t really something that normally happens, so we were both very interested to talk. He said that he wanted to pray and meet with us sometime. He gave us his number and walked back to the street. What shocked us the most is that sitting on the street was this man’s pretty well maintained Subaru Forester, which came as a huge shock to us, seeing that very few people have cars here, and those who do often don’t have the best quality.
The fact that this person approached us, that he was not either crazy or homeless left my companion and I in a very confused state. The lesson, which we held with him, was a decent one. We shared what we have about the founding of the Church and the importance of the Book of Mormon, which he seemed to enjoy. He did not agree with everything, but enjoyed it nonetheless. He has agreed to keep meeting.
The final news is that I am already being moved out of Borshogovsky into a different area. Elder R is on his way to Odessa and I’ll be serving with Elder J from Alpine, Utah. The branch in which I will be serving is Svyatonsinsky, which is literally about twenty minutes along the highway from where the Borshogovsky building is situated. For whatever reason, the branch building for Svyatonsinsky isn’t even in that area of the city; it is actually a ten-minute travel into Borsch. I am excited to see what happens and how the next six weeks will treat me. More or less everything will feel the same, except that I no longer get to attend the international branch in English.