July 6, 2015
Well things worked out very well for President Packer and his family to be able to attend the funeral of Elder Packer. First off, the church is not really keen on allowing mission presidents to leave mission boundaries. President Packer’s uncle was serving as a mission president and had two sons who were married during his service. The church denied him permission to attend the weddings and instead his wife flew home alone, and was there for both, which happened in the window of one week. So it is almost certain that the church would have denied permission to travel to the U.S. for him to attend the funeral, even though it is for one of its great leaders. But as things turned out, President Packer and his family are currently in America and have been for the last week and a half.
How did this turn out? Well about a month ago, Sister Packer went to Germany for an operation to have a kidney stone removed. Everything went well and she was back in Ukraine in a short time. Since that point though, her health became worse and worse, leading to the point that she had to fly to America for medical treatment. It was so bad that the missionary department made the decision to allow the entire family to go together.
As there seems to be no coincidence when it comes to church matters, this whole medical fiasco put them right in Salt Lake City with their schedules lining up perfectly for President Packer to see his grandpa the Tuesday before he passed, and then they will just make it for the funeral before they leave. Needless to say, this has been very good for them and their family. I am personally excited for their return because my mission kind of feels like a boat adrift at sea with no direction. Everyone is of course still working hard, it just feels like no one is at the head and if any real matters were to come up, they would not be easily solved.
Other than our mission moving forward with no one at the helm, this week was actually a good one. In the end we were able to teach eight lessons which might be the most of my entire mission, and several good people have come up.
One evening we were at the church because our plans had dropped out, and decided to print off some talks which Elder H needed for something. We walked out with an hour left in the day and then started our way on home. About two minutes after leaving the church, we contacted a guy who looked at us and happily shook our hands. He said that many times he has walked or traveled past us and wanted to know what we are all about. The times where missionaries had actually approached him, he was always busy. This night however worked out, and he then suggested that we just take time to sit down and talk right there. We walked back to the church and sat down for a lesson.
It turned out to be one of the best lessons that I have taught of my time in Ukraine. We started out by talking about his beliefs and he explained that he is a Baptist. About six years ago, one of his friends invited him to church and ever since that point he has actively been involved there. We gave him a Book of Mormon and then he made a comment that I have heard many, many times. “Really, the important thing is that you worship Christ, which is what all good churches do. It does not really matter where you go, so long as it is focused on Christ.” He then talked about how the Bible contains everything that we need to know and that he is grateful for the BoM but he really did not see the point.
I then told him that there is a point to it and that in order for him to understand, he needs to understand where our church came from. We went on to talk about the life of Christ and how he organized a church during his tenure on earth. Moving on, we related the full story from death of Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith and the creation of the BoM. One thing I noticed the whole time is the expression on his face as we were talking. It was a mix of subtle emotions of surprise, excitement, happiness, and nervousness.
When we were done talking, I asked him what he how he had felt, and he said that he had never had a spiritual experience so strong in his life. When he started going to church and studying the scriptures, he would have similar experiences, but to lesser degrees. This time though, it hit him hard and he could not process it. I asked him what it meant to him, and he said that it probably means that what we are saying is true. Something like that has happened only a small handful of times during my mission, and for him to be able to understand everything so well is another thing on its own. He agreed that we should keep meeting, and we exchanged information.
To close off the week, Elder H and I spent this morning helping a family move out all of their possessions from their home, as they are moving to America tomorrow. The dad is an American and they have a total of nine children. For the past year they have been trying to get visas for everyone to move, but there has just been complication after complication.
Finally, two weeks ago, all of the paperwork went though, and the mom was tasked at finding the earliest flight possible. The airline took it seriously and scheduled them to fly out only a week after buying them. As such, it gave a very small amount of time to get the whole family packed and the house ready to close up. When we arrived this morning, it looked like nothing had been done and I thought to myself that there is just no way. About ten church members came and room by room we were able to get a lot cleaned up and hauled out to neighbors or a moving truck. After four hours of work, it was all just about done. I am actually pretty amazed at how well it went. They still have enough to do to keep them busy until ten P.M. tonight but what we were able to do was a real push.
That is more or less all I have to say about the week. It was good.