June 22, 2015
As time comes closer to the end, the reality that I will be going home becomes more and more real. This hit a peak yesterday because of one elder who is going home tomorrow. His name is Elder A and I served with him in a tri-companionship for two weeks, along with Elder B just before I left Chernigov to go to Voskresensky. He received permission to go back up to the city for his last Sunday and it became my opportunity to accompany him for the trip.
We had planned to leave Sunday morning and come back that night. As it turned out though, we would be traveling to the city the night before. It just so happened that one of the members there, Z, had scheduled to be sealed to his wife on Saturday and Elder A found out about this on the day of. He called me and asked if I would be available to attend the sealing and then travel with them that night back into the city. I of course agreed, and was at the temple only a couple of hours later. Honestly, it is really is a miracle how everything lined up. Elder A had scheduled to go to the temple with his MTC companion several weeks ago. He randomly chose to go at three o’clock. The temple session that he chose was the exact one in which the Chernigov branch had scheduled for Z’s wife to receive her endowment before the sealing. It also just so happened that my schedule worked out perfectly to be interrupted, allowing me to attend.
The real thing that surprised me was to see how much Z has changed since he became a member. I remember arriving there ten transfers ago and meeting him for the first time. I thought he was crazy at first sight. Gold teeth, tattoos, and everything else that comes along with a hard lifestyle. He and I developed a good friendship while serving together. In time, I really grew a love for him and it was very difficult to say goodbye in the end.
It amazes me to see how much his life has changed since joining the church. Not only in his personal character, but physically as well. He just does not look like the goofy member that I first met. Many health problems that he has had have been healed miraculously. One which required him to take expensive medications for his lungs has gone away entirely. The doctors said that he would have to deal with it to the end of his life. Fast offering money helped him get some extra help and I am sure that it has gone away as a result of him living according to the standards of the Church. He has had his teeth replaced and many of his tattoos removed. I can barely see the person who was there at first, and the love and humbleness with which he carries himself just amazes me.
If my mission has the same effect on one other person that has been made in Z’s life, it would all be worth it, even if that is all it would do. It really has given me an appreciation of what the gospel can do for people. Included are two photos showing him from when we first met to now.
The actual course of Sunday went well. I was able to see a non-member with whom I had developed a good friendship, and Elder A set up two meetings with some members from his time there. After Sacrament Meeting, we visited with my friend and then went to a family who held the Ukrainian form of a BBQ, in which all of the meat is cooked like shish kabob. Elder A and Elder B did a very good job at friend-shipping this family, which resulted in the mother coming back to church.
During Sacrament Meeting, three of the members of the family gave talks and there was just such a noticeable difference in their feelings toward the church than when I left. Those two elders did a really great job in bringing their family together. Afterward, we went to visit the branch president and his family at their house, which brought us to the end of the evening. By the time we boarded the bus back to Kiev it was already 7:30 and we did not leave until 7:40. We knew that we would be getting back pretty late and warned our companions to just stay at one apartment. After arriving in the city and boarding the Metro, we made it home just before 10:30.
Other than that, this week has been good. We were able to find three new investigators and teach seven lessons. That might be a record for my mission… I also found out that I am getting transferred for my last time into the city of Brovary. It is very close to Voskresensky and is located about fifteen kilometers outside of Kiev. This makes it so that in my last four transfers I will have served with four different companions in four different areas. I feel slightly accomplished to say that.