Monday, September 3, 2012

Another week in Russia

Hello family and loved ones! 
This past week me and Sister Jonhson have seen the hand of the Lord and I've felt very blessed as I've made the transition to a new area and new trainer.

This past week we had some new developments. We were able to meet with our investigator, Albena, after English club on Wednesday. She came to church last Sunday and agreed during that time to take lessons from us. After English club on Wednesday, we met with her briefly, gave her a little bit of extra individual English practice, and then had a short lesson on prayer. She had lots of questions about the Book of Mormon, about who Moroni was, etc, which we answered but she said that she needed to finish reading it. So we were very impressed by her desire to learn more and to read the Book of Mormon of her own free will. She had questions about how we pray, after being a little confused at church, so we taught her how to pray, and afterwards she said a kneeling prayer of her own, that was very heartfelt and sincere. She agreed to meet with us again, and we are very excited for her! She was unable to attend church yesterday because she had guests and because of bad weather, but she does plan on coming to English club again, and a member named Katya has agreed to help us with the first lesson.

This past week we've continued to be diligent in our studies-all 4 hours, and to be perfectly obedient so that the Lord will bless us and help to better do His work. 
We spent quite a bit of time contacting and exploring our area, and had some amazing things happen.
Just an interesting note: we live in Podulsk-a big suburb of about 200.000, but our area covers other neighborhoods closer to Moscow that we travel to by an electric train. These neighborhoods are so intersting though, because they consist of high-rise apartment buildings and there are tons of them-so many that you're surrounded by them! What's weird though, is that they look like they belong in a city surrounded by other buildings and busy streets, but they're not! We contact a lot during the day, so even though we're surrounded by these high-rise apartments, it's really quiet and eery and there' tons of playgrounds in between. People usually take the train to commute to work and leave behind their cars, but there's not much else in these neighborhoods besides a couple of convenient stores or salons. It almost has a post-apocalyptic feel to it sometimes.

 We found a family in Silikatnaya, a husband, wife, and baby, and they were very open and friendly. The husband was very interested in coming to English club and said that he might also come to church if english club seemed normal. He had some weird beliefs about our church and polyghamy, so I took out my family photo album to clarify any misunderstandings and show him-I have one mom and one dad- and they seemed to warm up after that. The wife took a Book of Mormon as well as a family proclamation and seemed very interested. They are getting their baby baptized soon, so we are hoping and praying that they will read the Book of Mormon together and recognize the truth. 
We also found a man on the street who stopped us because he saw our name tags and that we were smiling. He was very impressed with our beliefs and took a Book of Mormon and promised to read it. Another man also agreed to take a Book of Mormon, and promied to read it as well.
The Lord really blessed us on Saturday, with a miracle during contacting! The weather was horrible and storming and raining, but we went out anyways and took a bus to a stop and got off and decided to just start walking. During this time, I had the strangest feeling that we needed to be going to the left, and as we walked down the sidewalk in the pouring rain, Sister Johnson spotted a young woman running in high heels and a dress without an umbrella. We ran to help her with our umbrellas, which she accepted, and we ran over to where her mom worked. We started talking to her and found out that she speaks pretty good English, and she was very interested in English club. She commented on how she had seen our missionaries around and that they were always smiling and happy looking and she was very impressed with our faith and willingness to come here to Russia to be missionaries. Her mother was also very appreciative of our help and that we helped her daughter, that she invited us over to their house to give us treats and visit with us and helped to dry us off from the rain, which we accepted. They were sooo hospitable and friendly and wonderful! I've been so amazed at how kind and amazing a lot of the people here are!  At their home, they were interested to hear about how we don't drink tea, and we very respectful, including her father who is an atheist but was very friendly and respectful. The dad is a retired cop, but the mom works as a cosmetologist and was really funny and kept telling us about how we HAVE to go to St. Petersburg and showed us a family photo album of a vacation they took there. The dad gave us a Russian nesting doll of Vladimir Putin, which was hilarious and super sweet, and told us to come back and visit them any time! When we left, we were able to get the young woman, Vika's number, and she agreed to go to English club and to take a pamplet on the Plan of Salvation. I know that she has been prepared by the Lord, and that she has a heart that is prepared to hear our message. She works as an engineer in oil and gas, and is getting married in September. We also found out that their cat was named by her old boyfriend who passed away in a carwreck. She was so sweet and wonderful and was fascinated with our lives and willingness to serve as missionaries and that our faith was so impot The experience also impressed me as to how missionary work really comes when you gain access to people's hearts and get to know them as people and allow them to know that you are a real person as well.

So the work is getting better and better each day, and we are hoping that we will be able to meet with two investigators this week as well as with the people we have contacted for English club.

We met with a member last night, who has been struggling to forgive the Branch President who offended her. We did our best to help her realize that she needs to forgive him and taught her about charity and committed her to study the Atonement every day for the next month, and to learn more about Christ and  how He can help her with her trials and struggles and help her to forgive the branch president. I also promised her that I would do the same, and that when we met next time we can share together what we learned.

I've been making an effort to read from the Book of Mormon as well as the New Testament every day, because I am trying to study more the life of Christ and to study the Atonement as well. 
I know that the Lord has been answering my prayers and shown His love through the little miracles that have occurred over the past week. I've also felt that me and Sister Johnson have grown closer as a companionship this past week as well.

Language note-I still only understand about 40% of what's being said, when people don't talk too fast. I've been feeling much better though now that I have an American companion, because people talk much slower for us, that it's easier to be a part of the conversation.

Mom-thank you for sending a birthday package! I still haven't gotten it, but we're going to our senior couples house in Moscow for district meeting tomorrow, so we'll be able to stop at the central building and check the mail! I love you all and continue to pray for all of you! Cessilly-I'm so excited that the baby is doing well! I love you!
Please continue to pray for me and write me! 
Packages are always welcome as well =)

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