Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Watch out for that step! It's a doozy!

Well, this week was an interesting week that strengthed my testimony of the Book of Mormon and the need to read it everyday. We had to drop two of our investigators: Margaret and Irina. Unfortunately, dropping them both happened on Monday. On Monday we met with Irina Victronova and last time we asked her to read three verses in Ether 12. She didn't. Although we had planned a lesson on faith we decided to read with her. We would stop to ask questions to see if she could apply the scriptures to herself. She only corrected us on our Russian, which was appreciated but not the reason we wanted to read with her. Afterwards she complained about her eyes and head hurting. We tried to talk about faith and the importance of the Book of Mormon but at one point she flat out told us that she was not going to read. She said the only reason she read with us was to correct our pronunciation. She has an audio copy of the Book of Mormon but she doesn't like listening to it because it hurts her head. She also told us that she thinks she is going to die in a few months. At the end of the lesson Sister Bullough and I shed a few tears. Afterwards, Sister Bullough told me that was hard because in the 6 months she has been here she has seen the same thing happen. Irina will progress a little bit and then not progress at all.

About a week ago we called Margaret to see how she was doing. We asked how her Book of Mormon reading was coming and she said she has not read. Inspired, Sister Bullough asked if she believed it was scripture. She responded, "Honestly, I can't say that I do." We asked her to keep reading and she said that she would but she never did. But she still said that she wanted to be baptized. Then on Monday we called with the intent to see only how she was doing because it was late and we had no time for a lesson. She asked how we were doing and then told us she would not be baptized. She said she was already baptized in the Catholic Church and did not need to be baptized. She said that all Christian churches are the same and what is important is believing in God. She explained that if she will no longer read or is not interested in learning about the Church we can no longer meet with her. She said she understood.

So last night we gave her one last call to see if we could figure out when she started to doubt and lose her testimony. She asked her about previous spiritual experiences we had had with her. She kept bringing up that she believed in God and Jesus Christ and did not need another Church. We explained that we could not longer meet or call her anymore. She said she had a hard time believing that God would tell her not to drink coffee, tea, or alcohol and she could not believe in a modern-day prophet. We needed with our testimonies and I definitely felt the Spirit so strongly. Although we could not see her we could tell that she did too but she kept trying to explain or rationalize it away. As she started to ask questions or question our testimony the phone connection suddenly died. Sister Bullough and I looked at eachother and felt that we did not need to call her back. It was hard but we felt peaceful that we did the right thing. 

But not all has been bad! On Thursday (terrible day as well) we had a lesson with Ninel (note that it is Lenin backwards). We got out of the lesson and we thought that it was terrible. Afterwards we ranked the worst lessons we had had during our mission. Our lesson with Ninel was ranked No. 1. However, the next day the elders called us (they meet with Ninel's grandson-in-law) and told us that Ninel loved our lesson. We were blown away and could not believe it. And she has been reading that Book of Mormon on her own! At least one of our investigators is progressing. 

And we have a new investigator who came to church on her own 3 weeks ago. She knew no one but she came anyway. She met the missionaries in Rostov and the office elders gave us the referral. Imagine my surprise when we met with our referral and I recogized her from church!

Well, those are all the exciting news about our investigators. Personally, this was a rough week. I felt like I did not do the best that I could. I felt so weak and useless and I felt like a burden. I got frustrated and kept meeting myself up. I focused more on myself than I should have. Then yesterday I offered a heartfelt prayer and things became all right. I can be patient with everyone around me but I have never been very patient with myself. I worry about my language skills and my own shyness and timidity. At times it was a real struggle and I had a hard time feeling a desire to work. But everything is alright right now. I let fear and doubt overshadow my faith. I am probably not explaining myself very well but I know everything will be okay and the Lord called me here and he knows my potential better than I do. It's a slow process (it feels like) but I am opening my mouth more. Going up and talking to strangers is hard but I am doing better than last week and Sister Bullough and I set goals that will make us stretch and require courage. I'm excited to see what will happen.

Sister Bullough and I are doing well. We decided to defrost our freezer so had to clean out our fridge yesterday. I think we ate enough protein for the transfer. We had bacon (American is better and not as salty), hot dogs, pelmeni, and scrambled eggs. We were so full! Speaking of food, I had one of the most disgusting things that other day. Ninel made us a cold soup. It had vegetables but the broth was kvas, that digusting drink I told you about a few weeks ago. Then she put mayonnaise in it. At one point I thought I was going to be sick. We ate all the vegetables and then tried to drink the kvas. It was rough. At one point Ninel left and Sister Bullough and I exchanged pained glances. Then we saw the sink. We were bad and poured the rest down the sink. We "slammed" when we returned home.

We have started a new tradition that we call slamming. There are these cookies called Super Kontict. We fill a bowl with milk, take a bite from each end of the cookie and drink the milk through the cookie. It is just like a Tim-Tam slam but we make due with what we have here. We have even transformed it into a Russian verb "slamiravat". It may be summer but we listen to Christmas music a lot as well.

I have about 4 minutes left so I will address the weather next week. Since August started the weather has turned interesting. And I will share what I have been learning from my scripture study. I love you all. Thank you for the letters and emails! And I promise more pictures next week as well. It is written in my planner so it will be done.

We were about to head out and go roller blading for Preparation Day! Love you all!

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