This week turned out to be a much better week which was a huge tender mercy. I'm not sure what made last week so very hard but I am starting to get some ideas. On Tuesday night we were told that we were having a special mission meeting the next day. We had no idea what the meeting was about but we soon found out. President Sorenson revealed what is happening with the Mocow Mission and the Moscow West Mission since the Moscow West mission president goes home in June. We know what is happening (and it is very exciting and opens a lot of doors of possibilities) but it will soon be announced in the church news so keep a look out! In the meeting President Sorenson revealed that in most of our letters to him last week it appeared to him that almost all of us had rough weeks, either due to illness or just hard times. To him it was a testimony that Satan is not happy and was working on us. This has provided some comfort as I look back on the challenges.
I'm not sure what made the difference but this week was very different. It was a great week. I'm sure part of it is due to your prayers on my behalf. That doesn't mean that the week did not have difficulties but at least as a companionship we got along fine and had some fun times along the way. I have noticed a lot of good changes in my companion and I am excited and humbled that I have the privledge of seeing her change and become better.
On Tuesday we had district meeting and it was good as always. Afterwards we went to an outercity about an hour away to meet with an inactive member that lives there. She is an old lady and she was interesting. We were with her for 2 hours and when we left I felt so drained. The first half hour she talked about her problems with her family and most of what she said was doctrinally sound. She showed us her Book of Mormon and every verse in it is highlighted. Then she asked the question, "What has the prophet said about the AntiChrist?" Afterwards she preceded to tell us all about the Anti-Christ and read Russian Orthodox prayers about protection against the Anti-Christ. Oh goodness. We tried to start a lesson and I think we got 4 sentences in before she started to ask questions like, "Where are your works? Where is the evidence of your charity?" and be a little confrontational. I did not feel the Spirit and I did not like the atmosphere. But then at the end she talked about how we were an answer to prayer and how she was so happy to see us and loved us. I have mixed feelings about this meeting but we will probably see her once more this transfer. On the train ride back I slumped in my seat, exhausted, and read the newest Liahona for comfort. But I did receive comfort and it makes for a funny story. Our district leader was laughing as we recounted the story.
Wednesday we found out the news about our mission and what will change in our mission. We also got a phone call from some other sisters in our mission. "We have a French investigator for you. She has been searching for the church for 6 months and referred herself." This new investigator is from Chad and has lived in Russia for 20 years. We meet with her on Friday and that was one of the best and most interesting lessons. Elise's first language is French and she has good Russian. Thankfully, I got a hold of some French teaching phamplets and I studied them all day. Our lesson was a mixture of French and Russian and I have to say my French is so rusty and my French has a touch of Russian in it. The teaching was simple but I managed in French. Sister Workman would teach in Russian and Elise (since I spoke French) mainly responded in French and thankfully I understood everything that she said. Phew. The lesson was great and she loved it. She had always wondered why there were so many religions so we were able to answer her questions. When we talked about prayer she made the comment, "How is God supposed to give you anything if you aren't willing to ask?" She invited us over to her house and wants to learn more. She said as soon as she receives answers to her prayers that she will be baptized. She prayed at the end and asked Heavenly Father to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet and thanked Him for our lesson. She is amazing. Sadly, she was not able to come to church but when she called to tell us she said that had read the brochure we left her and she loved it. She also kissed the French Book of Mormon that the other sisters gave her.
Thursday we met with Anna and she is doing great. She said that Thursday nights she has a hard time sleeping because she keeps thinking about our lessons and all the new things she is learning. Her Book of Mormon reading has changed quite a bit and is more enriched than it was before. As she shares her insights I have learned so much and when she shares thoughts I have new thoughts occuring to me. With her I really understand the promise in D&C that we know when we are teaching by the Spirit because both the teacher and the learner will be edified. On accident she left her Book of Mormon in the ward building and she described how she felt to me on Sunday. She said, "I thought that my bag felt light. At first I checked for my wallet and my documents. Then I discovered that what I had forgotten was more precious than money."
We are continuing to help Victoria who has been coming to church and is meeting with the bishop. I have been blessed in my time in Sokolniki to see two members reactivated and I have been touched to realize my role in helping them come back. I forgot to mention this last week but on a particularly bad day Elder Francom told me that he had a meeting with a few members and our senior couple. They went around in a circle and shared a spiritual experience. There was a lady there, Olga, and her spiritual experience was when the sisters (and she mentioned us by name to the group) dropped by and after we left she thought about church and felt like she needed to come to church. Since our visit she has come to church every week. I believe I wrote about her to you in December. We dropped by and she said she would be at church the next day. Appartently, she had been inactive for a long time but after our visit she has come every week so I thought she had only been less active.
Sunday was great. Amazing member missionary Masha bought me a pair of warm wool mittens. Also, one of the elder's investigators brought (I think the elders said "tricked") his female friend to church. She stayed for all three hours and stayed afterwards with us as we read the Book of Mormon. I tried to go out of my way to talk to her because at one point I looked over and she was by herself after Sacrament Meeting. We chatted and she was so nice. She took a Book of Mormon and we just had a good time talking. At night she sent us a text apoligized for recommending some music that might not be appropriate and she thanked us for the day. She said. "today I felt comfortable and cozy just like at home. Bless you!"
And Maria, who was baptized in December, is doing great! She is strong and loves the church. We talked about missionary work and she taught us. She pointed out that we can still testify and share the gospel even if we speak different languages.
Yesterday was also really cold and we went contacting in a park. Although that park is typically busy there were not a lot of people. But we took lots of pictures and had a good time freezing and walking around. We talked about random things and discussed our contacting strategy. My feet felt like they were about to fall off and my cheeks and nose hurt so much. My hair had frost and Sister Workman's eyelashes were frozen.
So as you can tell this week was a good week. It did have its downs but the ups outweighed them. Sister Workman and I are getting along fine and getting work done. It helps that right now we have a lot going for us and we are focusing on the work more. There has been a lot more kindness. Again, I don't know what changed but something has and I hope it keeps going.
Thank you for your help and your support.