Monday, March 19, 2012

Every day a learning experience.

Well, where to begin describing the week?It has been a learning experience for sure. I am learning a lot about myself and what is important to me as always. Since we received that new area book last week I spent a few hours a couple of days this week organizing and calling everyone in the area book. Since I think it had not been touched for two years most of the number did not work. But one lady picked up! Unfortuneately, she was on her way to the airport but she told me when she would return and asked that I call her when she returns to Russia. Then on Tuesday I finished calling the people in the area book and we headed out contacting in the park. We passed out two Books of Mormon. I'll admit that contacting is a little easier with a native since they can understand all the questions. But I think I realize that regardless of the language the most important thing is just being willing to approach someone. 

On Wednesday we had our conference with President Schwitzer and it was really good. He talked a lot about repentance, making sure that our investigators understand the terms we use, and the Book of Mormon. At the very beginning of the conference we recited D&C 4 which I managed to memorize in English and in Russian. He said a lot of interesting things and made a lot of interesting points. For example he read from the Book of Mormon about Ammon and his brethern, some of our greatest missionaries, and pointed out that we all want experiences like theirs. However, President Schwitzer raised the point, after reading about their trials and willingness to serve for the rest of their lives, "do we want to go through what they went through?" He also pointed out the differences between shepherds and teachers. I guess one of the themes of the conference overall was the need for obedience and why obedience is so important. At the end President Schwitzer said, "Obedience matters for the sake of those you teach." 

Another interesting things he talked about was the scriptures. For one of his assignments he got to go to the archives of the church. The presentation was titled, "Treasures of the Church." He was so excited thinking that the treasures might be some Book of Mormon artifacts. When he arrived he found that the treasures of the church were books. The Book of Mormon Jospeh Smith and others read out of just because the martyrdom, Oliver Cowdrey's transcription of the Book of Mormon, original copies of sections in the D&C. He realized then that the treasures of the Church are our scriptions. He drew the parallel to Lehi in Book of Mormon. Lehi gave his fortune and risked the lives of his sons to get the brass plates, the Old Testament. 

Those are some of the highlights from the Conference. On Thursday we met with Zhun Zhun. She had not been able to meet the week before. Thankfully, Zhun Zhun has been praying and as she prays she says that she is coming to understand the earth. Unfortunately, we are having a hard time getting her to read the Book of Mormon on her own. She is great and has lots of questions. With Zhun Zhun progress comes slowly but she has a desire to learn more and understands that we have sin, in fact the words she used were, "steeped in inquity." Right now we are trying to help her understand who Jesus Christ is and what He means personally to her. We are also working hard on getting her to come to church.

We had a few other lessons with some inactive old ladies this week. One of them talked about how much better my Russian has gotten since I first visited her. I am glad that they notice a difference but at the same time I remember just how hard I was trying at the time to communicate. 

Saturday was rough in some ways. Our landlady dropped by and when she saw that I had a native with me she started to complain to her about how bad my Russian is, in front of me and I understood perfectly. Everytime I tried to talk I could only say two words before she would interrupt and then turn to Sister Pavlenko and make her explain or complain about how she could not understand me. Then she got upset that I did not have a document for her that she asked for when the day before I told her husband that she needed to call our lawyer and deal with her to get it. I'll admit I think the times I have been the angriest on my mission has been dealing with these landlords. Whenever they leave I always have to get on my knees and pray because I don't feel the Spirit when they come over and once they leave.

But on the other hand, afterwards, we had a good lesson with Elise. Elise is doing great and talking to her friends about the Gospel. Afterwards we went to a conference with her to celebrate the 170th anniversary of Relief Society. She loved it all. 

Sunday, as always, was a good but long day. It was made busier because Sister Horspool, another missionary joined our companionship. Sister Horspool's companion has to go to Estonia for a few days to renew her visa so Sister Horspool will be with us the next few days. It has been good to talk to her. Having a short-term missionary is fun and it does help my Russian since even at home that's the language we speak. However, sometimes it is good to be able to talk about some of my struggles with someone who understands all stress and some of the emotional struggles of missions. But overall it is nice having someone who is so excited about missionary work as a companion and being able to practice Russian so much. Of course there are funny cultural differences. Confirming my theory that Russians love mayonnaise, she likes to put mayonnaise on everything. We made a quick cheesy pasta tv dinner and while I ate it plain she put mayonnaise and ketchup on it. 

Sunday was a good day because Anna stayed for all three hours of church. And during Gospel Principles she talked a little bit about her love for the Book of Mormon. Sadly, she will be Germany this week and we were not able to meet this past week. But she continues to read and last time we meet she said that she has been reading the illustrated Book of Mormon stories to her daughter. 

That is a rough outline was what the week has been. Of course there have been some miracles. One ladies I called from the area book moved back to Chad. But she gave her phone to her sister and her sister agreed to meet this weekend. 

I have a minute to finish. Yikes! I love you all and you are in my prayers. Thank you for all of the news and telling me how are you doing. Thank you for all you do for me.

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