Monday, March 12, 2012

A new companion and a baptism.

Well, as of right now I have a companion and at least for two more weeks. Last Monday the training sisters called me and told me that they found a short term missionary for a little while. She is from Perovo (the ward that I last served in) and is 18 years old. Her name is Masha Pavlenko. So far the days have been good. She understands some English but we mostly talk in Russian. This has been good practice for me and we get by. 

This past week really was an exciting week. On Wednesday I had my visa trip so I got to spend the day with some of my favorite missionaries. It was a good day and we were able to go to the temple and do some work for some Russian names. Or, rather, most were Ukrainian names. I understood quite a bit. The hardest part was figuring out where the stress fell on the names. It was mostly good to talk to other missionaries from different areas and ask them how they do the work in one area. One missionary told me that he and his companion just go up to people and ask if they want to be baptized. Most of the time this gets people to stop and has provided interesting opportunities to talk and give people Books of Mormon. On the way back Sister Thrall and I talked. She was nervous for her new area so we talked and after she got a blessing she felt much better. 

Thursday was transfer meeting where I received my new companion and said goodbye to one of my former companions, Sister Carlson who is now back in Utah. Afterwards, with Sister Pavlenko we returned home, unpacked, bought some groceries, then headed out to go see Elise. We taught her the last of the commandments and talked about her baptism. She was so excited and had been inviting her friends and telling her family in Chad about her baptism. Although her mom is Catholic her mother said, "Hallejuah", which was a huge comfort for her. 

On Friday we did weekly planning and it looks like we have some good things coming up this week. Afterwards, since we had no meetings we went out contacting. We managed to pass out 2 Books of Mormon. Of course, contacting is still as hard as ever. But as we got going it got easier. 

Saturday Elise was baptized! And our investigator, Anna came to the baptism. Elise was grinning the entire time. The service was a mixture of French and English. The first talk was in French by a lady in the ward who studied French at BYU. Afterwards she was baptized in French. Immediately after her baptism, still in the font, she started to laugh and cry from happiness. Her pumped her fists, hugged the man that baptized her, and said "Hallejuah" a few times. Afterwards she said that if she were to die right then she would die happy. We all felt the spirit so strongly and quite a few of us shed some tears. I asked Anna what she thought and she said that the baptism was something really special.

After the baptism we were supposed to have a meeting with Zhun Zhun. Unforturnately, she cancelled on us so we returned home to prepare some things for Sunday and call some people from the Area Book. As we were returning home two girls stopped us on the street and starting asking us some questions about my tag, etc. One of them said something interesting and when I asked her about it the girls revealed that they were members. They gave us some advice and afterwards I realized some areas that I really need to improve in. It was a good practice and I went home and wrote down all that I needed to work on and the questions that they asked so that next time I can respond better. 

Sunday was a long day. It started with an early trip to the ward building to practice a song for sacrament meeting. Then it was church. Because the March 8 is international women's holiday (and a big holiday in Russia) Russia made this Sunday a regular working day. All the children were in school too. There were not a lot of people but considering the day there were more people than I thought. I know the elders were happy that there was less people to hear us sing. The song turned out well but they had been dreading singing it for the past week. 

After Russian Sacrament meeting we had International Sacrament meeting where Elise was confirmed. For a while we were getting pretty worried because the meeting started and she was not there. I tried calling but I kept getting the automated message that the user was not available. But she came in during the last verse of the Sacrament hymn. Because it was a working day she had to get permission to leave and then travel from work to the ward building. After her confirmation (also in French) she was so happy again. She said she felt like she had a warm blanket wrapped around her. She kept thanking me for leading her to the right path. Really the Lord had been preparing her for a long time. 

After church we had an interesting lesson with a former investigator in another area. She is Russian but refuses to speak Russian with American missionaries and always tries to get the Russian missionaries to try speaking English. It is a little frustrating when you are trying in Russian and then she says, "I can't understand you in Russian. Just speak English." But she had some questions about the Book of Mormon. She feels like it is just a copy of the Bible. But during the lesson I had an interesting realization that she does not have a firm testimony of Jesus Christ and does not understand His role in our lives. We committed her to reading the Book of Mormon every day. Honestly, that is the only way for her to resolve her concerns. 

So that was our week! Kiev, a new companion, and a French baptism! We'll see what this week has in store for us. On Wednesday we are meeting with President Schwitzer, President of the Europe East Area for the church. He is conducting a mission tour and I am anxious to learn how to be better. Well, I love you all and hope you continue to have a good week!

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