Well, I am now back in Sokolniki for at least this week. Masha, my short-term missionary, has returned for another week. Yesterday she returned and so yesterday I moved back to the Sokolniki apartment. I was sad to leave but I know I needed to go. I had fun in the threesome and was able to help but not every missionary adapts well to threesomes.
This week was a crazy week and it taught me the importance of communication and working together. Monday Sister Frovola scheduled a dentist appointment which took away from some of our Preparation Day time. But at least it gave me some time as we waited to try to catch up on some letters. Then we had a good family home evening with a lady in the Perovo branch.
Two times this week we helped out the Storms (a Humanitarian Service couple from the Moscow West mission) with translation. Mainly, Sister Frolova translated while Sister Horspool and I tagged along. On Wednesday we went and visited a hospital. Sister Horspool and I sat in the lobby with the others toured. It gave us the opportunity to get some studies in that day because after we toured the hospital we went to district meeting.
District meeting was good, as always. We talked about the Book of Mormon and how to use it more effectively. The Perovo district had a goal to hand out a Book of Mormon a day so we discussed how to use it better in lessons and as we contact. After district meeting we each had an interview with President. He was funny. As I walked into the room he said, "Well, I don't know what other hard situations we can give you but we are doing our best." He thanked me for the work I have been doing and informed me about next transfer (which is not for almost two weeks). He told me that I will be staying in Sokolniki for 2 more transfers (3 months) because I am going to be training a new sister that is coming from the MTC. I'll admit that I am nervous but very excited.
Thursday was really the only day that I had in my area. We met with both Zhun Zhun and Anna and I am happy to report that they are doing well. I have been trying to help Zhun Zhun read the Book of Mormon. Last week when I talked to her about it she said that she was not a good student and needed a tutor. I asked her then if it would help her if I called her every night and read the Book of Mormon with her. She agreed and so every night this past week I have called her. Over the last week we only read twice but at least we prayed together over the phone every night. When we read I read a verse in English and then she reads the same verse in Mandarin.
To grasp her understanding we decided to start the lessons over from the beginning so we taught her about the Restoration. We watched the film with her in Chinese to make sure that she understands. We also stressed using the Book of Mormon more in our teaching, especially with her. As we finished the lesson Zhun Zhun told us, "I know this story." I was happy to hear that she was remembering. Then Sister Horspool asked if she thought it was true. She responded, "Of course." It was a good meeting and she told us that she knows God loves us. Most important for me, though, was when she told us that she knows she forgets God when things are good in life. She said that she knew it was bad because she knows that she needs to remember God everyday.
After Zhun Zhun we met with Anna. I am always so amazed by her. Last week we gave her the booklet on tithing. She read it all and told us that it inspired her. She said she liked how transparent the church is about tithing. She made a comparison to other churches that don't ask for money but really you are paying them through your taxes. She said she could see why it is so important to pay tithing and agreed to pay tithing after her baptism. Then we discussed keeping the Sabbath Day Holy because although we talked about it with her earlier I did not feel like I covered it fully. One thing I love about Anna is that she is willing to understand the commandments or through her own experiences she has seen how important it is. When she talked about not working on Sunday she shared an experience that taught her that working to support her family on Sundays was not as important as spending time with them. I feel that she is so close!
Thursday night was crazy. We came home and were about to plan for the night when we received a call from some other sisters. Sister Horspool had worked with this one investigator for 6 months in her last area. Well, that night the other sisters met with her and Natasha (the investigator) and Natasha told them that she wanted to be baptized and soon. "Coincedently" President was in the building they were meeting with so Natasha had her baptismal interview and told them she wanted to be baptized that Saturday. We were all in shock and Sister Horspool kept asking if they were kidding. That night ended up turning into calling as many people as we could to bring people to the baptism with only a day and a half notice.
I am so happy to tell you that Natasha was baptized that Saturday and confirmed yesterday. After her baptism she was grinning from ear to ear and said that she could not stop smiling. When I asked her what she thought she said, "I just want the Holy Ghost now. I want to be able to feel him always." It was a very special day for everyone who attended.
That Saturday night we went to a wedding in Sokolniki. A member of my ward got married and specifically asked the missionaries to come and to do a musical number. Thankfully, we managed to throw a musical number together that was not too awkward. Sister Horspool and I did not stay for the whole time. I'm glad that we could help but being at a wedding and being a missionary just felt awkward. Especially, since all the songs are romantic songs.
Oh yeah I forgot to tell about Friday which marked my one year on a mission. We did more service for the Storms. We went out to visit an orphanage outside of Moscow to see what their needs were and to see if the church could help them. The orphanage exceeded all my expectations. The staff loved the children and had worked hard to find sponsers to supply the needs of the children. The government only gives orphanages money for food and clothes. This orphanage had a lot of toys, a bed for everyone, and even computers and an art studio for the older kids. Most of all I was impressed by the staff who really was trying to find homes for the children. The nurse was very religious and asked us to pray for the children and has a firm faith that God is guiding them.
On the train ride back I noticed a woman sitting on the same bench reading a book. We were talking to the Storms but I noticed that the format of the book looked like the Russian Bible. Each page had two columns and I noticed some parts were marked. I couldn't read the front of the book but I decided to try giving her a Book of Mormon anyways. As we got off I gave her the Book of Mormon and found out that she was reading the Bible. She accepted the book and I had just enough time to testify before we left. All in all it was a good day.
Phew. That is not even all that happened but that is all that I have time for. The weather has been crazy. This past week it was sunny, then it snowed, then it was sunny, then it snowed, and then it rained. Right now it is raining. It is warming up and soon it will be time to pull out the fall coat.
Yikes! Three minutes left! Time flies by so fast. Hard to believe that yesterday was Easter and soon it will be spring and then summer. I love you all and I say it every week but I mean it: I appreciate and treasure every prayer on my behalf.
Love, Sister Daniel