Monday, April 16, 2012

Nakonyets! (Finally!)

So yesterday and Saturday we finally got to watch General Conference. It was really good and I can't wait for the chance to read all the talks over again, especially since we could not hear at times. I say that we could not hear at times because our central building is right next to a Russian Orthodox church and yesterday was Russian Orthodox Russian. That meant that they had their bells ringing quite a bit. 

As I mentioned last week I am back with Masha, the short term missionary that was with me at the beginning of this transfer. It has been fun and good Russian practice, of course. Although it has been fun to have a short term missionary I am excited for transfers on Friday. As I mentioned last week I will be training a new missionary, Sister Gish. President showed me her picture this week and I am very excited. The interesting thing about this group of new missionaries is that they were only in the MTC for 9 weeks. The MTC is experienting on cutting the time spent in the MTC for those serving in Russian speaking areas. 

This week we did a lot more contacting since we knew that Easter was coming up. Yesterday we sang hymns on the street. One lady bought my companion and me roses to thank us for our singing. Although we focused a little more on contacting we meet with both Anna and Zhun Zhun. Both are doing great.

With Anna we talked about the Law of Chastity. This might seem strange but I love teaching about the Law of Chastity. Thankfully, Anna also liked it and we had a good discussion about why it is so important for us. She even highlighted some sentences that she liked in the pamphlet we gave her previously to read. Like always I came away for the lesson inspired and so excited. We have now taught all the commandments that most people struggle with before baptism. I have realized the importance of worthy goals. Anna wants to get baptized and that desire has overpowered any desire that would keep her from being baptized. She has enjoyed learning about the commandments so that she knows what she needs to do to "keep her Holy Ghost with [her] always". 

With Zhun Zhun I have been persistent in calling her every night. We have not read every night but we continue to pray together. Typically, she likes hearing me pray but sometimes she will pray in Chinese. It is fun trying to pick out words and to try to understand. I can now understand her when she says "In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." But we have been reading more. Yesterday was a great day with Zhun Zhun. Sadly, she was not able to come to conference but she met with us afterwards. She says that prayer is helping her and likes that we read together. As we were teaching our lesson she asked us the question, "what do I need to do to be a missionary?" Of course, we told her that first she needed to keep all the commandments, including baptism. We asked her about baptism and discovered a little more what is holding her back. She knows that in two months she is going to China for the summer. But I can see that she is starting to find things she likes from the Book of Mormon. As we read sometimes she will stop and say, "That is true." and then mark it. The steps forward are small but I can see what a difference she is making in her life.

The best part was last night. When I called her she was in the car so she told me to call a little later. Typically when we need together we do not get through an entire chapter. We read a few verses and end with a prayer and then continue the next day. Last night we read an entire chapter. I kept expecting to hear, "That's good for tonight, sister." but instead we read the entire chapter. After we read there was a moment of silence and then she asked, "what you think?" I asked to clarify if she was asking what I thought about the chapter and she said yes. I told her that I liked it a lot and I that I really liked Nephi. She responded by saying, "I like Nephi too." Then she told me that she liked reading the Book of Mormon and liked reading with me. I don't think I can describe how happy I was to hear that. Then she asked what time it was and said, "We don't have time so we will read chapter 4 tomorrow." I felt like I was on cloud nine. One of the sweetest experiences on my mission has been to help people experience the joy of the Book of Mormon in their lives. Nothing makes me happier than to hear that they are enjoying reading. Like Elder L. Tom Perry said yesterday, quoting his friend Scott, "You should read it. It's a great book." I add my testimony that it really is a great book.

A funny little story. After our meeting with Zhun Zhun yesterday she told me that she loved me. I had heard her say 'I love you' once in Chinese so I repeated it back to her. Her eyes widened and she said, "You know Chinese?" I joked that she should give me three years and then I will be able to talk to her in Chinese. She responded, "Three years is long. You can speak Chinese after one year. I will help you." 

I am happy to report that it is warming up here. In fact I think this week I will switch back to my regular dress shoes. The snow is melting and revealing all the trash that had been hiding in the snow. I'm excited for the trees to start blooming. Thankfully, it has been warm and no humidity yet. I am also happy to report that our cockroach problem is better. We bought some stuff to kill them last week and it has been satisfying to sweep up already dead cockroaches rather than trying to kill them myself.

Also this week I did do something cultural. Just like in American, Russians paint eggs for Easter. Our Relief Society had an activity this week where we painted and decorated eggs. They make the designs with beeswax which they put in a little container that they hold over a flame. The small container is more like a little funnel so it comes out thin. You design the egg, paint it, and then hold the eggs over your candle to melt the beeswax, which you wipe off with a paper towel. 

Those are all the highlights from this week. I am excited to see what this week holds in store for us. I love missionary work and I am so glad for this chance to serve. I love the Lord, Jesus Christ and am so grateful for the chance to serve Him and to share my love of Him with the people here in Russia. Thank you for all of your support and all of your prayers. I know that the work is true. I know that following the commandments and the prophets brings lasting happiness. 

With love, Sister Daniel

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