This week was an interesting week that strengthened my testimony of the Restoration. I am so thankful for the knowledge of the Restoration and to know who God is and that He loves us just as much as people in former ages. This week we met with some people who are not ready to accept the Restoration which caused me to reflect on how thankful I am for modern prophets and for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So I don't think I ever told you about Asmeret. Asmeret is our new investigator from Africa (English speaking this time). She came to an English club in another part of Moscow and was invited to General Conference. She came to all of General Conference on Sunday when we watched it and enjoyed it. I talked to her during the conference and set up a meeting for later that week. She has been an interesting person to teach, partly because she is Pentecostal. Our first meeting we went very simple and talked about the Book of Mormon. We read the introduction with her. Although she had some issues with the Book of Mormon she said she would pray and read it.
This past week we met with her a second time. She started the Book of Mormon and said that she did not feel like she should not read it. Although she is only one or two chapter into the Book of Mormon she did read all of the Liahona that she took last week. I have been developing a love-hate relationship with Liahonas in part because they are so great but people miss the point of the messages (ie. read the scriptures) We watched the Joseph Smith Restoration film with her but we is not ready to hear about the Restoration. With her we walk a fine line. The problem is that she feels that our churches are basically the same although we worship differently, which is why we decided to talk about the Restoration. However, she is just not ready at this point to accept the Restoration. After we watched the film she had a lot of questions about the Book of Mormon. It did require some patience because most of her questions we had gone over the following week when we read the introduction. But we took our time and tried to help her understand the Book of Mormon so she would want to read it more. Because of her questions the lesson went on a lot longer than we planned for but we ended on a good note and with a moment that I am still so thankful for. Towards the end she was asking a lot of questions that I could give her the answer to but she was not ready to accept because I just felt that her questions and concerns she needed to resolve herself through the Book of Mormon. I was trying to think of how to tell her that when at last she asked a question that gave me the chance to express that. She commented again on how she loved the Liahona but she expressed a concern, "I notice that the Book of Mormon is quoted more often than the Bible. Why is that?" I told her, "I can't answer that for you. You will have to read the Book of Mormon and find the answer for youself. I promise you that if you read the Book of Mormon you will find the answer to your question." I wish you all could have been there to feel the peace that entered the room as I said that. The atmosphere changed and her attitude changed. She said she would read.
Asmeret also came to church this Sunday. She came late during Sacrament but stayed for the rest of church. She really liked Relief Society. Although she is still firm in her beliefs that our churches are the same there is a little bit of softening.
The other meeting that caused me to think about the Restoration and what it means to me was with Izolda. I have been visiting Izolda (who is inactive) every other week for the past 6 months. I care about her a lot but sometimes it breaks my heart to meet with her because I want her to be happy but she is not willing to keep commitments fully and I know they will bring her happiness. Last time we gave her a reading assignment but she did not do it so we read with her. We tried to talk about the Book of Mormon with her but she is not willing to read on her own. She used a lot of excuses but I noticed I was a little more bold when she gave us her excuses. At one point she was asking a lot of questions that could be answered by the message of the Restoration. As I was testifying of the Restoration and watching her, an interesting thought popped into my mind, "She does not want to accept the Restoration." We had tried talking about the Restoration before and I wondered why but that day I realized it was because she did not want to accept it. It was interesting thought to realize so as we defrosted her freezer I struck up a conversation and asked her a few questions to see what she most desires. At one point I asked, "Izolga don't you want to live with God and have eternal life?" Her response was telling, "Who would I be with?" Her husband died a few years ago and her son does not like the church. Her brother is actually a Russian Orthodox priest. Her response broke my heart because I was so sad for her. Although it was heartbreaking in some ways I am so happy that I learned a lot about Izolda and what her thoughts are. As we talked with the elders we realized that she needs the very basic and to understand her realtionship with God. At least after a year she is finally starting to pray on her own! Progress!
As I look back on this week I am realizing that all the lessons I had were a little draining or just different concerns that I really had to rely on the Lord for help. I can't count the number of times I prayed, "Heavenly Father, I have no idea what to do or how to answer this concern. But you do. Please help me." The help has not always come immediately but it has come.
Yesterday was a good day at church. I made a real effort to try to speak with more members and to sit with different people. By talking to new people I have learned a lot about her interests and ways I can in the future strike up a conversation. When I left church I was just a lot happier because really I just need to be better at working with members and be more willing to make the awkward first approach. Thankfully, I have been noticing a difference in a few people.
Winter is finally gone! Well, I suppose it has been gone for a few weeks now. It is starting to get a lot warmer and soon I won't need to wear a sweater. Today we are actually going shopping because my companion was not as fortunate as I and no one told her how hot the summers in Moscow get. The wind is a nice relief though. The wind was our enemy in the winter and now it is what will keep me from wanting to die as it continues to get warmer. And with spring the smell of paint fills the air of Moscow. Every spring all the fences are repainted. It is interesting to see the color schemes. Last year it was green and yellow and this year is appears to be blue and orange. I have no idea who gets to choose what color we paint the fences. Also, our cockroach problem is getting better =)
Love, Sister Daniel