I don't remember if I ever told you but as American missionaries we have adapted a lot of Russian words into our everyday English conversation, as I'm sure every mission does. We ask if something is "Mozhna" meaning "Is it allowed?". Another term we use a lot is the term "fig" meaning someone stood you up. It is very common usage in our every day vocabulary. For example when I call the elders at night to let them know we are home and we ask them about the day they or I will reply, "Well, today we had a day of all figs." That means that every lesson we had planned was cancelled or the person just never showed up. I explain this so you will know what I mean I say that it was a week of figs.
Sadly, none of our investigators could meet with us. Either their phones were off, they were busy with exams, or they had to go on trips and leave town.
Although our stats were incredibly low we kept in good spirits and kept working hard. I have been praying for help with contacting and optimism and I certainly had plenty of time to practice. On Tuesday we put in a good 4 hours of contacting in parks and on Saturday we contacted for 3 and 1/2 hours straight. I am learning more and more as I contact. More and more I realize how much more I need to prepare to contact. This week in my study I have been studying teaching skills and really trying to be a persuasive speaker. A few times this week I had people asking me about the Book of Mormon. I explained it but I tried to put myself in their shoes and realized that I wouldn't want to take a Book of Mormon either! So this week I have been writing up short summaries about the Book of Mormon and working on giving a good explaination combined with my testimony and a promise.
Tuesday we had a very interesting experience. We were contacting in the park at night and Sister Gish and I were trying different approaches. We decided to ask a man and his wife if he thought Russians believed their families could be together forever. We asked them and somehow we got into a conversation with the couple. The couple was Muslim but very nice. What I learned is how to contact. Although we set out to contact him he ended up contacting me! He started to testify about God and how we are all equal. Before I knew it he had given me the commitment to pray about which faith is true. At the end I gave him our number and an invitation to church. He promised to call me to follow up and see if I prayed! After we left I laughed at the irony and the role reversal but what surprised me the most was how it all flowed so naturally. He was a professional and as soon as I got home I wrote down all that I learned from him.
Thursday was a good day. We had a zone service project that lasted most of the day. We went out to a dacha, a Russian summer house, and did some gardening. Some were moving logs, some were moving a 300 pound tree trunk, and others were running away from all of the spiders. I shoveled dirt for about 2 and a half hours straight.It was a warm day and I have some lovely pink arms to show for all the work. The next day my back was sore but I have come to love physical labor and service projects. The yard looked a lot different by the time we left.
Friday was another day of contacting. We went with a few other missionaries to a metro stop that borders two wards and sang hymns for 3 and a half hours. By the time we left we gave out all of the contacting supplies we gave. My arms turned from a nice pink to a lovely red shade. Again I learned a lot of areas where improvement is needed but we had a good time and a few good experiences. Towards the end of our singing a man passed by us and whipped out his video camera and started recording us. When we finished the song he told us in broken Russian, "I know you! I'm from Vietnam!" He pointed to our tags and then hummed a church hymn before running off. What made me so happy was to see how happy he was. We don't know how much contact he has had with the Church but he had enough to recognize us and be happy. That was perhaps the highlight of all our singing.
Despite the obvious indicators of a good week it was a good week. I feel that Sister Gish and I got to know each other better. I had received a lot of answers to my prayers and the Lord continued to show forth tender mercies. It turned out to be a very different week than we expected but it was good. Although there were plenty of setbacks I still tried to move forward optimistically. Although none of our investigators could meet we did get a few phone numbers and I felt happier. It would have been easy to get discouraged but we moved forward and kept smiling. We had a great opportunity to help a member going through a hard time. In other fascinating news and miracles I got an accordion for free.
Well, that was about it for a the week. I am excited to see what this week has in store for us. It has a lot of potential and I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for us. Thank you for all your prayers!