This week was a crazy week. Despite the wheelchair project, dinner with an investigator, being stuck in a small town outside of Ryazan with limited transport, translating for the branch and a trip to the woods to see a member, we did pretty well. We did a lot of traveling but our lessons went really well and we saw a lot of miracles.
Thursday was a funny day. On Thursdays we go out to see Angela who is doing very well. She didn't feel good Sunday so she didn't come to church the week before. From Sunday to Wednesday we played a game of phone tag. But since we always go out to her on that day we went out to her. While we were standing on the bus the thought came into my mind: "What if Angela isn't home? What will we do?" As we walked to her apartment I shared my thought with Sister Hawkins and as we talked she told me that she had wondered the same thing. We got to the door of her apartment and no one was home. Whoops. We called her only to find out that she was actually in Ryazan! Thankfully, Sister Hawkins and I did not get frustrated. Instead we just laughed and tried to decide what to do for the next 2 hours as we waited for the next bus. We walked around, did our weekly planning, and talked to a few old ladies waiting for the same bus.
For the past 3 months a member in our branch has been inviting us to come to her dacha. Either we were too busy or the weather did not cooperate with our plans. Well, the stars aligned and we went out to her. To get to her place is an adventure. She lives in a small village (meaning maybe 10-20 dachas) in the middle of the forest. We meet her at the bus stop and then we walked through the forest for 30 minutes to get to her home. She took us on a tour of the forest, fried us some zucchini from her garden, and then we had a lesson with her. Although the forest was a lot of fun the lesson was even better. The last time we met with her (about a month ago) we challenged her to read the Book of Mormon. She was skeptical because she had read it before but felt more of an affinity to the Doctrine and Covenants. (I don't know if this is a Russian thing but I have met a lot of people who love D&C but don't like the Book of Mormon). To prepare ourselves I made a chart for her to keep track of the chapters to help her. We arrived and she told us that she has been reading everyday for at least an hour! We were shocked and so happy. She has a lot of doubts but she is doing the rights things. She is reading the scriptures daily and praying. She has also been coming to church more and as she has she has seen some miracles. We left very happy.
Church yesterday was the highlight of the week. We had 27 people at sacrament meeting! Since it was my last Sunday I bore my testimony. As I stood up there and talked it was great to look out and see all of my favorite people at church. A few people who don't often come came. I'm glad I only bore my testimony and didn't give a talk because I said I would probably have cried my way through it. Church was great because I could really see the difference from when I first came and now. There are still a lot of things to fix but the branch is more united and starting to catch a vision of the future. I am excited for all that Sister Hawkins and her companion will see. Ryazan has a bright new future before it. We have been stressing to focus on the future, learn from the past but leave it behind, and adopting a "we can" attitude.
I have learned a lot from Ryazan and I will be grateful for my 3 months here. It hasn't been easy and I have had to work a lot and go outside of my comfort zone a lot more than I previously did. Every time I put myself out there and go outside of my comfort zone I have seen amazing blessings. More than that I have seen that miracles happen everyday. Often they are small to our understanding but that does not diminish the fact that it was a miracle. I am glad that I know our Heavenly Father lives and He sent His son, Jesus Christ to show us the way. I am thankful everyday that they see our potential and strengthen our weaknesses. Although I am weak and imperfect They can still use me to bring about their work here in Russia.
Until next week from Yaroslavl!