Monday, August 1, 2011
A GREAT WEEK...The KIEV TEMPLE!
THE CAST IS OFF!
I got to read through mom and Carol's mail, but I didn't get to read through sam's all the way. Tell Carol for me that it was so nice of her to write! I love getting letters from extended family here and there. I'm glad to hear the kayaking thing went well, too. Patrick's a champ. You'll have to go ahead and give him a chest bump for me. You too, Caleb. Anyhow, it was fun hearing from you. Things are good here. Today I'm walking around on Pday for the first time without the foot brace thing. I went on my visa trip without crutches, and we ended up walking around a lot actually so I think that helped me strengthen it up. Elder HXXX left last night at about 1:30 on a plane, and he says he doesn't know what time his farewell is at. I know it's on the 14th, though. I left him your number and he promised to call you folks. I hope it'll work out.
This week was undoubtedly the craziest week of my mission. It feels like a month has gone by. I think I'm going to have to go day by day over what happened or else I'll forget stuff. I have never felt so stretched EVAH. It's really rewarding to look back at the results, though. So let's start with Monday. Nothing really happened on Monday, but it feels like it was 3 months ago. We went over to EXXX's house because it was his birthday. He turned twelve. We had some cake and shared a spiritual thought for about 40 minutes. I love that family. I feel like I've known them for 5 years, not just 3 weeks. EXXX is the most golden person in the world, too. Aside from the fact that he is a 12-year-old Russian Paul Woodward, he studies his scriptures all the time without anyone nagging him, he's extremely smart, never fights with his brother, and he's going to be the best missionary in the world. On Sunday, he got ordained to be a deacon. He came up to me after and said "am I allowed to invite friends here so that you can baptise them, too?" Sure thing, Elzar!! Last night his mom said that he's already been talking to her about going on a mission, and we haven't even brought it up with him.
But back to the week. TUESDAY, we went up to an emergency lesson in Solnechney. Elder BXXX worked all month with TXXX, the one who broke her foot. About two months ago, I was on splits with Elder BXXX when we found her for the first time. She started coming to church, and she was the one who has (had) the tithing concern. She had a miracle and we thought she was going to get baptized, but then she changed her mind and it looked impossible. Then we met with her at EXXX's baptismal service and she set her mind on getting baptized but still didn't want to pay tithing after. That was a week ago. It was a way spiritual lesson. So on Tuesday, I went up to Solnechney on a taxi with Elder BXXX and we had a lesson. It was the most amazing lesson of my whole mission. By the end we were all exhausted. It was completely led by the Spirit. She expressed lots of concerns at the beginning, but by the end, she was dead set on getting baptized on Saturday. Elder BXXX and I didn't organize a lesson because he lives in a different area, but we both came up with ideas and once we were on the lesson, it all just came together. I've never felt more strongly that Heavenly Father was talking to one is His children through me, by the Holy Ghost. It was exactly what she needed, and we had no idea. She got baptized this Saturday. I was so stoked to have been on 3 pivotal lessons with Elder BXXX, even though she's from a different area in Saratov: the find, the lesson where she realized the baptism is what she really wanted, and the lesson where she committed to living all of the commandments. Dang, that one needs to go in my journal. It was a highlight.
WEDNESDAY we get a call from the Elder in Marx, and they tell us that LXXX is back on track for baptism. She seemed lost at the beginning of the week, but the elders had an amazing lesson with her and rescheduled her baptism. But she could only get baptized on a day when the missionaries were out of their area for a visa trip. So last minute, we came up with a game plan to ship Elder HXXX and BXXX off to hold down the fort while we were all on our visa trips.
THURSDAY I was down in Angles with Elder AXXX while his companion was off in Marx. We held the fort down in Angles to secure SXXX's baptism. Thursday night, we race home in a taxi and all the elders come to stay in our apartment for the visa trip next morning. We woke up at 3 in the morning to make it to the airport in time, so we had really little sleep, and our apartment was trashed from having 8 missionaries sleep there.
FRIDAY WE FLEW TO KYIV AND WENT TO THE TEMPLE. It is the most beautiful place. We got there three hours before our session started so we had time to take pictures and look around the temple. We did a session in Russian and that was one of the coolest things ever. The visa trip itself was crazy all day long on friday. We didn't make it back to Samara until about 4 in the morning, so we had a straight 24 hours with just a few hours here and there on the airplane. The next morning we got up at 7 and drove with the mission driver 7 hours back to Saratov. The whole time I was gone, Elder HXXX was up in Balakovo working with some investigators who were on the way to baptism. They ended up baptising 3 people in one weekend!!!! That is insane for one area. I've had 4 baptisms this whole year and they pulled it off in one weekend!
SATURDAY we drove forever with little sleep (bumpy Russian road), got home with a few minutes to get the sisters moved into their new apartment and then raced off with Elder HXXX's stuff to get him on the train.
SUNDAY we had a crazy day at church that I don't have time to write about. There's a HUGE transfer going on right now because everyone's going home and it's been absolutely nuts getting everyone where they need to be. It's been exhausting. But the biggest miracle is the by the end of this month, we had 8 baptisms in our zone. 8!!!!! We set a goal for 7 and halfway through the month, i didn't think it would work.
I HAVE TO GO I LOVE YOU ALL