I can't believe it's Monday again, it's been a quick week here in Daky. Our days are pretty full and we're trying to meet with everyone we can out of our investigators. And on top of this we're still working towards our goal of one baptism before the end of the year. We fasted yesterday for this and have decided that out of all our investigators the one ready for baptism is Valeria, the 14 year old girl. We met with their family on Friday but unfortunately Valeria wasn't there so we weren't able to put her on date yet. However, she came to church again yesterday which makes two times already so we are really hoping this week to put her on date for the 29th of this month! Here's more progress on other investigators:
Richard- Yes, this is an American if you're wondering. We found him on the street about a little more than a month ago and we were finally able to meet with him. He is here with the Peace Corps and has been here for about two years already. He is in his 30's and isn't married. He used to be pretty religious and even served some service missions in his teens for the Presbyterian church but in college he decided to study philosophy and theology and has basically decided for himself that the world is better without a God. However, he is really interested in what we believe and why we are here as missionaries and so we're going to keep meeting with him. He is very into Calvinism which is the idea that only certain people are saved and that they only have one chance. It's an interesting idea. Anyway, we felt at the end of our meeting that we should give him a copy of "Our Search for Happiness" by M. Russell Ballard. (amazing book) He's going to read that and we're meeting again on Friday.
Syzanna- We were able to meet with her and we taught the Plan of Salvation. She met with missionaries about 7 years ago. We're not really sure why she stopped, sometimes people just stop meeting or get busy and things just don't work out anymore. She doesn't have any questions about what we have taught so far, except why can people go to heaven if they live sinful lives and then repent on their deathbed? We explained this and she seemed to be content with our answer. We tried putting her on a date but she doesn't feel ready yet. She is reading the Book of Mormon though so we're just going to keep working with her.
Yura- He is probably the most humble of all our investigators right now but is also breaking every single commandment in the book! It is kind of ironic? We were able to stop by him on Tuesday unplanned and we had a great lesson about prayer (read some of Ether with him) and he prayed and only said Saint Nikolai one time! Usually he prays to him the whole prayer but I think he's starting to understand prayer a little better. We read some verses about baptism in Mormon and committed him to pray about a baptismal date. For him to get baptized he will need to stop doing lots of things but we are faithful that in time he will understand and make it to the waters of baptism. He needs to come to church but is always busy on Sundays.
Sveta- So this lady is a former investigator from about a year ago. The sisters found her on the street and started teaching her but then she stopped answering her phone. She answered this week and let us come over. She has three kids ages 13, 11, and 9. She wants them to learn English so we talked a little bit in English for like 15 min and then did a restoration lesson. We really need to get a member with us next time or else I don't think she'll understand the true purpose of our visits. Nonetheless, they are a new investigator family and we have been praying for one of those so our prayer was answered!
Ruslan- He has started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning and is understanding now! We met Thursday night with the branch President on the lesson and it was actually pretty good. We read a little bit of Mosiah 3 about Christ's life and His gospel and President Vadim shared a powerful testimony about how the missionaries found him, then choosing to serve a mission, getting called to London and having his life changed forever, and how his family now (wife and two kids) is due to the fact that he served a mission. We talk in English with Ruslan because he has extremely good English but we feel that he is actually starting to progress now.
Slavik and Valeria- So as I kind of mentioned at the beginning of my letter, Valeria wasn't there when we dropped by, only Slavik and Sister Lena were. So our back-up plan was to watch the Restoration film with them. Slavik seemed to really enjoy the film and it seems that Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are starting to make sense to him. This whole family was less-active but last week Sister Lena and Valeria came, this week Valeria brought her older less-active sister and nephew to church, it's awesome! Now Valeria needs to get baptized because somehow she didn't get baptized when the rest of the family did!
We also met a few members this past week. Sister Ludmila Matveeva is awesome, she is a chemist and has a super strong testimony. We meet at her house and invite her less-active neighbor Sister Sveta on the lessons as well. She is only less-active because she has to stay with her ill mother all day. We also met with Sister Valentina, the coolest babushka I've ever met in Ukraine. I don't remember if I've talked about her at all. She is about 4 feet tall, late 70's or early 80's, and just does family history work all day. She has a huge table with a computer and she sits behind it and does names all day, then every now and then goes to Kiev to have the work done. She showed us a book of all the names done and there were 1, 350!! Simply amazing. She also told us about her conversion story. Something that really struck me was that even though the missionaries testified of the Restoration every lesson, she didn't understand that in fulness the same church that Christ organized is back on the earth until AFTER her baptism. She said that many years of darkness needed to be removed from her mind before she understood this.
A few months ago we met a lady on the street who had great English and was actually a private English teacher. She gave us her card but we never called her because we kind of forgot and didn't think too much of it because she was only interested in English. Well, we called her and she invited us to come and give a presentation about missionary life to her class last week and invited us back this week as well. It went pretty good actually, we talked about prophets and how we have a living prophet on the earth today. There are 5 students in her class and they are all in university right now, from the ages of 18-22. They have good English and we're friends with them now. Next time we are going to try to get some of their numbers and see if we can meet with them. There are opportunities everywhere to share the gospel!
Now for some comments/tidbits. With Valentina right now we are using some principles in Preach My Gospel to help overcome addictions. Somehow she needs to get involved with the branch president or someone who teaches an addiction recovery class though. It's hard to teach her because lessons come every two weeks and she has been investigating for a long time. She'll make it though! This upcoming week is going to be pretty crazy for a couple reasons- transfer calls are on Friday!!! and the center elders' apartment is getting some work done so they're moving in with us this week for three weeks!! I really hope that Elder Harrison and I stay together for next transfer. We're doing tons of work and they shouldn't take us apart! Plus we can celebrate Christmas and New Years together with the other elders. I'll keep you posted next week on what happens.
TIme is going by fast but my mission truly becomes more and more a part of me each day I am here. I love you all so much. I love this work and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. Have an awesome week, good luck with everything- work, studies, tests, callings- and I'll talk to you next week!
Украинская Донецкая Миссия