Monday, June 11, 2012

A Really Good Week

Well, it's been a really good week. We probably taught more lessons this week than I have any other week in my mission. There might have been one week in Tomsk that was about like this. It just really helps that we got some people who are willing to meet with us regularly and often. All the days kind of are running together in my head, so maybe I'll just tell you a little bit about what's going on by person.

Our best investigator is Aleksei. He's a 20 year old kid, I think Elders Smith and Blake found him and he lives right next to our branch building. He's awesome, he already has a good basic testimony and desire to be baptized, just waiting until he's a little more sure to set a date. The best thing about him is that he is already really involved with the youth program. Usually it seems like we have to force our investigators to meet people and go to activities but he, even without an invite, now goes to the FHE and the youth firesides so it's awesome that he already likes it there and we don't have to be there with him and he's still getting spiritual nourishment and some friends in the church.

We have another Aleksei. This is the guy who stopped us in the car last week. We actually had an interesting time because he was scheduled for Monday at 7 and we had another guy, Victor, scheduled for Monday at 6. But Victor got stuck in traffic and was late. So they both were coming at the same time. We got a hold of Elders Ortner and Lionhardt, who were around the area, and they came over to help us teach them both at the same time. Elder Ortner and I taught Victor and Anderson, Lionhardt and Paval taught Aleksei. It sounds like a crazy meeting but turns out he's ready to go they set a baptismal date with him, taught him the gospel of Christ, and told him that he needs to quit smoking but it was super quick. I didn't actually meet Aleksei til a couple days after that. He is quite the character. He has major attention span problems. We'll be talking and he will get distracted and interrupt about something. But the good thing is that it's totally kosher to just say, "No, that's not on the subject of what we are talking about" and go back to where we were. So that was going pretty well, the only downside is that his phone hasn't been working the last few days and he wasn't at home when we tried to go by once, so we've kinda lost contact, so we'll see how that works.

Victor is interesting. Kinda the stereotypical 24 year old skinny emo guy who works at a clothing store in a mall. He's a really cool guy who's willing to listen and we've become good friends but we need to help him really get a desire to change.

Kerill we've known for a while, he's the one that took me to the beach. He came out to church this week. He needs to get past his deep doctrinal questions and rely on getting a testimony of the Book of Mormon. He's mostly just nervous about being deceived when praying for that answer, so we talk to him a lot about the spirit.

Artyom came to church last week. His problem is that he has this perception about himself just not being a religious person so he doesn't need it, but it's all great for us.

Pyoter, we met at English, he likes hearing from us but he likes acting for himself, so there's not much we can do with him. He does help us do our English contacting. Although he only invites pretty women. It's actually pretty funny being out there with him, we did that twice this week. We set up a little table and sign out in the main park in the center of the city inviting people to the next round of English.

We had 2 Evgeni's who we haven't taught yet come to church. One of them is a son of a babooshka who was recently baptized who we've been keeping in touch with, the other we know through young Aleksei, it's his mom's friend.

So the cool thing is that our area is finally really moving forward and we have many people to work with. I would imagine that we should have a couple more dates set next and, unfortunately, some of these might drop off.

We had our regular Tuesday and Thursday meetings and business with President. and taught Misha twice, once with his mom too. Then, add the home teaching and boom, there's a ton of lessons. So it's been a sweet week, I've been really happy.

We are exploring other ways to do the visa trip. We are looking into just going to Kazy for visas. It would be much easier travel, but a paperwork pain, because we would have to get every missionary a business visa each time they went, and their government might not like that. We will also look into Mongolia. I'm not sure what Kiev will be like or what we can do there, including the temple.

I was with Elder Carr on Saturday over on left bank. He is so unique. He is friends with everybody who lives within a couple blocks of their place. Everyone there loves him. My favorite were his friends Mohammad from Afghanistan who sells "seeds" on the corner. He always tells Elder Carr to tuck in his shirt better and told him that he missed his fly, it was really funny how everyone there loves him so much. We had a great day, we had one bad meeting where the guy came with a list of reasons why we are wrong and deceived, nothing that I haven't heard before and stuff like that happens often. But I was feeling really bad after that meeting because he, unlike most of those people who just like to argue with us, seemed to have really sincerely searched it out for himself and wasn't just there to argue. But it came out that he said he had prayed about it, but really hadn't with sincere desire like Moroni says to do. I'm actually not sure what the wording on that is in English, but that sincere desire is what a lot of the people who we teach lack. It's really a desire to absolutely follow the answer you get and be willing to give up or do anything in order to be obedient to Gods commandments. And many people aren't willing to ask with that kind of predetermination to follow the answer.

I'm in Joshua now in the OT, I'm still trucking along, just giving it about 15 minutes a day.

Elder A and I are going to Krasno this weekend on the train with President. That's going to be a sweet trip, and will complete my mission tour. (That is of course until Kazzy gets added)

Last week for p-day, we hung out at the park by the river. I think we are going to TGI Fridays today.

Elder Anderson and I have been branching out a bit on our meals. We made fajitas and banana bread. We are purposely planning meals now to use the various packets of things that we have recieved in packages or inherited from other missionaries. Like taco, enchilada, and fajitas seasonings, various gravies, and other stuff too. We still have plenty of stuff. We hid one of our peanut butters in the branch somewhere. That way if we don't have time to get much to eat we can buy a thing of bread at the little store and enjoy the peanut butter. Don't worry Mom, we still have plenty of everything. We have been eating well. And lots of fruits and veggies. The fruit lady who works outside our building loves us and always give us really good stuff and takes care of us. Like when it was colder she would always scold us for not wearing jackets. She almost got us a contact one time. When we were buying our fruit she was telling another lady who was looking at fruit about what sweet boys we are and how she should let us teach her about religion. We are also really good friends with Shaboon. He's the Arab guy who works at the shoe repair place by our house.

Ok, I think that's all. I kinda just rambled on this week it looks like. If anyone has suggestions to make these more interesting or specific questions just let me know.

Elder Topham
Me playing the piano.

Us with young Aleksei at the river.

Elder Anderson and I doing home teaching with Paval at Mihael's.

Elder Carr and I cooking up some lunch at his place on left bank.