Monday, July 23, 2012

The Hand of God is Involved in This and Watching Over Us

Well, last Monday two more sisters came in from the former Moscow West Mission, so we picked them up with President at the airport, and it was sweet because we got a dinner at the mission home out of it. Then President and Sister Gibbons usually show a slideshow about them and their family. But we have seen it so many times already that they let us do it, so that was fun.

Tuesday. We did the usual office stuff as well as a little orientation for the new sisters. We taught Aleksei and Viktor.

Wednesday. The meetings that we had set up didn't really work our for whatever reasons, so that was a bummer, but then we had another good English Session.

Thursday. We had an epically long meeting with President at the mission home where first we called the zone leaders and did all of the normal Thursday stuff, then we talked about the next few transfers and what was going to happen. It was crazy and I can't even begin to describe all of the complexities that turned it into this giant logic puzzle where you would think you have a solution but someone points out one little piece that doesn't fit in right, and you have to start rearranging everything. A lot of the complexities dealt with the massive amount of new missionaries coming in the next 3 transfers, especially sisters. Also choosing who will be going to Kazakhstan a long time down the road, in order to start getting all of their paperwork going, among other complexities. We finally got everything worked out. President just texted us this morning telling us about a few last minute changes that he made. It was just amazingly fun to really have to try to figure out the best way to make everything work. After the meeting we taught Aleksei and Vitali, then had to run to the train station to catch our train to Omsk. That was a really crazy and busy day.

Friday we got into Omsk in the morning. We spent a couple hours at the Kazakh consulate working to get us some Visa's so we can go down there, went to district meeting and back to the consulate. Everything worked out really well, it just took a while. But it was also cool because while we were there the second time, there was a couple, the girl from Poland and the guy from Switzerland, who both spoke English but not Russian (at least not very well). We were able to help them and translate for them and it was cool. They were very grateful and we made good friends. We spent the rest of Friday with Elders Newman and Rubow.
Me in omsk with Elders Bailey and Kelly

Saturday I was with Elders Kelly and Bailey all day. We had a good one, all afternoon we went sign-boarding. We had a whiteboard with the question on it "Does God really exist?" and we had a tally going and had people come up and put their tally on the board, then we would try to talk to them and stuff, so it was pretty cool. Most people of course just ignored us, but some people were really into it and I think it was much better than just regular street contacting. Elder Bailey is still pretty new and doesn't speak or understand very well. So he even had this clipboard with a place for people to put their name, the reason for their answer and their phone number and he actually got a few people like that - it was sweet. That night we had a lesson with a babooshka who has been a member since the beginning of the church in Russia, then an inactive man. We got back on the train that night. It's been extremely hot here, but it was even hotter in Omsk and was ridiculously humid, and something about their apartment had bad air circulation or something. I was so gross for that whole trip, sweating a ridiculous amount. When we were inside studying and eating lunch, I got a towel wet and froze it in the freezer and put it on my head, that helped somewhat.

Sunday we got in on the train and had time to shower and get to church. It was awesome because we had 4 investigators show up. We were actually expecting 4 but, it never actually works out like that so I was very happy. We did some home teaching that night with Brother Paval. Another highlight of Sunday was that Misha gave a talk in sacrament meeting. He was really nervous and it was probably only about 3 minutes long, but he did a great job. And the best part was that his mom, Olga, came to church to watch him speak. I think that was probably her first time for about 8-10 years, so we were also very happy about that.

Some updates on the people:

Aleksei is on fire. He was a little hesitant that he is really ready to be baptized so we read some scriptures to him and went over the baptismal interview questions. It was at the Webb's place and Aleksei understands English pretty well so the Webbs participated and did awesome during the lesson. Especially when Aleksei had a question about repentance and how he can know if he has really been forgiven. Elder Webb just owned that question. It makes sense because he has been a stake president for 10 years and has a little experience with stuff like that. There is a baptismal service on Sunday after church, and as long as he feels ready he should be baptized then, so we'll see.

Viktor came to church this week, he's still progressing slow. (Its cool about Dad teaching the gospel principles lesson, we had that same one about work and responsibility).

Evgeni also came to church but we didn't even have a chance to teach him last week.

Andrei is our part member family investigator he has been pretty regularly coming to church, and we are going over there to teach him tonight.

Vitali's lessons are interesting. It seems like every time he comes in with some doubts about something he read on the Internet or something that he read in the Book of Mormon that he didn't agree with and every time the lesson just ends on a good note and puts him back on track but unfortunately he did not come to church.

Other Aleksei has still disappeared, we need to stop by his house and track him down. It's interesting we were seeing him about every other day and about two weeks ago the last lesson we had I actually left my triple combination at their place for his wife to read. We didn't have a clean Book of Mormon with us so I told her I would bring her one in 2 days and until that time she could read mine because it was that important for her to start reading now. So it's garbage that I haven't had my nice triple with all of my markings in it, but I also think that it's more than just a coincidence that we had met about every other day for three weeks and right after the lesson when I leave my nice book there and make arrangements to come back and get it is right when he gets his new job and disappears. So now we have a very convenient excuse to track him down and get into his apartment again. It reminds me of what I read this morning in the Book of Esther. When Mordecai basically said, "either this just happens to be great timing that when you become queen and are in a position to save us, the king is about to kill all the Jews, or the hand of God is involved in this and watching over us." Here is the real verse without my paraphrasing. 13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Well that's all I got for now.
Elder Topham
 Walking home...