NaNoWriMo is coming up--so I've naturally dedicated all of November to more than usual pounding out Preach My Gospel in order to celebrate? participate? Haha, just fill out an entry application for me since it's the closest to it I'll get in the field.
Yesterday. We headed out of the stairwell, passed the usual parked cars-oftentimes Volkswagons, and wished good health to the old man in the chimney sweep cap who enjoys the simpler side of life on his wooden bench. Rejoiced the whole way to Lena's, thanking Heavenly Father that sucha things as a Sabbath morning in October exists. Chilly wind, leaves now graduating from tree to ground, and something magic in the flickering Russian sunshine.
We were let in to the apartment by a happy random man who was entirely too excited to have two young sisters in living quarters. Haha, and then Lena came out to meet us. But maybe you shoot verbally acquaint yourselves so you can understand. She's about 6 feet tall, with a striking presence in her large-framed build. She has a voice like no other- deep, loud, and somewhat sultry. Is that adjective ok, I don't know. Haha, said hello to us sisters, and before we could return the favor, she took the perfume she was puffing all over herself and began to freely pour it on us. I think we each got 8 sprays and dealt with it. Haha. A small price to pay for a promise kept to attend church!!! After adamently stating she "never would." And then had a mighty change of heart and said "ONCE. ONCE. I want to hear the hymns."
The lesson when it happened, we took our seats around the crowded table, circled by her 9 housecats--number one tool of the adversary when it comes to throwing off the First Vision, by the way. Used to lessons of being verbally swallowed up, she tipped of the discussion with the news that WE "would be doing all the talking today, as "I'm tired from work and here to listen." But events took a turn for the unexpected when I woke up from alleged milliseconds of unconscious to hear her full-fledged mid-sentence onto a passionate subject of work on a court case, pounding the table with the words "BREMYA DEYENGI"--and then laughing to myself as thoughts interpreted and understood her need to remark "TIME IS MONEY." hahah, it's quite funny to here common idioms in a foreign language. Anyway, point of the story---she had COMPLETELY contradicted her opening statement, and all within her opening statement!!!!!
So, this is the type of woman we're dealing with.
Found her on the street during exchanges a month ago. She was insistent that we not talk-her grandmother had baptized her, her grandfather was a priest--and her sister happened to be an inactive member. It seemed all downhill from there, until I offered a sidewalk prayer, her heart was changed, and she replied "Tuesday, be at my house at two. We're drinking tea." We've had 4 lessons ever since. (And some of the most opposition I've ever experienced in teaching as a missionary, btw.)
You know the feeling of body surfing, underestimating the velocity and fortitude of the wave you just managed to catch, and soon enough you're being forecully shoved on to the seafloor, all the while aiming to keep the quantity of swallowed-salt water to a minimum?? And then, when you muster the strength to finally stand up and move on, but still unsure of which way's up and which way's down, another tsunami wave comes out of NOWHERE and forcefully KNOCKS YOU DOWN AGAIN, so much so that all hope is officially lost of ever getting out of that fishy situation alive???????
Welcome to driving to interrupt and talk over Lena.
Haha, that paint the picture enough?? But it's been incredible, how the storms and seas seem to suddenly calm, as she defies everything she so heatedly refuses to do, and eventually allows the spirit to not only be carried UNTO, but in to her heart.
Phew. That's real joy.
The other night SIster Young and I were contacting late, heading home. I noticed a woman swiftly approaching us in the dark, and managed to get her to slow way way down to hear a small sample of the message-- before she made her choice to keep walking. I then said "we wanted to leave with you with..." as my scrounging hand simulatenously seached through my packed coat pocket in search of a church invitation--when chances were suddenly slimmer, adn I had to improvisde with the only thing I could..."a freshly-picked apple." Out, I pulled the huge Granny Smith we'd just been gifted form wonderful member Olga. Sister Young laughed, the woman smiled, and I don't remember her actually taking it.
So first things 7th, Gallia has a baptismal date!!!! For October 26th!!! We're so excited and thrilled for her. She has been living with Olga, in her apartment. We've been back, and fed to unbelievable extremes that I feel like I'm in the missionary twilight zone, seeing legend stories manifest themselves at Olga's disposal in her kitchen. Haha, so we've been teaching the lessons at a freqent, hastened rate after getting mission president approval. Gallia went to church years ago--and now has a very hard time walking--but has been reading literature all day everyday about Joseph Smith and early LDS history. And she wants it.
And she came to church yesterday, will help from othe rmembers who drove her. And it's a miracle. I whispered to our branch president on the stand before the leading the congregational rest hymn (yay favorite hobby) to announce her baptism!!! And he did, and I turned to see Gallia stand up and smile, next to funny firm Olga, who always says "Na Zdorobeyay," Or "Cheers," (but seems more like "Eat your heart out," judging by her tone of voice) when she feeds us. Sister Young and I couldn't contain our joy, after Bogdan had been sustained as an Aaronic Priesthood holder just half an hour earlier.
I've been realizing more and more, how grateful I am that God is a God of promises. How lucky we are as His children, to know that He has set those forth. Although society has its expectations for the roles parents play, it is not mandatory for one to give to each of his or her children promises of attaining every single incredible blessing, joy, experience, and opportunity he or she has ever had. Heavenly Father HAS. And not just blessings to be reaped in the afterlife--the promises of Him here, now. to assist us, and help us, and love us, and forgive us. Moroni. Because God is unchanging, He can never help but do everything in His power for fulfill His end of the deal, should we make the effort to pull through on our part. I can't think of anything more reassuring than the fact that those promises will be fulfilled, no matter what kinds of curve balls the world and life may sometimes seem to throw at any of us. That all fairness will be ours through the majesty of Christ's Atonement--a gift thought of and given to us through Christ, and from Heavenly Father himself.
A mission is such a blessing to see others and learn and humble self. Mmm. Anaitt just left for America to see the birth of her first granddaughter, and made the prettiest necklaces for Sister Young and me as a parting gift.
As for random thoughts, Prince of Egypt is officially number one on the post-mission Babylon hit-list. I'm looking forward to buying some Russian goldfish on our grocery shopping trip in 30 minutes. Our store now is SO much bigger than the one in BEZI. We even use a real-life cart. We buy plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with yogurt bread and cheese. Tuna, jam for my toast-it is the number condiment, and then usually Russian wafer cookies or pretzels. And plenty plenty of cornflakes and mioclii for breakfast!! They don't sell mints, so I have to buy mentos, and eat them like candy, so it's all in vain. Bagging is always stressful, since we're the only ones in the Oblast who buy ALL groceries at one point in time, stuffing up bags and backpacks and giant grocery bag as others check out with their box of Baking soda and a Time Magazine. Haha
I was so excited to hear the conference talk from that Australian, or Islander man--and knew Stew would love the accent. I can't wait to get the journal, as we didn't get to watch any Saturday sessions of conference!
Bogdan's our buddy, for life.
Love you all- have a great week-- be good, be great, don't wait.