Wow what a week. Shot up to Samara, fetched Sister Hancock, race back to Saratov--say hi to your new home, but now blow it a kiss goodbye before our now-boarding bus to Penza. Haha. It's been a crazy, great week of making our goals come to pass with help and a couple good old miracles sent from Heavenly Father. We saw some really neat things on the exchange--after a few hours of not seeing much in the cold Penza rain. A man approached us, in the middle of a just-ignited conversation with a woman, insisted on receiving a Book of Mormon, and a follow-up meeting for the next day. Haha, it was so incredible--and even more amazing to see Sister Kiestler then continue with the woman, who happened to know a little English. She bore her testimony in a foreign-to-our-nature-as-
missionaries- language, ie our native tongue. The spirit was so profoundly strong, as she said is slowed, simplified english phrases, that she knows the gospel is true. And that this is Christ's church. And that the book in her hands will strengthen her faith in Him, and in God. I just watched in happy awe, to see how the spirit and all tied things together for what was a needed miracle in this sister's life, as she comes to the end of her time here.
Some of my favorite smaller things, are the ability to peer out the bus windows on our way to different cities--and finally get a taste of the rich russian landscape. And at all different seasons of life, too. Right now, the golden orange of autumn has waxed old, and now it's woodsie, somewhat eerie birchwood white forests of trees that stretch for miles, or clear tundra green fields against smokey gray skies. It's mesmerizing. Haha, and SIster Hancock and I didn't shy away from the opportunity to hop off and stretch and the 10 minute pit stop. Usually it's fun or deep conversation between us-- but now, just staring out in to the silent scene beyond the winding road around us. Fantastic, 'twas. I'll run through it alone some day.
So Tatyana with the moon eyes--kind of broke our hearts. It's tough, because her husband who is literally approaching the end with cancer, doesn't appreciate her leaving with time constriction. She broke down in tears with us last night in the dark when she peeped out the door to tell us the news and return the Book of Mormon. We listened--it was really the only option--before offering a prayer for her, and reading together Mosiah 24:14. One of my favorite stories of a people who trusted and cherished their relationship with Heavenly Father so much, that they heeded a prophet's encouragement to continue to pray in their hearts to not lose their lives. She cried even more--as the scripture assures in His words, that He visits His people in their afflictions. We'll miss Tatynana, but I have a feeling we'll hear from her again someday.
I've been reading a lot in the teachings of Joseph Smith doctrine book, and eating up every word. Right now, around the part where the saints worked and sacrificed with enthusiasm to construct the temple in Nauvoo--then the miracle of Zion's camp in an effort to rescue the saints in Missouri. I just keep learning about how members of the church are more and more blessed, as they turn over their lives to God. And how that principle can be applied in all areas and stages of life. I read the quote from Spencer W. Kimball that got here from Nana a week ago in the mail. And I cry every time I read it. Haha. I really really love the gospel, its history, its majesty so much. Today in Matthew--how Christ required the faith of the two blind men before doing what was most likely a simple task to Him. Their, or the fuel to have it be brought to pass.
I love my mission, in short. Walking out of a store this week, a weird kid named Deneese approached SIster Hancock and me. He made the effort to help us with our groceries, after insisting on waiting for us. Not needed, but sure? Then we talked with him outside and he said he'd met elders. And then we said we had to go, based off the spirit- and he insisted on hugs and kisses from us, only to be disappointed. I shook my hand away from his, as we were off in a jiffy to enjoy our dinner. Silly Deneese. Delicious dinner.
Have a great week!!