Phew, after denied entry into 3 different pink apartment buildings, Sister Hancock, Andrei and I trudged quietly through the neighborhood in to the cozy comfort of January snow. It was like the perfect page of "Goodnight Moon," with nothing but black white and gray, a splash of Valentine pink, and a bowl of mush. We finally found the right address of new Nina. We hit the doorbell--"Girls, I'm watchin' a film"--"just 15 minutes, that's all," before she yielded and pushed the domophone button to open the building door. We walked in to the hallway and began to de-dress, when Nina's admonitions began. She had a 100 (yes, one century) year old mother waiting in the next room, who would most definitely be nagging on Nina for hosting this episode of nonsense. Nina was 65+, you know. You think she'd be allowed to have a playdate by now without being grounded afterwards. Haha, and we had every intention of sharing the lesson we'd come to teach. Somehow in the midst of repeated lament that she was never gonna hear the end of this, Nina consented to let us pray and sing-- the 100 year old mother mumbling the entire time. Just when we though we'd have room for spiritual thought, the plug got pulled and Nina said, "no time for tea? No time for YOU." Well, we would feign call this pow-wow a lesson without doctrine and one more prayer-- so missionary matters called for desperate meaures. Nina agreed to one more prayer by SIster Hancock. We panically folded our arms and I used my native tongue to remind her of the mandatory multi-task at hand--
night made for some miracle contacting before our lesson with former-investigator Anya. Who, loves men, and has recommitted herself to a baptism!!! Sister Hancock and I were in the water, not grabbing on to much, when finally the opportune moment came. Paddle, paddle, paddle, RIIIDDDEEEE. We rode that wave all the way down the street- talking and walking with the world's most wonderful couple. An older man and woman-- me in the front with Natalya. We finally got to thoughts of belief, and I asked if she believed in God. "Yes, but here," pointing to her head, "just not here," pointing to her heart. Then explained the reality of soviet times, being raised with the firm decree that God is not. And then the world being turned upside down and He suddenly was. I told her that that was the first time I'd ever heard anything like that in Russia. We talked about principles in our faith, that she found missing amongst the inconsistent onces in her orthodox one. Really neat.
"DOCTRINE," I called to her from across the room, her surprised, determined eye contact reading "ROGER THAT," as her head bowed and she started in Russian. Hahaha, had to keep my laughing quiet as she wove through Restoration truths to Plan of Salvation principles-wondering whether emphasis on tithing or church auxiliaries would be next. Haha--nothing like perfoming under pressure. Gold medal goes to Sister Hancock.
Speaking of which, someone better be recording every important olympic moment. That includes all events on ice minus curling, add skiing and snowboarding. One day there will be time. maybe. Jane do it.
So we have felt a stronger bond with the elders, as we've all collectively become a quadruplet pack of parents to the new senior couple. haha, helping the cautious, fantastic Reeds get from point A to point B in their refiner's fire, known as FROSTED WINDOWS on public transport. hahah, how are they EVER going to memorize the bus stops and when to exit when they don't know what the area looks like, let alone how to ask ANYONE Russian for help!!? It's been amusing to share with the elders. Elder Tippetts made a small batch of brownies to distribute to us and them.he and Elder Wixom shared with us the secret to getting baked goods back in return. "So honestly, you just bake something small and give it to Sister Reed in a large case of tupperware..... and she'll just completely fill it in return."
"So we'll just send on over two or three cookies in a crockpot??" I asked with all sincerity.
hahah the laughing approval said yes.
Amazing lesson with the Reeds and Tatyana, a less-active. Who, usually hardened, allowed her heart to melt by that presence, without a second thought for the language barrier. She cried, as she talked about missing her two dead sons and desire to finish long-lost motivation to finish the temple work. She agreed to come to church. We finally got out of that small wooden house, and headed back in the snowy freezing darkness, and I closed my eyes and prayerfully thanked Heavenly Father for the beauty of this mission, tearfully expressing the purest joy I am allowed to feel on this mission and the richness of these experiences.
We had an amazing zone training. Sister Hancock and I got to present part of it. We just felt like the missionaries needed to be inspired, reminded. I was able to share a very real personal analogy that I'd love to share with you in person. Raincheck?
Love you all, have a greaT week,