An olden Russian man was sitting on a pipe--already step up from smoking one--that ran parallel to the apartment building we were passing. We asked him for some direction, so I righteously capitalized on the opportunity by initiating gospel conversation with a chap, rather than chick. A neighborhood babooshka overheard the raucous, who happened to be sporting a rather demographic-contradicting pair of silver moonboots, passing by and looking fly. It's safe to say that any perfect stranger who interrupts a moment with any other perfect Russian stranger with an arm raised, finger pointed in our faces, will not be blooming in to Progresso material at any point in the ensuing 24 hours or months.
Don't let that into deter you from the pearls of wisdom we happened to learn from our new-found friend, Viera. She went off on an anti-American rant, despite our pleas to disengage from the fact that it's our country of origin, and insisting on our love for the motherland. "You can only love Russia if you're born here," she chirped with inspiring accusation. I guess I missed that fairy easy to slip addendum of a guildeline on page 63 of the Russian rulebook. Continuing. Throughout the conversation, her armful of clothing continued to drop to the ground--I finally made the attempt to restore it, doing best to not invade personal space while tucking the shirt back in. My technique was deemed sub-par by the way she snatched it and rewrapped it herself, and added that my shirt-wrapping efforts were indicative of my non-Russian roots. Ahhh!!!! Smiles and curtains, keep it together.
She avoided well all jump-cuts to the topic of family, finally proclaiming "you're from America, you speak English!! Ya don't even have your own language," as if inhabiting and setting a virtually unmapped continent weren't challenge enough. Step it up forefathers? Haha--needless to say, Viera had a good heart and some pretty pumped up kicks.
I think the highlight of the week may have been our district's rendition of "redeemer of Israel," for the opening hymn last Friday. It's been ages since I've heard a good baritone, giving an aspiring altos something to work with. Haha, thank you Elder Hansen. Haha, there's a reason they choose that one for the opening of general conference more often than not. HOW WAS CONFERENCE!? We only watched Elder Holland's talk, which will suffice for holding us over until next week for when translation comes in.
Natasha came to church. She came came came to church!!!!!!! Family, I could cry---I don't think I've ever been quite so excited about an investigator, who is so head-on solid. Vested. Wanting to know for her and her daughter, and the welfare of her family, if this church is what she needs. She came-- early, so she was greeted by the increasing flow of incoming members who would stop and introduce themselves. And, even though she'd just worked the night shift and was exhausted, not even being home yet-- she decided to stay for sacrament meeting. I'll never forget the mutual eye contact that Brother Andrei Markets and I made, me from the piano and him from the sacrament table--- that seemed to say, "SHE'S HEREEE." Hahaha, I couldn't believe it. And, I had the opportunity to climb up the stairs and share my testimony in the comfortable middle of my dearest Russian brothers and sisters. I looked out at the congregation, all 50 pairs of eyes on me--as I began to convey what our Savior means to me. It was not a dry 2 minutes, as I told them all how much I've come to love them--- and how I can't do anything to express how much life-touching good a mission, for Heavenly Father, has done, for me. How much indescribable, blessed joy. Oh, and the tears rolling down Anaitt's, Sister Hancock's, and other's faces--- a foretaste of what I hope forever will be. To understand my love for those people and the mutual conviction of the gospel. No greater gift.
I love you, share the gospel.