No, I didn't feel the earthquake. I didn't even hear about it actually until I checked my email today and Mom asked me how it was. I hope that someone was worried about me though...that would have been cool.
So I just have a few stories to tell about how we can see the Lord's miracles, even in our day, if we just let Him show us. We'll see how many of them I have time to write.
Yesterday we went to visit a new investigator who we found in the "Area Book" (all the teaching records of missionary work that has ever happened in the parts of the city that I work in). This guy is a sailor and hasn't met with missionaries since he went on a voyage 3 years ago. We finally got to his apartment building, which was about as far out of town as it gets on a road called Snegovaya (sneg means snow...) which was very fitting because it was snowing, and the wind was really strong. He's so far out of the city that there is a forest next to his building and the closest store is in an old Soviet bomb shelter. Well we got to his building and I couldn't find my planner where I had written down which apartment number he lived in, I looked everywhere but I just didn't have it. We tried calling his number because it was still in the call history in my cell phone, but I got the busy signal every time I called. (They don't have answering machines in Russia...not even on cell phones) We stood out in the cold and the wind trying to call his phone over and over for a half hour and decided to leave, but I felt like I should try it just one more time. So of course, the last chance that I was going to give him, Anatolii answered the phone and invited us up to his apartment on the 6th floor of his building.
When we got there we met him and his friend. He told us that she had agreed to listen to us too. I love it when that happens. But I was really disappointed. She was very against us and even kind of rude. She sat down next to me on the couch and said "OK, let's hear your propaganda. I'll listen to your propaganda." She was really sarcastic as we began to talk about what we do as missionaries and how important faith and prayer are. She doesn't have any real religious background whatsoever, but her son has met with Jehovah's Witnesses from time to time, I'm pretty sure she thought we were them. Lots of people do.
Over the course of the lesson Elder Hall showed his pictures from home and she was excited to see his family and he also had a picture of the Temple in Provo, she was interested in that too. Pictures are so great! They help people realize that we actually are people and not weird priest/monks who live to preach our entire lives. (Everyone who can should help me out by sending me pictures of cool things we did before my mission so that I can put it in the book that I will carry around and show everyone I meet...you could be in "The Book" if you just mail me some pictures...)
We taught her about Joseph Smith's first vision, when he saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We shared with her why we don't smoke or drink alcohol, coffee, or tea. (She offered all of those things to us when we first got there...including vodka) We read with her from the Bible and from the Book of Mormon, and tried to help her see how much the scriptures can help us in our lives.
This guy loves to listen to "the Open Forum" a talk show from America about the Bible. He put one on to show us, and the man was talking about life after death, and about how only the "just" the "believers" would resurrect. I remember making the comment that the man who was talking had studied the Bible his entire life, but still didn't get it, he doesn't understand the simple doctrines that we can learn clearly through the Restored Gospel. They asked me what we think happens to the spirit after death and the only thing I could say was "Read Alma 40, it's written clearly there. And if you want to know more, read 41 and 42 as well, then let's talk about it."
At the conclusion of the lesson the once hostile girl asked for a Book of Mormon and promised to read without us even asking her. She wants to meet with us and learn more. The Lord blesses us even in the most unlikely of situations. He touched the heart of His daughter and helped her to be prepared to receive His messengers.
There are so many more stories I could tell from this week. About finding 9 more people who are interested in meeting with us in 2 days, about a finding an inactive member who we didn't know existed wearing slippers in a snow storm...the list goes on, but I hope that we always will remember that the Lord loves us and will bless us, even when we don't think it's likely.