So many great things happened in Vladivostok this week! First, one of my good friends here, a boy deemed an "eternal investigator" from my first area, turned into a "Brigham Young investigator", and was baptized and confirmed this week after a year and a half of investigating the Church. He is 18 and will be such a great member of the Church. Elder Magill did the baptism and it was just great. I'm really excited to see the success of people who I have had the opportunity to work with a little bit even in the short time that I've been here in Russia.
Our investigator who is paralyzed has so much faith! He asked us to baptize him, and when we told him that he needed to attend church before we could get permission to do that he had us get out his white shirt, nice shoes, and take him to Church. Getting him to the Church was one of the hardest things ever. We went to his apartment two hours before church started to dress him and get him ready to go, depends and all. Then we carried him up the stairs from his apartment to the street to get in the taxi. When we finally got to the church the woman who is supposed to run the elevator wasn't there...she just didn't show up to work, and when the elevator operator isn't there there is nothing they can to do run the elevator. (I'm not really sure how that works, it actually confuses me a lot.) So we, with the help of a few other missionaries, carried him, in his wheelchair, up three flights of stairs to attend Sacrament Meeting, and then back down, into the taxi (where he sat in the back where the cargo goes) and back into his apartment. After undressing him and laying him back in his bed we made it back to the church twenty minutes after Priesthood Meeting ended so that we could go to our missionary coordination meeting with the branch mission leader. Just finding the taxi was a nightmare, and took all Saturday night to find one that would cost us less than $50 for the trip. It was a lot of work, but so worth it to bring a faithful man with desires to worship God to church to partake of the sacrament. The sacrament was worth all that to him, I think I've taken that ordinance for granted up until now. All we need to do is drive to the church and take some bread and water. He couldn't even take the bread or water himself, but was fed by a worthy priesthood holder. What a great example!
I learned another neat lesson about faith this week. On Saturday we had an appointment set up with a woman I met on a bus about a month ago. We were afraid she might not come, especially when she didn't answer our phone calls that morning, but in faith we went to the square in Center where we had arranged to meet her. After waiting just about long enough for my companion to say "I told you she wasn't coming" an old woman came up to me. After I introduced myself she asked "What did you want?" I had thought that she came to me in the first place, and was a little confused, but just began to share a small message with her. After a few minutes of conversation she told us that she had some free time right then and walked with us to the church for a lesson. This was good because we had asked a member to help us on the lesson, and hadn't told her that our lesson didn't show up, so she was waiting at the church. The lesson went alright and the woman came on her own to church the next day. Sometimes our plans don't work out the way we plan them to, but the Lord blesses those who act in faith. I love the words that Brother Wilkey from our Branch Presidency in the MTC used to always say to us "Feed your faith and your fear will starve to death."
Go forward in faith this week and take notice of the blessings the Lord gives you, you'll find that they aren't few.
One more story to share real quick with you...
There is a funny tradition here that I really don't understand at all. I'll take a good picture and send it to you sometime. Let me paint you a picture I saw this week. As I was riding a bus I saw an old woman in a bright orange vest, painting a big tree white. It wasn't even strange to anyone but me. I think it's primer that they put on the trees...whatever it is it's the same as what they use on their ceilings. All the trees are white up to about 5 feet off the ground. I'm not sure it's because of bugs or if it makes the tree "more fruitful," I've heard both answers...I guess it's just a little weird to me. It reminds me where I am. Good times.