The highest point of the week was Leonid's baptism and confirmation. He's our investigator who is paralyzed and bedridden. It was a great challenge to get him to the Church and to immerse him in water, but everything worked out in the end. Never had I envisioned my service as a missionary as dressing or carrying an investigator to a baptism, having him passed from one pair of missionaries to another to sit on the bottom of a baptismal font, and then be laid down in order to be immersed, but that's how it went. One of the most interesting parts was changing him from his wet baptismal clothes into a white shirt and slacks while he laid on a mattress, on top of a table, in the baptismal room. We had to be fast because everyone who attended the baptism was singing hymns while they waited to finish the service. It was a great adventure, and as difficult, awkward, or strange it might have been at times, it was worth every second of it for the opportunity to see such a great man smile, and know that he has made very important covenants with the Lord.
On Saturday we had a big Branch picnic in this wooded area by the ocean in the place in our area named "quiet." We had a really good time and there were a lot of people who came and enjoyed. I had a great chance to show off some Frisbee skills that I picked up in all of our free time at Cedar Badge over the years, but just like those times each summer at Treasure Mountain or Island Park I seemed to be always running through the bushes for Frisbees that were just out of reach. After I came back from one of those experiences at one time everyone started saying "Elder Fife, what happened?" I was really confused until I saw that my shorts were stained with blood from a little cut in my knee. Of course everyone panicked and did all kinds of first aid...but the cut was really small and has already healed up. It was just a funny experience, so I guess I thought I'd share it.
I also realized a regret from my childhood at the picnic. When I was a kid I stopped playing AYSO soccer before most of the other kids. As a result I have become very dysfunctional at kicking soccer balls well. That still hasn't set in though, I guess. When I see a ball coming in my direction, I have to kick it, and I envision it going right where I want it to and looking good too. This was not the case when I kicked a ball and it went the wrong way...bouncing over a cliff and 300 feet down into the ocean. After 3 failed rescue attempts by the young men and I owe Evgenni a soccer ball...my bad. I don't know if everyone knows that it was me that did it...my goal it to keep it on the Down Low for a long as possible.
I think that life is, sometimes is like a free Saturday, a really sunny one. There are so many things that you could do, and there's no way you can do it all. Some people have long lists of To Do's, even honey-do's, but others end up at a picnic by the sea. We can spent our free Saturday anyway we like, but those who relax or spend their time playing in the sun, get to live with the sunburn afterwards. You wouldn't naturally associate Russia with sunburns...but I am now a witness. We all looked like tomatoes.
I've always had a little bit of a problem with controlling my temper, and I've worked for a long time to be able to stay calm, but I only made it through the first 5 months in Russia before I kind of lost it. It wasn't really horrible I guess...but I kind of threw a few guys out of the Church on Tuesday. They were book salesmen. They had children's books, atlases, even Shakespeare (in English even). When Christ cleansed the temple in Jerusalem He taught that the Lord's house is not a house of trade, to me that includes selling children's books. When the salesmen came to me in the Mission Office where I was working on something with Elder Bush I explained to them that our church isn't a place to buy and sell, and that they would need to leave and work somewhere else. After apologizing they left the office and I went back to work. But, to my surprise few minutes later they poked their heads through the office door again, this time with an Atlas, all written in Russian (not even really helpful to me). Again I explained to them that it is against our rules to sell in our office and in the halls of our worship place, and told them they'd have to leave. Again they apologized and left, but they were still in the hall a few minutes later trying to sell to my zone leader some other fun little books of theirs. After his instruction they also didn't leave, that's when I lost my patience a little bit. I interrupted their sales speech to a sister who was in the Church and told them they would really have to leave, (the translation of what I said sounds funny in English but it literally means "straightly, right now!" When they said "hold on" and kept going my patience got even thinner...so I then saw them to the door and made sure it locked behind them. Later when I saw them on the other floor of our church trying to sell to those who had come for English Club, it was really lucky that Elder Hall had gotten to them first.
I learned a valuable lesson in communication that day. Sometimes you have to speak very clearly, in words and tone, in order to get your message across.
The work is great. I am enjoying myself all the time and I feel the strength of prayers offered in my behalf. I want to thank all of those who keep me in their thoughts and prayers. The Lord is pouring out his blessings on His servants in Vladivostok.
Have a great week, and wish my Mom a happy birthday, to me it was yesterday, but in the States it's still her birthday. Love you Mom!