Missionary work is a lot like a roller coaster. There are lots of really high ups, and lots of really really low downs. I've felt that especially strong in the last week. It seems like the Lord is trying to see how patient I can be and how diligent I stay or hard I work when it seems like nothing at all is coming from it. On top of that He gives me great experiences with lots of potential, only to see them not work out and dash all my hopes. We were only able to have one lesson with an investigator this week, and even that was kind of by chance as we checked in the park where we used to meet with a man who had wound up in a hospital a little bit ago, and he was there! It was good to see him waiting there, but that was yesterday...the rest of the week we just worked against a wall and met disappointments every step of the way. One day we had 6 lessons scheduled...none of them ended up working out. I guess this missionary thing is a little hard after all.
Dispite the upsets that we've had in the last week, we've seen some great miracles. One day we had some extra time and wanted to do some tracting. We weren't really sure where we were going or what we were doing, but we found ourselves in deep Churkin, a place where I had never been in the last several months serving in this area, tracting a 9 story apartment building. If you're looking at a map of Vlad, we were right about at the second knuckle of the index finger in the hand puppet. (You'll know what I mean...remember that I'm south of the Gold Horn Bay.) Well in 45 apartments about 40 doors were slammed on us or not even opened. One yelled "I don't have time! Come back tomorrow!" We came back and maybe we'll meet with him sometime this week. The very last door, on the very last floor wouldn't open the door, but had me put an invitation in his mailbox...weird. It was a really awkward conversation, but one of those funny moments that you probably would have just had to be there for. The best success there though, was meeting a woman on the 7th floor who told us that she'd been to our church before and liked it. She has 6 kids and works a lot to help support her family, but hopefully we'll find a way to meet with them sometime soon. A family with 6 kids is SO rare in Russia. I mean it's rare anywhere...but if you have more than 2 kids here you are already way out of the ordinary.
The Lord teaches us lessons throughout our lives. That is something that I have seen over and over again. Not only on my mission, but never so stark and apparent as I do here. Sometimes you need a rough week just to remember why you're really here. To realize the ways that you are spending your time and the ways that you wish you were able to spend them. Its the things that you do in your free time, when you could do anything that you want, that are the most important to you. I was thinking about that thought this week a lot. When we sit at home and have a few free minutes while I cook dinner, or after we've finished planning at night sometimes we have a few free minutes to relax or do what we like. My companion seems to be ALWAYS studying the language. I don't know how he does it. If I studied or thought about language that long I'd get all kinds of frustrated. I've noticed that my favorite thing to do in my free time now, is to sit down with a Church magazine and read talks from General Conference. Maybe I should work to become more diligent in studying Russian...but I am so grateful for the moments that I have to just study the Gospel a little deeper. I feel like my Gospel knowledge and understanding could use SO much work, and I wish I could just spend all day, or take a few months off of life, to just study the scriptures and the teachings of modern Prophets. Some members that I work with here have a hard time when I try to get them commit to read the scriptures each day, even more so when I say study for 15 minutes or half an hour, but I wish I could just sit and study and feel the Spirit that comes with studying the words of the Lord's servants longer and longer.
I love the word of God. It gives us understanding of all the things which we do in life. You couldn't find a much better parenting book than the words of Alma to his sons, or Helaman to his. When you don't know how to tackle a difficult problem that just doesn't seem to go away, or peer pressure that could drag you down, there aren't many who are better to look to than Captain Moroni, who had a pretty big problem in front of him a time or two. We're so blessed to have so much of God's word today. Take a look in the Bible Dictionary under the word "Bible" or read Elder Christoffersen's talk from this General Conference. They make me so much more appreciative for the thing that so many times we take for granted.
That has just been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought I'd share it. Have a great week, and happy birthday Daniel! Haven't heard from you in a while, hope everything is going great!
Elder Samuel Fife