Saturday, before we went tracting, we knelt as we were about to leave our apartment and prayed. As I offered the prayer I found myself saying something that I had neither planned nor thought of before. I remember asking the Lord to give us the strength and to calm us in order to keep going after we facing rejection and difficulties so that we could find those who were prepared to recieve us. We walked to the place we had planned to knock doors, and then felt like we should go a little farther, and see what was farther down this street at the very edge of town. We walked and found a few apartment buildings that were kind of nice, all in a little neighborhood away from everything else, except for maybe a military zone, but we stayed out of it so no worries. We went to the last building, and started to work our way back to where we had come from, that was our plan at least. All of the doors had dome-o-phones on them. Residential buildings in Russia are called Domes...so basically a house-o-phone. So we went to start calling people on the intercom system (I guess that is a better way to describe it) but someone was leaving and opened the door for us, so we went to the 5th floor to start knocking doors and inviting people to learn more. A girl came up the stairs behind us, and went into an apartment on the top floor. We knocked the other 3 doors on the floor and no one answered, so we knocked the one the girl went in to. We knocked and no one answered...weird. But I kind of thought we hadn't knocked very loud...maybe they hadn't heard...so I knocked again. A few seconds later a large, older man (probably her dad) bolted out of the door and slammed it behind him. He got right up into my face and started yelling at me...trying to scare me. Basically he told me to leave, so we did.
We continued calling on the dome-o-phones and then knocking doors when people let us in, and the first 60 or 70 apartments showed little success. The we knocked on a door and a woman answered. She was nice and had a very not-Russian hair cut (not at all important to the story.) She right away seemed different from other people, and asked if we wanted to come in and talk. I told her that we would need another person there (we have this rule about being alone with women) and then we saw her husband's head poke in from the living room. We went in and began to talk and just get to know each other. To make a long story a little shorter, we were there for a long time, and they are some of the nicest people I have met in my life. He is a Major in the Russian Army, which makes his kindness even more impressive. Victor and Olga are pretty dedicated to just doing good and helping other people. They live great lives and just have the light of Christ beaming from their eyes. Before we had left Victor had started reading the Book of Mormon, and promised to watch the film I had given him about how families can be together forever. He made sure we knew that we were welcome any time and that he would do anything we needed at basically any time, and it was obvious that he meant it. Good thing I didn't decide to leave after a mean man tried to scare me away.
We kept knocking and calling...and met a few more people who were a little interested in meeting again, got some numbers and set up some return appointments. Then we knocked on Alexander and Ludmilla's door. They are a great Ukrainian family with 2 daughters and a son, all in their teens. They invited us in and we kind of just got to know each other. Before I knew it they had fed us dinner too! That doesn't really happen while tracting very much. Alexander isn't super interested in the Gospel yet, but he is one of the funniest people I have ever met, I was basically just rolling with laughter the entire time I was there. He owns a uniform store with his family in Center that is really cool...so maybe I'll get a sweet discount if I ever decide that I need camoflauge on my mission. :D I think there is a lot of potential with this family, they are really great.
For about six hours we had tracked that day....and only made it through one building, without even finishing it. What a miracle. The Lord answers prayers, and prayer is a way to find what the Lord wants for us. I know that when we pray in faith, and then have the courage to do what it takes to make the things that we ask of the Lord reality, He answers and we will see miracles. We now have 7 different acquaintances in that apartment complex, some of which are actually an entire family, and one of which came to Church yesterday. It was the most successful door knocking I've seen in the last year of missionary work, and it all started with a sincere, kneeling prayer. There is power there, don't leave it untapped. You reach highest when you are on your knees. I have a few more prayer stories from this week, but you'll have to wait and get them out of me another time I guess. Miracles can happen each and every day.
Elder Sam Fife