It's the holiday season again in Russia. (It's basically always holiday season.) Today the place where we usually write home was closed, so we ended up going to some underground internet casino that Elder Naumov happened to know...I didn't even ask how he knew about it. It's kind of a weird place, but not that bad, just not my usual post office scene. There are a couple women talking about relationships at the counter though. We'll be here next week too since it will be Victory Day. We aren't really doing anything special or different for the holidays, and President Pratt doesn't think there will be any problems with us working through the time, so we won't be having a lock-down or anything like some people would like. Good times.
We had 3 baptisms in our Zone this week, which was incredible. Two younger women and a 10 year old boy who was baptized by his dad who is a recent convert in Ussurisk. So cool! I think they learned a lot that day and I heard that they were both just amazingly happy. Pavel learned what it really means to be a dad, and a patriarch.
I was at the baptism in Vlad for a girl named Valentina. She is probably in her mid 20's or something like that. She is so great. Her baptism was one of the most effective for missionary work that I've ever seen. There were three investigators in attendance; two of which had never been to any church activity or meeting before, except one has been going to English Club for a month. As Valya bore her testimony at the end of the baptismal service the Spirit was so strong. She talked about how the Church had changed everything about her life, and changed even who she is. She has a great testimony. Both of the two girls who were at the baptism are now meeting with missionaries and one was at Church yesterday and stayed, and participated, for all three hours. Her friend brought her to the baptism and she just felt like it was right. She felt it again at Church. The Sisters are working with both of them now.
So my companion goes home in about a week. It's way crazy that everyone is starting to go home. He hasn't given up or stopped working or anything, but he spends a lot of time thinking about what he will do when he gets home, making plans and things. I don't want to think about what will happen after my mission. Those kinds of serious questions like what I'm going to do with my life or how I'm going to do it are toughy's, and I'm going to put it off as long as possible. It's a good feeling to know that you are supposed to be putting things off. :D So it's been a little, not easy, serving with this companion, mainly just because of the big differences in our backgrounds and personalities. I've taken up cleaning and fixing up our apartment as an outlet. I've just gone a little at a time and made our apartment more like a place that I would actually live. Saturday I got to taking off the molding on the floor and cleaning underneath them, because there is so much dirt and grime under them that when I try to sweep a little bit comes out and I can never get our floors clean. I also found some nasty cast iron pans underneath our kitchen cabinets and made them usable, and fixed all the leaks in our bathroom. Things have been wet in there since before I moved in. Things are mostly fixed and looking good now, so that feels good. President and Sister Pratt were impressed when they dropped by Saturday on their way to Nakhodka. Thanks Dad, for teaching me how to figure things out and make them work. Yeah, I didn't usually pay attention when you were working on things, but I picked up a little bit I guess. I didn't know that I did either. Cool surprise.
OH, I thought of a cool story that I can share from this week. I was on an exchange with Elder Kezele, who is the District Leader in Ussurisk. We were together in Artyom and our companions were there. We tried to track down and give the April Liahona out to members who I don't know and picked a couple that are hard to get to. I had a map in my backpack, but of course I didn't get it out. The street we were looking for wasn't big, so not very many people knew where it was, but that gave us an excuse to talk to a lot of people that we might not have talked to otherwise. One woman who was looking out her open window on the 3rd floor pointed us in the right direction, and took a small brochure about Joseph Smith, all through her window. It was neat. After we found the member's home, and found that no one was home, we started heading back, taking a little bit of a different route. I called out to an older man who was working in his field, but he didn't hear me. Down the hill from us there was a group of teenage boys who were amused to see Americans in suits walking through the dirty streets on the outskirts of town. They were kind of pointing and laughing at us, so I gave them a wave to remind them that we're not blind, and they got even more excited, but didn't do anything. We kept walking and up the hill saw a two women standing in front of a large apartment building talking. They were also kind of looking at us, so I waved to them too. The older woman smiled. We walked past and then I felt like we should go try to talk to them. We turned down the road that they were standing on and walked up to them. I decided to use a little bit of a different approach and started by telling them that we're missionaries and then started explaining the kind of person that we are looking for "believes in God, loves Jesus and wants to learn more about Him..." the younger woman said "Well I believe! I read a lot of religious literature actually." The older woman (who turned out to be her mom) told us that her brother does as well, but he is studying in Beijing right now. She had also studied there sometime. We talked more and they asked about the Book of Mormon that I had in my hand. She said she knew about it and wants to read it. I wish people said that to me every day! So she gave me her number, I gave her the Book of Mormon, which she started reading this weekend, and hopefully we'll be able to work out a meeting soon. It was a cool miracle that came from an unusual situation. Usually I would have just kept walking. Good thing I decided to be adventurous.
Well that kind of got long... have a great week, and a great Mother's Day next weekend. I'm excited to get to talk to my family on the phone next week. That's always the best. Be healthy!