Dear family and friends,
This week has been busy because we were preparing Lev for baptism. After groceries last Monday, we went straight over to Lev's house even though it was P-Day. We had a great lesson with Lev. He said he was going to China the next day (he didn't end up going) then he said it was only for a day because he could ride a bus to China in two hours. We asked him if he wass ready for baptism on Saturday and he said okay let's do it and shook Elder Barney's hand.
We gave him the commandments to follow the prophet, keep the word of wisdom, and to obey and honor the law of the land. He easily accepted all of them and is ready to go. We really reinforced the whole lesson even though he didn't seem to have much doubt about being baptized. We wanted to make sure he was super solid for baptism.
We went to family night that night and it was pretty successful. We had President Shadruhen show up with his family and Sister Perfiliva showed up and brought a nonmember friend. Her friend seemed nice throughout family night and the sisters are hoping to teach her.
We woke up at 5 on Tuesday and got ready to go for the day. We headed over to the other Elder's apartments and i laid on the bed. I wasn't able to fall asleep because i was so hot but then Elder Ostler was nice enough that he came and plugged the fan in so it was blowing on me and i fell right asleep. We had our studies together and then we headed out to go to Pasha's house. Pasha wasn't there so we decided to contact back to our next appointment. We saw an old man sitting on a bench so we both had the idea to contact him so we did. He was really nice but not interested in the gospel. While we were talking, eventually more and more old men kept coming out to sit with him because they are all friends and eventually there were about 6 old men interested in talking to the Americans and their broken Russian but maybe one of them was almost interested.
We couldn't understand them very well but they enjoyed talking to us. We hope to see them again when one of us or our companions better understand what is going on. They were nice enough to help us call a taxi when we needed to go though. We met with Yevgenni next. We taught him the last part of the plan of salvation. It was super hard and we struggled but we let him know at the beginning that we would talk slow and used a couple how to begin teaching points.
Yevgenni was super nice throughout the whole lesson. We taught him then told him that he said he would come to church either last week or this week so he could see Elder Barney before he leaves. I told him that Elder Barney really wants to see him at church and would be super happy. He said we could call and remind him and that he would come and try to make it for 2 hours. We then talked about baptism. I told him i had a question and he let me word it slowly and carefully. I told him how important baptism was and asked what he thought.
He responded by saying that it is hard and that there might be a conflict with his family so i repeated it with emphasis again. I asked him what HE thought about baptism and he said that he feels like it is important and that what we say is true. I then asked him if his family felt good about it, we helped him, and he felt ready, if he would be baptized on August 24 then i re-emphasized/asked again twice later to make sure he had said that. We had a great lesson and i told him Elder Barney would help review everything later. I asked when we could meet next and he said Sunday and then we talked and set up an appointment for Sunday.
The next day, I woke up at 3 and woke up Elder Ostler because i bumped the clock off the nightstand. Elder Ostler woke up so i asked him the time and he fiddled with his clock and giggled and said, "oh it is 3, we still have 2 hours left to sleep." Later i figured out that he didn't remember fiddling with his alarm clock and he turned the alarm off.
Luckily, i kept waking up and eventually woke up to tell Elder Ostler that our bus was leaving in 3 minutes. He tried to get up and i said that there was no way we were going to make it. The buses leave on time, he still had to get ready and then another 15 minutes to walk there. I told him to get ready as fast as he could since i was pretty much ready in 5 minutes. We finally got out to the bus station and i saw a bus so we quickly got on. I asked the driver if it was for sure going to Vladivostok and he said yes so i got us two tickets.
I didn't know exactly how to get to the mission office but i had a general idea to get us there and i was very confident. I found a bus stop but it was facing the wrong way so we walked a little while and finally found one when Elder Barney called to make sure that we were getting there. Eventually we made it to the branch in Vladivostok with 10 minutes to spare. It was a great zone conference and i took lots of notes.
After zone conference, Elder Barney went through some of his stuff, i picked out a winter jacket for later and then had a brief interview with the President.We missed the last buses to Ussurisk and so we headed to the train station. We missed the last train to Ussurisk so we went to the assistants' apartment and sent everyone else to other apartments as well.
We got ready the next day then headed to the train station. We all got tickets and boarded the train. On the train, Elder Crave went to contact some people. While he was talking to one man, the woman next to him seemed irritated but then she became super nice and they had a great relationship by the end. Another lady who just happened to be on the city bus with him the other night got up and yelled to the people not to listen but they did anyway. Apparently she did the same thing on the bus the other day too. I didn't just want to sit there while everyone else was sleeping so I got up and sat by him and he looked at me and i told him that i was his companion. I knew i couldn't say or understand much but i said a few things and was just there for support.
Elder Barney got up and sat by the lady who was yelling previously which got Elder Ostler to wake up a bit and they both talked to her to prevent her from saying anything further. We had a good conversation and invited them to things and i think Elder Crave got one of their numbers for a referral.
Eventually i saw a man on the train and there were only two other people on the train and the man was finally awake so i wanted to go talk to him. I went to the man and was talking to him in Russian but he wouldn't respond. Finally he said in a very sickly voice that he can't hear well. I gave him a pamphlet and slowly/loudly said i wanted to give him it and hoped he heard. He smiled and took it and just smiled the rest of the train ride. I felt good afterwards but it didn't feel like much.
We came back to the apartment and ate and got cleaned up. We headed over to Lev's house and gave him a lesson to finish up everything he needed to know for baptism. He received everything well when we talked about the rest of the commandments and committed. We talked to him about details of the baptism and prepared him for the interview. It was a great lesson.
Afterwards, we were headed over to another appointment. There was this lady that was very interested in us. She walked with us a while and we talked. It was interesting but i didn't understand a lot. Elder Barney later said that she was interested in interviewing us. We told her we couldn't but we guessed that she had her camera rolling and sitting in her bag facing us the whole time. We guessed this after talking with her. She gave me her number and said to call her if we found out if we could have our names published.
On Friday we went to the branch to get Lev's interview done. Lev showed up a half hour late but all was good.. eventually. His wife hadn't signed the permission form yet. We all watched the restoration video and we did the interview anyway! He was ready to go except for his wife's permission.
Kostya showed up. He is a member from Vladivostok and is very solid. Kostya stayed with us throughout the day and it was good. We started planning and then we eventually went to dinner with Kostya at Country Pizza. After Country Pizza we went over to Lev's house with Kostya and we had a long discussion with his wife, Ereena, who finally signed his document so he could be baptized and she also decided to come. We went back to the church and planned some stuff for the baptism then we took Kostya to the Bryson's apartment and came back and planned for the big day.
We left early the next day and went to fill up the font. Elder Barney couldn't get the pump working so i started filling the font with buckets. We called the other elders and got the pump working while we used buckets to fill it up as well. We got everything ready and Lev was all ready to go.
We went through the program and Sister Alla read a poem as her prayer and it was strange. Then the baptism went well and we ended with the hymn Teach Me To Walk In The Light. We all had refreshments afterward. We are proud of Lev for being baptized. We were also very glad to have Kostya from Vladivostok at the baptism and he performed a special musical number on the piano which was How Great Thou Art.
On Sunday at church, Lev showed up and he received the Holy Ghost. Lev stayed through priesthood today and that was the first time he has ever done that while i have been here. I am so glad to have him come but he will be leaving for a few weeks on a short vacation. He is a great new branch member already so we are going to make sure we keep in contact while he is gone. We headed out later and stopped at Sister Pyskol's house. We talked to her about paying tithing and she does but it was a good, small review. We gave her the sacrament and we headed out again.
It was raining all day and super hard so it was a wet day. We met up with Artyom and stopped at tons of places for investigators and branch retention but nobody answered. Artyom slipped and fell in a mud puddle but he was alright and got cleaned up at the church. It has been a busy week preparing for a baptism and being in Vladivostok so we got a lot of things done! Love you all! -Elder Elwood