Monday, August 12, 2013

weekly letter

Happy Birthday Jesica!
Dear Family and Friends,
We went and taught two new people on Monday after P-Day was over, Anatolee and Roostan. They were both very nice and enjoyed speaking with us. They seemed to be alright with the gospel and i gave them each a Book of Mormon. 
We went and did some service for Baba afterwards and took Chau. We took piles of weeds and put them in a pile and pulled some weeds as well. We also took a letter to her and helped her read it. We shared a small thought and we were on our way. We both packed for Elder Lau to leave on his Korea trip and for me to go to the other Elders' house.
We woke up early the next day and went to the other Elders' apartment. We got there and we studied and then headed out for the day. We went to Sister Demchenka's and gave her a Liahona for her talk on Sunday.
After that we headed back to stop by a potential investigator but we could not find it and looked for a long time on the street and so we headed back. We made several other stops for potential investigators and less-active members nearby. No one was at home so we went to Country Pizza to find Alex. He was not there but we found out we could probably meet on the 10th of the week.  We also gave the English speaking waitress (we haven't met her before but she speaks alright) an English invite and she said she would try and come.
We then went to English Practice and had only one group that day. We had prepared to talk about people that have influenced our lives, inspired us and how they have guided us. Then we were going to tie it in with the Holy Ghost.
We talked about characteristics of a good role model. We had planned an activity but we didn't do it because they weren't to up for it. We had Elder Ostler tell a story then i gave the spiritual thought about the Holy Ghost from 2 Nephi 32:5. 
My two investigators came but they were talking to Elder Ostler after and didn't want to throw away the Books of Mormon but finally after talking to him they decided to just keep them for now. They were saying they didn't want to meet and talk about religion, they wanted to meet and talk about America and English and not just during English so the plan became to tell them they are invited to activities but we are here to invite people unto Christ.
Wednesday was a day of miracles. We called Chau and he came with us for the day. We stopped at my apartment and picked up a branch list and went back outside to talk to Chau about members we wanted to visit. Chau bought a movie ticket for later so he only had a little time till the movie then he would help us after the movie again.
We started to head over to an address close by and were contacting when we met a man named Dima. We started talking to him and Chau introduced himself. As soon as he did this, Dima immediately started a conversation in Chinese which shocked us all. We told him about the gospel and asked if he had time to go and get a tour of the church.
We took him over to the church and the whole way, Chau and him talked in Chinese while we were able to ask him a few questions. At the church, we ran into Alexander who takes care of the church buildings in our mission. It was great to see Alexander and he said all was good so we could give a tour. We gave Dima a tour and talked to him about the gospel. Chau said he was very interested and he took a Book of Mormon and said he would come meet with us before and during English practice. It was such a miracle to meet someone as nice as him. He was very grateful to have met us and he gave us his number and Chau also befriended him.
On our way out of the church, we ran into the Brysons coming out of their hotel. They had just gotten back from Nakhodka with the senior couple and were going to get the senior couple from their apartment. We talked with them and went to drop Chau off at the theatre. In front of the theatre, we met Edoch who is the husband of Sister Perfiliva and is Elder Ostler's investigator. He is doing great and we invited him to church and to meet the senior couple on Thursday after English practice.
We then headed to an address close by and they were not home so we went to stop at the branch on our way to another member's house so we could pick up another Book of Mormon. When we arrived at the church to pick up a Book of Mormon, we met the new senior couple. Their last name is Vasilov which means fun in Russian and they are great and fun!
We left the church to go stop at the member's house when we ran into Sister Margarita and we said hello and made sure to also invite her to everything. As soon as we were doing talking with Sister Margarita, we ran into this man that was a previous investigator of other missionaries and is very friendly. He is very energetic and loves to talk. We see him every once in a while in the randomest places. We talked with him and took him to the church to say hello to the Brysons and the new senior couple. Elder Bryson gave him a book about Joseph Smith and we gave him a Liahona for this month.
We left the church yet again but this time we actually made it to our destination. The member was not there so we left them a nice note and headed off to another member's house but it said he lived in a government building so we headed towards the theatre hoping that Chau would be done with his movie and could come with us again.
On our way, i saw Lawrence (he is from English practice and really wanted to know about the gospel but we haven't been able to talk to him since) and i told Elder Ostler and we ran to the first crosswalk so that we could run into him. He said hello but had to catch a bus and he was doing great and said he would come to English practice. It was a miracle because we didn't know if we could see him again and the other Elders were going to teach him. We continued to contact to the theatre and we talked with people and we had people who stopped us to talk. We invited a lot of people to English and church today while contacting.
Chau had not called us and his movie was not yet over so we found a bench to sit on and were about to look for one of our addresses to visit when a man asked if we could help him find a street. We said we could do that and i knew where the street was so we started walking with him and soon started to realize that he was drunk when he said he was a champion kick boxer and started showing us his moves like a little kid and was jumping around. We were near the theatre when i received a call from Sister Margarita and let Elder Ostler talk to the drunk man for a minute. The man was not interested in the gospel Elder Ostler said and i tried to help Sister Margarita as best as i could. As soon as Sister Margarita ended the call, Chau was immediately on the phone. 
We pointed the drunk man off in the right direction and he realized that he knew where he was going again and then we met up with Chau again as well. As soon as we met up with Chau, we ran into a very nice man that we had met over a month ago at a sports night. It was just Elder Ostler and i during that sports night and the members said not to contact anyone around us that night because it wasn't a safe situation. The man had gone out of his way to say goodbye that night and had joined us in playing a game. It was amazing to run into the man again and Elder Ostler talked to him for a minute while i was explaining our plans to Chau. 
We had told Chau that if he wanted to spend the day with us that he could have dinner with us and he was super excited. We went to Pyat Plus (the store which means Five Plus) and bought some food and went to the church kitchen to eat it. We were able to talk with Chau for a little while during dinner. Chau is a great member especially since he has only been a member for 3 months and we were very grateful to have him with us for today and he was very important especially when we talked with Dima. He will leave back to China on Sunday so we got some pictures with him. 
We headed with Chau to the bus stop and jumped aboard the first one that was available. Eventually, we got off the bus and walked to Sister Shor's house. We introduced Chau and had a small lesson. We invited her to the activities and to come on Sunday for at least one hour. We then asked her if we could help with anything or get her water. She said yes so we went and got water. Chau thought it was fun so he took pictures of us getting water. Sister Shor was very grateful for the small service.
We left to stop at one more house of a member before the day was over. We were walking and saw a woman coming towards us. She clutched her stomach and fell to the ground in front of us. She asked desperately and in agony if we could buy her some bread. We swiftly ran to the nearest store and waited in a line to get a big loaf of bread. We hurried back and she asked for water so we gave her our water bottles and she quickly drank all of the water we had. She snatched the bread from Elder Ostler and just started biting aggressively at the whole loaf without a care of what she looked like because she was so hungry. She quickly put the loaf back down after a big bite because her stomach wanted to reject the food because she hadn't eaten for so long. She started doing a little better and we talked with her for a minute and she asked who we were. We told her we were missionaries for the church and gave her an invite. She shook our hands very carefully and before Elder Ostler could do anything, she kissed him on the cheek. She started to go to do the same thing to me but i told her i could not and she shook my hand again instead.
We finally made it to the last stop of the day but they were not there so we got on a bus and rode back into the main part of the city. After we got off the bus we ran into two people that Elder Ostler had given a Book of Mormon to a week ago. They were super nice and were interested in getting a Book of Mormon in English but they were leaving to Vladivostok on Friday. We called the Elders there and invited them to church and activities in Vladivostok. 
We headed back to the apartment and saw a small family and decided to contact one last time before we went in. We gave them the Family Proclamation to the World and we headed back in for the night and planned the next day. 
On Thursday we left to the church and called a bunch of people for the small party after English practice to meet the new senior couple and for church on Sunday. We had already met many people and invited people but we wanted to make sure we invited everyone we could.  Elder Bryson came and helped me so that i could print off some traffic signs at the branch for English practice and i had some questions to ask him. After that we headed out to go stop at a member's house. We were close to their house when someone's hands came upon our shoulders. We turned to see a man in motorcycle protective wear and a helmet. 
He talked to us and his name is Alexander but goes by Sasha. He is 23 and was interested in the gospel a little bit. He was very polite to listening. I thought he kind of looked like Sergei at first but then he took his helmet off and he looked different. We asked him what part of the city he was from and surprisingly he was from the South so Elder Ostler pretty much got a new investigator because we set up an appointment for the next day. 
I was talking to Elder Crave on the phone afterwards and two drunk men came up to us. One was wearing a mask and he was the man with no fingers on his right hand. He grabbed us so we ran into a store nearby. A few minutes later he came in and grabbed us again so we got him off of us and ran between some buildings and came out the otherside. When we got back on the sidewalk a few minutes later, they were still following us. We ran through the middle of a block and then walked quickly to my apartment.
When we got to my apartment, my freezer was slightly open for some reason. We cleaned the freezer out and left some shelves out to dry and then we met Chau nearby. We went and got dinner then called a few more people. We set up everything for English practice. A drunk man came into the building and said he was looking for Elder Payne and wanted to come to English practice.  Sister Bryson explained with Sister Vasilova that Elder Payne is gone. He kept saying stuff so eventually we took him outside and sent him to the store to get a snack and said he could come to English practice when it started at 6. 
He came back but this time Elder Bryson was in the building. Elder Bryson left Elder Ostler with Elder Vasilov and asked me how my Russian was. I said it was good and he said, "Well then we will give it a try". We then went into a room and the drunk man was there. I translated for Elder Bryson and we told the drunk man he could come to English practice next week if he did not drink. He tried to argue a little bit and say he was not drunk but it didn't work very well with Elder Bryson so finally he gave in and we sent him on his way.
We had English practice and it went well. We talked about traffic signs and why we have them and how they are different in America. They asked questions about driving in America and it went well. Then Elder Ostler gave a short thought from Mosiah 3:19 about yielding to God and keeping the commandments and following his guidance so that we can be safe and he can take us where he wants us to go. 
After English we had a small party for the new couple. The Vasilovs are great and a very nice couple. They speak English very well and already get along great with the members. We were able to talk with many of the members and there was a lot of treats. We were very pleased with the turn out. 
We left early and were contacting our way back to drop off Chau and go home. Elder Ostler's bag broke because it was so heavy. We ran into yet another drunk person but this time it was a boy. He looked like he was probably 17 or 18. He kept talking and he looked miserable. He went to smoke and just inhaled it like a crazy addiction and the cigarette was gone in about 10 seconds of his inhaling. We eventually made it home and Chau offered his help again for the next day.
We received a call from Kostya on Friday, who is from Vladivostok, that said to be at the church at 12. We said we could so we met him there at 12 and he was visiting for a few days and staying with Sister Margarita. He asked what our plans were and we told him and he said he could help out. He told us to wait a minute because he needed to get dressed so we said okay then he asked for an iron and he was in missionary attire before we knew it.
We went to visit some people and they did not answer and so we started walking away when we saw the member sitting on the bench. Her husband was not there but she was sitting with an older woman. We went over and talked with them and i invited them to church and gave the nonmember a liahona. Kostya helped us talk about the gospel and then  we were on our way again. On our way to the church, we ran into Anatolee who is our new investigator. We said hi briefly and he said he would come to English on Tuesday because he missed it on Thursday.
We finally got to the church where we met Chau. I had an idea because we had so many people to stop by and i called and asked permission to go on a split. I was given permission so i went with Kostya while Elder Ostler went with Chau. We went to an area and ended up by Sister Roomyantseva's house. She had just gotten home from her mini mission a couple days ago. The house was literally nonexistant when we looked at the houses that it should have been between. We stopped by Sister Roomyantseva's house and said hi then met Elder Ostler's new investigator that we had contacted on the street earlier in the week. We talked with him for a minute while he sat on his motorcycle then set up an appointment for Elder Ostler and Elder Crave to meet on Sunday.
We then went back to the church to have dinner and Kostya was talking with me. He pulled out a pin for a tie that had Batman on it and wanted me to have it so i took that as a sign of good friendship. He says he likes me very much. William from English called us and wanted to know if we could play Volleyball. We told William that we could so he came to pick us up with two of his friends.
He wouldn't stop asking us if we would change our clothes to play Volleyball. I refused so he drove us over to a small place nearby. Luckily, none of them were very good at Volleyball. We played for a short time then gave his friend an English invite and told him we had to go. I sent him a text later and told him that we could stay with him longer if he would let us talk about the gospel because he was bummed that we had to leave so early. 
We went back to the church and met with Kostya and Chau who were there playing piano. When we came out of the church building, there were two girls around 16 or 17 that came up to us. They asked if we spoke English. Elder Ostler replied yes and they asked where he was from. They didn't understand him the first time so i explained in Russian again for them then said where everyone else is from. They then asked where i was from and i explained that i was from America too. They told me to speak in English so i did a little and they thought it was cool so we gave them an English invite and we were on our way. 
We grabbed a taxi for our last appointment and dropped Kostya off on the way. We went with Chau and stopped by a house but they were not home so we made our way back home. We met back with the other Elders and eventually got a taxi home. The taxi company was having problems so we got home a bit late but we made it. Elder Lau and i went to bed. 
Saturday was a decent day as well. Kostya called and i told him we would be planning but he wanted to spend the day with us anyway. We met at the church to plan while Kostya was in the other room playing the piano and after planning we looked outside and it was raining super hard. I have maybe seen it rain that hard once or twice in my life. It was raining so hard that all of the taxi companies were busy so they weren't accepting phone calls. It rained so hard in 20 minutes that the streets and sidewalks flooded but were dried up a good amount a few hours later. After it stopped a bit, we left and went to Country Pizza. The power was out there so there were a bunch of workers in the dark and they told us the other restaurant was working. We went to the other restaurant and had dinner with Kostya but Alex was currently in Artyom so hopefully we run into him again in the future.
After dinner with Kostya, we went to sports night. We played this game called potato that is Russian apparently. Basically it is like monkey in the middle except you try to get other people to miss catching the ball so there is more people in the middle and if a person in the middle catches the ball, they get to switch out with someone in the outside circle. If there is more than one person in the middle, you can hit people in the middle with the ball for fun but if there is one person and you hit them with the ball then you have to trade places. We also played soccer and the turn out for sports night was pretty good (around 12) considering there has been almost no one recently. We participated a little bit and found someone to play with everyone else but then we left early to go say goodbye to Chau.
When we went to go say goodbye to Chau, he was super happy. We got pictures together and i had prepared a small spiritual thought. It was about bringing souls unto Christ and how great shall his joy be because he was helping us and if he continues to do this and endure to the end by building up Zion then he shall have eternal life which is the greatest gift of God. He really liked a scripture that said how beautiful upon the mountains we will be if we build up Zion. We gave him hugs and said goodbye.
We finally made it home for the night but a tree had fallen earlier in the day from the storm and so we had no power in the apartment. We talked about our plans in the dark and prepared for bed. Elder Crave called and was talking to Elder Lau who said our power was out but then i thought about it and i could hear the fridge on again. I told him to wait a minute and i turned the lights back on. 
Sunday was a busy day. We went to church and our number has gone back up a little which was great. We had President Brinton at church because he called the Elder Vasilov from the new senior couple to be 1st counselor and extended a few other callings. After church we talked to Artyom about Duty to God and then we had a small thought with Kostya about some scriptures then shared some of our favorite scriptures. 
When we were finally able to leave, it was around 5. We were walking home when we got stopped by two boys. We were talking to them and Elder Lau and I were each having a separate conversation with one of them (One was 15 and the other 17) and we understood each other very well. We eventually went to a bench close by under the shade and shared the gospel. We invited them to English and set up an appointment to meet afterwards. I gave them each a restoration pamphlet and one of them said he was Muslim and i asked him what is wrong with learning about our religion. I told him that it helps me and maybe learning some of the principles will help him. He agreed to take it and we came back and had dinner.
After dinner we left to meet Sister Demchenka and her family at the church. We ran into Sister Nadezda and her family on the way. We talked with them a few minutes and they felt friendly towards us which is good progress because we stopped to visit earlier in the week and they didn't let us in. We met Sister Demchenka at the church for Elder Lau and Elder Crave to be registered. We were waiting on Elder Crave so we shared a small spiritual thought for her and asked what she needed us to pray for. We came home and planned for P-Day.
The greater the faith, the greater the works, the greater the miracles! If we learn to recognize these miracles then it can build our faith and the process can start all over again! Pray to find the light and for the light to find you then work for it. I love you all! -Elder Elwood


1 comment:

  1. If your blog goes private as per the request, I would love to be invited.

    My daughter is in this mission.