That was a fast week! It has been a crazy week weather wise in Krasnodar. One minute it is sunny and all is well and the next it is pouring rain harder than I have ever seen and then back to sunny, but now it is just hot! Probably due to the weather, I have had the worst allergies of my life but thanks to some Benadryl from the Lunds, it is all under control now, after some sleepless nights.
It has been a great week in our area! For the past week and a half, Illya G. a 16 year old member from Crimea has been in Krasnodar. Illya and I met in Rostov when he was there for the youth conference and became friends and he spent a lot of time with us while he was here. He called before he came and although he was coming on a vacation, he wanted to be with us on as many lessons as possible! He has the strongest desire to serve a mission and we were able to go over some of Preach My Gospel with him and it was just awesome to see how bad he wants to be a missionary. He will be a great one in a couple years!
We have continued to work with Vasilli Petrov, a less active member. Last week we talked about the Priesthood and committed him to stay at church for all three hours so he could be in the Elders' Quorom and he did!! He has come three weeks in a row now and we have worked with the branch council to get him home teachers and involved with Family History work. Hopefully he will develop some friendships and be fellowshipped into the branch and keep repenting/changing.
We also started working with a young man named Vova who is 21 and moved here from Krasnayarsk. He lives in his own apartment but his mom and grandma are also members and live in the same building. Vova was baptized when he was 8 years old and is a great kid. We talked with him about prayer and learned that he had stopped praying because he felt like his prayers were just routine and were not doing anything for him. I talked about how I felt the same way a few months ago when I felt like I was just praying out of habit and talked with him about what we can pray for using Alma 34 and how we need to ponder before we pray and give time after we pray to listen to the Spirit. We related it to him and said that he can even pray for help with all his final exams he is taking. We committed him to pray daily and we texted him to follow up a few days later. He responded, "I prayed and got a 4 on my exam!" (Russians do grades on a 1-5 scale). We were thrilled that he started to pray again and hope to keep teaching him and help him get back to Church and hopefully his whole family in the process.
Thursday we went to Diana's to teach her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and when we got there, to our surprise a less active member was also there and so we had a great lesson with the both of them. We talked about how baptism is the beginning, it is the gate we enter onto the straight and narrow path to eternal life and discussed what else is on the path such as daily scripture study and prayer, going to church, repenting, and all the covenants of the temple. The less active member, Larissa, invited us over and gave us two referrals to teach some guys that rent from her but it turns out the Sisters already are. Either way, it was a success.
Friday we went to Sergei Biletski with the Lunds for his 21st birthday! Sergei is in the Army and him and I met last year. His family is all active in the Church but he does not come. We had a great visit with him and were able to read some scriptures and talk about the guidance of the Spirit before eating some cake :) He shared with us that he is known in his Army group for his "intuition." He said that although he can't say for sure that it is God, he feels like he has guidance when he needs to make a really important decision with no time for mistakes. We hope to keep meeting with him individually and support him spiritually.
Saturday we spent the whole morning and afternoon with Aren - a ten year old who should be getting baptized next week. The Sisters have taught him but he wanted to learn about service so he came with us Saturday to serve Rustam at the Rinok. Aren wanted to carry all the groceries and help as much as he could! We also cleaned Rustam's apartment with him and read scriptures with Rustam. We then took Aren to the mall to get a white shirt, pants, tie, belt, and sandals to wear to Church before having a lesson with him about the priesthood. He is a great kid and has such a strong desire to serve. It was a special day for him and he asked if he could come every week with us.
This week and throughout my mission I have gained a huge appreciation for the Sabbath. It is truly my favorite day of the week and is different from the rest of the days, I am so grateful for the Sabbath and for the opportunity we have to gather, partake of the sacrament, serve in callings, and learn and grow together. I love the Sabbath and it truly is a delight when I properly prepare for it by repenting and striving to improve. It marks a clean start to a new week and is such a great blessing. I am grateful for the Savior and His atonement that allows us to start over and to receive forgiveness.
It was a great day at Church and at night we were at Olya P.'s house talking about the Plan of Salvation. Olya is super solid and is heavily involved in Family History work- she even gave me 7 names to do temple work for when I get home that I am so excited to do! She has her own opinions about the Plan of Salvation but we had a really good lesson just teaching it how it is. We are really trying to get her to the temple where she will learn even more about the Plan of Salvation. I was so grateful for the Spirit during that lesson that prompted me to say things I had not even thought of before. The Spirit teaches, we are just the mouth piece!
Today we went to the biggest Orthodox temple in Krasnodar, it is always interesting to experience first hand the different beliefs of other churches and it always strengthens my testimony that there is indeed only one true church in the world and that is without a doubt The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!! Have a great week!!