Saturday, September 29, 2007
Three years ago at this time I was just getting ready to move from Rivne to Lutsk, two cities that are very similar to each other in many ways. I was apprehensive about the move as I had so quickly become attached to Rivne and all the wonderful people that lived there.
It was October 26th, 2004 when I first met Andrei. He was just a lost eighteen year old kid who stumbled into our English classes because of the encouragement from his friend, Roman, who had been attending. After class that night Sister Garrett asked if I would come with her to help teach these boys about the church. We talked and taught and answered their interesting questions until Sister Garrett asked them if we could end with a prayer. After we prayed, Andrei commented that we pray so weird and left after weakly committing to do some reading in the Book of Mormon. We continued to meet with these two boys often and so rarely felt that we were making any progress with them. Each time I would ask Andrei if he had prayed and each time he would uncomfortably say that he had but that he had received no answer. On November 4th, I wrote in my journal, "I met with Andrei. We talked about prayer and I asked him if he would pray tonight. He said, 'I'll try.' I told him that I hate that answer. It's either 'yes' or 'no.' So he said 'yes.' I hope he does."
In between meetings with Andrei, we had a lot of experiences with Luda, who was only 16 at the time. She would bring friends to church and English classes and tell them that the gospel was the most important thing in her life and she would ask them if they would please investigate it to see what kind of happiness it could bring them. We taught many people because of her and witnessed some remarkable conversions in the process. In each lesson she would sit in, she would testify over and over again how much potential the gospel has to bless families which was probably bitter-sweet for her coming from a part member family.
As time went on I became so frustrated with Andrei. He told me that he felt that he wasn't getting answers because he didn't really want to find out. On November 19th, I wrote "I don't know what to do with Roman and Andrei anymore. they hardly talk on discussions now so I can't tell what they are feeling." That night I went home very discouraged and I told my companion that I thought we shouldn't meet with Andrei anymore. But I couldn't sleep. I just felt so uneasy and after several hours I began to pray and I asked Heavenly Father if we needed to continue to meet with Andrei. An overwhelming feeling came over me that the work with Andrei was far from finished and I made a new commit that I would not give up on him although logically it seemed right.
I left Lutsk shortly after that night, wondering what would ever happen to Andrei. The night I boarded the train to Kyiv, Luda stopped by and handed me a note, part of which read, "I really know this church is true. A few years ago I really strongly felt this and I still feel it today. Regardless of all the obstacles, I know that Heavenly Father prepared the plan of salvation for us. In the end, we can be with him." Reading this letter as the train slowly pulled away from that city, I thought, "Everything is going to be all right in that town," sure that the Lord had just placed some of the most remarkable people I had ever met in it.
So there I was tonight sitting accross the table next to a teary-eyed Luda and across from a now praying Andrei, almost three years since the first day I met and prayed with him. I thought about how great it felt that day just a few months after that night to get a call informing me that he was going to be baptized. Once again I wondered as I watched him tonight what was ever going to happen to him after he returns to Ukraine in a couple of days but as I heard him utter the words of the prayer, the prayer he denounced just three years previously, I thought once again, "Everything really is going to be all right."
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
I started my church meetings just before 11:00 on Sunday morning. We had sacrament meeting last and church didn't get out until 4:00 at which point I had to run home and get in a couple of hours of home teaching before the fireside at 7:00. So, keeping all of that in mind, I was a bit restless by the time sacrament meeting rolled around just before 3:00. I sat on the front row with Kalli and mentioned a few times that I wished I could just get down on the floor like I used to back in the eighties and stare at all the feet extending the length of the chapel. You would usually witness some pretty interesting stuff that way as you would create a network with all the other seven year olds scattered on the floor throughout the room. It was almost like having your own church. Well I told Kalli that I really needed one of those little plastic baggies full of Cheerios ("you know, the little sandwich baggies. Plastic and clear" courtesy of Family First) to make it complete.
When we got to the fireside at 7:00 (sitting on the very back row this time), my ADHD was at an all time high and Heather Twistysocks asked me no less than five times if I was "on something." Just as the opening hymn began I mentioned once again how much I wanted to get down on the floor, to which Kalli responded by pulling a small baggy of Cheerios out of her purse which she had packed for me and said, "I didn't think it would come to this until later but here you go."
It worked just like it did when I was seven. I munched away quietly for at least five minutes. And don't worry, I left a few stale ones on the floor for old time's sake.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I went to see Great Grandma Whittle the other day and I'm always amazed with how active she is at such a ripe old age. Next may she will be 101 years old but to her the number seems irrelevant. She just keeps going every day, participating in the hobbies she enjoys.
Last Saturday I stopped by and told her I wanted to come and have a good visit with her the following week. We tentatively planned on Wednesday and I told her I would call and let her know exactly what time I would be there. On Tuesday morning she called me and asked what time I would be stopping by the following day. I thought, "Oh, poor grandma is worried I'm going to forget about her. I'm sure my visit will be the highlight of her uneventful week." So I told her I would be by around two and she thought for a moment and then said, "I suppose I can make that work. Don't try for the morning, I've got a million things to do in the morning." How wrong I was to think that just because she's older, she's given up on having a life.
When I went by, grandma said her back was hurting her pretty badly all morning which she attributed to some condition "that old people get." We went out back and did some gardening for a while and I must say it was pretty embarrassing to not know the names of the different vegetables growing back there. At one point she asked me to cut some chaff (?) and just about had a heart attack when I, with scissors, started to hack away at something that apparently was not chaff and did not need to be hacked away at.
As always it was a great visit.