Tuesday, May 16, 2017
More 38 of 39 Print all In new window He wanted to get baptized, but the Branch President was a member of the KGB, so he couldn't get baptized.
April 17, 2017
Buckle up. This is a big one.
Alrighty, so let's start with Yevgen! Yevgen (which is pronounced Yevhen) is as I said before, from Ukraine! He's like 55 years old, and he's living as a refugee here in Tirana. He's been here for like 6 months now. He had a son and a daughter, and was married, but they got seperated, his wife is remarried, and his two children were killed by the Russian police, KGB. He says as well that the KGB is trying to kill him, because he is a member of a Ukranian Aktivist political party, and that since Albania was Communist, there are people here trying to kill him as well. The refugee camp that he stays in right now has about 10 other refugees, and it's pretty bad. They said they feed him stale bread, which he doesn't eat, and also which has caused him to have stomach problems now. For the record, he only has like half his teeth as well. This guy has got a really really rough life right now. So we met him about two weeks ago now, and we had a lesson on Wednesday, and he has commited to be baptized on May 13! So. How did we find him? Miracle #1: A few days before, we went to this area that was out of our area to meet someone, and he didn't show up. While we were waiting for the guy to show up, we did a little bit of street contacting, and got some people's numbers! Miracle #2: Normally we would have given their numbers to the elders in that area, but we didn't remember to do that until after we had set up appointments with those people that we got numbers from. So we got the meeting, and they don't show up either. Miracle #3: We now decide that we can go to the artificial lake to do contacting, and since we're out of our area, we try to take a backroad back into our area as a shortcut. Well, we end up kind of taking a longer road than usual, and we're walking in this backroad/wooded area behind the lake, and at this point, I feel a little bit guilty, because there were not a lot of people to talk to, and that was proselyting time. Well, after about 5 or 10 minutes of just walking in this really pretty forest, we hear someone running behind us, and we look back, and this scruffy-looking guy with white hair is behind us, and says in broken english, "I ran to catch you! Are you the LDS missionaries?" At this point, we're pretty taken back, but we tell him yes, and then for about 40 minutes, he tells us his story. Then we go and sit down somewhere else in the park, and he tells us more of his story. He also told us that he met with the missionaries before in Ukraine, and they taught him, and he wanted to be baptized, but (and this is actually what he said, I'm not making this up) the branch president was a member of the KGB, so he couldn't get baptized. Darn KGB. They're everywhere! So we tell him that we can continue to teach him and give him a Book of Mormon in Ukraine, and/or Russian, and we promise him that as he will build his life upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, he will not fall, and he will be happy. He also told us that he had not eaten anything that day, and I had a PB and J with me, so I gave it to him, and we agreed to meet on Saturday! We meet on Saturday, and bring a Book of Mormon in English, Russian and Albanian. We take him to the church, and we're small talking, and he tells us that he liked the sandwich, and that he saved a piece of the crust for later. Ugh. We set up the lesson with this American girl that is here for an internship, who speaks Russian! It was awesome. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and it was hard, because we spoke in English, and we spoke really really slowly, but he understood it well! We testified that we can be happy in this life, that he accepted this Plan of Salvation before this life, because he knew of the great joy that could come to him if he followed Jesus Christ, that our trials help us to have joy, that his children will have a chance to learn the gospel in the Spirit World, and that he can and will live with his family for eternity if he follows Jesus Christ in this life. It's amazing teaching someone like Yevgen who has nothing. Testifying of those blessings can be a little bit daunting, because it is so hard to see what his future entails, but I know that as we remember what the Savior endured, everything is possible. Even for someone in Yevgen's position. Also, he said that he has read the Book of Mormon, and knows it's true. Woot woot. So he accepts a baptismal date for May 13th, and we set up an appointment to meet with him again! We met with him on Wednesday, gave him some more food, which he didn't eat immediately, even though he again had not eaten anything that day, and said he would save it and this time we do a skype lesson with a missionary in our mission that is Russian! He speaks fluent Russian, and we were able to teach Yevgen the Restoration! Yevgen loved talking to him, Elder Bowen, the Russian missionary, and wants to meet him real bad! Anyways, we gave him a flashlight so he can read the Book of Mormon in his camp, because there is no light, and he said he would come to church! He actually didn't end up coming, but we have another lesson planned for Wednesday, so hopefully he'll be able to make it to that one! There's no doubt we were directly led by the Spirit to find Yevgen. None of the things that happened were planned to happen that way, but we ended up finding a very lost, distraught child of God.
Ya remember Ahmed? The cool Libyan kid? Well we miraculously met up with him again this week! We went to the lake for a lesson, he didn't show up, then we bought some ice cream, and we ran into Ahmed at a round-about... with our car! Just kidding. We only run into Albanians. Just kidding. We don't have a car. We just run into them with our bodies and heads. Just kidding again. But yeah! We met him there, and he said that he hasn't been able to answer his phone, because his dad took it away, because he got some bad grades, but we set up another lesson! And he came! Then we went to the church! It was super stinkin' cool. I think it was the first time Ahmed has been in a church. He's been in plenty of Muslim Mosques, though! Haha so we show up to the church, and our church doesn't really look all that much like a church, but he's like, "Can I go in? I still have my hat on and everything..." And we're like, "Yeah! No problem! Come on in." So we walk in, and he's looking around, and we go up some stairs that lead to the chapel, and he asks us if he can come up as well, (because i think in the mosque, the hoxhas (Islamic Clergyman) are only allowed in certain places) and then we go into the chapel, and we take some pictures there, because he likes it, and we explain what we do, and sing a hymn, and then we teach him the restoration! It was way cool. We taught him how to pray, and we told him about Moroni's promise. He loved praying, and when we read Moroni's promise, he got super into it, and loved it! He asked us afterwards, "Why does it feel different reading it here than it does in my house?" I knew the answer, but I didn't say anything for a few seconds, because I the Spirit was there, and I didn't want to rush in and distract the Spirit. We explained that the church is a special place, and it's a place where we can feel the Spirit of the Lord. He loved the lesson, and told us that he would like to become a Christian! We didn't extend a baptismal date quite yet, but next time we meet, we will. Way cool.
So Christopher. We had another lesson with him, and well... It wasn't quite as great as the other lesson we had. We planned to teach the Plan of Salvation to him because he asked about what were those plain and simple truths that were lost from the Bible. First off, he didn't read the Book of Mormon from the time of our last meeting. Instead, he looked up the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon on wikipedia, and read about them, and found some stuff that may have been true, but not uplifting about them. So that was a rough start. Then we start to talk about the Pre-Earth Life, and we tell him about our potential to become like Heavenly Father, and he starts talking about his objections again. In the end, we tell him that the reason he can know all these things are actually true is to read the Book of Mormon, but he's not willing to do that, because he believes it's written by Joseph Smith. He basically told us this time that we need to tell him why Joseph Smith was chosen and why he's significant. We understood something better about his needs after he left. We understood that in order to exercise faith, he must have hope. The hard part is finding what part about the gospel will give him hope that these things are true. He must have a desire to believe what we tell him, and hope that what we say is true, really is true, then he can exercise faith. So that's where we are. I'll let ya know how that turns out!
Easter was great for us. Elder Harris's dad served in our mission like 23 years ago, and we ate with one of the people he baptized for Easter! It was awesome. This Easter season, I've understood the Resurrection of Christ better. Before, I understood that the resurrection allowed us all to be resurrected as well, but that was basically the extent of my conception of the Resurrection. I understand better now, however, that without the Resurrection, Christ took all our sins upon Himself, and died. That's it. The fact that He resurrected means that he really did overcome everything He suffered! It's because of the Resurrection that all of the incredible blessings we have from Jesus Christ are available. I love Him, and I testify He lives :)
Gehrig, I cried several times watching you opening your call, and I'm stinkin' ecstatic that you're going to Texas!!!
Conrad and Katie, I'm just all bubbly and happy inside for you both. I cried, and couldn't stop smiling looking at your pictures :)
I love you all! See ya next week!