Derek opens his mission call

Monday, May 2, 2011

Miracles and Meat Jello

Dear family and friends,

OK so if we are going to do it on Saturday, just to remind you, call around 12:00 noon your time. and if you want to do one of those pre calls, just do it at like 10:00 your time, so it will be like 7:00 here. that would be just perfect. I'm SO EXCITED to talk to you.

so did i tell you about that one thing, about how president told our district that if we all got the standards of excellence, he would take us to this giant monument in his car? well so this week was the week when we tried to do that. just so you know, this means 20 quality lessons, 2 people at church, 2 progressing investigators, 2 new investigators, 1 referral, 7 contacts received, and 2 investigator lessons with an investigator. lets just say, it doesn't happen often. i don't think I've ever heard of a district all doing it together. so it was a good goal.

anyways, its been a long week. Monday we had a lesson with the tikomerovs, which is the best time ever, as usual. i even got fed xolodyets, which turns out to be exactly what i had heard: meat jello. and very nasty. luckily they understood, so i only tried a bit, just to say i did. hopefully i don't ever have to do that again. oh man, i should have taken a picture. Tuesday we had four lessons, one with pavel. he is doing OK. this lesson we just talked about what he was thinking about the message, and he just talked different philosophies like usual. didn't seem at all interested in actually accepting, or applying anything into real life, just interested in knowing more about different ideas, i guess. but he is still really nice, and reading the book of Mormon. he just said that it isn't important if it is true, he just likes the ideas.

Wednesday we had four lessons, it was an interesting day. we met with this crazy less active guy named Andrea, he knows it's all true, but unwilling to change anything or come back to church. he is pretty crazy, and drinks and smokes a lot. we will come back to him in a few days. then we had an awesome lesson with the gypsies. pretty much, all of them were there, so about six people, all of them couples, which means families, and we taught them the plan of salvation. we asked at one point, what do you think is the point of life? and all of them answered, i have no idea! i want to know! so we told them, of course. after teaching, we asked if they thought it was true, and they all said, of course! which was good to hear. after that lesson we started a fast, our zone did a special fast this week. yeah, twice in one week. I've had a headache this whole week. but it seems like it helped.

so then we had a member lesson, and then another lesson with pavel, and we brought the branch president with us on the lesson. it was a really good lesson. we clarified our expectations, and it was just really nice to have a way to get through the language barrier. pretty much, it ended up that we explained to him that he has the option to reject or accept our message. he is going to another city for a week, so we told him to think about it. but it was better than that sounds. president was awesome, bore a great testimony of the blessings the gospel had brought him, even though he wasn't a bad person before. after which we went home and fell asleep.

then Thursday was pretty boring. well, Alexander is awesome, his mom is pretty much going to die. i said hi, how are you, and she said 'I'm getting ready to die'. she is just sitting on the couch waiting. it was kind of depressing. and then a lesson with this lady who kind of accidentally got baptized by some over-zealous missionaries like 10 years ago. she is very happy with the orthodox church here. then another member lesson.

so the total number of lessons is now 12. on Friday a couple lessons cancelled, so we only got two, one with the landlady, which was kind of pointless, as we dropped them last transfer. but they fed us. then we saw a miracle: usually it takes about an 40 minutes from our house to sister Nelli's, our next appointment. well so we were even farther than usual, and we only had about 25 minutes to get there. so we hurry and leave, and walk fast. and by the goodness of god, we arrived right on time! honest- it was Jesus feeding the 5000 with two loaves or whatever.

the next day was interesting. at first we had an awesome lesson with one of my favorite members, Lilya, and she showed us pictures of her when she was a young ballerina. she is the sweetest woman, ax she's just great. then we had a lesson with this dude, a bit drunk, and we kind of had to force it, but eventually we taught the first lesson, committed him to read the book of Mormon, and pray twice. it was outside of his house standing up, and he was extremely unreceptive, but it was a LESSON. after that another new investigator, a really smart, fast talking guy, he is reading the book of Mormon, but has some weird ideas about talking to spirits, and energy, and whatever. he told me it was very important to not lace my fingers when i pray, because that is me creating a cage, out of which energy can't escape. i said, that isn't important, and he said, IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. so he is a bit intense, but pretty cool.

after we had a lesson with volodia, who is the dude trying to quit smoking. well, he told us he had gotten drunk again. come on, man. we brought him an overcoming addictions pamphlet, and committed him to live by it. and to come to church, which he said, absolutely. and then he didn't. come on, man, i say again.

so Sunday we were expecting the gypsies to come, volodia, and a couple other people we hoped might come. and none of those people came! we were pretty bummed, because we had everything else we had, we were at 18 quality lessons, and had three set up for Sunday. another miracle: twenty minutes before elders quorum ended, this random contact walked in the door. it was beyond a miracle. right after church we had a quick first lesson with him, as all three of our lessons fell through. after church, we only needed one more lesson to finish it up, and no one we hadn't already met could meet. so, we start knocking on doors, i mean, what else can we do, right? maybe another miracle. well, we got it- this dude, 25 years old, agrees to have a short meeting with us on the spot. we went outside, found some benches, and had a first lesson. that was a first, i mean, that just doesn't happen. there is no other explanation to that other than the hand of god. and it wasn't some lesson just for stats, he is actually interested in the message, the book of Mormon, and coming to church.

so we call our district, and we celebrate: we all got it. it was the most miraculous week of my mission. we saw so much success. we celebrated and made a cake, don't worry. the one problem is, i honestly don't know if it was worth it. we skipped our dinner hour pretty much every day, didn't do much of language study, and were just dead tired with headaches like the whole week. I'm not against hard work, of course. but there is a balance, even on a mission. I'm really glad we did it, but it definitely can't be done every week. we decided that maybe once a transfer it is a good idea.

it was a really cool monument, way beautiful, such a fun time with the district. and then president took us out to the fanciest restaurant ever, and told us to order whatever we wanted. it wasn't Ukraine. it was insane, the bathrooms were so beautiful. and the shrimp were delicious. and the dessert thing was even better. man, that was good.

congratulations Ryan!!!!! i bet we will be in the same time zone! Zimbabwe, that is awesome. when does he report to the mtc? that is great to hear. the mission is a blast, man. somebody tell him to write me an email, i don't know his address or whatever.

i am so excited to talk to you on Saturday.
sounds like you all had a good week. awesome. happy to hear.

I love you guys! only the ones who read these. to the rest of you, fig to you!

OK i am rambling. have a good week, talk to you soon.

love, Derek

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