The moment we got there I could almost feel something different in the air. It is crazy to go somewhere like that and know that not 1 person has ever been preached to in the whole town. They know nothing about the restored Gospel. There is a branch in Fielderovka which is a short taxi ride away, and that is where the Kodima Elders usually serve. It was odd to not have a name-tag on but we decided to just try to serve as much as possible. We were able to do little acts of service around us whenever we could.
We went to the store to buy some filtered water and the cashier was using an abacus. I was so fascinated that I just stood and watched as she used it to tell people how much to pay. Then we had a nice conversation about it. On the way in the hotel we exchanged some nice words with Provoslavny Priests in the hall before we went into our room. An hour later, we heard a knock on the door and were really puzzled on who wanted to talk to Us?! Opened it up and one of the Priests invited us over to their room for some food. We decided we might as well and didn't see any harm in it so we went over. They were just chilling in normal clothes and had some food out on the table and a bottle of vodka. We ate with them and one of them kept trying to offer us vodka and was almost offended we wouldn't drink. It was light-hearted in the room, but he could not get over that fact. We talked about it and he was astounded that we had never smoked, drank, and that our standards were as high as they were regarding females. We asked if we could bless the food and I said the prayer. We ate some Moldavian food and it was a great experience to just talk with them. They asked what we believed about life after death and were very respectful listeners. They did some of their singing ritual/prayer things while we were there and then at the end to show us how they pray. They asked us about the Prophets in the Bible and about Jesus and when I said that they are "Mormon" they got a laugh out of that. We swapped numbers and then returned home.
The next day I received a call from the Priest over the Kodima area. He invited us to go on a tour to the temple.
The Temple we toured with the Priest! Had to get this pic from a distance
cause people were watching us. Such a different place insideSeeing it as a great opportunity and a learning experience, we went and he let us in. He explained everything inside and all of the ordinances they do, the murals on the wall, the idols, how they confess sin, how the levels of priesthood works, the robes/hats and the symbols they represent, the 1/3 part in the back that only the Priests and the Bishop (when he comes) can go, how they bless and administer the sacrament, how they baptize, and many many more things. They are sooo close to the truth, and at one time they might have had it a long time ago. What was the most interesting thing was that at one point, I felt the Holy Ghost without a doubt. They love Jesus Christ and the light of Christ can be anywhere.
The Priest was a great listener to us and never argued, he only brought up similarities and was very humble and respectful to what we had to say about that we have a prophet (they don't) and that we believe baptism starts at 8 not as an infant. We were able to give him an Articles of Faith card and a card with mormon.org info. I could go on and on about the experience, it was amazing!
The Kodima elders returned this week and talked with the Priest and his friends. Apparently, they are now protected in the area by some little gang if anything ever happens, you are welcome elders :) It was a great step for the LDS church in the area with relations, and with Kodima in general. Beyond grateful for the the experience.
We stopped by a family in Fielderovka and helped them crack dried peas. This is part of the city there.
I asked the man of the house (Alexander) his conversion story. It is my favorite question to ask when visiting because everyone was at one time converted. Very few are born into the Church here. We then taught English in the house of the Branch President, which now serves as the the Church for the small area. Very small and quiet town, but very spiritual.
I hopped on a train at 2 in the morning, was reunited with my son. We were able to go out to teach the 90 year old grandma. What a cool area!
We visited a family in our ward, and then picked up a mini missionary for a couple of days. He is from Ukraine and knew Russian. It was so nice to have someone that could speak Russian fluently. We took him on all of our lessons and they all went better than before (no surprise). It is crazy to see the difference it can make when you can fully communicate with people and how they open up even more. It was a good motivator to me to keep learning Russian better and better.
This last Sunday we a had a "linger longer" after Church with tea and cookies of all sorts. It was great to see the ward come together and I hope that they start doing it monthly (for me, and for the ward). I loved those as a youth. At some point in the 3 hour block, all of our main investigators showed up and one that we had seemed to have lost for a while. It was a great feeling. Blessings.
One thing that stuck out to me was how Elder Glade talked about us being born in the Church to an investigator. "We were blessed and born into the Church so that we could be prepared to serve here and bring you back. We probably told you before this life that we would come back and remind you!" Take the knowledge you have and remember how privileged you are to have it. Share it with someone this week!