Last Sunday we had the idea of getting the Birthday list from the ward so that we could call people on their birthdays (thanks to my Bishop at home, who does this). Elder Reese noticed that it was going to be the birthday of one of the oldest grandmas in the ward, and we go by her house every other week or so to bless the sacrament. We told her we were coming over but made sure she didn't expect anything. We bought a cake and put a big ol' candle in the middle. We made it up the stairs and into her house. Her face was the best part and she was very grateful. Only a few family members and members of the ward had remembered that it was her birthday. However, we were the only ones to stop bye. She turned 87 and is the greatest. We had her give us some grandma advice and it was a great experience.
We had a lesson with a less-active that loves to talk. His job includes him sitting all by himself all day and occasionally locking and unlocking the doors to the apartment complex. He came to the lesson and usually if I just sit back and let him get it all out for about 20 minutes, he sits back and realizes that he just talked a lot and the lesson usually goes a lot smoother after that. This time, I was on an exchange and he saw the new missionary..... so he then went on to tell his 1 and a half hour long conversion story that is very emotional for him. During the lesson my original thoughts were: "How can a person possibly talk this long without stopping?" I then realized that we were probably the last people he talked to 2 weeks ago. I then realized that this was the best thing for him, to bear his testimony of his conversion. I then realized that as missionaries, we are sometimes just called to listen. Give someone a chance to just let it all out this next week!
Back to the Grandma who called a professional to fix her cupboard because we messed up. She had me replace her light bulb during the week and said, "Because I know you can at least do this." It is good to see her joking around again. I would take it any day to sadness. I can change a light bulb :)
Well, we had a lesson where we tried to set a baptismal date in March, she then changed it to February, in a week and half, and then to the 21st of January. All in all, it didn't work out, but it just made me think of how simple it really all is. She is ready because she has repented, and has a firm testimony in the Book of Mormon. She has been coming for 2 years, and all of sudden she just decided that she was ready, and now she has kind of disappeared because of setting the date she did, missionary life. We will find her!
On the 19th of January here in Ukraine. Priests bless all of the water and people line up for days outside the churches to fill up holy water. Water from the tap, from the shower, and in all of the river and lakes is holy on that day. We decided to make holy borsch - it was good ;)
In honor of this holy water day I have heard about how people cut a big cross in the ice and get baptized since I started my mission here, so we went to go check it out. People would walk in 3 times and submerge themselves. All people believe that it helps with health and that people do not get sick the rest of the year if they do this. A family showed up and their kids did it and one cried on the way out, wrapped up in a towel they said, "I will never do this again!" It was an interesting thing to see.
An update from the family in our apartment. This time around, the son brought his girlfriend and they only had fruit and mint tea out! We are in the "Friend Zone" as we call it in high school, and are trying to get out and progress them along. Amazing family though. Wish us luck.
The Stake President here was just called to the St. Petersburg mission and a couple of the 70 were at our stake conference. The three main points were: 1- Serving in secret, 2- the way the Lord chooses his leaders, and 3- becoming self-reliant. It was a great conference!
On the way out of the meeting someone asked us to walk an older man to the metro with us. We did not have the time, but walked with him anyway. It took an hour to get there in what could have taken us 10-15 minutes. I recently read that we must treat every person in the church as if they were a recent convert. Every person! On the way, I realized that he was a recent convert from an area I served in last year and that one of my companions (Elder Linden Young) had baptized him. How would I have looked differently at the situation knowing that before hand? He shared his story with us. He was a walk-in that just wanted to know why the temple seemed to drag him in, and that was how he was led to the church. Amazing! I was blessed in the end for taking the time to walk with him.
Hope you all have a great week! I saw mummies today for our P-Day... photos to come!
p.s. Blessing the sacrament for Ukrainian Grandmas = FOOD! 3 meals in a row. It was the hardest trial I have had here on the mission to eat the last one, haha! So much food!!