This last week was great. Lots to talk about.
I will start off with a thought I had while I looked over some prized possessions that I have gained while here in Ukraine. One of them is a little McDonald's Happy Meal dog that was given to me by a member in my last area named Alexander. The next, is a huge blue kangaroo tie from a member here in my current ward from over a year ago from Alim. My understanding of the parable of Widow's Mite was opened to me. Both of these people literally have nothing to their names and what they gave was truly something of great worth. A study without pondering doesn't give the Spirit ample time to speak to us. Reading 10 minutes a day is great. Pondering before, during, and after gives a chance for a very meaningful personal study.
This Sunday, we were talking with members after church when a member yelled at us to run over immediately. We went with him and right inside the door of the women's bathroom a grandma was lying face up on the floor. She wasn't breathing and we propped her up into the sitting position. I lifted her up from behind and put my hand on her back trying to find her heartbeat. Elder Tolman was checking the breathing in the chest and couldn't see anything either and we looked at each other trying to convince ourselves that she hadn't already passed away. The member held her hands and just started talking to her. In what seemed like 5 minutes but in reality was probably 30 seconds she gasped for air and we all sighed from relief that she came around. She was sat on a chair and was instantly given a Priesthood blessing. There was no panicking and the blessing after was given by us shortly after. The one thing I loved was how the blessing was second-nature on behalf of the member who helped her come to. We took care of the first things first.
Sadly, this last week one of the bed-ridden members from my last ward passed away. He was around 50 years old and has had a rough life. He has been half paralyzed, divorced, his kids have left the country, bed-ridden and because of the circumstances, obese past the point where he can't move much for the last 30 years. He had gone through it all. Surgery after surgery and they could never get him past the point of lying on his back in his bed. I was in my last area for roughly 9 months and we helped him move beds, clean him off, and while I was there he read through the whole Book of Mormon for the first time as we read with him weekly and he started to read on his own! Puts life into perspective. How would my attitude have changed if I knew that it was his last Christmas/Easter/Spring? One thought came to me that comforted me. One of my last companions loved Tabasco sauce so we found and bought a bottle and he forgot about it and shortly after left the area. One day I saw the bottle in the fridge and I got the feeling that we should bring it to Genadi for some reason. So we did just that. He loved spicy things and added it to nearly everything he ate from that moment on and it was always on his bed stand. Genadi is now is a better place and I can guarantee that I won't recognize him at first.. although, I hope that I will see him holding a bottle of Tabasco.
Two Sunday nights ago I had one of the most open prayers with God that I have ever had. Hard to explain and hard to say that this one prayer was any better than prayers that we offer every day.. but I had tons of little things adding up all around me throughout the week and things that I heard and read and I simply just asked God if I could just finally baptize someone. I know that I have given him everything and all my sins to truly know Him these last two years. I have been part of baptisms, companions have baptized, ward members have baptized and I have left areas where investigators have gotten baptized later on after I left. I felt ashamed for what I asked right after and I knew that I should have been more grateful in knowing that every phase of the work is just as important as the next, but that was replaced with the biggest feeling of peace and certainty shortly after. The next morning, I got a call from the Elders in my last area saying that Фарид was going to get baptized and that he had asked that I come back and baptize him! I had worked with him and his parents for the longest time there. The parents are still waiting for documents concerning their marriage, but Farid decided that he was done waiting and made the decision on his own to get baptized and told the Elders the next morning during a lesson. The Elders did a great job preparing the talks and service. Elder Durtschi and Houston are two of my favorite friends in the mission and to go back to my home area and see all of the members and the family that we taught for so long was a treat in and of itself. Tons of members had helped in getting the family to this point including the Bishop, Masha, Artur, Brother Kixno, the Demchenko family, and the list goes on and on.
I had some 1 on 1 time with him before the baptism and was able to have a real heart to heart. He was so excited and knew he had made a big decision. June 10 had now become his "Second Birthday" as he put it. As we walked into the font and got positioned, I just took about 10 or so seconds with my eyes closed and told Farid before to just take in the moment before and after he was submersed. No need in rushing anything in such a moment. Those 10 seconds of silence where of gratitude and the most amazing feeling of love for the Savior. I repeated the baptismal prayer very slowly and I can't say that I have ever felt the Power of the Priesthood so strongly. During that prayer, the only important thing in the world was that I was a worthy Priesthood holder who has never been closer to God in my life. I am at a point where I am starting to scratch the surface of understanding the Power of the Priesthood and my previous ignorance &/or indifference had been wiped away. Priorities have switched on in my head over the mission. Live every day as if you are going to meet the Savior or preform an ordinance in His name in the next 5 minutes. All of this was going through my head during the prayer and when I said, "Amen" dunked him and gave him the biggest hug after when he came back up out of the water. The Mom, Dad, and Farid all bore their testimonies after and it was a special day to be a missionary.
Hope you all have a great week!