Our week has been filled with good visits with one of the branch presidents, our eternal investigator Svetlana, YSA's, and branch families. We had a successful family home evening with five investigators and four church members. Add eight missionaries to the mix, and we had quite the house full! We always share a spiritual thought and then play a game. One of the investigators brought Jenga and then we played "The Couch Game" which they really like. It's a good game to work in teams and get to know each other's names in a roundabout sort of way.
We went on our last visa trip on Tuesday to Lithuania. We were with President and Sister Sartori and seven other missionaries, all of whom have served with us in Toliatti, so that was a blast. It's a long day though. We were up at 3:30 in the morning to get to the airport and didn't get back home until 1 the following morning. You sure feel like a part of the jet set when you're on four different flights in one day. We fly from Samara to Moscow to Vilnius, back to Moscow then Samara. In fact, we were on the same plane with the same flight crew back and forth from Vilnius to Moscow. I'm sure they wonder what we're all doing. It cost about $1200 per missionary just for the airfare. That doesn't count the transportation costs getting the missionary from their various areas to Samara. It will be so nice when the visa restrictions can be adjusted which will eliminate a lot of this travel. Missionaries will still have to leave the country every six months to have their migration cards renewed but that will probably be accomplished by a drive to Kazakhstan. It will save the mission hundreds of thousands of dollars and exponentially more for the entire Eastern Europe Area.
We braved door-to-door contacting in our apartment building. We tied ribbons around several "Joy to the World" DVD's and took them around to our neighbors. We had our "door approach" memorized, but it was still pretty scary trying to talk people into opening their doors. Our apartments are behind two metal doors, and the person speaks to you through the metal door. Some of them have peepholes so they can see us and some will open their doors while others just say no. Surprisingly, we had several people open their doors and even had three or more invite us in. A few of them recognized us from seeing us come and go. Others were just very friendly and patiently listened to us. We had one of the elders standing behind us in the background to help us when we didn't understand what was being said. We'll follow up with those who were interested this next week.
I read the chapter in Alma about Amalikiah and Lahonti this last week, and it always reminds me of the morningside with John Bytheway that I invited myself to with my high school kids years ago. As only he can do in such an animate way to tell the story, Brother Bytheway would refer to the phrase in the verse, while banging his fist across his chest, "they were fixed in their minds with a determined resolution." (Alma 47:6) This is something we definitely need to have as missionaries...a fixed mind and determined resolution to be obedient, to work hard and to share the gospel. We see such great examples in the missionaries we serve with, in our own missionary son, in our niece and nephew, in many of your sons and daughters, and know there are thousands whom we don't see, all of whom are fixed in their minds with a determined resolution to share the good news of gospel. It's true!!!
|Sister Olga race to the finish line|
|Sister Peterson has skills|
|Plane to Vilnius|
|Sister Upshaw and Sister Pearce|
|Elder Malloy and Elder Anderson|
|Trying to stay warm at the winter picnic|
|Elder Peterson standing in between "Tanya's." Russian legend has
it that your wish will come true if made while standing in between two
people with the same name.|