Tuesday, October 6, 2015

10/4/2015 Ambulance Driver, Concert, Book of Mormon Challenge

The last transfer brought us the missionary from Germany, Elder Plettig.  He is a little older than the others because in Germany once they have started University, if they interrupt their schooling, they can't go back to it.  He brings a nice spirit, knowledgeable, but meek and bright, spiritual depth and a lot of fun.  He told the story of when he was serving in Kazan and they hadn't had much luck contacting so when they saw an ambulance with the driver just waiting, they thought, why not -- and stopped and talked to him for a few minutes.  As they were getting ready to leave, they offered him a Book of Mormon, but he refused it.
      They continued walking and were up the street a little when the same ambulance pulled up to them, the driver got out and  asked if he could have a copy of the Book of Mormon; not for him he quickly explained. When the doctor got back into the ambulance, he asked who those young men were and what they wanted.  The driver just brushed it off with - they just wanted to give me a religious book.  The doctor became disturbed - And you didn't take it?  So he  insisted the driver find them and get the book.
    The doctor and his wife showed up at church the next Sunday, having already started reading, Elder Plettig and his companion taught them a couple of lessons, then Elder Plettig was transferred. But they continued with the lessons, became good friends with the branch president and his wife who are about their age, were baptized a couple of weeks ago, and already have jobs in the church.  Amazing stories from wherever missionaries are about those who are ready for the gospel

 We went to the football (soccer) game again on Saturday - the district has a tournament between the branches.  They play on a smaller field, each team has six players plus the goalie.  Most of them have played throughout their lives and it is fun to watch.   The young man in the red is a recent convert, there were pictures of him before, about 20 years old and very good.  His little brother is the goalie - don't let his size fool you - we were all surprised.  Nothing got past him.

        It is cooling down, and there are fewer spectators but only one Saturday left. The sister on the left is the mother of the two boys in the pictures above, the other three have husbands playing on the team that consistently wins - partly because they are good and partly because some of the teams don't have enough so although they round up enough to play, they still forfeit.
   The one next to me is the one who paints the Matroshka dolls.  Just to keep a little warmer, they got a soccer ball we all kicked it back and forth to each other in the area behind one of the goals. Fortunately, I have enough coordination that I can still kick a slow ball rolling on the ground.
We were finally there when those that run the stands weren't so we were able to take some pictures.  These are the stands they use to sell their produce -- pretty creative

 Mike made a very young friend on the bus as we were coming from church last Sunday.  He is a month older than Craig and Krishelle's Stephen Michael.  He had been kind of resting cuddled up on his mom's lap, but when Mike sat down, he perked right up and began to take notice.  It was fun.
A week ago Friday, a young couple (in their mid-thirties) and "eternal investigators" were at the office (Institute) when we went down and were headed to an outdoor concert of traditional Russian music.  He speaks fair English and they asked us if we wanted to go.  It was very enjoyable - singing and dancing and lots of accordions, different ages, groups large and small and some individual numbers. The music was traditional, they want to make sure the music is passed down through the generations.   It was a good crowd, a family crowd made up of babushkas (grandmas) and dedushkas (grandfathers)  down through young marrieds with babies carried or in buggies, teenagers and children.  They all had a good time and we really enjoyed it.  It was over by  9:00 p.m. so you know it couldn't have been very rowdy.

 Those that stand firm in their testimonies here are amazing people with story after story - just as wherever you are.  Our District President was teaching and also second to the head of the university  where he was teaching when he joined the church in 1993.  Because of the opposition to the church, they had complaints about him - his religion, not his teaching - so they moved him to head of his department, Engineering, but when the complaints continued, they moved him as a department head, but they kept him as a teacher and  he has  been there ever since.  He has had threats on his life and general harassment -- but he and his family have never wavered.  His consistent goodness and hard work, his good teaching and his standing despite the opposition has earned him the respect of the school and the community. In fact we had a taxi driver one day who had been one of his students and (we were with Russian speaking Elders, they translated this for us.) when he realized we were Mormons, he immediately asked if we knew President Reshetnikov and then told us all the good things he had done.
    Along with other Auxiliary Callings, President Reshetnikov has served as a Branch President, twice as the District President, as an area Seventy and a counselor in the mission. Through the years his wife has served in every position in Primary, YW and Relief Society, sometimes in District callings.  They were one of the original ten families in this area who joined in those first couple of years.  All ten families went to the temple in Stockholm the summer of 1995 to be sealed, two days going, five days there and two days coming home.   Some have remained active, some not.

The forty-five minutes from our door to the St. George temple has never seemed long and when we hear their stories, especially those when they are going to the Ukraine Kiev Temple and have trouble at the border, it seems even shorter.  Can you imagine being stopped by armed guards as we go from Nevada to Arizona or from Arizona to Utah .. 
Image result for picture of armed Ukraine guard 
Our Mission President has given us a challenge to read the Book of Mormon in 65 days: 

Professor John W. Welch of Brigham Young University stated:  "One of the most amazing facts about the Book of Mormon is that it took Joseph Smith only about sixty-five working days to translate a book that, in the current edition, is 531 pages long."  The fact that Joseph did so with almost no formal education is all the more remarkable when compared to the fact that it took 54 hand-picked scholars seven years to translate the King James version of the Bible!  Even just making a hand-written copy of the Book of Mormon in 65 days would have been a difficult task!  Of course, all such evidences are insignificant compared to the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost.  

 Anyone who wants to read with us, you are invited and welcomed, it is only a little more than eight pages a day.  Wonder how far this cat has gotten since we took this picture some months ago.  It is a true book and a life changing book, very well worth the reading and re-reading
Closing with a great thought from President Uchtdorf: 
In ancient Greece, runners competed in a relay race called a lampadedromia. In the race, runners held a torch in their hand and passed it on to the next runner until the final member of the team crossed the finish line.
The prize wasn’t awarded to the team that ran fastest—it was awarded to the first team to reach the finish line with its torch still lit.  There is a profound lesson here, one taught by prophets ancient and modern: while it is important to start the race, it is even more important that we finish with our torch still lit.running with a torch


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