Monday, May 24, 2010

The most wonderful week thus far

Thank you to everyone for your love and prayers and support. After a long day, it's nice to remember all those happy, smiling, loving people I have back home. I haven't received any mail yet, but Elder Waltman got some mail this last week! A giant package from the infamous Aunt Judy! She sends him all the American desires, (Haha) like American cereal and candy! Snickers and Cocoa Puffs and Froot Loops! Breakfast the last few days has been Americanly delicious! Or as the snickers bar said inside it: substancialicious. Haha!

This last week has been a wonderful one, mostly because of a man that was baptized on Friday. His name is Leonid, and he is paralyzed from the neck down but does have a teensy weensy bit of motion in his arms, enough to barely scratch his nose. From what I know, he was a sailor and one day, a wave came up and threw him onto the deck on his neck. It rendered him paralyzed. We (Elder Waltman, and I, Elder Fife, and Elder Papok) all went to his apartment, dressed him in his baptismal clothes, got him into a taxi, and to the church and then home again both on Friday and Sunday. Friday's baptism was so wonderful. The Spirit there was unreal. I, along with Elder Cranny, (our zone leader who is finishing after this transfer and heading back to Moscow where his Father is the mission president) picked him up and passed him off to Elder Papok and Waltman who baptized him. I felt the spirit so strongly as Elder Papok spoke the words of the ordinance. Once Leonid was passed off to me outside the font, we laid him on a table with sheets on it and I asked him how he felt. With a sincere smile, he said, "Wonderful." It sounds even better in Russian. At the beginning of the experience, I thought to myself, this is so much work to get this one man to the church and back to be baptized and then again on Sunday to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. But afterward, I realized it was so worth it because the worth of every soul is great in the eyes of God. He was so nice and loved my family pictures and pictures of lacrosse. He thought it was super interesting because he had never seen such a sport. Most people here are fascinated by it. I'm so glad I brought those pictures. Anyway, Leonid is such a humble and loving man, and I will never forget the experience of meeting him and helping him. I wrote in my journal that it will be such a sweet experience to meet him again after this life after the resurrection when all things shall be restored and to hug him and walk and talk together.

Regarding the language, I'm definitely learning patience. I'm beginning to feel a little better about not understanding people. First, because I don't feel so lost when I don't understand people now. It's just part of the experience and I know someday, I will understand them. Second, I'm understanding a little more every day so that certainly helps. At first, I felt very overwhelmed and that I needed to learn as many words as possible so I could start to understand people more. But Elder Waltman shared an awesome scripture with me from Jacob 5:48, “And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not this the cause that the trees of thy vineyard have become corrupted?” He likened it to our knowledge. I took from it that I can't let my branches overcome the strength of my roots. I can't let myself get so absorbed in learning all these random words I hear when I don't have the roots or purpose to use them at first. So I'm simplifying and focusing on what I know I'll use or hear most often and branching out from there. It seems to be helping a lot.

The cockroach problem doesn't seem to be getting any better, but oh well. And having no hot water really stinks, but oh well. I just get up at 6 and start boiling water then. It seems to be doing the trick. I love you all so much! Keep working hard and relying on the Lord. Trust me, relying on Him is worth it.

Elder Bush

P.S. Elder Waltman got a haircut last week. It took foreverrrrrr! Like over an hour! I could have done just as good a job in about five minutes with just clippers! I can't wait to get mine cut.