So I don't have a lot to say this week. The biggest news is that we found out about transfers. And...I'm staying in ZGrad! We're pulling a number 5 here! My daughter is done being trained though and is leaving the nest. She'll be going down to Podolsk to be with Sister Martyanova (ALL of my companions have served together. This is not a joke.) That was such a surprise. When President showed up randomly to English Club to do interviews, my heart stopped. I realized that I really didn't want to leave ZGrad and I was 90% sure that I was going. But the past few transfers I've learned that with President and the Lord, you need to expect the unexpected. We'll see what happens. I feel like there's something special I need to do, someone special I need to find, this next transfer, because it doesn't really make sense to keep me here otherwise. I'll be serving with Sister Thrall, who came just a few transfers after me. I'm excited, because I don't know her very well, she's super cute, and since she's been here for a while, I hope that we can just hit the ground running--I'm pretty sure that we both at least have a pretty good handle on Russian and how we like to do missionary work, so I'm really excited. It will be super weird to be living with an American, though. I haven't lived with an American for 6 months!
So this week we met some really interesting people while we were out contacting. It's super funny, because we actually didn't go contacting as much as we usually do this week. But especially on Wednesday there were just a lot of crazy people out on the streets.
- Super Russian Orthodox woman. (It's weird to say Russian Orthodox, because here we just say Pravoslavnie...I also hate transliterating. You all should just learn the Cyrilic alphabet...) She would not listen to anything we had to say, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not just end the conversation. She told us that there was nothing in the Bible about a prophet Joseph Smith, but she was also admanant that you HAVE to pray to icons and the Saints and things...doesn't it say something in the Bible about NOT doing that? haha. Sometimes people are just super funny. She tried to tell us that she has been in her Church for 20 years, and when we've done the same then we'll understand. Well, I've been in my church for 22 years. :p haha, I just don't understand their logic sometimes.
- A woman we met who was super cool. We talked to her in front of a member's apartment building for about 30 minutes. She didn't want to take a BoM at first, but she really believed in God but wasn't any religion and had some really interesting ideas. It was a great conversation because we listened to what she thought and believed and then we answered with what we believe and she actually listened. She took a BoM in the end and even though she didn't give us her contact (I HATE when that happens), she was really nice to talk to. She also thought some crazy stuff. She started talking about something about manna and how this guy figured out what it was through science or something...I don't know? That was the one part of the conversation that I kind of got lost in. But she also asked us why Jesus was so important, which was a great opportunity to bear testimony of the Atonement, because she believed that he was a real person, but maybe not that He was all that everyone says. The best part of our conversation though was when she told us that she has wanted her whole life to be able to say about anything that she knows it like we could say with the Gospel. :)
- 21st Century Woman. At first she seemed really interested in our free book, until she found out that it was about God. She asked us how we weren't embarrassed, because we live in the 21st Century, not the Stone Age, and how in the world can we believe in God. She laughed at us, tried to convince us that God isn't real. She also told me that I wasn't happy. I really wanted to say, "I can promise you that I'm happier than you are." But apparently that wasn't the right thing to say because I started to say it and I was surprised when the end of the sentence was not "I'm happier than you are." I don't even know what I said. She just made me so sad, but we've had some good laughs about her since then. It just makes me really mad when people try to tell me what I do and do not know and feel. You don't know. Tell me what you do and don't know and feel. And then I can tell you what it's like on my end.
- 5 minutes later, I had another moment where God stopped my tongue. We started talking to 2 women. One of them was super anti-Mormon. The other one actually was really interested, but when she asked about the BoM, her friend just started going off and saying the our book was from the devil and that nothing good came out of it. C. X2 asked her how she knows, if she'd read it, etc. And this lady was like, "No. I don't need to read it. I know it's from the devil." And if I hadn't been wearing a nametag as a representative of Jesus Christ with a nametag on, I would have said, "YOU'RE from the devil, hindering your friend's and your own salvation." But don't worry. I didn't say that.
- Same day, just a few minutes later again. This lady told us that our book was free because Satan pays for it. See, in Russian, free is bez-platnie, which means without-pay. Well, bec means devil. It's actually kind of a clever play on words, but it would be a lot funnier in different circumstances.
- The next day we talked with a super nice Russian Orthodox lady. Even when people don't accept our message, it just makes me soooo happy when we can have a nice conversation with people and they listen and we listen and we can leave with good feelings and love for each other. It is really amazing--there's no inbetween. Either people say, "You know, I have my own faith, but good luck and I love and respect you. You're good girls" or they really just SLAM on you. But anyway. As we were talking to this super-priatno (pleasant, but that just sounds weird...) woman, this girl comes RUNNING up to us. We had talked to her and her mom about 3 minutes before, before we crossed the street to talk to this lady on our way to the bus stop. We asked them for directions to the bus stop, and then offered them a BoM, which they declined. But as we were talking to this other woman, the daughter comes up, out of breath, basically grabs the BoM out of our hands, asks if it's still free and if she can have it, and runs off. So yeah. That was...an interesting/cool experience.
Yeah. Nothing really big this week, besides transfer news. Still no new investigators. Still nothing super eventful. But still love being a missionary!
Love you all,
Sister Rachel Ashby