So this was the week of Elder Ballard’s long awaited visit! Aren’t you so excited to hear all about it?! Well…he didn’t make it! 🙂 The people in London needed Him! The Russian consulate in San Francisco stamped his visa wrong and so he was not able to make it into the country. Need not fear; we had the most wonderful few hours instead with our wonderful Area President, President Lawrence! It was amazing. He and Sister Lawrence taught us so many wonderful things as well as President and Sister Clark. I love them all so much and I know that was supposed to happen. This is what we/I needed to hear yesterday and the things that I needed to be taught. Funny side-note.. Elder Ballard was the back-up plan to President Monson! He was actually the one that was supposed to be here, but because of the death of Sister Monson, he was not able to come. Crazy to think that. Just a reminder to us as missionaries that we need to always have a plan B, C, D, &E! Every day, because our plan A will NOT always work! So, we learned a lot of things. First, never let doubt enter your mind. It is not okay. Seriously. Doubt is of Satan. If you have faith in your mind, you will not be able to let doubt into your thoughts. Also, we learned so much about Satan, and fun fact, he is not able to read your thoughts. (I did not know that!) If we voice them, he does know them, and he can plant thoughts in your mind, but he can not read your thoughts. So if you do not act on them and voice them, he does not know! Ha! Also, we talked about Missionary 301. We got the upper division course! President Lawrence said we were ready! Yay!! The we talked about sacrifice and working with members. Sacrifice. I know I need to do so much more, but I am not sure right now as to what exactly or how. I know that I need to make sacrifices so that I can receive more blessings, I just am not sure what would be worth it to the Lord. I need to do a lot more praying and trying to understand what he wants from me and hopefully in the next day or two I will have an answer! We need 8 baptisms in June (our mission) and it is definitely achieveable, we just have to work so hard and be worthy of the blessings. (BTW I don’t know if I ever told you but we have about-not positive- 48 missionaries in our mission and 22 of us just came in the last two transfers!) So, right now my big things are making sure I am using every single minute of the Lords time in a way that he would be proud of, and then trying to figure out what I can sacrifice, as well as trying to learn Russian, and trying to understand the gospel! Lots of things I need to do. Never fear though, the Lord is with me so I can do anything!
This week we got a new investigator! Her name is Paulina. She is a cute little lady, probably in her 40’s, and just loves us! She, however, unlike many of our investigatiors, speaks zero English. We have some struggles with the language barrier, but she said, I feel like we are able to understand each other enough that the things that are most important we are able to understand from each other. Touche. Dear Paulina. She is so sweet. She even gave us these cute little postcards yesterday. So, we have never gotten a firm, NO on a baptismal commitment from anyone, but we don’t get Yes either, and people won’t commit to dates. That’s exactly how it was with her. We invited her to church on sunday and she came! I was so happy. SHe didn’t come to the right place though so she only got there in time for relief society, which ended up being good. We then found out from one of the members that we were talking with that she said she wanted to leave in the beginning because she had just thought we were “hanging out” and felt uncomfortable, but she ended up loving it and three of the sisters in our ward ( I LOVE THEM) came up to her and were chatting with her and invited her to come to the Elder Ballard visit the next day! She said yes! So she came last night. It ended up being by president Lawrence as well, and it was about family home evening, and since she is divorced and we aren’t really sure what she understands about what we want, we were a little nervous about having her there. Never doubt though! It was wonderful! He conducted a “Family Home Evening” with the stake and explained what it was and it was so wonderful and simple I was so happy. I feel like she was able to understand so much more on a very basic level the things that we believe and want. He kept reiterating how we are happy because we are grateful and we recognize our blessings and we thank our Heavenly Father for the things we have just like we thank our mom and dad for the things they do for us. There was a promise that he reimnded us of, that one of the prophets said If you conduct family home evening every Monday night, your children will NOT stray from the church, and if they happen to wander for some time they WILL come back. I want that promise to be fulfilled in my future family. I need that. I need those blessings for my future children! He had some children go up to the pulpit and say thank you to Heavenly Father or to their parents for their favorite things or for their family, etc. She had said at the beginning that she didn’t have very much time and she stayed for almost an hour and a half! Chuda! So happy. She kept ignoring a phone call from someone that she had to talk to so that she could stay and listen. I know that she could be such a wonderful member of the church. I love her and want her to be able to have all the blessings! I know that the gospel can and will bless her life so much if she lets it!
Natasha, she is an investigator that we have had for a few weeks. She is so cute! Talking about childlike teaching, she is so innocent and childlike. It is such a reminder to me of how I need to teach and how we are always taught in the scriptures to become like a little child. Do you remember when you learned how to pray? Or have you ever taught someone to pray? Mom and Dad, you taught me how to pray, and you taught me by example, and by whispering things into my ear, and then I would proceed to say the exact same things. That is exactly what we do with her. She has never prayed before, and so Sister Eyring will say something and then she will repeat it in her prayers at the end of our lessons with her. She is the happiest person that we know here, so smiley, and cute, and just wants everyone around her to be happy. I know that she can understand the importance of the gospel, we just have to be so plain and so simple with her. We started teaching her the Plan of Salvation and she loved hearing it. She seems to understand so far, and she has a desire to know, she has a sincere interest and desire to learn more and to do what’s right. She said, well I know when things aren’t good because I can just feel it. I just want to be happy and choose things that make me happy! She is wonderful, and I love teaching her. I love being able to see when she understands things and when she’s like, oh! That makes sense! I have such hopes and desires for her I know that she will understand how the gospel can help her to become so much more happy in her life! We had a member present with her the other day, one of our senior missionaries, and she was so funny. We had the Plan of Salvation pamphlet out, and one of the pictures I think the girl is just pondering, but she is not smiling, and Natasha looks at us and says, well if this is the plan of happiness, why is she not happy!? Sister Jacobsen (who doesn’t really speak Russian) said, well she’s just thinking about how she didn’t pray this morning! Sister Eyring decided to translate that and we just started laughing because the look on Natasha’s face was like….uhhh.. what!? hahah. too funny. Maybe you had to be there. Not sure! 🙂 I wish we could video tape everything and you could really understand what happens because every single day is so funny and so many random things happen that I just don’t understand but love!
So the other day we went out to Syevolisk. (Всеволиск) It takes about an hour to get to, and it is a smaller place where they just aren’t quite as friendly to us. (You would think in a lot slower paced town people would be more open but guess not!) It is not a “metro” area, because we are downtown St Petersburg and we are in the heart of the city, almost all of our area is accessible by metro. Anyways, we had to take a marshutka, which is just like a van that seats like 15 people. It has the slidey doors like vans do. So, we finally get there, and are starting to get off it, and Sister Eyring is in front of me and halfway off the marshutka, and the driver starts to drive away! They pull out very quickly too. As you can imagine, with those kinds of doors, it just shut! On her! That was NOT GOOD! Noone that was still on even said anything. I panicked because I was thinking of all the bad things that could happen to my companion and how she was going to die, etc. Not good. But, however she was alive! She had a headache for a while, but the driver did geet out and apologize profusely. That was kind of him. Scary though. She had previously been shut in the metro door, and then the next day the bus doors shut on me! Such bad luck with doors this week. We will try harder to be safer this week.
Well, I can’t think of what else I wanted to say, but I love you all so much! I hope that you week is going so well and I hope that you know that I love YOU! So much! I know that this gospel is true. I know that I have said this before, but, I love so much reading in 1 Nephi 17/18 where he is talking about building a boat and how his brothers have so little faith in him, that he will not eb able to build a boat. He reminds them that when the Lord commands us to do something, he really does prepare a way for us to accomplish it. Also, I love how he said that it was of a curious workmanship and it was after the manner of the Lord, and not of men. In the end though, it was exceedingly fine. It reminds me how Heavenly Father sent me to this mission, to teach the people in the Russian Language. He knows that I did not know Russian before this, just as He knew Nephi did not have any previous experiences making boats, but he prepared a way for him to do it, as he is preparing a way for me to do it! Such a wonderful promise. With the Lord on my side, there is nothing to be afraid of. I am constantly reminded of that in my scripture study!!
I am praying for you nightly!
Sister Rebekah Schaff
PS Reba in russian means Fish. So basically all my friends call me “Fish”. Hahahahah too silly.
PPS I can’t believe transfers are in two weeks. I don’t know what to expect. President does so many crazy things that I know I could be anywhere and I could still be here with Sister Eyring! Can’t wait to find out! Week and a half! Eek!