so this week was grand! we have this girl nastya i’ve told you about before (i think) and it’s incredible to see the transformation before our eyes–“when the Spirit touches hearts, hearts are changed”. Nastya met with missionaries about 2 years ago and prayed about it all and felt like she didn’t get an answer so she just moved on and kept looking for “her path”…then we met her and asked if she’d be willing to give it another try and she agreed. we’ve been teaching her for the past few months and each lesson has been wonderful! but she’s definitely taking her time and she was kind of hard to read. but this last week was a turning point and she’s just opened up so much for to us and she came to church last Sunday, then she came to FHE on Monday for the young single adults. she asked if it was okay that she was there, because most of the people there were members and i said, “OF COURSE! we LOVE having you here!” and she said, “oh good, because i feel such a connection with all of the members of the church, but then there’s always that smalll part of me that questions myself and i think, ‘maybe i don’t belong’ and i just wasn’t sure if i was the only one feeling that connection…” i hugged her and assured her over and over that the feeling’s mutual haha 🙂 she had a wonderful time and just watching her talking and laughing and playing games and making friends with all of the members that our young singe adults was like watching my child open his presents on Christmas morning! i guess i don’t have children, but i imagine that that’s what it feels like. I was just beaming! and so was she. on wednesday night after english club, the elders announced that their friend they’ve been teaching would be getting baptized on saturday and invited everyone to come. Thursday night we wanted to call Nastya to invite her and see if she could come but we were busy calling other people setting up lessons for the next day and then we looked at the clock and it was too late. i’m SO glad we didn’t call her because on friday she called US!  i don’t know if that sounds weird…but having someone else take the initiative and herself call is just a MIRACLE tender mercy best thing ever and i almost peed my pants when nastya called and just said, “hey…i remember hearing something about a baptism….is it okay if i come?” YES NASTYA it is more than okay! “are you sure it’s not too personal..i don’t know him”…that’s okay! he wants to share this with everyone “okay because i just know that for me it will be personal”. jaw dropped to the floor but i kept my cool. key words: it will be. no ifs or maybes. IT WILL BE! and the rest of the story just confirms that it will be.
on sunday (yesterday) she came to church again and afterwards we had a lesson with double members present because everyone loves her and wants to be in on the lessons and loves missionary work and it’s the best! we finished the Plan of Salvation. We had taught parts one and two and we wanted to review and then teach about what happens after this life. we approached it in a totally different way than normal because we thought about Nastya and her needs and what she would personally need to hear in order to understand. We used a LOT of scriptures. and i mean a lot. and we went super into detail and tied in the need for ancient scripture and modern revelation and the need for prophets–so that we can understand these eternal truths and connect them and apply them in our that we can have answers to these questions of our soul. we also tied in temples, and the member present unexpectedly shared this beautiful, sacred experience from the temple and it was completely appropriate at this time and setting and the Spirit was SO strong and after her story we all just testified and shared our love for the Savior and for this Plan and for her, there was one part in the lesson, after we finished putting all of the puzzle pieces together (sister carver has this awesome wooden puzzle plan of salvation thing in russian), Nastya took the puzzle into her own hands and said, “okay let’s talk about this” and we reviewed and discussed and clarified and answered questions. at the end of the lesson, i reminded her that she had done that, and I asked if she could do that with the Lord: “okay, let’s talk about this.” she said she would and I know that the Spirit is just engulfing her right now and that she’s being prepared to take the next step.
She said she was surprised by her reaction to the baptism/how she felt afterwards. she said she didn’t feel joy or the desire to sing the hallelujahs…she felt a weight, almost…and she thought about the seriousness of it and the responsibility of it. at first i was also kind of surprised by that reaction–i wouldn’t say that it’s particularly common or that it was what i expected or hoped she’d feel…but then i thought about it and i had an epiphany! we explained that baptism is a very serious step-it’s a commitment. and commitment can be scary. but it’s not a commitment of perfection–it’s a commitment of desire and effort. And when you’re ready to make that kind of commitment, then you feel joy and you want to sing the hallelujahs!
Nadya, one of the members on the lesson with us, explained to Nastya that it’s like when you’ve tried a delicious treat, and you give it to someone who’s trying it for the first time. you sit and watch with excitement and anticipation because you KNOW how delicious it is and you just can’t wait till the person experiences it for the first time. but if you’ve never tried the delicious treat and you watch someone else try it for the first time and you watch other people who have tried it…and they’re so excited and you think to yourself, “i don’t get it, what’s the big deal with this cream puff? it must be serious business…” and it is. cream puffs are serious business. i don’t know if that makes sense but it did when Nadya explained it and it was awesome.
anyways, we are so excited for this coming up week and to keep doing what we’re doing because it is the best.
unfortunately my dear sister carver is sick sick sick!! in the lesson yesterday we were all crying, but she was extra emotional and it reminded me of when i was in high school and i used to stay home from school sick and i was home alone and i’d watch pocahontas by myself and cry hysterically. i always get emotional watching pocahontas, but when sick, my emotions go crazy and that’s what happened to sister carver yesterday and right now she’s sniffling and puffy eyed at the computer next to me. so sad. i made chicken alphabet noodle soup for her and have been pounding her with vitamin c so hopefully she will be better soon and hopefully i can come off conqueror with no sicknesses…so far i’ve been SO blessed with health on my mission.
so those prayers must be working–keep praying for me!! i love you!!!
and the waterfall picture was awesome–keep them coming!
p.s. here’s a quote for my precious photographer (this time i mean blake): “you young men, you are a royal priesthood. do you ever pause to think of the wonder of it?”
LITERALLY pause, blake, and think of the wonder of it…for 5 minutes at least. then keep reading: “you have had hands placed upon your heads to receive that same priesthood exercised by John who baptized Jesus of Nazareth. With worthiness in your lives, you may enjoy the comforting, protecting, guiding influence of miniestering angels. No individual of earthly royalty has a blessing as great. Live for it. Be worhty of it, is my plea to each of you” -Gordon B. Hinckley.
ditto to President Hinckley. Blake, I am so proud of you. I love you and pray for you everyday so that you will be brave and know who you are–know that you’re a son of God and He trusts you with His power! think of the wonder of it. He is so proud of you with every good decision and every good thought and every kind word. Keep being the angel that you are. It’s so worth it! I’m so proud to be your big sister.