i have SO much to share, i don’t even know where to start. forewarning–this will be a novel. a novel relative in length to the east of eden. but with a way happier ending.
i feel like i’m in a dream. and i feel guilty because i learned this week that i have very little faith. because i keep saying to myself, “this is too good to be true! this can’t really be true!” what a fool i am.  of course it’s true. remember when God is a God of miracles?
biggest miracles of my life.
i guess i will tell them in sequential order. on tuesday night we left for voronezh. usually we share a tiny room with two strangers (always women–don’t worry), but this train we had a room for two! and it was awesome. we were in voronezh all wednesday, and wednesday night sister simmons and i were in a park talking to people and getting our butts KICKED and i had sister carver’s and my phone and Nastya called…the one i’ve been telling you about. Review: we met her two months ago. she’s known the church for years and has a mormon friend who served a mission in salt lake and is now studying at byu. she met with missionaries a few years ago but felt that she didn’t get her answer so she kept searching. we come along and just ask if she’s willing to try again. she said, “sure why not.” but warned us not to “get our hopes up” and she didn’t want to disappoint us.
we decided to just re-teach her the lessons as if she had never heard them before. we didn’t ask her upfront what her concerns are and try to resolve them–we just retaught the basics. and she started to change. she opened up more and more to us. and she started putting in more effort, keeping all commitments, and making the initiative herself. i think she’s the first person i’ve taught who calls us all the time to set up meetings way in advance and to invite herself to activities and stuff. she’s incredible. i told you last week about our incredible heart to heart lesson and how she described the Spirit at the temple. She then left to her hometown and her mormon friend was in town and we were praying for her praying for her.
back to voronezh: she called me and said she was back in moscow and wanted to meet the next day. i said, “ohhh bummer. we’re going to be in lipetsk tomorrow. how about friday?” she said she had something she wanted to tell me and wanted to in person, “but maybe i should just tell you now?” as the words, “sure why not” came out of my mouth, my heart started beating and i thought..”wait…she couldn’t mean…” YES SHE COULD!!
“i want to be baptized. next saturday”
boom. i almost fell over. i screamed soooo loud and caused the biggest scene at this park. the birds flew out of the trees in terror. i started crying and honestly was speechless. i felt so bad because i wasn’t with sister carver. i wanted to just call her and tell her to hurry home and we could just cry and dance together in jubilation but instead i remembered the task at hand and thought, “no way! we still have an hour and there could be Nastyas in THIS park and we need to find them!!”
honestly, i was in shock. and i, being the worst liar ever, just handed sister carver the phone when we got back to their apt and said, “ummmm you need to call nastya” “why?” “i don’t know!!” and i just ran in the other room and hid. so childish.
i always dreamed about the day Nastya would find her answer, but i always kinda assumed it would be in the future. but then recently i started just recognizing her incredible growth and i got so excited and every night, without fail, i just went to sleep with the dream in my mind of her in white, being baptized, by kostya (the ward mission leader). it was my DREAM! and dreams come true. disney was right. disney was so right. also the scriptures. they really mean it when they say, “ask and ye shall receive.” nastya has been praying and studying and searching and knocking and he opened!
she’s so funny. we met the day we got back and she told us “the story.” after our plan of salvation lesson, she prayed and said, “Father, I think I”ve found my path” but she still had doubts, and she asked Him so show her three signs. hah! it’s like a movie! and i’m actually glad she hadn’t told us earlier because i probably would have said, “ummmm…it doesn’t really work like that…”
but it does for her. She said the first sign was when she was just walking around and the sky was grey and stormy and dark (it’s been raining a lottttttt) and she looked at the clouds and thought, “this is like me–i’m just in spiritual darkness,…so confused” but then she looked up again, and their was just a beam of light breaking through the clouds. and she thought, “maybe actually this is like me…and i’ve found my light” sign number 1.
the second sign is my favorite. so funny. she was on the metro on her way to the lesson with us last friday when we had our mega heart to heart and she looked at the metro seat next to her and someone, in russian, had graffitied, “лдс” which is “LDS” in russian letters. and she just started laughing and said, “sign number 2”
thank you inspired hooligans.
sign number 3 was after our heart to heart lesson as she was walking to the train station to go to her hometown. it started to pour rain and she hid under an overhang for shelter and looked up at this big old building that looked kind of like the Kiev temple. and she remembered her experiences there. and she just smiled and said, “sign number 3”
then she went to kazhan and talked with her mormon friend and it sealed the deal and her mormon friend leaves russia in a week and so she thought, “well i know for sure and i want to be baptized…i might as well do it while she’s here”.
honestly, i am on cloud 99999999999 and can’t even believe it. it’s like a movie. it’s like what every missionary dreams of. and it’s real.  and the week continues.
saturday was Lada’s baptism and it was perfect. we sang a musical number as a district and we sang, “Lord I would Follow Thee.” I have felt the Spirit very strongly very many different times in my life. but i’ve never felt anything like what i felt as we sang. i’ve never felt something so physically….consuming…i don’t even know how to explain it. I looked out and saw Lada, in white,  glowing and her mother, a non-member, beaming. I saw the investigator of other sisters in moscow, bawling. I saw an elder in a different district with his mouth open and his eyes wide as if he were seeing visions of angels. and i saw members of our ward who i love more than anything who help us so so much. and then i saw nastya! smiling! and i couldn’t even handle it. sister carver are so One. it’s so funny. everyone felt the Spirit, but we felt it in the same way haha and afterwards we both turned to each other and said, “were your knees trembling? did you almost fall down and collapse like Ammon did from joy when he saw the brothers of mosiah in Alma 27?” the only word I can think of to explain it is rhapsodous. i don’t even know it that’s a word. but it was just like a tumultuous storm raging inside me…but a Spiritual storm haha i don’t know how to explain. but anyways, the baptism was SO beautiful and right after, sister carver and i ran to the back of the font to greet her with a towel and help her get ready and in the bathroom we were just like giddy little girls and Lada said, “i’ve never cried from happiness before, but in that moment–the moment i came up out of the water, i just cried with joy!”
me too, lada! except for the part about it being unusual.
lada got the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday. and after church Nastya had her baptismal interview. She will be baptized this Saturday, September 7th. and i am the happiest human on the face of the earth.