Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zone Conference and Farewell to Four 10/22/09

Zone Conference and Farewell to Four 10/22/09
Snowing, finally
Temp .08C (32F) Wind gale-force at times, currently 10-15 mph

Today was the Novosibirsk Zone Conference at the Zolani Kupola building from 9AM to 3PM. It included several talks by President and Sister Trejo, several workshops by the Assistants to the President on teaching techniques, lunch, and testimonies.

President Trejo's spiritual message was to the point that we, as missionaries, are the only thing that can stand in the way of our achieving the mission's goal of 144 baptisms this year. We currently stand at 80 and have two months to go. He gave scriptures to support the fact that God the Father is a God of miracles, but He can only bless us according to the level of faith we have. I translated that into, "We are the gate or the stumbling block to the miracles of God." I want to be the gate.

During the lunch time I interviewed Elder Luddington about a miracle that he and Elder Potter experienced earlier in the week. This story is no less a miracle than the one in the Church's "How Rare a Possession" DVD including the story of a catholic priest who discovers a copy of the Book of Mormon, minus the cover and introduction pages, and uses it in his teachings until he finally meets the missionaries and joins the church.

Well, Victor traded a can of beer for this book (The Book of Mormon) in 1999. After reading the book and believing what he read, he tried to find someone associated with the Church but never located anyone. Living in a village about 25 minutes east of Snigiri (a large village about 30 minutes from the center of Novosibirsk) he came into town only occasionally to work and returned home to the village. Earlier he had given up atheism and joined the Orthodox Church, but later joined the Baptists for the fellowship.

The Elders found him quite by accident. They had decided to "contact" in a new area that they don't usually go into and found Victor walking along the street. When they approached him with something about Jesus Christ and the fact that there is a church today with prophets and apostles he was interested. When they mentioned the Book of Mormon, he said that he felt that God had answered his prayers. At their first formal meeting, Victor knew everything they taught him was true because it was in the Book. They expect him to be baptized soon.

After lunch we celebrated the month's birthdays. In this case, it was ours. They sang to us and we got to choose a candy bar of our choice. I almost chose Skittles, but that's Elder Rainsdon's favorite breakfast so I chose a Snickers while Sister Cindy took a chocolate bar with raspberry filling.

Another great part of the Conference is the goodbye song to the departing missionaries this transfer (November 11th). As we sang "God Be With You Til We Meet Again", it was a cascade of very mixed feelings we all experienced. These include sadness at losing them; compassion for what they will face in their decompression back into civilian life; realization that we must press on without their influence, experience, skills, and contacts; and just saying goodbye to friends we love. Elder Young, Elder Luddington, Sister Woodhouse, and Sister Kesilyova will be missed. Each has a story and each is a treasure. Parting truly is a sweet sorrow for everyone.

What a group of great missionaries. What a country.


Andrea S said...

What a great missionary story about Victor. As a missionary, I felt like miracles were much closer and just a part of everyday missionary life.

Nikki said...

Elder Bindrup is "dying" on November 11th tooo!

Shannon said...

So exciting! And how sweet of you dad to choose a less favored candy so the Elder could have his...that is true brotherly love & kindness:)