Contemplation Overload.

This week was a lot like last week. But with a lot more ups and downs. I am starting to understand more and more what Brother Bott meant when he said that a mission is an emotional roller coaster.

The pictures are of me with my land lady and her husband, at Katya’s baptism a few weeks ago and Elder Stanford and I and Sister Luba at Vladimir’s baptism. Sister Roach snapped that one.

I have seen the branch grow over the last few weeks, but the unity is something I still worry about. The members from Topol are warming up from the idea fully quite yet. I think it will take some time but we are on the right track. There are a lot of great people, but it still seems a little too "clique"ish for my liking.

As for investigators, we didn’t meet with Anatolii this week. He called and cancelled on us, but he should be at church next week. He said he was going to be busy all week harvesting his strawberries, and that he would call us during the week to schedule our next appointment.

We also met with a great lady named Yulia. She’s a dentist, so she has flexible hours and doesn’t work on Sundays! Elder Hagee got her contact information, and she went to the Temple Open House last fall. She was very interested in the church, and we had a very good first lesson. It was very powerful. She is going to Western Ukraine to visit her family until the end of June, so I told her I would call to check up on her reading and we would meet to pass her to the sisters when she gets back. She has a lot of potential, and I just felt that she has been trying to leave the gospel, but hasn’t found the fulness yet. When we talked abot prayer, she said "I pray every morning when I wake up, and every night before I go to bed….in my own words. Is that bad?" I started laughing and told her that is exactly what we wanted her to say, because that is what our Heavenly Father expects her to do. She asked a lot of good questions relating to the Plan of Salvation, I am very excited to teach that with the sisters to her. She is on the right track but just hasn’t put it all together quite yet.

We also had an interesting lesson with a man named Dima. He met the missionaries 5 years ago and comes to church quite often. Missionaries have met with him before, and he has straightway openly told a few that he wants to get baptized so he can serve a mission to the states, learn english and then stay there. I dig some digging, because he originally asked if we could meet everyday, which was a red flag to me. We talked about every lesson, checked his knowledge of things, asked why he wanted to meet, etc. I told him that he knows what he needs to do, and when he is reading the Book of Mormon and praying everyday to know whether Jospeh Smith was a prophet, we could continue to meet with him. On the one hand, I feel that if he wants to answer all the right questions, and mock the ordinance, he needs to be allowed to do it so he can be righteously judged. Also, many people are baptized for the wrong reasons, and then figure things out. Yet on the other hand, I feel like I can’t let that happen. I’m not sure what is the correct thing to do in this situation.

So as for the emotional roller coaster.

Monday at FHE. I got a phone call. It was Viktor. He yelled into the phone: "MAKLE I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT!" I was so confused. Then he calmed down and said that he stood up and sat down, by himself. All alone. No help. I was close to crying I was so happy.

On Wednesday we stopped by some members to say hi. Only the wife was home, and she seemed to be pretty distraught about something, so as we talked outside, I found out some awful news. I may have told you about Viktor, a nonmember husband of a lady in our branch. He is Hare Krishna (sp?) but loves the church and has been consistantly coming to church since I got to Pobyeda. After sacrament meeting last week, he went home. His wife, Natasha, went home after 3rd hour, and found him in the kitchen. He had committed suicide. It was a shock to everyone. No note, no anything. He always seemed so happy, it totally came out of no where. I’ll save you the details of what happened, but members from the branch had to go ID him for the coroner, and that night they gave her a blessing. Their daughter is married and lives in Canada, but she was able to come back and they went to the temple and spent all day Friday and Saturday there.

That was a huge blow for me. I have been working with them a lot, and he was one of my favorite people in this area. I am so grateful that even though all of that happened, to know that in exactly 51 weeks and 1 day, his work will be able to be done in the Kyiv Temple.

That sparked a lot of the contemplating that I mentioned. As we came to Vladimir’s baptism last Saturday, he asked me to speak about baptism. As I thought a lot about it, I learned a lot about death. People often compare baptism to a spiritual rebirth, a shedding of the sin attached to our former live and a rebirth into discipleship. It is a spiritual rebirth that is necessary to enter into the Kingdom of God.

Now as we examine death. It is a physical death, but is the beginning of a physical rebirth. It is a shedding of the pain, and sorrow, and temptation of the world and a step into the spirit world where we await the resurrection. It is the first and necessary step to preparing our body to return to live with our Heavenly Father. If baptism is a spiritual rebirth, then death is in the same sense a physical. After the process of baptism, our spirit is perfectly clean, 100%. After the cycle of death, including resurrection is finished, we are completely perfect. The power of the Atonement makes that possible, and available to all who have, are, and will live.

Alma 40:23
The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.

In short, my contemplation can thus be summarized:

We live to die, and die to live.

Elder McClintock

Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people, that they might have everlasting life.

3 Nephi 5:13

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