Happy New Year! Here they say "with new year", so... With new year! This was such an awesome week with the end of the year and a chance to set goals for a new year.
But first off, I know you're all DYING to know if we reached our goal of 100 baptisms in 2014. Well, here's what went down. Last week I think I wrote about how we had an investigator that we ran into and we set up a batism date for her, and she was going to be the 100th baptism. Well, she called us later Monday night and said she was leaving out of town and couldn't make it to her baptism. WHAT?!?! She was going to be number 100! Now we're only at 99! We tried our hardest to find some way for her to be baptized that night or before she left, but it just didn't work out. So we tried all our other options. There are lots of little girls ready to be baptized, but they don't have parent permission yet. We're trying to get their parents to let them be baptized, but they're pretty stubborn right now. There's a babooshka who could be baptized... if she knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet. We've had several lessons on the Restoration with her, but she still doesn't believe in Joseph Smith. *sigh* That's kind of important for baptism, so she wasn't baptized. The New Year's Eve rolled around, and we were still at 99 baptisms for the mission. Our district fasted and prayed and visited those who could be baptized, and we even filled up our font, and... nobody was baptized. We had to be home early that night, at 6:00 (to avoid all the drunk, crazy partiers), so we texted the Brintons and said we did everything we knew how to do, and we hoped there were miracles across the mission. Sister Brinton called us a little later to say thank you for the text, and then she shared the best news. A different city had a baptism, so we reached 100! We were so glad to hear that! Sister Brinton said that God answered our prayers and our fasting, just not in the way we expected. The baptism wasn't necessarily "ours," but we still had the baptism, and we're all a team working together.
Now we have a new goal for 2015. We're trying to get 65 baptisms in the first 6 months, which means 130 for the year. We need about 11 for the month of January, and we've got some solid people set up. We have a husband and wife scheduled to be baptized on Jan. 31st, and they are great investigators. They can't wait to be baptized, and they stopped smoking yesterday. They absorb everything we say and read the scriptures together. They live with a babooshka who is very old (like, 94) and very sickly. She's a little crazy, and the husband and wife asked if we could baptized the babooshka. Well, we can't do that, so we just comforted them and told them everything would work out. They really are great. Sister Watts and I look forward to our lessons with them. The husband came to church yesterday and shared his testimony in sacrament meeting. I was impressed that he had the courage to do that, and he's not even a member yet. How many of us sit in our seats and squirm, thinking we should bear our testimony but being afraid to? These people in Russia are great examples to me of staying strong.
We also taught a sweet woman who's taking care of her grand-daughter. I think I wrote about her last week. SIster Watts uses nicknames because we're not allowed to use real names, so I'll try doing that. I'll call her Grand-daughter because of her grand-daughter. We taught her the Restoration, and it was cool to see how her questions paralleled Joseph Smith. She said she is looking for truth and wants to know which church is true, and then we turned the page of the brochure we gave her and the title said, "How can I know?" If something like that happened, the church must be true.
Have I mentioned all the wild life here in our little city? There are so many stray dogs and cats, and lots of pigeons. I don't know how all these animals don't freeze, but they're all over.
Okay, now onto one of the highlights of the week - zone training! Yep, we had some zone training. It was on the 2nd, and we woke up at 4:15 to catch a train to Vlad that left at 6, and that was about 5 hours long. We got in some good study on the train. Lots of missionaries were there for the zone training, and I got to see Sister Brayton and Elder Bodily again! It was almost like an MTC district reunion, except the other half of the district is halfway around the world.... We heard some great talks from the Brintons and from their son, daughter, and her husband. Then the missionaries who have leadership postitions shared their thoughts with us, and it was so spiritual. I learned so much that I want to work on, like never setting limits for yourself. If you can find them, we watched some really great videos. One was a football video about the "death crawl," and the other was about a runner who fell during her race. I guess that's kind of vague, but if you find them, they're awesome. While we were in Vlad, Sister Watts and I ate at a place called Cafe Lima. It's kind of like Russian's version of Cafe Rio, and it's not quite like American Mexican. Russia just doesn't have a lot of Mexican food, so that was a rare find.
Again, Happy New Year's to you all, and I hope you made so good goals for this year. I'm lucky enough to serve on my mission for all of 2015, so I know I'll have a great year. I hope you all have a great year, too!