Goodness, what happened this week? So much and also not too much! We have had lots of phone and people problems (aka не доступен [nye dastoopen] = not available), but we keep working hard! It means we're really getting to know our area book and our maps a lot better.
On Tuesday, we had an amazing experience. One of the members in Ulan-Ude died, and we were invited to go to his funeral. Talk about touching! We went to a hospital where everyone was gathering together, being somber and respectful and bringing flowers. The bring these bouquets made with fake flowers and fake Christmas tree pine needles (if that makes sense) with notes. Several members of the church were there with us and the other missionaries along with his family and friends. When it was time to go, we all walked with his body to the car, and then we rode a bus to the graveyard. It started raining really hard on the way there. We watched as he was buried, and then they decorated the grave with the flowers that they brought. Each grave has its own flowers, small fence, table, and bench for people to sit at while visiting their loved ones. One table had an empty shot glass on it. As we drove away, we saw the branch president, another members, and the elders dedicating the grave. It was a really spiritual experience. Afterwards, there was a big banquet where people gave toasts and remembered the life of that member. All the food that was laid out was cut into really thin slices, and there was one man who kept trying to give us vodka. The whole thing was so incredible, and not only that, but the elders talked with the mom of the member, and she came to church yesterday and has a baptismal date. The plan of salvation is the perfect message of hope for those who have just lost a loved one.
There was a woman we met a while ago with Auburn while contacting on the street, and this week Sister Wilson and I met her and her 33-year-old invalid son. She said that she began to read the Book of Mormon, and she wanted to come to church yesterday. We got permission from the branch president to bring them by taxi because the son can't walk, but due to more phone problems (aka nye dastoopen), we didn't get it worked out this week. Next week, though! We have lots of faith in them.
The Ukrainian family is doing great. Yesterday, the dad received the Aaronic Priesthood. I remember when they walked into the church just looking for help with food and money. They're refugees from Ukraine, and as far as I can tell, the parents speak Ukrainian and Russian, and the kids just Russian. I remember when the Ukrainian district came into the MTC, and we thought Ukrainian would be really similar to Russian. Nope. Granted, I didn't get too much exposure to Ukrainian, but they're not that similar. It was Wednesday, July 1st, and the elders were there with another member (and we were there). The branch president came and helped get them some bags of food, and while they elders taught the dad, we taught the daughter. The elders taught the whole family together and focused on the parents, and we sisters did more work with the two girls, making sure they were getting their own testimonies. Boy, do they have testimonies!
Some more about Sister Wilson, now that we've had a full week together. She was born in France and lived all over in Europe, and now their family is living in California, in Palo Alto (outside of San Francisco). She is the 6th of 7 kids (all redheads). She is such a go-getter. I don't know if I'm just slow, but I have a hard time keeping up with her on the streets. She has such a desire to serve, and I hope I can fuel and help that instead of holding her back because of my weaknesses. Her Russian is already great. She understands really well, and although she isn't always gramatically correct, she can usually get her point across. We're having a good time together, and we're already halfway through this short four-week transfer. Wow!
Have a great week everybody!