February 12, 2017




Elder Wilding

A Week of Miracles!

On Sun, Feb 12, 2017 at 4:22 PM, Gavin Lawrence wrote:

Hello, everyone!!
This week was AMAZING!!! By far one of the most incredible and miraculous weeks I've had the pleasure of serving through. Why, you ask? Well, for one thing, this week we gained 5 new investigators! God truly blessed us with opportunity upon opportunity to teach. They all have varying levels of potential, but we're hopeful about each of them and we're going to work with them as much as we can!! In order of us finding them, they are;

Misha and Slava:
These two guys just showed up at the church on Tuesday and wanted to find out more. We were a little skeptical, since that never happens, but we sat down with them and ended up teaching them the Plan of Salvation after Misha talked about how he had "lost the meaning of life" after 5 of his friends had died. It was a great lesson and we had an opportunity to bear our sincere testimonies on the reality of the Plan of Salvation. We agreed to meet with them again, but they didn't show up at the time we agreed on. We have their numbers, though, and we're going to keep working with them!

So a little while ago, the sisters placed a poster on the side of the church inviting people to come in and learn about their Family History. They got a call about a week ago from Mihail, saying that he saw the poster and he wanted to meet. All four of us met with him on Wednesday. As we talked to him, it became pretty obvious that he had misunderstood the poster and thought that we were offering to help him find a wife. We got that mostly cleared up, and ended up teaching him the Restoration! It was an ok lesson, he didn't seem too interested but he was willing to hear. We invited him to church on sunday and he showed up! (Albeit 2 hours late and pretty drunk). You know those stories about people who undergo miraculous transformations after finding out about the Church? Well, those stories have to start somewhere! We're going to keep trying and hopefully we can start to light up his life with the Gospel!

About a week ago, we stopped in at a chess club to try and make some friends (we have to get pretty creative here with all the new laws and such). There, we met Sergei. He is an older man who speaks reasonably good english, and he was elated to meet two english speakers who wanted to learn more about chess (He is a master). We got his number from him and called him a few days later, and he invited us over to his house on Saturday. We came prepared to just talk and play some chess, but he immediately asked us about what we believe! Elder Wilding had mentioned to him when we first met him that we were Mormons. If people ask us questions, we are allowed to answer, so we started talking to him about the Gospel. Apparently many years ago he investigated the Church and was given a Book of Mormon, but had lost contact with the missionaries. He proceeded to ask us question after question, all of which were incredibly good. He wanted to know what was found in the Book of Mormon that wasn't in the Bible, what he would gain spiritually from accepting the Book of Mormon, and basically every other question that you want your investigators to ask! I'm honestly still reeling, it was one of the most incredible lessons I've been able to participate in here in Russia. He was completely open and understanding and agreed to read the Book of Mormon with an open heart and pray about it. We're super, super excited to keep on working with him and to help him come to embrace the true Church!

So a while ago, when we were contacting everyone from our Area Book, we got in touch with Vladimir and started trying to set up an appointment. He couldn't find time for a while, and then eventually we set up an appointment, but he didn't show up. We figured he just wasn't interested, so we stopped trying to work with him. However, yesterday during church he called us, and asked if we could meet that night! We agreed, and this time he came! He's a nice old man, and apologized profusely that he hadn't come to our last appointment. He was ecstatic that the volunteers hadn't forgotten about him, and he kept commenting on how much he loves how he feels in the church. He had stopped coming because he had been in the hospital for 4 months, and when he got out he didn't know how to contact the volunteers. He is currently living in an old folk's home. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and he listened attentively. He's planning on coming to church this Sunday, and we're hoping to meet with him again sometime this week.

There they are! In other news, while we were walking on the street on the way to the church, a young guy heard us speaking in English and asked us if we were Americans. Normally that question is followed by a snide remark, but when we told him yes he just complimented us on our Russian and asked what we were doing here. We just so happened to be right in front of the church, so we pointed and told him that we are volunteers here from this church. We told him we had a ping-pong table inside and asked if he wanted to play, he didn't have time then but he gave us his number and we agreed to meet later. We met up with him at the Church and played ping-pong, and it was a blast! His name is Zhenya, he's 18 years old and serving in the military right now here on Sakhalin. We sneakily brought up the subject of religion, and asked him whether he believes in God. He told us a lot about his beliefs, that he didn't believe God was real until he was about 16 when his life was miraculously saved while he was fishing, and since then he's known that there is a God. He had to leave, but we're going to meet up with him again this week and keep building a friendship with him!

We couldn't find a time to meet with Rustam this week, and he couldn't make it to church, but he called us after Church and told us that he wanted to meet soon! We're going to make sure to find time for him this next week.

Nikolai is doing as great as ever! I don't know if I mentioned this, but he was sick last week and didn't come to church. He came this week though and received the priesthood! We also met with him on Saturday and watched "On the Lord's Errand," a film about Thomas S. Monson. He's coming to Family Home Evening with us tonight and coming to the church tomorrow to help us out with a service project, but after that he's going up to his hometown to visit his family for a month. We were sad to hear that, but we're going to make sure to call him every week and ensure that he's keeping up his good habits.

There were a ton more little miracles this week, but I'm out of time!! I love you all, have a great week!!

Elder Lawrence


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