A lot happened this week, but I want to talk about our first experience in Bila's famous Alexandria Park! Ever since we arrived in Bila, people have told us about how amazing this park was. Even before getting transferred here, I had heard of it. Elder Hamilton and I were always excited to go to it, but we wanted to wait until the park was in full bloom before we went for the first time.
So yesterday, after church, we set aside a few hours to go preach in the park, just like the good old days back in Madrid. There were people who weren't too excited to see us, people who simply ignored us, and people who wanted to argue with us, but these people were few and far between compared to all the people who were super friendly towards us. One family even invited us to sit down with them and join them in their picnic! After figuring out they weren't too interested in our normal message, we talked about how great Ukraine is while they fed us delicious food, haha. The people here really are amazing!
We talked to lots of families, gave out a few copies of the Book of Mormon, and got a few phone numbers, too. When we were walking towards the exit of the park after a few hours of talking to everyone, we were stopped by a man who told us to go home and to take our American church with us. We tried telling him that this is a church for everyone, and we were as nice as could be, but he didn't care and just stormed off.
After that, some kids from church ran up to us and were extremely excited to, by coincidence, see us in that massive park. They had seen the man get mad at us and thought we were super heroes for taking it so well, haha. Then, while we were talking with them, another man came up to us and basically took a Book of Mormon right out of my hands! He told me, as he was flipping through it, that he had seen the Book of Mormon on TV a few hours earlier and that he was extra-interested. And then, when he saw us in the park with the very same book, he just had to find out more.
While we were talking to him, we got a call from Salt Lake about another person living in Bila who wanted a Book of Mormon! It was crazy how all of this happened at the same time, and it was really fun for the kids we were with to see. They now probably think that that's what happens every day. I wish!
Anyway, not everyone listens to us, and even fewer care, but to those who both listen and care, our efforts can change their lives. There's nothing better than losing yourself in the work, and it doesn't hurt when the work is fun, too. :)
Love you all and best wishes!
Photos: With the Cherkassy (Elder Hamilton's last city) crew--the English-language practice class there; and Ralph sleeping on the 4-hour bus ride back to Bila Tserkva.