I'm sorry I don't have very fun titles for my e-mails. My creativity doesn't extend that far. This week was INCREDIBLE though! So much has happened, I don't even know where to begin... but I'll try :)
So we saw A LOT of Elena and her family this week - good sign, right? We hope so! We're working on members stopping by in between our visits and lessons so that she doesn't just have to see/talk to us, but that she can makes friendships with those in the ward. We went to dinner (at IHOP - Chicken and Waffle... YUM) with Elena and her daughters on Monday and brought a member that lives on her street. It was great! A fun, relaxing atmosphere where we could talk about how she liked church, etc. We eventually found out that Elena's main concern is with being baptized a second time. She was baptized as a Christian into the Russian Orthodox church at 27 years old. She feels like it would be a "double standard" to be baptized AGAIN. So... we knew we needed to teach about the priesthood.
On Thursday, we had a lesson at the Bratts house. Brother Bratt served his mission in Ukraine but spoke Russian, so he love chatting with Elena and she loves it too! We talked about the priesthood - what it is, why it's important, and how it will bless her! Elena has been suffering with pain from her past cancer surgery, where some nerve endings were damaged. She received a priesthood blessing from Brother Bratt and another member of the ward. The Spirit was strong and though I think she felt it too, she didn't like to admit it too much :) I think it's something she'll remember forever though. Plus, Brother Bratt offered a prayer at the end in Russian and I think that made her feel the Spirit even MORE!
Then on Friday, we went to the Temple Visitor Center with Sister Erickson from the ward, who is also a single mom and suffered a bout with cancer. Lana and Liza LOVED the temple! They thought it was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen. We got it set up earlier with the Visitor Center to provide a Russian sister missionary to lead our tour. Elena was SO EXCITED! It warmed her heart, I know. We watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration - which is definitely a powerful movie. We realized then HOW MUCH information we've been giving to Elena and that we hadn't really asked much about her understanding! So that's what we'll focus on this upcoming week.
At the Trunk or Treat party on Saturday, Elena and her daughters came, but ALSO Sun Jung and her family! I was SO SURPRISED! Because they don't know much English, I was afraid they would be too shy to come. But they CAME!!! Her little daughters loved all the games and candy. They met MANY members, all of our Korean speakers in the ward, and even considered coming to church the next day (though they did not). But it was so successful! I love activities like this where EVERYONE feels welcome!
We have definitely had a blessed week. We want to focus on finding more investigators this week because all of our time and attention has been centered on Elena and Sun. This is good, but there are more of God's children waiting to hear the message! So we have to go find them.
I find myself using this quote by Elder Richard G. Scott A LOT when talking with members, non-members, and other missionaries about the Atonement. This was said by him just this last conference:
"The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy."
I am SO GRATEFUL for this knowledge - to know that God looks upon my weaknesses not as rebellion, but with mercy! I hope you all remember that. Don't be too hard on yourselves, but be hard enough that you have the desire to improve.
I love you all! Thanks for your prayers and support - it's working!
1)TEMPLE! Sandwiched between us are Lana (7), Elena, and Liza (9)
2)Sun Jung and her family at Trunk or Treat!