Dear Family and Friends,
We finally received our first snowfall! Everyone was wishing one another a "happy first snowfall" all over Balti. Sadly, it only lasted a day and now it's all mud, but we cherished those couple of days with a blanket of fresh, white snow on the ground.
As I mentioned in my last email, we started off our week with the Christmas Zone Conference. Before everything started, Elder Monroe and I were walking up the stairs to the second floor of the Chisinau branch building and guess who walked through the door? Aba! It was, in no way, a coincidence that he decided to stop by the only day Elder Monroe and I would be in Chisinau at the same time. We were really happy to see him and ask him how he's doing. He'll be in Chisinau for two more years and hopefully I'll be able to see him one last time before I go home. I loved having the opportunity to teach him and get to know him earlier in the year. He's a great guy! Also, I got to meet the new Russian elder. Elder Streletski is his name and he's 6'4" 240 lbs!! He's a big guy. He drove tanks for the Russian army and boxed for 6 years. Him and his family could only go to church once a month, but his testimony and knowledge of the gospel is strong. He knows a tiny bit of English, but it's a lot of fun talking to him in Russian because I probably sound like a child.
|Me and Elder Streletski|
We had a really cool experience with finding this week. Last Sunday we knocked into a woman with a child who told us to come back on Tuesday. Unfortunately, we were in Chisinau on Tuesday so we had to stop by on Wednesday. At first I was thinking, "Well. Maybe she is just gonna be one of those people that are going to open the door, say that they changed their mind and then slam the door." But I was totally wrong. Right as she saw us she said, "Come in! Come in! I thought you were going to come yesterday, so I waited, but I'm glad you came today so please have a seat." The lesson went as follows: SHE SET ALL OF THE EXPECTATION FOR US. Baptism, reading, coming to church, praying, recognizing answers that come from the Holy Ghost, taking time to learn our message, and having members be present on lessons. She was really friendly and we talked a lot about the differences between The Church of Jesus Christ and the Orthodox Church, how we know what Jesus looks like (answer = Joseph Smith saw him face to face), the rules we have to follow as missionaries, and the Restoration. At the end of the lesson, she looked at us and said, "I want you to know that as I learn more about your message, I'm going to go on how I feel and if it makes sense." Our response was, "That is EXACTLY what we want you to do!" We set a return appointment for Friday with a member, but when we went back, she wasn't home. SO, we're going to go back as soon as possible because this lady is prepared.
Denis is making REALLY good progress towards his baptism. He came to church for the second week in a row, and we were able to the start the Quit Smoking Program on Thursday. He is already well on his way to fully quit smoking. Every day that we met with him, we asked him how his day went, his response was always, "Well. I haven't smoked!" There was also a day when we were cleaning the church and he randomly called and asked if we were at the church and if he could come by. We told him we were, so he came by, we sat down and talked about one of the most important things we teach people: the promises we make when we are baptized. We take upon ourselves the name of Christ and promise to follow Him for the rest of our lives AND we receive a remission of our sins. He's really quiet, but he has very good questions and makes sure that he understands our answers. After we finished cleaning, a member called Elder Westover and asked, "Do you Elders want to eat?!" This member had made some Red Borsh, she was bored, and didn't want to eat it all by herself. The whole time we were there she told us all sorts of stories about how she met the missionaries, how her parents thought she was a boy when she was born, how grateful she is for Elder Holt, and what she tells people about the church. At one point I tried saying something, but she just looked at me and said, "You eat. I'll talk." So I continued eating and let her talk! I just love the members here, they're so great.
Elder Fingerlee from the quorum of the 70 visited Chisinau on Saturday and left us with a message, "The church WILL grow here in Moldova, but it only will if you start inviting people to church to learn more about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ from the missionaries." This country will need 4 or 5 stakes before they can start building a temple, but I strongly believe that it will happen during my lifetime. I really do. As they all say in the Prince of Egypt, "There can be miracles, when you believe."
I hope you're all enjoying the break from school, and this special time of the year to remember Christ's birth and what He has done for every single one of us. Take time to out of your busy holiday schedules to ponder and reflect upon what a blessing it is to have a Savior who died for our sins and provided the only way to find true happiness. I love you and I can't wait to see all of you on Skype in 9 days! Happy Holidays!