Monday, February 28, 2011

the one about english course miracles

My new companion, Elder Fredrickson, is pretty cool. He's from Decator, Alabama, and he worked as a chef at a Benihana's style Japanese restaurant. He did the whole lighting-vodka-on-fire tricks to entertain the customers and he cooks really good food. We had ham-fried rice on Sunday, and he's also got me hooked on pomegranates. Here are pictures of both of them:

This week has been very good. There have been two small miracles. First, English course started up again. Once again, my testimony has been strengthened for the value of English course. We'd passed out about 3,000 or more flyers, which I hoped would be enough, but it was Wednesday, ten minutes before the first class started, and we had just six people. I let my remaining hope fall quietly into it's grave and resigned myself to a fate of teaching a boring course with boring people. But as we got started and were explaining the course, a small family walked in. "Oh well," I thought. "They won't come next time after seeing how few people there are". But then some cool dudes came in and sat down. My hope rapped weakly on the coffin under six feet of doubt. Then another family came. Then a group of girls. And another family. And more cool dudes. By the time we officially started class there were 40 people in the beginner level and 32 in our intermediate level. My hope had burst forth, living and breathing and rebuking me for ever thinking the course would be lame. But I still had my trigger finger on my shotgun of pessimism. "Yeah, the first class always has lots of people who want to see what it's about. But then they leave because they were expecting something more professional". I held my hope at bay until the next course on Saturday. Then, to my utmost and utter unbelief, we had 30 people in our course, who all showed respect, a desire to learn, and interest for the religion part of class. I humbly laid aside all doubt and thanked the Lord that he had blessed us with not only an opportunity to teach people learn English, but the invaluable chance to introduce them to the Gospel. I love English course, and I know that whoever thought of it as a finding tool was inspired of God.

The second miracle was that we ran into Olgert! He's the one who has tons of belief in Christ and had a baptismal date, but disappeared. I hadn't seen him in over two months, and when we randomly decided to drop by the church to play a few songs on the piano last Preparation-day, he was walking back to the road. He said he thought he'd see the Elders if he came. We sat down and had a good talk. He still has his great faith and he's still reading the Book of Mormon. Sadly, he said he's been smoking again and doing other drugs (making an injecting motion into his arm), so we'll have to work with him on that. But that's ok, because he is exactly who the Gospel is for: Those who have problems and want to change. I'm very grateful that we met him.

I hope (honestly) that everyone back home is having success, happiness, and safety.

Elder Weaver

Monday, February 21, 2011

the one about many languages

My companion is doing much better now, but we still had to stay in the majority of the time last week. So... not much got done in the way of traditional missionary work. BUT, to be useful we went to the mission office to help out there in any way we could, and I took inventory!

I just went to the basement storage room and started counting and naming everything on a sheet. It's pretty dull work, with some slivers of interest shining through unexpectedly. One of these moments of coolness came when I got to the section with the (copies of) The Book(s) of Mormon(s). It was really cool to see all the languages we had it in. There's Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Igbo, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Turkish, Ukrainian, and the one I want to learn, Welsh. It's great to know that this church takes the trouble to be able to preach to every man in his own tongue, like it says in the scriptures.

Not much else to report, I hope everyone is doing well (like always. If I ever hope everyone is doing badly, something is wrong).

Elder Weaver

Monday, February 14, 2011

the one about...

Let's see... we got a lesson on Monday with Eri, the Muslim guy who likes to have a drink with us. Oh wait, I told about that last week.

Church yesterday was good! It was branch conference, and we had many different leaders from the district presidency attend the meetings. The talks were good, the lessons were edifying, an ideal Sabbath day in all.

Well, that's about everything noteworthy that happened. That's because we've stayed in the house every other day. My companion has a condition that makes it painful to walk, so we're waiting for it to heal (don't worry, it isn't as scandalous as you might think). To pass the time, we've been getting in extra studies and playing Dungeons and Dragons. It's something to do to keep us from getting bored.

And that's about all there is to report. I hope everything is going well back home and everywhere else, and may you all prosper and have joy!

Elder Weaver

Monday, February 7, 2011

another one about street contacting

Power exchanges with the zone leaders are a wonderful thing. The zone leaders try to go around to every area throughout the transfer and do a day-long exchange with the elders. While there, we try to find as many new investigators as possible. I went with Elder Smith and we did some street contacting in the morning and a street board at night. We talked to a few nice people and got their numbers, hopefully they turn out well. I'm a big fan of street boards. Sometimes we just take a pre-made poster out on the street and let people stare. There are posters about prophets, temples, and families, but I like it even better when we take a whiteboard out and write something on it. Lately we've been writing things like, "God speaks to us today. What questions do you have for him?" and "There are many churches, but only one God. How can we know the truth?" I love these because usually when we are just standing there, 95% of the people totally ignore us, but with a board, 95% of them slow down and read it. It's a good conversation starter.

The other day we had a good conversation with a Muslim guy while doing a street board. We both told each other what we believed, and he was very interested. Of course, he wasn't a hardcore muslim, or else he probably wouldn't have even talked with us. It's nice to notice that we have quite a lot in common with Islam, except for the very important fact that Jesus is the son of God. They believe he was a great prophet, and that he did immense amounts of good, but that God is not his father. This is unfortunate, because that fact holds so many implications and consequences that if it were not so, everything would fall apart. All the doctrines and principles of the Gospel would be negated, and we would have no hope. I'm very glad that we have the knowledge that Jesus was not only the Messiah, but also the literal Son of God.

Just today, we had another meeting with the Muslin English course guy, Eri (airy). Eri says he keeps meeting with us and visiting church because he likes us as people, which is fine by me. Today's meeting was in a bar, and that's not unusual at all here. People regularly invite us to go out for a drink, and we happily accept. We sit at a table and the missionaries order a soda or a hot cocoa, then we just talk. It's a good, relaxed setting to teach about things like the word of wisdom and families. Of course, we try when we can to meet at the church, but this is better than nothing. I hope Eri keeps coming to church and feeling good there.

In other news, my companion's eyes are still doing not-the-greatest. The glasses and the eyedrops have not helped the headaches, so we'll keep investigating that. Also, on Friday we went to Shang-Hai for district lunch, one of only two Chinese restaurants in the country. And man, was it good. I got fried rice and sizzling pork, which is pork and veggies brought out to you sizzling hot on a cast-iron plate. It's a rare treat to have actual Chinese food every once in a while.

I hope to be able to report more success next week. Be safe, and remember that you are never alone.

Elder Weaver