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.