Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Spirit Burns Like a Wildfire

How are you all doing?
I hope things are well.
I have some pretty CRAZY stories for ya'll.
Hold on tight.
First story is about an elect man.
There is a man here, in Lutsk, Ukraine, who's name is Dieter.  He has been coming to the church for many months, talking part in our English classes, meeting with the missionaries, and reading the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.  Did I mention that he's a German man? (I thought the name gave it away)
Because he is German, it can be hard to communicate with him.  He speaks a very little bit of Russian, some English, a very tiny bit of Ukrainian, and obviously, German.  This made lessons with the missionaries less than effective, though they always found a way to laugh and joke together.
Finally, someone had a great idea.  Let's call the missionaries in Berlin, and set up some lessons with him!  So they did.
Little did we know, Dieter was more than ready to receive every bit of truth that the missionaries talked to him about.  He took every lesson, understood the doctrine, and decided to be baptized.  
So he was baptized.  President Malinos, from L'viv, came down to help us out.  A Ukrainian who speaks fluent German is very handy around these parts.  Dieter was baptized in his native tongue by my companion, who has a college minor in German.  Then, he received the gift of the Holy Ghost as well, in his native tongue.  
Since none of the missionaries out here ever understood the full extent of what Dieter was trying to tell us (because he was so difficult to understand), we were not prepared to hear his translated testimony.  That man has a powerful testimony. Though it was translated from German, to Ukrainian, to an English speaker, I was shaken down to the core, and I'm so glad that I could be here to witness it.  Israel is truly being gathered from around the world.

My second story is about the most amazing sequence of events.
Sister Zhuk had been sick for (I believe they said) seven years.  She could only lie on her back in bed and suffered quite a bit of pain.  Each time I went over to visit them, she was incredibly kind to us, but could only say very few words very very quietly.  She loves her husband, and he loves her very much.  He spends his days taking care of her, and didn't spend much time besides 20 minutes for us to drop by and share a spiritual thought.  He couldn't come to church, because he can't leave her besides to go and buy food every so often.  
We had just finished skyping with our families, and since Elder LeBaron had a hard time getting everything connected, we were running a bit behind.  We decided to contact instead of going straight to another appointment.  We were walking along the path behind the church, just trying to contact and find some people to teach, when Elder Hadfield expressed that he was having a hard time stopping people, and he didn't know why he let a couple of people walk past him without trying to share anything.  He then felt the need to talk with a woman who was playing with her Grand-daughter.  
Instead of talking about the gospel though, he decided to ask her about directions.  He asked her the fastest way to the street on which we lived.  She showed us a different way than where we had initially planned to go.  So, being awkward to completely ignore her advice, we went that way.  
This route took us past Brother Zhuk's house, as opposed to going around it.  
As we were walking past, a woman was trying to get in.  She recognized us as being from the same church as Brother Zhuk.  She called out to us, and asked if we knew Nadia (sister Zhuk).  I responded yes! I was the only missionary currently serving in Lutsk who had been by to visit the Zhuks.  She expressed to us that Sis. Zhuk had passed away that very day.  We had Brother Zhuks number, and we were able to call him to come and open the door to the apartment complex in which they lived.  
This made a great opportunity for us to come in and comfort Brother Zhuk, sing hymns with those who were there.  We shared a bit about the Plan of Salvation.  We talked about families, and shared pictures of ours.  We made plans to bring the other two elders over the next day to help carry the casket and help with the funeral services the next day.  I was able to have a full conversation with Brother Zhuk while Elder Hadfield was talking about the plan of salvation with another woman, and I truly felt the gift of tongues help me communicate with him.  It was incredible.
We did all of this, and then we left, hugging our Brother, and promising to return.  As we exited the door, we were met by the Priest of the local Orthodox Church.  He was going in to perform some ritualistic something or whatever.  We were glad that we had a chance to invite the spirit and to comfort those who were there.  Because of the spirit leading us, we had been there first.  The Lord led us to help our Brother in his time of need, and it was absolutely incredible.

Brother Zhuk is now excited to get to go and do the temple work for his wife, attend church actively, and know that she no longer suffers from her earthly ailments.
The Lord is a Lord of Miracles.

Now a quick report on my companion and me!
We're doing great!
We just got found 2 new investigators.  Volodimir and Avraam.  They both have expressed sincere interest in the idea of The Restored Gospel of Christ, and are excited to see that His Church is available to us again.  
I got a bit of a stuffy nose the past few days.  I hate snot.
Ukrainian Orthodox funerals are kind of strange.  
I had to hold a candle, and hot wax periodically dripped onto my hand.  That kind of hurts.   A casket needs to be lowered three times in each doorway as you take it out of a household.  Orthodox priests chant a bunch of random stuff from the bible and put a tune to it... and then they splash the casket with Holy Water, which I'm pretty sure he kept in a used juice bottle.
I am so thankful for what we understand about the Plan of Salvation.  
I hope there won't be any kind of those theatrics at my funeral.

Skyping with the family was great, and I love them so very much!  I was glad that I got to see all of their faces, even if it wasn't all at the same time (I did see Rachel's face for about half a minute!)
One of our Investigators is a photographer, and did a "couple shot" with my companion and I.  I hope you enjoy it.
I know we do.
Well, I love you all very much.
Let me know about what's going on back home, and all around the world for that matter!
I know that this church is true, and that God has prepared the way for all of us to be involved in his preparations for the Second Coming of our Great Redeemer, His son, Jesus Christ.
  Pray always, and come of conqueror.
Much love,
Elder LeBaron

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