I'm so glad that I got a chance to hear from almost everybody this past week. I had a lot of emails. I love hearing about your lives! I laughed, I cried (not really), and in reality, was just overjoyed to see all of the success and growth in your lives. Seriously! My friends who are out in the field now all sound so grown up. I feel a little like a toddler here, because I trip over everything (the roads are terrible), I don't understand the full measure of what's going on around me, and I speak like... well, a toddler. The crowning jewel of this image is that I've got the biggest smile plastered on my face, since I'm as happy as a clam to be out here doing this! (Who decided clams are happy?)
So. Banana bread is indeed magic.
Everyone loves it here. I have made more banana bread in the past 4 months than I have even EATEN in my entire life. It's nuts.
We give it to less actives, inactives, and investigators alike! What does this magic bread do, you may ask? It makes people our friends.
We had a meeting with an Inactive member of our branch who recently returned from business in Russia, and we read the Book of Mormon with him (2 Nephi 2), and then gave him our favorite bread. He called us back the next day to get the recipe from me.
We will be seeing him again sometime this week.
Investigators.... we have not a lot. BUT, that makes me less sad when I think of the fact that one of those good gentlemen who we're teaching has a BAPTISMAL DATE FOR !!! Woo! I'm so excited! He's the sweetest, humblest, wanting-to-learn-est man you ever did meet. His name is Volodymyr. We met him on the street at the beginning of this transfer, and it has just been a joy to meet with him, every single time!
Baptisms in this country are hard to come by... so I've heard. I don't believe it though. People here are well prepared by Heavenly Father to receive his restored gospel, just like anywhere else in the whole world.
Today, we get to go help Brother Zhuk set a goal to go and get his own personal endowment, and then help him prepare to go to the temple in a year and have all of the work for his wife done. He's a stellar guy. One of the people I won't forget for as long as I live.
Here's a Parable straight from his mouth, to you!
Everyone in the world is carrying their own cross. For each and every person, it is different. We all have personal struggles and difficulties. One man, thinking that he is clever, decides to saw about 3 feet off of the bottom of his cross. This, as he had anticipated, makes his cross much lighter. He carries on, following the crowd of people, onward down the trail. Finally, they all come to a canyon. Each person, one by one, lays down their cross, and walks across it to the other side. To this man's dismay, his cross is too short to operate as a bridge for himself. Because he had tried to relieve himself of part of his duty, he did not have what it takes to cross the canyon.
And so it is with our lives in a way. Heavenly Father gives us challenges, enough to help us grow. It is possible, through our own choices, to find ways to avoid these challenges, and not face them. We can dance around our difficulties in a numerous variety of ways. The fact is, someday, somehow, we will face an end. A point when we show what we have become, and how we faced our trials with faith in this world. If we haven't done that, if we aren't prepared, that can seem like a pretty scary day.
On the other end, we really can't carry this cross alone. We, by ourselves, are nothing. But, with Christ by our side, we can accomplish all things that are put in our path. He will help us carry our load. His yoke is easy, and his invitation is simple. He asks that we do all we can, all that is possible, and then leave the rest to him. My favorite scripture as of late is D&C 123 the last two verses of the chapter (I believe 16-17). God's plan is glorious, and as it turns out, very managable.
Anywho, that's my two cents for you all this week!
I can't wait to hear from you all again soon!
I love you all very much!