Well, my family, I hope that you are all absolutely amazing! These last 16 weeks in Donetsk have been days incomparable with anything I have ever experienced in my life. I feel real growth, I see growth in the Lord's investigators, and I see growth in our members (both less- and active). We have seen so many miracles these weeks having lesson after lesson, miracle after miracle, and really...its not because we did something all that special, its because we were obedient and faithful to the Lord. He said, and we tried to do. There really isn't a greater feeling than simply doing a good work, and doing that work well. I was a completely different person when I came here to Donetsk and now, though the changes are minor, they're there.
We've seen less-active families renew baptismal covenants through the sacrament, investigators progress towards baptism, a less-active find joy in the doctrines of Christ, another less-active help his investigating girlfriend come to know Christ and be strengthened himself, and even unfortunately we've seen people turn from blatant testimonies which they have received deciding to remain in their own ways. I have a testimony more than anything else this transfer that the eternal principle of receiving blessings is preceded and founded upon the principle of taking care of, using, and magnifying what we have:
Kolya, one of the Lord's investigators, was to be baptized on the 15 of June. We were meeting with him last night after work talking about the Word of Wisdom, seeking to prepare him for his covenant with our Heavenly Father. To show you the humility of this man he, when learning that coffee and tea (2 very popular things here) were contrary to God's laws, said:"Well, you know, I admit that I drink coffee and that it is something that I rely on. I've read in places that it is healthy for you in some senses and that even green tea is super good for you...but I am so grateful that I have the Word of God to teach me what is true." In discussing his baptism he decided also that there was no purpose in waiting a few weeks when he could just meet with us every night, and be baptized this Sunday. And so he will be. He shared an experience with us - this man who really didn't have a relationship with God before, who has knelt with us in tears thanking God and promising to be faithful - about when he was at work earlier that day he was on a ladder and afraid he would fall. "I prayed to the Father," he said "and all of the sudden I was filled with this strength and peace and finished my work without fear. That is why I thanked my Father for helping me today."
The most amazing thing about this whole situation is not that Kolya started meeting with us a little over 2 weeks ago, it is not that he accepts everything with faith, it is not that he can feel and recognize the Spirit, and it is not even that he is reading the Book of Mormon every day according to a 5 month reading chart given to the members. What is amazing is that Elder Carley and I really didn't do anything to find him. We did as the Lord through his authorized servants and Spirit directed to work with less-actives. We really didn't have too many investigators that were progressing. One Sunday sitting there in class he came and knocked on the door wanting to learn more and change his life around. "And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a...commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you; Or, in other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation. I, the Lord, am abound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise" (D&C 82:8-10). I know that when we just simply do as we are supposed to, the Lord will always bless us more than we can even imagine.
I read a wonderful quote the other day that I pondered on and rephrased a little: "A sunrise marks the beginning of a opportunity to make better the following sunset." In the sunset of this chapter of my mission, I look back and realized that in the heat of the day I wasn't always doing all that I could. But with the mercy of God and some effort on my part, my sunset is incredibly peaceful because I know my work in this area is finished. May we ever remember the sweet blessings that await us at the sunset during the scorching heat of the day. Don't wait till tomorrow, for today is the first day of our future.
I love you family! You are my example and one of my causes that keep me going when times are tough. Thank you!