Yeah, I knew that would be a surprise. I also knew how much I like having a bit more info, and have had several missionary moms tell me---repeatedly---to write good sized letters home. The first shot just didn't cut it, so i fixed it.
That's cool to hear about the sister from Moscow; you never know what's going to happen down the line. Give her a "Good Luck" from me!
In case i forget later, Happy Birth-day Mickeyala!
Ok, my turn. This week was a little slower, due to running out of people that the past missionaries had seen. Now, we are trying to focus on nudging commitments out of those whom they had been teaching, and trying to locate a lot of the people from the hastening the work lists. It's a little sad; we're running into all of the same problems that past wards have had, with the same amount of solutions---that is, none. We keep finding people on the lists that don't have an accurate address, any address at all, have moved, died, have inaccurate response info, and other poor information. The saddest ones, though, are the people who had just been written off years ago, and people had just never tried since. Usually the people are pretty upset with the church, but are open to us coming by. Sometimes, they had just been waiting for someone to notice that they were missing, and to say something. Then, when nobody did, they assumed that they just weren't wanted, so they never came back. Luckily, that is much rarer than the other possibilities, but it does happen, and it's sad whenever it does. We were able to track down some of the people that the ward had been working with, and had good responses with most of them. There are, of course, those several that want absolutely nothing to do with us, but most of the people are open to us stopping by, if nothing else.
One of the things that I've decided since I've been up here; i hate the smell of cigarette smoke. One of the families that we have been working with smokes more then the chimney sitting next to them. Add to that, at least the chimney has the decency to smoke outside! Every time we go over, I get scared i'm going to get second hand emphysema, and we come out covered in the smoke and gunk. The worst part is that one of them is on oxygen, and though i don't think that she smokes herself, it doesn't much matter, because the air is full of it down to your knees. I can only barely understand how they can live like that, and that's only because i kind of understand what an addiction can do to you. We even gave a blessing to the lady on oxygen, and in it she was promised that she would have three days and three nights completely free of pain, and all she was told to do was to read and study the scriptures during that time. When we came back the next week, we were told that she was completely relieved the moment we left, but three hours later, it was back. It just makes me frustrated when it's so clear and obvious what someone needs to do for good things to happen, not even hard things, and yet they choose not to do it, and they miss out on those amazing blessings. ARGH!!!!! *sigh* Oh, well. we can't force anyone to do anything. I just need some help knowing what i can do to spark them to make the choices themselves.
Now that that rant is over with, on to some better news. One of the investigators that we have been working with, named Jim, had had all of the lessons from past missionaries. According to the second councilor in the bishopric, who would go over with them on lessons, said that e took to the lessons like a fish to water. From what I've seen, that's a pretty accurate statement. Jim comes to church every week, participates in Gospel Principles, and has us over every week to read from the Book of Mormon with him and his family. He's always willing to help us out when we need some, and he finds things on his own that needs doing, and he does them. He's even been really willing to give us some background on anyone that we are going to contact that he knows, and when (and if) we should stop by. The only thing is, he hasn't gotten baptized yet. Honestly, I'm not sure why. I kind of feel like he's got something that he feels he needs to overcome, and he feels like he hasn't grown enough to be baptized, but I'm not sure. I know that he is ready, and that he will be a fantastic member. He's the only one that needs to figure it out. Anyways, the good news. Like I said, we've been reading from the Book of Mormon, and we'd been in Mosiah 24 last week. When we came back this week, he had already read up to Alma 3. This is really spectacular, because he had just been going along with where we were before. On top of that he's said that he wanted to read the whole Book of Mormon before he was baptized, and if he's going to read that much on his own, he's going to get to that point a whole lot faster.
Well, I think that just about covers this weeks cool stuff. Thanks again for everything that everyone does, says, and prays for!
Love, Elder Stuver