Thursday, January 30, 2014

Concrete floors, Concussion and another trip to hospital

It isn't until after the trial of your faith that the blessings come. I am a true believer in that, especially after these past few weeks with all that has happened. I was as low as I think I ever could have been.
This week started out so much better, I was feeling great and there were no more doctor appointments or breathing problems. Look out, Sister Shaughnessy was back! I was feeling so much better, so Tuesday night we planned to go running the next morning. I wanted to do something that would get my body really moving again, but because I live in Ukraine there is about a good foot of snow on the ground right now, and I really didn't want to go running out in that and neither did my companion. Therefore, we decided to run stairs in our apartment building. There are 4 floors and we wanted to start out at the bottom and run up and down them for our half hour work out in the morning. If you don't know, in Ukraine the apartment buildings are completely made out of cement, stairs and all.
We both got up at 6:30 when the alarm went off, prayed, put on an extra layer and headed out. Ran up and down a couple of times, then I finally stopped at our door, on the second floor and said that I was too tired to do it anymore, but told my companion to go ahead, and I would just wait. I leaned against the door.... that is all that I remember. The next thing that I knew I was waking up at the bottom of the stairs asking Sister Edwards what had happened.
So, in the past 10 days I can say that I have received 10 shots, 3 X-rays and 1 MRI. The Elders took me to the hospital, again. I had an MRI and everything was found just fine. I just have a HUGE bruise covering most of my body and a nice size bump on my head. I also almost became a resident of a Ukrainian hospital because of it, but thankfully that didn't happen. I can't really tell you if I for sure had a concussion or not either. Each doctor kind of told a different story, but now worries. I am all good now.

The blessing that came out of all of this, Irena. A nurse that helped us, who just happened to speak english, so she translated for me, giving Elder Jolstead a break. We invited her to english and church. WHICH, she came to church on Sunday! It was so amazing!
I am happy to say, other than the one day in the hospital, the rest of the week has just been amazing! We were able to visit most of the strongest members in the branch and share some cookies and an uplifting spiritual thought to thank them for all that they do for the branch. Our branch president's family is just the best thing ever. They are so strong and to hear their conversion story from them just brought a special spirit. Our branch president, when he was first investigating the church, had a baptismal date, the service was planned and he just didn't show up to the service because he didn't want to. He never said anything to the missionaries, just didn't come. 5 months later he was baptized, but still..... I can't imagine he is such a spiritual giant now! His wife told us that we need to never give up and be diligent with all. Amazing example.
On Thursday we had an english miracle happen! For this round of english we have really been wanting to do a little extra to get people to have more interest in the church. So, last week we had a church tour after english and all who wanted to stay could take part, this week we decided to watch the Restoration movie after english with all who wanted to stay. Dima, the elders new found hairdresser (their haircuts... don't get me started on them, missionary work is about sacrifice) came to english with his 2 friends, Andre and Julia. They also stayed for the movie. Dima thinks that I am the best thing that has ever happened because I speak english and I am "in the industry of his passion." Direct quote. He just wants to talk hair with me and CHI, he really loves CHI. Andre, however took a Book of Mormon and Julia is a blessing.
She stayed for the movie, but didn't seem too interested in the church, however, she wanted to hand out some english cards for us. We called her yesterday to see how that went, she told us that we can expect 10 new people at english, which she said that she is going to call and remind them on Tuesday for us, and that 4 of them would be interested in meeting with us to discuss the gospel because they are interested in knowing why we are here. Oh, and she thinks that she would like to sit down and have gospel discussions about that guy in the movie, she said that it seems interesting to her, so if we have time she would love to do that with us..... Um... let me look at my busy schedule; tracting, contacting, tracting, english, tracting... maybe we can pencil you and your friends in!
Julia is such a blessing to have! We are excited to see how english will be now. Things are happening here in Lutsk!
 Sister Edwards and I had a lesson with a lady, Zhenya, with whom we had met on the street when we did a book table. She has come to church once, but because of the holidays, she got sick, then I got sick we just have not had the chance to meet with her, however.... We had a lesson with her and she accepted a hard baptismal date on the first lesson! Sister Danko, a member, was with us and she bore powerful testimony and the lesson was just perfect! The Spirit was so strong and she was sitting at the edge of her seat just in awe as we told the first vision! She said that she will pray and read, and do everything to be prepared to be baptized! Such a blessing for the branch here in Lutsk, she is wonderful and this area has not had a baptism for over a year.I am so excited for her and for this branch! Missionary work, it is happening again!!!!
These past few weeks I have really been studying trials and why they happen. Sister Edwards and I could just kept saying that it is after the trial of our faith that we receive the blessings. However, trials are hard. They really are just plain hard sometimes. We are tried and tested to our limit, but we are not alone, only when we walk away from God are we ever alone. He will test us though and try us, more than we could ever imagine. He will stretch us more than we would ever stretch ourselves, but He will never leave us alone. Ever.
I found this verse in Peter, I am now trying to read through the New Testament, and it has really been a verse that has touched me:

Peter 1:7-9 
  7 That the atrial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the bappearing of Jesus Christ:
 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet abelieving, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
 Receiving the aend of your bfaith, even the csalvation of your souls.

Our trials are growing experiences. They test and try us, but they really are a blessing. They are of more value than gold. They help refine us to become more like Him. Remember that!

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