I figured I probably ought to get that out first, but the best part is, that wasn't even the best part of our week. Not by a lot.
We've done a lot of service this week. It feels really good to spend that kind of time with the members. Working side-by-side with someone helps you love and appreciate them so much more than you already do. Plus it helps make up for my pretty pathetic exercise in the morning. (stretching is still important, right?). With all the members we've served, we've shared a spiritual thought about service and tried to get them to start praying for their friends, neighbors, and family members to accept service from us as another way to open doors and hearts to the Restored gospel. Finns are really stubborn about accepting help, though. They have this complex built into their culture that if someone does something to help you, you have to give something in return. So, we'll see if anything actually comes from it, but the spirit of service is helping us gain members trust, if nothing else.
In addition to that, we helped an old man clean up his apartment this week. One day, we started to feel like we weren't where we needed to be. We had just been let in to teach a man while tracting, and had planned to continue the street afterwards, but it simply didn't feel right. We prayed and decided to head off to another area close by (well, everything's close, really, in Jakobstad). While we were riding, we past by some apartment buildings and felt really good about them. Locked. Bummer. We talked to one man who had just come out of the building. He was in a hurry, so he took a card and not much else. I was really disappointed. I felt like I had really misread the influence of the Spirit and brought us to a place in vain. So, we began to ride off again. A man began walking the other direction, slowly, as though in pain. His clothes were dirty, as were his face and hair. His countenance had virtually no light or joy in it. A bag full of beer cans dangled limply from his hand as he walked. We stopped and talked to him. He told us his life just wasn't happy at all right now and that he just wanted to go home. We walked with him home, just trying to talk to him about his family, the gospel, anything, and we got nothing. When we got to his door, we went in for just a minute. His place was a mess. I cannot explain how sorry I felt for this poor man. His life was not where he wanted it to be, and from what he told us, there was no way out. We told him we would come the next day and help him clean his apartment and his eyes got huge. He was amazed that we would come of our own free will.
The next day, we spent about an hour cleaning his apartment, continuing to try to talk to him as we worked. We saw actual happiness in his eyes as he looked around his newly cleaned place. He thanked us so many times. He even promised to give up drinking! We'll see how it goes. We told him we would also like to come back and teach him in order to help him spiritually. He told us we were welcome anytime. He's a bit of a longshot right now, but I've seen people change before. The gospel has that kind of power.
Our Chinese investigator, B, and his girlfriend A left for China this week, so we won't see them again for a month, but we saw a lot of progress in him in this last week. He definitely won't be ready for baptism right after he gets back like we hoped, but he's very happy with the church. He promised to read and pray every day on his trip to China. I'm excited that I will still be here when they return.
Probably the biggest news of the week is that our investigator who had a baptismal date last week now no longer has a baptismal date....because he's already a member!!! When we introduced the Book of Mormon he said it all seemed familiar, especially the picture of Moroni burying the plates. Then we started talking more about the church organization and when we said we had a prophet and twelve apostles his jaw about hit the floor. He started jumping up and down and yammering away to his wife in Romanian about how he had finally found "his religion" again. Apparently he was baptized in Romania in 2008, but he didn't understand everything and now needs to be re-taught and reactivated, but he's very excited about it. His wife (well technically girlfriend because they still aren't married officially in Finland) speaks a little Swedish, but not enough, so he'll be translating for her while we teach. She loosely set a baptismal date for the 30th of June.
Thanks for all your emails. I love you all very much. I can't wait to tell you about all the miracles we will see here over the course of the next two changes, training in Jakobstad. Have a great week.