So the highlight of this week was on last monday. Elder Gittins and I were eating dinner, getting ready to go out onto the street. It was 5:40, and we decided that we would always be on the street right at 6. So, as we're getting ready to go, I head the voice of good 'ol Jordan Smith saying "Never forget to bring your camera!" (reference to Patterns of Light Mormon Message by Bednar). I told Gittins to grab his camera, and we were off. We had an hour until our next lesson, so we were going to go visit some less actives. As you have seen from the pictures, we live next to a big field. While we were on the road adjacent to the field, we saw smoke. Lots of it. The smoke was far away, probably a mile and a half or 2 miles out in a Dacha sector (Ukrainian planting fields and cottages). I saw the big fire and thought "Maybe someone there needs help". So, we made our way across the field towards the smoke. As we were going across the field, there was a huge windstorm. If anyone has seen the picture of Dan Jones preaching, they'll appreciate the following picture. Dan Jones was a missionary from back in the day, and there's paintings of him standing on things holding the Book of Mormon up preaching. Well, I thought I would take advantage of the wind to get an awesome picture of me doing a Dan Jones. It will be in the email following this. I'm quite pleased with it ;) Anyways, we make our way to Dacha field, and start winding our way through the little roads of cottages. As we get near, we hit a dead end. But, the flames are visible. I wanted a picture. I wanted a picture of me standing by the fire more than anything, and I don't know why. I looked at my watch, and we had 5 minutes before we had to turn around and head back. So, I started running to a different road. Dead end. I kept running, and found a third path. Dead end. It was eating at me. I needed to see this! We hit the dead end, and it was a fence leading out of the Dacha sector to the open field. I don't know why I came to this conclusion, but I decided that we needed to jump the fence (It was probably 7 feet high). Elder Gittins probably thought I was crazy, but we jumped it. Then, we were in the not so glorious field of flames. The flames were huge, and a ways off. Getting a little excited, I start jogging up to the fire to see what caused it. In order to explain the following, I'll have to draw a diagram.
Y z z
Dacha/Ukrianian farm house
} <- where we jumped the fence
Okay, as you can see from my beautiful diagram, this is the scenario. Elder Gittins is the X, and I am the Y. The Z's are two Rottweilers, all muscle rabid looking dogs that were around the corner. I failed to see them. As they saw me, they booked it towards me, probably with the hopes of tearing me apart and eating Americans for dinner. So I ran. Fast. Faster than I have ever ran! Elder Gittins was ahead of me, and as I looked behind me, I saw the dogs gaining on me. (We were running down where we initially hopped the fence). They were going to get me. In my head I thought of what would happen if I got rabies. Oh man, what a hassle. Too much paperwork! So, I needed a way out. There just so happened to be a bench along the fence that would be my way out. I was going to jump. I was going to be the coolest missionary ever and actually get away from these dogs. So the time came. Remember how I said I thought I got super into basketball for some reason regarding my mission? I thought it would be so I could play with people. Oh, how I was wrong. I'm pretty sure it was so it would help me with my vertical jump at this moment. Stepped on the bench and jumped over the fence. Well, sort of. I was in the process of clearing it when one of the dogs jumped as well, trying to get me. He bit my shoe, and brought my foot down in between the picket fence, catching it up top. All this was in slow motion to me by the way. Then, my foot caught, broke the top of the fence, and I tumbled 7 or so feet down onto my face, which happened to land on a rock. As I laid on the ground, I pictured Elder Gittins getting torn apart by the other rabid dog. But alas, he was safe! The dogs were sitting on the other end of the fence. I had lived! All was well! Until we heard someone yelling in Russian. The dogs ran off, Gittins helped me over the fence, and I started talking to this guy who came up. The first thing I heard was "The Americans! They came!" I was pretty confused, beaten and battered, but followed him. While following him I called the guy were were supposed to meet and his kid was sick, so he couldn't make it anyways. Talk about good luck. Aleksandr (the guy) was sitting near where the dogs started with his friends. It turns out that they recieved a Book of Mormon from missionaries 7 or 8 months ago on the street, but weren't interested at the time. They were just sitting around and read the whole thing, and then lost it one day. He said they remembered a lot about prayer, so they prayed that they would see missionaries again. He agreed to be baptized after meeting with us more.
So yeah, it was a miracle. I got some pretty rough battle wounds too. The best part is that people asked during Zone conference what happened to my face, and rather than explaining the story I just said "Gorlovka is a dangerous place". (Sorry to burst your bubble mom, but I'm pretty sure this is the worst place in the mission, and my area is the worst place in gorlovka. Don't worry though! I'll be blessed with protection ;) ) In short, it was awesome.
I've taken a ton of time writing this, so I don't have much else to say other than one last thing. As you know, we've been doing English here for a while, and this last week was the last week of the program. It was awesome to see how everyone had progressed in not only English, but their relationship with Christ. One older lady started off refusing to talk about religion, but by the end of the program wanted to talk to us more. Now she is reading the Book of Mormon, and she has a new light in her eyes. It's cool to see how much happier she is, and how much she has changed. She wants to be baptized as well, but isn't sure of what date yet. We're going to try and sort it out this week when we talk with her. She's awesome. Everyone here is awesome. We have too many investigators for our own good. Everyone we meet with is awesome, and we've been incredibly busy trying to talk with everyone. I'm loving it here. Also, the weather has been crazy. 2 days ago it was in the 80s with 98 or 99 percent humidity, now it's in the 30s and raining. Bleh. Everytime I say winter is over, it comes back to bite me. Too bad I can't jump over a fence to avoid it, right? Ha.
I love you all, I hope you have a fantastic week. I miss every single one of you, and I think about you all the time! Keep it cool back home, and don't forget about me! (As easy as that might be!)
|Throwing a tree into a fire, no big deal!|
|Elder Goloshokov (No idea how to spell this in English) doing work during our helping hands clean up day!|
|Maks, one of my friends here in Ukraine who saw us and came over to talk to us!|
|All the Elders helping with the service project|
|Everyone who came to help|
|Anyone that knows the cyrillic alphabet will really appreciate these two Фагот pictures. Haha.|
|I'm too tall for Ukrainian Taxis|
|The King is back!!!! (Campero!)|
|Knocking on doors in Gorlovka|
|Dead cat in the middle of Donetsk, it looked and smelled like it had been there for several weeks.|
|Me basking in my 2 packages from Christina and one from the family I got this week :D|
|The result of the fence to my face and hand|
|Probably the coolest picture I've taken on my mission!|