March 18, 2013
"What's this green stuff" "Green chile!" "Why's it green? Looks funny" "Elder Davidov, just eat the burritto. It'll be good for you!"
Hey there everyone! :)
Oh my gosh, these past 3 weeks we have accumulated about a billion and 6 miracles. I mean it. Want to hear the final cool miracle of the girl we baptized? Of course you do!
So, we'd tried really hard (us and our ward mission leader) to find a place for her to get baptized and decided on a place called Russian Banya (you need to look up the nuances of a banya, it's pretty hilarious the traditions behind it). Essentially, a banya is like a sauna. We all gathered there early early in the morning (we woke up at 5:30 -shudder-) It was a group of about 12 people: The family, all 6 missionaries, President D (heh, that looks funny in English, I want to hear how you pronounce that after my mission) and a friend. Pretty solid group. Anyways, everything was all set, great music, great talk on baptism and then it was finally time for the baptism. But oh no!
The pool was too deep!
And when I say the pool was too deep I mean if I got in the pool and tried to stand it'd be up to my chin deep. Not gonna fly for a baptism. So, what was there to do? The only thing we could think of was to place one of the benches in the pool itself to give the father and his daughter something to stand on...but the bench floats! It was about the coolest and most heart tugging thing to see our brother try with all his might to push and force the bench under the water. He surfed a good number of times as he, unsuccesfully, tried to get the bench to stay down.
And then, he got an idea!
We figured out that the bench could be wedged at an angle between one edge of the pool (along with the dad forcing it down with his feet) and a rung of the ladder that led into it. It was pretty crazy and it looked kinda like trying to baptize someone on a teeter totter, but it worked. She got baptized.
I know it's just a funny little story, but think about it for a second. Here is a father who has waited for more than 6 years to see his daughter finally accept the Gospel. She had a dream, a complete change of heart and in the course of 2 really short week we all taught her the Gospel and prepared her for the covenant. All these things, and no matter the obstacles (and there were lots) the family pushed on. Now, finally, at the Banya itself, here is Brother K more happy than I've ever seen him struggling to overcome the last barrier keeping his daughter from being baptized...a too-deep pool. But no matter what, as funny of a testimony as it may sound, I know that the Lord always provides a way, even if it seems difficult for us like a floating wooden bench.
Needless to say, it's been a rock solid week. For the first time of my mission I got to work with an elder I'd never worked with before, Elder Owen who, coincidentally, is also from New Mexico! He lived in Albuquerque his whole life, but his parents just moved to Maine, so no one will actually be on that finally plane ride for me to Albuquerque. Oh well! I'd been saving my New Mexican food for such an occasion, so we made some super tasty burritos and had the privelage of feeding a Ukrainian New Mexican food for the first time. Although at first he was a skeptic, he loved it by the end.
Maybe a goofy question, but I remember when I drove to school in the mornings that White Rock has a Russian sister city. What city is that? Chances are it's no where in my mission, but that'd be pretty cool if it was!
I had a couple of reuqests for you that I think you'll like. The Wings just went home and, unfocrtunately, my camera's batteries were dead for the baptism. BUT! The Wings have pictures and by the time you read this letter they may or may not already be home. Regardless, if you could send them an e-mail and say hi for me (maybe talk to them by skype! They'd be tickled pink) and request the baptism photos you can see the latest of Elder Peterson's mission! In addition, one of my really good friends here in Balakova wanted to become my friend on facebook. She should be found on facebook as [ ] from the city Balakova (or, in Russian letters [if you can't find her on Facebook just e-mail her my homepage and that should be good. She knows a bit of English (and has google translate or me even if it came ot it) so you can write her a bit in English if you'd like :) She has a video of me and Elder Rekow singing last year that she wanted to share with you all.
One last request too, sorry for the bunches! Like you already said, Mom, Rebekah is leaving on her mission next week (yipes! That's so cool but so dang soon too!) If you could tell her goodbye for me, ask if she got my letter and request her mailing address(es) for while she's in Brazil, that'd be really spiffy. My friend Jeanette Zaleski is also going soon, so if you could do the same for her, that'd be real nice :)
Well, that's a good little summary of the week. Things are going really great here! The Wings are gone, which is really sad, but other than that there are no other changes for the district, so we all get to be together at least for another 4 weeks (this cycle is an unusally short one). Thanks so much for you help, prayers and support. More than ever I've really been able to see how your prayers and faith, along with those of Balakova, have added up to a real miracle. I sure do love you lots! Be good now :)