|If you can't tell--It was FREEZING!|
We were able to meet with many church members during the days we were in Penza. Although my understanding of the Russian language is pitiful, I felt great love for these people because I understood the language of the Spirit when they spoke. One man in particular, Sasha, after only minutes of being introduced to me, asked if he could bear his testimony with me. Drew acted like a translator as this sweet man told me of the powerful experiences he has had with the Spirit and the Book of Mormon. I was touched to the point of tears. The members I met lived their lives in ways that showed me, a stranger, that their testimonies were the most precious things they owned. They willing shouted from the rooftops the glorious message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we entered the train station to board our departing train, we were surprised by an older woman who immediately ran to Drew and hugged him with tears flooding down her face. It was later explained to me that she was Valentine, a woman my husband had taught and baptized on his mission. Her love for him was evident. She told me how much it meant to her that he and his companion, Steven Bolt, were persistent in testifying of the restored church to her. She told me that they should up to her house every evening almost completely frozen just to teach her.
The Spirit testified to me so strongly about missionary work while I was in Penza. Drew and I were trekking through snow/ice/slush and the freezing cold one night when I realized the great sacrifice he (and thousands of others) have made by going on a mission. Missionary work is profoundly beautiful and Christ-like. My admiration of all returned missionaries grew as I contemplated the arduous nature of missionary work. The sacrifice of time, comfort, home, and many other things in the pursuit of bringing the world His truth. A more noble cause I cannot think of.
I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to hear the testimonies of people all around the world. I know that Heavenly Father loves His children and that His gospel is spreading quickly because of the blessings it brings into our lives. Jesus Christ is our Savior and the joy that comes with this knowledge is to be shared with everyone. Penza opened my eyes to both the hardships Russian people endure but also the powerful testimonies of Russian Latter-Day Saints.