Monday, February 23, 2015

Saratov - Week 4 - "Persecution in Saratov"

February 2, 2015

All is well....... And holy cow were the last two days absolute CHAOS.
About ten years ago the city of Saratov had enough members that it could have had 2 stakes, however the economy crashed right around that area and the majority of the members in Saratov moved to Moscow. It's crazy how hard the adversary works when he knows that something good is about to happen (for example in the Ukraine Donesk mission they were almost ready to build a stake there as well, and now there are no missionaries in Ukraine it is complete chaos). Well, Saratov has strengthened its numbers once more and the area president for the east side of europe, President Packer, has decided to come down to Saratov to see if we are in fact ready to build a stake. President Schwab informed us that this will be the most important conference in this mission for 10 years. So, for the past 2 and a half weeks all missionaries in the Saratov zone have been trying to get in contact with ALL members, ALL less actives, and ALL investigators and potentials to invite them to this special conference to show President Packer that we really are ready for a stake. Many different branches in different cities would be coming down to Saratov by bus just to come to the conference. We have printed out special invitations to give out and those that we haven't been able to get in contact with we have gone to their homes and put the fliers in their mailboxes. We have been praying so hard and looking forward to this day like Christmas. But oh how the devil doesn't like that....
It all started in zone conference this weekend when President Schwab informed us that others have heard about this conference and that there will actually be protestors. That was a little bit shocking to me just because the church is still so new in Russia, I didn't know that there could be enough people that know about the church in Russia to even start a protest.
On Saturday night, less than 24 hours before the conference, we were at the branch building for a baptism when we heard a rumor from one of the members that the buildilng that we have been planning to meet in for the conference has been shut down. That seemed very unlikely, so we asked the zone leaders if that was true, they told us no and that we would definitely still be having the conference in that building. However, after the baptism, we found the zone leaders pacing up and down the hallway both on their phones, and turns out that there is a squad of policemen in front of the conference buildling and that no body is going in there. Yes, the building WAS shut down. That means that all the invitations that we have given out, all the people that we have talked to in the past two weeks would all be going to the wrong address, instead of finding a Mormon conference they would find a mob and a squad of police but no conference. A "call down" was immediately sent out to all missionaries to cancel all plans for the evening and to call all members, less actvies, and investigators and inform them that the meeting was being relocated to our branch buildling. That put me in even more shock considering that our branch buildilng can only hold about 200 people MAYBE, and we were expecting over 300. So they decided that the Saratov district will instead meet in 3 separate buildings and we will just broadcast it from our branch buildling. We spent the entire night making calls and making sure that everybody knew of the changes. Satan knew about this conference and he really doesn't want it to happen! It's almost funny how much evidence he gives that he is real and how vitally important this conference is.
The next meeting 250 people met in our branch building, it was packed at the way to the back of the hall. But to top it all off, here's what happens next. Everyone is sitting down and we are getting ready to start the conference... and the power goes out. No lights, no microphone, and no interenet and power source to broadcast the conference. The government had completely shut the power off in our branch buildling. But does that stop us? No. We will raise our voice if we have no microphone, we will open the blinds if we have no light, and if we want to do a video broadcast, we will use skype to get this message to all Saratov branches. And that is just what we did. This work WILL go forth. Saratov WILL become a stake. And no one, especially the devil, can stop this work. The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.
There was a turnout of over 420 people total. And what was the conference about? It was about Christ. Christ's chosen servants will always testify about him. I know that truly that meeting WAS the most important meeting that this mission will see for many years. I know that the day is coming when Saratov will become a stake, and I know that that day is soon. When there are 3 stakes in a country the likeliness for a temple to be built goes up drastically. There is a stake in Moscow, a stake in St. Petersburg, and the last stake? Saratov.
I know without a doubt that this is God's work, and I know for a fact that as long as Christ sits at the head of this church, nothing his teachings from going forth. What an exciting time to be serving in Saratov.
Expect miracles in Russia :)
Sister Brooklyn Wilson

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