On Tuesday morning we rode the metro, then took a bus the rest of the way out of town so we could attend the temple. We had decided to fast that day, and we were out the door and on our way at 7:30 a.m. We got to the temple around 9:00, in time for the 10:00 a.m. session. It was only the 2nd day the temple was open, and everyone was in a bit of a flurry running around and trying to figure everything out. Especially since everyone spoke different languages. Half of them spoke English, half spoke Russian, and a handful spoke only Ukrainian or other. It was a bit comical, but they did a great job. The temple president and matron are from Idaho.
They quickly ran out of headsets, so I volunteered to do the session without one. It was in Russian, but I figured I go enough that I would be fine. At the last minute another headset turned up and I was able to use one after all.
The session took about 2 1/2 hours by the time we changed rooms part-way, and they got everyone through the veil in all of the different languages. We went to the celestial room, and were so overcome with emotion. It was such an amazing experience and the spirit was so strong. Brian cried and cried and then cried some more. I'm not kidding. I left the celestial room 3 times to go get a handful of tissues for him. It was an amazing experience for him, being back in the Ukraine after all of those years, getting to do a session in Russian, and then the icing on the cake was that one of his dearest Ukrainian friends, working at the temple that day for the very first time, got to help him through the veil.
After basking in the sweet spirit of the celestial room forever, we decided that we just couldn't leave. Even though we didn't have an appointment for the 1:00 session we asked if we could please stay and do another one. They said, "Of course!" And we didn't end up leaving the temple that day until about 4:00 p.m. It was so wonderful.
When we left the temple it was pouring rain. We grabbed a taxi, and headed to a place called Peregovo. Brian describes it as the "This is the Place State Park" of the Ukraine. Meaning it has got all of the old buildings, and has been preserved to feel like "olden days" Ukraine.
It was a really beautiful place, but it was drizzly, and we were pretty hungry by this point, and it is hard to do any hard-core sightseeing and hike across the countryside when you haven't eaten all day.
We decided to call it quits, and we took a taxi back to the metro, then hopped a train back into the city. We happened upon the missionaries at the metro station, and offered to take them out to dinner. We took took them to TGI Fridays, and were so happy to finally eat--at almost 8 pm!
Needless to say, the missionaries were absolutely thrilled. They said, "American Food! We can't believe it! What an unexpected surprise!" They ordered giant hamburgers and licked their plates clean. It was cute. They had a great time telling us what the mission is like now, and they loved hearing Brian's stories about what it used to be like. Brian was like a missionary rockstar in their eyes because he was one of the first ones.
It sounds like they are doing great and have a ton of contacts from the temple open house. I just loved sitting there and listening to what it was like to be a Ukrainian missionary. I felt like it really helped me understand a lot more about my husband. He just lights up and gets so excited talking about the mission field.
**Highlight of the night: I asked the missionaries where they got most of their baptisms, and they replied, "From people like your husband, mostly. Most of the people we teach are people who heard about the church or took discussions many years ago, but weren't quite ready to get baptized yet and now they are. We have a lot of them seek us out, ready to learn more and take the next step!"
I think Brian liked hearing that the seeds he planted so long ago were finally taking root!