Albert & Heidi in front of a government building in Sophia, Bulgaria.
April 23rd 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Elder Pieper said they took a group of 50 people, journalists, scholars and government people to the open house of the Helsinki temple. Afterward an atheist conducted an interview on the media. He said that he had had an experience that he had never had anything like it before. He had visited the Mormon temple. He said the churches in Russia were dark. People came into them, knelt and there was no light. What he saw in the Mormon temple was light for a future, not only for the individual but for families including ancestors. He said that there is hope that a soul, even mine, and he pointed to himself, can receive salvation. Since his interview the media in Russia have changed.
The ancestors of the Russians are working on their posterity. There were 15 family history centers in Eastern Europe a year ago. Now there are 350. People are clamoring for them. They are having dreams, like a sister who said that her sister appeared in a dream and asked her to do her temple work. Twenty five million Russians died in World War II.
Elder Pieper and his wife befriended a couple a couple years ago. The man is a Colonel and used to aim guns at U.S. planes that came close. One day Elder Pieper felt inspired to invite this man to go with him to a youth conference. After the conference this Colonel said, "Now I have hope for the future of Russia." Eventually his wife called the Piepers to say she thought her husband was ready to listen to the missionaries. When he said he wanted to be baptized a young missionary looked him in the eye and said you can't. This tough old Colonel wanted to know why. The young elder said, "Because you are not ready." This Colonel was not used to having someone in authority talk to him that way and he was upset at the young missionary. However, the old Colonel spent the night in prayer. After that night in prayer he said the elder was right. He wasn't ready. He was baptized and this spring he said he wanted to go to general conference. He attended the Piepers and Elder Pieper sealed him and his wife in the Salt Lake temple and on April 3rd he and his wife had baptisms performed in behalf of their mothers, both of whom had died on an April 3rd.
The Europe East Area covers 11 time zones and extends from the Arctic to the Mediterranean. It's the biggest Area in the church. Elder Pieper has to cover only 9 time zones. He and his family have lived here 10 years now. He said the people in this Area have no hope except in the Church. Everything they have ever hoped for has never come to fruition. Those friends that were baptized wish they had known the gospel earlier. She wishes she would have had 8 children. The people in Eastern Europe love to see our families' pictures. They need to see that fathers are authorities in their homes, because in East Europe women traditionally run the house.
The newly sustained Seventy from the Ukraine is a wonderful man, Elder Pieper said. He was demoted twice by his company, because they didn't want someone with strange beliefs in a high position. Picketing and demonstrations formed outside their Branch meeting place.
Those are some of the things Elder Pieper taught us 22 senior couples as we sat at our tables in a Best Western City Hotel in Sophia, Bulgaria.
We've visited 4 of these Orthodox Churches, including the Armenian Apostolic churches now and they are really dark. They have no pews. People buy candles and light them. They really are like dungeons and the murals are ancient and dim. I'll see what we have for photos and attach one.