We have some good news and some bad news. Which one do you want to hear first?
Ok, first the bad news.
Our battle to get VISAs flowing again, took a turn for the worse. There was a meeting held with some government officials a few days ago which did not go well. It wasn't even close to ok. Voices were raised and they accused the Church of lying. It seems we are not the favorites with some of those officials, right now.
In fact, the concern for the moment may not so much be whether or not we can bring new proselyting missionaries to the mission, but whether or not the current ones will be able to stay. Ouch! Now, we don't think it will come to that but it is something of a concern, though thus far only a small one.
To help avoid that possibility, though, no foreign missionaries will be able to do ITLs for the foreseeable future. ITLs are 'Invitations To Learn'. Missionaries approach people on the street and ask them if they would like to learn about the Gospel. We never have been allowed to go door to door, but ITLs work pretty well. But, we do not want to risk 'upsetting the apple cart' any further so ITLs will only be done by local missionaries, for now.
Now the good news.
The Lord is still in charge.
Recently, local Church leaders had a wonderful idea. They asked all members to hand out a six question survey they had created which asked such questions as, "Would you like to know more about your family history?" or "If you knew that Jesus Christ had again talked to someone on this earth, would you want to know about it?"
The result was the gathering of over 3000 referrals from people responding that they would like to know more! So, at the same time that ITLs were significantly restricted, the missionaries were blessed with 3000+ member referrals! That should keep them busy for a while!
Our little Nalaikh Branch (the one Sister Caldwell and I are assigned to) received 900 of those referrals! It'll take them months to work through all of them! If 1 in 10 of those were to join the Church, we would probably need to split the branch!
One step back and two steps forward!