Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Donboss/Gorlvoka Letter 7

It's almost Christmas!!! It's the 19th and there is NO SNOW over here and today the temperature gauge said that it was about 6 degrees Celsius. That is quite warm. I don't know what is happening with this warm weather. It's kind of making me go crazy in the head because I thought that it was going to be cold, but in fact it's quite warm. Maybe I'm just always crazy in the head. Who knows....

This past week was a good quick week. It was transfer week and so that included some extra surprises. On Tuesday we met with some people so
Elder H could say goodbye to them. Nothing too special happened.
He was bummed that he had to leave this area. I remember way back when, when I was his age in the mission and I remember not really wanting to leave my first area because I liked it a lot. But eventually you have to grow up and move on. I've come to like all of my areas. Some other missionaries could say that I have served in the 'armpits' of the mission. There is only one more area and I have gotten all of the "bad" areas. I tend to think that all areas are good. This area that I am in now is great. There are a lot of people to talk to and we always have something to do.

On Wednesday night we went to THE best house in Ukraine. All of the houses, apartments, or living spaces here are relatively the same and so when we walked in we were surprised at what we saw. We as in Elder H, D, R and I. The members invited us all over because some of them were leaving. It was AMAZING!!! The house felt like an American home. Warm and loving and everything was amazing. Wow! I'm wondering how they got all of their stuff inside of that house and where from. Just simply amazing. We went and washed our hands before we ate and in the bathroom there was a Jacuzzi tub, and a shower box with many showerheads, bidea and a toilet. It was THE best bathroom
I've ever seen. Then we commenced with a meal, which they said is a 'real' Ukrainian meal. What ever it was it was very delicious. We talked and showed photos and had a great time. Then we talked about life and everything else and then it came time for us to come home. It was a night not to forget.

Thursday was transfer day. The bus came for Elder H and we loaded up his stuff and then came to the other Elders to grab Elder D and his luggage and then they all left. It was sad to see them go but life goes on. I'll probably never see Elder D again because he is all the way up in Sumi and since that makes a lot of sense for you he's about seven hours away by car travel...roughly. So I won't see him again and he's training again...meaning that I have a mission brother..That is to help you out if you're doing missionary genealogy. They all left and we waited for transfer meeting to occur and wait for the bus to come back so we could get our new companions. My new companion is Elder L.

He's awesome! I'm grateful for the chance to serve with him. I've only seen him once before and that was up in Kharvov for zone conference. He was up in Sumi so he came down. He was a fresh greenie. That was my first time seeing him. I knew of him but I didn't really know him. He's a bit taller than me, wears glasses, and has a shaved head...because he got a fellow missionary to cut it and he didn't do a good job. He's from Phoenix, Arizona. He went to BYU for a year, graduated high school in '10. It's crazy serving with younger kids. I'll probably have younger companions around me for the rest of the mission. That isn't bad because then there are more teaching opportunities and what not. When I found out that I was going to get Elder L I was a bit scared because I was going to 'wean' again. That is to be his second companion. That is sometimes a frightful thing but after I put some thought into it I wasn't so scared anymore and now I'm not scared. He's a great kid and is easy to get along with. We laugh and make jokes all the time. It's a good time right now, and I can't complain.

Friday we had district meeting and we had some good lessons taught about always having Christ near to our hearts...that's because we have nametags that have His name on it. We played some ping-pong as a bonding activity and Elder L is amazing at playing ping-pong. We then quickly came home and made some food. Elder L helped out which is nice.  It's nice having help in the kitchen. Then we went back to the church to have a lesson with an investigator that we found a while back. He speaks English very well and is pretty cool. He said that he got back from the recording studio because he is in a band playing drums and occasionally the bass guitar. That was way cool. From what we gained from our lesson with him he has a great head upon his shoulders. He has had interactions with missionaries for a very long time and knows about us. Hopefully we will be able to help him out and make the step and become a member and reap the blessings that are in store for him.

Saturday was a busy day just like everyday. We went to V and had a lesson with him. He's been hit-and-miss some times and so it was good to meet with him. Meeting with him can some times be a bit difficult because he knows everything and takes it all in so when it comes time to teaching some thing new...there really isn't some thing new to teach. We ended our lesson and he thought that we were gonna leave.... instead we sat there and shot the breeze with him for a while because he needs some good friends and then we left. Then we came back home and ate some leftovers and went to V and A for a lesson with them. They are good people and the lesson with them was great. They are people who love good things and they try and do good things and so they are great people. One of the many great things about them is that if you ask them to read the scriptures they will and get out great information from it. So we talked about the scriptures and gave half of a first lesson. We talked about good things in the world and that every good thing is from God. She agreed with us and then grabbed a newspaper and showed us a photograph of a smiley face made out of clouds and asked if it was from God. We said yes because it was a good thing. Then after some more discussion we left and came back home and made some white-chocolate chip cookies. They turned out to be way good and tasty.

Sunday was a long interesting day. Church was good and the usual. Gospel Principles never really has anyone in the class except some missionaries and some other members...that can get awkward some times. Priesthood was normal. Then came the most exciting part of the day. There is going to be a Christmas program put on by the branch and so we practiced for it.....for about 5 hours we practiced.  It provided for some laughs and then everything worked out....I guess. It was a good thing to participate in.

Life has been going great. I have been learning a lot of things lately. In 1 Nephi chapter 2 Lehi is talking to Laman and Lemuel about being like a river and a valley. If you want something to think about thing week think about a river and what it does to the land. I'm thankful for the love of the earth and how she works because rivers are quite fascinating. Rivers if they are continuous, just as was said by Lehi, always move.... then shape of the land but yet the flow of the river keeps on going. Yet the land may move and change, the river will always be flowing.... into the fountain of righteousness. I thought that it was interesting to me...maybe not so much to you all but that is something that I learned this week.

Also Elder L can do finger tip pull-ups on the small lip of a doorframe and he has been teaching me how to do them. He taught me that I need to have trust in myself and that I can to do. Now I can hang on my finger tips for some seconds and every now and then I can pull up to a 90 degree. It's pretty cool. I'm learning a lot and having a lot of fun and laughing of course. Thanks for all that you have done for me.

Love Elder Frank

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Donboss/Gorlvoka Letter 5

On Monday it was P-day, if you guessed that it wasn't you were wrong. That night we had a lesson with a member present. That was probably my first time on the mission when we called a member and asked if they could come on a lesson with us. It was pretty cool because she could do some of the talking and when we don't know what is going on they can answer the question and say the best thing ever. So we had that lesson with them and learned some new things about the people. The mother has a problem or is curious about why there are mental health problems in the world because her son has a minor health problem but yet is functional. It was a good lesson and we learned about their needs and how we can help them more. She started off with saying that she had a 'vision or a dream' about something and she wanted us to try and interpret the dream. Good thing we had a member because I was confused about what she said and the member was also a bit confused by it but said that we probably wouldn't be able to interpret the dream.

Tuesday we were busy. We went to our investigators place and talked with him, V. We are just waiting for First Presidency approval till we can baptize him, and also he needs to come to church. We met with him and talked with him. He is doing good and still trying to change his life for the better. We met with an older woman who has met with missionaries before. She is very smart and loves to study. She has a Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Principles book, and all the pamphlets. She has read the Book of Mormon a couple of times and everything else. She is pretty smart with the knowledge from it. Then after the lesson she gave us some borsch, Russian soup. She gave it to us because she asked us what we are doing with the rest of the day and we said that we are going home to eat a little bit and clean up the apartment because we have cleaning checks. She asked us if we were hungry and of course we said yes, and then she warmed up some borsch and gave it to us. It was good...then we had some tea...then we had some cake. This is one of many cool things about Ukrainians, is that they are great hosts when guests come over. They treat guests nicely. Then after our dinner/lunch we went home and cleaned up some more and waited till the people came to do clean checks. It was quick, thank goodness, and then they left. Later that night we went to a dinner appointment and they also gave us some borsch and some 'dumplings' and some filled-crepes. It was all good food and when we were done I was completely full.

Wednesday was a good day just like everyday. We had a lesson with N, probably the most happiest lady in the branch. She is hard of hearing but yet sweet as can be. We talked about faith, hope, and charity with her. We read from Ether 12:27-31 and discussed it. Because of her hard of hearing she answered about how great the Book of Mormon is, not about faith, hope, and charity. We ran with it and talked about the greatness of the Book of Mormon. Later that night we had a lesson with V again, he invited us over when we went yesterday, we thought that we were gonna have a good lesson with him about why he hasn't been coming to church and what not but when we got there he had a friend over and then some more friends came over. It was a bit awkward because we felt like we crashed his party and we didn't want to intrude anymore and so we left and he said that he was gonna come to church and everything else. 

Thursday we went back into Donetsk for some more doctor appointments for me. We got in and then met up with Elders P and A and we went to the doctors. After the doctors appointment we went to the office to pick up my CHRISTMAS PACKAGE!!! We chatted with the office staff and then made our way back to Gorlovka. We dropped off the package and then raced to the church to have district meeting. We had a good meeting. We read from Ether about the Brother of Jared and his challenge of having light (Holy Ghost) across the sea (mission). We talked about that and learned some good new things. Then we had to bounce out a bit early because we had a lesson with S. We have tried meeting with him before but it never worked out. Some how the other Elders got his phone number and called him and made a lesson with him but found out that he was in our area. We were happy about that because we got fed a lesson. On our way over we realized where we were walking and we knew that it was the guy we tried earlier in the transfer. We got to his place and had a lesson with him. He's awesome! He and I are very similar I feel like. He loves to ride bikes and run. Oh my word! That is exactly what I did before I left on the mission. So he and I can talk about that and life is good. He's a very nice man probably mid-30's I'd say. We talked about the temple and that there is one in Kyiv and what the temple is.

Friday is transfer call day. Elder H wondered where he was going to get transferred but he wasn't sure when they would call. He called some other people wondering if they got their phone calls but they didn't. We waited some more and then the AP's called and told him that he would be leaving. He was a bit saddened by that, but it's good to get out of our greenie area and go and do new things. Then comes the part where some missionaries go crazy and that is trying to figure out where you go. Sometimes the AP's will give clues as to where you could go or who you will be with. My clue was Sacagawea and so I thought about that and then put it together and came to the answer that I'll be weaning again. I'll be weaning Elder Lewis. That should be fun, I'm looking forward to it. Elder Harris is going to XT3, where I just came from. That should be fun for him...

After some thinking about it we went to a lesson with a less active member and she too gave us some borsch. This borsch was a bit sketchy for me and I didn't really eat it. I spooned it, ate some, but not a lot. We talked about the Book of Mormon and we committed her to read 3 Nephi 18 about the Sacrament and have her come to church. She said that she would. Then we contacted around the city for a while and then grabbed some food and did our weekly planning and figured out what Elder Harris wants to do for his final week here. We then waited for our zone leaders to come over and start our split. I went with Elder Z to his area. It was nice getting out of my area for a while. 

Saturday morning there was another baptism! A is his name, he's a great guy and the branch loves him. He got a warm loving welcome from them. It was nice to see. Elder D baptized him...twice....because he didn't go all the way down the first time....because he's big guy. Luckily the second time it all worked out and he was baptized! While we were waiting for them to come back after changing clothes there was some time to bear testimony about baptism. I got up and bore my simple testimony about baptism talked about my baptism in the creek in Wyoming. It was pretty cool and I felt the Spirit for sure. I need to work on getting up in Fast Sundays and bearing my testimony. I'm one who doesn't really like to get up and talk to people but yet when I do I kind of enjoy the moment and then when I'm done I feel good inside. I'll be working on that till the end of the mission. We had some treats afterwards and then talked with the members for a while. After that we all went and got pizza and talked about the mission and how great it is. Then we all split up and went back to our areas. Elder Z and I talked about life, the mission, and everything else. He likes to bake and he made some lemon cookies and some pudding. The pudding was very thick because he wanted to add more starch....it was different but good. 

Sunday was good. We had church like always. When we started singing the piano worked fine for the first hymn, but on the second hymn it cut out and stopped halfway through. That made singing the third hymn very interesting because the chorister didn't give an introduction and started singing right away. Most of the people didn't know the song and so it sounded very awful...but yet heavenly at the same time. Church was pretty good. The branch has changed since the beginning of the transfer. The branch seems to be happier and there is a better spirit about it. After church we waited until because they were going to show the Christmas broadcast and during the time of waiting we talked with a really cool member, Brother A. He's way cool and loves the missionaries. All the missionaries were gathered around him and we talked about everything it was pretty cool. Then we watched the broadcast in the family history room because that was the only place where we could have watched it in English. It was a good conference and I liked what Uchdorf or Eyring talked about light and how that is Christ. It's very interesting about how light and Christ can be changed in the Book of Mormon and still make sense. Christ is the light of the world. I just thought that it was interesting. 

Life is going well for me.

Love Elder Frank