We had zone conference on Friday. It was a day full of mixed emotions.I bore my last testimony and am still alive. The moments leading up to the testimony would prove fatal to a cardiologist because my heart was beating radically fast. Maybe some day I'll have control over my heart and it won't get all dilapidated on me when I'm older.
This week provided some good lessons. We met with that one brother who's wife had the stroke. He likes to discuss the Gospel and so we planned on talking about the Book of Mormon and after hearing his testimony we would provide a fresh clean Book of Mormon with him and commit him to sharing the book with someone that was ready for the Gospel. What actually happened was that we discussed the importance of gaining a testimony of the BOM. From the post-lesson review we were a bit shocked. He didn't see the importance of praying to know that the BOM is true. We tried explaining it to him but he wouldn't quite accept. He asked us if we needed to pray to know if a small piece of gold weighed exactly five grams or not. It was a bit crazy and at the end of the lesson we weren't able to get him to pray but we were able to get him to think and ponder about the BOM. Hopefully the next time that we come over all will be well and he'll understand that he needs to pray about the BOM. The Spirit was pretty strong during the lesson especially when we said "As representatives of Jesus Christ...." those words are pretty powerful. Usually on a lesson, if it's even needed, it's only said once, but this time it was said twice. Once by Elder Lewis and by me. We were trying as hard as we could to help this Brother understand the need to pray about the BOM.
We had a great lesson last night. We talked about the Book of Mormon and bore some great testimony about the BOM. They had some great testimonies and it's just great hearing testimonies of the members over here. They are strong and stalwart. After the lesson they invited us to play some darts. We thought about it and agreed and it turned out to be a great time. We all took ten rounds and then who ever had the best score won. After about the third round the question was asked of "who is going to win?" We all said our answers and then continued playing. I said that the husband was going to win whilst he said that his wife was going to win and Elder Lewis said that he was going to win. Everyone had their guesses and we continued. After all the rounds the scores were tallied and this was the outcome. The husband took last, then Elder Lewis, then the wife and then me. I was shocked and so was everyone else. Beginners luck is what that win was.
This week will be a good week. We have lessons planned every day and we will be busy. I'm working hard and having a great time. I'm laughing and enjoying doing the work. There is this one guy who came out of no where that we found on the streets. He wants a Bible and we are planning to meet with him and have a sit down lesson. We've talked a little bit but haven't had the chance to really explain who we are. From what he's said he's very prepared and my fingers are crossed that he'll get baptized soon so he can really change his life like he wants to.
Thanks for the lovin' and such. I love you all very much and I'm working hard so that means the reunion will be that much better.
So I am still in my area but only for a little while longer. The other day whilst doing some weekly planning with my new companion Elder L I decided to make my planner a bit more effective and in so doing I cut out about half of the planner. Why? might you ask?? Because I don't need those extra days. It's crazy thinking that I'm in my last transfer with only so little left of time. Crazy how time goes by...I know that I have said this about every email, but it's true how crazy fast time is leaving and going to some unknown destination...probably called history.
My few short days with Elder A were well lived. We talked and talked and had a great time. He's a great kid from Oklahoma and truckin' away at the work. It was great being in the center of a city for once. I've usually been on the outskirts of the cities and being in the action is a lot of fun. The people are busy rushing around going somewhere with a race against time. Trying to contact them was a bit more difficult because they were Russian. HAAhahahaa....laugh please.
One morning after our morning contacting time we made our way to a McDonald's. I wasn't sure why and then it was made known unto me. It was my birthday morning and Elder A said that we were going to meet some speical guests. We however were at the wrong McDonald's. We grabbed the closest transport going the right way and made our way to the next one. Once I rounded the corner I found Elder N. I thought that I said goodbye to him but he was still around. He and his parents took us 'out' to breakfast. It was very nice and I was grateful for it. Later that night we had a belated family night. There at the place was a couple of families and some boys that Elders A and N baptized. It was a great time and a lot of fun.
Transfer day is a day full of mixed emotions. For me it was the day that I was going to find out who my last companion was going to be and what I was in for. We all chatted and talked with one another and with those whom we haven't seen in a really long time. It was good to see some Elders that I have come close with. Then it all started. We all gathered together as cows for an auction. We found a place to sit and waited anxiously as for the upcoming news. We "patiently" waited during the testimonies of the new missionaries and then it was time to start the brouhaha. We all circled up as they do in the stake dances during the first few notes of a slow song. We looked around the room nervously anticipating who could be our next companion. One by one names were called and cheers were exlaimed. Cheer after cheer and hug after hug there became less and less missionaries standing up against the wall. Then Elder Frank Young will be serving with....every time you hear your name being called from one of the AP's in a large setting your heart drops to the balls of your feet. Elder Frank Young will be serving with....Elder L! What??!!? Again??? Yes, after the split second of confusion it then got erased by the joys of a hug, Elder L and I would be serving again. I was thrilled and Elder L was still trying to grasp what just happened. Soon all the cheers were quieted and whispers began to drown out the new information the AP's were trying to tell us.
I couldn't be happier at the news of Elder L and I serving again. It's going to be a blast and good things are going to happen. I'm sorry to report that Masha and her husband Valik have been on vacation for little while and will be for another week or so. I only have three weeks left and there trip is two weeks. I was really saddened when I heard that they would be coming back home so late. I was planning on getting them baptized before I left this place. Now...it seems a bit out of my grasp and now my nex goal is to reactivate this less active. I really hope it works. I just want to finish the mission feeling accomplished and feeling good. Elder L and I are going to be working hard to make good things happen. They other day whilst at a members house I was taught a very heart touching leson. The member's wife had a really bad stroke about eight years ago. The outcome of her stroke is that she is now incapable of caring for herself in every way. Her husband, the member, takes care of her every little moment. The member is 71 years old and taking care of his wife isn't the easiest thing to do for him. We showed up and he said that he needed to work with is wife for a little bit longer and then we could start the lesson. She was propped up by a tower of pillows on her bed and her husband was spoon feeding some concauction to her. The tender look of love in his face overwhelmed me and taught me the lesson. I will always take care of my future wife and be with her to help her out. If this old man can take care of his invalid wife, then why can't I show some more love to my wife. He did everything for her all out of love and it really softened my heart.
Well time is running out. Thanks for all that you do. I love you all so very much and thank you for your support.
Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I can't believe that it's almost July 11 again. The time is flying!
Today I dropped off Elder N at the Mission Home. That was a bit weird. I got to see some other Elders who are going home as well and it is crazy that they are all done. Seriously the time is flying. I know that I have a month left, and I'm not counting, there are enough Elders here that are counting down for me. I don't know why but they are. Dropping off Elder N was a bit crazy because we came into the MTC together and now he's done. In a matter of a few hours he'll be picking up his parents from the airport and then be touring the mission with his parents. Again...I'm thankful that you are not coming here to pick me up. It was a bit surreal this morning seeing Elder N gather up all of his items and then go to the Home and send him on his way. Just crazy.
This past week has been busy and great. Where to start??? Well it was Elder Ns last week and so he was making arrangements to say goodbye to all of the members that he has become great friends with over the year. So we had a lot of member lessons...which isn't bad at all and yes we were able to have some investigator lessons so all is well. Don't worry about us doing work. Some of the families here are stalwart. One family was just simply amazing. When you walked in, you literally felt at home and it wasn't some awkward feeling of being some where else. I felt completely comfortable and I could feel the Spirit and the love that is in the family. It was so nice being there. It was difficult to leave because Elder N was seeing them for the last time and because being there with them felt so good. The family has been members for a really long time and they know how to really have happiness in life and that is by living the Gospel. That house has a special feeling. When I have my own house I want it to feel like that. To where others can come in and feel right at home and feel comfortable and not awkward, pretty much have a slice of our house in my future house. Thanks for having a great house Mom and Dad.
One morning we woke up to pouring rain. There have been some mornings when you just pray for rain the night before so you don't have to go outside because you're just so tired. However when I woke up this time and saw the rain coming out I was a bit excited because that meant that possibly we were gonna stay inside and not have to walk around the streets for an hour and half trying to talk with people. But that wasn't going to be the case. We got dressed and then grabbed our coats, grabbed some crackers, and then went outside with our contacting material. We stood underneath our little cover and ate a cracker and then took the first step out into the rain. I was a bit not too pleased with going on and walking in the rain because I knew that no one was going to talk to us. We continued our march into the rain and around our area. We walked and walked and then it turned from misery to enjoyment. I started laughing inside about the fact that we were walking around in the rain trying to avoid the splashes from all of the cars. The enjoyment was quite nice and then when the rain kind of let up I was a bit sad that it was done. Whilst walking around a member called us and told us to come to his office so we wouldn't be in the rain. We declined his request and continued our path. I can't really recall us talking to anyone but we were out there in the rain doing what was asked of us.
The family that we are teaching is making progress. We were able to meet with them twice this week and it's just so nice to be with them. In their apartment they have the similar feel that the one family has, the one family I typed about up above. When the family gets baptized that feeling in the apartment will be so much stronger and better. The first time we met with them we finished teaching the second half of the Plan of Salvation, from death to the end. They had some good questions and we offered our answers. During the lesson I got this thought in my head. I was remined about this one talk that I listened to, it was President Packer. I think the talk is called I'll Remember your sins no More. It talks about the time when Alma talks to his son Shiblon about his problems and then goes on and talks about the spirit world and everything else. These questions that they were having dealed exactly with what these chapters talked about out. I had the feeling and the thought that before we left I had to make sure to explain to them that they needed to read these three chapters (Alma 40-42) so they could get some answers. Then before we were to end the lesson I spoke up and commited them to read those chapters. It felt good accomplishing something that I know that the Holy Ghost prompted me to do. Upon our next arrival we asked them if they read those chapters and they said that they did! They then said that those chapters really helped them out and gave them answers to what they were looking for and it was easy and simple to understand. Oh what a great relief that was. I was so glad that I listened to the Spirit and that those chapters helped them out. Our next lesson was about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we only taught the first three of five topics. Yet again towards the end of the lesson I got another feeling that I should extend another scpriture commitment of reading 3 Nehpi 11 where it talks about baptism. We were gonna extend them to be baptized but it didn't feel right. They are ready for baptism and would be great members. The husband works on Sundays and doesn't really have a chance to change his schedule and so hopefully we'll take a page from Andrew Willmore's mission and have him pray to have his boss change his schedule so he can come to church with his wife. The family is just awesome and it's my goal to see them get baptized before I leave. I know that it is possible and that it's going to take a lot of work. I'm going to buckle down and do the right thing. I know that all will work out.
Transfer meeting is this Thursday and it'll be crazy to see comes to me. I hope that they are ready to work a bit more smart than hard. Elder N and I worked hard which is good. He helped me set the ending pace for the rest of the mission for me. I'm excited to work and to finish strong. Till then family I'll be working hard and you'll be having a great time. Thanks for everything.
I can't believe that it's July already....where is time going?? Elder N and I were talking the past couple days about the powers of man and God. We, man, have some powers over some things, but God has power over all things and weather is one thing that man won't ever have control over. I'm curious to know what is going on about how the fighting of the fires is taking place and then I would love to work with someone about restoring the land BUT I'd really rather study the Book of Mormon and share that knowledge with those who don't know about it.
This morning I did a great study about patience and confidence. Elder N has been trying to work with others and get things coordinated and some things hasn't been working out. This has been stressing him out and making some things more complicated than it really should be. We talked about it last night because he thought that I was down and depressed. I was just tired and exhausted. I have been keeping my cool and being calm and not worrying about what is going on. I have allowing him to do what he needs to do and to sit back and hope that all works out for him. I will work on being nice to him and helping him out. It's like the story C told about his comp, just gotta love, and that is what brings me to my studies this morning. I was reading all over the place but it didn't really all click till comp study. I was reading in Luke and then I changed and read in the D&C. I read section 82. There was a verse there that didn't make much sense but then when I talked it out it made a lot of sense. The Lord told Joseph and some others to make friends with mammon. I had no clue what mammon meant and looked it up in Russian. Which means rich. But the phrase is make friends with the rich of unrighteousness. That doesn't make sense because God always tells us to make friends with the good and touch not that which is evil. However in my reading in Luke I read the story about the Good Samaritan. The G.S. took care of the half-dead man and treated him with care. Yes the two nations weren't friends but still the one helped out the other. Further in my readings from Luke it talked about how Jesus went and sat at meat with some Pharisee's, some people that weren't the best, but yet Christ went and made friends with everyone. So the counsel given to Joseph and the others makes sense through some weird connections of the scriptures. That just makes the Gospel true. So what I learned from this is to be kind to eveyone and help them out, even if you don't want to. Do what Christ would have done and be kind and make friends with everyone. In the words of Dad: Make it fun for everyone. Plus life with friends is a lot better than with out friends.
Life is good and all is going well. I'm working on having more patience and understanding what it really means. So this leads to a question: What is your understanding of the relationship between patience and confidence???? If you could get back to me with what you know that would be wonderful. I did some reading also this morning about it and this is what I came up with. Patience leads to confidence which then leads to faith then to hope and then to charity. I thought about humility but I'm not sure how it loops into the circle. I thought that it was interesting.
Thanks for everything that you have done for me. Tell everyone that I say hello. I'm working hard and having fun. Thanks for your prayers.
This past week has gone by so quick that I really can't believe it. I look at my little planner and try and remember all that happens but it seems like a blur....maybe that's a good thing because that means that I'm working hard. Oh yeah family don't worry about me working because I am working.
This past week Elder Noren and I, well he has been working on getting an area map done with members on it so we can actually work more effectively and know who is in what area. So after getting one all figured out and working with that we went back to the print shop and worked on getting another three maps printed. Eventually it all got figured out and we were able to leave. I hope that I don't have to go back to that copy center any time soon because it took a lot of time.
We have been doing some service for the local police/registration/government people and now that we have helped them clean off their shelves we thought that we were done...only to come to know that we had to place all of those files back onto new shelves some where else. We got to the new place and saw all of the bags of files and then were told what to do. We split up into twos and then went to town place thousands of files back into order. Literally we placed 4,000 files back into order. It was a little crazy because I'm not sure if the files were long enough so we had to cram the files tight onto the shelves. In the end all worked out and the files are on the shelves...hopefully all in order.
Another day we helped a member's son try and figure out what to do for application to BYU. He wants to go there and so since the websites are all in English and we are fluent speakers we helped him out. He's only 17 right now, creepy that it's Erik's age and also that he has long hair just like Erik, anyways it'd be way cool to have a former mission buddy over at BYU. We'll see what happens and hopefully all works out and he'll be there at school. It'd be way fun because I'd be able to speak Russian with him and show him some fun times over in America.
We did a split this week because one of the Elders in the district is in a special situation. His comp is a native but has Multiple Scyrolososisisis or Muscle Disoptflkjfixyssyy, in a nut shell it's a harder for him than normal people to do normal things. Walking is a bit slower and he doesn't move like normal people. So we helped out the comp and I went to the natvie. I've already been on a split with him before and I so I know what is going on and how to handle myself around him. In the morning his 'personal trainer' came over and did some physical therapy. I had to help out with that and it was funny because the guy would say some crazy things to him such as "crumb of bread" and other things like that. I guess it might be another way of swearing without really swearing. After that was done we went to a hospital because Elder needed to go see someone that could do accupuncture. So we found the place but one lady wasn't so helpful and sent us to another person who was really helpful. We talked with him and he was a bit interested in who we were and we talked with him. He was probably one of the most nicestest people that I've talked to. There are nice people in the world.
Well...not much more to report. We are teaching people and they are progressing. The family family is awesome! A mom, dad and two kids. They are absolutely the best, probably some of the best investigators that I've had on the mission. Teaching them is fun. They soak up what we have to teach and they ask some good questions. Another great thing about teaching this family is that we bring a member along and she is a fireball and is probably the most help from a member when meeting with investigators. It's phenomanal being with them. Their apartment has a calm peaceful feeling about ti that is way nice to be there. Hopefully soon they will get baptized.
Thank you everyone for all that you have done and I love you all so much!
Life is going great and we are working quite hard. We just got back from a great pday activity...we went to Slavniy Gorsk which is like a monestary. It was a lot of fun. We weren't able to do a tour but that is okay. I took a lot of photos and had a good time. We went with a member who drove us there and was super nice. It was a pretty place and if I had some more time I would go back. It was very peaceful and the freshness of the air rivals that of the air in the mountains back home. I really miss breathing fresh air because here in the city the air ain't that pretty to look at...however the sunsets and ploution makes some really really pretty sunsets.
Well this week has been full of great things. President Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy came to our mission and we had a special mission conference with him. That was awesome! We got to shake his hand and then listen to him and then ask him some questions that we had. He talked about how we as missionaries are all working in the harvest we are all working towards the harvest. Some people have said that we are here to reap the rewards...but actually we are here doing a lot more than just reaping the rewards we are working the fields, plowing the fields, watering the plants, and sowing the seeds or prepping the seeds to go some where. No matter what we are doing as missionaries in accordance to missionary work is working towards the harvest. That was good to hear because sometimes we as missionaries get a bit depressed because we don't see the fruits of our labors. I have been changing my prayers to help me see the fruits of my labors because it's always good to see your personal success. Then after his little talk it was time for questions. Elder N & I came up with a question and decided that we needed to ask the question right away or else there would be no time at all. So when President Rasband said that it was time for questions my hand already was up by the time he said time for...My question was: what is some specific advice you could give to missionaries returning home? He said that it was simple and what he told his missionaries and others all throughout the world. Be worthy to have a current temple recommend. Simple enough but he said that it contains 14 more points. It was a good answer and I guess that is what I needed to hear from him. It was a good time to be in his presence and he said that he was here before missionaries were sent here because of his work. He said that his place has really grown very quickly in the past 20 years. Today the member we were with said that there used to be baptisms every weekend with about 5 people getting baptized. He said that yeah it might seem a bit slow but in fact this place has grwon very much. It's crazy to think that, but it is true. Yes the work may seem slow but the past 20 years there has been a lot of work going on. Ukraine is a god place to be.
Not much really happened this week because it seemed like a blur because we were working very much so this week. We met with a son of a member who just got out of jail and we put him on date but he just found work and now it's a bit harder to meet with him. Hopefully he'll be meeting with us often this coming week and the week to come because by the end of this month we would like for him to get baptized. We have a lot of contacts that we need to call and something will happen with them.
I feel like I'm learning a lot about love. I know that love is important but when you truly love someone more than you can physically are capable of then life is better. When you forget about worrying about yourself and you're more concerned about what the other person needs then everything will be okay. I'm trying to have more of the Christlike love that he had for everyone and I'm working on seeing them as God and Christ sees them. I don't want to be a judger of persons, just a good friend to all. One that others can come to and know that I love them. Elder N was talking about that last night and he said that I have the gift of having others like me. I thought about that for a second and just thought that well if you're nice to others and if you're real with them, then in return they will do the same. It's just the Golden Rule in action. That is what I have learned here. The Golden Rule is so so so stinkin important. And if others don't treat you right then it's whatever. I have learned not to take offense to non-important matters. If I can't play the piano as good as others, that is okay and life will go on. If I can't speak as good as Russian as good as others that is okay. What matters to me is if people are happy and they are having a good time. Like what Dad has told me for a long time "Make it fun for everyone." If you're not laughing then life isn't fun. Gotta be laughing. I know that God has a sense of humor because all we have to do is look in a mirror. Adam fell that men might have JOY. This world is just a play ground of life. We can figure out what works and what doesn't. Have fun and all will be okay...yes I am being obedient don't worry.
From this list I shall start with the beginning. We painted some windows this past week. We went to one of our lovely older members and helped her out. She gave us a bathrobe and told us to go and paint the outside facing surfaces of the window frames. We quickly prepped the surfaces and then I watched for a while as Elder Fish painted and then I did my side of the patio. It was boring watching paint dry, I'll be honest. When I was getting done with painting the upstairs neighbor started shaking a dirty, dusty, old, floor rug out of her patio. That was nice because I was hanging halfway out of the window when all of the dirt, dust, hair, and other dirty things started to fly. Remember though that I was wearing a bathrobe so I didn't get that dirty. Thank goodness for prepared people these days. After what we thought was some sufficient time to return back to the painting job the neighbor once again started shaking yet another more dirtier rug out the window. This time the person that we were at started yelling at her neighbor.....the neighbor never heard. With the incoming raid of dirty, dust and other dirties I promptly closed the window and called the job done.....that was job number one. Job number two was to eat her food that she prepared for us. This member for the most part is a great cook and makes some delicious food. Her plates and technique of making food probably isn't up to the Naked Chef's standards. I looked at the plate that I was going to use and it looked like it was just washed off with some cold water.....so it's really super duper clean (joke). She dishes up some soup and then grabs a big spoonful of sour cream and puts that in my soup. She does the same thing for Elder Fish, but I'm pretty sure that his plate was clean. Then she grabs some more plates and dishes up some noodles that were cooked in a pan and then eloquently lays some nice servings of liver on top of the noodles. It looked really appetizing (not). I don't know if you (the readers still reading this) have ever had liver, but let me tell you how not (imagine the line is through the word so it looks crossed out) tasty liver is. If you've ever tasted a boiled shoe lace with some spices of wild rose beets then you can relate to me, but if you haven't had that great meal too, then you're out of luck. All in all...liver is great....if you're starving and you have no food left in your one year supply of food storage and you are lost in the Siberian winter frozen wonderland. Liver. Is. Great. (my head is shaking in the no direction).
District Conference was great. We had President Larry Lawrence and his wife come to us. He is the first councilor in the area presidency and soon to become the area president. It was way cool to see him come and listen to him. We were able to have a special zone leaders council with him on Monday and my goodness was that amazing. We actually had a council instead of being told what to do and being told other information. We have felt like information relayers for the past couple of transfers. Some thing new comes up and we just pass it down the line. Now we will actually start to lead the mission. I'm excited for the end of this transfer and I hope that I don't get transferred. I have heard that I could be transferred and not be zone leader any more but I also heard that things have changed...so I'm hoping that I'll still be here, if not then darn. We all had special interview with him afterwards and that was amazing. I asked him for some advice before I head home and he gave me some great advice. It wasn't scary talking to him at all. Before we had lunch I was just standing there and he and I struck up a conversation and talked a bit about life and what I want to do. It was very cool. It was like talking to Bishop Willmore, awesome. That is some thing that he told me to do, have a close relationship with my bishop after the mission. It was great. I won't tell you everything because then that would make it so I would retell everything on Monday when we Skype.
Yes my sacrifice. During zone conference President Lawrence talked about making the changes to get the results. He gave the example of the disciples after the death of Christ when they were fishing and Christ said to put the nets on the other side. They listened, made the change and as we all know caught so much fish that they weren't able to bring them in. They made the change. I'm making the change as well. In my studies I've been noticing the need for the small changes and so during this zone conference it hit me hard and I was ready to make the change. I had a flow on inspiration come to me during the meeting and was frivolously writing down what was coming. I asked some others what they thought about sacrifices and got their insights. There was a member who was a missionary when Pres. Lawrence was a mission president in Siberia. He is in our branch and I asked him about the sacrifice that he did when Pres. Lawrence asked them all to sacrifice. He said that sacrifices are all different for everyone and then he said that his sacrifice was changing his hair style. He used to have a regular hair style. Just straight down the front, but then he changed it to a comb-over. He said that he didn't like the comb-over but he made the change. Pres. Lawrence also said that this man was one of the best Elders he had in the mission. Still to this day, he still has a comb-over. This morning during studies I was researching a lot about sacrifices and I was determined to get a sacrifice that I could offer to God. Some things that stuck out to me was that a sacrifice is something that we give up that we cherish for something of far better worth. After searching my mind for something that I could give up till the end of the mission, it finally came after a prayer. I prayed to know what I could do. I could give up playing the piano, NO, I could stop playing ping-pong, NO, I could give up eating these delicious cookies, now we are on to something, I could give up chocolate, YES. When I said that I got an overwhelming sensation of the Spirit manifesting to me that this is what I need to give up till the end of the mission so that I can have the powers of Heaven with me. This means that I can't have those delicious cookies that I love so much, that means that I can't have some candies, this means that I can't have some night-time chocolate snacks. But this does mean that the powers of Heaven will be with me. God and I will be together.
We had a boss lesson last night. We were finally able to meet with Саша (pronounced Sasha). He's the football playing kid from a while ago. He's been busy playing football all throughout Ukraine and now he's finally back. The lesson with him was great! He's on date for June 16. It's going to be awesome having lessons with him because they are spiritual. After his first prayer about a month ago he felt the spirit and had a change of heart so to say. He told us that a couple days after that experience he had a dream where God came to him and told him that they common church here is not true and that the Mormon church is true. He knows that this church is true. It's absolutely amazing! We talked about some other things and he said that girls were a problem for him. Hopefully it's nothing too serious. He told us that he doesn't drink coffee any more and that he doesn't use steroids and the best thing about it is that he says that he feels better. Boo yah!!! It's amazing seeing the Gospel be taken up quickly by him. I can't wait to see him get baptized. We told our branch mission leader about the news and he was happy for us. He is the same guy up above who still wears the comb-over. He told us that we need to have constant contact with him because now Satan will be working hard to get him not to baptize. We are hoping that for the next lesson we will be able to have the branch presidnet with us and that he'll be able to help us out and get him even more ready for baptism. Life is good.
We were down in Mariupol, which I have come to like that small little ocean front city. The bus ride however I could argue but the city...is pleasant. We did some splits with the Elders down there and had a good time. I couldn't tell what was the best part. Grabbing my mattress from the balcony or waiting about an hour for a shower because there were four Elders....I think that it was the kitchen about the size of my closet. We planned to talk about sacrifices at their district meeting but since they are the great missionaries that they are, they have already done a personal sacrifce. You should have seen the altar that they built, I even think that they followed the book of Levitucus because the blood was all wiped in the right direction. One morning we tried signboarding...but we went to a place where about no one walks by, they only drive by in their cars.....it was awesome. All of the other Elders decided to sing whilst I talked to people. I was able to give out two books of Mormon and one contact information. It was okay for the placement of where we were.
Our bus ride back up was a bit crowded. I feel like the bus ride down in more comfortable than coming back up. I'm pretty sure that the buses were the same but my seat seemed really close to the one right in front of me. Also I think that the sun changed sides because I was warm. We rode all the way back into town and went and talked to President about the news that we found out from down there. We got them some newspapers with some apartment adds because supposedly they want another apartment down there. Remember earlier this transfer I wrote, hopefully, about how we brought some adds up but then the office threw them away and then they asked us to find an aparmtner down there when we were there. Yeah that was a bit annoying....so we talked with President about another apartment and then we talked to the housing people and it was a mess. Luckily I avoided the mess and talked with others and my comp tried to figure out the problem. Eventually we made it back home and then to a distict meeting. However on the way to the district meeting the heavens opened up and it poured rain. And I'm saying it POURED RAIN. We were standing underneath some market with a plastic covering....however when it started hailing....the plastic didn't stand a chance and it started breaking through and making a mess. We were standing for about 15 minutes till it lightened up a bit...but it didn't really. Then we made the run for the church. We ran and tried to stay dry in falling rain...it doesn't work by the way. We eventually arrived at the church and ducked inside for safety. The rain continued to come down and lighting was dancing every where. It was pretty crazy to see. We tried having a lesson afterwards but they cancelled because there was too much water in their stairway. It was a problem storm.
The next day was transfer call day and we both got transfer calls. This isn't the best news because I didn't really want to leave this place. It's the best branch in the mission, and if ya'll were to come and pick me up, we would spend a couple of days here meeting people. It was sad on Sunday saying goodbye to people to whom I'll probably never ever see. This branch was amazing! They truly know how to love missionaries and help them with the work. Since I've been here things have been done and the branch has been closer. I am sad that I'm leaving. I'm hoping that on my last few days here in the mission I'll be able to run over here and say some final goodbyes.
We had another split this week which was a great split for me. I went with a native from Kharkov. Elder B for short. I served in his branch up in XT3 and that was a great time because his family is a family of angels. It's the family that knows Chris Kirkham. So he and I were together. Also some background information about him. He has some difficulties in life that most people don't have. He is handicapable. Walking for him is difficult and he holds on to his comp, he has very bad hearing and seeing. Other than that he's an awesome missionary. I learned a lot from him. He taught me how to love and helped me through some things. I'm grateful that I was with him.
I love you all very much and I hope that you have a great week!
Well the Euro cup is in full swing. This morning when running around, literally, searching for an internet club in our area we ran into some Brits looking for Wifi. We were talking about what to do because we couldn't find an internet club and then out of the corner of my ear I hear some English. Then they walk by and ask us for some help. There in front of us were three British men probably in their 50's trying to find some Wifi. We helped them out and then went on our way. Now that we are in the center of the city we have seen some more "foreigners". I saw some Frenchies not to long ago. England is playing France tonight. We tried asking some people if they need some translation but we haven't recieved any yes's for the service...hopefully sooner than later it'll happen.
This past week was great. I got feeling better and we did some work. We have been meeting with some members and they have been members for quite some time. They have all pretty much been members since Erik was born. They were baptized in the early 90's. It's crazy to think that. This is another solid branch so I can't complain too much...I really miss my last branch. There the members were awesome and it just literally felt like a home ward. I miss that branch. Luckily on Sunday some one from that branch came and I got to talk with him for a while and he said that some of the members miss me. That was my favorite branch...hopefully before it's too late I'll be able to go back and have a final goodbye with some of the members.
We had some lessons but some cancelled on us. That gave us the chance to fill that time with something else...such as tracting. This place has some good buildings to tract and so far tracting has been really great. Yes there is a section with about for doors per floor and the building is 9 stories high, but with those numbers there is about always two people that will talk with us and one that will take a Book of Mormon. This one time we were contacting and this lady opened up the door and listened to us for a while and then said that what we had to say about Jesus was cool and all but it'd be better to talk about that stuff at a cafe. She was wanting a date from us. That was pretty funny. Then a couple doors later another lady opened up and there were abot 37 cats in that apartment and the smell was horrendus. I've probably never smelt something like that ever in my life and I don't want to ever again. Good thing she didn't let us in. The other day we knocked on one door and the guy opened up and was very nice and took a Book of Mormon. That was awesome. I really like it when people open their door and listen and it's even better when you can give out a Book. I'm reminded of the experice of Paw when he was doing the same thing and his comp piped up and ruined the moment for giving out a Book. Good times. Another time we knocked and a lady opened up and was super nice and let us share with her for five minutes our message and then give her a Book. It's awesome because there's always about one or two per building that will listen. It's great.
Also this week had some great opportunities for service. We have been working with the police department, now you're probably thinking that we went to the prison and helped people out or something. No not at all. There are some office 'cops' who need some English help because they are woking with passports and what not. I'm not really sure how everything has worked out but there is a member that knows people that knows people and so we are getting this connection to work for us. Come to find out these office 'cops' are the ones that help us out with registration which is actually a really difficult process and most people don't want us here. So we are actually doing the mission a good help with this. Our first visit we talked about some things in English and the next time we really did some service. We moved some folders of papers into bags. Just about five shelves worth with about five-hundred per self. It's crazy because they should update to the modern times and have an electronic inventory. What ever. We are planning to go back this week and one lady asked us what she can do for us because we are working hard for them and all we asked from her is that she listen to our message. It'll be cool to see what happens.
This morning we played some sports with the branch and that was a lot of fun. Hopefully I made some new friends because I was having a fun time and trying my hardest to make it fun for everyone. This branch is good but I still miss my last one. I'll work on making this branch enjoyable for me but we'll wait and see. The days seem to be going by very quickly which is weird. I can't believe June is almost halfway through, I feel like we just started this month...yet I won't complain about the time going by quickly because it's nice. I am working hard and having a great time working with Elder N. We are working hard and seeing some results.
Have a great week and have fun and make sure that others are laughing.
What actually happened that day (May 5) was probably the most hectic day of the mission so far. We woke up that morning and then made our way to the other Elders to have a crepe breakfast before we started doing service at the Branch building. There at the Branch building we were doing a lot of work because not a lot of members showed up. I pulled some weeds and then helped a member cut down a bush. That was pretty fun because it was physical labor. Then all of a sudden our landlady called and said that we needed to be at the apartment. She was an hour earlier. During breakfast we called her and told her to come a bit later. But that must not have been understood so we dropped what we were doing at the church and made our way back home. There we talked with our landlady and then told her that we don't have any money on our cards. So...we went to the nearest grocery store and pulled off 2000 grieven each and then paid our landlady. Then we looked at our watches and realized that in about 45 minutes we had to be back at the church. We quickly ran to the bus stop and hopped on the bus that would take us back to the church. We ran into some traffic and the bus driver thought that he was smart and tried to take a back road....like everyone else. He opened up the doors because it was pretty much at a standstill. We got out of the bus and briskly walked to the church. There we waited probably about 46.87 seconds and our investigator and member girlfriend showed up. We went into the church and had a great lesson about the Book of Mormon. We ended the lesson with our testimonies and then he said that he understood that he needs to read the Book of Mormon more often and pray. It was great! Then he gave the closing prayer and then did what he needed to do that day. We waited for the picnic to start and helped with that getting together. There was supposed to be a baptism but that didn't happen so we had the picnic. We had some sausages and some cucumbers...Ukrainian picnic. It was good and we talked with the members. Then we ducked into the church to dodge the rain and cleaned up some more. Then the rain stopped and we had youth night. That lasted for a couple of hours and then we had to run back into the city to meet the AP's to get some invitations for district conference. They were a bit confused about why we weren't in our proselytes, we told them everything that has been happening that day. Pretty much we had NO TIME to change into missionary uniform clothes. Such a crazy day.
We went to Mariupol this week. That was good....traveling on a bus wasn't as much fun as I remember it being. We sat on the sun-side of the bus and enjoyed the bumpy ride down to Mariupol. There we did some exchanges with the Elders down there and had some good times. They are right on the south end of the misson right next to the Azov Sea. We went and looked at it, it's still there. Nothing really crazy happened down there. Oh yeah, I ate some more crazy food. Some member got some rolls and then cut them in half and then spread some crazy paste on it. It was an olive green color with some white stuff too. I'm not exactly sure what it was. It didn't taste that bad too...but I wouldn't have it again...unless some member put it in front of me and told me to eat.
Oh yeah something else that happened this week which was absolutely crazy! On Friday we got back from Mariupol. We went to the church to have a district meeting and then afterwards we made our way to a less actives. Earlier in the week she called and said that she needed our help moving a piano. I didn't quite understand if it was from the fifth or ninth floor that the piano was going to be moved from......upon arriving we talked with the lady and then rode up the elevator to the ninth floor. So...it was the ninth floor. We walked into the apartment and saw what we had to move. Yes it was a piano and yes it was heavy. It took us a while to figure out how to move it out of the apartment. Then it really took some time figuring out to get it down all of the flights of stairs. That took a while and wow are pianos heavy. We didn't lose any wheels on the way down and the piano still works...I'm not sure if it's still in tune because it might have lost a bit of the notes....Moving the piano into the back of the truck was a bit tricky and then we just left it in the back of the truck. The whole ride over I was a bit scared if the piano was going to tip over because we didn't strap it down. Then we got to the other apartment and met some other Elders and then moved the piano up to the fifth floor. I'm very grateful that they came because by the time we got up to the fourth floor my arms were done lifting. Moving a piano in Ukraine is a task and a work out.....would I do it again? Probably. I would recall this day and then laugh at how fun it was and then go move the piano. Also after moving the piano we had English group. We grabbed a taxi and rode all the way back to the church. It was a crazy day...just like every day. I'm not sure what a normal day is anymore.
Life is crazy which means that it's good. Thanks for all that you do for me. I'm still here and doing the work. We have people to work with and we are having fun. I hope that this week is great for all of you!
Every week seems so quick and I can't believe that I'm writing yet again another email. If you find where this past week went that would be nice to know. Maybe with the following information you'll be able to find where it went.
Monday was a great day. Like you know it was our Pday. Skipping the day activities and going straight to the evening, because that is where stuff actually happens. We had a lesson with the second counselor in the Branch Presidency and his wife. We haven't gone out there and we only talk for a little while whilst at church. We rode out there on a trolley car and then walked the rest of the way there. On our walk to the apartment building some guy stopped and talked to us for a while, well we didn't stop, we walked and talked for a while. He asked a good question at the beginning. He asked about paradise and where it is. His question was really about the three kingdoms. He said that he knew a little bit about us, the church, and he was actually a religion student. He knew a lot of things and was interested in what we had to say. We have been praying to find the elect and for the elect to find us. So I guess you could say that it's an answer to a prayer. We got his phone number and then gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and talked some more with him. Then we got to our lesson and when we first walked in it felt so comfortable. It was a clean tidy apartment meaning that the Spirit could easily abide there. It was super nice. We talked for a while about how they were converted and then that time actually went by really quick. After hearing their conversion story we didn't have that much time left. So we went into the kitchen and had some cake and talked some more and then tried making our way out. Before we left through the door we gave a Preisthood blessing to the husband and the son. It was a good moment and I felt loved there in the apartment. We got out of the apartment a bit late and the husband said that the trolley cars probably wouldn't be running right now...so we had to walk home. Good thing we have a map and the Holy Ghost because that is what we did. We pulled out the map and found out where we were and then started making our pathway home. We walked for probably about 40 minutes until we were about another 10 minutes from home. It was a good walk and I was glad that people called in so we had someone to talk to on the walk home. The path was a bit dark in some spots but it all worked out and I'm still alive.
Tuesday we found ourselves walking back on the same path that we walked on last night because we walked past a hospital and in that hospital is where one of our investigators is. That was a bit coincedential that we walked back that way. Our investigator had her appendix taken out and she was recovering from that. Pretty much you never want to have go to a hospital here becuase it would be like having surgery in an abondaned school. They are pretty sketchy and not safe and sanitary. We got some shoe booties and had to wear this cloak. My cloak was pretty sad looking because the sleeves were open, so basically there was no need to wear it. Anyways...so we walk down the hall and find our friend. The room is a small room shared with two other people. So in total, three people all laying there. It's a Russian hospital. It would be like a hospital in Romania but then a bit worse. The windows are open and the nurses are outside smoking cigarettes and not really enjoying their jobs, meaning that they are a bit grumpy with people. So if you get sick here....good luck. Anyways we talked to our friend for a while. It was a bit awkward because thought that others weren't going to be there but they were there and so we just had to talk to her and help her feel better. My guess is that the surgery was a bit medevil and probably not that great. She was grimmecing every now and then because of the pain. Then we finally made our way out and went to a member lesson. We set up some plans so she could come on some lessons and then went to another member and helped her take down her blinds because she is old and she wants to clean the windows. Then we made our way to the church. We were standing on the bus stop for a while and then some taxi driver pulls up and yells out his window 10 grieven for a ride to where we needed to go. So we hopped in and some other guy did too and we made our way over to the church fairly quicker. We had English Group at the church and had a party with that. We just started last week and this week there were already more people than last week. It was a great time. The group that I was in, one of people were asking some crazy questions about choosing prophets and other stuff. We answered his questions and helped him try and understand our beliefs. There are quite a bit of people here that want to learn some English and so since it's free why not??! We are hoping that some of the people turn into investigators and then members. We'll see.
Wednesday was a more slower day compared to others. We had our senior sister member lesson and had a good time with her. She made some holodets. That was probably a poor Russian-English translation. Anyways what that is is jello-ed chicken fat. Yes...that's right....jello-ed chicken fat. Wanna know if we ate it? The answer is NO. Good thing I was standing there when she pulled it out of the fridge because when she cut it, it wasn't settled all the way and still watery. I told her that it wasn't ready and that we shouldn't eat it. Thank goodness she agreed because we didn't eat it. I don't know if I could have eaten it because I've heard that it's nasty. We had our normal food and then had a lesson. Sitting on a comfortable couch after eating quite a bit of food is a challenge to stay awake. I will admit that my eyes closed for a while. It's hard staying awake. After the lesson we came home and planned for the rest of the evening of what we were gonna do. We didn't have any lessons and were free. We made a list of people that needed to knock their door and so off we went. We were able to knock pretty much every door. On our way to another door some people stopped us. They were by an outside bar and drinking a bit of beer. I kept on walking because I talking to drunk people isn't very good and it takes for ever to get away. My comp stopped and talked to them so I had to turn back around and take the five paces back and stay there. It was okay, they were a bit drunk, but it's whatever. We got a phone number and hopefully an investigator from that little moment.
Thursday, probably one of the most busiest days ever. We had district meeting at noon, then a lesson at 3, then at 5, and then at 7. That doesn't even account for the travel that had to take place and all that was talked about during those meetings. Basically we woke up and then left our apartment and didn't return until late that night. District meeting was good, we talked about attitude and actions for a while and then had some food. Then we quickly made our way to our lesson. Which was with the former mission president of the St. Petersburg mission and right now he's the first counselor in the mission presidency. So the guy is a pretty much a head hauncho. His family is a great family. They have two sons who are about the same age and their mom is like any other missionary mom. Super loving and awesome. We were there for a while and had a good lesson. They love to talk and so trying to get out of the door of their apartment is like ripping off a scab from your elbow, hard. Eventually we got out and made it to our next lesson. After than lesson we had to quickly hop on a bus and then transfer to another bus and ride down. It was a ride, but we eventually got there with some time to spare. There that lesson was pretty good. We talked with them and talked about doing missionary work and talking to others about the Gospel. The members understand and they are always getting hassled by missionaries for more people to teach and so they are a bit hesitant and don't like it so much. They got the picture and said that they would try and then we made the walk back home. Today was so long and so crazy. If everyday was like this, I'd be dead upon coming home.
Friday morning I woke up with a hurt stomach, probably because of all the food that I ate the day before and because of the carrot that wasn't that healthy and/or fresh. I took my time that morning and hoped that my stomach would feel better. Eventually it did and we did our thing. We did some weekly planning and then went to the older lady who asked us to take down her blinds. We put them back up this time. After eating the food and sharing a quick spiritual thought we made our way to the church for youth night. There we had a good time and played with the youth and helped them feel good. I love youth night because it's a lot like mutual back home and it is just a great time to be alive and do good things.
Saturday was much like Thursday, crazy busy. We went to another city in our zone and did a special meeting with them from what we learned a couple of weeks ago at Zone Leaders Council. After that we made our way to a grocery store to buy some ingredients for tacos because we were going to a members place to make some tacos with them. That all worked out great and we had a great time. That family has been members for a very very long time and it's so great to hear their conversion story and their strong faith. The church is so cool. Then we made our way pretty much across our area to another lesson. That lesson was interesting because we were way thirsty and they didn't have any water. So they sent their son to go fetch us some water....some gas water. That's club soda. Nothing quenches a thirst better than some bubbly cold water! We drank some of that and then had a lesson. They have a large German Shepherd puppy and I had to do some Dog Whispher tricks for it so we could actually have a lesson. Then afterwards we made our way home. We made that walk again, the same one as on Monday. It was a great time for walk because the weather was great.
Sunday...was a great day. After church we had two lessons. We went to the first and found out that some other members were there. That was a bit crazy but great to see because they were doing the home teaching. So we tagged teamed that and then made our way to the one lady that made some pray-needing-food. There we gave her the Sacrament and then ate some more food...which also needed some praying. She's a great lady and just trying to do the right thing. This past week was crazy busy and the rest of the mission should be busy.
Life is going good and I feel happy inside right now. That is important. A lot has happened since the last time I sent an email to ya'll. I went on a split with Elder R because supposedly he is leaving...but he's not...for right now...leaving as in getting transferred. We had a great time being together. Now that T P (I was gonna say Elder P) is home Elder R is my best friend out here. He and I have served around each other for four transfers, and it's a blessing. We had a great lesson with an awesome family, the B family. We made tacos with them and then talked for a while. They are awesome! It feels comfortable in their apartment and they know the Gospel. After the great lesson we went to English at the church and there were 5 people already there speaking English. It was great. English just got allowed since it was not allowed for a year. So we were excited to have some English group. It was a party and there were some good speakers there.
On Wednesday we thought that our landlady was coming over but who really came over was two men who were going to do some improvements to the apartment. That was a surprise. They came in and started doing some work and in the process making a mess. We weren't ready for it and a bit shocked because they were going everywhere making a mess. Then eventually they left and we made our way to a lesson with a member. We bought some juice because she usually gives us some black tea, and we don't drink that, but she didn't like the juice trick and we drank all of the juice and then poured the tea into the bottle and then acted like we drank the tea. We are getting pretty sneaky with our food tricks. After the lesson we had to clean the apartment because it was a mess. We cleaned pretty much till the end of the day. It was pretty dirty, and to be honest I'm not sure what the people did to make the apartment better.
Thursday day morning we had some service, which was a first in a long time. It felt good to go out and serve a church member and help her feel better. We had to dig some holes and then transplant some bushes into the new holes. It wasn't the hardest work, but it was really fun. After the service we made our way back home and then prepared for some lessons that night. We had three lessons total this whole day, which is quite a bit for all the travel we did too. We met with this girl who is supposedly a Jehovah's Witness. She was pretty open to what we had to say and is very nice. We are hoping that we'll be able to give her a Book of Mormon and then in the end get baptized. She has a bit of a tough situation, she pretty much plays mom at her house because after school she has to go home and make dinner for the family and clean and what not. Our other lessons were good. We watched the Restoration movie with them because they were investigators. It was warm in the rooms and so it made staying awake a bit hard. I only was asleep for about 30 seconds total....both lessons. We are meeting a part member family and we are trying to incorporate the husband (who isn't a member) but he has to tame the German Shepard puppy during the whole lesson. It's a challenge but yet he still listens.
Friday we had Zone Leaders Council. That was a great time. We talked about eternal investigators and what to do with them. We talked about evaluating lessons and then going from there and if dropping them is needed, then how to drop them nicely. My comp and I went first and that was a challenge because we were thrown on the spot and told to do something that we haven't planned for. Anyways, it all worked out and others said that we did a good job. Also quickly, at ZLC there were some former companion. Elder K and Elder L are now ZLs and so it was great to see them. I've been at these ZLCs now for a while and I'm hoping that I'll be able to stay up and continue being at them because I get to have some close interaction with President C and these meetings are very spiritual. If something happens, then I'll accept and move forward. Later this evening we went signboarding with some other Elders. We got new signboards and so we took them for a test drive. They are a bit weird but they do some work for us. They have some pictures of healthy and unhealthy lungs and another that says that we have the power to help you quit smoking. It's interesting...we might make some changes so it will help us out more. For the 45 minutes that we were out on the street with the signboard we saw some miracles. There was one guy that morning that wanted to talk to the other Elders but he was in a rush to work, since we were out at night he had some time to talk to us and he got a Book of Mormon. It was awesome!
Saturday was also a crazy day because Elder N and I had to do registration. Now with these new visas and new laws from Ukraine it makes staying here a lot harder but we are making it work. Elder N and I went with some lady that works in the mission office and our landlady and went to some government building and then waited...then signed some papers...and then waited some more..and that was it. Hopefully all works out and we are still allowed to be here. I heard that some of the new missionaries that just came in have tourist visas meaning that they can't proselyte on the street. Hopefully everything gets figured out for them. Since Elder N and I had to do this we were on a split and my comp went with Elder N's comp to a baptism and then to do some service. All of that lasted a bit longer than normal and so Elder N and I were together for most of the day. We went to district meeting and when we got to the church the water cooler was out of water, so we went and bought everybody some water. It was nice to have some water. District meeting was great. We talked about confidence, pride, and bravatto. A very insightful meeting that helped me out. Its so cool to see some young men come together and have an insightful meeting, the Church true.
Church was church...it's great here because it feels like a home ward and not some small little gathering of church members. The families here are great and they know the gospel. We as missionaries don't really have to raise our voice and help our the branch do the right thing. We bring our investigators and introduce them to some church members and then they do the rest. It's great. This night we went out and had some lessons. I was really tired and the apartments were warm. If you remember from earlier that is only a request for sleep. So I will admit during the first lesson my eyes were a bit heavy and it was a bit of a struggle to keep them open. I prayed for some help and then the member called on me when I was almost about to fall asleep. Then I talked for a while and I was awake. Prayers are answered. We then went to some other members, one of them wasn't home but another was but she said that it was late. We ended up staying at her place for about 40 minutes. There are about 400 people or so on the branch list but only about 90 come to church. There is a lot of less active work that needs to be done. Teaching the Gospel is fun, I admit. Feeling the love that comes from Heavenly Father and then conveying that love to others is great. I will share that love with others always.
I love you all very much! Thank you for everything!
A lot happened that probably all can't be fit into one small email. Monday was hectic, Tuesday was spiritually draining, Wednesday was heartbreaking, Thursday was everywhere, Friday was something else, Saturday was a blast, and Sunday was indescribeable.
Monday evening the Elders from Marioupol came up and stayed at our place. We had a quick split that night to do some missionary work. I didn't want to sit around the apartment and talk all the time whilst we could have been doing better things. So on Sunday we planned some dinner lessons with some families and then went to them. I went with Elder Kluestrop and we went to a family and made some tacos with them. It was a blast and they loved them. It was a great time and we had some laughs. It's a humbling happy feeling to see a family come together for dinner and eat and talk. It's cool to make and see that happen.
Tuesday we had zone conference and that was just like any normal zone conference. Get told the same thing and get some great knowledge from the senior couples and then eat some alright food and then come back home. It was crazy. I got to see Elder Pulsipher and that is probably one of the last times that I'll see him before he boards a plane in a week and comes home. He and I started serving together a year ago and a few days. I can't believe that it's already been a year since then. The time has been flying by so quickly. Also something that flew by quick was my hand because I had to conduct the music. That was fun and it made everyone smile and have a better attitude. Conducting music is a lot of fun if you make it fun.
Wednesday...probably THE most missionary day ever. We had clean checks this morning and we also had a lesson at some time in the early afternoon. We did some last minute spot cleaning and then waited and then waited some more and then finally the people showed up and checked the apartment and then we went to our lesson. We were supposed to show up about two hours earlier but we had to wait for clean checks. It was some members birthday and she wanted us to come over and have a party with her and her older friends. When we showed up it was the end of the party and we got some leftover food and then shared a small spiritual thought. After that little lesson we went to another lesson and this is where the day gets crazier. They have a big dog, a big German sheperad puppy who gets excited. I sat down on the couch and the dog came up and it's chest was at my knee I petted the dog for a second and then the next thing that I know my foot is all wet...yes...it wasn't funny...well a little bit....but it was uncomfortable. I told my companion and tried to play it off cool. That lesson went well and then we made our way to another lesson. We were waiting at a meeting point because we were gonna have some members come with us on a lesson. We called them asking where they were and they said that they were at a different store. So we waited for them to come and I called the lesson and told them that we were gonna be a little bit late, then the lesson cancelled on us. Supposedly they forgot that we were coming over. Once I hung up the phone the members showed up to come on the lesson. They got out of the car and then we had to tell them that the lesson just got cancelled. The family is awesome and the lesson was going to be great. It was going to be with the Primary President and her husband and 7 year old daughter. Couldn't have been better for the 8 year old that we were going to meet with. Once we told them that it wasn't going to work out, I felt like the scum of the earth because it was going to be great and we lost a little bit of trust in the members. It was heartbreaking to say the least.
Thursday we had some lessons with a member present and that was interesting. Any who we will work on that and figure things out so the next time we have a member on the lesson it will be a teaching lesson not a talking lesson.
Friday was a bit devestating because not one of our lessons went through. That happens sometimes and when it does we can't get sad because that is the way the cookie crumbles. For Youth Night this night we had a great spiritual thought where we had to write down a commitment for the week and then we put it in a hat and then drew someone else's. It was a great idea and it worked. I have to give compliments to everyone that I talk to, it's a good one and will help me.
Saturday morning we had some service at the church to clean the grounds. That was a great feeling to work hard as I did back on the grounds crew at UVU. It started raining but that didn't stop us from doing the work. It felt really good to work and work with the members. After we were done we watched some General Conference at an Elders apartment. They handed us the English disks and told us to watch them. So we went and got cleaned up and watched some great General Conference. It was amazing. A theme that I picked up on is that we as church members need to pick up our game and truly be ACTIVE members of the church. We can't say that we are members and sit back and relax, we gotta WORK. I love GC and taking notes and being envolped in the Spirit.
Easter Sunday was crazy. We had about 10 investigators show up between 5 missionaries. We are doing work. It was way cool to see the members go and talk to the people and make our life a bit easier. After church about two of the people that showed up had baptismal dates. It's on fire over here and it's amazing to be here. I sure hope that I don't leave this area. We get phone calls this week. Some members have said that they would like for us to stay till the end of our missions here because they love us and we love them. It's great. After church the Branch put on a small Easter celebration where people did some talents. We as the missionaries sang a hymn and that was a blast. Pretty much this branch is probably THE best branch in the world. I love being here and I really really don't want to leave. Life is good in this branch. After the program we watched some more GC and then went home and made some food. Later that night I watched some of the Priesthood session and boy oh boy was that good. Totally felt the Spirit and I just want to do better in my life so that I can return back to God and use the Priesthood properly. Yet again the theme was rising up and doing the right thing in the right place. Using the Priesthood worithly and doing selfless service.
Life is good and I love you all. I hope that you had a great Easter Sunday, sounds like it was a good one. I'm working hard and enjoying life. I love you.
This past week was a great one. Instead of telling you everything that has happened in detail I'll just tell you some things that I have learned.
We were in Mariupol the earlier part of this week and that was a lot of fun. We got some stuff for the Elders and Sisters down there and then made our way to the bus station. We got suckered into paying some guy some money for a personal car ride down there...but in the end it was all worth it because we didn't have sit in an uncomfortable bus and yeah...it was better. So we get down there and meet up with the other Elders and go to their place and have some fun...as in try and do some missionary work. All the people that they usually meet with couldn't meet until the weekend, when we would be back up in our own area. So we did some work that we could and then made some great dinner. We had cinnamon rolls that were to die for.
The next day we had a district meeting and talked about some things that we learned from Zone Leaders Council...we have some new clarifications about some rules. Such as companions need to match, meaning that they need to wear long sleeves together and so forth. Some Elders didn't like that new news because they feel like it's restricting them and they are back in the MTC. That is what we had to deal with and explain some other things. Then they talked about the branch in that area, it's struggling and they are trying to make it better. We came up with some ideas and then made plans to meet with President Campero and discuss the situation. Then we went and got some food and got a haircut. We walked around trying to find some place that would cut hair and still open. It took a while but we found a place. We walked in and got it all set up. We looked through some magazines and I found a style that I liked...so I kept it and when it was going to be my turn I was going to ask for that style. I went in and asked for the same style and low and behold...it happened. So if you want something and you find it and then you ask for it....you'll probably get it....that is something that I learned. Also it provided for some good laughs.
We had a special meeting with President Campero when we talked about the branch in Mariupol. That was good and they were thankful that we came to them and helped them know more about the branches. It was good to meet with them and have the opportunity to have a close relationship with President Campero and talk with him. From this I learned that if there is a problem you gotta quickly get the problem solved before it gets way too out of hand.
We had a crazy "hell-ish" lesson this week as well. It was all over the place....not the best lesson in the world. The thought behind all of it was great but what all happened was not great. We had a lesson at a members house with an investigator. The lady showed up with her two kids and there was also another member there. The table was set and we were gonna eat some food and then have a lesson. It was a bit frightening at first seeing the table and knowing what was gonna happen. The investigator, O, showed up a bit late due to the fact that the elevator stopped when she was in it and she totally freaked out. She calmed down and we had some food. The two kids that she brought got a bit bored quickly and that provided a challenge to control them and help them not go crazy in this member's apartment. That didn't work out to our benefit and things got out of hand. They went to the bathroom and did some number 2's and they couldn't find the toilet paper, so they opened up the door with their pants on the floor and asked where it was. We told them that it was in there and then they, yes they, went and got the t.p. It was just a mess. It ended up with some spankings being handed out by their mother and us trying to get out as fast as we could. It wasn't good. It was a bit of a nightmare and "hell-ish". Next time we are going to have the lesson at O place so it can't get too crazy. Hopefully that lesson will be good. The lesson that I learned from this is that discpline for children is essential or else they will run ravage and control will never be found.
District meeting was good. We listened to a talk from President Henery B. Eyring about the Spirit in hard times. It was a good talk and one that helped me out. I don't have my notes with me but I remember it being good and having felt the Spirit. That is something that I have felt a lot this past week. Feeling the Spirit and acting upon those promptings that follow the feelings. I'm working more on following those promptings at the first time they come. I could be like Nehpi and put it off the first time when he was commanded to slay Laban or I could follow it the first time and not question it. I have learned from talks from General conference that putting off the promptings of the Spirit ain't that good and it's just a lot better to follow it the first time. If I follow the first time, I'll be more capable of receiving more guidance from the Holy Ghost and with that guidance I'll be able to receive great blessings from Heavenly Father. That is what I'm working on and one great lesson that I have learned this week.
This coming week is going to be great. We have a lot of things going on such as another Zone Leaders Council, lessons, and getting big muscles. Today we bought some protein and we are gonna work out and get some big muscles. I'll come home a stronger man.....yeah a man. Life is great. I know that I say it every week but it's true. I have been playing the piano here and there and I have been improvising a little bit with the hymns and it makes playing a lot better. I'm thankful for the push to play musical instruments from you my parents. Thank you very much. It has been a great blessing in my life.
I hope that life is going for ya'll. I love you and miss you but I'm working so I don't have to think to much about ya'll. Don't get offended. I'm working hard to stay focused.
Я люблю всех вас! Yes good luck on translating that....it means I love you all!
So this week has been pretty good....it's been a crazy week. There has been so much that has been going on. It's all over the place. We tried to say goodbye to the departing Elders on Monday but didn't succeed because they were in meetings for the rest of the day getting prepared on going home. Crazy that my trainer Elder D. is now home.....where did the time go??? After that mishap we went out to eat with the district to some good restaruant and got some great food.
We had a great district meeting before the district split in half. Elder L. talked about having confidence and what that means. He asked a good question pertaining to faith and confidence and the difference or the relationship that those two words have with each other. We talked about dating back home and they asked how we felt before dates and some..most Elders said that they felt confident before dates, however I was always super nervous before dates. Hopefully after the mission I won't be too scared but I remember getting super nervous and scared for the dates. I don't like having anxious moments. What I got from that lesson is that to become less nervous and having more confidence is having more trust in yourself and doing some preperation before hand. Also I have to do my part to become confident.
Transfer day was pretty great. Seeing the new Elders and Sisters was a treat. They were all standing around not knowing what was going on or what to do. I talked to some of them and got to know them. They all seemed really cool and ready to work. Before the meeting we all stood around and talked with some other Elders and then some greenies came over and asked some questions about the mission. It was crazy taking a mental step back and realizing that I was one of the more older missionaries there at the meeting. Crazy what happens when you work hard and do work, time goes by. Then eventually we found out who our new companions are going to be. Elder F. from Henderson, Las Vegas, NV. He's a great kid. He's almost been out for a year. So I'm serving with a younger companion. Then we got in a taxi and came home and then made the taxi driver wait and then we went to the church for a church activity. The taxi driver was way cool and we ended up getting his number and hopefully something cool will happen with him. The church acitivity was a blast. Super great and the missionaries again didn't have to do anything for it. This branch is technically a ward but since there isn't a stake they are still just branches. Then we finally came back home and talked and talked getting to know one another.
The next morning we woke up early and went to Zone Leaders Council. That was a great meeting. We learned some great new things and how to work more with the members and having them work with us. It's going to be a great summer as we work really hard. I'm excited for all the snow to melt and it's going to be great. Then after ZLC we went to the church and had a great lesson with S. We taught him how to give some directions in English and then afterwards we had a great small little spiritual time. Afterwards he prayed and then he paused for a second and then we asked him how he felt inside and he said that he felt great. We then explained to him that what he was feeling was the Holy Ghost. We told him some more about it and then asked him if wanted to feel that feeling for the rest of his life. He said yes and then we asked him to be baptized and he said yes. It was AMAZING!!!! Then afterwards we had Youth Night and had a blast and then some youth brought some of their friends along. It is great to see that they are doing their own missionary work.
Saturday we cleaned the church for the branch and then had a quick little district meeting and had a great time. Elder R. is the district leader and he is doing a great job. We came up with some goals and what we want to do with the district and everything us. This is going to be a great transfer with a lot of success and a lot of hard work. I'm excited to work my tail off this transfer and see some results. Before bed Elder F said that 'when much is given, much is required' it was awesome. It's going to be a great great transfer and I'm excited to work very hard and see some miracles. Later this night we went to a members place and had a great lesson and during the lesson the husband, who isn't a member, started asking some questions about baptism and the after life and more other great questions. It was great to see the wife and the daughter-in-law answer his questions and we just sit there. They must have gotten a little bit awkwareded out because they were like "well it's time for the missionaries to go home" so we left and got home.
Church was good. I got to play the organ again and that all worked out pretty well. It feels good to play the organ and help out the branch. We went to the other Sunday School class because there were no investiagtors and the lesson was pretty good. I sat next to this really older Sister and her and I talked and laughed. Priesthood was the same old, kind of boring and so I talked with the new Elder to my side and he and I talked and became friends. After church we had our meeting with the branch mission leader and then waited to hear from the branch council what is going on and what we can do to help out the branch. We have an idea of doing Missionary night but that got shot down because there is already a lot of things going on in the church and maybe it got shot down because of miscommunication. The youth are excited about doing misisonary work and they want to know how to teach and find better and so we want to do that with them but the branch council said no. We'll try and find another way to get that all figure out.
This week I go to Bulgaria. It should be a great time. I'm excited for it. After this trip it will be General Conference and then time will be really going away. When I think about the time going by so quick I always think that I need to work harder. That is one regret that I think about when I think about being home and pondering about the mission. I always think that I could see myself saying that I wished I would have worked harder. So instead of wanting to think that I going to work harder and smarter so that when it's all said and done, I won't feel regretful about the mission. Elder F and I are going to be working really hard and seeing the results from working really hard.
This past week has been good and busy. We started this week out with some splits with some other Elders. Elders B and W in a nearby city. We went on a split with them earlier this transfer and it was very quick, it ended up being a sleep over. Later on I quietly promised that we'll be able to go on another split. It was getting close and so we some how worked it in to our schedule and got a split in. It was a great split. I was with Elder B and we had a great time. We are simliar in many ways and became instant friends. I hope that I'll be able to serve close by him sometime soon. He's a boss. We made some plans for after the mission and had a great time. Then we went on another split with some other Elders in that same district. That ended up being just a sleepover because one of them wasn't feeling to good and so we stayed over and then in the morning he was still sick and so we helped them out. Good Elders. One of them goes home on Wednesday...and last night when we were talking to him he was freaking out a bit because it's coming to a close. Time goes by so quick over here. It's crazy telling people that I only have about 5 more months left.
We have a new investigator, S. He's a boss. He's 17 years old and plays American-football. His dream is to go to America and play football for some college. He needs to speak some English and that is why we are meeting with him. He want to know English so he can make it over to America. He's got a ways to go because his English ain't that good. Other than the fact that we are teaching him English we are also teaching him the Gospel. After our lesson with him we asked him if he is interested to know if it's true or not. He said that he does have a desire to know if it's true or not. Oh when he said those words was it music to my ears. That is probably the first time that I've actually heard someone say they want to know if it's true or not. Then after the lesson he stayed for Youth Night and had a ball! He instantly made about 6 new friends in the church. Afterwards he was super excited and happy that he came. It was a blast. Then what gets better is that he came to CHURCH!!! This is my first time that someone has come to church for their first time with me being one of the missionaries. It was great! He loved it and had a good time and a lot of members came and talked to him and embraced him and made church great for him. He said that he will come again. Oh it was so great to hear that. I'm so excited that I get to stay another transfer here and work with him. Hopefully he'll progress in the Gospel and he'll get baptized soon. That would be a blessing! Life is great and I can't complain.
Editor's Note: Elder Young will be attending BYU in the fall - hence the short letter he was so excited he forgot to tell us more.