Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 7th Letter

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! 

Love Elder Frank Young

April 30th Letter

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. 

I love you all very much!! 

Love Elder Frank

April 23rd Letter

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! 
Elder Frank Young