Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25th Letter

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! 

Elder Frank 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 18 Letter

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. 

Family I love you all very much. 

Love Elder Frank 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

May 18th Letter

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 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 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. 

I love you. 

Elder Frank

May 28th Letter

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 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 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 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 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! 

Love Elder Frank

P.S. Time is short and it almost kicked me off. 

June 11 Letter

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. 

Love Elder Frank