Monday, December 26, 2011

Week 14 in Cold Mountain

Hello family! Thanks for your emails and the pictures of the Christmas party. It looks like everyone is doing good. It was so great to talk to you all on Christmas Eve! I hope we get to Skype again. I don't really have anything to tell you for this week because we talked about pretty much everything over Skype haha. The only thing I really have to say is just how Christmas was here yesterday. It didn't seem like Christmas at all because there was no snow and everyone celebrates Christmas on January 7 but we had a really cool experience at the end of the day that brought Christmas to light for me. At Church we watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional except it was in Russian so I understood very little haha. Whenever something like that is translated the translator always uses really big words and talks pretty fast so it's hard to understand stuff. But from what I understood it was great. A little later in the day we got to go to the Burr's house for two hours to do a Christmas dinner. She made some amazing tacos and then we got to watch some videos about Christ's life that are on Apparently all of them are filmed on the west side of Utah Lake and that area has been built to look exactly like Jerusalem. The videos are the Church's gift to the world and they film 1 or 2 every month and put them online. They want to have 50 I think by the end of it all. They are really awesome, you should check them out when you have time. So anyway, we watched those, and then later on we got a call from the branch president to come open our door. So we went out and him and his wife were standing there and wanted to get into the Burrs' house so that they could sing a carol for them but their door was closed. So we called the Burr's and had them open their door and then we went back inside. Probably about 3 min later Elder Burr called us and said "Come translate for us!" (that happens a lot haha) So we went over and were able to translate back and forth for the Burr's. The Miroshnichenko's are very fond of them and brought them some food and a nice card. They told them that they were grateful to them for coming to Ukraine and for teaching them how to love. Apparently Elder Burr's testimony helped Valera get baptized so they have had a good friendship since that. And then they sang "What Child is This?" for us. It was really cool. It kind of hit me at that time just how blessed I am to be here at this time and to be serving the Lord's children in a place that really needs the gospel.

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He lives and is at the head of this Church. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet and that through him we can know how to progress and become better members of this Church. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It was written for our day and contains the fulness of the gospel. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet. Through him this Church was restored back onto the earth. I know that prayer works. God hears and answers our prayers in his own ways and timing. He knows us each personally. I know that missionary work is the most important and rewarding work on the earth. It has changed my life in a very short period of time and strengthens my testimony everyday I am here. And I know that the Lord blesses all of you because he loves us and wants us to be happy. How awesome is this? The Church is true, I know it with all my heart! What else is there to say? I love all of you very much and am grateful to be here at this time and to be serving these people. These things I say in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Have a great week! I'll talk to you all later. Love you very much!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

Monday, December 19, 2011

Week 13 - Back at Home in Cold Mountain

Hello family! It's been a good week here. I'm back in Cold Mountain and have a new companion. His name is Elder Robison and is pretty sweet. He's from Provo, went to Timpview, is 6'4 and plays basketball for UVU. He is 1 transfer in front of me (6 weeks) so we are a very young companionship but it's going to be awesome. We have a very young district, probably the youngest in the mission. It is me, Elder Robison, Elder Fish (who is training and is in his 5th transfer) and Elder Warner who is a greenie. Cold Mountain is really young but I just know that we're going to get some serious work done here. I hope I can stay for 2 more transfers here. Today is the first day of my third transfer. Usually greenies stay in their areas for three but it's not uncommon to stay four. We'll see. But anyway, Elder Robison is ready to work hard. He has an awesome attitude and I really feel that we are going to do some good things here. I'm excited. This past week I was in Saltivka until Thursday and then everyone met their new companions Thursday night. Friday and Saturday there was an open house at the Center Kharkov branch. Several areas have been having open houses in the mission like Donetsk but they haven't had hardly any success, like one or two people came through total. So basically we spent Friday and Saturday contacting people on the streets about the open house and passing out little invites. Apparently 3,000 invites were printed and we passed out almost all of them throughout Kharkov. Out of those, 22 people came to the open house and some people came right off the street. So it was very successful I think. And as far as I know the center ZLs got some serious contacts out of it so it's good. For the open house some members were there and they would walk around with them and explain things in the church. So they came in, watched a 5 min. video about Christmas that had the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, the nativity scene, and a short talk by Elder Andersen about families, then went and saw the baptismal font, primary room, classrooms, and then it ended upstairs in a room with cookies, juice, and two missionaries to further talk and answer questions. I was wondering what would happen back home if a Church had an open house. The temple open houses bring tons of people through so I bet it would be about the same maybe. But yeah, the open house here was good. And it was really great having members there because they need to learn how to talk to people about the church and be missionaries.

So yesterday at church they had their Primary program. It was awesome! I really felt the Spirit throughout the whole meeting. Two kids gave talks, one about prophets, the other about Moroni, and then they just sang some songs like The wise man built his house upon a rock haha. It was pretty cool to hear it in Russian and see the hand actions. And then they also sang I am a Child of God and would hold up a picture every new line. At the end of the line this kid named Akim (we meet with his family now and then. he is this awesome little 4 year old with red hair and a mullet!) had that picture of Jesus coming out of the clouds with angels on the sides and he held it up for the end of the song but it was upside down haha so everyone just laughed. But it was awesome though. I'd take that Primary program over any American one I've seen. At church now President Campero wants us to mingle with members a lot more and split up for sacrament and classes and stuff. I'm getting to know members and youth more here in Center. It's hard to talk to youth because I can never understand what they say but it's good though. Center branch has a lot of strong members. It's great to get to go there and to be in this area.

So as far as Skype goes, I don't know why the APs only said the 26th is allowed because all the Zone Leaders said that we can do Christmas Eve or the 26th. So we are planning on doing Christmas Eve. I am going to do my Christmas on Christmas Eve and open all my gifts in the morning so that when I talk to you I will have already opened everything and whatnot. So Elder Robison and I have decided to do it at 6:00 PM here which will make it 9:00 AM your time on Christmas Eve. Hopefully this will work for all of you. It's very last minute notice which is frustrating because the next time I do internet will be after Christmas. So I hope that that time works for you. Send me back an email saying if that works or not and then I'll ask the Zone Leaders if I can come to internet tomorrow and just see what you say. I'm sure they will let me. I think that's kinda what everyone's doing. I'm really looking forward to seeing and talking with you guys! I can't believe it's Christmas next week. Time has gone by really fast.

Now to comment a little on your email. It sounds like the Christmas party was good. I want to see some pictures. Brynn says she'll send them next week or something like that. And yes, I got my journals back. Our landlord's little kid stole them haha. I guess he wanted some paper to write in and our landlord found them on the floor. Fortunately they weren't written in and everything is good. And again, thanks for the package. It got tossed around a lot haha but everything is still in tact. I'm excited to open everything up soon! Roxolana is the best way to send packages for sure. Elder Robison's package got Ukrained (the postal people open packages here and steal things because there's no law) and he had some gloves and candy missing from his. So keep sending them through Roxolana!

I love you all very much and I'm glad that things are going well back home. Have a good week! I am excited to Skype you on Christmas Eve! See you in 5 days!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 12 in Cold Mountain/Saltovka

Hello Family!

Can't believe it's been another week here. This week went by pretty quick. Thanks for the emails and pictures. It sounds and looks like you had a good week back home. I'm glad everything's going good. I'm excited to get to talk to you at Christmas! I'm looking forward to Skyping you! I've heard that Christmas phone calls for other missionaries have been like over $300 so Skype will be awesome. I don't want you to have to pay anything to talk to me, you've already done too much! So all we need to do is set up a time for Christmas that we can Skype. Whenever works for you will work for me. I will just go to the internet club here and do it. We have an hour to talk but honestly, I really don't care if it goes over an hour because it's Christmas! So figure out a time that will work and tell me next week. Maybe sometime in the morning for you would be best like 8ish because then it would be 5 PM here but just tell me and we'll make it happen! Go to and make an account and then tell me your username that you make. Mine is taylor.keown and then just make sure that you buy a webcam and test it to make sure it works and we'll be good to go!

I received your package! You guys are the best! I had to open it to get the CTR rings out for the guy (which turned out fine for him) and so I went through everything and found what I needed to open and whatnot. Everyone joked that it looked like it got ran over by a plane because there was a huge tire mark on it haha but everything was fine. You are too kind for sending that tree! I thought for sure that some of the ornaments would be broken and stuff but everything was in tact. Cold Mountain has a tree but there's no stand and no lights so we'll be using it for sure. Thanks for the things that I could notice - the syrup, peanut butter, and brownie mixes. It will probably take me my whole mission to use all that syrup haha! And the animal cookies exploded everywhere maybe because of pressure or something but besides that everything is good. Now I just need to get the package from Saltovka to Cold Mountain haha. I'll figure it out.

This week's been interesting because we worked Cold Mountain and Saltovka. On Tuesday this past week we went to Cold Mountain to clean our apartment because apartment checks are this week and Schoen and I didn't clean it before he left. So anyway, I walked in and saw that all of the windows were opened and that someone had gone through my stuff in our room! I then noticed immediately that they had stolen the missionary journals that you got me before my mission and the journal that I bought for myself here, as well as my Post-It Notes haha. So I called our landlord who lives above us in Cold Mountain and he came down and I was able to explain what happened. He said that he left our door open because our apartment was starting to smell really bad and so maybe one of his little kids stole them or maybe his wife or something. He said that he'd call me back if he found them. So then later that night I got a call from him that he had found them. I asked him where they were but he didn't have time to tell me because he was on his way to Kiev to go to the temple but he just said that everything was okay. So I am yet to get them back but I'm glad that they were found! And then on Thursday I went on a split with Elder Thornburg (he was in the other Cold Mountain apartment for my first transfer and is now in Saltovka) and we went back to Cold Mountain to finish cleaning it. We cleaned out the closet which had tons of old missionary clothes and coats and stuff and then we put it all in the dumpsters outside of the house. People always go through them to find food and things that they need so we figured that somebody would go through the clothes and find them useful. When we got to the dumpster there was already a man going through it. We put all the bags in there and then walked away. I'm sure that he probably went through them and more people after him but it felt good to have put the clothes to good use. I'm pretty used to seeing stuff like this now. It's really humbling to see. I took life very much for granted back home. This is one thing that I have learned early on here on my mission. Just how blessed we truly are to have the gospel and to have the basic needs of life.

There are a lot of investigators here in Saltovka to meet with. One lesson we taught this past week was to an old lady who will be getting baptized on Christmas Eve. It was about the Word of Wisdom. It went really good and we had a member with us who basically explained it and testified of it to her. It didn't take more than that to commit her to live it. It was cool to teach someone who actually has a date and wants to be baptized. The Lord always has people ready, we just need to find them. As far as Cold Mountain went this week, I was able to set up two lessons for Saturday (I had my first ever successful phone call in Russian!!) BUT I had to cancel them due to the Mini MTC because the whole Center Branch building was being used for it. So this week I'll be meeting with them and hopefully they want to progress in the gospel. This Thursday I will be going back to Cold Mountain and will have a new companion. I don't know who it is yet. The APs gave everyone hints but I'm not sure about who mine is. I'll find out soon though! So now a little bit about the Mini MTC - basically it was for all of the youth in Kharkov to come and learn about missionary work. They all got tags and there was a baptism there that the Zone Leaders had so it was cool. The Branch President (aka Valera) baptized the man. It was pretty cool in many ways. And then we (all the missionaries in Kharkov) sang Called to Serve and then split up with the youth and taught them a principle and had them teach us. I sent a recording of the video for Called to Serve. Hopefully it works. And also this past week Elder Hardy and I gave the Sacrament to an old babushka here in Saltovka. I had never said the Sacrament prayers in Russian so it was a good experience. She was very grateful that we came over and did that for her.

 And here's my little Christmas card paragraph for the family:

С Рождеством из Украины! SrozdestVOM eez Ookraeenie! (Now just say that with a deep Russian accent and your good to go!) Merry Christmas from Ukraine! I honestly can't believe it's already Christmas. It seems like yesterday that I started my mission and now I've been out for nearly six months! The time is flying by and I am loving my mission. Coming on my mission is the best decision I have ever made. I have learned a lot about myself in the short period of time that I've been here and I have a greater respect for this wonderful gospel that we are so blessed to have. But most important of all, I have grown closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He lives. He loves us. I know that through His Atonement we can receive strength to do and become better. I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. He is always there waiting to help us if we will but align our will with His. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that through him the Lord restored His church onto the earth again. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It was written for our day. It is evidence that God loves us. Through daily study and application of its pages we can feel the Holy Ghost and God's love more in our lives I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, and that through him the Lord directs His church. I am so grateful to be here in the service of the Lord and to be serving His children in Ukraine. He leads this marvelous work. I am only an instrument in His hands. I love all of you very much. The Church is true! I know it with all my heart. I hope that you may all remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, at this time of the year and continue to do so throughout your everyday lives. I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

Moving Day

Christmas Package - Looks Like The Plane Ran Over It!

Amazingly Everything Still In One Piece!

Taylor Can Cook!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 11 in Cold Mountain

Hello again family! It has been a very interesting week. I will start with Donetsk. I stayed with Elders Smith and Roberts. They are probably the most opposite set of elders in the mission haha. They are opposite in almost every single way so you can imagine this with me there. They had two investigators on date to be baptized but they lost them so they didn't have anything planned for the week really. We did a lot of contacting, which was kind of awkward to do with three people and they worked a lot on their spisok (ward directory). I had to stay there an extra day because the Bulgaria elders didn't get back until Thursday night so we left on Friday and got back to Kharkov around 2 pm. The bus ride was super long because it stopped at every stop. We left at 6:55 in the morning and it's only supposed to be like 4 hours. I was able to sleep though but it was a very long day. So I only had one and a half days with Elder Schoen this week. Saturday was our last day. It was kind of depressing to see him pack up haha. He gave me some really good advice though, which is "don't worry about home on your mission. I thought about home and everything there too much because sometimes I didn't want to be here but now that the time to actually go home has come I don't want to go!" But the best advice he has given me though has been through his example to me of loving the people here and their culture. I will be forever grateful to him for training me. He left me his practice pad and sticks which I'll be using throughout my mission and he left half a cup of tea haha. The picture I sent is right before he left. I'm going to miss him but I'll see him again. In the mission your trainer is your father, so I am Schoen's son. He has another son who is Elder Perry but Elder Perry and Schoen were together again the transfer before I came so Elder Perry is also my mother haha. I have a brother for a mother. Schoen told me that he loves me like a brother, even though I'm his son. I'll still email him and stuff and keep in touch throughout the mission. He has become a great friend to me. I am grateful that I got to serve with him.

So now that I am an orphan, I have a temporary companion until December 15 which is when transfers start again. His name is Elder Hardy. I am in his area which is called Saltivka. It is also in Kharkov and is like 45 minutes from Cold Mountain. His companion had to go home that he had so he was serving with a mini missionary (youth here can serve mini missions for a transfer to learn about mission work) whose name is Viktor. He is like 25ish and has his mission call to this mission. He's coming in March. He is handicapped and is from a place in Kharkov called Novie Doma. They wanted him to stay until transfers so that I could just go with the ZLs but apparently Elder Hardy and him had a hard time getting along because Viktor doesn't speak any English and Elder Hardy doesn't understand a lot of Russian. So anyway, I'm with Elder Hardy now in Saltivka. He is an interesting fellow, but we'll get along fine. We will be working his area and Cold Mountain. After Schoen left yesterday, I felt everything kind of fall on me being the only one responsible for our area in Cold Mountain. I need to visit youth in our area and remind them about an activity this Saturday called "Mini MTC", update our spisok, set up lessons with the investigators we have and call our contacts. There is a lot to do for someone only in his second transfer! I prayed that I would have the strength to make it through these next two weeks and that everything will be okay. After my prayer I just felt really peaceful and calm. These next two weeks are going to be a huge period of growth for me I think. I am finding that the Lord blesses us through trials. We have to decide how much we want what we're praying for and then be willing to do what the Lord needs us to. I will be staying in Cold Mountain for at least one more transfer so next Thursday I'll get a new official companion. New greenies just came in on Saturday that were in the group after me in the MTC. They finally got their visas! If I had been in their group then I would just have arrived. The other companionship in Cold Mountain will be Elder Fish and a greenie so we'll all be in the same district with the Burr's. I'll find out this week who the greenie is. Elder Fish is two transfers in front of me. They have missionaries train really young because they learn a lot that way. The Zone Leaders keep telling me that I'm going to get a young missionary in Cold Mountain and it's going to be like kindergarten haha. This is really scary to think about, but as I said before, the Lord blesses us through trials. These next two weeks and third transfer are going to be huge growing opportunites for me. I know that the Lord will be with me though. I know that He is aware of me and is always there to help.

On Saturday there was another baptism. Some elders from an area called Alekseevka baptized a girl whose like 16 or 17. And then after the baptism there was a free classical piano concert held by the branch piano player. He is a professional player and he held the concert for free just to get his name out there and whatnot. It was amazing!! I wish I would've filmed some of it but I didn't have the chance. It reminded me of concerts at the U, but better haha. And also this past week I passed my 5 month mark on the 29th! I can't believe I've been out 5 months, it's crazy. When I talk to you guys at Christmas I'll practically be at 6! Speaking of Christmas, it is official that you can use SKYPE! So buy yourselves a webcam and get skype! I don't know what time I will be talking to you or the specifics yet but I will tell you when I know. 20 more days til Christmas!

Now to comment on your email. Elder Schoen said that the lessons went good with the investigators this past week. However, Vladimir had to be passed to elders in a different area of Kharkov because that's where he lives. They gave him a Book of Mormon though so I hope that he is able to progress! And Schoen also gave Books of Mormon to Dima and Vova. He said that Vova was very interested in the lesson but Dima mostly just wants English though. These are our main investigators for now. I will hopefully be meeting with them this week.

Well, that is my week. Thanks for your emails and love. I love you all very much and pray for you often. Have a great week! I look forward to talking with you soon!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

ps - the pictures for this week are Elder Schoen and I right before he left, the advertisement for the piano concert, me in front of a huge banner in Donetsk that says "I Love Donetsk" (Ya lublew Donetsk) and me with a dead dog by the APs apartment.. there are strays everywhere and apparently the city is feeding them poisoned meat now because they want them gone before the Euro Cup. Only in Ukraine! Enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 10 in Cold Mountain

Hello From Donetsk Family!

I am going to be in Donetsk until this Friday. One of the Zone Leaders in Center Kharkov is going to Bulgaria this week but when missionaries travel they aren't allowed to travel alone, so they sent me down here with him and they will just be moving me around throughout the week until Elder Straddling gets back from Bulgaria, then we'll get on a bus again and go back up to Kharkov. And then I'll be with Elder Schoen for this weekend and then he leaves on Sunday to go home and I'll stay with the Zone Leaders until mid-December when the next transfer is. My schedule is going to be crazy! Thanksgiving was great this week. We had a bunch of food (see the pictures) and just said what we were grateful for. This week was probably our best one in Cold Mountain so far! We got three new investigators through English practice! One of our investigators, Vladimir, called us randomly on Sunday and asked if we still taught English classes. We said yes but that we do it individually now and only speak about our Church but he was fine with it so we planned on Monday night to meet with him. Well he dogged us so it was a bummer. The next day we had no idea what we were going to do and didn't have any plans so we prayed that we would be able to meet with somebody and have a good lesson with them. We called Vladimir again and he said that he had to work late on Monday and that he could meet that night. So we met him at the branch and he brought a friend name Mixael (Mike) who also spoke English. The lesson was amazing. We talked about families and showed our pictures to them and then had them tell us about their families. And then we talked about prayer. We asked them some reasons why we pray and then talked about how we pray, that it's a conversation with God and that we don't say written prayers or anything, all from the heart. They were asking really good questions and we were able to answer them. We talked about how God always answers prayers but often it is not how we think they will be answered or in our own time. Mike asked, "How do I know if I receive an answer to a prayer?" So we read Moroni 10:3-5 and explained a little about the Holy Ghost. They seemed to understand. And then it was getting late so we asked if it was okay if we offered a prayer to close the meeting and so that they could see how we pray. They agreed. I said the prayer and then afterward it was silent for a minute. The Spirit was definitely there. Vladimir said "I feel really good right now. What is that feeling? Your prayer was so simple but powerful." And I said "That is the Holy Ghost" and it was amazing. The Spirit just filled the room and it was like a light bulb went off in each of their heads! I won't be teaching them this week unfortunately but Elder Schoen will so I hope that it goes good again. And the other investigator's name is Dima. He's in his 20s and we met him through street contacting. He's mostly interested in English and he brought one of his friends but his friend hardly understands English so we talked a lot of Russian to him. We'll see how our lessons go with them.

It sounds like you guys had a great week as well. Sounds like Thanksgiving was good. There is a possibility that we will be skyping for Christmas but they aren't sure yet. I will let you know for sure when APs and President are for sure. This week there was a baptism from one of the other Kharkov areas. An old babushka got baptized. She requested freezing cold water because it was "refreshing" and she didn't really understand the whole baptismal process haha so she got in the water and was like "OK. 1 2 3!" and like jumped up to go under hahaha and so the elder baptizing her just said the baptismal prayer really fast. And the font was filled too high so during all of this the water was draining out and making a loud sucking noise. It was awesome. And yesterday in church there was no piano player because the guy who plays is on the High Council so he only plays for them once a month so they were like "Can anyone play piano?!" So I played the hymns right hand only and threw some bass in here and there haha. It wasn't very good which I told the Branch President after and he's like "No, no that was just fine!!" So I have a feeling I'll be playing piano for them now when the guy doesn't come. Fun stuff! There's nothing like sight reading at its best by a kid who doesn't play piano! 

Well, I hope you all have a great week! It is freezing in Donetsk, there was frost on the cars this morning and ice everywhere. It hasn't hit Kharkov yet but it will soon. I love you all very much and you are always in my prayers. Talk to you next week!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия


Monday, November 21, 2011

Week 9 in Cold Mountain

Hello family! It's been a good week here, our most successful week yet! We taught 5 lessons: 3 member lessons, 1 less-active, and 1 member present lesson to an investigator. It was our very first member present lesson and was a very good one. Our investigator's name is Sasha. He was the other elders' investigator but because we have their area now he is our investigator. He is studying right now to be an engineer of sorts and is very busy with school and studies. He believes the Book of Mormon is true but he won't make time to read it and pray about it because of school. He is confused about why there's no evidence of the Book of Mormon (like why we can't see the gold plates) so in our lesson we showed him the testimonies of the three and eight witnesses and shared Ether 12:6 with him. The member we were with is one of the youth in the branch named Pasha. He is 18 and is getting ready to go on a mission. He is also busy with school but he shared how he finds time to study the Book of Mormon. We also read from the Book of Mormon issue of the Liahona. That issue is awesome! We read the story about the girl from Russia who found that the Book of Mormon was true and shared with him the article titled "If you really want to know, you will know." He says that he will try to read but that he won't promise us anything. So we told him that we will text him and remind him to read everynight. He liked this. (And yes, we can text now, it just barely got approved in the mission!) Unfortunately, he said he can't meet until mid-January now because of school and then he's going to visit his family in Donetsk and friends in Moscow for break. So hopefully he reads and is able to know for himself that the Book of Mormon is true! The same day we taught Sasha the girl we met at my birthday dinner named Laura called us and said that she wanted to give us the Book of Mormon back that we gave her. She didn't consider it to be a holy book. She is taking the discussions from the Jehovah's Witnesses right now and she said she didn't want anything to do with the Mormons. So it was very interesting to receive a Book of Mormon back from someone who rejected its divinity and truth and then right after, teach someone who believes its true but just needs to put forth the effort to really know if it is. I am learning more and more everyday from my personal study and from experiences like this how true the Book of Mormon and how crucial it is to the work. It truly is the keystone of our religon. Our less-active lesson that we always have weekly can't meet anymore so this week was our last meeting with her. Her name is Vika and she was baptized 7 years ago. She moved in with her parents now and they are very against the Church so they won't allow her to meet anymore. She will still continue to go to Church and Institute but she can't meet with missionaries anymore. Hopefully she stays active in the Church.

I learned a 'transfer secret' from the Zone Leaders this week. Transfers happen every 6 weeks and there's always a lot of hype about transfers. Everyone tries to figure out whose going where and whose going AP and Zone Leader and stuff but sometimes secrets get out haha. So because Elder Schoen is going home in week 5 of this transfer, I will be put into a threesome with the Zone Leaders in Center Kharkov to finish training. But because they are Zone Leaders I will either be going to different companionships when they do their Zone Leader things or I may get to go with them for trips and stuff. We'll see. And then after this transfer, I will be staying in Cold Mountain for at least one more transfer with my new companion. So that's the secret! I really love this area so I'm glad I'll be staying. It is really hard but it's where I need to be. We got some good contacts this last week so hopefully we will be able to meet with them this week. Last night we met with President and Sister Miroshnichenko. (Valera and his wife) We did a short spiritual thought about receiving revelation at church and then the Zone Leaders helped him come up with a branch mission plan. This branch is really awesome. The members are great and the families that we meet with are strong. But as I have said, they just need help becoming better members. I can't even imagine being branch president after being baptized a year ago! The Lord truly prepares His children for the callings they have and to hear the gospel.

And now to answer your questions! The temperatures here are in celcius not fahrenheit so it's really like 15 F here. Its cold but I'm staying warm. I hear it gets really cold in January and February so I'll keep you posted. President and Sister Campero are amazing! Elder Rallison said it exactly right, he is like a Spanish President Hinckley. He knows what needs to happen here and is very loving of everyone. Yes, I am learning to cook many things. I really enjoy cooking now haha. We make our own pizzas every week with our own dough, we make our own flour tortillas for tacos, we make borsh so yeah I am learning a lot about cooking. We will make many things when I get back for sure! Elder Schoen is going home in like two weeks. Crazy stuff. He has been sick this past week but he's doing better now. I'm trying to keep him alive haha. I haven't heard anything about Christmas yet but I will let you know when I do. And I can't believe my package is 38 pounds!!! That's crazy!!! I can't wait to open it!

Well, I love you all very much. Thanks for everything. Tell everyone I love them and that I'm good. Have a good week!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

Monday, November 14, 2011

Week 8 in Cold Mountain

Hello Family!

I have just finished reading your e-mails from yesterday and it sounds like you had a great time with the Rallisons! I'm glad you were able to attend his homecoming. He was a great missionary. Thanks for the birthday wishes! I guess I will start with my birthday first. We were going to go out to eat on my birthday but then it turned out to be the only day that we could do district meeting so we went out to eat on the 10th. We went to this place called Pazutta Hutta. It is like a family-style restaurant and they serve Ukrainian food there. Elder Schoen went to one in Donetsk and said it was pretty good so we went there. However, we went on a crappy night haha because they didn't have a very big selection. They didn't have borsch!! They ran out or something. Elder Schoen said that I deserved a better birthday dinner haha but it was alright. I am sending a picture of that dinner. There was a lady sitting at the table next to us and about halfway through our meal her friend showed up. She pulled out a Bible and starting talking with her friend. We eavesdropped on their conversation for like 20 minutes haha and then her friend left to go get some food. We asked her what religion she was and she said she used to be Russian Orthodox (what everyone is here) but is taking the discussions from the Jehovah's Witnesses right now. We asked her if she had ever heard of our church and she said no (which is very surprising). So we talked a little bit and then ended up giving her a Book of Mormon to read. Jehovah's Witnesses have crazy beliefs. I don't really want to go into it haha. There is a lot of Bible bashing that goes on when you talk to them. So we'll see if anything happens with this lady. My actual birthday was great! We made a cake the night before that turned out to be very good (I'm going to write the recipe down) and we went to some different places to shop. I bought myself a matroshka doll that is pretty sweet. There are 10 pieces and the smallest one is like 1 cm tall its crazy! We also went to a toy store but I didn't get anything there because most of the toys were just for little kids. We also went to McDonalds. I bought myself a happy meal! A happy meal for a happy boy! We came home and did some studies and then went to our district meeting with the senior couple next to us the Burrs and our Zone Leaders. We had a good dinner that was noodles, sauce, and meat, and then had our cake we made with ice cream. (The ice cream here is really good by the way) The Zone Leaders gave me 2 ties, Elder Schoen gave me a box of smarties from Canada and the Burrs gave me a Kit Kat Bar haha. It was a good birthday. It didn't really seem like it was my birthday but I guess that's what happens as you get older?! How was Brynn's birthday? It's pretty crazy that she is 18 now! She can vote now! Scary.

This week was pretty slow as far as progress in Cold Mountain. We planned on meeting with several potential investigators but none of them could meet. We continue to drop by the apartment building where the family lives that we helped because we didn't get their number but they never answer the dome phone as we call it when we go there so we can't get into the building. This next week we are hoping to meet with this guy named Sasha. He has a Book of Mormon and likes to read but he can't find time to do it because he is really busy with school. We'll see what happens with him. This past week we did some contacting on the street and handed out invitations to an open house for another building in Kharkov. We had two small miracles happen with this. The first night we tried to get out maybe 10 invites and I had one more to give out but we had to go home because it was getting late. I said a silent prayer that I could find somebody that needed it. Our street is very quiet and there usually aren't too many people on it at night. But as we walked home, there were several people. I talked to two people but they told me to go away haha. We walked for a while and we saw a guy in the distance standing on his ladder raking leaves off his roof. As we approached him, he had just barely got off his ladder so it was like perfect timing. We started talking to him and at first he didn't want to the invite but as we continued talking with him he asked for it. He also accepted a brochure that we pass out. It has the living Christ and the Proclamation to the Family on it. I don't know if I'll ever hear from him again but I feel that he was the one who needed the invite. And the following night we had the same thing happen, except this time we ended with three invites to give out. We both prayed again and before we got home we were able to give them out. We each took an invite when there were two left and were able to give them out. Once again, I don't know if the people even went to the open house or if I'll ever hear from them again but my prayer was answered in a very simple way. I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers!

On Saturday we did service pretty much all day. I am calling it Service Saturday. We started at the zoo again and helped them get rid of trash and litter. We gathered it up and wheeled it to this pit and then they burned all of it haha. It probably wasn't very good for the environment but hey, it's service! Then we helped the Burr's go shopping and buy hats and shopka for their children and grandchildren. They have 6 children and 33 grandchildren! So we were their translators as they shopped. All of the senior couples have their own translators but when they can't come they just use missionaries. I'm understanding more and more Russian but often it's hard for me to think of how to respond on the spot haha. I feel I'm getting a little better at talking with people. I know that the only way I can learn Russian is with Heavenly Father's help. As long as I do what I'm supposed to and study then He will help me. Our third service we did was help our landlord move into the apartment above us. He is Valera's son (our Branch President) and is the Branch President of another branch in Kharkov. He does construction and many different jobs and is very successful. He is building his own house somewhere and so moved into the apartment above us with his wife and kids to live there for about a year until their house is done. He was very grateful for our service to him. And to end the day, we cleaned the branch building. We swept and mopped all the floors. It was a very long day but was good because all of the service was needed. It was also Fast Sunday yesterday. I fasted to come up with a personal baptismal goal for next year. I have decided to set a goal of four baptisms. That means one baptism per two transfers, which is three months. I think that with My Zion and the members becoming more involved that this goal is very attainable. By the way, how are your Zions? Have you started them yet? If not, I invite you all to make time this week and start. Just think of anyone who you know that doesn't have the gospel. Then look over your list. Think of anyone else who needs the gospel and then pray to know who you should start with. And then make a plan of how you will invite them to learn more about the Church. It could be inviting them to an activity, it could be giving them a Book of Mormon. It could be doing a service project for them. It could be just bearing testimony to them. There are many ways but Heavenly Father will help you to know how to share the gospel with whoever you choose. I am also doing My Zion. President let us get on Facebook one time and message friends in our Zions. I sent out messages to my friends who are less-active/non-members. I am still waiting to hear back from them but I feel that one of them may be interested. Read Matthew 28:19-20 and D&C 18:10, 15-16. Every member is a missionary, not just missionaries. I know that Heavenly Father will help us to help those we know receive the gospel.

Thanks for your emails and love! I love you all very much! Thanks for everything! Have a good week!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

Birthday Dinner at Pazutta Hutta

11:11 on 11-11-11

A Happy Meal for A Happy Boy!

Homemade Birthday Cake and Ukrainian Ice Cream
Taylor's Birthday Gift
Taylor's Birthday Gift
Weather Report on 11-11
Elders ?, Schoen, Keown, and ?


Monday, November 7, 2011

Start of Transfer 2 in Cold Mountain

Hello family! As usual, can't believe it's been another week here. Our area is slowly progressing, but we are working hard and doing our best. We have made it a goal to talk to at least 10 people a day and we've talked to some crazy people here haha but at least for our area, contacting is how we're going to find people. We continue to work with the few members that we have and are trying to involve them in the work with My Zion and stuff, but they are not catching on yet. So for now we contact and continue to meet with and teach the few less-actives and members in Cold Mountain.

This past week, we watched 17 Miracles with the senior couple that lives next to us for district meeting. I really enjoyed it, I can't believe how many trials that they had to go through and how the Lord was truly with them. It really made me think about the work and how they're sacrifice made it possible for the Church to be established in Salt Lake. We celebrated Halloween with the members in the branch, but I'm not gonna lie it was pretty lame haha. But they don't celebrate Halloween so we didn't expect a lot. They had two pumpkins and just had everyone draw a face and they carved them and then they pulled out Monopoly again haha. And that's how they did Halloween. We were hoping to meet with a lot of people this week because the other part of Cold Mountain has been given to us for a few weeks until the end of this month because of transfers (the other elders in our district got moved out) but hardly no one answered their phone so we were only able to meet with one of their investigators. We visited him last night in the hospital. He just got a hernia removed. I hope I never have to go to a hospital here! An elder here Elder Perry got really sick and something ruptured in his stomach. He had surgery and he's still recovering from it like 5 months later. Anyway, the hospital was really sketchy. But the investigator was really cool. His name is Oleg. He knows perfect English and has been speaking since the 90's he told us. He told us that he wants to move to the US because work here isn't good and stuff. We taught him about prayer and he prayed at the end of the lesson. We will continue to work with him but I don't know how long we'll have him because new elders are coming in at the end of the month and will retake the other area of Cold Mountain. We are hoping to meet with the family that we helped move the linoleum floor this week. They are hard to find home. Last night the boy talked to us but his parents work really late and weren't there so we're going to go by tonight and try and set up with them for this week. We got stood up by a lady who called us wanting English practice so we're going to try to meet with her again as well. We were also stood up by the lady who we moved all that stuff for. She needs help moving it out of that room and into her apartment now. We were waiting for our ride to pick us up but then they called and said that she cancelled so sometime in the future we'll be helping her again. We have some good goals for this week and we are hoping to achieve them. As I said, Cold Mountain is a slow area but we're doing what we can.

This past Saturday and yesterday were district conference for all of the branches here. (It is the same as stake conference) Saturday night was a Priesthood session and general session and then yesterday was a broadcast from Salt Lake for the Europe East Area. All of the conference was in Russian, so I didn't understand a lot but from what I did understand it was a good conference. Other elders translate for the senior couples and for English speakers that are here (like people from Nigeria) so Elder Schoen was translating and every now and then I would try and listen to what he was saying as well. The session yesterday was great. Elder Uchtdorf, Elder Oaks, Elder Whitney L. Clayton, and SIster Barbara Thompson all spoke from Salt Lake and then it was translated into Russian. As I said the conference was for the Europe East Area. They talked about marriage and encouraged the young single adults to get married. They also talked about helping less-actives come back to church. And Elder Uchtdorf's talk was especially good. He said that the people in the Europe East Area need to be doing three things: they need to have a current temple recommend, they need to read the scriptures as a family together everyday, and they need to pray as a family everyday, morning and night. He also stressed the importance of paying tithing, avoiding pornography, attending the temple as often as they can, and helping the youth in their branches prepare to serve missions. They need more Russian speaking missionaries!!!! It was a good conference. This really cool guy in another branch in Kharkov brought his mission call to open up on Saturday night. He is the branch mission leader there. He is handicapped and has difficulties walking and using his hands, but he is awesome. Elder Schoen worked with him when he was in that branch. So he opened his call up in front of everyone and he has been called to the Ukraine Donetsk Mission! This is where everyone thought that he would serve. He's coming in sometime next year, so it will be awesome to have him here. I don't know him or anything but I know he will be a great missionary for this mission. Maybe I will serve with him? We'll see.

So I mentioned earlier our contacting goal of 10 people a day. It is going good so far. I learn a lot when contacting and I gain more confidence as I do it. There are a few experiences I'd like to share. I've been trying to learn things to say about the Book of Mormon to people on the street in my language study because we always carry copies of the BOM as we contact. The first happened when we were going home after Saturday night's session. We were waiting for our metro train to come and this guy came up and grabbed me and said "I've never read your book before. Can I ask you a question? Who is Mormon? He was a person, right?" So I did my best to explain what I could but I couldn't remember anything I'd studied for the life of me! But then Elder Schoen stepped in and explained things in more detail. We gave him our number and a brochure and stuff so maybe he will call back. The second one was on our way home from Sunday's session. We talked with some Jehovah's Witnesses. It was pretty frustrating! They're arguments were quite lame and we talked to them for like 15 minutes at least. I understood like everything they were saying and we stomped their arguments and everything but they refused to read the BOM so we were both just like Well your choosing to reject the word of God. We know its true because we have read it. That's all we can say to you. Happiness to you! (that's what you say to people after you talk with them) And then last night I approached an older man and starting to talk to him. He said he believed in God and so I started walking next to him. I told him we were here to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and then he asked me "How can you preach something you can't see?" I looked to my left for Elder Schoen but he wasn't there! I was on my own. I asked him to repeat the question to make sure I understood it and then I said Well we can't see God, but we believe in him, right? And I know that he loves us. And then the man said "Well I'm glad that you are here preaching what you believe." and that's how it ended haha, but it was my first time talking to somebody on the street by myself. It was kinda scary but it was a good experience for me.

I received the newsletter and the notes from the Primary yesterday. It's always good to read about how everyone's doing. I especially enjoyed the notes from the Primary. Thanks for those! Annie Abramov wants me 'to tell Stacey how many baptisms I have.' Well Mom, I don't have any yet but I'm here doing the Lord's work and working hard. I know I'm here for a reason. I'm loving my mission very much so far. It's hard to explain the things that I'm learning already but this mission is the best thing that I could've done in my life. I'm very blessed to be here and I'm loving everything about my mission. It's hard work but I know that it is the Lord's work and that there is no other work more important than this on the earth.

This guy came up to me at the district conference and wanted me to do a favor for him. He needs me to order him two CTR rings and have them shipped here. He showed me the exact rings and everything and they're just from the company in Utah where I got mine from. So I'm placing the order today and they will be shipped to the house. He is going to pay me back and everything so when they arrive just put them in my package. That would be awesome! It sounds like everything is going well for you guys. I love you very much! Thanks for your emails, love, and prayers. Thanks for the birthday wishes. I can't believe its my 20th birthday this Friday! Crazy. I will be making a wish at 11:11 and 11 seconds. That's the only time that will happen haha. And Brynn is turning 18! Where has the time gone? Happy Birthday Brynn! I love you all very much. Have a good week!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pictures from Week 7

So here's some pictures from this week. We made some borsch that was really tasty and I got a picture of Kharkov from a hill. That temple is huge but the picture doesn't show it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 6 in Cold Mountain

Hello Again Family!

As usual, I can't believe another week has gone by. Thanks for your emails, it's always great to hear from you. To get started for this week, I had my first tracting experience! I sent a picture of that. Basically for tracting you find a dome (an apartment building) that doesn't have a call in phone on the outside and then you start at the top and knock your way to the bottom. The dome that we found we had to crack the lock to open the door and then go in. It's hard to tract here and anywhere in Russia for this reason because you can't get into the buildings! But anyway, we got in and every door we knocked we got the same response. "Go away! We don't need Americans around here!" And basically you ring the doorbell or knock and then if they come to do door they shout through the door to see who it is. And then you have to shout through the door back at them. It's pretty fun haha. Elder Schoen says we don't do a lot of tracting because it's not very effective, but they do it in the winter though a lot cause it's cold outside. Speaking of cold, we got our first snow this week. It was pretty cold, and it turned to rain. But then the rest of the week wasn't that bad of weather. It is crazy because after it rains pretty much everything turns into mud haha. But its all good. Let's see, this past week we had a youth broadcast that was broadcasted from Donetsk. The area presidency came and spoke to the youth, which are considered 18-30 years old. Its like young adults in US. But anyway, they mostly talked about marriage and each one gave crazy stories about how they got married. For example, one of the guy's fathers was his Patriarch and while he was on his mission his future wife got her blessing from his dad. His dad knew that she would soon be his daughter-in-law and that his son would marry her. Just crazy stories like that. But I learned some good things from the meeting though. They stressed that if we will put the Lord first in our lives in everything that He will guide our footsteps and allow us to accomplish our desires with our future spouses and families. And also that Satan will do everything to blurr our vision so we need to keep gospel living, a temple marriage, and having a family in our vision. It was a good conference, even though I will not be getting married for a while haha.

We taught three lessons this week, which is the most we've done so far! We taught this old babushka who is like a gypsy basically haha. She has been having missionaries come over for like two years now. We taught about the doctrine of Christ (2 Nephi 31) and she understands a lot of it, but she believes in her religion. So if we meet with her again we will talk about baptism and the Book of Mormon more with her. And we also met with this guy named Sasha (that is Alexander in Russian) He met with the other elders a while ago and has been busy with school so we were able to meet with him. He has taught himself English and is pretty good, so we were able to do most of it in English. He is studying to be an engineer and he is extremely busy with school. He is in his last year of school. But he has a strong desire to read the Book of Mormon and to know if its true. We read 1 Nephi 2 with him because he just wanted to read. He really likes what he reads but he can't commit to reading everyday because he doesn't have time. But he wants to keep meeting with us, only he can't meet again until mid-November which sucks. So I asked him if we could call him every week and check up on him and he said that he would like that so we're going to do it. And I also had the idea to just give him a single verse to read that would help him because it wouldn't take that much time to read it. So we'll see how he progresses. I totally spaced that we could've given him a Liahona for this month because it's all about the Book of Mormon. So this week we're going to try and get one to him. And last P-day we went to a bunch of music stores in downtown Kharkov. I played on a drum set that wasn't very good but it was still fun haha. But anyway, we met a guy that is from Nigeria and he is here for school. He is a pastor in his church and he writes Christian music and he needs a drummer, guitarist and keyboardist. He said we could go to a studio with him and play if we were allowed. And he's really interested in why we're here and he has a strong belief in Jesus Christ so it would be an awesome opportunity to teach him. So we asked the Zone Leaders and they asked the AP's who said no, so then Elder Schoen asked President Campero and he thought it was an awesome idea and told us to convert his whole church haha. So we were supposed to go today but he's busy so hopefully we'll go next week. More to come on this.

I had another crazy day at church yesterday haha. This crazy Jewish guy walked in off the street and barged into Sunday school holding a copy of the Liahona. He started going off on the church and was screaming about how we don't believe in Jesus Christ, only Joseph Smith, and how the church is just a bunch of rubbish. And then he started doing this like spitting thing with his mouth which I guess is really offensive here. And then all the members started going to town on him haha it was insane. They were all yelling "We believe in Jesus Christ too! Get outta here!" And then the guy got really upset and he tore the Liahona in half and threw it on the ground haha. (threw it on the ground reference) and he's like "I BELIEVE IN CHRIST!" and then someone was like "molodets" lol which in Russian means "aww, you little goodie good" and then some guys escorted him out it was insane! And then someone in class said a prayer to get class going again and the lesson proceeded like nothing happened. Only in Ukraine! I am finding that there is never a dull moment here haha.

My pictures I sent this week are my first tracting experience, a picture of my room, the grocery store where we shop (it is called Villa) and what happens when your water filter should've been changed on September 1st and is changed on October 23! The sisters before us were supposed to do it but couldn't get the filter off. Pretty nasty looking, huh? The pictures are being slow right now so look for them in a separate email. I love you all very much! I hope you are doing good and are happy. It sounds like you are. Thanks for everything. Have a good week!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия


Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 5 in Cold Mountain

Hello Family!

Can't believe it's been another week! They go by fast but slow at the same time. Friday was my one month mark in Ukraine. It seems like I just got here. Crazy stuff. Well, this past week we all went to the mall here called Caravan. It was pretty weird to be in a mall. We went bowling there, so that was fun. It was in English/Russian so I kind of understood what was going on haha. But it was exactly like US bowling though so it was cool. Also last week I played Russian Monopoly! It was crazy! The branch has a branch night every week and they want the missionaries to come and get to know members and stuff so they played Monopoly haha. It was fun but very frustrating because I hardly understood anything going on and most of the members playing had never played before so it was their first time. They're supposed to bring non-member friends though so that the evening will be beneficial for us so it was kind of a waste of time seeing as how there weren't any non-members there. We'll see how this week goes for branch night. We did service for the partially deaf man again as well. We'll probably keep helping him as long as we can. His name is Dymaev and he's a pretty cool guy. He is building his own house and he hopes to be done in one year. We started digging a hole for his electricity pole. It's supposed to be 2 meters but we only got .8 so we'll probably finish next time. There was also a baptism this week that we all got to attend! It was pretty cool. The man baptized is from Nigeria. There are a lot of those people here for school and I guess some of them are interested in the gospel.

So get this! All of the missionaries that are in the MTC right now who were supposed to leave November 1st didn't get their visas, including senior couples! They have to stay there for one more month unless they just get assigned to go stateside or something. So this next transfer no new missionaries are coming in, which is crazy. Which means the transfer after that in December I have a good chance of training a new missionary because my training will be done. I'm pretty freaked out about this haha. I can't even imagine training a new missionary at this stage. Maybe like in a year but I guess we'll see. Elder Schoen is going home December 6th so I'll be changing companions around that time. Crazy stuff. So here's a story for you. Yesterday at church this American guy walked in, he was probably late 50's, early 60's and he started talking to us after Sacrament. He said he wasn't a member of the Church but that he believed it was true. So we asked him if he wanted to meet with us and he's like, Well I was excommunicated so.... awkward haha. He said a served a mission in Italy and all this stuff but apparently he protested directly against the First Presidency or something because he doesn't agree with Mormon culture and how it "differs from the scriptures" haha so he was excommunicated. We asked him why he was here, and (this is scary) he said he left his family to come here and find a new wife and then he wants to move to Chile...... Creepy dude. Apparently that's the only reason why American guys come here is to find a wife. That 's what all the missionaries told me. So yesterday made for an interesting day at church!

I'm glad that you enjoyed conference, this session was awesome I thought. I have been reading a chapter from the Book of Mormon everyday and I just for this past week I have seen how much it has blessed me. Pres. Eyring's words are true about missionaries reading everyday. Before I left on my mission I started reading and underlining all the references to Christ. I have started doing that again and it's awesome. I also think about missionary work as I read and just about life after the mission and how I can improve. I have been learning a lot from the Book of Mormon as I read. I am in Mosiah 5 right now. King Benjamin's speech is amazing! I really enjoyed Mosiah 4:11-12. It is an amazing promise if we do it. If we always remember the goodness of Heavenly Father and pray everyday, are humble, and stand steadfast in the faith then we can ALWAYS be happy and retain a remission of our sins. King Benjamin's speech is awesome, I am going to study it more.

The weather here is starting to get cold! Below freezing at night. I'm staying pretty warm though, my coat is really warm, my beanie keeps my head warm and my scarf I bought here is the secret to staying warm! And I have thermals too and those warm socks so I'm good. I hear that this winter is going to be really cold because the last one wasn't that bad. Winter starts in December-ish so right now isn't as bad. It's like fall/winter I guess. Sorry you didn't get my e-mail last week. A little bit after I sent it came back and said that your account didn't get it because it's full. I didn't have time to re-send it so I figured that that's what happened. I will start sending to your g-mail account. Something else you can do if your not tired haha is just get on your g-mail and then I'll get on this and we can chat back and forth. Some missionaries do that with their family. Granted it would be midnight for you haha but I bet your still up :D I sent you guys your birthday package last Monday so you should be getting it next week sometime. I forgot to put a little note in the package explaining the gifts so I sent it in the mail so that you could get a letter too. By the end of the month you should get that.

As far as investigators go, we really haven't had a progressing investigator at all. It's frustrating because I've been here 5 weeks and I don't feel like I've made that much progress. But Elder Schoen and I have been talking and we agree that we have been growing more every week even if the numbers don't show it. There just isn't a lot to work with in our area. Aleksei was our closest investigator but now he doesn't pick up his phone since he dogged us last week. We are meeting with an old investigator this week who seems pretty interested again so hopefully something comes of him. We are trying to meet with less-actives and members during the week as well but none of them can hardly meet because they have to work. And the members in the area can only meet Sundays or just don't want to meet in the first place. It's frustrating but we're doing our best. We're going to do some tracting tonight and just keep contacting and keep asking the few people we teach for referrals. Contacting isn't very effective because nobody wants to talk and no one really has interest in the church because they are already members of the church here. So we'll see what happens this week. Elder Schoen says that this area is the slowest of all the areas he's served in. We're trying to work our best and help the few members that we can to help us.

I love you all very much! I hope you're doing well. Happy Birthday Dad on Wednesday! Eat some shrimp for me at Market Street! Have a good week!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

ps- the pictures this week are a huge temple I found with Elder Harvey (he's in my district) on my split, me in front of a statue we found haha, and a picture of the Monopoly night. Valera is the older guy on my right (your left) and there's just a bunch of old ladies playing haha. And the other missionaries are right under the camera you just can't see them. Enjoy!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Week 4 in Cold Mountain

Hello Family!

Can't believe it's been another week! We had a cool experience this week contacting. Aleksei dogged us last Monday which means he didn't show up, so I was thinking about something I've heard when this happens. And this is that Heavenly Father puts us in places for a reason. So we decided to start contacting people even though it wasn't our area. The branch building is in Center Kharkov and is the ZL's area (Elder Rallison) So anyway we started contacting people and we were talking about how we have a prophet on the earth today and that we would hear him speak to us this weekend. Some people were interested, but mostly everyone just rejects us. We had gone awhile not talking to anybody and we saw a guy coming up. Elder Schoen told me he was mine, so I somehow started talking to him (you never know how your going to start) and he was really interested. His name was Vladislov. He spoke some English and so I was able to do a lot of it in English. He said that my Russian was really good haha. But we invited to come to conference and he said he really wanted to. This was on last Monday. Then on Saturday, the day of conference, we called the people we contacted and he was the only one to pick up. He said he would probably come. I prayed that he would come and that we would be able to talk to him. We got off of our bus and started walking towards the branch building and we ended up walking right in front of him! It was crazy! So we were able to talk to him more as we walked to conference and get to know him better. He had a lot of questions once we got to the branch building so I did my best to explain some things, like temples and service projects. He took some Liahonas as well. He stayed for Priesthood Session and sat next to me. Afterward we asked him what he thought and he said he understood most of it but he had some concerns. But he thanked us for inviting him to come. He had to leave to go back home to his family but we are really hoping that he has a desire now to meet with the other missionaries. This experience showed me that Heavenly Father has people prepared to hear the gospel everywhere around Ukraine, but we need to have the faith to find them. It is so hard to find new people to teach and people that will listen on the street! And it is very hard to get referrals! But we're doing our best. I feel often that we're not very successful because we've only taught like 1 or 2 lessons a week since I've got here and we can't find anyone. But we're working to find people and that's what counts.

I really enjoyed conference this past weekend. I learned something from every talk. I can't decide which one is my favorite though. I really enjoyed Priesthood session. Elder Holland, W. Christopher Waddell, President Eyring, and President Monson all said some awesome things. I also enjoyed President Eyring's talk about how missionaries can be blessed for reading the Book of Mormon everyday. That is one of my goals now. Mostly what I learned from conference is that Heavenly Father really knows each of us. W. Christopher Waddell's talk in Priesthood was really helpful to me. Heavenly Father knows exactly what will happen for me on my mission. He knows which companions I need to be with, which areas I need to be in, and what I need to experience in order to grow. If I have faith and look forward to the missionary that Heavenly Father can make me then it will happen and I will be happy. That is what I am really going to try and do for the next six months until the next conference. It's such a blessing to know that Heavenly Father cares about us each individually and understands perfectly what we are going through. He is always there to help.

I had my first split this week with Elder Rallison's companion Elder Mironchenko. He was born in Russia but moved to the US when he was 7. So he is fluent in the language. We had a great split. But anyway, we ended the split with the Bailey's (the senior couple) and we had borsh. I really like borsh now! It's great stuff! So one of the picturess I sent is from their house at that dinner. We did two service projects this week. The first one was helping a partially deaf guy in the branch pour cement at his house he's working on in a city called Alekseevka. It went good, we'll probably keep helping him in the future. And the other one was after the dinner with the Baileys. We helped another guy in the branch move his fridge out of his apartment. He lived 9 flights of stairs up and the fridge was 50 years old haha so it was pretty heavy. After we got it down we had to wheel it like a mile through the streets of Kharkov to another apartment. It was insane! So there's a picture of that as well.  

I love you all and hope that you're doing well! I pray for you and I know that Heavenly Father watches over us and knows us each individually. Have a good week!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

Here's some more pictures. The temple is in Center Kharkov. It is called the
candy cane temple by missionaries haha. The other email I sent today had a
picture of our house. The store next to us is Valera's store. The picture
with locks on it is a bridge near Center as well. When people get married
they put a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the water. Pretty cool.
And the Euro Cup is coming to Ukraine and Poland next summer so that's what
that picture is. There's graffiti everywhere here haha, some of its pretty
cool. So there was graffiti in that picture. I'll send more next week. I
love you all! Have a good week!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week 3 in Cold Mountain

Hello Family!

It's been an interesting and challenging week so I'll get started with
everything. Elder Schoen and I both kind of caught colds this week so this
made it hard to work. We're pretty much over them now so don't worry or
anything. We did a lot of area book work this week, just calling old
investigators and seeing if they would be interested in meeting again. Most
of them said that they weren't and one of them wants to meet later on this
month. You probably remember Victoria, the lady who found the purse. Well,
we invited her to church and she said she'd come, but she didn't come. So we
called her the next day and when she found out that it was us she hung up.
So we're going to hold off a little on talking to her. She does have a Book
of Mormon though so that's about as much as we can do right now. Hopefully
she will change in the future and will want to hear the message of the
gospel. We do have an investigator though, Aleksei. We are meeting him again
tonight at the branch building. We haven't met him since last Sunday because
he was in Kiev last week and it's also hard to meet with people more than
once a week here I guess because they don't want to meet very often. But
nonetheless, we're meeting tonight and we hope that our lesson will be good.
We are going to focus on the doctrine of Christ and do our best to help him
understand the importance of repentance. I really think that he will be
baptized if he can understand this. My companion told me what the Europe
Area President said when he came. He said that "If a person understands
repentance and repents that he will be baptized." So this is what we need to
focus on when we teach people. The reason that they don't get baptized is
because they don't understand repentance. We are hoping to find some new
investigators this week through members and contacting. With General
Conference coming up this weekend, we are having members invite people they
know to come and listen to it. Aleksei wants to come so we'll be talking
more about it tonight as well. We will watch Priesthood and another session
this Saturday, and then the rest on Sunday. It is all on DVD and will come
in English and Russian. I guess they send it to Kiev and then Kiev sends it
to us. I'm really excited for General Conference. I hear that it was good! I
am going to do the things that Elder Uchtdorf suggested from now on for
conference. The words we hear are truly from God and are what we need to do
for the next six months. We are spoiled back at home haha. We can all watch
conference in our own homes and record it for ourselves. The people here
cannot do that. And some of them live far away from the branch building and
so it's like an all day thing to watch conference. Last night we were
teaching Valera and his wife a lesson about conference and challenged them
to invite people to go to conference. His wife asked us if we had ever been
to conference in person. Elder Schoen said no because he lives in Canada. I
said no as well and was really embarrassed because I've had so many chances
to go but I've just been too lazy or was working or something. I was humbled
very quickly by that experience. I know that I have been kind of casual
about conference back home. But now I really understand why it's so
important. We have prophets and apostles that speak to us on behalf of the
Lord! We ought to do what they say and listen! So I am really looking
forward to conference this weekend. I'm excited to listen and learn what I
need to work on and to learn from the Spirit what I can do to improve.

On Saturday we did a service project for the zoo in Kharkov. It was the
country wide day of service in Ukraine for the Church. We moved a bunch of
bricks, branches, and leveled off dirt for them. And then we got to stroll
through the zoo. It was the most depressing zoo I've ever been to! I had
heard this from elders but I didn't really know why. And now I can say that
I know why haha. From the pictures you can see maybe how depressing it was
haha. Just the location and everything was depressing. The kiddie rides and
the animals just looked sad! Elder Rallison said that last time they went to
the zoo that it was worse because the animals were attacking each other
haha. And it rained the whole day so that made it depressing as well. I will
never look at a zoo the same anymore. There is no zoo like the Ukrainian
zoo! But it was good to get together and do service though. The Church is
new here. The members need help knowing how to run everything and service
projects are great to get the Church out there in the open.

I forgot to say that we have a deep fryer in our apartment!
We're the only elders that have one haha. We make french fries and we did
some chicken this past week. It's awesome! I also forgot to mention a few
things about Elder Schoen. He is actually from Ontario, not Toronto and he
plays the drums! He also dated Neil Peart's niece and he kind of knows their
family. He brought a practice pad and sticks so sometimes we play together
haha. And also, last week I said we get 1600 grieven a month but we really
get 1200 a month. I meant that we're hoping to get 1600 a month. We just got
our new grieven for this month so we can go to the store again. It's hard to
live on a little bit of money but we manage. I was going to ask you if our
ward has mission plaques yet? Whenever they get one, I want the scripture to
be D&C 100:3-8. I was reading those verses again this week and that whole
section is awesome. I know that Heavenly Father is watching over you and
blesses you everyday. I know that this is His work and that He has suffered
me to come to Ukraine for a reason. And I know that through our faith and
desires to serve Him that we will be blessed.

I want to involve you guys in the program that we're doing here. It is
called My Zion. It comes from 'mission' in Spanish and is split up into My
Zion. We are all missionaries and we should all have our own Zions that
contribute to the whole Zion. Next week I will send you a pdf of the list
that we pass around to members and non-members about how to build their own
Zions. It has different categories of people like friends, work, family,
etc. that you know and that you think need to hear the Gospel. You should
pray about names and write them down, then pray about action to invite them
to hear more about the gospel. For me, I am going to be sending my testimony
to my friends and people on my Zion list and then the office here will
contact missionaries where they live to go and visit them and teach them if
they accept the invitation. So I challenge and invite you to pray about
people that you may know that could hear the gospel. And pray for ways to
talk about it or come in contact with them to do so. For us right now, we
are inviting people to General Conference to come and hear why our Church is
different and that we have living Prophets and Apostles. Maybe you could
invite people to come watch conference if you recorded it or watch online?
But the whole idea is that we are all missionaries and we all have a
responsibility of building the Lord's kingdom. We are helping the members
here to learn how to be better member missionaries and My Zion is how it
needs to work. But we can't teach this and ask for referrals if we don't do
it ourselves. The goal is to have it work in our own lives and then be able
to tell people here, "Hey, I'm doing it back home and this is how it's
working." So thanks for those two addresses of my friends. I really feel that this program is
inspired of the Lord and is how the work can move forward in Ukraine and for
each of our Zions. President Campero came up with the idea and I know that
it can work if we are faithful and involve the Lord in helping us build His
kingdom through our personal Zions.

I love you guys and hope that you continue to grow in testimony and in love
together. Have a good week!

Cold Mountain Missionaries

Elder Keown and Elder Schoen

Not only are the animals sad, the cages are too!

Even the rides are sad!

Ukrainian Child Feeding a Monkey

Elder Keown Feeding a Sad Looking Animal