That is how you say hello in Russian if you're wondering. I'm sorry I haven't had the chance to email you guys yet, my P-day is on Wednesdays and you only write on these days so here we go! A lot has happened so hopefully I can tell you about everything!! So first off, I am doing everything in Russian already! I pray in Russian, sing in Russian, and have had a few dreams in Russian as well! Oh yeah and I can kind of talk but not too much. I can bear my testimony kind of and I can officially pray pretty good now, there are a few things I still can't remember to say but I've only been here a week so it's alright. I have seen like all of my friends here, it's awesome! I have seen Elders Tregeagle, Rees, Simpson, Eunho Kim ( from Philharmonic), Seymour obviously, Metcalf, and Pres./Sis. Gibbons. They are all doing great and were glad to see me! Let's see, my district and companion are great! My companion is Elder Moss and he is a world class athlete. He is sponsored in free running, which is like par core but you do tricks and flips and stuff, it's crazy! So he'll just randomly do backflips in our room and do tricks off the hallway walls and stuff! We make a good team though. My district has 11 elders including me. Four of them (with me) are going to Donetsk and we're all in the same room. Elders Moss, Lewis, and Groothuyzen. The other seven are going to the Russia Vladivostok Mission, which is where Taylor Kevern went. They are Elders Barney, Taylor, Whitemore, Hunsaker, Lyman (who is our District Leader), Ward, and Dickson. I really love all the guys in my district and we are convinced that we have the best district here! Let's see, gym time is pretty sweet, all of us play four square and it gets pretty intense! I didn't think I would ever play this but basketball is a joke because so many elders play and the line just to shoot for teams is like 20 elders long. And so your chances aren't that good. I played one time and had a layup so I called it quits haha. But four square is sweet! This really smart elder in my district, Elder Hunsaker, has already taken like a year of Russian so he can already talk pretty good. He is kind of a nerdy, big kid but he's awesome! Anyway, the first day of gym he showed up wearing a shirt that said 'Spell Czech' on it and I about lost it. It was hilarious!
My district is part of a new guinea pig program where they only speak Russian to us, NO ENGLISH!! So my first day here and until now has all been in Russian. Our teacher is great, her name is Sister Alletto and she served in the Ukraine Kiev Mission. So she only speaks Russian to us and has given us some handouts that show us how to form sentences and say basic phrases like "I know that Jesus Christ lives" and "The Holy Ghost is my friend" things like that. Class is really hard because we don't really always understand what she's telling us, but we are starting to understand more and more everyday though. She has spoken English to us a little bit though and she says that we're way more prepared than she was for her mission so that's good! On top of class only being in Russian, we are assigned to teach an investigator every week. His name is Victor and he is apparently from Lugansk, Ukraine. We watched a video the third day of class that interviewed him and then we figured out from Sister Alletto that we were going to be teaching him all in Russian that night! So it was crazy to say the least. Elder Moss and I prepared some things to say and just hoped for the best. I forgot to mention that Elder Moss's brother went to the Ukraine Dniprpropetrovsk Mission so Elder Moss already knows a lot about Ukraine. Also, he can speak German and Chinese and was hoping to go on a Chinese mission, so Russian is coming really easy for him. Anyway, Elder Moss basically said everything in our first lesson with Victor and I didn't say a lot. I wasn't very happy with this, so the next day we taught him I prepared much better and was able to ask him questions and stuff. I don't think these "investigators" are really investigators haha. I think that they're just volunteers or something for the MTC for missionary training purposes. But at the end of the lesson we were small talking with him and I asked him about those cookies that Paige gave me and he went nuts and just started rambling off about them and drew a picture on the board! It was sweet! We're teaching him again at 8:40 tonight about the Holy Ghost. Hopefully it goes well. Also, we taught "Anya" who was Sister Alletto yesterday. Elder Moss forgot how to say a lot of stuff so I was able to step in and ask the questions. It was really cool and showed me that that's pretty much how it is in the field. No matter the ability, the companions work together and help each other. It's crazy to think that I've been here a week and will be teaching a fourth lesson tonight!
Last Thursday, we had a branch meeting and met our Branch Presidency and Zone Leaders. We had interviews with a member of the Presidency and they then determined leadership positions. And guess who is Senior Companion in my companionship? If you guessed me, you are right. I didn't expect this at all. It was humbling to be called as this. I feel that we are really growing as a companionship and as friends in the gospel. We have high goals and are hoping to achieve them this week. Our goal is to be able to bear a 'pure testimony' by Sunday, which means not using our paper and saying what we want to, not what's on the paper. (Alma 4:19) Me being Senior Companion also added to my frustration when we first taught Victor because I felt that me not saying anything was bad but I learned that it's really not and not to get down on myself.
Sacrament Meeting was interesting on Sunday for a few reasons. One, it didn't seem like Sunday hahaha so that was weird and two, the whole meeting was in Russian. Opening and closing prayers, sacrament prayers, hymns, and testimonies. It is crazy to hear it spoken and to think that we will be able to speak and understand it in the very near future. My goal for myself this week is to be able to say my prayers without my paper. I can almost do it! Also, we have to prepare a talk in Russian every week that is 5 minutes long on a certain topic. This week is enduring to the end. The catch is everyone prepares their talks and then in Sacrament Meeting they will call two Elders at random to give their talks. So you don't even know if your going to give it!
The food here is alright haha. I am not eating cereal for every meal yet and I don't think I ever will. Breakfast I have cereal, lunch I have a salad wrap and dinner is usually like chicken or pasta or something. Some of it's pretty nasty haha, but it is okay.
I have some requests: a new towel that isn't 100% cotton haha. It really sucks because I get cotton stuck on my body after I shower, it's great.
We need a small ball to use for four square to play in our room/building! Just a little ball or something that will bounce good.
Some rubber tip drum sticks! I'm dying to play!
And some treats!
Keep sending me dearelders and letters, they're great! Also, tell people to write me like my friends and stuff and people in the ward! I want to hear from them!
I love you guys so much and hope you're doing good!
Love Always, Elder Keown