Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Hello Again Family!
It has been another week and many things have happened so I'll get started!
So, remember Elder Hunsaker that I talked about last week that Elder Moss and I taught? Well he decided to go home for a little bit to get help with some clinical depression problems that he's been having. I think that a lot of it was that he didn't want to be here and that he just wanted to be in Russia already because he already speaks it very well and didn't learn anything here. However, once he's cleared he can fly straight to Vlad so we all think that he will be okay. Last week in TRC, Elder Moss and I taught a guy from Kharkiv named Emil! It was pretty sweet to teach a native Ukrainian. We talked about the Book of Mormon and how we can receive revelation from reading it. I am already seeing that Ukrainian people have a lot of faith just from what he was telling us. They have been through a lot and many of them do not even know that there is something better for them in the world. So I believe that many of them live by faith without knowing it. Let's see, two days ago Elder Metcalf and Elder Ingersoll left for Chile and El Salvador. They both got here the same day as me so if I was a 9 weeker than I would have left yesterday. And also yesterday, Elder Aoki left for the Guatemala MTC. I got some pictures with him so I'll send them. He's doing really good and I know that he'll be just fine. Also, on Monday Elder Moss and I went to the real world again haha. His eye has been really bothering him and so we got to go to a fancy eye doctor. It's crazy how many people notice the missionaries when you're not in the MTC. I talked to a lot of people just in the waiting room. We have to go back next week sometime so our goal is to do a contact. We'll see how it goes. We received our official Russian name tags yesterday! Keown is now KAYH. So sweet! I'm not going to wear mine until right before I leave and so I'll try and get a picture to you guys. I will also send home my English tags.
So last night for Devotional all of our dreams came true - we got to hear from an Apostle for the first time in 10 weeks. THE Elder Jeffrey R. Holland came and spoke to us. It was an amazing experience to say the least. We have been getting there early every week for good seats so I sat within 15 feet of him. I could just feel his spirit the whole meeting and I knew that everything he said was true. I took a whole bunch of notes, but there are a few things that really stuck out to me. The first was that all of the missionary work that is talked about will take place in our dispensation. It will not end in Apostasy like the other dispensations. All of the prophets and missionaries in the past truly saw our day. Their missions were not very successful, but because they saw our day and what we would be capable of doing, they kept going and didn't get discouraged. Alma and Amulek saw this day and they were awesome missionaries themselves! And just as we look to prophets and missionaries of old for inspiration, they look to us today to keep the work moving forward. The second thing is that if the Church were to have an icon, it would be two missionaries. Everyone loves the missionaries. And everyone has a right to think that we are perfect. Now when Elder Holland talks, sometimes he gets very stern in saying things. This is a stern part right here. YOU DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO DAMAGE THIS ICON. NEVER DO ANYTHING NOW OR IN THE FUTURE THAT WILL DAMAGE WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF YOU AND THIS CHURCH. He also talked about how a few things really irk him and one of them is seeing returned missionaries come home who just didn't get it. They fall away from the Church and Elder Holland just has to wonder "What on earth did you do for the last two years?" He told us to go in for the whole experience and to come back a new person for the rest of your life. Elder Holland's mission meant and means the world to him. He said that there hasn't been a day in the past 49 years where he hasn't thought about his mission. He also testified that every single good thing in his life has come from serving his mission. He doesn't believe that anyone in the whole world can be affected as much as he was by his mission. He answered a few questions that I guess were posed by missionaries before he came. One was "What is the most important thing Christ wants us to know right now?" And he answered that He wants us to know that every single thing that He said was true. This especially means the doctrine of Christ- Faith, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. And somehow we must convey this to everyone we teach. Christ's words are true. He lived and lives today. I am going to do all I can to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength so that I my return with honor and let my mission change my life. I have already changed so much just being here. I know that Heavenly Father will help me become the missionary that He needs me to be and that the experiences I have will shape my life forever.
And now to comment on dearelders - I'm glad you received the package with the pictures. Happy Anniversary! I can't believe it's been 25 years years! Crazy stuff! It sounds like it was a good one for you. Well, I need to wrap this up. I love you guys so much! Two weeks from yesterday I will leave! I will let you know if I need anything else. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Have a good week! Love you!
Love, Elder Keown

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MTC - Week Eight

Hello Family!
Lots to say this week so here we go!
Elder Moss and I feel like we had a true missionary experience on Friday night. For the last part of class, Brother Eckersley told us to get in our companionships, pray, and then go out anywhere in the MTC and talk to someone. The purpose of the activity was to follow the Spirit. So we did this and we decided to just walk around the MTC looking for anyone. Elder Moss said that he felt that we needed to talk with Elder Hunsaker in our district about enduring to the end and patience. I agreed. So we kind of had him in mind walking around and not to our surpirse, we ran right into him and Elder Whitmore at the end of the campus. We talked to him and bore our testimonies to him about patience and the Lord's timing. I actually used your verses from Doctine and Covenants 58 and read those to him. After this experience, we found out from Elder Whitmore that Elder Hunsaker is having a tough time right now and is struggling with his testimony. I think it's because he already knows so much Russian and doesn't want to be here that Satan is working hard on him. But I think that our teaching experience with him helped him out a little bit. He meets with several presidents every day to see how he's doing I guess. He seems to be doing better. I hope he can stick out these last three weeks. I know that he knows this church is true - I've heard his testimony! Also with this experience, Brother Eckersley pulled us out and asked how it went with Elder Hunsaker. We told him and he said that he was glad that we talked with him because that was his goal in doing this activity. He thought of doing this when Elder Hunsaker was talking to him last week. It's amazing how the Spirit works and how you see everything that came together after the experience! On Saturday, Elder Moss and I got to go to the "real world." He needed to go to the doctor for his eye, so we went there and then they sent us to Rite Aid! It was very weird being outside of the MTC. It was great but it was definitely very different. I always remember honking or waving at missionaries walking down the street. Well this time people honked and waved at us. It was crazy to have happen because in the MTC everyone is a missionary but once you step outside, you're the missionary that people see. We imagined walking down the street in Ukraine and having the same feelings, except all in Russian and really doing the work. Crazy stuff!
I saw Elder Jacob Embley this week. He remembered me and we talked for a little about everyone he remembered who he had seen here and where they were all serving and stuff. He's going to Texas Spanish speaking. Apparently his class was right by Elder Rees' and he sees Elder Aoki all the time too. I've got some friends leaving next week. Elder Metcalf and Elder Ingersoll are leaving on Monday and I think Elder Aoki is leaving Tuesday. He's only here three weeks than he goes to Guatemala MTC for six. It seems like he just barely got here!
And now for comments/questions on you dearelders. I'm feeling better than last Wednesday for sure. Today is the 10th day of being sick but I still wake up with a pretty good cough. My sore throat is basically gone now. I'm doing what I can to beat this. I think it's close to going away. If I'm not better by Monday than I think I will go back to the clinic and see if I can see the doctor or something and get some cough medicine. I am still wanting a new laundry bag. I'm not sure what happened with the bed bugs here. I'm guessing that they are gone now because other missionaries live on that floor. That's crazy that school started again this week! I was thinking about that a little bit. And Ian and Meredith are growing up very quickly!
I love you guys so much! I pray for you often and hope that you are doing good! If I think of anything else that I need, I will tell you. I look forward to your dearelders. After I get to Ukraine, start emailing me though haha! I think I get mail every six weeks or something like that. Have a good week!! Tell everyone I love them!
Love, Elder Keown

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MTC - Week Seven

Hello Again Family!
Well, it's been another week again. Lots to say so here we go.
I woke up Sunday morning with a very sore throat and I had chills all day. I felt like crap to say the least! Unfortunately I am still sick as I right this email. I went to the health clinic on Monday and they just told me to get a lot of rest, take ibuprofen, and possibly buy some medicine in the bookstore. I'm going to go there later today and see what I can find. I can also go to a pharmacy so I might check that out as well. I'll try and keep you posted the best I can about how I'm doing. I hope to be over this really soon! Thanks for the package you sent on Monday! The dictionary is very helpful, I still have the brownies, and that article about Russia/Eastern Europe was cool. The only thing I really need is an electric razor. They sell some in the bookstore for like $60.00. Is this a good price? I wish I knew where that cord went for mine. Maybe it will turn up soon.
Our lessons with Anya and Valera are going pretty good. Anya has a baptismal date now so we're excited about this! We still have probably five lessons to teach her but we don't know if we will get everything taught to her so we're just hoping for the best. And Valera is slowly progressing. We were able to more fully answer his question about why bad things happen to good people. We talked about it in class and came up with some good information and scriptures. What you sent me in the dearelder was also great. Those D&C verses are excellent and I actually used them yesterday for a different purpose in the lesson. He also asked us a difficult question about 1 Nephi 14:10 which talks about there are only two churches, the church of God and the church of the Devil. He wanted to know what the church of the devil was. We did some research and told him more about Apostasy and dispensations and that eventually the church of God became the church of man and that right now is the last dispensation wherein the church has been restored again. He said that it made sense so I think we did alright. I've learned a lot from teaching about the Spirit. One of the main things I have learned is that even when you don't feel the Spirit during the lesson, you may help someone else to do so. It's pretty cool how the Spirit works. Elder Moss and I have been trying to work on listening in our lessons. It is really hard because we have always just kind of half listened and then thought ahead to what we would say next. So we've been doing this and it is amazing how it turns out. It is a leap of faith because you never really know what you will say after listening to the investigator but you are always able to say what is needed.
Now to comment/answer questions from your dearelders!
I can't believe that we're heading out four weeks from yesterday! I am really excited but nervous at the same time. I am enjoying the music calling. Our district is going to sing this Sunday and we have decided to sing "Where Can I Turn for Peace?" I'll tell you how it turns out. It is crazy that I am doing many things in Russian already - singing, praying, teaching, and reading The Book of Mormon. Reading is hard but we all get better every time we do with pronunciation and understanding. It sounds like Brynn will have a lot on her plate with soccer this year. Hopefully the team does well this season. I am really going to try and work my hardest these last four weeks here. My district is going to start doing more SYL days (speak your language). It was brought up that a lot of us don't realize what is going to happen when we get off the plane. We aren't going to understand hardly anything and it's going to be a huge culture shock. So we really need to get serious in our remaining time and take advantage of what we've got because in a month, we're not going to know what hit us!
Thanks again for everything! Tell everyone that I love them and that I'm doing good. I'm going to try and get some pictures printed out really soon if I can get access to the machine. I hope you are doing good! Have a good week.
Love, Elder Keown

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MTC - Week Six

Hello Family!
Can't believe I've been here another week, time is flying by. Well, I am going to try and answer a lot of questions and whatnot in this email so here we go!
On Sunday after our MTC Conference (which happens every fast Sunday) one of the counselors in the Branch Presidency came in and grabbed me to talk to me. I was in the middle of telling a joke and everyone was laughing and he came in mid joke and said with a straight face "Joke time's over, Elder. Let's go." I was a little nervous haha and he then sat me down in a room and said "So what do you think of your mission call?" I told him that I was grateful for it. He then asked me some other questions about my mission and whatnot, then said "Well we want to call you as the Branch Music Coordinator. Do you accept?" I accepted of course and wasn't nervous anymore haha. So I officially have a Branch calling now which will be great. I am in charge of organizing musical numbers each week, finding piano players, leaders, and choosing the hymns to be sung in Priesthood and Sacrament. It is right up my alley :D Also on Sunday I took some pictures with all of my friends here. I didn't realize how many people are here that I know! I will send the pictures whenever I can get them developed. It was myself and Elders Rees, Metcalf, Ostler, Tregeagle, Eldredge, Cannon, Ingersoll and like two other Elders that I kind of knew in High School. The reason for the pictures was because Elder Tregeagle was leaving on Monday and Elder Rees left yesterday. Elder Aoki is coming in today so it's too bad they barely missed him! I'm excited to see him today though and talk with him.
In class this week, Brother Eckersley shared with us a connection he had made when on his mission with John 11. This is the story of Lazarus. He said that many of us, like Lazarus, are 'dead' in the Russian language. But through our faith, Jesus Christ will help us out and 'raise us up' to be missionaries that we never thought possible. He will give us power in our words and help us to become as fluent as possible in the language if we do our part. This is where grace comes in to play. I have been thinking a lot about how the Atonement does so much for us in our lives that we don't even realize. Last night we had a Devotional with Elder Cecil O. Samuelson. He talked a lot about 1 Timothy 4:12 (being an example of the believers) which means ALWAYS BEING A MISSIONARY, even when you don't think anybody is watching. He shared a story about two elders who were having an inappropriate conversation walking down the street and how a store owner who was interested in the church overheard what they were saying and lost interest. It is very sad to think that this lady might never want to hear the gospel because of the poor example from these elders. In our district devotional review, President Harrison sat in and was saying that the Ukrainian and Russian people rely on missionaries more than we will ever think. When President Hinckley died, they took it very hard because he had been their only Prophet they knew. They want missionaries to be more than missionaries, they want to be really good friends. And so we as missionaries have to be careful of what we say and do around members and investigators because of how much our example means to them. And sometimes, our example is the first thing they will ever learn about the church so it's that more important. I will mean EVERYTHING to these people and so this makes me want to work harder to learn the language and teach them the things that I know.
So you may remember that Mr. Eakins and his wife were going to be on a mission. Well I saw them on Monday during lunch so I decided to go talk to them haha. He remembered me and was glad to hear about my mission call. He and his wife are going to the Micronesia Guam Islands to serve a CES Mission. I asked him what language they were speaking and he said that they didn't know yet because all of the islands speak a different one so they will learn about it when they arrive. Also, we signed up to get our Russian nametags yesterday so we will be getting them like two weeks before we leave I think. Right now our last name is just in English as you may know so we are excited to get the Russian tags! Keown will change to KAYH in Russian. Pretty sweet!
And now to answer some questions/comment on you dearelder. That's great that you got to share my emails and pictures with most of the family. Tell them that I love them very much! That's awesome that Brynn made the Varsity Team! Congrats! I was just thinking a few days ago that 'wow, school is starting up again in two weeks and I would be going again if I wasn't here.' Time goes by so fast, it's crazy to think about. You should keep sending me the Ward Newsletter every month. I'm glad you were able to watch the Kyiv Temple Dedication. I can understand more and more every time I watch it. I always feel the Spirit very strongly and know that this is where I need to be going and that these are the elect people that need to hear the gospel from me.
I love you guys and hope that you're doing well. Before I know it I will be out of here and in Donetsk! I am getting very ancy to leave here and get over there but it will come. Have a good week!
Love, Elder Keown

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

MTC - Week Five

Hello Again Family!
Another week has gone by and today is the five week mark (six if you count the first three days here as a week). So I am part of the group of the older Russian elders now. We're getting like forty new Russian elders next Wednesday that we will be the example to. It's weird how fast the time has gone by. All of the Russian elders left this week so we have been stealing their desks and fans for our classroom. A few of them didn't get their visas though, so they are going to be here for one more week. Apparently UPS lost them or something so they are getting redone. It was for some elders going to Vladivostok so I don't think Ukraine is too affected by visas. Also, last Friday I had to pack up my things and move exactly one floor up in our building due to bed bugs being detected on our floor. So that was pretty fun. Elder Moss thought it was funny because bed bugs are everywhere in Ukraine and so it was like a drill haha. Pretty soon we will be packing up for real and I'm not going to know what hit me!
I think I may have already mentioned this but our District Leader was made Zone Leader this past week leaving him to do both callings. So they called a new district leader on Sunday and it is Elder Whitmore. He reminds me exactly of Josh Gibbons and he also knows him too so it's pretty cool. We are really striving to be the examples now because we are the old guys and have to set the stage.
I received some cards written from young women in our stake. They were hilarious and my district and I still laugh about what some of them said. One girl gave me her phone number. Another girl asked me how many baptisms I have had. And another girl ended her letter by saying "I'm at camp.. and you're not" hahaha and I didn't even know like any of these people either, so that made it even funnier. 
Let's see, in teaching Anya and Valera this week, we had some good teaching experiences. Anya is praying now and went to church. We challenged her to go again and she accepted. But the main experience I want to talk about with her happened at the end of one of our lessons with her. In preparing for this lesson, Elder Moss and I role played and I thought that maybe we should ask her if she had a desire to be baptized based on the things we had taught her. So I learned how to say it in Russian, wrote it down, then kind of forgot about it. When we got to this lesson, I didn't even think about asking her this and was just focused on what I had prepared to say. So we were almost out of time and I said that we had to go, but then Elder Moss said that we could stay for like five more minutes and he just started going off on something. I don't even remember what was being talked about, but shorty after he started talking I just had this overwhelming impression to ask Anya if she had a desire to be baptized based on the things we had taught her. My mind was scrambling about how to say this, and then I remembered "I wrote this down on my paper!" So I found it (sure enough on my paper) and showed it to Elder Moss. He nodded that it would be good to say. So I asked her the question and she said yes! Now, I know that she is not a real investigator and that she won't be baptized, but this gave me just a small taste of what could happen in the field. These investigators are based off of real people that the person knows, so Anya is probably based off of a girl in Kiev, Ukraine. I have never felt an impression as strong as this to ask someone a certain question. I know that it was the Spirit prompting me and that it only came through my faith and obedience. I can't wait to get to Ukraine and start teaching real investigators! Valera is doing good as well. He went to church with his family and liked it. We taught him with a "member" (Elder Taylor, whose named was Nikolai) about the Plan of Salvation. I shared 2 Nephi 2:25 with him and he asked us a really hard question to answer, even in English. It was "How can good people that are hard working have so many trials in their lives and people that are wicked have so much fun in their lives?" We are still working on an answer for him. In Ukraine, the babushkas are the working class and live hard lives just to provide for themselves, while others have more successful lives and don't seem to work at all. This is where the question came from. It is a totally different world over there.
To answer your questions in your dearelder, Elder Lewis is from Phoenix, Arizona and Elder Groothuyzen is from Sonora, California. Elder Moss's name is Zach and he went to Utah State. I got to go to the Temple last week for the first time and will be going again later on today because it is open again. The cafeteria food is alright. I am getting sick of some of it, but it's okay. Brother Eckersley has been telling us stories of what he had to eat in Ukraine...the MTC food is much better haha. We play four square every day in gym and now I play basketball sometimes now that all of the other elders are gone and the crowds have died down. 
I love you guys so much and hope that you're doing good! I will write some more in my letter today. Tell every one I love them!
Love, Elder Keown