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