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