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!