Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 11 in Cold Mountain

Hello again family! It has been a very interesting week. I will start with Donetsk. I stayed with Elders Smith and Roberts. They are probably the most opposite set of elders in the mission haha. They are opposite in almost every single way so you can imagine this with me there. They had two investigators on date to be baptized but they lost them so they didn't have anything planned for the week really. We did a lot of contacting, which was kind of awkward to do with three people and they worked a lot on their spisok (ward directory). I had to stay there an extra day because the Bulgaria elders didn't get back until Thursday night so we left on Friday and got back to Kharkov around 2 pm. The bus ride was super long because it stopped at every stop. We left at 6:55 in the morning and it's only supposed to be like 4 hours. I was able to sleep though but it was a very long day. So I only had one and a half days with Elder Schoen this week. Saturday was our last day. It was kind of depressing to see him pack up haha. He gave me some really good advice though, which is "don't worry about home on your mission. I thought about home and everything there too much because sometimes I didn't want to be here but now that the time to actually go home has come I don't want to go!" But the best advice he has given me though has been through his example to me of loving the people here and their culture. I will be forever grateful to him for training me. He left me his practice pad and sticks which I'll be using throughout my mission and he left half a cup of tea haha. The picture I sent is right before he left. I'm going to miss him but I'll see him again. In the mission your trainer is your father, so I am Schoen's son. He has another son who is Elder Perry but Elder Perry and Schoen were together again the transfer before I came so Elder Perry is also my mother haha. I have a brother for a mother. Schoen told me that he loves me like a brother, even though I'm his son. I'll still email him and stuff and keep in touch throughout the mission. He has become a great friend to me. I am grateful that I got to serve with him.

So now that I am an orphan, I have a temporary companion until December 15 which is when transfers start again. His name is Elder Hardy. I am in his area which is called Saltivka. It is also in Kharkov and is like 45 minutes from Cold Mountain. His companion had to go home that he had so he was serving with a mini missionary (youth here can serve mini missions for a transfer to learn about mission work) whose name is Viktor. He is like 25ish and has his mission call to this mission. He's coming in March. He is handicapped and is from a place in Kharkov called Novie Doma. They wanted him to stay until transfers so that I could just go with the ZLs but apparently Elder Hardy and him had a hard time getting along because Viktor doesn't speak any English and Elder Hardy doesn't understand a lot of Russian. So anyway, I'm with Elder Hardy now in Saltivka. He is an interesting fellow, but we'll get along fine. We will be working his area and Cold Mountain. After Schoen left yesterday, I felt everything kind of fall on me being the only one responsible for our area in Cold Mountain. I need to visit youth in our area and remind them about an activity this Saturday called "Mini MTC", update our spisok, set up lessons with the investigators we have and call our contacts. There is a lot to do for someone only in his second transfer! I prayed that I would have the strength to make it through these next two weeks and that everything will be okay. After my prayer I just felt really peaceful and calm. These next two weeks are going to be a huge period of growth for me I think. I am finding that the Lord blesses us through trials. We have to decide how much we want what we're praying for and then be willing to do what the Lord needs us to. I will be staying in Cold Mountain for at least one more transfer so next Thursday I'll get a new official companion. New greenies just came in on Saturday that were in the group after me in the MTC. They finally got their visas! If I had been in their group then I would just have arrived. The other companionship in Cold Mountain will be Elder Fish and a greenie so we'll all be in the same district with the Burr's. I'll find out this week who the greenie is. Elder Fish is two transfers in front of me. They have missionaries train really young because they learn a lot that way. The Zone Leaders keep telling me that I'm going to get a young missionary in Cold Mountain and it's going to be like kindergarten haha. This is really scary to think about, but as I said before, the Lord blesses us through trials. These next two weeks and third transfer are going to be huge growing opportunites for me. I know that the Lord will be with me though. I know that He is aware of me and is always there to help.

On Saturday there was another baptism. Some elders from an area called Alekseevka baptized a girl whose like 16 or 17. And then after the baptism there was a free classical piano concert held by the branch piano player. He is a professional player and he held the concert for free just to get his name out there and whatnot. It was amazing!! I wish I would've filmed some of it but I didn't have the chance. It reminded me of concerts at the U, but better haha. And also this past week I passed my 5 month mark on the 29th! I can't believe I've been out 5 months, it's crazy. When I talk to you guys at Christmas I'll practically be at 6! Speaking of Christmas, it is official that you can use SKYPE! So buy yourselves a webcam and get skype! I don't know what time I will be talking to you or the specifics yet but I will tell you when I know. 20 more days til Christmas!

Now to comment on your email. Elder Schoen said that the lessons went good with the investigators this past week. However, Vladimir had to be passed to elders in a different area of Kharkov because that's where he lives. They gave him a Book of Mormon though so I hope that he is able to progress! And Schoen also gave Books of Mormon to Dima and Vova. He said that Vova was very interested in the lesson but Dima mostly just wants English though. These are our main investigators for now. I will hopefully be meeting with them this week.

Well, that is my week. Thanks for your emails and love. I love you all very much and pray for you often. Have a great week! I look forward to talking with you soon!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

ps - the pictures for this week are Elder Schoen and I right before he left, the advertisement for the piano concert, me in front of a huge banner in Donetsk that says "I Love Donetsk" (Ya lublew Donetsk) and me with a dead dog by the APs apartment.. there are strays everywhere and apparently the city is feeding them poisoned meat now because they want them gone before the Euro Cup. Only in Ukraine! Enjoy!

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