Monday, December 31, 2012

Cnovim Godom 2013!!

Privet family!

It was so great to see and talk with you all last week! This was definitely the highlight of Christmas for me, it is a huge blessing that we get to use modern technology in our missionary work. I honestly cannot believe that it's New Year's Eve again, those memories you reminded me about seriously seem like they were a few weeks ago. This final week of the year has been interesting to say the least haha. I don't know, there's just so much that goes on I don't know where to begin. Basically most of our contacts and investigators can't meet right now because they're all getting ready for the new year (this isn't just us though it's a mission wide thing) so we did lots of tracting and finding on the streets. We were able to meet with two investigators though. Here's their progress-

Suzanna- We met and talked about the Sabbath day with Sister Yana on the lesson. She basically understands what we tell her but she doesn't have a desire to act on any of it. We explained the Sabbath day, invited her to come to church with us because she hasn't been yet and she said no because all of the things we talked about didn't happen last time she attended church, about 4 years ago when they met in a hotel in Makeevka. She said she didn't feel welcome and has attended several other churches (word of life, J Dubs, baptists) and doesn't feel any difference between these and ours. It's a pretty tough concern because the only way to get over it is coming again. So we'll see what we can do. She's now heard all the lessons except for the main commandments (word of wisdom, chastity, tithing) so we're at an interesting point with her.

Valentina- We reviewed the gospel of Jesus Christ with her and invited her to be baptized January 19th. She said no and wants to pray about her date. She knows everything is true but there's something deeper, she's hard to figure out. We decided that next lesson we will watch Finding Faith in Christ and maybe review some of the baptismal questions. She came to church again yesterday and is making friends with more of the women in the branch which is good. She'll make it, hopefully soon.

So we're really hoping that after the new year we can meet with the rest of our investigators and get some progress going again. It's a difficult time of year trying to keep in touch because people are just busy and don't want to meet or do anything. We got 10 contacts this week, six more than last week so we're just hoping we can keep finding people ready to listen and set up with them. Our district is doing good, we were allowed to have a district dinner for Christmas so we all gathered at our apartment and made borsch, cake, ice cream, and root beer. We all get along well even though we are all diverse (ages, interests, cultures) I went on a split with Elder Groothuyzen on Saturday and we mainly searched for former investigators/ tracted. We found one person who said we could come back so hopefully that works out for the other elders. They only have one investigator right now so I was hoping on our split to find them a ton. They were finally able to move back to their apartment in center so we're back to normal again. I haven't known Groothuyzen that well until this point on my mission. He's a good missionary and we have a lot of the same opinions and interests. It was really weird being together for our 18 month mark, it's going by quick! And this upcoming week Elders Efoshkin and Carley are going to put Sage (Bonaventure's friend who only speaks French) on date so this will be exciting.

Now for some comments/tidbits. First off, I forgot to say on Skype that Sergei Heyleak says hello to you all from Daky. He was very surprised when I told him that we only talk like that twice a year. He said he'd quit the mission if he served because the rules are too strict haha. Yesterday we had the Primary program in Makeevka and 84 at church. The program was great, there are some cute kids in the branch. The rumor is that the church will start building the new meetinghouse soon and have it done sometime next year. I hope that gets started, lots of members are less active because theyr'e waiting for the new building. Count your blessings that you have running water. Last night our water got shut off and only a few hours ago got turned on again. We already got permission to celebrate New Years with Groothuyzen and Newey but we'll just be in Daky for tonight. We have to be in at 4:00 so we'll be studying then watching a movie or something probably then calling it a year. Nothing too crazy haha.

I love you all so much! The Church is true and is being led by a living Prophet today. The Book of Mormon is true. Our Savior lives. Have a great New Year's Eve and a Happy New Year! Talk to you next week!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, December 24, 2012

Srozhdestv​om Hristovim!​!! Merry Christmas!​!!

Privet family!
This week has flown by, I can't believe that tomorrow we'll be skyping for Christmas 2012! There have been a few changes around Makeevka because Thursday was transfer meeting. First off, I have been called to serve as district leader again. I am pretty humbled and excited with this call. Since my time in Saltovka President has come out with training for district leaders and things are outlined much more clearly now as to what my responsibilities are and how to really become a Christlike leader. I'm excited to learn and grow with my district and come closer to Christ. We had a meeting last night with the zone leaders and I learned so much about how district leaders should live and inspire those around them. It's going to be a great transfer. The new missionaries in my district are Elder Newey (Alpine, UT, just got finished training) with Elder Groothuyzen and Elder Carley (Hyrum, UT, almost a year out) with Elder Efoshkin. We've had one district meeting already and have some good, challenging goals for the transfer, the main one being 4 baptisms. Now for some updates on investigators.
Suzanna- We met and talked about the Holy Ghost/receiving answers to prayers. She seemed to enjoy the lesson and is reading in the Book of Mormon from the beginning. She asks good questions and is thinking about baptism right now. She won't commit yet but it's good she is thinking.
Richard- We met and he made us some dinner at his apartment. He's a really nice guy, just not very religious anymore. We gave him the book Our Search for Happiness and talked about the missionary work section in there. We want to leave him a BOM but it's hard to say right now. He enjoys meeting and seeing our views on life because he's not familliar with LDS customs. We'll see how our next visit goes. He went to Germany for Christmas so after the new year we'll get in contact again.
Valentina- We met and had a quick lesson about God's love and committed her to pray to feel it everyday. We decided to stop talking about smoking and just focus on good, spiritually uplifting lessons for her. She knows everything is true but just has the smoking problem. She's supposed to quit on January 7th and if she does then she could very well be baptized soon. Her and Yuri came to Church yesterday and seemed to enjoy it. Yuri wants to be the one to baptize her so we're faithful that he can also become worthy with her.
Sergei Heyleak- Sergei is one of the coolest men I've ever met here. He is making progress slowly but enjoys meeeting. We tried to go over last Monday for an FHE but they had to cancel because their lock on their door froze and the only way to get in was climbing over their fence with a ladder. It took them like an hour or something to heat the lock and unfreeze it. So we went by Wednesday night instead. Only Sergei has been on the discussions, the rest of the family are too busy. He promised that soon he will come to church and I feel that if he does then he'll really like it. We can both see him being the next branch president or something here, he has that type of personality. He is a main one we're really hoping can be baptized.
Valeria Suhotyoplaya- She has come to church all of December with her family and they are all active again! Unfortunately we haven't gone by for 2 weeks because they are doing a remodel and won't let us come. We really hope we can drop by this week and talk about baptism. We feel that she will want to be baptized, she seems to enjoy church enough!
Friday we had a Zone Conference from 9AM to 6PM. It was very spiritually uplifting and really got me into the Spirit of Christmas. A sister who went to BYU Jerusalem did a presentation about Christ's life and it was amazing to see pictures and hear her experiences. The biggest thing learned in Zone Conference was actually the ending. President Campero chose a film for us to watch called "Chariots of Fire." Maybe you've seen this? It is about a runner who competes in the 1924 Olympics in France, is Jewish, and stays obedient to his beliefs. Even though I have six more months, I thought it really applied to my mission. These last six will really be the ones I remember best. As I am obedient and do what I can the Lord will bless me and those around me. Also this last week I finished reading the Book of Mormon in Russian! It was a great experience. It took me nine months but I made it. The two biggest blessings I have seen from this are one, my testimony growing every day of reading, and two, my ability to understand and speak this difficult language. It's hard to explain the scriptures in Russian, there is a different understanding that comes but the Spirit is the same. I know with all my heart that the Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith translated it by the power of God. I prayed after finishing that I might have an experience to testify to someone that day. Later that night we were tracting and got let in to a babushka's apartment. She had a huge dog that was more like a bear ready to attack us haha but she invited us in, made us some mint tea, and we had a first lesson. She is a Baptist and knows the Bible very well. She didn't understand the need to read the BOM but both Elder Harrison and I testified of the power and truthfulness of it and she ended up accepting a copy and said she'd start reading. It was truly an answer to a few prayers that day, getting into a dom to tract, getting let in, and have the opportunity to testify. Her name is Tatiana Grigorivna and is like 62 and works as a miner. New investigator!
Really quick, comments/tidbits. I received both packages you sent me, thank you so much! I will be opening the gifts tomorrow morning. You guys are the best! Yes, I did find a new coat. There was one that got left in the office elder apartment and so I grabbed it. It's warm and does the trick. Sorry if there was any confusion last week with the time, I was in a hurry and typed the wrong one for you haha. So I had the office email you. But yeah, tomorrow we'll Skype and I'm super excited to see you all!
I love you all and am so grateful for all that you do. The experiences I'm having here cannot be learned anywhere else in the world. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I know that this work is His. Pass everyone my love and a warm Merry Christmas from freezing cold Daky, Makeevka! Until tomorrow!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, December 17, 2012

Staying 7 more in Daky!

Privet family!

So as the title says, Elder Harrison and I are staying seven more weeks in Daky (next transfer is a seven weeker to make up for this one). I'm happy to be staying longer, we still have a lot of work to get done here and need to baptize a few people. This past week has been pretty good for the most part. I don't know if you track the weather here but the first snowfall came last Wednesday and it snowed on and off until Saturday. The coldest it's been so far is like -15 C which is 2 F. It's supposed to get colder this week but don't worry I'm staying very warm. I've decided that I love Ukrainian winter. It is beautiful in it's own way. This is the time of the year that I imagined when I first opened up my call- snow is everywhere, you try to talk with people but they blow you off because its freezing, all of the apartment buildings just glow at night with lights, stray dogs running around in packs (oh wait that always happens haha) babushki shoveling the sidewalks and roads, people getting stuck everywhere because they dont have four wheel drive so we help them out, people wearing the big Russian hats (called shopka) freezing cold hands holding a Kniga Mormona, tracting lots of apartment buildings because it's a frozen wasteland outside- This is Ukrainian winter!
Here's some investigator progress for you.
Suzanna- We met with her Tuesday and had a member with us, Sister Yana, the RS Pres. It was a good lesson, we taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and drew a picture of all the steps. She is reading and has been investigating for 4 years. She doesn't want to get baptized or choose a date because she doesn't feel ready yet so our next lesson we will teach about the Spirit and getting answers to prayers.
Valentina- We had a lesson about quitting smoking but it didn't go over very well. She has a date to quit at Christmas (january 7th) but it's super hard. We decided from now on that we will just teach good spiritual lessons and not talk about smoking anymore.
Sergei- We're meeting them tonight and will be teaching about prayer. I talk to him a few times throughout the week and he's doing good, just really busy. Hopefully the lesson is successful. We can definitely see him getting baptized in this next transfer.
Now for some comments/tidbits. At Church yesterday the whole Syhotyoplaya family as well as Valentina! Miracles! We're hoping to meet with Valeria this week and put her on a date, she's been getting her family active and she's not baptized yet. Two elders in our district are getting transferred, Elders Packard and Fish. This means next transfer there will be a new district leader and we'll have two new elders. We find out Thursday all the details. Also last week Elders Groothuyzen and Packard moved in with us. It's been fun so far, it's basically like The Best Two Years movie, four elders in one apartment. SKYPE!!!! How does next Monday at 9 AM sound to you? This is 6 pm Tuesday (Christmas night) for me. Hopefully this works for you. I can't wait to see you all and talk, it's going to be amazing!!
I love you all and wish you an excellent week. The weather outside is frightful but the warm message of the restored gospel keeps me going everyday. I love this work, my Savior, and am so grateful to be here at this time. See you next week!!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where did that week go?

Privet family!

I can't believe it's Monday again, it's been a quick week here in Daky. Our days are pretty full and we're trying to meet with everyone we can out of our investigators. And on top of this we're still working towards our goal of one baptism before the end of the year. We fasted yesterday for this and have decided that out of all our investigators the one ready for baptism is Valeria, the 14 year old girl. We met with their family on Friday but unfortunately Valeria wasn't there so we weren't able to put her on date yet. However, she came to church again yesterday which makes two times already so we are really hoping this week to put her on date for the 29th of this month! Here's more progress on other investigators:

Richard- Yes, this is an American if you're wondering. We found him on the street about a little more than a month ago and we were finally able to meet with him. He is here with the Peace Corps and has been here for about two years already. He is in his 30's and isn't married. He used to be pretty religious and even served some service missions in his teens for the Presbyterian church but in college he decided to study philosophy and theology and has basically decided for himself that the world is better without a God. However, he is really interested in what we believe and why we are here as missionaries and so we're going to keep meeting with him. He is very into Calvinism which is the idea that only certain people are saved and that they only have one chance. It's an interesting idea. Anyway, we felt at the end of our meeting that we should give him a copy of "Our Search for Happiness" by M. Russell Ballard. (amazing book) He's going to read that and we're meeting again on Friday.

Syzanna- We were able to meet with her and we taught the Plan of Salvation. She met with missionaries about 7 years ago. We're not really sure why she stopped, sometimes people just stop meeting or get busy and things just don't work out anymore. She doesn't have any questions about what we have taught so far, except why can people go to heaven if they live sinful lives and then repent on their deathbed? We explained this and she seemed to be content with our answer. We tried putting her on a date but she doesn't feel ready yet. She is reading the Book of Mormon though so we're just going to keep working with her.

Yura- He is probably the most humble of all our investigators right now but is also breaking every single commandment in the book! It is kind of ironic? We were able to stop by him on Tuesday unplanned and we had a great lesson about prayer (read some of Ether with him) and he prayed and only said Saint Nikolai one time! Usually he prays to him the whole prayer but I think he's starting to understand prayer a little better. We read some verses about baptism in Mormon and committed him to pray about a baptismal date. For him to get baptized he will need to stop doing lots of things but we are faithful that in time he will understand and make it to the waters of baptism. He needs to come to church but is always busy on Sundays.

Sveta- So this lady is a former investigator from about a year ago. The sisters found her on the street and started teaching her but then she stopped answering her phone. She answered this week and let us come over. She has three kids ages 13, 11, and 9. She wants them to learn English so we talked a little bit in English for like 15 min and then did a restoration lesson. We really need to get a member with us next time or else I don't think she'll understand the true purpose of our visits. Nonetheless, they are a new investigator family and we have been praying for one of those so our prayer was answered!

Ruslan- He has started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning and is understanding now! We met Thursday night with the branch President on the lesson and it was actually pretty good. We read a little bit of Mosiah 3 about Christ's life and His gospel and President Vadim shared a powerful testimony about how the missionaries found him, then choosing to serve a mission, getting called to London and having his life changed forever, and how his family now (wife and two kids) is due to the fact that he served a mission. We talk in English with Ruslan because he has extremely good English but we feel that he is actually starting to progress now.

Slavik and Valeria- So as I kind of mentioned at the beginning of my letter, Valeria wasn't there when we dropped by, only Slavik and Sister Lena were. So our back-up plan was to watch the Restoration film with them. Slavik seemed to really enjoy the film and it seems that Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are starting to make sense to him. This whole family was less-active but last week Sister Lena and Valeria came, this week Valeria brought her older less-active sister and nephew to church, it's awesome! Now Valeria needs to get baptized because somehow she didn't get baptized when the rest of the family did!

We also met a few members this past week. Sister Ludmila Matveeva is awesome, she is a chemist and has a super strong testimony. We meet at her house and invite her less-active neighbor Sister Sveta on the lessons as well. She is only less-active because she has to stay with her ill mother all day. We also met with Sister Valentina, the coolest babushka I've ever met in Ukraine. I don't remember if I've talked about her at all. She is about 4 feet tall, late 70's or early 80's, and just does family history work all day. She has a huge table with a computer and she sits behind it and does names all day, then every now and then goes to Kiev to have the work done. She showed us a book of all the names done and there were 1, 350!! Simply amazing. She also told us about her conversion story. Something that really struck me was that even though the missionaries testified of the Restoration every lesson, she didn't understand that in fulness the same church that Christ organized is back on the earth until AFTER her baptism. She said that many years of darkness needed to be removed from her mind before she understood this.

A few months ago we met a lady on the street who had great English and was actually a private English teacher. She gave us her card but we never called her because we kind of forgot and didn't think too much of it because she was only interested in English. Well, we called her and she invited us to come and give a presentation about missionary life to her class last week and invited us back this week as well. It went pretty good actually, we talked about prophets and how we have a living prophet on the earth today. There are 5 students in her class and they are all in university right now, from the ages of 18-22. They have good English and we're friends with them now. Next time we are going to try to get some of their numbers and see if we can meet with them. There are opportunities everywhere to share the gospel!

Now for some comments/tidbits. With Valentina right now we are using some principles in Preach My Gospel to help overcome addictions. Somehow she needs to get involved with the branch president or someone who teaches an addiction recovery class though. It's hard to teach her because lessons come every two weeks and she has been investigating for a long time. She'll make it though! This upcoming week is going to be pretty crazy for a couple reasons- transfer calls are on Friday!!! and the center elders' apartment is getting some work done so they're moving in with us this week for three weeks!! I really hope that Elder Harrison and I stay together for next transfer. We're doing tons of work and they shouldn't take us apart! Plus we can celebrate Christmas and New Years together with the other elders. I'll keep you posted next week on what happens.

TIme is going by fast but my mission truly becomes more and more a part of me each day I am here. I love you all so much. I love this work and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. Have an awesome week, good luck with everything- work, studies, tests, callings- and I'll talk to you next week!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, December 3, 2012

So much for December!

Privet family, kak dela?

I'm not really sure how to describe this past week, it's been interesting, lots of ups and downs. Many investigators and contacts have been sick and so we haven't been able to meet with them at all, it's frustrating but if you're sick you're sick. Here are some updates on peoples' progress this week:

Suhotoplaya family (Slavik and Valeria)- Elder Harrison and Groothuyzen taught them this week on a split. They taught about prayer and both Brat and Sister Nikitenko came on that lesson. Sister Nikitenko basically sweet talked Sister Elena (less-active mom) and Valeria to come to church and they came yesterday! I think they enjoyed it for the most part, several members were talking to them and the young women seemed to get along with Valeria which is good.

Valentina- Didn't meet with her because it was her work week. We'll be meeting this week and she'll be coming to Church. Yes she was Elder Rallison's contact. She knows everything is true but just can't kick the smoking habit. But like I said we gave her a date to do it and so we think that our next meeting we will help them make a detailed plan of everything and try to talk more about baptism.

Heyleak family- Vera is finally feeling better after 3 weeks and so we were able to have a lesson with them last night. However, only Sergei was on the lesson so we haven't taught them as a family for probably a month now. It's really hard when lessons are only once a week because the investigator forgets a lot. Brat Nikitenko came with us again because him and Sergei are best buds now. The only problem with this is that they both LOVE to talk and so it's hard for us to get our say in sometimes. Sergei's main concern right now is "Why would God send us all on the earth if He knew what would happen with each of us?" And further, why we all chose to come to where we did in the pre-Earth life (why he ended up in Daky, Makeevka, Ukraine and we ended up in America) He is definitely progressing though, he read 2 Nephi 2, Mosiah 2, and Alma 42, and is reading the New testament as well. Elder Harrison and I had a lesson planned about the gospel of Jesus Christ and why all of this is relevant for him but the lesson was basically him and Brat Nikitenko just bouncing crazy ideas off of each other and us trying to fit in what we could. You should know that sitting down and talking is a Ukrainian past time, so this makes things difficult on lessons when we're only supposed to stay for 45 min. Anyway, Sergei is an amazing man, he really wants to know if the things we talk about are true. He said last night that the Book of Mormon is inspired, he just needs to read, ponder, and pray more about it. Once he gets a testimony of that, we truly feel that all the rest will happen pretty quickly and he'll become an awesome member here in Makeekva.

We also got two new investigators this week, not sure how promising they are but we're grateful to have them. Valentina is 62 and Provoslavni (Russian Catholic). She invited us over and fed us a huge lunch and we tried teaching her a first lesson but it was a train wreck. She is one of those nice people who just thinks that every Church is true and that there isn't one true Church on the earth. And she had tons of concerns and doubts about the Book of Mormon when we introduced it, but Elder Harrison bore a powerful testimony of it and she decided to keep a copy. If we ever return we're for sure taking a member. And Valeri is in his fifties, Greek, architect, very agnostic. He basically gave us a history lesson of all religions and it was super hard to understand, I probably understood like 20% of everything he said. He admits there is a higher power but there is no God. Super confusing stuff. He is reading the Book of Mormon though so we just need to give him time.

Throughout the mission right now every companionship has set a goal (as far as I know) for one baptism before the end of the year. We fasted for our goal and what we can do as a companionship to achieve it and at this time I'm going to put more effort on not getting caught up in the motions of missionary work and really consecrating my thoughts to my calling and responsibilities. I have been thinking about my thoughts I have throughout the day- family, life at home, investigators and progress, goals, Russian, friends- and I realized that I don't think about my Savior as much as I should and my sacred missionary calling. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in everything that you forget WHY your here. So especially in this month and to the end of my mission I'm really going to put a focus on this through prayer and greater scripture study. We have been blessed with tons of people to teach. We're hopeful that very soon we find the one who is ready to be baptized because we're sure that he or she is there.

Now for some comments/tidbits. You might be interested to know that my release date has moved up---- I will be finishing JULY 9, 2013! This will be perfect time to get ready for everything. It has been raining here for the past three days so I still don't believe it's December. Don't worry, it's very warm and humid. Very odd weather. I'll let you know when SKYPE is happening. It will probably be 3 weeks from today! I can't wait! What I said in Russian last week means "Happy Thanksgiving from Makeevka." One final thought is go and read Mosiah 15:10-17. I studied this in personal study this week and found great comfort in Abinadi's words. We are the seed of Christ if we follow the prophet and live the gospel, as well as share the gospel and participate in missionary work. (This part was especially cool) The Book of Mormon is true, I love it with all my heart.

Well, my time's up! I love you all and wish you a great week!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, November 26, 2012

Snom Blagodaren​ia sMakeevki!

Privet family!

Thanks so much for your emails, updates, and love, they really mean so much to me and I enjoy reading them every week. This week wasn't exactly as we expected but it was still a great week though. Most of our lessons canceled on us or investigators couldn't meet, so that was a little frustrating. Here's an update though of some new progress:

Valentina- We met with her on Tuesday and helped her and her less-active husband Yury set a date to quit smoking and live the Word of Wisdom on Christmas! One of her concerns as also been that she doesn't know if Thomas S. Monson is truly a prophet today and so we left her the DVD all about his life "On the Lord's Errand" to watch and she absolutely loved it and knows now that he really is a prophet. She also has a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet and the BOM is true. The only thing in her way is the word of wisdom and smoking. We drew out her progress on a paper with the gate of baptism leading to the temple and eternal life and Yury behind the gate waiting. She liked it and they promised to work toward Christmas to start living the word of wisdom. AND they were finally able to make it to church yesterday!! The branch fellowshipped them very well and I think they enjoyed church. Yury met with the Branch President and is starting to get worthy again because he wants to baptize Valentina. They are making great progress.

Heyleak family- Still haven't met with them since last meeting. Vera is still sick and so they don't want us to come by until she feels better. I call Sergei and talk with him to see how things are going. He's really busy with work and caring for his family but enjoys talking on the phone. He told me that I should move in with them after my mission hahaha. I told him I don't think my mom would like that very much. He wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving. (Everyone knows about Thanksgiving here and think it's a really interesting holiday)

Speaking of Thanksgiving, mine was great, all of the Donetsk Zone got together at the office and we had a really tasty dinner. Each companionship brought something and there were tons of leftovers. We brought mashed potatoes and only half of them got touched. Elder and Sister Coleman cooked the turkeys (a member in Makeevka raised them and donated them for the dinner) and Sister Campero made some little enchilada things. It was just good to get together and eat with everyone. I still can't believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone again. A year ago I ate in Kharkov and now Donetsk and next year I'll be with you!! I read my bday cards from everyone during Thanksgiving because we got our mail. Thank you all so much for those, they were great.

Saturday we had an amazing split with the APs, Elders Mironchenko and Bolingbroke. We set a goal to get 15 new contacts, 1 referral, and a new investigator and we achieved all of them!! Plus we gave out 11 copies of the Book of Mormon. The most effective thing we did was sang hymns on the street with a box that said "Free Book with a Promise" and then two elders sang and two were talking to people. We got some families' numbers that were interested so hopefully we can get in contact with them this week. We also met with a contact off the street named Oleg and he became a new investigator. He's about 50, pretty open and believing. I'll tell you how progress goes with him. Also during the split the faucet broke and we flooded the kitchen a little bit haha. Don't worry though, we got it all under control. That's just a normal part of missionary life :)

Well that's all my time for today. I love you all and will talk to you next week!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, November 19, 2012

Frozen District in Daky

Privet family!

Thanks for your email this week, I'm sorry to hear that all the snow melted (although it's already super cold here without snow so maybe you'll think twice haha) This past week was good, we received two new investigators and continued meeting with our current ones. Here is an update everyone:

Clavik and Valeria- They are doing alright. Clavik doesn't really understand a lot of what we teach him we're finding so we taught him how to study scriptures and ask questions to receive answers. We gave him Mosiah 18 for next time and told him to write down questions or concerns he has. It's a hard situation because the mom is super in-active and so trying to teach the dad and daughter with her example doesn't help. And she can't come to church because she works so things are slow with them. Somehow we'll get them to church and understanding better.

Yura- We taught him a full first lesson this week while I was on a split with Elder Groothuyzen. He pretty much accepted everything and said he'll start reading the Book of Mormon. He hasn't had time to start yet because of work. His obstacles will mainly be quitting smoking, drinking, law of chastity problems, and icon worshiping. I'm not sure if I've told you this or not but lots of people here still worship icons even though in the commandments it says "No other Gods before me." So yeah, this is Yura. However, he said that if he receives an answer that he will get baptized! So perhaps when he gets his answer this will motivate him to quit everything else. And he hasn't been to Church either because of work and he was in the hospital yesterday because of a tooth ache. Basically we need to get all of our investigators to church because none of them have come. But it's super hard though because going to church means a 30 minute ride after getting to the bus station in Center Makeevka to Donetsk and then paying for yourself back home. This Saturday is an open house so hopefully we can get some investigators to it or else there won't be any baptisms soon.

Susanna and Veronica- So these are the two new investigators we found. I was going through the area book looking at former investigators and found her record. She's been investigating on and off for several years. I called and there was no answer so we dropped by and talked with her. She wanted to meet so we set up for the next day. We came by, met her and her daughter and taught the first lesson. Suzanna's only question was about gift of the holy ghost and why some people can do miracles regardless of proper priesthood/ why do miracles happen with magic. We did our best to explain that, it's kind of a tricky question, but both she and Veronica accepted the invitation to be baptized if they get an answer! She is in her 40s and Veronica is 17 or 18. We'll be meeting with them this week with a sister from the branch and then of course need to get them to Church.

Ruslan- He's super busy right now with work and school. He goes to Gorlovka on the weekends for studying so can't come to church and can't go to Church in Gorlovka because he's studying all day. We met with him before English and had a great 20 min lesson with him about the Book of Mormon. It was probably our best one yet with him. He says he will try to make 5 min a day to read so hopefully he can do that.

Heyleak family- So unfortunately Vera is still sick so we only met with them last Sunday. I called Sergei a few times though this week and he's doing good. Reading a little bit in the Book of Mormon. They're just super busy so it's hard. He works all day, Yaroslav goes to university all day, Vera is sick, and Dima is training again for the deaf olympics coming up. We're not losing hope with them though!!! Sergei said we can come this week so this is the plan. We feel if somehow they can come to Church then they will love it and the members.

Now for some comments/tidbits. I always run out of time at internet and have to cut my emails shorter than usual. Sorry about that. So here's some things I failed to talk about last week and for this week. I forgot to say that for my bday a member in the branch that we do service for invited all the missionaries over for dinner and made us an awesome Ukrainian meal. She made some really spicy soup and some salads, pickled cabbage, potatoes, and beef. Good stuff! And also earlier last week at her house after service she prepared some little things that looked like fishsticks but bigger, kind of like chicken breasts cut in half with bread crumbs. So we prayed, started eating, and she came out and said "tasty huh?" yeah, these are... interesting. What are they? And then she just started laughing and was like "you really want to know?" yeah, tell us! "OK. It's PIG BRAIN!" oh..... he he.. yeah, tasty.. So I ate some pig brain. It wasn't terrible, it was like soggy chicken, kind of slimy. I wouldn't recommend it though :) Also for my birthday the branch gave me a birthday card with everyone's face on it and yesterday I got a little package from Sister Irina in the office and she bought me a Skazki book. Skazki are Russian fairytales. They're super hard to understand though. I understand the Book of Mormon better than children's fairytale stories haha. She told me I can practice my Russian with it so it's a great gift from her. After my mission I plan on being an awesome home teacher and getting less-actives back to church because that seems to be a lot of what we do here. Did you know that only 20% of the members in this mission are active? Not good! I don't want to do less-active work after my mission, just finding, teaching, and baptizing. But it is part of missionary work though, just shouldn't be in my opinion. OK moving on. Tanya is also sick (the lady we met at the bus stop) so hopefully this week we can meet with her.

Well, my time's about up. I love you all and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and awesome week! Talk to you next week!
с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, November 12, 2012

Put that back and just buy some vodka!

Privet family!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes and emails, it really means a lot. This week was pretty good, a little trying because we didn't have as much success on the streets as we wanted but nevertheless a good week in Daky. Transfer calls came out on Friday and.... our district is staying the same for next transfer! Not a surprise because we all came in at the same time and President put us here for a reason. I just pray we can keep doing some good work here in Makeevka and keep working with our investigators. Here is an investigator review of this week:

Syhatyoplaya family (Lera and Slavic)- I don't remember if I've talked about this family. They are a part-member family, the mom is a member but is really less-active. We found her on the street and she said we could come over and do the lessons. We teach them with Brat Nikitenko. Slavic is about 50 and works as a driver. He works a lot and doesn't seem too into the gospel. And Lera is 14. She went to Primary but never got baptized. We've taught them the Plan of Salvation and now just need to get them to Church.

Valentina- We met and taught the Word of Wisdom. We tried to help her set a date to stop smoking but she doesn't want to set one yet, just have us check up on her. She was supposed to come to Church yesterday but didn't make it and didn't pick up her phone. We'll see what happens this week.

And the Heyleak family (Sergei, Vera, Yaroslav, Dima)- We met last night on my bday and had Brat Nikitenko with us. Only Sergei and Yaroslav were on the lesson. We had planned to teach about temples and eternal families so that they might see where this is all going after baptism, plus Brat Nikitenko works in the Kiev Temple and could explain stuff. BUT we changed the lesson plan on the spot and ended up talking about how they can receive an answer about the Book of Mormon because Sergei doesn't understand anything he reads. After him and Brat Nikitenko talked for a very long time haha and us sharing our testimonies we ended the lesson on a high note. Sergei wants to read 2 nephi 2, mosiah 2, and alma 42 this week and really start praying. And he said that if he gets an answer he'll get baptized!!!!! The next step with them is church. Hopefully this week that comes true. They're doing good though, awesome family!

And we have a new investigator this week- Yura. So this was a miracle story. We were finding less-actives Thursday night and found the apartment building of a man in the branch that no one knows anything about. We got to his door, knocked, and no one answered. So we knocked his neighbors' door and a nice babushka answered. She said that he lives there but is super hard to get a hold of. But she was interested in taking a little brochure from us and was really nice so we decided to continue and tract the whole apartment building. After getting several doors slammed in our face and yelled at by someone (didn't understand anything he said haha) we knocked another door and a nice man answered. The first thing he said was "You found me! Come on in!" Puzzled, I looked at Elder Harrison and went in. I asked him if we knew him and he's like "Yeah, you gave me two of your brochures on the street but both times I didn't have time to stop and talk to you." WOW. So we came in, sat down, and got to know him. He works as a welder, is 48, smokes and drinks, was in prison for 15 years (not sure why) and has a good taste in music and clothing. He's a very neat, clean shaven guy. He also served in the army and showed us tons of pictures of his family in Georgia and Russia/Eastern Europe. He made us some eggs and salad and we had dinner with him, it was awesome! He is religious and worships icons but believes that our finding him wasn't a mistake. Also, as we ate and talked he blasted some Bach organ fugues! Only in Ukraine on a mission does one have these experiences haha. We did a quick first lesson with him and left him a Book of Mormon. He couldn't make it to church but we're meeting tomorrow. He seems like one who would suddenly give up smoking and drinking to join a church. Hopefully it's a good lesson!

Bonaventure's baptism on Saturday was great. I think it's the smallest baptism I've ever been to, about 8 or 9 members plus our district but it was still awesome. And yesterday he got confirmed in English because the branch president served in London and knows perfect English. The branch accepted him as a new brother and he's doing good. It was a good birthday present you could say!

For my birthday I made myself a cake and we went and bought ice cream at a store near our house. This is where the title of this email comes from haha. I bought a tube of ice cream and the lady working there who has talked to us before said "Oh you're still here huh?" Yeah, still here, didn't go back to America yet. "Oh. What's with the ice cream?" It's my birthday tomorrow. "Oh, happy birthday. But you should put that back and just buy some vodka." haha Welcome to Ukraine. But seriously though, my bday was great. Just what I expected. I can't believe I'm 21 now but it is what it is!

Well family, I love you all very much. I don't have time to comment on your email mom but I agree that through it all, God is with us and truly answers our prayers. I know these things to be true and am so grateful to be here at this time. Have a great week and I'll talk to you later!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, November 5, 2012

From Daky with Love

Privet semya moya!

Thank you all for your emails and love, it sounds like things are good at home, and warm which is good. It's starting to get cold here and dark around 5 pm because of Daylight Savings Time. (We set the clocks back an hour last week already) So enjoy the warmth while you have it! Daky is doing good, the work is moving forward. I'll start off with investigator progress:

Ruslan- He is the 22 year old lawyer with great English. We met with him this week and talked about the Book of Mormon with another lady on the lesson (we only have one room to teach in and the other elders showed up at the same time so we taught a combined lesson.) Unfortunately the lady was super anti-Mormon and was asking tons of crazy questions and ended up walking out and never wanting to meet again. We basically just all shared our testimonies about how we know the Book of Mormon is true and her main concern was 'how can you believe in something you can't see?' Ruslan says he will try and read but we have a feeling he just wants English practice. We'll keep working with him

Irina- She is the older lady who stopped us on the street. She is super nice but literally crazy. We don't think she's all there. Even the member we met with said the same thing. So basically we don't know what to do with her. She will listen for like five minutes and then start talking about the most random things ever. Elder Harrison and I invited her to a branch concert for Center Donetsk on friday and she came with us, enjoyed it, met President and Sister Campero, and hasn't answered her phone since then. Hopefully we figure out something for her this week.

Valentina- We've only had one lesson with her. She works for a week straight and then has one off so this week she's free everyday and wants to meet. It's hard teaching someone who's been investigating for a while, 2 years, and has heard all the lessons. We're praying to figure out her main concern and help her set a goal for baptism.

Bonaventure- He isn't our investigator but he's for sure getting baptized this Saturday!

Sergei, Vera, Yaroslav, Dima Heyleak- We had our second lesson with the Heyleak family. It was awesome, we taught plan of salvation and met Dima. It was a new experience teaching someone deaf and having our words translated into sign language. Vera knows perfect sign language, Yaroslav knows a little, and Sergei knows very little because he wants him to read lips. During the lesson, Dima asked "If God loves me so much then why did he make me deaf?" We read Ether 12:27 and told him that in the next life he will have a perfect body and will hear again. He just gave a big smile! We then asked the family to be baptized. They want to keep reading and come to church to really know if it's true or not and then they'll decide. They didn't have any objections to the plan of salvation though and we have a really good relationship with them. This week we're hoping to make even more progress.

Well that's about all my time! Tell everyone I love them and have a great week!!!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Week of Miracles in Daky

Privet family!

Thank you for your letters and love, it always means a lot to me to hear from you. This past week has been awesome, we're truly being blessed for our service and diligence in the work here. We received 16 new contacts, got 5 new investigators, and gave out over 10 copies of the Book of Mormon. Wednesday we gave out 8 copies alone, it was crazy! We're just doing our best to talk with everyone we can and people are just showing a desire to know more about the Church and why we're here. I don't know what has changed with people all of a sudden listening more but I think it has to do with our attitude and faith. Makeevka is just a place of miracles right now. During district meeting this week Elder Packard told us that after transfer meeting he was talking with President Campero and he said that he purposely put all the best missionaries in Makeevka because we're going to work some miracles here, and he tossed a greenie in to give us some fire haha. Basically this is all coming true. I don't even know where to start so I'll go from the beginning of this week.

A few weeks ago during morning finding we found a man on the street named Sergei. He was kind of in a hurry to work but stopped and talked with us. We've been trying to get a hold of him since then and work something out and we finally did that this past week. I thought we were going to just teach him by a bus stop because that's where he wanted us to meet him but it turned out that he just wanted to meet us there so that he could lead us to his house. We walked in and met his wife Vera then sat down and started talking with them. They have three sons- Denis is 32 and lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Yaroslav is 20 and is studying math in a university right now and Dima is 18, a professional swimmer and is deaf. On the lesson we taught Vera, Sergei and Yaroslav. They were very accepting of the first lesson and the whole time they seemed like members already. MIRACLE! Unfortunately they couldn't make it to Church yesterday because it was the election but we have a lesson set up for tomorrow and will have Brat Nikitenko with us. We are planning on putting them on date for the end of November. We feel that they're ready for baptism already. This is the first family I've taught on my mission. I feel very blessed to have met them and want to do all I can to help them come unto Christ.

Elder Fish and Efoshkin found some Africans from Cameroon on the street a few weeks ago named Bonaventure and Sage. They're both here for school as all Africans here are. Bonaventure knows English and French and even came to the service project last Saturday as well as Church twice already. Sage only knows French so Bonaventure translates for him. He has also come to Church twice. The Elders found out this week that before coming to Ukraine they were part of a gospel congregation that gets together to just read the Bible. It isn't a church or anything, just a religious group that meets and doesn't know which Church to join. Before leaving for Ukraine they prayed with Sage that the very first Church he found would be the true one. After two days of being in Ukraine Elder Fish and Efoshkin found him with Bonaventure on the street. They told their congregation in Africa that they found the true church and so now we're going to send a huge referral to the Cameroon Mission with a huge congregation of Africans ready to receive the gospel. MIRACLE! Bonaventure is on date for November 10 and Sage still wants to think everything out a little longer. Bonaventure also shared his testimony yesterday in Sacrament and it was amazing. He talked about how he's only been here three weeks and usually stays in his apartment but not lnog ago all of a sudden had a strong desire to go for a walk. While on the walk he ran into Elders Fish and Efoshkin. He feels like he's found a new family here away from home and is already doing missionary work by inviting all of his friends to meet with us and come to Church. It's amazing!

I feel that I should share this experience with you as well. Saturday night was a very special night. This whole week as we've been seeing all this success I've also been in a weird mood because lots of the people we find on the street tell us that Daky is one of the most dangerous places to be at night and that we shouldn't be talking to people as we do. It kind of messes with you when people tell you crazy stuff that goes on and tell you to go back to the apartment, so to be honest Saturday night I was kind of doubting going out. But we prayed as always that we'd be protected and see miracles. We had set up a lesson with a former investigator named Valentina so we stopped by her house. It turns out that her husband is less-active and Elder Rallison found her two years ago. She has a testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet but something is holding her back from baptism. We just left our testimonies with her and will be going back this week. We are grateful we could teach her and receive a new investigator. While we were walking back home Elder Harrison stopped a man who I pre-judged because he looked sketchy. We started to talk to him and something changed about his appearance. He was really listening to what we had to say and was touched by the Book of Mormon. He asked why we would choose him out of all the people on the street to talk to and I said that God brought us together. He then told us he was a bandit and had too many sins to repent of. We testified of the Atonement and repentance to him and he was really touched. He then told us that we were the bravest, kindest people he's met in his whole life and wanted to pay us back somehow. He pulled out a huge wad of 200 grieven bills from his pocket and wanted us to take them. I said we didn't need that and just wanted to give him the Book of Mormon and get his number. He accepted, gave us his number, and we found out his name is Aleksei. He's not sure when he'll be in Daky because he travels a lot but I pray that we can work with him. He wouldn't let us leave without taking something so he gave us each a SuperSnickers. This experience was an answer to my prayer because although this area has some sketchy parts God truly is with us and watches over us. I'll never forget this experience.

And finally last night was full of more miracles. I ended my fast and prayed that we could find everyone on the street that needed the gospel. We left and the first person we met was Richard from Washington DC and a member of the Peace Corps. He said he's seen us before but never really had a chance to talk. We got his number and went on. We stopped by a less-active who has started attending a different church. She was so grateful we hadn't forgotten her and told us to come back again during the week. And then I had the thought that we should ride transport and talk to people instead of walking down the streets. So we went and waited at the nearest bus stop. A lady walked up and asked "What's with the book?" We explained a little bit and found out that she's a member of a church called The Word of Life. We rode the bus with her and got off several stops down. We ended up teaching the first lesson at the bus stop even though it was raining. It wasn't the best environment but she listened and seemed interested. At the end she said she didn't understand some of it because of where we were but we set up an appointment with her tonight to meet again. Hopefully all goes well with this. Her name is Irina. We then talked to a kid named Maksim at the same bus stop. He accepted a Book of Mormon but we didn't get his number. That's alright! We had planned on coming in early to get the training hour of studies in so we got on the next bus and were heading home. It wasn't the bus I thought though and turned before our house so we got off at the nearest stop and talked with a man standing there. It turned out he has always wanted a Book of Mormon but never had a chance to get one. He lives in Elder Fish and Efoshkin's area so we'll be passing him but it was just cool to meet him. Then we talked with a Muslim at the same bus stop. He wasn't too interested but I noticed as we were talking with him that the lady working in the store nearby stuck her head near the window to listen. So after the conversation we went to the little window and I said "We noticed you were listening. Are you interested in religion?" She asked if we were Jehovah's Witnesses (we get that a lot) and we said no, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She didn't know what that was, so then I said Mormonski church. "Oh the Mormons! Yeah ok" She told us her history of church attendance and how she's gone to the word of life, Jehovah's witnesses and baptists but is disappointed with each one and how its run. I then asked her "Do you want to find the truth?" And then she said "Yes of course, I just don't know where to find it." WOW I said to myself. That's D&C 123 right there! So I told her we'd be back in 5 minutes with some things to read because she would be working a 24 hour shift. We ran home, grabbed a restoration pamphlet, marked Moroni 10:3-5 then returned. We left our testimonies with her and she said she'd start reading. We got her number and hopefully soon will meet with her. Her name is Tanya. MIRACLES!

Now really quick some comments/tidbits. Happy Birthday Mom! I love you and hope that it's a great one! As far as my birthday, just send me some money to buy some souvenirs. And also, what souvenirs do you all want from Ukraine? I know I sent some of the nesting dolls home already. Do you want those Russian hats? More dolls? Clothing? Tell me and I'll see what I can do. That's crazy it snowed already, it hasn't snowed yet here. It's definitely gettnig colder though. I'm glad to hear your girls' trip was fun. And that's amazing news about mission calls. The Church is seriously going to flood the earth with missionaries, no joke! Awesome stuff to hear.

Well family I love you very much and hope that all is good with you. Have an excellent week and know that I love this Church and this work. I know it's true with all my heart and am so grateful for all that you did and do that I may be here. Talk to you later!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fast Week in Daky!

Privet family!

Thanks everyone for your emails and love, it means so much to me. I'm short on time so I'm gonna type as fast as I can and hope to get everything said that I'd like to. This past week was really successful. We received three new investigators and more than 15 contacts. Ruslan is our first new investigator. He's 22 and is already a lawyer, he also knows great English. Irina is a nice lady we met on the street. She is interested in the Book of Mormon and wants to meet again. And Raisa is an old lady, 73 years old! She lives by our apartment. We're going to keep working with these people this week and hope to find more investigators! Thursday we had a split with the APs and we found 10 contacts in one night, it was amazing! Miracles are just happening everywhere in the mission. Something has changed and we all have a greater desire to share the gospel and be the most obedient we can for the Lord and for the people. It has been a challenge for me some parts of my mission opening my mouth, especially on transport. But now with training Elder Harrison we just decided to always talk to people and it's not that bad, plus the Lord is just blessing us with contacts and people that are interested. Training is going really good. I am learning more and more everyday to rely on the Lord in everything because He knows best. I know that His promises are real and is truly with us as we do the work.

We also had Zone Conference on Friday and interviews with President. There was a great Spirit there and it's just so cool to see how the mission is getting better and better. We had a section about using the Book of Mormon more in proselyting and heard testimonies of the senior couples and missionaries. So powerful. I have a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. It grows everyday and the more I read. The Book of Mormon proves that the Bibles is true! What an amazing tool this is in the work. And we had an opportunity to do service on Saturday for a member family in the branch. We helped them clean up a huge pile of old roofing and stuff left by the workers. There were old pieces of rotted wood and brick so we put them in bags and threw them out. The rest we just burned in the back yard :)

Really quick, comments and tidbits. You found the right place on the map, Makiivka. Daky is an area of Makeevka and sounds like Daaakey. Unfortunately I can't send pictures because there's no connection on the computers here. And we get to Church by going to the bus station and then the Church pays for a bus to Donetsk. All the members come and we talk to them as we ride to Church, it's pretty cool. The ride is half an hour.

I love you all very much and wish you a great week! Remember that Heavenly Father is only a prayer away!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Love Daky

Privet family!
Thank you all so much for your letters, love, and prayers. It means so much to me to hear from you every week. It sounds like you all are doing well. Dad, I'm so proud of you for finishing the marathon!!!! That's awesome! I'd like to ride that with you after my mission. This week has been good, Elder Harrison and I are getting used to the area now and have met with a handful of members/less-actives. I will talk about them now. Brat Aleksei Nikitenko- basically he's the most solid member here in Daky. In the early 90s he met with Jehovah's Witnesses for a few years but grew tired of meeting with them because he knew the Bible better than they did. Then on the street he met missionaries. He had an amazing experience coming to know that the Book of Mormon was true and was baptized quickly after that. He has been branch president twice and now works in the Kiev Temple with his wife a few weeks a month. He knows like every single person in Daky so he's been telling us who to go to and stuff. Awesome guy. Sestra Looda Matveeva- She is a nice older lady who lives by herself. Very active, really smart too, works as a chemist. Brat Nikolai Timohin- Inspiring man. He joined the church and went through the temple about six years ago and right after that lost his sight. He has a really strong testimony and comes to Church every week with Brat Nikitenko's help. He blessed the Sacrament last week and that's something I'll never forget. Sestra Natasha Habenko- Really humble lady. Walks with a cane and does what she can. Likes family history, scriptures, and her grandkids. She's the only member in her family but that doesn't stop her from doing anything. This upcoming week we'll hope to meet more members. Several appointments fell through so we'll see what happens this week.
Elder Harrison and I have definitely seen some miracles this week. At the beginning of the week we didn't really have anyone to meet with, no investigators. During morning finding we ran into a lady with a huge dog. We stopped and talked to her and asked her name. She said it was "Sestra Lena." And then we were like, Oh wait are you a member? And it turns out that she is a less-active member. We got her number and she said we could come back on Friday. So we dropped by and it turns out her husband and daughter are not members of the Church. We had Brat Nikitenko with us on the lesson and we taught them the Restoration. They said they'd start reading the Book of Mormon so hopefully they do! We're not sure how often we'll meet with them, they seem really busy, but we have ourselves a part-member family to work with now so it's awesome. That same night we held English club. Four people showed up, one of them is named Ruslan. He is 22 and already a lawyer. He is interested to meet with us so tomorrow we have a lesson with him. And this is way cool, so earlier this week on Monday Brat Nikitenko invited us over to his house for FHE because his daughter is basically professional piano player and Elder Harrison plays piano at church because no one else can and Marina Nikitenko (his daughter) is less-active. So he invited us over to hear her play and share a little thought. We got talking and they asked what we did before our missions so I told them I play drums/percussion and studied in university. Then Brat Nikitenko was like, We should get you together with Marina and Yury (Yury is a less-active musician in our area) and do a concert to get people back to church. I'll start working on that. We're still trying to get a lesson with Yury to meet him but I am faithful that we can work something out and do a concert. Some really good things are happening in Daky and we're just at the beginning! We have also received a few good contacts off the street so now we just need to meet with them. Elder Harrison is an amazing elder already. He's basically already trained, I don't feel like I'm doing much haha. He speaks good enough Russian already that I sometimes forget when we're talking to people that he understands very little so then I have to translate and get him out of sticky situations haha. It's going great though, I love training so far. He's basically training me by his example of everything. He has no fear of talking to people, even on buses which I am not very good at. I'm learning a lot from him and striving to be a good example to him.
General Conference was excellent, I enjoyed every talk. I really can't get enough of that now and I feel that's because my testimony of the Apostles and Prophet has grown immensely since coming on my mission. These are the Lord's servants people! The Restoration really happened and you can hear for yourselves what God has to say to us today! Watching Conference on the mission is awesome because we just all get together, eat tons of food, and feast on the word. Everyone got together at the Donetsk Center building (our building) and we watched in English upstairs and the members in Russian downstairs, just like in Center Kharkov last time. My favorite talks were basically all of the First Presidency's in all of conference, Elder Holland's powerhouse talk about Peter, Elder Nelson's talk about missionaries, Elder Bednar's about the difference between testimony and conversion, Elder Don R. Clarke's about Sacrament (he was just here a few weeks ago) and Elder Oaks' about family relationships. During the Sunday Afternoon Session this guy came in off the street and had tons of questions. He came thinking that apostles would be there in person. We met with him with a member and tried to answer his questions but he wasn't listening. His main question was about baptism for the dead. We ended up talking for an hour and a half. I had the impression early on that we should just watch conference and talk to him after but we kept talking. It was only after that I learned that Elder Scott apparently gave a powerhouse talk about baptism for the dead and authority and stuff, basically everything we talked to him about. So the lesson I learned was that we should watch conference because questions are always answered in ways we don't know. After my mission I want to invite friends who aren't members to watch conference with me. It's awesome stuff.
And Saturday was Nadezhda's baptism! I actually got permission to attend it since I taught her. It was a great service, she was super happy to be getting baptized. Elder Nuzman baptized her and the members that worked with us came and participated in the service. And Brat Vladimir that Elder Harrison and I baptized came so I got to talk to him and sit with him. He's doing good, he also came to conference yesterday. I really love Center Donetsk, the members are so helpful with missionary work and there is just a good spirit. Nadezhda is golden, she also came to conference and loved it. And I saw Artur there. Awesome!
Well family, my time is up. Have a great week!! I love you all! And Happy 50th Birthday Dad!!!!! Talk to all next week!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hello from Daky Makeevka!!

Privet family!
So this week has been insane, I don't know how else to explain it. I am out of the office and am now serving in DAKY, MAKEEVKA. Makeevka is a city outside of Donetsk, about 30 minutes. We whitewashed in, which means we don't know anything about the area, but I love it already. We have tons of members in our area and are getting to know them really well. Sisters served in our apartment before us so we have high expectations to live up to but it will be fine haha. We talk to lots of people and have a few contacts already so this week we just gotta start meeting with them and getting to know the area better. And I have other news. Hold your breath.... OK.. I'M TRAINING ELDER HARRISON FROM PAYSON, UTAH! He is the oldest in his family of 7, he went to BYU before his mission and studied Greek, super smart, got a full ride to BYU, and we get along great. I kind of had a guess I would train so I wasn't too surprised at transfer meeting when that got announced. Elder Harrison is an awesome elder, I'm convinced that he's the best one I could be training. He's basically training me! He already has amazing Russian, is talking with everyone, and has a great love for the people. I know that we're going to have some great transfers together. Thursday was pretty crazy because we got to the apartment and looked at the area and member books and whatnot and then we're like, Hmm, we need to eat... but I've just been in the office since June and all my meals were made so I don't know what to make hahaha..... but don't worry Mom everything is fine. We get along great and I'm really excited to be in Makeevka at this time. Saturday we participated in a service project with the branch so we got to meet members before Sunday. Very soon the Church is planning on building a new meeting house for Makeevka because they meet in the Center Donetsk one after Center branch gets finished. So we cleaned the site that the Church has purchased. It's a great location. Makeevka needs to have a 75 people average at Sacrament and right now there are tons of less-actives who are just waiting for the new building. But the new building can't be built unless there are good numbers so our work is cut out for us. It's going to be great several transfers though. I know that the Lord always places us in the places we need to be with the people we can grow with the best. My district is great, I love them all. I am training Elder Harrison, Elder Groothuyzen from my MTC group is with Elder Packard (Elder Packard just got trained and is in his third transfer now, he's also the District leader) and then Elder Fish and Efoshkin opened up a new Makeevka area. So I know everyone already and we're going to do some work here!
A few cool experiences with Elder Harrison already.... Very first day we were waiting for our taxi to come to the office and pick us up. I said, "Alright Elder, let's go finding while we wait." So we prayed then set off. I gave him the low down on finding and a man was approaching us in the distance. I stopped him and he was pretty interested in listening to the message. I talked about the Book of Mormon and asked him if he'd like to meet us sometime. He did so I asked him for his number. As I was getting out the phone, Elder Harrison just starts testifying like crazy out of nowhere, it was AWESOME! The man definitely felt the Spirit and took the Book of Mormon to read it. We passed him to Donetsk since he lived there, but yeah, miracle first contact. Another experience was we were finding a less-active and the door was locked so we can only call the people on the apartment phone. She wasn't home but Elder Harrison was like, Just say a prayer that someone will answer the phone and let us in. So we did and sure enough the next person we called let us in. The less active wasn't home at all so we left a note then tracted the house. No one was interested but they will be in the future. Basically Elder Harrison is an amazing greenie missionary. I'm so grateful I can be training him.
Really quick, some comments/tidbits. I did hear about the age changing for mission service. I already told Brynn my thoughts but I think it's way cool that the age got lowered. It's possible that when I get back Brynn could be getting ready to leave. I am feeling much better, not sick anymore. This weekend we'll be watching General Conferernce so I'll have more to report next week. And yesterday at Church Nadezhda was there and handed me a baptismal invite for this Saturday! She's getting baptized! Miracle!
Have a great week family! I love you so much and hope that everything keeps going well for you! Thank you for your prayers and emails, it means so much to me. Talk to you next week!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, October 1, 2012

Goodbye Donetsk! Miss you already!

Privet family!

Well, the time has come- I am getting transferred out of the office to somewhere new. I'm really sad to be leaving because this area has been my favorite so far on my mission! I have been so blessed to serve here. I have truly grown to love the people with whom I work, as well as the members in the branch. The office has become my home away from home! Sister Irina and Sister Lydia are like my grandmas, the Colemans are like my parents haha. But seriously though, it will be hard for me to leave the office. But wherever I serve next I know that everything I've done here has prepared me for it. It's so amazing to think that Heavenly Father works through us to bring about small and simple things. Working here in the office I've basically seen firsthand how the mission works. It truly is a great and marvelous work to be a part of.

This past week several miracles happened that I'd like to write about. The first is Nadezhda. Elder Nuzman and I met with her on Thursday and had no idea what would happen on the lesson because of the text she sent us last week about her family being against her going to Church and being baptized. We planned a few verses to read with her but mainly planned that we would just need to really teach with the Spirit because what could we say that she doesn't already know? That she should be baptized and abandon her family, even though family is the most important unit of the Church? So we got to the lesson and I remembered a quote from Elder Holland that all we need to do is just listen to our investigator and they will tell us what we need to say. She first told us a story about how she went to the Russian Catholic church with her family last Sunday because they wouldn't allow her to attend ours. Basically she met a priest there who was praying for vodka that had been purchased with the tithing money. He then started to drink and hold a worship service. Nadezhda scolded him and asked him how he could be a priest if he was drunk. He said that because he went to seminary and passed that he was a priest and that she should leave him alone. But she just kept saying all this stuff to him about how the body is a temple and how the Russian Catholic church isn't true and that he was a false priest that he kicked her out of the service. She was really sad because she wanted to come to Church with us and prayed for forgiveness for not being able to. After this intro to the lesson, she brought up a question her family told her about it's a sin to be baptized twice. We explained the importance of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and turned to Acts 19. From there we were just able to share a few verses from 3 Nephi 27 that talked about the importance of being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We felt impressed to pray with her on the lesson to know when she should be baptized. We decided on October 6, this upcoming Saturday and told her that she needs to come to Church in order for this to happen. We listened to the Spirit and the lesson went really good. Well, she came to Church yesterday and loved it! She wasn't able to stay the whole time but she stayed for Sacrament and Gospel Principles. Unfortunately, the branch president wants to wait for her to be baptized so it won't be this Saturday. BUT it will be soon, hopefully in two Saturdays. I will keep in touch with Elder Nuzman and keep you all informed how she's doing.

Another miracle was that we finally got moved out of our apartment! and are now living with the APs for the time being. We don't have an apartment to live in so we're living with them until a new one is found. But they are rarely even there because they travel around the whole mission so it will be alright. It felt awesome to move and I must say that cold juice tastes 100 times better than warm juice haha. And the other miracle I wanted to write about happened when I was on a split with Elder Moss Saturday night. We went finding on the streets for the night because no one could meet and literally everyone on the street didn't want to talk with us either. However, we were faithful and tried talking to every person that passed us and at the very end of the night we were blessed with an amazing contact named Dmitri. He was the last one we talked to just before coming in. I stopped him in Russian, then he replied in perfect English! It turns out that he lived in California for five years working for a security company and he knew about the Church because many of his bosses were members! We just got talking and learned about his family and life, then tied the gospel into the conversation. He wants to meet (we're hopefully meeting him tonight) and he told us that if there's anything he can help us with then just call. The Lord truly blessed us for our efforts on the street, I know this to be true. It always blows my mind that within several minutes we become friends with strangers on the street and they want to meet and become friends. That's the power of the gospel. Also this week we met several of our goals, including two new investigators Aleksander and Sasha. Aleksander is mostly interested in English but wants to read the Book of Mormon and Sasha had us over for dinner last night (again, power of the gospel!) but unfortunately he doesn't live in our area so we have to pass him. They're both just contacts from off the street. There are people everywhere, we just need to talk to them.

I love you all very much! Have a great week and keep on keepin on! Talk to you later!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Another Fast Week in the Office

Privet family,

I'm not sure where to start this week, lots has happened, lots to say. I'll start with Nadezhda. We met with her twice and everything has been going good on lessons. She knows everything but just isn't baptized. Friday we took Sister Irina with us (who works in the office) and had a great lesson with her. She said she'd be coming to Church on Sunday and that all would be in order with getting work off this weekend for the baptism. Sunday morning we got a text from her saying that her family is against her baptism and that she couldn't come to Church anymore but still wants to meet with us. So we have a lesson set up with her for this Thursday. I'm not really sure how we can help her and her family but we'll figure something out. If we can somehow work with her family and help them understand everything then she'll get baptized, no problems.

We got a new investigator this week named Mohammed. He is a contact we met on the street from Iran and is Muslim. I didn't meet with him because we were on a split with the APs but Elder Nuzman told me that he's never heard of the Bible or Jesus Christ ever in his life so it was an interesting lesson. We have another one set up with him for this Friday so we'll see how it goes. It's crazy that some people in the world have never heard of these things but that's why we have missionaries! We also got a new investigator last night named Alexander. He came to English a while back and we tried to meet with him and his wife but she always hung up the phone when we called so we kind of gave up on him but then he called us a few days ago and wanted to meet so we met last night. He is mainly interested in English but we talked about the Book of Mormon and he says he wants to read all of it so maybe he'll become interested in listening to more, we'll see. We have another meeting with him tonight so I'll tell how it goes.

The main event of this week was Elder Don R. Clarke coming to the mission. Elder Clarke was the mission president in Bolivia when President Campero served as a stake president and then he was the Area Seventy over all of Central America in Guatemala. And now he is in the second quorum of the Seventy. Saturday night he did a Priesthood session, Sunday was a District Conference, and yesterday as you know was Zone Conference in Donetsk. All were great meetings but yesterday was the best because it was for missionaries of course. We're all in the process of making this mission better and he gave us several things to start doing. There's always tons of ways that we can improve so he told us to choose a few and really start applying them. I don't have time to talk about everything but I'll just say that the mission is taking good strides forward. We are all good missionaries but the time is now to change the mission and future generations forever. That was basically the theme of conference. It won't happen all at once but in time it will. During the Priesthood meeting Elder Clarke called up new-convert Artour and asked him why he didn't have the Melchizedek Priesthood yet if he was 19. He said he only got baptized a week ago and to this Elder Clarke said "Wow, congratulations! Will you share your testimony tomorrow at the district conference?" He said yes (how could he say no to Elder Clarke?) So Sunday Artour got up in front of the whole Donetsk district and bore a very powerful testimony about how two missionaries found him on the street, invited him to meet, and how he ended up knowing that the Church is true and Joseph Smith is a Prophet. It was so awesome, words just can't describe how I felt! He is planning on serving a mission now and is already going to institute and stuff. Basically he was just prepared to meet the missionaries. This was definitely a highlight of conference and the week.

Now for some comments/tidbits. I guess first off, I got sick Thursday and am still kind of sick. Just a cough, sore throat, runny nose. Hopefully that goes away soon. We found out today that we will for sure be moving soon but we don't have an apartment to move into so we'll be moving in with the APs for an unknown amount of time. But hey, at least we're moving! President Campero has issued a challenge to the whole mission - read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year and blessings unknown will come to those who do. I'm currently reading in Russian almost done with Alma and will finish before the year but I think I will read in English for this challenge from President. You should all do it as well! Seven pages a day in Russian, six in English. I got my package with Dr. Pepper, thanks so much for that! Soon I'll have a fridge to store those in haha. Also I found out that the former Elder Schoen now Dallin is engaged. Sister Irina told me that she saw that on Fbook. Crazy stuff. I was sorry to hear about the BEAST breaking down but I think we all saw it coming sooner or later. That's crazy about Allyson's car breaking down on you too, that's no fun! I'm excited to see the new temple in Brigham City, it sounds awesome. The weather here is getting cool but not cold though. I'll tell you when it starts getting cold. And for the 3 Nephi question, I will need to research that for you. As far as I know, even in the Bible people got baptized before Christ because John the Baptist had authority so I think it's the same with Nephi. But I'll find an answer for you. And last but not least, transfer calls are coming out again this Friday! This transfer has flown by. I think I'll be leaving but I'm not sure where so we'll find out next Thursday!

Well I think that's about it for this week. I love you very much family! Have a great week and I'll hear from you again soon!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия
Pictured L to R: Sister Irina, Elder Keown, and Nahezhda

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Missionary Work

Privet family and friends, kak dela?

So as you can see from the title, this week turned out pretty opposite of last week. Almost every single lesson we set up fell through, even though we called them the night before and day of. We don't really know how to avoid this happening other than calling them often. All missionaries have a problem with this, lots of people here say they'll meet and then just don't and flake out. We had lots of good goals at the beginning of the week and had a great beginning but nothing turned out. For example, Monday we met with a referral from a former investigator. This kid called us Saturday night and said that he wanted his mom to meet with us. He's probably like 25 or 26 and he had great English. He had our number because several years ago he met with missionaries. So anyway, we met with her (her name is Ella) and had a great lesson. She said that she wants her baptism to mean something and be real instead of just going to a priest and saying "I want to be baptized." And she agreed to come to Church and possibly Artour's baptism. So we set up for the day after and even had a member picked out to be with us and then she stopped answering her phone! She still hasn't picked up and we're not sure what happened. Perhaps this upcoming week we can get in touch with her again.

Tuesday we set up a lesson with another contact named Anton. He knows great English and works as a chemical engineer with metal. We taught the first lesson but he had trouble understanding the Apostasy and how the authority was lost from the earth. He wanted scriptural evidence showing how each Apostle died basically, which we couldn't give because there isn't any, so he said he'd like to meet with President Campero on the lesson next time. He has also stopped picking up his phone now so it's pretty frustrating. And as far as our 17 contacts, most of them haven't turned into anything. No time to meet or no desire. So as a result Elder Nuzman and I are going to be pretty upfront with people on the street from now on and just explain it how it is. "Look, we're going to call you to meet with you and help you be more happy in life. If you don't want this then tell us now because you're wasting the Lord's time." Perhaps we'll get less numbers, perhaps more, but I'll tell you how it works out next week! And here's an update on Nadezhda. Unfortunately we weren't able to meet with her at all because she was busy working or taking care of her grandkid (who is the daughter's by the way). She didn't make it to the baptism or Church, we were pretty bummed. But she says tonight will work so we're having Sister Albina take her to an FHE and we'll also be there so hopefully it works out. We might be moving the baptismal date back now, not sure yet. She's ready, she just needs to come to Church! And to answer your question, she lives in a hostile because a normal apartment is too expensive.

As we read in the scriptures, there must be an opposition in all things so here are the miracles of the week. Saturday was awesome! The highlight of the day and week was definitely Artour's baptism. He was basically a dry Mormon already so now he's official haha. He was so happy and we were all way happy for him, it was a great service. And President Campero came and told him to start reading the scriptures, preparing for the Priesthood and mission, and then going to the temple. He has already expressed a desire to serve a mission and so in a year he can do that. He's a great kid. We were talking as a district afterward and thinking about what it would be like to be 19 and be baptized, really understanding everything- remission of sins, feeling difference of HG in life, etc. and we all came to the conclusion, It's easy to see how we'd be, just look at Artour! And then yesterday at Church he received the Holy Ghost. He was promised great blessings and I know that he's going to do a lot of good for the Church here, he'll probably be branch president someday or something. And a side note, he showed up in a suit looking like a missionary, it was awesome! So back to Saturday, we had a district meeting after the baptism and it was great as usual. But this time we went to the Coleman's apartment and Sister Coleman made us an amazing dinner, baked potatoes and pudding cake with ice cream, it was a taste of home! Our topic in district meeting was how our mission is literally a covenant with God and how there is a difference between power and authority. We all have the authority but power comes from keeping your covenants. It was just a great lesson and fit perfectly with the day right after the baptism. And after district meeting our lesson fell through which put us on the streets finding BUT we found a way cool guy named Vladimir who works as a security guard. He wasn't able to make it to church but we met with him last night in a park and he is very sincere and wants us to come teach his family this week so hopefully all works out with that. Something that I'm kind of now just realizing although maybe I have done it earlier in my mission but just not noticed is that seriously everything is about ATTITUDE. There are miracles all around us but it is our job to pray for them, pray to recognize them. 2 Nephi 27:23- "I am a God of miracles" and Alma 41:15- "What ye send out will return unto you again" Everything is just how we make it. I know that as we pray to see small miracles in our lives that Heavenly Father will bless us with the opportunity of seeing them. Of course things don't always work out as we have in mind but prayers are always answered, we're just along for the ride!

Now for some comments/tidbits. Elder Nuzman and I haven't moved yet. We know we'll be moving but to where is still unknown. And yes I eat manna for breakfast almost everyday, but I'm grateful for the oatmeal, that's definitely a blessing. And I almost forgot this but Friday was my ONE YEAR MARK in Ukraine! It honestly seems like yesterday I got here. We celebrated and got some pizza as a district because Elder Moss and Hodgson are in my district as well. It's really weird that now when I think "1 year ago" I was here in country and not in America. The time is just flying by. I'm glad I have almost a full year left though, there's still a lot I'd like to accomplish here.

Well, that's about it for this week. Know that I love you all very much and you are in my prayers. Have a great week and I'll hear from you again soon!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

ps- pics this week are a few of me on my year mark, Elder Moss Artour and me, and Elder Nuzman and I

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Week of Miracles!

Privet family and everyone else who reads this!

This week has been a turn of events in our area. Elder Nuzman and I were blessed with 11 contacts from finding on the streets and we received 6 more from sisters that have been living in the area temporarily while waiting for a new apartment so that comes out to 17 new contacts in one week!!! Some of them have been passed and some of them have turned out to not be that interested, but still, 17 new contacts is amazing! We have set up several appointments for this week so hopefully they all turn into new investigators for us, that would be awesome. Tuesday morning during finding President Campero came with us. It was a cool experience to talk to people on the street with him and see their reactions. There aren't too many mission presidents from Bolivia who know Russian and are as cool as President Campero haha. He is amazing, I don't know how he has the energy to work all everyday! This past week we met with Aleksei again. Unfortunately we basically came to a mutual drop. He understands everything that he needs to do but he just has no desire to act. We explained everything very clearly, that everyone has an opportunity to accept the gospel and partake of the blessings it brings through Christ's Atonement, but he says that he is good where he stands. It was hard to let him go but everyone has their own free agency and can choose whether to accept or reject the message. I believe that he'll join the Church several years down the road when he finally decides to act on the knowledge he has. I still love him though and wish him the best.

I don't remember if I wrote this or not but we have been praying to find someone completely ready to accept the message of the gospel and actually have the desire to read the Book of Mormon and know if the church is true. Well, this prayer was answered this week through a lady named Nadezhda (hope in Russian) This is her story. Nadezhda is a former investigator and met the missionaries about a year ago when she saw them on the street during the middle of winter and invited them in to warm up. She accepted the message of the restoration and started reading the Book of Mormon. She has 4 kids and a grandson with some sort of disease that requires lots of surgeries. She sold her apartment to pay for his surgeries and now lives in a one room hostel working two jobs to pay off the loans she acquired for her grandson. All of her family abandoned her except her one daughter because she decided that the Russian Catholic church isn't so true. She came to church one time and loved it. After this though missionaries lost contact with her because she didn't have any time to meet. Elder Harrison and I called her often but she never had time. Desire yes, but no time. Well Elder Nuzman and I called her this week and were able to meet with her on Saturday. She is a Saint, I don't know why she isn't baptized yet! She understands everything perfectly. She loves the Book of Mormon and is probably the most humble lady I've ever met in my entire life. We had a very spiritual lesson with her and put her on date for September 29! Unfortunately she wasn't able to make it to church yesterday but she is coming this Sunday. We dropped by again after church though with the relief society president (who is the best member missionary ever) and they are best friends now, it's amazing. Sister Albina (relief society pres) already invited her to FHE and to Artour's baptism this Saturday! We are really hoping she can come see the baptism, it's going to be a great service. Basically this whole experience is nothing less than a miracle. I feel like on my mission I've done nothing to come in contact with the Lord's elect here. They are just ready to accept the gospel, it's that simple.

Also this week we had a Zone Meeting. We were reminded of some good principles in Preach My Gospel and things that we've been taught recently in Zone Conferences from members of the Area Presidency. We have a goal to baptize 15 people as a zone this transfer and we all agreed that it is very attainable. The mission is just booming right now, tons of people are accepting baptismal dates. There were 3 more baptisms this weekend and there's like 15 still on date. I believe that we will reach our goal of 90 by the end of the year. The mission isn't the same one I came into a year ago. We are more unified and are doing our best to find the Lord's elect and He is blessing us for our efforts.

Now for some comments/tidbits. I got my package this week, thanks so much for that! There's nothing better than getting a package from America with love from home. The sister who is in my group is going home early November. And of course my year in Ukraine mark is this Friday. Time flies! That's cool there is another temple in Utah, we'll have to visit that one when I get home. And Elder Nuzman and I found out that we're closing down the current apartment we're in and moving out at the end of the month so that should be fun. I don't know if I told you this or not but our fridge stopped working more than a month ago, maybe month and a half, I don't remember. The landlord said he'd get a new one for us but is pretty flaky so we still don't have one. And chances are that we won't have one since we're moving out soon. The good news is that I have been living off of manna ever since the fridge stopped working haha. Manna is cream of wheat I think back in the states but they call it manna here. So basically I have been living off of manna in the office, no big deal. We'll be happy to get a fridge sometime soon though.

I love you all and wish you an awesome week. You are all in my prayers! Keep on keepin' on!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия