Monday, January 30, 2012

The Beginning of the End in Cold Mountain

Hello family! I hope that you've had a good week. It sounds like you did from your emails. This past week for me was crazy. It was really werid to see Elder Robison go after only a transfer with him. I really wanted to serve one more with him. I found out that he got made Zone Leader in Center Donetsk though so he's doing good. As for my new companion, I am now serving with Elder Frandsen. He is from South Jordan and went to Bingham High. He is three transfers older than me and will pass his year mark next month. We have been getting along okay with each other. I'm sure that we will have a good transfer. We have set two transfer goals that I really think we can achieve. The first is to have a baptism between us and the second is to strengthen all of the members in our area. There are some members that I have not met with yet and I've been here for a while now. I don't know why that is, I think that I just didn't know about them or something. So I hope that I can really meet with more members this transfer and continue to strengthen them. This past week was another trying one because our lessons that we had planned got cancelled again, including with Dima and Vova. Elder Robison and I wanted to get them on date before he left but they weren't able to meet at all due to work. I don't know how to avoid investigators dogging you on lessons! It's the biggest problem to deal with around the mission. I really hope that this next week is more successful. I am learning that numbers don't really mean anything at all. I grow in many ways everyday that numbers don't show. The mission is the best place to grow, that's for sure. I was thinking about where I was before my mission and where I am now and it's crazy to see the difference. I have a greater understanding of how the Church works and the difference that it makes in our lives.

I thought of some more package requests that would be awesome. Brown sugar pop-tarts, a set of measuring cups with cup and tbsp/tsp (I hear that every apartment either has them or doesn't), and a talk by President Packer called "Some Things Every Missionary Should Know." If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.

There is an elder in my district named Elder Warner. He is a greenie and is being trained right now by Elder Fish. He has been having some crazy health problems and might have to go to Germay to get a surgery. We gave him the Sacrament and a blessing yesterday. What a blessing it is to have the restored Priesthood on the Earth and to be able to act in the name of God to bless those in need. That is something that a lot of people here don't understand. Only in this Church is the proper authority to do Priesthood ordinances. I am grateful for this knowledge and to hold the Priesthood.

And now for some comments/tidbits. I'm glad to hear that Stake Conference was a good one. It sounds like it was great. The new stake presidency will be a good one as well. That will be weird to come home to a different stake president. I've only ever known President Parry! But the stake sounds like it will still be in good hands. I passed my 7 month mark on my mission yesterday. I swear just last week was my 6 month mark! (That's when I got bit by that dog) Time seems to be flying by for me right now, which is scary because everyone tells me that the older you get on the mission the faster it goes by. Crazy stuff. I am wondering for next week if you can send me Grandma Kramer's recipe for crepes. That would be awesome. And I have a question for you about a carry-on. I didn't bring my carry-on because I thought that I could only have two bags and my carry-on counted as my bag but I found out that that's not how it works and that I can have three bags and my shoulder bag doesn't count as a carry-on. That being said, how much money does a carry-on cost in America? Because I found a good one here that would equal out to be $50. I'm not going to buy it until the end of this transfer probably. What are your thoughts on that? I'm going to use it to put all my books in when I get transferred and stuff because there isn't going to be a lot of room in my suitcases and it will just be easier.

Well, that's about it for this email. I love you all very much! Have a great week. Your always in my prayers and I hope that you are doing well. The Church is true and the mission is awesome! Talk to you next week!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

ps - the picture is my last district with the Burr's. They are probably some of the nicest people that I know! I'm excited to have one more transfer with them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stayin One More in Cold Mountain!

Hello family! So as you can see from the title of this email I didn't receive a transfer call so I'll be staying here six more weeks starting next week. I'm excited to stay here for one more transfer! I don't feel like I've done everything I'm supposed to do here yet so I think that the Lord has a few more things in store for me. I am excited to keep working with the investigators that we have, especially Dima and Vova. HOWEVER, I will be getting a new companion this Thursday. Elder Robison's outta here already, it's pretty crazy. No one was more surprised than him to get a call. He was only here for one transfer and he thought he'd be here for a while but he's going back down to Donetsk somewhere. But such is life on the mission I guess haha. So I'll be sure to tell you all about my new companion next week. I feel like I barely got to know Elder Robison but I'm sure I'll still see him throughout my mission. We did the best that we could do here in Cold Mountain and I will continue to keep it up until I leave.

This past week was kind of a trying one. We had lots of high goals and planned on meeting with several invstigators but we got dogged four times! Our only lesson that worked out was with Dima and Vova. They really like the idea of the Word of Wisdom which is awesome but they still don't quite understand the importance of baptism. We planned an awesome lesson for them but then it fell through so hopefully we can teach them that lesson this week and get them on date. Dima has prayed about the Book of Mormon but hasn't received an answer yet and Vova said he hasn't prayed about it but that it appears to him to be true. They are really awesome guys and are making good progress. In the Lord's time I feel that they will be baptized. I just need to be patient!! Also this past week I had my first ever family night! Elder Schoen and I tried to have one but it never worked out. A family that used to be less-active has started to come back to Church again and was able to meet on Monday night. He used to be in the district presidency but then went in-active. They are the Morgoon family and are amazing. They have excellent thoughts about like every Church topic and they strive to share the gospel with their neighbors and friends. It's weird that they went in-active, right? But I am excited to keep meeting with them and getting to know them a little better throughout my last transfer here.

Besides getting dogged a bunch this week, we pretty much just did finding on the streets and in the area book. President Campero wants us to find as much as we can when we're not teaching. We talked with a very interesting babushka on the street a few days against We asked her if we could help her with her bags and she said no, so we tried to give her the little brochure that we pass out and when she found out we were Mormons she flipped out! I've never seen an angry babushka until now! She was just bashing the Church and saying that we don't believe in Christ blah blah and then she said that she was a zombie! "Yeah, I'm a zombie and I died a year ago!" It was a crazy contact. But in the words of Elder Robison, "Even zombies need the gospel" haha. Besides her, we didn't find too many other people to talk with. There aren't a lot of people on the streets sometimes because it's starting to be freezing. When we tell people we're from America the first thing they always ask is if we're cold right now haha. But besides these factors and it being a trying week, I am excited to keep working my best to find the Lord's elect.

Now just a few comments on your emails. It sounds like your experience with the Spirit was indeed humbling, Mom. That's how the Spirit works I'm finding. And I can't believe that Gerrit/Elder Seymour is going to Turkey! That is really cool. Tell his mom that I was looking forward to finding him in Bulgaria for my visa trip but that it's awesome he's going to be in Turkey. He'll do great there.

Well, I think that's all for this week. I'll keep you posted on what happens with getting a new companion and starting the next transfer. I still can't believe that I will be in my greenie area for 4 transfers of my mission. That is 1/4 of my mission in Cold Mountain! But I know that the Lord still has things for me to do and learn before I leave. I just hope I do what I'm supposed to do here. I love you all very much! Have a great week, okay? I'll talk to you later!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just Another Week in Cold Mountain

Hello again family! Once again, thanks for your emails and love. It's always great to hear from all of you. Sounds like things are going well for you back home. This past week wasn't too crazy, it was just a pretty normal week. We met with Dima and Vova twice. We have been trying to help them understand what it means to have faith in Christ and we decided that we should watch the movie "Finding Faith in Christ" with them because it can explain things much better than we can and it shows the life of Jesus Christ. They seemed to really enjoy it and said it was a beautiful film. Vova said that it's too bad that people in the world have faith in Christ but don't do anything with it and we're like Yeah exactly!! We are still trying to help them understand the importance of a baptismal date. They said that they don't want to set a date because they don't know if they'll have an answer by that time which is true, but we are trying to help them understand that it's just a day to work towards type thing. They are really awesome people though. I don't doubt that they are some of the Lord's elect here. We also need to get them to Church! They were supposed to come yesterday but they didn't. Next Sunday!

We got two new investigators this week, a young married couple like 6 years older than us. Elder Schoen and I called the wife a while back but she said they couldn't meet. So Elder Robison and I called her and she said that we could meet. So we taught them the first lesson last night. Their names are Zhenia and Nastia. They are very nice people and seem to be interested in the Church and the gospel. We gave them a Book of Mormon to read and they said that "of course we'll start reading!" There is a young married couple in the branch and so we're going to try and have them be on lessons with us so that they can fellowship them. I think that they will be an awesome family for Center Branch if they decide to join the Church. It will be awesome!

So a big part of Elder Bennett's visit and our Zone Conference has been about Obedience and we were all promised that if we would strive to be obedient in the areas we needed to improve in that we would start to see miracles around the mission. For Cold Mountain alone we are seeing many miracles. We have been able to find amazing prepared people on the street and in the case with this young couple, just in our Area Book. We have more than 10 investigators to work with right now which to be honest I never thought could happen in Cold Mountain. Not all of them have been able to meet recently but the fact is that they are investigators. And the other Cold Mountain elders have been seeing the same success. I've heard stories around the mission that people have just been showing up to Church and saying things like "I felt this morning that I needed to come to your Church and see what its all about. I think I need to be baptized!" And several miracles have happened in Center Branch. A man that has been investigating the Church for 7 years and has been coming now and then showed up to Church and said "I've decided that I'm ready to be baptized and to quit smoking!" He is getting baptized this Saturday. And just last night the Zone Leaders said that they had an amazing lesson with a man they found on the street. He believed everything and said something like "I sure hope my wife agrees with all of this!" And they also said that during their lesson a guy from Utah walked in off the street with a non-Member Ukrainian friend and introduced her to the missionaries. The man is here apparently to do some work. But his friend was extremely interested and said that she wants to bring her husband and learn about the gospel. Miracles are happening everywhere here! The Lord truly guides His work.

This Friday transfer calls are coming out again. As you might know, every six weeks transfers are held and President Campero receives revelation as to where missionaries need to be transferred. Usually greenies stay in their areas for three transfers and then get transferred. BUT it's not rare to stay in their greenie area for four. I have a feeling that I'll probably get a transfer call this Friday, which means this next week will be my last full week here in Cold Mountain. I don't want to leave yet because I feel that the work is really picking up now but I'll go where the Lord wants me to go. If I receive a call this Friday, then I'll be leaving next Thursday on the transfer bus. But if not, then I'll be here in Cold Mountain until the first week of March. We'll see what happens!

I think this concludes my letter for this week. Oh one more thing, the store we shop at called Villa always plays old 80's and 90's music from America. Ukrainians like American music haha. And last time we were there they were playing the Abracadabra song. (I forgot who sings it, I'm sure you know Mom) So I will leave you with those lyrics. "Abracadabra.. I'm gonna reach out and grab ya!" Have a good week family. I love you all and pray that you continue to do well. The Church is true. Jesus Christ lives. He leads His work in these Latter-days. I am so grateful to be here and to be one of His servants. There is nothing better than this work on the earth!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

ps - pics this week are the street in front of our house (it's starting to get snowy), me that same night, i made my first borsch on my own, and one day this week the sunrise was pretty colorful. Enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

I've Lost Track of Whatever Week This Is In Cold Mountain!

Hello family! I hope that you've had a good first week of 2012. Thanks for you emails and things, it is always great to hear from you all. This past week has been good for Elder Robison and I. We have two new investigators. They are both older women probably in their 50's. They have just been contacts for a while because every time that Elder Schoen and I tried to meet with them they couldn't meet or just had excuses or something. But we met with them and they are interested to learn more. They are both interested in English and both of them have known about the Church since several years back when the missionaries taught English classes. The one is named Natalia and the other is Angela. Natalia believes that the Book of Mormon is true but needs to pray about it and Angela seems to mostly be there for English. But we will see what happens. We meet with them with members only so if we can develop a good relationship between them and the members then anything can happen! Dima and Vova are progressing along. We taught them the Plan of Salvation this past week. They said it was very interesting to them but was a lot to take in. We are trying to work with them to get them on date for baptism. We felt that the 11th of February would be great but they still don't want to commit. They said that they would think about it and we will talk more this week. I really hope that they decide to be baptized and receive an answer! I think I said this already but I believe that they will, just maybe not while I am here. But it will be awesome when they do!

This past week we had Zone Conference. It was a really good, like always. The main subject of the conference was Obedience and working together to understand the white handbook without any concerns. We also talked a lot about how the Lord knows that we can't be perfect all at once. That's why we have a mission and the rest of life to pursue it. But even in this life we will never be perfect. Our perfect example never called Himself perfect until AFTER his resurrection. There is a reference from Elder Christofferson's conference talk about repentance that I learned from this conference. And that is that we can pray for the time and opportunities to improve ourselves instead of just simply praying to be able to do everything at once. I am hard on myself sometimes and this is exactly what I needed to hear. One elder going home soon related Elder Uchtdorf's talk about the golden ticket. I think that I've been focused too long on my golden ticket (being that missionary that I always want to see myself as) that some days I forget to taste the chocolate. I'm on my mission and that in itself is amazing! Every day is a new day and I can always improve and do better than I did the previous one. And of course all of this is possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful to be able to repent daily and to come to know Him better. We also talked a lot about what President Bennett told us and President Campero laid the foundation for some different things he wants to do. There are many new things we will be doing to improve the work here, but one of them is a new daily schedule. It is really awesome, I am loving it so far! We get up at normal time and then are out the door by 7. We find and talk to people until about 8:30, then come back for exercise, shower, and breakfast. 9:45 is personal study, 10:45 is comp study, and then we're out on the street again by 12. We're back at 1:30 for lunch, then we study Russian at 2:30, 3:30 we do some Area Book, 4:00 is dinner and then 5-9 is on the street or teaching lessons. We're the only mission doing this right now. It wouldn't surprise me if other missions start the same schedule eventually. But I really enjoy it because it just splits everything up and there's a greater purpose to work towards it feels like. President Campero is an inspired man.

Elder Robison and I found a very prepared man on the street this past week named Nikolai. We were headed off to our usual spot to find people but I suggested that we turned right down the opposite road since it's part of our area as well and we had never really gone there. (Plus I wanted to check out a store down that way and see if they had pizza seasoning haha. We can't find that stuff anywhere here anymore!) So we went walking down this side of the street and we tried to talk with everyone but no one would even give us the time of day. But we just kept talking with people and we approached a man probably in his late 40's and we quickly realized that he had been prepared to meet with us. He said that he has read all of the Book of Mormon and thinks that it is a very good book. He has a very strong faith in Jesus Christ and he loves the Bible. He likes the Bible better than the Book of Mormon though he said. He had very interesting views about religion in general, and he told us that he's been searching for the true church for 20 years. We asked him if he prayed about the Book of Mormon and he said no, but that he wants to meet with us and talk more. He said something like "It's written in the Bible that there's one Lord, one faith, one baptism but I don't know where that is." So we testified to him about the Church and said that we have a living prophet on the earth as well. He really liked this and was glad to hear it. We are hoping to meet with him this week. We believe that we were led to him and that he is very prepared to hear the gospel. President Campero has been changing the outlook of this mission in many ways, one way is instead of saying "we're going contacting" we say "we're going to find the elect." (D&C 29: 4-7) In my patriarchal blessing I am told that I will find people that are deemed the Lord's elect, who are ready to hear the gospel through me. It's so awesome to be here!!

In my personal study, I have started to read the New Testament as well as Jesus the Christ. I am loving it! I just finished the Sermon on the Mount and I am really excited to be reading Jesus the Christ alongside the New Testament. I am planning on reading the Old Testament as well and then leaving D&C until the end of my mission. It's a great opportunity to study the gospel everyday. I am grateful for it and for everything that I learn everyday. That is definitely one thing I have learned from my mission so far, the importance of daily feasting on the words of Christ. Truly, they tell us all things that we should do. The gospel is true. I know it with all my heart. I'm so grateful to be here on my mission and to help these people come unto Christ. There's nothing better than this work on the earth. I am just a servant of the Lord and I am learning that this isn't my mission, it's His.

I love you all very much! Tell everyone hello and send them my love. Have a good week and stay strong!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

Monday, January 2, 2012

С Новым Годом!

Snovim Godom Family!

(That's Russian for Happy New Year!) It sounds like your New Year's bash was lots of fun as always. My New Year's bash consisted of passing out Liahona's on the street all day until 4:00 and then we had to come in for the night (things get pretty crazy around here for New Year's). Then we did some studies, watched The Testaments movie in Russian, played Phase 10, and called it a year haha. We were awakened during the night by people lighting fireworks like two houses down from us so that was fun, but other than that, we welcomed 2012 about the best that missionaries can! It's still really weird that it's 2012. We are calling this "The Black Year" because those of us going home in 2013 will be in country for all of this year. But it's gonna be a great year though. I know that the Lord has many things in store for me. I'm only at the beginning of my mission haha. I still have a lot to learn but I am excited to work my hardest every day and do the Lord's will. I haven't thought of too many goals yet, but the ones I have thought of are to read the New Testament and Jesus the Christ, have four baptisms, and strive to trust the Lord more in everything that I do. I'll probably think of more goals as time goes by but I'm always trying to become a better missionary every day and I know that with the Lord's help that I do. He knows me personally and knows my strengths and weaknesses. He'll help me to become the missionary that He needs me to be now, and later on the man, husband, and father that He knows I am capable of becoming. The mission is awesome! It is the training ground for life.

This past week we did a lot of area book work and have been trying to sort out who all is in our area and who is active/less-active. We are hopefully halfway done with this but it's very dull work, I'm not gonna lie! Besides this, we contact everywhere we go and as of recent pass out old Liahonas with the church address on them. The Church has like over 1,000 Liahonas that nobody uses so Elder Bennett told us to get rid of them. It actually makes contacting easier. We also go and find people's apartments from the area book and try to find them home but we haven't found anyone home yet and we usually just leave a Liahona for them saying to call back. We haven't found any new investigators for a long time. The area book is a way to find new ones but the real way is through the members. We are hoping to meet with some members this week but they are always busy it seems. So somehow we've gotta help them find time! This has been the work in Cold Mountain for as long as I've been here. But with Elder Bennett's meeting with us, new goals and a new year, we are going to strive to turn it into Hot Mountain! We had a good lesson with Dima and Vova this past week. We felt that it was the time to ask them to be baptized. We asked them and they didn't understand the question because it uses really old Russian that no one really speaks, so we explained it more, then asked again. They both said NO because they have already been baptized into the Russian Catholic Church. So we were kind of nervous and didn't really know where to go after that, but we just talked again about the authority and then were able to bring it to the Book of Mormon and how the Church is built on it. We shared our testimonies with them about it and then asked them again and said If you also get an answer like we did, then will you be baptized? And they both said YES! It was awesome. We still have a lot to teach them and whatnot, but I truly believe that someday they will be baptized. Maybe it might not be while I'm here in Cold Mountain, but I think that it will happen. The Lord works in His own ways to bring about this work. I know this for a fact.

I had a crazy experience this past week on my six month mark. (Crazy that six months have gone by, right?) We were doing some contacting/exploring in a part of Cold Mountain that I had never been to before. We had been out for a while and decided to head back towards home. We were walking down a tiny street that led to the main road and there was a car coming up behind us so we got off the street and let the car pass. As we waited for the car to pass a random stray dog ran up to us and stopped. We thought it was kind of weird but it's not very unusual because stray dogs are EVERYWHERE here. So the car passed, we kept walking towards home, and then all of a sudden I felt a jaw on the back of my leg!! I let out a yell and it scared the dog away. I checked my leg after and the bite didn't even pierce my skin. It was really tiny and just left a bruise there. After we got back home I did some further examining and found that the dog bit me right under my garments! Crazy stuff! I know that the Lord was watching after me. I am pretty paranoid every time I see a dog now but this experience showed me that the Lord is always there and that He watches after His servants.

Now to comment a little on your emails. I am also in awe that so many people have helped to pay for my mission and have helped you guys at this time. Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. I don't know why bad things happen to good people, but the Lord always provides a way to do the things that we need to. Tell everyone thanks and that I love them very much. I remember a little part of my setting apart blessing and it was said that my mission will bless my family and extended family as well. Perhaps this is part of that. The Lord works in mysterious ways, that's for sure. Yesterday I received some mail. I got a letter from the Corteses, the Stake Presidency, the ward newsletter, the First Presidency, and some people named the Stathos. Who are those people? It says they live in West Jordan I think. They wished me the best but I don't know who they are haha! Tell the Corteses hello from me and thanks for the card.

Well, that's about it for this week. I love you all very much and wish you the best for this new year. Have a good week and send everyone my love!
с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Ukraine!