Monday, February 13, 2012

Just Another Week in Cold Mountain

Privet family! I can't believe it's been another week, this past one flew by for me. I guess I'll start from the beginning. So Elder Warner who was getting trained by Elder Fish had to go back home to America because he has lots of health problems that just can't be fixed here. He has some knee problems and internal stuff like cysts that need to be taken care of. I feel bad for him because he's just had all these crazy things happen to him on his mission. Hopefully he will get to come back here but it might be difficult because the visas are getting harder to deal with I hear. Speaking of that some groups of missionaries are now going to Armenia for visa trips. I don't know where my group is going yet but it will either be Bulgaria or Armenia. But that's not for a while haha so I won't know until then. So we took a taxi to the Kharkov airport and sent him off. It was really weird because pretty much in the blink of an eye missionaries leave. We all kind of realized how crazy time is on the mission. In fact tomorrow is my 5 month mark in Ukraine, it's pretty crazy to think about! The airport by the way was super nice. They just finished building it for the Euro Cup that's coming this summer. It was kind of like being in America because it was nice and the workers spoke English. So after we sent him off Elders Frandsen and Fish became my companions and we were in a threesome from Tuesday to Friday. It was hard to be in a threesome because it makes everything a challenge haha. Like talking to people on the street for example is harder with three because people feel kind of intimidated. But it was a good experience though being together. I think that we could have made it work in the long run but I'm grateful to just be back with Elder Frandsen now and be a normal companionship. A plus from the threesome though was having more money haha. We made some amazing burgers this past week. I wish I had more to report on from Cold Mountain but I don't. We continue to call people that we have contacted on the street or have met with in the past but they don't answer their phones. We have a lesson with an investigator tonight named Sasha, maybe you remember him. Elder Schoen and I met with him a few times and he can finally meet again tonight. Elder Frandsen and I are trying to update the member book that we have as well. There are still some members that I don't know because I never met them/didn't really know that they lived in the area. Elder Schoen and I mostly just met with the members that were written on our whitewash notes. (I don't know if I told you this but before Elder Schoen and I were here there were sisters and sometimes for transfers both companions from an area are transferred out so they leave whitewash notes for the new missionaries coming in. Such is the case with Cold Mountain.) So we mainly just went off the whitewash notes but I'm now finding that there are more people that I didn't even know about. So we're doing our best to get things in order with this. This area has been good to start my mission in. When I got here not a lot was going on but I feel that I have built it up. It's still not booming so to say but it is much better than it was. I would guess that Elder Frandsen is going to train next transfer which he doesn't want to happen haha but we'll see.

So one night this past week we decided to do some tracting in our threesome which we have started to do more of now because it's so cold on the street. Basically we find an apartment building (dome) and figure out the code to get in and then start from the top and make our way back down knocking all the doors. We try to give people Liahonas but no one ever wants them. But anyway, we were doing this and in one dome a man came up the stairs and asked us what we were doing. We explained what was going on and then he demanded to see our passports. We said that wasn't necessary because it's not against the law to do what we were doing but he wouldn't let us leave unless we showed him. So Elder Fish and I showed him ours but Elder Frandsen didn't have his with him, it was in his other bag back at the apartment. So then the guy who was like some government official or something wouldn't let Elder Frandsen leave with us because he didn't believe that he was with us. He thought that we were bandits just doing some scam. It was ridiculous. So then he called the police on us and we had to wait for them to show up. They looked at our passports and then basically said "You probably shouldn't be doing this at this hour. People are trying to sleep" haha. So the police didn't care and the guy told us to never come back again. But then we clarified this with the main guy in the office who deals with legal issues and whatnot and he said that there's no law against that. And it was only 7:30 pm haha. So it was fun to have an experience with the police! At the end of the week Elder Fish got a new companion, something that is called a mini missionary here. President Campero asks mission-aged youth (18-30) if they can serve mini missions with the missionaries and then they serve. It's pretty cool because you get to have a native and show them the ropes of being a missionary here. Elder Fish's mini missionary is actually not that mini, he's 28 and was serving in the branch presidency at Saltivka Branch. So he's now in our district until the end of this transfer. His name is Vitali. He's pretty cool and understands a lot of English as well. I'm going on a split with him this week so it should be cool to be with him.

We also had a new type of district meeting this past week that President Campero has started to do. It's like a normal district meeting but 100X better because President is in charge! It was a great meeting, he and the APs talked about how we need to focus on helping our investigators to feel the Spirit instead of just trying to teach them the gospel. We had a testimony meeting afterwards and President asked only a few people to share their testimonies. I was one of those chosen. I don't remember everything I said, just that the Spirit was very strong as everyone bore testimony, but after I bore mine President said that he has heard many testimonies in his life but will always remember the one he just heard from me. He then said "You are AWESOME!" President Campero is the man haha, I don't know how else to describe him. He is one of the most loving, spiritual people that I know. We are so blessed to have him as our mission president. We also attended the world-wide leadership training meeting on Saturday night. I'm not sure if you went to this or not. They had it set up with two speakers speaking at once and one would ask questions and the other would answer them. I think it was Elder Scott and Elder Christofferson going back and forth? Anyway, I came all ready to take notes and to learn a ton but then we all found out that it was in Russian haha and so basically I didn't really understand anything from it. Every time that something is translated in Russian they always use huge words that no one understands except for the members of course. I understood a little bit here and there but to be honest after a while it just gets difficult to stay focused haha. If you attended it you probably learned more than me.

And now for comments/tidbits - I don't know exactly what the temperature has been here, just bitter cold haha. I heard like -20 or something but I don't really know. Yes I was disappointed that Dima and Vova lost interest, but I am faithful that several years down the road they will remember the Church or come in contact again with it and get baptized. It's a small world that you know Elder Frandsen's mom! She emailed Elder Frandsen as well and remembers you. She just wants your phone number so I gave it to him to send to her. And this is her number so that you can just call her: 801-414-6385. So I have a few more requets for my package that I thought of. There is a book called "The Missionary's Little Book of Answers" by Gilbert Scharffs. Elder Fish has it and it's a great little book. I am also wondering if you can send me a bunch of pictures of me when I was younger or just any pictures you can find that you think are good. I'm just looking for pictures to put in my photo album that I show to everyone. Send me a lot if you can! And it would be cool to just get a mini English Book of Mormon that I can have with me. And also a can of chocolate frosting would be wonderful haha. If I think of anything else I'll tell you.

I love you all very much and hope that you are doing well. I pray for you and I just know that Heavenly Father loves all of us very much. Thank you for your testimony Mom. The Church is true. I know it with all my heart. Have a good week and I'll talk to you soon!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

ps- pics for this week are 1 - our district before Elder Warner left (from left to right is Elder Fish, Elder Warner, myself, Elder Frandsen) 2 - myself and Elder Warner right before he left 3 - our burgers we made this past week and 4 - just a different time of day at the view of Kharkov. Enjoy!

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