This past week was awesome. The Lord has truly blessed us as we have been working hard to find His elect people here in Ukraine. Do you remember our investigator named Akbar? We met with him three times this past week, Sunday, Monday, and Thursday. He grew up Muslim but because of the government in Iran he decided that he didn't like it anymore because of all the violence and started to seek to know more about Christ. We started off teaching him the Plan of Salvation and then left off on Jesus Christ and His role. Then Thursday we talked all about Christ and His life, Atonement, Resurrection, and how to repent and so forth. He really loved the lesson and he has a sincere desire to change and repent of his past mistakes in life. We then talked about baptism with him and explained the significance of it, like how we're forgiven of sins when we're baptized and can have the Holy Ghost to always be with us. He's been praying everyday since we started to meet and he says that he feels a huge difference in his life. We told him that this was the Spirit. We talked for a little while longer and the Spirit was very present in the lesson. We asked him to be baptized and he said Yes! We have set a date for May 19! We are so excited to be working with him and teaching him. He has been prepared for the gospel. He came to Ukraine to study and learn Russian and has been here for 4 years already. But he told us that he really believes that we are the real reason he came here. He doesn't work or anything, just studies Russian so he has tons of free time all day. He's 35 and single as of right now. He came to Church yesterday for the first time and absolutely loved it! The members were amazing and all introduced themselves to him and he met tons of them. I heard from the sisters he was the talk of the relief society haha. So this week he doesn't have any school so we're meeting everyday. We have a lot to teach him, especially coming from a Muslim background, but we know that he will be prepared for baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost. Preach My Gospel has an excellent section all about teaching investigators without a Christian background so we've been studying and following that a ton. He's awesome! He calls us "his dear brothers that God sent to him." And get this, in the Saltovka branch we found a Persian Book of Mormon for him, which was the only copy in the whole branch. (They have foreign language BOMs because there's lots of different people here) So he's been reading in Persian and English and is just soakin it up. The Persian BOM isn't the full version though we found out. Apparently the Church thought it was a good idea to just translate the more important parts of the BOM in harder languages to save time or something so his book just has basically the highlights. But it's perfect though. And he also came to English Institute with us on Saturday. The Bailey's teach it and their topic of discussion is Book of Mormon right now. He loved that! And this Saturday in Saltovka there will be a baptism of an eight year old that we're going to as well so that he can see what happens at a baptism. It's going to be awesome!!
This past week we did two service projects. The first one was on a huge plot of land with hundreds of gardens. I guess people just buy a portion of the land and then go and work there in the summer on their personal garden. So we helped a family in the branch get their garden ready by turning the dirt for them. It was really cool, I had no idea that things like that existed in Ukraine. The family said they work there like four times a week so we could go back and help them again if we wanted. It's a huge garden, probably 20 times bigger than ours at home. And for lunch there we just ate stuff they had grown already. There was a sourish spinach that was really tasty, as well as green onions. And then our other service project was basically the same, only at our branch mission leader's dacha. A dacha is a little private cottage that lots of Ukrainians own. You could say it's like a cabin kind of. So we went there and tore out tons of dead trees and also got his garden started doing the same thing with the dirt. And after we had a BBQ and then explored the land behind the dacha. It was really beautiful.
Also this past week we had another specialized training district meeting where President Campero comes with the APs and he does a 2 hour meeting with our district and then sits in on our district meeting. We talked about how we can work better with the members here. It was a great meeting. We also talked about obedience and how the mission can be more obedient. Everyone added great insights, but President basically just said "You all are going to be leaders of this Church. So if you can't be obedient with trivial things here on the mission then how can you expect to lead the Church?" We talked about tons more but it's hard to just sum it all up in an email haha. President Campero is truly an inspired man of God. He holds the keys to this mission.
And now for some comments/tidbits. Thanks so much for your package! I loved it very much, especially the easter basket from home. It was very thoughtful. Everything was great in it, especially the American foods! And I'm glad to hear that my package got to you alright. Sounds like everyone enjoyed their Armenia gifts. I talked to my Zone Leaders today and SKYPE will be happening on May 14! I want to talk to you all at 9 AM here, which is Midnight for you at home. Hopefully that works, just tell me next week. I'm excited to see you all! But my request is that we keep it to an hour this time. It might be hard but it'll be worth it. And I want to talk to each one of you individually for like 15 min and then I'll talk to everyone at the end for 15 min, OK? I can't wait! I'm also wondering if you can send me a banana bread recipe next week? We made a recipe I got from Elder Frandsen this week that was awesome but I remember ours tasting better. And this is still blowing my mind but yesterday was my 10 month mark here on the mission! I've hit the double digits! The time has gone by quickly but I'm learning tons and am so grateful to be here. I love my Savior and I love these people. The Church is true, I know it with all my heart.
I love you all so much! Have a great week and keep on keepin' on!
украинская донецкая миссия