So like two minutes ago the power went out in the office and now everyone's freaking out and yelling in Russian that I don't understand as I'm writing you so if this letter gets crazy then you'll know why haha. The computer is on a battery so I write on. This past week flew by! Things are going good in the office, pretty busy but good. It's been a challenge starting to train Elder Goloshokov. He's not bad or anything he's way cool and we all get along great but we have like no time to do his training with him so it's been a struggle everyday to fit it in and balance it with the office. It's really weird because he knows Russian but he doesn't know like any grammar or gospel vocab. But he speaks the language and grammar fine but he doesn't know it. It's hard to explain haha. But probably in a transfer or two he'll just take off and remember all of his Russian. I'm really grateful that I get to serve with him this transfer, he's really funny and has a great attitude about everything. And like I said already we're all getting along well. It's trying sometimes to be in a threesome because everything takes longer to do but things are good.
This past Tuesday we had a Mission Conference here in Donetsk and it was AMAZING. President Ronald A. Rasband, Presiding President of the Seventy, President Lawrence, President of Europe East Area, and President Campero, of course, were all there with their wives. It was awesome to be sitting there as part of the mission and listen to their words. The Spirit was very much present and I learned a lot of things to apply to my life and how I can better do the work here. President Rasband was here 20 years ago because he came with a friend to start a company in a city called Gorlovka (around Donetsk) making plastic utensils and cups. It was before missionaries were even here (I think if I remember correctly it was like the same year or something that missionaries arrived.) But anyway, he was here before the Church even was and he said that he started a Book of Mormon reading group because many of the employees were interested in religion. So fast-forward to June 2012 now, he spoke at the Kiev Stake Conference last Sunday and asked if anyone attending was in those Book of Mormon groups and there were 13 people that stood who had been baptized as a result several years earlier. He was surprised but very happy to see that his work hadn't gone to waste. This was a main point that he talked about with us, that every part of the work we do is noticed. Whether finding someone, teaching someone, working with a less active, baptizing, it doesn't matter what we do because it's all the same to the Lord and His harvest. President Rasband told us that the work here in Ukraine is amazing. In only 20 years there is already a temple and a stake in Kiev. (Hopefully we can get a stake in Donetsk very soon) He gave us lots of advice but what I really took from him was to be more diligent and urgent about the work. Time flies on the mission and so we must use it the best we can. At the end of the meeting we did a question and answer session. An elder asked what advice he would give to missionaries returning home and I really liked what he said: "Always stay worthy of holding a temple recommend because that's what it's all about." This truly is what it's all about. What I do and accomplish here on my mission remains with me for eternity and prepares me for the rest of my life. There's nowhere else that I'd rather be at this time.
Also this past week I went on a split with Elder Robison. He has been a Zone Leader in this area ever since he left me in Cold Mountain after one transfer so it's been a while. We taught a lesson to one of their investigators and she got baptized two days ago and confirmed yesterday so that was sweet! And we were finally able to play basketball together because we never got the chance in Cold Mountain. So basically it was a great split! We talked about just how fast time goes by and how much we've changed compared to when we were serving together and it's crazy to think about. On Friday this past week we were in charge of the English study group. Nine people came and we talked about different foods that people like to eat. And then during the group a huge rain storm hit, almost like a hurricane it was crazy! And it was at the end of our class so no one could go home because it was insane on the street. So it turned out that this man and woman wanted to know more about the Church and why we're here and stuff so we did a first lesson with them right after. The lesson was going pretty good we thought but at the end when we invited them to read the Book of Mormon to know if it's true or not they said NO! That's the first time someone has expressed an interest to meet and then rejected even reading at the end of the lesson, the whole climax haha. Elder Goloshokov was blown away by that so afterwards we just talked about how we can do everything and invite the Spirit but people still have free agency to reject the message. Sometimes this goes forgotten but hey, maybe in the future they'll want to read.
And on Saturday we did a service project with the branch. We started to paint an old fence at a kindergarten nearby the branch building. There was a good turnout of members but we didn't finish painting so we're going to go back soon and finish up. Something that I haven't done a ton of on my mission is service. We're supposed to do service every week but we can never find projects to do so I always like when the branch has these service projects planned. Most missionaries here have trouble finding service to do so it's kind of a problem for everyone. But we just gotta keep looking and we'll find it.
You asked a little about Akbar and I have great news to share with you. I called him this week on Thursday and found out that he was able to find a job!!! One of my last lessons with him was about faith and prayer and during that lesson I felt prompted to tell him that if he really started to look and involved prayer that he would find a job. And now he did!!! So he said that he's going to just keep working and start saving money because he wants to buy Ukrainian citizenship so we'll see what happens with him. But then yesterday I called Lambert because I needed to tell him something and he told me even better news that happened yesterday at church: AKBAR PASSED THE SACRAMENT, PAID HIS FIRST TITHING, AND GOT A CALLING IN THE ELDERS' QUORUM!!!!! IT'S SO AWESOME! And Lambert told me a conversation that he and Akbar said that pretty much sums up how great he is. A:"I want to pay this tithing from my heart directly to God." L:"Akbar, why are you so perfect?" A:"Only Jesus Christ was perfect." Akbar is the man! I was so happy to hear about all of this stuff happening yesterday. I wish I could've been there to see it happen but hearing is just as good. I just can't explain how I feel. It's so awesome to play a small part in God's plan for people.
Now for some comments/tidbits. First off, Happy Father's Day Dad! I hope Mom and Brynn treated you well. I love you very much and thank you so much for your example to me. I can't believe that already one year ago I gave my farewell talk. Also tell everyone who told me hello that I love them and wish them the best. And to answer your question about the U or BYU, I still definitely want to continue at the U. I haven't changed my mind about that although like every missionary here goes to BYU and tells me it's the celestial kingdom blah blah haha.
Well, that's about all for this week. The power just barely came back on an hour ago so that is why this email is a little late if you have been waiting. Have an excellent week and remember to choose the right! I love you all and pray that all is well with you. Keep on keepin' on and I'll talk with you next week!
украинская донецкая миссия
ps- pics for the week are Elder Moss and I at mission conference, Elder Harrison, Elder Goloshokov and I, a sweet picture I took near the office, and a tree that fell down during the crazy storm. Enjoy!