I still refuse to believe it but the calendar doesn't lie - I have officially been on my mission for ONE YEAR! The time has gone by very quickly. I look back and just see a blur of everything combined together. I still remember pretty clearly the day I started my mission. We went to Kneader's, it was rainy, Gerrit was my host, and it was a day of mixed emotions. It's so weird that that was a year ago. Where did the time go? I still remember walking into the MTC and meeting Elder Moss and my district. I remember finally leaving the MTC and arriving in the mission field, meeting Elder Schoen and being a greenie. It's so weird to think about. I have been doing lots of thinking and reflecting over this past week and I am not the same Elder Keown that you saw off. I have grown so much in the past year and I owe it all to you guys, my Father in Heaven, my Savior Jesus Christ, and my leaders and good friends. My testimony of the restored gospel and of this marvelous work has grown tremendously. I know without a doubt that the Church has been restored on the earth once more and that it is the same church that Jesus Christ organized when He lived on the earth. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It is, just like the Bible, the word of God, and contains the fullness of the gospel. Reading and living by its teachings brings us closer to God and Jesus Christ. I know that only through the restored gospel can people truly be happy in this life and in the life to come. I know this because I am happy, you are happy and receive blessings, and because I've literally seen the gospel change peoples' lives. I know that God lives and answers our prayers. I know that He always puts us around those people with whom we can grow and learn the most from at our time of need. And I know that this work is truly marvelous. The field is white already to harvest. My sickle is half over but I'm only just starting it seems like. I know that I truly have been called of God to be a missionary in the Ukraine Donetsk Mission. I feel so blessed to be a part of it and play a small role in God's plan for the people of Ukraine. Although sometimes I don't realize it, the Lord's hand is in my life everyday. The knowledge, growth, and experiences I've already had will be with me forever. I am eternally indebted to my Savior for this opportunity to be here. My life will never be the same again. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I love this work, I love my Savior, and I'm excited for the next year of my life here. I have no idea what's in store for me but I know that as long as I'm faithful and obedient that I'll learn the things that God has prepared for me.
So besides me hitting my year mark, some other crazy things happened this week. To start off, Elder Goloshokov is no longer with us. There was an elder that had to go home because of medical stuff from Cold Mountain and so they sent him to Cold Mountain to be with the other missionary there. It's kinda weird, I trained him for like two and a half weeks and now he's getting trained again in my greenie area! We're kind of relieved to not be with him anymore just because it was hard to work in the office and have him with us. There was nothing for him to do and it wasn't fair for him to just have to sit around so it all worked out. I'll probably get the change to serve around him again so we'll see. And that same day we found out he was getting transferred up to Kharkov (President let us know that morning haha) the area Patriarch showed up ready to give patriarchal blessings so members and missionaries who didn't have them. So the office was pretty busy, President was doing interviews and he put me in charge of filling out their recommends so I wrote their Russian names in English and then the patriarch came down and said we had to redo them and have a Russian write them haha so it was just a crazy day. And then we had to get tickets for all of the missionaries going back to Kharkov and there weren't any so we split up for the night and I stayed with two of the mini-missionaries who are serving in Sumy right now so that was fun. Basically from this day I learned that I don't want to serve as mission president. One decision and your day becomes crazy! But all worked out in the end, it always does. Also this past week we had a miracle day and taught 4 lessons! Somehow one of the members found out we were going to a less-active family and called us to see if we could do a home teaching split with him. So we said of course! So we were able to visit two families and it was awesome. It was a really different atmosphere teaching a less-active on a home teaching visit compared to an investigator lesson. We just had a normal conversation in Russian and it went good. I gave a short spiritual thought and the older guy I was with just talked with him about life. We're definitely going to start working with the branch more on this and getting people out to do their home teaching.
And a little about investigators now. You probably remember Vladimir? He is an older man, around 62, former investigator. Well, we met with him last Wednesday and invited him to be baptized. He said that he wants to think about it and decide this Wednesday. He has finished reading 1 Nephi and wants to find an answer. We also invited him to church and he didn't seem like he wanted to come because he hasn't come the whole transfer. Well, HE CAME YESTERDAY and loved it! So he's doing great progress, we're proud of him. And we found a new investigator this week named Aleksei, he was also a former investigator. We're meeting him tomorrow. Nice guy, 23ish, knows a little English. Things are going good in our area. There's a lot to be done and there's lots of new people to meet with.
Really quick now, comments/tidbits. And, this Friday is transfer calls again! The transfer has disappeared. Elder Harrison is probably out and I'll be getting a new comp here in the office. And don't light any fireworks on the 4th, ok?
I love you all and wish you a great week! Tell everyone I love them and keep on keepin' on!
украинская донецкая миссия