Monday, August 13, 2012

My Friend Vladimir Vovk

Privet family!

So this past week turned out pretty much as we expected - amazing, miraculous, and uplifting, full of hard work and humidity!! Elder Harrison and I achieved many goals we set during the week, including two new investigators and Vladimir's baptism of course! I will start off by talking about this. His baptismal service went just as planned and everything was perfect. It was perfect to have Brother Krasnik baptize him. That's how it should go every time with investigators getting baptized- by a member. Of course the investigator can choose but it's so much better, things go more smoothly. He was able to explain things to Vladimir and comfort him before the service started. And I stood as a witness of the baptism and it was so cool to think that "wow, we found him, taught him, and are now seeing him get baptized" I've been blessed so far on my mission to see the whole process happen with Akbar and Vladimir. It's so amazing how the gospel literally changes people and it all happens according to their faith and desires. Vladimir bore his testimony afterward and he basically said "If we're not on the right path than the path we're on is leading to destruction. We can't live without God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." He also said that he's been ready for baptism for a while and so was happy to finally be baptized. I don't know if I've mentioned the history of Vladimir that missionaries left with him but here it is. About a year ago sister missionaries here found him and taught him everything. It was Sister Ward and a russian sister (Sister Ward was in my district in Saltovka if you remember) So they taught him everything but then his teaching record said that he got scared of baptism. Fast forward to a year later and I was calling people in the area book and called him. When I called him the phone rang for over a minute and I was about to hang up but then he answered at the last second, remembered the church and missionaries, and was actually able to meet half an hour after that phone call. (That was in June right when I got to the office) So Elder Harrison and I started to meet with him. We had to answer many questions he had and then just basically remind him everything the sisters had taught him. And you know the rest. So this goes to show that no effort is wasted. We read this in Preach My Gospel. It doesn't matter what part of the work in the vineyard you do, the effort isn't wasted. The Lord doesn't forget our efforts, this is an amazing truth. (Hebrews 6:10) So we're sending the two sisters an email that he got baptized and I'm sure that they will love it. And the second half of the baptism happened yesterday. He came to Church and got confirmed! So Vladimir Vovk is now the newest member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Ukraine Donetsk Mission!! I'm so happy for him and grateful for the small role I could play in God's plan for him.

Earlier this week we had another visit from a General Authority, President Per G. Malm. He is the second counselor in the Europe East Presidency. You would recognize him because he has spoken in conference before. We had an awesome zone conference with him and I learned a lot. Something that really stuck out to me what he said was that "We can always trust the feelings of our hearts." It's so cool to be on a mission and hear from General Authorities, hear their testimonies. They testify with the same power and authority that we hold as missionaries. President Malm testified of the truthfulness of the restoration and that Jesus Christ lives. And that he knows these things by the same spiritual witness everyone receives. The mission just keeps getting better. Everyone is more unified and working to take the mission to the next level.

So I mentioned two new investigators. We met a man on the street a week ago and he was interested in English. We gave him a brochure and then he came at the end of church the next day. We then got his phone number and met him last Monday. He brought a friend so we taught them both. THEY REMIND ME EXACTLY OF DIMA AND VOVA FROM COLD MOUNTAIN! Very similar personalities, appearances, concerns, so that's pretty interesting. We've met with them three times during the week. Unfortunately, they haven't had time to read the Book of Mormon and they weren't able to make it to Church. We were pretty bold on our last lesson and explained that only through this church can they receive salvation. Their concerns are basically the same ones that all Ukrainians have. There is one God and it doesn't matter which Church leads you back to him. Who are we to say that through a book they can be saved, and on top of that some new church that is 1800 years younger than their Russian Catholic belief. All we can do is testify and invite. We're faithful that they will be able to read and pray about the message. I'll keep you posted about them.

And last but not least, the new senior couple came into country this week. They are the Coleman couple from Smithfield, UT! They will be permanently here in the office with us and are replacing Elder and Sister Hatch. Elder Harrison and I have been helping them get situated, like going shopping and translating for them. The Hatches are training them in the office and what they don't understand after this week we will have to teach them. So next transfer is going to be an adventure! And Elder Harrison will probably be transferred so that leaves me to help them with stuff and I'm supposed to know everything hahaha. It will be crazy but there's nothing to worry about, everything will turn out OK in the end. Elder Coleman is a convert and the Colemans chose on their papers to come to Ukraine so they're going to be an awesome couple here as most couples refuse calls to come here.

Now for some comments/tidbits. I'm excited to hear there's a push for missionary work in the ward. Use the personal missionary plan I sent you for some ideas maybe. And thanks for being awesome parents to me and helping me to get on a mission. I'm so grateful to be serving here and for the experiences that I have and will have. The Church is true, I know it with all my heart! Have a great week and remember that Heavenly Father is only a prayer away!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

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