Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Another Fast Week in the Office

Privet family,

I'm not sure where to start this week, lots has happened, lots to say. I'll start with Nadezhda. We met with her twice and everything has been going good on lessons. She knows everything but just isn't baptized. Friday we took Sister Irina with us (who works in the office) and had a great lesson with her. She said she'd be coming to Church on Sunday and that all would be in order with getting work off this weekend for the baptism. Sunday morning we got a text from her saying that her family is against her baptism and that she couldn't come to Church anymore but still wants to meet with us. So we have a lesson set up with her for this Thursday. I'm not really sure how we can help her and her family but we'll figure something out. If we can somehow work with her family and help them understand everything then she'll get baptized, no problems.

We got a new investigator this week named Mohammed. He is a contact we met on the street from Iran and is Muslim. I didn't meet with him because we were on a split with the APs but Elder Nuzman told me that he's never heard of the Bible or Jesus Christ ever in his life so it was an interesting lesson. We have another one set up with him for this Friday so we'll see how it goes. It's crazy that some people in the world have never heard of these things but that's why we have missionaries! We also got a new investigator last night named Alexander. He came to English a while back and we tried to meet with him and his wife but she always hung up the phone when we called so we kind of gave up on him but then he called us a few days ago and wanted to meet so we met last night. He is mainly interested in English but we talked about the Book of Mormon and he says he wants to read all of it so maybe he'll become interested in listening to more, we'll see. We have another meeting with him tonight so I'll tell how it goes.

The main event of this week was Elder Don R. Clarke coming to the mission. Elder Clarke was the mission president in Bolivia when President Campero served as a stake president and then he was the Area Seventy over all of Central America in Guatemala. And now he is in the second quorum of the Seventy. Saturday night he did a Priesthood session, Sunday was a District Conference, and yesterday as you know was Zone Conference in Donetsk. All were great meetings but yesterday was the best because it was for missionaries of course. We're all in the process of making this mission better and he gave us several things to start doing. There's always tons of ways that we can improve so he told us to choose a few and really start applying them. I don't have time to talk about everything but I'll just say that the mission is taking good strides forward. We are all good missionaries but the time is now to change the mission and future generations forever. That was basically the theme of conference. It won't happen all at once but in time it will. During the Priesthood meeting Elder Clarke called up new-convert Artour and asked him why he didn't have the Melchizedek Priesthood yet if he was 19. He said he only got baptized a week ago and to this Elder Clarke said "Wow, congratulations! Will you share your testimony tomorrow at the district conference?" He said yes (how could he say no to Elder Clarke?) So Sunday Artour got up in front of the whole Donetsk district and bore a very powerful testimony about how two missionaries found him on the street, invited him to meet, and how he ended up knowing that the Church is true and Joseph Smith is a Prophet. It was so awesome, words just can't describe how I felt! He is planning on serving a mission now and is already going to institute and stuff. Basically he was just prepared to meet the missionaries. This was definitely a highlight of conference and the week.

Now for some comments/tidbits. I guess first off, I got sick Thursday and am still kind of sick. Just a cough, sore throat, runny nose. Hopefully that goes away soon. We found out today that we will for sure be moving soon but we don't have an apartment to move into so we'll be moving in with the APs for an unknown amount of time. But hey, at least we're moving! President Campero has issued a challenge to the whole mission - read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year and blessings unknown will come to those who do. I'm currently reading in Russian almost done with Alma and will finish before the year but I think I will read in English for this challenge from President. You should all do it as well! Seven pages a day in Russian, six in English. I got my package with Dr. Pepper, thanks so much for that! Soon I'll have a fridge to store those in haha. Also I found out that the former Elder Schoen now Dallin is engaged. Sister Irina told me that she saw that on Fbook. Crazy stuff. I was sorry to hear about the BEAST breaking down but I think we all saw it coming sooner or later. That's crazy about Allyson's car breaking down on you too, that's no fun! I'm excited to see the new temple in Brigham City, it sounds awesome. The weather here is getting cool but not cold though. I'll tell you when it starts getting cold. And for the 3 Nephi question, I will need to research that for you. As far as I know, even in the Bible people got baptized before Christ because John the Baptist had authority so I think it's the same with Nephi. But I'll find an answer for you. And last but not least, transfer calls are coming out again this Friday! This transfer has flown by. I think I'll be leaving but I'm not sure where so we'll find out next Thursday!

Well I think that's about it for this week. I love you very much family! Have a great week and I'll hear from you again soon!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия
Pictured L to R: Sister Irina, Elder Keown, and Nahezhda

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Missionary Work

Privet family and friends, kak dela?

So as you can see from the title, this week turned out pretty opposite of last week. Almost every single lesson we set up fell through, even though we called them the night before and day of. We don't really know how to avoid this happening other than calling them often. All missionaries have a problem with this, lots of people here say they'll meet and then just don't and flake out. We had lots of good goals at the beginning of the week and had a great beginning but nothing turned out. For example, Monday we met with a referral from a former investigator. This kid called us Saturday night and said that he wanted his mom to meet with us. He's probably like 25 or 26 and he had great English. He had our number because several years ago he met with missionaries. So anyway, we met with her (her name is Ella) and had a great lesson. She said that she wants her baptism to mean something and be real instead of just going to a priest and saying "I want to be baptized." And she agreed to come to Church and possibly Artour's baptism. So we set up for the day after and even had a member picked out to be with us and then she stopped answering her phone! She still hasn't picked up and we're not sure what happened. Perhaps this upcoming week we can get in touch with her again.

Tuesday we set up a lesson with another contact named Anton. He knows great English and works as a chemical engineer with metal. We taught the first lesson but he had trouble understanding the Apostasy and how the authority was lost from the earth. He wanted scriptural evidence showing how each Apostle died basically, which we couldn't give because there isn't any, so he said he'd like to meet with President Campero on the lesson next time. He has also stopped picking up his phone now so it's pretty frustrating. And as far as our 17 contacts, most of them haven't turned into anything. No time to meet or no desire. So as a result Elder Nuzman and I are going to be pretty upfront with people on the street from now on and just explain it how it is. "Look, we're going to call you to meet with you and help you be more happy in life. If you don't want this then tell us now because you're wasting the Lord's time." Perhaps we'll get less numbers, perhaps more, but I'll tell you how it works out next week! And here's an update on Nadezhda. Unfortunately we weren't able to meet with her at all because she was busy working or taking care of her grandkid (who is the daughter's by the way). She didn't make it to the baptism or Church, we were pretty bummed. But she says tonight will work so we're having Sister Albina take her to an FHE and we'll also be there so hopefully it works out. We might be moving the baptismal date back now, not sure yet. She's ready, she just needs to come to Church! And to answer your question, she lives in a hostile because a normal apartment is too expensive.

As we read in the scriptures, there must be an opposition in all things so here are the miracles of the week. Saturday was awesome! The highlight of the day and week was definitely Artour's baptism. He was basically a dry Mormon already so now he's official haha. He was so happy and we were all way happy for him, it was a great service. And President Campero came and told him to start reading the scriptures, preparing for the Priesthood and mission, and then going to the temple. He has already expressed a desire to serve a mission and so in a year he can do that. He's a great kid. We were talking as a district afterward and thinking about what it would be like to be 19 and be baptized, really understanding everything- remission of sins, feeling difference of HG in life, etc. and we all came to the conclusion, It's easy to see how we'd be, just look at Artour! And then yesterday at Church he received the Holy Ghost. He was promised great blessings and I know that he's going to do a lot of good for the Church here, he'll probably be branch president someday or something. And a side note, he showed up in a suit looking like a missionary, it was awesome! So back to Saturday, we had a district meeting after the baptism and it was great as usual. But this time we went to the Coleman's apartment and Sister Coleman made us an amazing dinner, baked potatoes and pudding cake with ice cream, it was a taste of home! Our topic in district meeting was how our mission is literally a covenant with God and how there is a difference between power and authority. We all have the authority but power comes from keeping your covenants. It was just a great lesson and fit perfectly with the day right after the baptism. And after district meeting our lesson fell through which put us on the streets finding BUT we found a way cool guy named Vladimir who works as a security guard. He wasn't able to make it to church but we met with him last night in a park and he is very sincere and wants us to come teach his family this week so hopefully all works out with that. Something that I'm kind of now just realizing although maybe I have done it earlier in my mission but just not noticed is that seriously everything is about ATTITUDE. There are miracles all around us but it is our job to pray for them, pray to recognize them. 2 Nephi 27:23- "I am a God of miracles" and Alma 41:15- "What ye send out will return unto you again" Everything is just how we make it. I know that as we pray to see small miracles in our lives that Heavenly Father will bless us with the opportunity of seeing them. Of course things don't always work out as we have in mind but prayers are always answered, we're just along for the ride!

Now for some comments/tidbits. Elder Nuzman and I haven't moved yet. We know we'll be moving but to where is still unknown. And yes I eat manna for breakfast almost everyday, but I'm grateful for the oatmeal, that's definitely a blessing. And I almost forgot this but Friday was my ONE YEAR MARK in Ukraine! It honestly seems like yesterday I got here. We celebrated and got some pizza as a district because Elder Moss and Hodgson are in my district as well. It's really weird that now when I think "1 year ago" I was here in country and not in America. The time is just flying by. I'm glad I have almost a full year left though, there's still a lot I'd like to accomplish here.

Well, that's about it for this week. Know that I love you all very much and you are in my prayers. Have a great week and I'll hear from you again soon!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

ps- pics this week are a few of me on my year mark, Elder Moss Artour and me, and Elder Nuzman and I

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Week of Miracles!

Privet family and everyone else who reads this!

This week has been a turn of events in our area. Elder Nuzman and I were blessed with 11 contacts from finding on the streets and we received 6 more from sisters that have been living in the area temporarily while waiting for a new apartment so that comes out to 17 new contacts in one week!!! Some of them have been passed and some of them have turned out to not be that interested, but still, 17 new contacts is amazing! We have set up several appointments for this week so hopefully they all turn into new investigators for us, that would be awesome. Tuesday morning during finding President Campero came with us. It was a cool experience to talk to people on the street with him and see their reactions. There aren't too many mission presidents from Bolivia who know Russian and are as cool as President Campero haha. He is amazing, I don't know how he has the energy to work all everyday! This past week we met with Aleksei again. Unfortunately we basically came to a mutual drop. He understands everything that he needs to do but he just has no desire to act. We explained everything very clearly, that everyone has an opportunity to accept the gospel and partake of the blessings it brings through Christ's Atonement, but he says that he is good where he stands. It was hard to let him go but everyone has their own free agency and can choose whether to accept or reject the message. I believe that he'll join the Church several years down the road when he finally decides to act on the knowledge he has. I still love him though and wish him the best.

I don't remember if I wrote this or not but we have been praying to find someone completely ready to accept the message of the gospel and actually have the desire to read the Book of Mormon and know if the church is true. Well, this prayer was answered this week through a lady named Nadezhda (hope in Russian) This is her story. Nadezhda is a former investigator and met the missionaries about a year ago when she saw them on the street during the middle of winter and invited them in to warm up. She accepted the message of the restoration and started reading the Book of Mormon. She has 4 kids and a grandson with some sort of disease that requires lots of surgeries. She sold her apartment to pay for his surgeries and now lives in a one room hostel working two jobs to pay off the loans she acquired for her grandson. All of her family abandoned her except her one daughter because she decided that the Russian Catholic church isn't so true. She came to church one time and loved it. After this though missionaries lost contact with her because she didn't have any time to meet. Elder Harrison and I called her often but she never had time. Desire yes, but no time. Well Elder Nuzman and I called her this week and were able to meet with her on Saturday. She is a Saint, I don't know why she isn't baptized yet! She understands everything perfectly. She loves the Book of Mormon and is probably the most humble lady I've ever met in my entire life. We had a very spiritual lesson with her and put her on date for September 29! Unfortunately she wasn't able to make it to church yesterday but she is coming this Sunday. We dropped by again after church though with the relief society president (who is the best member missionary ever) and they are best friends now, it's amazing. Sister Albina (relief society pres) already invited her to FHE and to Artour's baptism this Saturday! We are really hoping she can come see the baptism, it's going to be a great service. Basically this whole experience is nothing less than a miracle. I feel like on my mission I've done nothing to come in contact with the Lord's elect here. They are just ready to accept the gospel, it's that simple.

Also this week we had a Zone Meeting. We were reminded of some good principles in Preach My Gospel and things that we've been taught recently in Zone Conferences from members of the Area Presidency. We have a goal to baptize 15 people as a zone this transfer and we all agreed that it is very attainable. The mission is just booming right now, tons of people are accepting baptismal dates. There were 3 more baptisms this weekend and there's like 15 still on date. I believe that we will reach our goal of 90 by the end of the year. The mission isn't the same one I came into a year ago. We are more unified and are doing our best to find the Lord's elect and He is blessing us for our efforts.

Now for some comments/tidbits. I got my package this week, thanks so much for that! There's nothing better than getting a package from America with love from home. The sister who is in my group is going home early November. And of course my year in Ukraine mark is this Friday. Time flies! That's cool there is another temple in Utah, we'll have to visit that one when I get home. And Elder Nuzman and I found out that we're closing down the current apartment we're in and moving out at the end of the month so that should be fun. I don't know if I told you this or not but our fridge stopped working more than a month ago, maybe month and a half, I don't remember. The landlord said he'd get a new one for us but is pretty flaky so we still don't have one. And chances are that we won't have one since we're moving out soon. The good news is that I have been living off of manna ever since the fridge stopped working haha. Manna is cream of wheat I think back in the states but they call it manna here. So basically I have been living off of manna in the office, no big deal. We'll be happy to get a fridge sometime soon though.

I love you all and wish you an awesome week. You are all in my prayers! Keep on keepin' on!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, September 3, 2012

How Is It Already September?!

Privet family!

Thanks for all of your emails to me, it really means a lot to hear from you and feel your love. This past week I had some great experiences that I'd like to share with you. First off we have been meeting with a former investigator named Aleksei. Elder Harrison and I met with him at the beginning of June but stopped meeting with him because he wasn't going anywhere and fell off the face of the earth. I can't remember if I've talked about him or not but he is around 25, is a web designer, and has perfect english. He has been an investigator for several years but hasn't really acted on what missionaries have told him. Last Saturday he prayed with us for the first time and it was an amazing prayer. Very humble and sincere. We then met with him Wednesday and Friday this week. Wednesday we found out he read the wrong chapter assigned so we had to change our lesson plan. We've been focusing on faith and what that means exactly but have noticed that he really isn't interested in reading the Book of Mormon because he doesn't like reading in general. So Elder Nuzman and I during comp. study had the idea come to mind to make an equation how to get answers to prayers using Moroni 10:4- sincere heart, real intent, faith in Christ. We taught this to him on Friday and he liked the lesson but his problem is that he just doesn't feel the same spirit at home compared to meeting with us so he doesn't have any desire to act. We talked about this in our district meeting and we also decided to fast for him to know how to better help him. We have decided to teach him the Word of Wisdom this week and start following up and keeping in touch with him everyday. From this we're hoping to see his real intent show and we can establish a better relationship with him as well through daily contact. So I'll tell you how this all goes next week. He is our main investigator at the time. All the contacts we were hoping to meet with didn't work out, we were pretty sad. We were hoping to meet with a couple from English but they haven't been answering their phone and the same goes with everyone else. Often times we meet cool people on the street who seem interested but then they just turn out to not be ready. I'm still trying to figure this out on my mission- how you can have amazing contacts that turn into another number in the area book. But nonetheless, we are faithful we will find new investigators this week.

We met with Vladimir on Thursday and he is doing alright. His family still isn't too interested in the gospel. By family I mainly mean his wife because his daughter is autistic so will have a free ride to heaven. His wife isn't very faithful but he is, so I wonder sometimes how they worked everything out up to this point. He has been coming to church regularly, except last week he didn't make it because he's getting the flu. After the lesson we asked him if he wanted a blessing and he said yes so I was able to give him a Priesthood blessing of health and it was an awesome experience. This is the first blessing I've given in Russian on my mission. I have anointed oil several times but never given the actual blessing. I don't really remember what I said but I know it was what he needed to hear. And he came to Church yesterday and is feeling fine so it's a miracle!

So about a month ago I went on a split with Elder Moss and it was a Wednesday night to Thursday night. Wednesday night while finding on the streets we stopped a younger kid named Artour (Arthur) and it was the fastest contact of my life. It seriously went like this: "Hey can we talk to you for a minute? ok. We're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we have an awesome message about how God restored His church on the earth today through a living prophet. And we even have twelve apostles, just how Jesus Christ set up His church. Would you be interested to know more about this? ok. What's your number? Great, when can you meet? tomorrow. Awesome, well we'll call you tomorrow Artour. See you then." This happened in about one minute, it was super quick. So Elder Moss and I sure enough met him the next day and had a good first lesson with him. Well since then, he has come to a service activity, several family home evenings, and is good friends with one of the members now. He has been meeting with Elder Moss and Rooney and this past week they were able to put him on date for September 14th!!!!!! I was so pumped to hear that he's getting baptized, it's just amazing! My testimony grows more and more about the fact that no effort is wasted, ever. The mission is on fire right now, it's not the same mission I came into almost a year ago. There were three baptisms this past weekend, including a couple! which brings the count to 38. AND 15 are on date at the moment. The Lord is blessing everyone for their efforts and desires, our companionship included. We feel that sometime soon we will find someone prepared to listen to the message and actually want to read and pray. We just need to have the faith to find.

Something else I wanted to include are some topics I studied this week. In Jesus the Christ I'm reading about parables and there is a detailed description for each one. I studied the wheat and the tares and had no idea that it's in D&C 86 as well because it's so important. And D&C 50:24 which talks about light is linked to this parable because we all need to gather light until the very end and we gather light by keeping covenants and living the gospel. Then at the last day we will be as the wheat that is gathered first while the wicked tares are left on earth to burn. Something else I started to study is blessings promised in my patriarchal blessing about my mission that I haven't seen yet and what I need to do to be ready for them. I'm not done yet but I am learning a lot already. There's so much to study and not enough time! I have definitely learned to love studies on my mission. There's just no substitute for studying the scriptures everyday and writing down the things learned. They are truly written for us.

Now for some comments/tidbits. That's interesting that Elder Welch is learning Ukrainian. Here there's no need to learn Ukrainian because Russian is the dominant language. Members know Ukrainian but speak Russian. And apparently there's been lots of protests going on about which language should be the national one spoken here but I haven't seen anything. I'll have to look that up after I get home. That's awesome you're doing a study group with the Dent's, tell them hello for me. The Book of Mormon is amazing, I'm sure you'll learn tons. Mormon 8:35 has been coming up a lot this week. It truly has been written for our day. And I'm keeping my eyes open for my package! Hopefully it comes this week. I'll let you know when it arrives.

Well, that's about it for this week. I love you all and pray that all continues to be well for you. God is our literal Father who answers our prayers. Jesus Christ lives and loves us more than we can imagine. What an awesome time to live on the earth- we have the fullness of the gospel! Have a great week and I'll talk to you later!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия