Monday, November 26, 2012

Snom Blagodaren​ia sMakeevki!

Privet family!

Thanks so much for your emails, updates, and love, they really mean so much to me and I enjoy reading them every week. This week wasn't exactly as we expected but it was still a great week though. Most of our lessons canceled on us or investigators couldn't meet, so that was a little frustrating. Here's an update though of some new progress:

Valentina- We met with her on Tuesday and helped her and her less-active husband Yury set a date to quit smoking and live the Word of Wisdom on Christmas! One of her concerns as also been that she doesn't know if Thomas S. Monson is truly a prophet today and so we left her the DVD all about his life "On the Lord's Errand" to watch and she absolutely loved it and knows now that he really is a prophet. She also has a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet and the BOM is true. The only thing in her way is the word of wisdom and smoking. We drew out her progress on a paper with the gate of baptism leading to the temple and eternal life and Yury behind the gate waiting. She liked it and they promised to work toward Christmas to start living the word of wisdom. AND they were finally able to make it to church yesterday!! The branch fellowshipped them very well and I think they enjoyed church. Yury met with the Branch President and is starting to get worthy again because he wants to baptize Valentina. They are making great progress.

Heyleak family- Still haven't met with them since last meeting. Vera is still sick and so they don't want us to come by until she feels better. I call Sergei and talk with him to see how things are going. He's really busy with work and caring for his family but enjoys talking on the phone. He told me that I should move in with them after my mission hahaha. I told him I don't think my mom would like that very much. He wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving. (Everyone knows about Thanksgiving here and think it's a really interesting holiday)

Speaking of Thanksgiving, mine was great, all of the Donetsk Zone got together at the office and we had a really tasty dinner. Each companionship brought something and there were tons of leftovers. We brought mashed potatoes and only half of them got touched. Elder and Sister Coleman cooked the turkeys (a member in Makeevka raised them and donated them for the dinner) and Sister Campero made some little enchilada things. It was just good to get together and eat with everyone. I still can't believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone again. A year ago I ate in Kharkov and now Donetsk and next year I'll be with you!! I read my bday cards from everyone during Thanksgiving because we got our mail. Thank you all so much for those, they were great.

Saturday we had an amazing split with the APs, Elders Mironchenko and Bolingbroke. We set a goal to get 15 new contacts, 1 referral, and a new investigator and we achieved all of them!! Plus we gave out 11 copies of the Book of Mormon. The most effective thing we did was sang hymns on the street with a box that said "Free Book with a Promise" and then two elders sang and two were talking to people. We got some families' numbers that were interested so hopefully we can get in contact with them this week. We also met with a contact off the street named Oleg and he became a new investigator. He's about 50, pretty open and believing. I'll tell you how progress goes with him. Also during the split the faucet broke and we flooded the kitchen a little bit haha. Don't worry though, we got it all under control. That's just a normal part of missionary life :)

Well that's all my time for today. I love you all and will talk to you next week!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, November 19, 2012

Frozen District in Daky

Privet family!

Thanks for your email this week, I'm sorry to hear that all the snow melted (although it's already super cold here without snow so maybe you'll think twice haha) This past week was good, we received two new investigators and continued meeting with our current ones. Here is an update everyone:

Clavik and Valeria- They are doing alright. Clavik doesn't really understand a lot of what we teach him we're finding so we taught him how to study scriptures and ask questions to receive answers. We gave him Mosiah 18 for next time and told him to write down questions or concerns he has. It's a hard situation because the mom is super in-active and so trying to teach the dad and daughter with her example doesn't help. And she can't come to church because she works so things are slow with them. Somehow we'll get them to church and understanding better.

Yura- We taught him a full first lesson this week while I was on a split with Elder Groothuyzen. He pretty much accepted everything and said he'll start reading the Book of Mormon. He hasn't had time to start yet because of work. His obstacles will mainly be quitting smoking, drinking, law of chastity problems, and icon worshiping. I'm not sure if I've told you this or not but lots of people here still worship icons even though in the commandments it says "No other Gods before me." So yeah, this is Yura. However, he said that if he receives an answer that he will get baptized! So perhaps when he gets his answer this will motivate him to quit everything else. And he hasn't been to Church either because of work and he was in the hospital yesterday because of a tooth ache. Basically we need to get all of our investigators to church because none of them have come. But it's super hard though because going to church means a 30 minute ride after getting to the bus station in Center Makeevka to Donetsk and then paying for yourself back home. This Saturday is an open house so hopefully we can get some investigators to it or else there won't be any baptisms soon.

Susanna and Veronica- So these are the two new investigators we found. I was going through the area book looking at former investigators and found her record. She's been investigating on and off for several years. I called and there was no answer so we dropped by and talked with her. She wanted to meet so we set up for the next day. We came by, met her and her daughter and taught the first lesson. Suzanna's only question was about gift of the holy ghost and why some people can do miracles regardless of proper priesthood/ why do miracles happen with magic. We did our best to explain that, it's kind of a tricky question, but both she and Veronica accepted the invitation to be baptized if they get an answer! She is in her 40s and Veronica is 17 or 18. We'll be meeting with them this week with a sister from the branch and then of course need to get them to Church.

Ruslan- He's super busy right now with work and school. He goes to Gorlovka on the weekends for studying so can't come to church and can't go to Church in Gorlovka because he's studying all day. We met with him before English and had a great 20 min lesson with him about the Book of Mormon. It was probably our best one yet with him. He says he will try to make 5 min a day to read so hopefully he can do that.

Heyleak family- So unfortunately Vera is still sick so we only met with them last Sunday. I called Sergei a few times though this week and he's doing good. Reading a little bit in the Book of Mormon. They're just super busy so it's hard. He works all day, Yaroslav goes to university all day, Vera is sick, and Dima is training again for the deaf olympics coming up. We're not losing hope with them though!!! Sergei said we can come this week so this is the plan. We feel if somehow they can come to Church then they will love it and the members.

Now for some comments/tidbits. I always run out of time at internet and have to cut my emails shorter than usual. Sorry about that. So here's some things I failed to talk about last week and for this week. I forgot to say that for my bday a member in the branch that we do service for invited all the missionaries over for dinner and made us an awesome Ukrainian meal. She made some really spicy soup and some salads, pickled cabbage, potatoes, and beef. Good stuff! And also earlier last week at her house after service she prepared some little things that looked like fishsticks but bigger, kind of like chicken breasts cut in half with bread crumbs. So we prayed, started eating, and she came out and said "tasty huh?" yeah, these are... interesting. What are they? And then she just started laughing and was like "you really want to know?" yeah, tell us! "OK. It's PIG BRAIN!" oh..... he he.. yeah, tasty.. So I ate some pig brain. It wasn't terrible, it was like soggy chicken, kind of slimy. I wouldn't recommend it though :) Also for my birthday the branch gave me a birthday card with everyone's face on it and yesterday I got a little package from Sister Irina in the office and she bought me a Skazki book. Skazki are Russian fairytales. They're super hard to understand though. I understand the Book of Mormon better than children's fairytale stories haha. She told me I can practice my Russian with it so it's a great gift from her. After my mission I plan on being an awesome home teacher and getting less-actives back to church because that seems to be a lot of what we do here. Did you know that only 20% of the members in this mission are active? Not good! I don't want to do less-active work after my mission, just finding, teaching, and baptizing. But it is part of missionary work though, just shouldn't be in my opinion. OK moving on. Tanya is also sick (the lady we met at the bus stop) so hopefully this week we can meet with her.

Well, my time's about up. I love you all and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and awesome week! Talk to you next week!
с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, November 12, 2012

Put that back and just buy some vodka!

Privet family!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes and emails, it really means a lot. This week was pretty good, a little trying because we didn't have as much success on the streets as we wanted but nevertheless a good week in Daky. Transfer calls came out on Friday and.... our district is staying the same for next transfer! Not a surprise because we all came in at the same time and President put us here for a reason. I just pray we can keep doing some good work here in Makeevka and keep working with our investigators. Here is an investigator review of this week:

Syhatyoplaya family (Lera and Slavic)- I don't remember if I've talked about this family. They are a part-member family, the mom is a member but is really less-active. We found her on the street and she said we could come over and do the lessons. We teach them with Brat Nikitenko. Slavic is about 50 and works as a driver. He works a lot and doesn't seem too into the gospel. And Lera is 14. She went to Primary but never got baptized. We've taught them the Plan of Salvation and now just need to get them to Church.

Valentina- We met and taught the Word of Wisdom. We tried to help her set a date to stop smoking but she doesn't want to set one yet, just have us check up on her. She was supposed to come to Church yesterday but didn't make it and didn't pick up her phone. We'll see what happens this week.

And the Heyleak family (Sergei, Vera, Yaroslav, Dima)- We met last night on my bday and had Brat Nikitenko with us. Only Sergei and Yaroslav were on the lesson. We had planned to teach about temples and eternal families so that they might see where this is all going after baptism, plus Brat Nikitenko works in the Kiev Temple and could explain stuff. BUT we changed the lesson plan on the spot and ended up talking about how they can receive an answer about the Book of Mormon because Sergei doesn't understand anything he reads. After him and Brat Nikitenko talked for a very long time haha and us sharing our testimonies we ended the lesson on a high note. Sergei wants to read 2 nephi 2, mosiah 2, and alma 42 this week and really start praying. And he said that if he gets an answer he'll get baptized!!!!! The next step with them is church. Hopefully this week that comes true. They're doing good though, awesome family!

And we have a new investigator this week- Yura. So this was a miracle story. We were finding less-actives Thursday night and found the apartment building of a man in the branch that no one knows anything about. We got to his door, knocked, and no one answered. So we knocked his neighbors' door and a nice babushka answered. She said that he lives there but is super hard to get a hold of. But she was interested in taking a little brochure from us and was really nice so we decided to continue and tract the whole apartment building. After getting several doors slammed in our face and yelled at by someone (didn't understand anything he said haha) we knocked another door and a nice man answered. The first thing he said was "You found me! Come on in!" Puzzled, I looked at Elder Harrison and went in. I asked him if we knew him and he's like "Yeah, you gave me two of your brochures on the street but both times I didn't have time to stop and talk to you." WOW. So we came in, sat down, and got to know him. He works as a welder, is 48, smokes and drinks, was in prison for 15 years (not sure why) and has a good taste in music and clothing. He's a very neat, clean shaven guy. He also served in the army and showed us tons of pictures of his family in Georgia and Russia/Eastern Europe. He made us some eggs and salad and we had dinner with him, it was awesome! He is religious and worships icons but believes that our finding him wasn't a mistake. Also, as we ate and talked he blasted some Bach organ fugues! Only in Ukraine on a mission does one have these experiences haha. We did a quick first lesson with him and left him a Book of Mormon. He couldn't make it to church but we're meeting tomorrow. He seems like one who would suddenly give up smoking and drinking to join a church. Hopefully it's a good lesson!

Bonaventure's baptism on Saturday was great. I think it's the smallest baptism I've ever been to, about 8 or 9 members plus our district but it was still awesome. And yesterday he got confirmed in English because the branch president served in London and knows perfect English. The branch accepted him as a new brother and he's doing good. It was a good birthday present you could say!

For my birthday I made myself a cake and we went and bought ice cream at a store near our house. This is where the title of this email comes from haha. I bought a tube of ice cream and the lady working there who has talked to us before said "Oh you're still here huh?" Yeah, still here, didn't go back to America yet. "Oh. What's with the ice cream?" It's my birthday tomorrow. "Oh, happy birthday. But you should put that back and just buy some vodka." haha Welcome to Ukraine. But seriously though, my bday was great. Just what I expected. I can't believe I'm 21 now but it is what it is!

Well family, I love you all very much. I don't have time to comment on your email mom but I agree that through it all, God is with us and truly answers our prayers. I know these things to be true and am so grateful to be here at this time. Have a great week and I'll talk to you later!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, November 5, 2012

From Daky with Love

Privet semya moya!

Thank you all for your emails and love, it sounds like things are good at home, and warm which is good. It's starting to get cold here and dark around 5 pm because of Daylight Savings Time. (We set the clocks back an hour last week already) So enjoy the warmth while you have it! Daky is doing good, the work is moving forward. I'll start off with investigator progress:

Ruslan- He is the 22 year old lawyer with great English. We met with him this week and talked about the Book of Mormon with another lady on the lesson (we only have one room to teach in and the other elders showed up at the same time so we taught a combined lesson.) Unfortunately the lady was super anti-Mormon and was asking tons of crazy questions and ended up walking out and never wanting to meet again. We basically just all shared our testimonies about how we know the Book of Mormon is true and her main concern was 'how can you believe in something you can't see?' Ruslan says he will try and read but we have a feeling he just wants English practice. We'll keep working with him

Irina- She is the older lady who stopped us on the street. She is super nice but literally crazy. We don't think she's all there. Even the member we met with said the same thing. So basically we don't know what to do with her. She will listen for like five minutes and then start talking about the most random things ever. Elder Harrison and I invited her to a branch concert for Center Donetsk on friday and she came with us, enjoyed it, met President and Sister Campero, and hasn't answered her phone since then. Hopefully we figure out something for her this week.

Valentina- We've only had one lesson with her. She works for a week straight and then has one off so this week she's free everyday and wants to meet. It's hard teaching someone who's been investigating for a while, 2 years, and has heard all the lessons. We're praying to figure out her main concern and help her set a goal for baptism.

Bonaventure- He isn't our investigator but he's for sure getting baptized this Saturday!

Sergei, Vera, Yaroslav, Dima Heyleak- We had our second lesson with the Heyleak family. It was awesome, we taught plan of salvation and met Dima. It was a new experience teaching someone deaf and having our words translated into sign language. Vera knows perfect sign language, Yaroslav knows a little, and Sergei knows very little because he wants him to read lips. During the lesson, Dima asked "If God loves me so much then why did he make me deaf?" We read Ether 12:27 and told him that in the next life he will have a perfect body and will hear again. He just gave a big smile! We then asked the family to be baptized. They want to keep reading and come to church to really know if it's true or not and then they'll decide. They didn't have any objections to the plan of salvation though and we have a really good relationship with them. This week we're hoping to make even more progress.

Well that's about all my time! Tell everyone I love them and have a great week!!!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия