I'm not really sure how to describe this past week, it's been interesting, lots of ups and downs. Many investigators and contacts have been sick and so we haven't been able to meet with them at all, it's frustrating but if you're sick you're sick. Here are some updates on peoples' progress this week:
Suhotoplaya family (Slavik and Valeria)- Elder Harrison and Groothuyzen taught them this week on a split. They taught about prayer and both Brat and Sister Nikitenko came on that lesson. Sister Nikitenko basically sweet talked Sister Elena (less-active mom) and Valeria to come to church and they came yesterday! I think they enjoyed it for the most part, several members were talking to them and the young women seemed to get along with Valeria which is good.
Valentina- Didn't meet with her because it was her work week. We'll be meeting this week and she'll be coming to Church. Yes she was Elder Rallison's contact. She knows everything is true but just can't kick the smoking habit. But like I said we gave her a date to do it and so we think that our next meeting we will help them make a detailed plan of everything and try to talk more about baptism.
Heyleak family- Vera is finally feeling better after 3 weeks and so we were able to have a lesson with them last night. However, only Sergei was on the lesson so we haven't taught them as a family for probably a month now. It's really hard when lessons are only once a week because the investigator forgets a lot. Brat Nikitenko came with us again because him and Sergei are best buds now. The only problem with this is that they both LOVE to talk and so it's hard for us to get our say in sometimes. Sergei's main concern right now is "Why would God send us all on the earth if He knew what would happen with each of us?" And further, why we all chose to come to where we did in the pre-Earth life (why he ended up in Daky, Makeevka, Ukraine and we ended up in America) He is definitely progressing though, he read 2 Nephi 2, Mosiah 2, and Alma 42, and is reading the New testament as well. Elder Harrison and I had a lesson planned about the gospel of Jesus Christ and why all of this is relevant for him but the lesson was basically him and Brat Nikitenko just bouncing crazy ideas off of each other and us trying to fit in what we could. You should know that sitting down and talking is a Ukrainian past time, so this makes things difficult on lessons when we're only supposed to stay for 45 min. Anyway, Sergei is an amazing man, he really wants to know if the things we talk about are true. He said last night that the Book of Mormon is inspired, he just needs to read, ponder, and pray more about it. Once he gets a testimony of that, we truly feel that all the rest will happen pretty quickly and he'll become an awesome member here in Makeekva.
We also got two new investigators this week, not sure how promising they are but we're grateful to have them. Valentina is 62 and Provoslavni (Russian Catholic). She invited us over and fed us a huge lunch and we tried teaching her a first lesson but it was a train wreck. She is one of those nice people who just thinks that every Church is true and that there isn't one true Church on the earth. And she had tons of concerns and doubts about the Book of Mormon when we introduced it, but Elder Harrison bore a powerful testimony of it and she decided to keep a copy. If we ever return we're for sure taking a member. And Valeri is in his fifties, Greek, architect, very agnostic. He basically gave us a history lesson of all religions and it was super hard to understand, I probably understood like 20% of everything he said. He admits there is a higher power but there is no God. Super confusing stuff. He is reading the Book of Mormon though so we just need to give him time.
Throughout the mission right now every companionship has set a goal (as far as I know) for one baptism before the end of the year. We fasted for our goal and what we can do as a companionship to achieve it and at this time I'm going to put more effort on not getting caught up in the motions of missionary work and really consecrating my thoughts to my calling and responsibilities. I have been thinking about my thoughts I have throughout the day- family, life at home, investigators and progress, goals, Russian, friends- and I realized that I don't think about my Savior as much as I should and my sacred missionary calling. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in everything that you forget WHY your here. So especially in this month and to the end of my mission I'm really going to put a focus on this through prayer and greater scripture study. We have been blessed with tons of people to teach. We're hopeful that very soon we find the one who is ready to be baptized because we're sure that he or she is there.
Now for some comments/tidbits. You might be interested to know that my release date has moved up---- I will be finishing JULY 9, 2013! This will be perfect time to get ready for everything. It has been raining here for the past three days so I still don't believe it's December. Don't worry, it's very warm and humid. Very odd weather. I'll let you know when SKYPE is happening. It will probably be 3 weeks from today! I can't wait! What I said in Russian last week means "Happy Thanksgiving from Makeevka." One final thought is go and read Mosiah 15:10-17. I studied this in personal study this week and found great comfort in Abinadi's words. We are the seed of Christ if we follow the prophet and live the gospel, as well as share the gospel and participate in missionary work. (This part was especially cool) The Book of Mormon is true, I love it with all my heart.
Well, my time's up! I love you all and wish you a great week!
Украинская Донецкая Миссия