This week has flown by, I can't believe that tomorrow we'll be skyping for Christmas 2012! There have been a few changes around Makeevka because Thursday was transfer meeting. First off, I have been called to serve as district leader again. I am pretty humbled and excited with this call. Since my time in Saltovka President has come out with training for district leaders and things are outlined much more clearly now as to what my responsibilities are and how to really become a Christlike leader. I'm excited to learn and grow with my district and come closer to Christ. We had a meeting last night with the zone leaders and I learned so much about how district leaders should live and inspire those around them. It's going to be a great transfer. The new missionaries in my district are Elder Newey (Alpine, UT, just got finished training) with Elder Groothuyzen and Elder Carley (Hyrum, UT, almost a year out) with Elder Efoshkin. We've had one district meeting already and have some good, challenging goals for the transfer, the main one being 4 baptisms. Now for some updates on investigators.
Suzanna- We met and talked about the Holy Ghost/receiving answers to prayers. She seemed to enjoy the lesson and is reading in the Book of Mormon from the beginning. She asks good questions and is thinking about baptism right now. She won't commit yet but it's good she is thinking.
Richard- We met and he made us some dinner at his apartment. He's a really nice guy, just not very religious anymore. We gave him the book Our Search for Happiness and talked about the missionary work section in there. We want to leave him a BOM but it's hard to say right now. He enjoys meeting and seeing our views on life because he's not familliar with LDS customs. We'll see how our next visit goes. He went to Germany for Christmas so after the new year we'll get in contact again.
Valentina- We met and had a quick lesson about God's love and committed her to pray to feel it everyday. We decided to stop talking about smoking and just focus on good, spiritually uplifting lessons for her. She knows everything is true but just has the smoking problem. She's supposed to quit on January 7th and if she does then she could very well be baptized soon. Her and Yuri came to Church yesterday and seemed to enjoy it. Yuri wants to be the one to baptize her so we're faithful that he can also become worthy with her.
Sergei Heyleak- Sergei is one of the coolest men I've ever met here. He is making progress slowly but enjoys meeeting. We tried to go over last Monday for an FHE but they had to cancel because their lock on their door froze and the only way to get in was climbing over their fence with a ladder. It took them like an hour or something to heat the lock and unfreeze it. So we went by Wednesday night instead. Only Sergei has been on the discussions, the rest of the family are too busy. He promised that soon he will come to church and I feel that if he does then he'll really like it. We can both see him being the next branch president or something here, he has that type of personality. He is a main one we're really hoping can be baptized.
Valeria Suhotyoplaya- She has come to church all of December with her family and they are all active again! Unfortunately we haven't gone by for 2 weeks because they are doing a remodel and won't let us come. We really hope we can drop by this week and talk about baptism. We feel that she will want to be baptized, she seems to enjoy church enough!
Friday we had a Zone Conference from 9AM to 6PM. It was very spiritually uplifting and really got me into the Spirit of Christmas. A sister who went to BYU Jerusalem did a presentation about Christ's life and it was amazing to see pictures and hear her experiences. The biggest thing learned in Zone Conference was actually the ending. President Campero chose a film for us to watch called "Chariots of Fire." Maybe you've seen this? It is about a runner who competes in the 1924 Olympics in France, is Jewish, and stays obedient to his beliefs. Even though I have six more months, I thought it really applied to my mission. These last six will really be the ones I remember best. As I am obedient and do what I can the Lord will bless me and those around me. Also this last week I finished reading the Book of Mormon in Russian! It was a great experience. It took me nine months but I made it. The two biggest blessings I have seen from this are one, my testimony growing every day of reading, and two, my ability to understand and speak this difficult language. It's hard to explain the scriptures in Russian, there is a different understanding that comes but the Spirit is the same. I know with all my heart that the Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith translated it by the power of God. I prayed after finishing that I might have an experience to testify to someone that day. Later that night we were tracting and got let in to a babushka's apartment. She had a huge dog that was more like a bear ready to attack us haha but she invited us in, made us some mint tea, and we had a first lesson. She is a Baptist and knows the Bible very well. She didn't understand the need to read the BOM but both Elder Harrison and I testified of the power and truthfulness of it and she ended up accepting a copy and said she'd start reading. It was truly an answer to a few prayers that day, getting into a dom to tract, getting let in, and have the opportunity to testify. Her name is Tatiana Grigorivna and is like 62 and works as a miner. New investigator!
Really quick, comments/tidbits. I received both packages you sent me, thank you so much! I will be opening the gifts tomorrow morning. You guys are the best! Yes, I did find a new coat. There was one that got left in the office elder apartment and so I grabbed it. It's warm and does the trick. Sorry if there was any confusion last week with the time, I was in a hurry and typed the wrong one for you haha. So I had the office email you. But yeah, tomorrow we'll Skype and I'm super excited to see you all!
I love you all and am so grateful for all that you do. The experiences I'm having here cannot be learned anywhere else in the world. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I know that this work is His. Pass everyone my love and a warm Merry Christmas from freezing cold Daky, Makeevka! Until tomorrow!
Украинская Донецкая Миссия