Monday, July 1, 2013

The Quickest, Hardest, Most Rewarding, Craziest, Scariest, Best Two Years For and Of My Life

Privet family!!! So basically this is the final email I'll probably be sending to you. Where has the time gone, right? Well maybe for you it's been long but it's seriously flown by for me. It is super weird to only have one more week left. Lots of stuff is going through my head, so sorry if this email is all over the place.

This past week was the best one so far of the transfer. Elder Kumferman and I taught 11 lessons total and got 3 new investigators, plus met many of our goals. Here are the investigators/progress with the ones you already know.

Chris - He is a former investigator we met on the street. He is from Nigeria. We hope to put him on a date and get him to Family Home Evening soon. But we can't go to his apartment anymore because the guard hates us haha.

Igor - He is a street contact, about 50 years old. Born in St. Petersburg. He invented a street fighting technique and is a certified fighter/instructor. We met him in a park and he gave us his "propaganda" like fighting DVDs and cool soviet pins. He wants me to look into getting his business into America. He took a Book of Mormon and wants to meet in a few weeks.

Stanislav - He is a former investigator from a few years ago. He has heard all the lessons and had a baptismal date but then had some concerns come up like betraying Russian Orthodox/faith of his forefathers, the church being a business, and the word of wisdom. He is very well off money wise, he owns two businesses and is a diving instructor, certified fencer, and his family lives in Norway. We met and just got to know him. One of the Elders who taught him sent a calendar to him through the office and so we used that as a way to meet. He wants us to come over this week and drink some tea and stuff with him. We need to probably get President Alosha with us because he has some tough concerns. He has also gotten into anti-Mormon stuff so yeah. But he's very cool though and will be a solid member.

Kingsley - We met him last night and were thinking of dropping him but he said that if he gets an answer that he will be baptized. He is just lazy and never reads or progresses but read a little bit and wants us to pray for him to receive an answer. He could potentially be baptized soon.

We also met some amazing members. 

Gorskiy family - Sergei has been Branch President twice, is a Temple worker, has shaken hands with Gordon B. Hinckley and almost all the Apostles. He is nicknamed among missionaries as "The Kharkov Healer" because he gives amazing Priesthood Blessings haha. Very solid member. We shared a short thought about miracles and they proceeded to tell us some miraculous stuff they've seen as members of the church. His wife is very faithful and loves missionaries. And their son got baptized and married in the Temple like 5 years ago. Sergei is very proud to be from the tribe of Judah, the same tribe that Jesus is from.

Chetverikov - We met them last night and got to know them. They were baptized in '96 and their oldest son served in Moscow, youngest is on a mini-mission right now in Donetsk. Just a very solid family.

Crazy Lena - I love this lady! We helped get water for her at the big community fountain then we met and sat in a garden and had a lesson. She is a little crazy but not too crazy. She loves taking pictures and spending time with missionaries.

Wednesday we had a cool experience. All of our lessons fell through which left us in a down mood. Kingsley dogged but after this we realized we were by an inactive brother named Femmi that President wanted us to find so we dropped by and found him home and talked for like 45 minutes. He promised to come to church yesterday but unfortunately something came up so will come next week. And then our lesson with Chris fell through since he was sleeping haha so we decided to just contact on the street and met a man named Nikola. It was his first day in Ukraine and was from Italy. He knew very little English and hardly no Russian but somehow we understood each other. He has a friend that is Mormon and he wants an Italian Book of Mormon. So it was just cool to see where we were supposed to be instead of these lessons working out. 

And Saturday was my TWO YEAR MARK on my mission! I spent it on a split with my Zone Leader son, Elder Harrison, in center Kharkov. We contacted many people and talked with an old babushka named Lidia Fyodorovna. She was out walking her dogs and stopped to talk with us. She has read like every book about religion out there, including the Book of Mormon, but doesn't believe any of it. She was a professor of science for 30 years and so everything we told her she just said "You don't know that. You're only 20 years old and it's just because you grew up in a believing family." We testified that God loved her and she said "You don't know that! If He's so loving then why does Ukraine suffer so much? Why do bad things happen? You don't know that! Also, if you expect to convince people with how bad your Russian is then you're also wrong!" hahaha so we were feeling kind of frustrated with this conversation and walking back to the center apartment experienced a tender mercy - a taxi drove by us and the man in the passenger seat yelled out the window to us: "God loves you!" It was so awesome to hear those words because I almost never do from people on the street! The rest of the split was great, Elder Harrison is an exceptional missionary. I'm very proud of him.

Well, here's some final comments/tidbits. President and Sister Campero have left and President Lochhead and his wife have arrived. He is a lawyer and was in Moscow for the last while for the church so knows some Russian. And from what the Assistants say, he is very loving, his life is filled with the Gospel, and he teaches like a General Authority. After 14 hours on the plane and 5 hour meeting with President Campero he just wanted to go talk to people and teach a family. And apparently he got a contact on a marshrutka by himself yesterday! He sounds like a very good man. This upcoming week we have interviews with him on Wednesday and then Thursday is a Zone Conference with him and President Malm from the Area Presidency. Should be awesome. And then next Monday I'll get on a train and go to Donetsk, have final interviews, dinner with him and Sister Lochhead, and then begin my journey to the Promised Land!! So weird. It's gonna fly by faster than I can fly back home to you all! But I'm excited and ready for my final week. 

Family, I love you so much, words can't describe it! THANK YOU for everything - for love, prayers, support, encouragement, letters, skype calls. You mean the world to me. I know that this Church is true. Thomas S. Monson is a living Prophet in our day. Through Joseph Smith the church was restored and the Book of Mormon was translated. God lives and answers prayers. Jesus is the Christ. He guides His Church today. This work is the most important thing that we can ever do. And the Ukraine Donetsk Mission is the greatest on the earth. 

I wish you all an awesome week and will see you in 8 days!!!!!!! Tell everyone I love them and am grateful for their influence in my life. And please tell America Happy birthday on the 4th for me!! And save some snappers or fireworks, ok? 


с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, June 24, 2013

2 More 2 Go!

Hey privet family! Thanks so much for the emails, love, support, and prayers. They mean so much to me. This past week was full of more ups and downs, just another roller coaster haha. It is very weird to be at the end. I'm still going strong, don't worry, but it's just hard to describe my feelings. I've been reflecting a lot about my mission every day and just striving to get down on paper everything going through my head. Here's some highlights from the week.

We met with three investigators - Raad, Tolu, and a new one, Leonid. Raad is still the same. We're probably going to stop meeting him just because there's no progress happening. We will try to meet once more with Akbar on the lesson and go from there. He's super nice, just very rooted in the Muslim faith. Tolu is still very busy with school so we met on the street and read a verse from the Book of Mormon. He wants to invite us over this week to play us some songs on piano since he's a music major so hopefully this works out. Many people here are just super busy with school which is understandable. And Leonid is the husband of an inactive sister. The sisters ran into him on the street and passed him to us. We dropped by last night and got to know him a little bit. He answered the door with his shirt off (pretty common here lol) and invited us in. He's in his sixties and his wife actually started going back to Provoslavni church and was at their dacha. He was very nice and well, Ukrainian. Grew up atheist, went to church like one time to get his kids baptized by the priest there, and that's about it. Mostly we just talked about our lives and what we do as missionaries. We talked a little about prayer as well. He said we could come back again in September because he's going to their dacha until then next week so we'll write a record for him for the future missionaries. Unfortunately Anton has been super busy and Natasha has been as well. So our work seems slow right now. However, yesterday we were going through our area book and calling former investigators and I called one who seems very promising who wants to meet again Tuesday so we're really hoping this will be good. This last Monday we had Family Home Evening at the Arnesons and took Anton with us. He seemed to like it and talked to the Arnesons quite a bit. It was also Paddy's birthday, so several brothers came as well. Anton was supposed to come to church yesterday but something came up and he couldn't anymore so we really hope he can make it this week. 

Saturday we had final interviews with President. It wasn't my real exit interview but basically was in a way. It was a great conversation with President one on one. He asked me if I was happy and then the question, "How was your mission?" 'It's been a dream,' I said. 'The best two years for my life.' We talked about some experiences I've had, trials I've faced, and then he told me "Elder Keown, I consider you one of the best missionaries in this mission. You have grown so much since the start and it is evident in who you are today. I love you." I didn't expect these words but am very humbled by them. President is one of the biggest role models in my life. He and Sister Campero came to Alekseevka yesterday for their final Sunday in Ukraine. Sister Campero bore her testimony and President talked. It was actually a miracle because tons of youth and less-actives came to see them speak. President encouraged everyone to get their kids to Youth Conference in September, which will be in Western Ukraine. Seminary, Institute, and Youth Conference prepare the youth for missions, marriages, and leadership in the church. And then this morning we watched the worldwide broadcast as a zone called "The Work of Salvation." President and Sister Campero came in at the end and gave final hugs to us before they left for Donetsk. It was sad to see them go, they love this mission, these people, and us with all their hearts. I felt like a part of me left with them. But all will be well with them in their future, they have done so much good for so many people. The new Mission President and wife will be here a week from today, and then next week we'll have another Zone Conference with them and President Malm from the Area Presidency. Should be awesome!

You all should watch that broadcast called "The Work of Salvation" by the way. Brynn told me she watched it but you guys should too. You can find it on With a whole new wave of missionaries come new ways and responsibilities to do the work. They placed a big emphasis on member-missionary work and don't want missionaries to be finding as much anymore. I really liked the broadcast but honestly it was hard to relate to because I haven't done a lot of member work on my mission. Members have helped on lessons and baptisms which has been awesome but I've never received a referral or invitation to teach someone's friend or family member with that person present as shown in the broadcast. But the mission is taking a huge turn towards members. The new president is coming and President Campero has prepared the mission to make the change. It's hard to explain so just wait until I get back.

I love you all so much! Everything you have done and do means the world to me. Know that you're in my prayers and I think about you every day. Have a great week and I'll talk to you next time!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, June 17, 2013

Down to Donetsk, Back to Kharkov!

Privet my family! I'm not sure about yours, but my past week FLEW by. And I don't have too much time to write but here's some highlights for you.

First off, investigator progress. We met with three investigators last week, Raad, Aleksander, and a new one, Anton. 
Raad is a practicing Muslim and we met him with a member from Pakistan here named Joshua. It was hard to teach him because he just wanted to talk about who Jesus Christ was, not why we need Him. Every time we tried to say something he just cut us off and "corrected" us because he doesn't believe Christ to be anything more than a prophet. He is different than Akbar because Akbar wanted to change religions and knew who Christ was. This week we will try to get Akbar with us on the lesson. Joshua says we're just wasting time because we need to read the Koran in order to understand Raad's view. 
Aleksander read from the Book of Mormon, but asked many basic questions like "Why is your church different from the rest? I think that all churches are true." His big problem is that he can't come to church. If he came to church then he'd really know why we do the things we do. We might be going to his summer house this Saturday to help him pick cherries so we'll see how things turn out.
And Anton is my new favorite investigator. We ran into him on our way to Raad's lesson Tuesday night. He is about 6' 3", knows awesome English, and is 29. He plays tennis and was actually on his way home from tennis. We gave him an English club invite and then he came Friday night. He liked it a lot and actually translated the story and spiritual thought. And after English he asked "What makes your church different?" So we sat down with him and had a great first lesson in English with a little Russian and found out his history. When he was 6 he started studying English because his Grandpa immigrated to America and wanted his family to come as well. Life went on and Anton's parents got divorced, then his mom and step-dad actually decided to move to Italy for work. They are very smart scientists and apparently do pretty well. So Anton got left in Ukraine and his parents set him up to become a Computer Engineer in University. But he hated this and decided to try his luck gambling. He turned out to be a pretty dang good gambler and started making $15,000 a month (this comes out to be a Ukrainian millionaire after 1 year.) He bought a car, house, and toys, but always felt something was missing. He kept gambling and eventually ended up losing everything in a huge bet. He said that God must have had different plans for him. So he sold his house, car, and now lives in his mom's apartment as a translator for English and German. Our topic for English club was The Apostasy, and during our lesson he said that he just felt lost. It seems that everything has led up to him meeting us. He accepted a Book of Mormon and said something that most Ukrainians don't: "I don't care whether its Mormons, Catholics, Pravoslavnies, you show me their fruits and I'll decide from there." So many times people here the word Mormons and automatically decide. Anton is special. And on Saturday he invited us to come play tennis with him, so we spent a little time with him and got to know him better. Elder Kumferman played tennis all throughout high school so loved it. I'm not that good haha but it was a sweet experience. And Anton is coming to Family Night tonight at the Arnesens, so we're hoping he can make some good friendships there. New investigators are good!

This past week we also had a zone meeting about member missionary work, and I didn't know this would be the last one but bore my final testimony! It was very weird because I've seen so many other missionaries do so who always say 'yeah, the time comes fast' and never believed them until now. There was a great spirit at the meeting though.

Saturday we got to go to a WWII Museum with the branch and did a picnic afterwards. This was probably one of the coolest experiences of my mission. I had no idea that Kharkov was such a historic city. The stuff I saw in the museum was unreal. I took tons of pictures and videos to better remember it. I have plans after mission to really understand the history of Ukraine and former Soviet Union better. This was a great starting point to that. 

And yesterday was Mission Conference in Donetsk. We left on a bus at 4 AM from Kharkov with all the missionaries, arrived in Donetsk at 9, 10-12 was the Donetsk District Conference so I got to see all my favorite members from Donetsk, Makeekva, and Mariupol, then 2-4 was Mission Conference. The speakers were President and Sister Campero, President and Sister Bennett (Europe East Presidency) and President and Sister Soares (Presidency of the Seventy). Conference was very different than a year ago, but in a good way. The mission has grown a lot and so focus on member work is being pushed. The main topic from President Soares though was to cast out all fear. We all made covenants with God to serve in Donetsk in the pre-mortal life and renewed these covenants by writing Thomas S. Monson back that we'd do it. He talked a lot about having a good attitude for the new Mission President as well because it won't be an easy change. There's a lot more but I just don't have time to say everything. Yesterday was awesome though. Probably the best news was to hear that Brat Vladimir Vovk (convert with Elder Harrison in Donetsk) got the Melchizedek Priesthood! He's definitely the strongest out of all the converts. 

Now for some comments/tidbits. Happy Father's Day Dad! I love you so much! And in case you didn't hear, Elder Nelson organized the first Stake this past week in Armenia. He came over with President Bennett and Elder Soares and talked with the Camperos personally. It's so cool to see the work moving forward in this area of the world and to see/hear of the lives of the Prophet, Twelve and Seventy. 

This work is true, I know it with all my heart. Have an awesome week and I'll talk to you later!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, June 10, 2013

One Down, Four To Go!!

Privetchik family!

WOW thanks for your emails, I'm pretty trunky right now, not gonna lie haha. I'm SO glad to hear you got to go to Moss's homecoming. That punk didn't write me yet and then I saw on President Alyosha's iPad yesterday that Moss posted the time and date on facebook so I thought there was no way you'd make it there but everything worked out perfectly I guess!
This past week has been a great start to my final transfer here. It seemed like it was super long but every day was filled with great experiences. Elder Kumferman and I are keeping pretty busy with everything since we're the only Elders in Alekseevka. President Alyosha doesn't have counselors so it feels like he just relies on us a ton to do stuff, mostly translate/help with the brothers but we do more than that. We told him he needs counselors but he disagrees haha. So we're pretty involved in the branch, which is good. It's keeping me busy. At the end of this month the brothers will be taking a Temple trip, June 27. Hopefully there will be 9 brothers going. But they need to figure out money and tickets pretty quick here so we had a meeting after church yesterday. It ended in them just arguing in pidgeon with each other (pidgeon is brother English) and was kind of dramatic but hopefully things will be in order by Wednesday. Kumferman and I also are dealing with three apartments in Alekseevka (his old one, mine, and the Seev Cave) so this past week we had to deal with an angry landlady since that apartment got closed. We gave her the money and stuff for the final rent but it wasn't pretty. I'm really not sure if we as missionaries should even be dealing with closing apartments and stuff but it's whatever. Just add it to the list of crazy things I've done. The mission at this time is putting a focus more on meeting with members than getting contacts. Maybe I already talked about this, don't remember, but it needed to happen. We met with a solid member family last night, Sasha and Irina Gorski. Sasha's dad has been Branch President twice and was one of the first members in Kharkov. However, Sasha didn't join the church until 10 years ago when he was like 21. His parents fasted EVERY SUNDAY that he would join the church and after seven years he finally joined! Crazy huh? We had a great visit with them, just got to know them, showed our pictures, saw their pictures, heard their conversion stories, and then we almost forgot we hadn't left a spiritual thought because they gave us cake and compote haha. They want us to come over again, which is just what we want. President Campero wants the missionaries to push for referrals and helping members share the Gospel. This upcoming week we are hoping to work with more members. However, despite contacts not really counting anymore, we got 9 this week which is the most I've got in a long time, one of which seems super promising, Sasha. He randomly came to English thanks to an invite from his friends, really liked meeting us, and even stayed for the spiritual thought (no one ever stays, its sad!) He reminds me a lot of Artour. He's 21, knows ok English, was impressed by the church and our temples, and wants to meet this week. We can for sure see him being baptized if he can come to church. 

As far as investigators, this past week we met with three - Kingsly, Aleksander, and Tolu. Kingsly is from Cameroon and first met with sisters. He is pretty cool, just doesn't have time to read Book of Mormon. He believes in the Bible but doesn't see the importance of Book of Mormon so we talked a little about the importance and asked him what his favorite verse was from the Bible. He said John 1:1. We talked about that and then the thought came to me to show how the Book of Mormon teaches the same principles. So we jumped to 3 Nephi 9:15-22 and this really brought the Spirit into the lesson. We left him with 3 Nephi 11 and hope that he can read that. Aleksander is the man that Elder Jones and I met with. Used to be atheist, but progresses a little bit each time. He has heard all the lessons now but goes to his cottage each weekend and has never been to church. This week we'll hope to talk about baptism with him and the importance. And Tolu is from Nigeria. He is here as a music major and plays piano. He is very close to God and believes that all churches are good, doesn't matter which one you go to, all lead to God. So we talked a little about church organization (Ephesians 4:11-14) and the importance of authority. He too doesn't have time to read the Book of Mormon, but if he did and prayed he would for sure get an answer. We didn't make progress with Natasha this week but are hoping to meet at the end of the week. She could potentially be baptized before I go home if we can get her on a date.

We are working with several recent converts and less actives right now. Last Monday we met with Crazy Lena. She is 60 years old and LOVES missionaries and LOVES pictures, especially with flowers. So we went and helped her get water from the free fountain and then took some pictures with her. She is a great member, just less active because of working on Sundays. She knows Natasha very well (Natasha and her daughter Karina are friends) so if all works out we'll be meeting Natasha with Lena. Ken is a brother from Nigeria, got baptized in December. Out of all the brothers he understands the most but is also super sneaky haha. Like he only meets with us if we make deals (we have to give him candies, or chocolates, or planners lol) He is a punk but pretty solid. And we had an excellent lesson with Apostle 13. He got his nickname from his friends because he's religious and is actually a comedian that gets hired for shows and stuff. He talked about the difference between before baptism and after and its just really cool to see. We helped him choose two friends that are ready to hear the Gospel, so hopefully things go well with them and he can refer them to us. And we also met with Henry, another brother from Nigeria. He messed up his toe and had to get surgery so has been at his house because he can't walk too much on it. We found out it was his birthday on Saturday so we called him up, wished him Happy Birthday and found out he wasn't doing anything for his birthday. That's no way to celebrate! So we went over and brought a cake with us and met. We also gave him each a tie. He was so happy to see us because he didn't want anyone to know about his birthday, but at the same time wanted to celebrate. Hopefully he can come to church this next Sunday, as his toe is doing a lot better. This past week I have really been praying for service opportunities each day and just striving to do something good for someone. So far each day the Lord has given us opportunities and it's been awesome. Sometimes big things, sometimes small, but through helping others in a time of need or just to make their life a little easier is truly the way to happiness.

This upcoming week is gonna be crazy, we already have things planned out for each day, so it's gonna fly by. And this next Sunday, June 16, we're having Mission Conference in Donetsk! So we're leaving Kharkov Sunday morning at 3:30 am, busing down there, then we get to go to the Donetsk District Conference (gonna see all of Donetsk members and Mariupol!) then there will be a lunch with President and Sister Campero, President Bennett, and Elder Ulisses S. Soares from the Quorum of the Seventy. And then we will have our conference with all the missionaries, bus back up to Kharkov, and hopefully get back by 9:30. It's gonna be awesome, can't wait!!

Well, that's about it for this week. Know that you're all in my prayers and that life is good. I miss you all a ton but I'm keeping busy and can't wait to see you all pretty soon! Tell everyone I say hello and pass my love to them! Have a great week and I'll talk to you later! 

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия


CHURCH TRAVEL CWT                          DATE 05JUNE13
TELEPHONE: 801 240-5111                    BORGET/BRANDON RICH 237371-R
FAX      : 801-240-5115                    HODGSON/KYLER KALIL 243632-R
                                           KEOWN/TAYLOR BRENT  219641-R
SERVICE               DATE  FROM           TO             DEPART  ARRIVE
_____________________ _____ ______________ ______________ _______ ______
UKRAINE INTL AIRLINES 09JUL DONETSK        KIEV           710A    820A
Q ECONOMY                                  TERMINAL B
           NON SMOKING                                    NON STOP
                            RESERVATION CONFIRMED         1:10 DURATION
                            SEATS 08D/08E/08F NO SMOKING CONFIRMED
DELTA AIR LINES       09JUL KIEV           AMSTERDAM      200P    400P
K ECONOMY                   TERMINAL D
           NON SMOKING      DINNER                        NON STOP
                            RESERVATION CONFIRMED         3:00 DURATION
                            SEATS 12D/12E/12F NO SMOKING CONFIRMED
K ECONOMY                                  TERMINAL EM
                            DINNER                        NON STOP
                            RESERVATION CONFIRMED         8:15 DURATION
                  AIRCRAFT: BOEING 777-200/300
                            SEATS 48F/50G/50F NO SMOKING CONFIRMED
K ECONOMY                   TERMINAL EM    TERMINAL 2
                                                          NON STOP
                            RESERVATION CONFIRMED         3:59 DURATION
                  AIRCRAFT: BOEING (DOUGLAS) MD-90    
                            SEATS 29B/28A/28B NO SMOKING CONFIRMED
     ETKT:PS/566 7241415764
     ETKT:DL/006 7241415772
     ETKT:PS/566 7241415765
     ETKT:DL/006 7241415774
     ETKT:PS/566 7241415766
     ETKT:DL/006 7241415775

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Final Countdown

Privet family! Thank y'all for the letters, it means a lot to hear from you. Sounds like life continues to go on in the Promised Land. Today is day 1 of transfer 16. It's so weird that I'm at this point, I have tons of crazy feelings right now. Super excited to end here with Kumferman in the Seev Cave, we get along great and we've set some good goals but at the same time I'm starting to get trunky and kind of tired of the missionary schedule. I got some emails today from former companions who just got home and their journey back to the promised land was EPIC! Flights getting cancelled that led to them having to stay in Kiev, mix ups with the airports, 4 new sets of flight plans, crazy stuff! But in the end they all made it back to the airport and said it was glorious. I can't wait!!

There are a few new things since last Wednesday so here we go. We found a new investigator named Akin. He is a brother here from Maryland studying medicine. And turns out he knows Harold, so small world. He is 21 years old and is going back to America for the summer in a few weeks. He is Catholic. When we first met him on the street we weren't wearing our proselyting clothes because we were coming from exercise. So when we met him the second time in our white shirts and slacks carrying a Book of Mormon he was like "Whoa guys, whatchoo dressed up for? Aww man, and you brought the Mormon Bible too!" Our first little meeting (we sat down at an outdoor restaurant) he said he's not going to convert so don't even try and we basically just talked about a ton of stuff. He can't believe we do everything we do. "Being in Ukraine sucks enough, and on top of that you can't have girlfriends, watch tv, movies, or have fun? And you cook for yourselves? Sounds like prison man!" So we talked a lot about our daily life and why we're here. He respected us for what we're doing but isn't too interested in the Gospel. We found out he plays basketball every weekend so we asked if we could come and play and he said sure. So Saturday we went and played basketball with him/other brothers and Ukrainians in the area on a street court. We were in teams of 4. We won our first game but lost the second, then it started pouring rain so we called it quits. Akin wanted to talk to us again so we went to the same little restaurant place and chatted. This time though he asked us "So what's with the Mormons? Like, how do they live their lives different than mine?" So we explained several main differences, like word of wisdom, law of chastity, tithing, church attendance, and a few other ones. He agreed with all of it. He also asked what will happen after this life according to Mormons, so we talked about a few Plan of Salvation doctrines. Kumferman said jokingly, "So basically Akin, you should become a Mormon" and then he said 'I don't know man, I gotta think about it." It was pretty cool to see his change from the first chat to this one. We haven't set up with him again yet but we want to give him a Book of Mormon this week and try and get something going with Harold. 

Since we are working two areas we have some other investigators that Moss and Kumferman were working with as well. One is Sergei. This guy has been coming to church every week for like 10+ years but doesn't want to meet with missionaries. Funny side note, my first week in Alekseevka I went up and shook his hand and asked how long he'd been a member (looks like a member). He said '20 years' so turns out he's not a member after all lol. Only in Ukraine. So we're gonna try and get him meeting with us. Another investigator is Natasha, she is 23 and friends with a member. She should've got baptized already but the member went on a vacation to Kiev last transfer and so progress stopped. She is probably the closest to baptism out of everyone right now. This transfer we've set a goal of 2 baptisms and to work with as many members as possible since most of them live in our area. Member work is starting to become a greater focus than contacting now, which should've happened a while ago. It should be a great final transfer.

Elder Kumferman is the District Leader and we have the smallest district I've ever been in on my mission. We are the only elders and Sister Bull is training two new sisters, Hopin and Walker. May I just say that I fear very much for the new sisters in the mission! There are 10 new ones and are all just really young. I hope they don't get Ukrained too bad. One of the sisters in our district told us she is the youngest in all of Europe East (turned 19 in the MTC). Hopefully they last and stay strong. I don't think it's a good idea to send such young girls here but God knows all so can't argue with that. Also this last week a missionary from Kharkov serving in Kiev got home. He flew into Donetsk and got released then came up to Kharkov on the transfer bus with all the missionaries coming up. So we waited at the branch building with a ton of members greeting him. It was awesome, I don't know him at all but you can just tell he's an RM. This also made me a little trunky haha.

Friday Elder Kumferman and I went and ate lunch with Elder Bolingbroke and his parents. They flew in to pick him up and are touring the mission. That was pretty weird to be honest. Bolingbroke has changed a lot since I served around him in Mariupol, probably just because he's finished his mission, but also because his parents were there. They seemed to be in culture shock at Ukraine, but said it wasn't as bad as they imagined lol. I'll explain things later when I get home. And Saturday the Alekseevka sisters had a baptism. A brother named Richard got baptized. He's been here 10 years and married a Ukrainian so knows pretty good Russian. Michael, one of the members in the branch, baptized and fellowshipped him and bore his testimony about this yesterday, basically just talking about how member missionary work is the way to go. Good stuff. Richard should be a strong member for the brothers. We found out that if all the brothers baptized here were active they could have their own branch. There are several less actives/brothers that have gone missing so President Alyosha really wants us to work with them to do home teaching/find the missing, especially as the Temple trip is coming up at the end of the month. This will probably be a huge focus this month as well. 

I love you guys so much! I hope your week is awesome and filled with good experiences. Know that you're always in my prayers and that I'm doing good. The Church is true, I know it with all my heart. If I didn't, there's no way I'd be out here!

Talk to you later!Inline image 1

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coming Full Circle

Privet family! Man I feel like I haven't written in a really long time. Thanks for your emails and updates, they mean a lot to me. Glad to hear that things are relatively good, minus craziness with school. This past week and a half has been crazy, not really sure how to explain it. Last week was my final full week with Elder Jones. I think we worked our hardest yet, but unfortunately didn't see the success we wanted. All we've wanted to do is put someone on date but it hasn't happened. It's been a transfer of ups and downs. Many investigators that he and Rooney met with haven't been able to meet and the ones we've been meeting haven't gone anywhere. We spent lots of time on the streets and only had two lessons total, both with Vadim young. He also isn't progressing and we have told him now that if he drinks anymore we will stop meeting with him. We met and worked out in the morning Saturday and that night he came to the member meeting for Kharkov District Conference drunk...we explained that this isn't fair to the members who have changed their lives to have someone come drunk to the church, let alone it is disrespectful to God. He agreed and so hopefully he can kick the booze. We're following up with him daily so we hope he can stay strong. Last week I also translated for another brother to get his Temple Recommend, his name is Michael or his nickname is "Apostle of Laughter 13" haha. He passed so now all the brothers have recommends! Their temple trip is at the end of June. 

Thursday we went on a "super split." One of the assistants, Elder Coakwell, came with Elder Harrison (yes, the Harrison who I trained). They were with us for two nights. It was super weird to be with Harrison again, this time as my Zone Leader. He has changed a little bit since I trained him but is still about the same haha. He truly is filled with charity for everyone around him. He is the type of missionary that literally talks to every single person, for example, we were on our way to district meeting and were already late 10 minutes and he stopped a guy on the way and we talked another 10 minutes. He is a good Zone Leader and is striving to do his best. And now his Russian is on fire (it was already better than mine when I trained him) serving with the native after me pretty much perfected it. We got 4 contacts on our split total but none of them have turned out yet. We'll see what happens with them in the upcoming week. All in all it was a good split. 

Friday President Alosha threw Elder Moss a going away BBQ. They have a BBQ at their house (we call it the Seev Cave) and President loves barbecuing so we got together and had a great time. We were just talking about how time has gone by so fast. A year and a half ago I was a greenie at his other house with Schoen not knowing anything lol and now I am serving in his branch, understanding and speaking Russian. President's a pretty sweet guy, perhaps one of the strongest members in Kharkov. That night Elder Jones and I were contacting and wanted to get one more before coming in. We walked by some guys playing basketball and we remembered one of our transfer goals was to teach the gospel through basketball. We both looked at each other and said "I'm down if you are" so I walked up to them and said "Hey, we have a proposition for you. We will  play you 2 on 2 and if you win we'll buy you juice and candy. But if we win then you have to listen to our gospel message." The one guy looked at his friends, then back at us, and said "You're gonna play in those clothes?" Yeah, we'll play in them, don't worry. "OK, let's play." haha so me and Jones played against them at this court right in front of our dom. We played to 15 and ended up winning 15-7. It was weird playing basketball again, haven't played in so long. The guys were mad they lost haha but agreed to listen to us. They all sat on a bench and we taught them a short restoration lesson. We offered them Books of Mormon but they didn't really want them, they're content with being Pravoslavni (Eastern Orthodox). However we got their number though to play again sometime so this is good. Saturday was a Zone Meeting in the morning, then the first session of Kharkov District Conference in the evening. Zone Meeting was amazing, I haven't felt the spirit that strong in a while. the Zone Leaders talked about the principle of accountability and responsibility, the Atonement, our callings, and faith. I have a set a goal for my last transfer to really be accountable for all that I do through daily prayers. So many times I just get into the motions and forget why we need prayer. The evening session was good, all the members watched the training videos from the church that came out recently about the Priesthood where some church leaders are sitting in a circle and discussing how to use Priesthood. I had to translate for the senior couple which was really hard cause of the fast speakers on the videos for 2 hours but I think I got the main points across for them. If you haven't noticed I seem to always get stuck translating haha because I'm the oldest in Alekseevka and Kharkov. It's sometimes scary stuff but I've had many good learning experiences doing it. This is definitely a spiritual gift I've developed on my mission, gift of interpretation of tongues.

Sunday was the actual Kharkov District Conference from 10-12 am. It was weird seeing old members that I haven't seen for a year. The speakers were the District President, the District Relief Society President, President Campero, Sister Campero (who spoke Spanish and President translated that into Russian) and the Kiev Temple President and his wife. And you guessed right, I translated for all the English speakers haha. It was super frustrating because we couldn't get the translating equipment to work but finally did halfway through District President's talk. I sat in a side room with the headset and watched a TV with the speakers on it. The topics were sanctifying yourself, daily scripture study, family home evening, the temple, and the doctrine of election (D&C 29:7) This final topic very much interested me because it was what the Kiev Temple President talked about. My patriarchal blessing specifically says that I would be called to serve among the Lord's elect and my whole mission President Campero has put an emphasis on "finding the elect." The Temple President expounded on this scripture and talked about what it means to be elect. The elect are everyone who fought on Christ's side in the pre-mortal life. So even those who died without the chance to have the gospel in Ukraine are elect and their work must be done through their ancestors, the members of the church in Ukraine right now. It was an awesome talk. Sunday night Harold invited all the missionaries over to his house. He gave us playoff updates of course and we just talked/ate with him. He shared his conversion story and said final goodbye to Elder Moss. Then that night we all stayed at the Seev Cave because Monday morning Moss left early for Donetsk and so I've been in a threesome with Jones and Elder Kumferman since Monday. It was super weird to see Moss go/the whole group who left. I have spent my whole mission around them and now they're gone! Elder Moss called us Monday night and gave me some advice for my final transfer. I can't believe it's almost here! So crazy. 

We met with Vadim old yesterday and unfortunately dropped him. He hasn't prayed about baptism and that commitment was three weeks ago. He just can't make up his mind. He believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet and Book of Mormon is true, but that everyone is a prophet and that all paths go to God. He has met missionaries a very long time and hasn't done too much progress. It is sad but he understood fully why we're going to stop meeting so it's good. And last night transfer calls came out.... Elder Coakwell called and we all gathered around and listened on speaker phone. "Can I speak with Elder Jones?" "Yeah, he's here." "Elder Jones, you have received a transfer call. You're coming down on the transfer bus Thursday morning, 6 am. Come with bags packed." "Awwww man, I don't wanna go!" he said. "Sorry Jones, it'll be good though. Now can I talk to Elder Keown and Kumferman?" "Yeah we're here listening." "OK so Elder Keown, you need to pack your bags as well and move to the other Alekseevka area." Wait, I'm moving to the Seev Cave with Elder Kumferman?" "Yeah, you're going to be finishing with him." silence..."Yeeeeeaaaah!!!!!!!"  SO I will be finishing my mission where Elder Moss just finished, in the Seev Cave with Elder Kumferman. My area with Jones was called Pavlovo Poley, this one is just Alekseevka. But we're going to be working both areas because they're not putting missionaries in Pavlovo Pole. So we're gonna be super busy but I'm way excited. It was a bittersweet moment having Jones there to see me learn I'm going to Kumferman but all is well. I don't know what I did to deserve this put I am very grateful and just ready to work this area until the end. I have come full circle because I started my mission in President Alosha's house as a greenie and am ending in his way nice one in Alekseevka. We have air conditioning, a BBQ, all new appliances, and heated tiles, plus a TV to watch Mormon Messages/church dvds on. I am very content with where I'll be ending. Still super surprised but very excited. I was Kumferman's first companion in country when he came in because his trainer was in Bulgaria and I have served around him this past transfer so we already know each other pretty well. He's from Idaho, his dad teaches Russian at BYU-Idaho, and he's now going into his ninth transfer. I'll send a picture next time.

Alekseevka is a super ethnic place, I love it. Yesterday we got a contact in the morning who is a brother here from Maryland studying medicine, met with Paddy in the evening (from Cameroon) then after went contacting and talked to people from Turkmenistan and China (there's tons of students in Alekseevka) and throughout the day spoke Russian! It's awesome.

And to end this email we found out that the Elders who left yesterday morning (Moss and all them) didn't get out of Ukraine because their flight got cancelled from Donetsk to Kiev in the morning which messed up all the rest!!! So they got new flights to Kiev, stayed there in a hotel and probably went to the Temple. I'm pretty sure they're on their way to America right now so keep them in your prayers. We'll see now what happens to my group in 6 weeks!

Family, I love you all so much. Thank you all for all that you do and tell everyone I say hello and send my love. Know that you are always in my prayers and I am doing well. Have an awesome week and I'll talk to you on Monday! 

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, May 20, 2013

20 Months in Ukraine!

Privet family! Thanks so much for the letters and love, it really means so much to me. So unfortunately we don't have any new investigators from this past week but I have several experiences I'd like to share with you. First off, here is some investigator progress. Only two invesigators could meet this week, the others we couldn't get a hold of. 

Oleg - I don't know if I've talked about him before. He was found in January by the missionaries here and is very nice. He used to be a Baptist preacher but has since stopped being religious. We met with him and his friend in the branch who is a member, Brat Maidan. We wanted to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ but ended up talking about the importance of the Book of Mormon and sharing our testimonies/how we came to know that it was true. He asks lots of crazy questions, most of which are psychological, and Brat Maidan said "Oleg, we can answer your questions really easily, but it's not going to be the answers you want until you read and pray about the Book of Mormon and get your own answer." I really liked this. So many times members on lessons just get off on crazy tangents but he told him how it really is. So we'll see if Oleg has read and wants to continue meeting.

Vadim - We're not super sure what to do with Vadim, but know that we need to just keep meeting with him often or else something crazy might happen. We work out a few mornings in the week with him and then read the Book of Mormon after. On Friday he came to the church looking really down and sad. We did some working out, then really had a spiritual lesson reading from the Book of Mormon. I don't even remember where we read, just that he felt the importance of it and the Spirit. He left the lesson with a smile.

I went on a split with Elder Kumferman this past Tuesday, he's a pretty sweet Elder. When I was in the office I actually served with him a few days while his future trainer was in Bulgaria. This is Elder Moss's final week in Ukraine, he's going to Donetsk this Sunday and will be out early Tuesday morning, so we'll be serving in a threesome with Elder Kumferman next week until transfers. It's super weird seeing Elder Moss go, just because I started my mission with him. 

Since there are many brothers in the branch President Alosha relies on us to translate for them/help them out with branch callings and stuff. So every Sunday I've been translating the temple prep class for them and this last Wednesday I translated four interviews to get temple recommends/callings in the branch. One brother in particular, Paddy, made me smile. He's been a member for like a year and a half and just got his first Temple Recommend. After receiving it, he ran down the hall shouting, "Everyone, I just got my first temple recommend, I'm so excited! Jones, take my picture so I can put it on facebook!" It has been really cool working with the brothers and getting to know them so far. They're planning on going to Kiev at the end of June so this next week we'll be helping them get their family trees done and registered on And Harold (you remember him) moved so we helped him with this and he gave us playoff updates haha. His cousin plays for the Thunder so he was bummed about them losing as well. Definitely an interesting turnout in the playoffs it sounds like. 

Now for some comments/tidbits. We started a new English program last Friday so we'll see how the success goes here in Alekseevka. Not too many people came but maybe more will come as the weeks go on. I'm not really a big fan of the English program but perhaps it will get better with time. Next week P-day is on Wednesday so I won't be writing until then. Transfer calls are coming out Tuesday night. I don't think I'm going anywhere, but anything can happen. Jones might get transferred but everything's just up in the air. The APs told me that I'll like what happens so we'll find out what that means. And Saturday was a baptismal service in Saltovka.We took Vadim and attended the service. This is a lady that the Alekseevka sisters found and then passed to Saltovka. She is kind of a crazy lady, like twenty years she wanted to be baptized but the branch said no but she passed all the baptismal questions and the district leader in Saltovka saw her ready for baptism. There was some drama between missionaries and Branch President there because she was ready but Branch President didn't want to baptize her but in this case it comes down to the District Leader so she was baptized. It was good to go to a baptism, I haven't been to one of those since Mariupol. I really want to help one more person to the waters of baptism. Sometimes it seems that everything you do just doesn't do anything. We're really hoping these last weeks of serving together that we can put someone on date. And count your many blessings that you have hot water! Once a year in Kharkov it gets turned off to save money or something, not really sure, but most doms here don't have hot water at all, including ours. So cold showers until June 15, yea!! And finally, yesterday at Sacrament Meeting a guy from Colorado showed up. He knew some of the members and was talking it up with them but I didn't have a chance to meet him before meeting started. When it came time for speakers, President gave him the pulpit and explained that he was one of the FIRST Donetsk missionaries 20 years ago. So this guy got up and bore his testimony (in Russian, still knows it, very respectable) and just said basically "Wow. I can't believe I'm standing here right now. We started with four members and now you have ninety. It's good to see that you have very strong testimonies and that the work we started hasn't gone to waste." It was awesome to hear this man testify. It really strengthened my testimony that our efforts are all used for good and the church will continue to grow as the Lord sees fit.

Family, I love you all so much. Know that you are in my prayers and I think about you often. Thanks so much for everything, you are the best! I know this church is true and changes lives. Have a great week and I'll hear from you next Wednesday!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, May 13, 2013

Only 26 Baptisms by June 30th

My dear Missionaries,
I resend you the letter that the Area Presidency sent this morning. Now you know who is leaving and who is coming as your new Mission President. Remember our goal till the end of June – 51 (we need only 26 baptisms in the coming 7 weeks) You probably read already my last e-mail regarding the new way to report progressing investigators On Date. With that in mind and anticipating One baptism of two On Date, we need to have 52 On Date. The good news is that this should be done during the next 4 weeks since the baptisms usually become true about three weeks after the investigator accepts to be baptized. Since we have 35 companionships we should try to have, in each companionship, 2 On Date (rated 7 > 10) by June 9th. You probably are saying ‘that is easy’; If you think, pray, visualize and teach families, 2 is even much easier. Dear missionaries, Be Smart, work with the church members and especially the District and Branch leaders. Now you have the lists of almost all of the active members. Their relatives and good friends are the Low Hanging Fruit that we want to bring to the church first. Contacting should continue if you don’t have planned lessons. 15 quality contacts per companionship per week will give you the basis for the baptisms that we are seeking. Remember D&C 4:4 The field is white, ready to harvest.
I testify that the Lord and His angels will be with every diligent and obedient companionship.
With love,
President Campero
7 May 2013
Dear Mission Presidents, Stake Presidents, and Area Seventy of the Europe East Area:
We are writing to inform you that President and Sister Vladimiro Campero of the Ukraine Donetsk Mission have been released from their service by the First Presidency as of July 1st of this year. President Campero has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and the Brethren have instructed him to devote his time, energy, and faith to fighting this cancer. This is a huge loss to all of us in Eastern Europe. There is no one more beloved than the Camperos. They have served admirably and effectively.
For your information, Brother Robert Lochhead, our Area Office of General Counsel (OGC), and his wife K'Lynn, have been called to preside over the Donetsk mission starting on July 1st. Brother Lochhead will be leaving the OGC office next week and will be replaced by Brent Belnap, who has been working with the Kirton and McConkie law firm in Salt Lake City for the last year. Brother Belnap has been consulting on EEA matters for the last several months and will be well apprised of the issues all of you are facing.
We thank, say goodbye, and wish well the Camperos, and let them know that they are in all of our prayers. We congratulate and welcome the Lochheads to their new role. We thank Brother Belnap for his willingness to assume this challenging and valuable assignment.
Europe East Area Presidency

Long Time No See!

Privet again family! So basically this email will probably be a little short since we talked about tons of stuff on Skype. It was AWESOME to see you all and catch up a little bit. I know that Heavenly Father truly watches after you. Here are some other highlights from the week that I forgot to mention.

Family Home Evening/Eating Monday - the Senior couple here in Kharkov, the Arnesons, hold FHE every Monday. It is open to all to come with their investigators who know English so we always go with Vadim and most of the brothers come as well. The brothers call FHE 'Eating Monday' because the Arnesons make a ton of food for everyone haha. This past Monday we played a game called Chinese Writing. Brynn probably knows how to play this. You have four butter knives and choose someone to go out of the room. The remaining people in the room choose one person to be it, and then use the knives to make a "pattern" on the ground to show the person who went out who has been chosen. But really the knives don't mean anything and it's all an inside game where someone mimicks the body movements of the chosen person haha. So basically the brothers couldn't figure out how we knew who it was every time and it was tons of fun. 

I went on a split with Elder Moss, probably my last split with him. He is going home in two weeks and is pretty trunky. Bags are packed and is ready to go. Our lessons dogged on us so we pretty much just contacted/found this cool private home neighborhood in a forest by his area. Elder Moss is known around the mission for being a gospel genious. He knows the scriptures and ancient/modern history inside and out. So our studies were very inspiring to me. Companion study we talked a lot about the temple/marriage and in personal study I was pondering about Lehi's vision and applied this to being a returned missionary, always have the temple in sight. I was looking for a picture in the Liahona of this vision and came across the article by President Uchtdorf called "Always in the Middle" from July 2012. This is something I needed to be reminded of, that we are always in the middle of life, no matter where we are. A missionary at the end of his mission is still in the middle of things. Elder Moss is one of my best friends here on the mission. He is like a brother to me.

And finally, some investigator progress. Johnson is no longer on date since we can't get a hold of him. We'll keep calling but unfortunately I think he's off the map. Vadim young is doing okay. We work out with him a few mornings in the week and read the BOM with him. He is the one with schizophrenia so sometimes he's excited to meet, sometimes he's very depressed and lonely. We asked him how we can best help him and he said to just continue to meet and read. And Igor read the first 8 chapters in the Book of Mormon but has had many doubts about the apostasy and restoration. Jones and Kumferman taught him while I was on my split so I don't know exactly how the lesson went but this week we will be teaching the Plan of Salvation. And we got a referral from Elder Jones' MTC teacher that wants to meet this week so we'll see how this goes. Her name is Sasha. Basically we need new investigators!!!!

That's about it for this week. I love you all very much and thank you for your prayers and love. Have an awesome week and remember who you are and share this testimony with others!! Talk to you next time!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

Monday, May 6, 2013

Two Instead of Three

My beloved Missionaries of our Ukraine Donetsk Mission.

This morning came to my mind a few scriptures and I will explain why I mention them to you.

Our Area president, President Lawrence, called us and read a letter that the First Presidency sent him stating that President Campero and Sister Campero will serve two years instead of the original three. This change is only because President Campero should take care of his health, at this time, as his first priority.

The news was initially distressful but soon after we understood that this is another expression of the love of our Heavenly Father, He knows us personally and he is mindful of our real needs, regardless of our best wishes, so, Ecclesiastes 3:11 applies to us, too. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,

In the Lord’s vineyard He calls us and He releases us, so that means that after we have been called we should do our very best and also prepare ourselves to be released. Every single action of our Lord is for our good. Alma 42:4 And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.

I shared this news with our family and also with my Assistants; they said, very inspired, President, Now what is your goal until the end of June?

I ponder about it during the night and this morning after my prayer I opened my eyes and in front of me was an empty piece of paper. A strong thought came to my mind, “Today is the first day of your future, now you can start with renewed energy.” Yes, I can see my life from a new perspective.

The goal that we should accomplish together in the next two months is to achieve the goals that we already established together, 100 baptisms during this 2013 year, that means that by the end of June we shall bring to the feet of our Savior at least 51 brothers and sisters. We should do this for the correct reasons not only for the numbers. I strongly believe and know that we have all the resources needed. Elder Holland taught during the last General Conference that it doesn’t matter how big or little our faith is, we should apply to the fullest the Faith that each of us have. Our Master said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Are you ready to accomplish our promise?

A long time ago, I said to our President Bennett that he is to me like Moroni and our missionaries are like the Stripling warriors that Helaman taught and guided. You are the Stripling warriors that need this nation. Today in Ukraine we and our members of the church are not at war in the straight sense, but we are all at war with the toughest enemy of our souls. Consider the verse in Alma 46:12. We all have to defend our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children in memory of our God. This is our time to act with the power of God and His angels. D&C 4:4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

The new Mission President will arrive probably on July 1st and it would be great if he can start with a positive mission, one that achieves what promises to our Lord. Read once more D&C 4:4. Yes, the field is white already to harvest.

I testify that to save souls (invite to come and abide with our Savior Jesus Christ) is the most important work that any man or woman should do on this earth.

With increased love. President and Sister Campero

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Privet family, kak dela?

Yesterday was Orthodox Easter here so we're a little behind on the holidays. But actually a little Ukraine fact, almost every day is a different holiday but they are holidays for orthodox kings and queens/icons. The next holiday coming up though is May 9, Victory Day. This is when Nazi Germany was captured by USSR in WWII. It's a pretty big deal here and already kids have been on break and there will be tons of parades and stuff. Maybe I'll get some pictures, we'll have to see.

Things are picking up a little bit in our area, we found three new investigators this past week - Johnson, Erik, and Igor, and JOHNSON HAS A BAPTISMAL DATE! We found him on the street coming home Tuesday night. He is a brother here from Nigeria and knows one of the brothers in the branch already, Michael. We had a great first lesson with him and he said 'Of course I'll get baptized!' So the date right now is May 25 but we found out yesterday that we're having Kharkov district conference that day so we'll probably have to move it back into June. And he didn't make it to church yesterday which was a bummer so hopefully he can come this upcoming week. He seems pretty promising and should get along great with the other brothers. 

Erik is the boyfriend of a less-active in the branch named Aliona. Aliona is friends with Anya who we just helped get active again. His lesson was mostly just asking questions about the church and why we do what we do. We're not sure exactly how serious he is but he took a BOM and wants to read it. We found out yesterday that he and Aliona broke up now though so this might effect if we meet again or not. Aliona might have forced him to listen to us haha but that's not a bad thing.

And Igor is a former investigator. He's a really nice guy, in his 40s and divorced. He is unemployed right now because he does some type of industrial work that isn't needed anymore. He wanted to rent us his apartment which is super nice but it's too expensive for the mission. When he was meeting with the other elders before me (Jones already knows him) he said that he feels God is too busy to answer his prayers. Elder Rooney (Jones' previous comp) told him that this isn't true and that he should pray. He finally prayed and claims to have seen Christ and talked face to face with him. He says that it's all thanks to Rooney and pretty much worships him now. I asked him what Christ told him and he says that Christ told him to love all people and that there aren't any bad people on the earth. I don't know if I believe his vision or not, I think it's possible he saw an angel but I don't know. Lots of people I've talked to say they've seen things, even members. We taught him about the BOM and he said he'd pray again and start reading. We stopped by yesterday since he didn't come to church and gave him the Del Parson picture of Christ and he invited us in to have some Coke and hard boiled eggs. (By the way, Ukrainians dye their eggs using oil peels. You boil the peels then add the eggs and they come out a really pretty dark red.) He's a super nice guy, we'll see where he goes.

We also met with some brother members, Paddy and Herold. So Paddy got baptized when I was a greenie and he's doing great. We helped him make plans to share the gospel with his family since he's the only member. All the brothers are getting ready right now to go to Kiev Temple for the first time so it's gonna be sweet. And Herold got baptized back in 2007 and is married to a Ukrainian with three kids. He fed us great food and brought us up to date about all the crazy stuff going down in America right now. He moved to Utah not too long ago and I found out he might just live in our stake! His kids go to Cottonwood Elementary and he said that he knows President Little. He's going to med school right now through the U of U but is also doing some studying/working here because it's way cheaper and he knows Russian. He's way sweet, I'm gonna need to find him when I get home. 

Progress with other investigators- we only met with the two Vadims. We were going to drop Vadim old but then had an alright lesson about prayer with him. He said he knows the church is true and that the Book of Mormon is true but doesn't want to get baptized. He is very unsure about everything. We might need to drop him if he hasn't prayed about baptism. He's just met with missionaries for a long time and so if he's not progressing than we've got people that are/can find people that will. And Vadim young. We worked out with him on Friday morning and he was doing ok, then Saturday there was an easter activity at the center branch. We invited him to it and he wanted to come, but it got to be half an hour late and he still hadn't shown up. So we called him again and he said he was almost there so we went out and waited for him. He walked up pretty drunk, like we could smell him from a mile away and he had buzzed his hair off. (He used to have really long and curly hair) He came up to the door and we're like "Vadim, what happened man?" He said that he was remembering his dark past and needed to forget it so he got drunk. "Where did you get the money?" 'The barber gave me money for my hair'....This was so sad to see. He then said, 'So can I come in? The members have seen me drunk before, they won't mind. But you're my friends, you're the missoinaries. I trust your decision.' Wow, I really felt a slap in the face from his words. Sometimes I forget just how much we mean to people. I don't know Vadim that well and would consider him an acquaintance, but he really depends on us. And then I got to thinking that if I was really his friend then he wouldn't be drunk right now. Elder Jones and I decided that he shouldn't come in but that he should go home, sleep off his decision, and then we'd see him tonight at FHE. He agreed. But from this experience I have been reminded of just how much I mean to these people. Too often I get caught up in the motions of missionary work that I forget why I'm really here. Vadim needs our help right now and the Lord has seen fit to trust Elder Jones and I with him. This was a hard lesson to learn but I feel that it was needed. 

And now I have some pretty shocking news. President Campero sent out an email today that he will be finishing his mission at the end of June as ordered by the First Presidency due to his health issues. We will be getting a new mission president on July 1. I forwarded you his email so you can read it. He really wants us to achieve our goal we set together, 100 baptisms before he goes home. I feel a very increased desire, almost burning duty, to do all I possibly can to make this happen and do my part, sacrificing more than ever and giving it my all. President will be coming to Alekseevka on Friday and doing some training with our district so I'm looking forward to this very much. 

I love you all and pray for you always. Have a great week, tell everyone that I send my love, and I'll SEE you Saturday on Skype!