Privet family, how are you doing?!
Thanks for your emails, it's always great to read and hear how things are going at home. I have tons of stuff to talk about from this past week so we'll see if I can fit them all in!
Last Monday, January 7th, we didn't have any plans and were just planning on finding on the streets and tracting. About 4:00 Sergei called us and asked what we were doing that evening. I told him nothing, so he invited us over as guests for Christmas. We knew that we'd be eating a lot of food but I didn't know it would be THAT much haha. His wife cooked some soup kind of like borsh but without beets, then we had mashed potatoes and fish with bones in it everywhere, there was a white beet salad, pickled tomatoes and cucumbers, then apple cake and a dish called kutya (accent on the end of word). Kutya is cooked rice with honey, walnuts, and poppy seeds. They make a ton of it and leave it on the table for New years and Christmas until it's basically all gone. It was a huge meal but tasty. We talked about a lot of stuff with them but unfortunately didn't really get a chance to fit in a gospel message. It just didn't seem right for some reason. I love this family so much but I fear that our relationship is more of "hey come over and eat and talk with us" instead of us teaching them. They've been really busy and haven't had time to read. Sergei should be coming to church soon so this is our focus with him, as well as getting them to pray. They told us if we ever come back to visit after we go home that we can stay with them. This is my favorite thing about these people- they are really closed when you first meet them on the street but after you get to know them you are basically family. They are awesome and we keep praying for them to be opened more to the gospel.
Thursday we had a Zone Meeting in Donetsk. I was expecting to hear a lot about missionary work as always and how to improve the work in our areas but the focus this time was our personal relationships with God. We watched Elder Bruce R. McConkie's final talk before he passed away and focused on his invitation "to know the Savior better buy learning of His Atonement and not listening to what the world says." The best way to come to know Him better is through obedience, and grace makes up our weaknesses as we strive to better ourselves everyday as we faithfully do missionary work. It was a very uplifting meeting. Afterwards, we had to take a taxi home because we had tons of stuff so we shared with Elders Efoshkin and Carley. The lady from the company called back to tell us our taxi was there but I didn't understand her and passed our phone to Efoshkin. He talked to her and said that the taxi was here and waiting in front of the office, so we all went and took our BOMs/water filter stuff with us. Basically we were really distracted and forgot to get the phone back from Efoshkin. So when we got back to the apartment we were supposed to have a less-active lesson but then I realized we didn't have the phone, which meant we couldn't call anyone and had no connection with the district or zone leaders. Pretty bad! So we decided to ask the less-active to use her phone and call zone leaders and see if we could stay with center elders Groothuyzen and Newey for the night to call in or else no one would know if we were home or not. So we got to her apartment and found that her main door was locked! of course! There was no domo-phone to call her on and so we waited to see if anyone who lived there would come by and open the door but no one came. We then decided to try Richard's house, the American peace corps volunteer. We walked there and miraculously his door was open and he was home. We knocked and asked to use his phone, he let us of course, and I found out that Carley and Efoshkin had already given it to center elders so I called them and then we traveled all the way to their apartment, we got our phone, called the less-active and explained what happened, and were home by 9! Pretty crazy stuff haha but I guess I'm just kind of used to things like this happening. Also something cool from this is Richard gave us a referral! A lady who works in a little shop by his apartment thought he was an LDS missionary. He told her no, but that he knows us and would pass the message along she wants to meet. We haven't been able to find her yet but hopefully we will this week.
To add to this our faucet broke on Wednesday hahaha. Part of it broke a few months ago when the APs came (maybe you remember my little flood story) but Elder Bolingbroke was able to buy a new part and fix it. Well this time the other side, the hot water part, broke off, so we made a contraption to catch the water into the sink and still use the water at the same time. But it was a really lame faucet anyway and leaks when the water's on everywhere on the counter so you would turn it on, wash a dish or something, then wipe down the counter every 10 seconds. Fun stuff. But anyway, we went to a little store nearby and they didn't have the part and said we could come back Saturday for it. So this was all good until the next day when our hot water stopped working in general because our pilot light went out! So basically we boiled water and used that to shower until Saturday. THEN Saturday morning we were very excited because the part should have come in, right? Well, it didn't. We went back and forth to different stores looking for the little part and everyone said they didn't have it and so we finally just called our landlord and said "Hey, we're buying a new faucet and installing it by ourselves. Also, our hot water doesn't work so come by whenever you can." So all morning we ran around, then bought a new faucet and installed it ourselves. It was pretty rewarding to do that I must say. I've learned a little bit about fixing stuff on my mission so some things I know how to deal with. So our water worked but there still wasn't any hot water. Elder Harrison then realized that HE turned the gas off thinking it was water for the sink!!!! So I turned it on, lit the pilot light, called the landlord and said don't come anymore, then we continued on with our day. haha I'm just laughing as I'm writing this. I thought that the gas just somehow got cut off, kind of like how sometimes our water just gets turned off but in the end, everything worked out and all is well in Zion again. :)
AND to add to this, for the very first time on my mission I had to give a talk in Sacrament yesterday! This is quite ironic because last week I told Brynn I will probably never speak but I spoke too soon haha. Our whole district was asked to speak and give 5-7 minute talks about missionary work. I ended up speaking longer than needed and the branch president passed me a note that said "Unfortunately you're time has finished. Please bear your testimony and sit down." The branch really enjoyed the talks though, we have a good relationship with them. Next week I'll send you my talk. I talked about how we can share the gospel just going about doing good, praying for opportunities to serve, and used Ammon's example of service first/building relationships then teaching leading to the start of missionary work among the Lamanites and many baptisms.
I love you all so very much! I'm out of time but please know that you are in my prayers and I am so grateful to be here at this time in Ukraine. The Church is true and the Lord truly directs His work in these Latter-days. Have a great week and I'll talk to you next week!
Украинская Донецкая Миссия