Bolshoi privet family!
This past week has been insane, I don't even know where to begin. I'll go from this last Tuesday night after Elder Harrison and I received transfer calls. We were both bummed that we got whitewashed (this means both companions transfer out by the way) but feel like we left Daky in good hands. Wednesday (last P-day) was spent packing all day/we went bowling as a district one final time/met with the Heyleaks. They weren't very happy to hear the news but they understood that it's just part of the mission. We taught them about the faith process (Alma 32) and left our testimonies with them. Sergei bought Elder Harrison and I a gift as well- a bottle of Ukrainain cologne! Haha. I really hope that they keep meeting with missionaries, if they come to church they'll know it's true and get baptized. But now seving in Daky are Elders Robison and Newey so we feel that they'll take good care of the investigators and members there. OK so Thursday we had transfer meeting in Donetsk. President announced news in the mission (27 investigators on date!) and then the APs announced transfers- I am now serving in Mariupol with Elder Sanger! He is from Oregon and is going into his 7th transfer. So far we get along great. He was just serving in Kharkov and had some bad luck and slipped on the ice up there and messed up his foot pretty bad though so he's on crutches for this whole transfer. But this isn't stopping him from working though. He's a trooper. It just takes us a lot longer to get around but other than that all is well. So along with my new area came more leadership- I have been called to be Zone Leader! My Zone has 6 missionaries (4 elders and 2 sisters). President has called zone leaders in the outermost cities and then in Donetsk and Kharkov the zones have like 20+ missionaries. So it is very comparable to a district but since we're so far away from everyone we also function as a zone. As part of this calling, I attended Zone Leader's Council at President's apartment Friday morning, so Thursday night I stayed in Donetsk. By the way, the other members of the zone here are Elder Bolingbroke, a mini missionary from Saltovka named Elder Zabutiluk, and Sister's Wagers and Erekson. The mini will only be here one or two more weeks though because then Elder Bolingbroke will train a new missionary who didn't come in on time due to breaking his foot at the MTC. But back to ZLC, it was a great meeting. There are tons of responsibilities being a Zone Leader, I basically oversee the work in Mariupol and conduct training as needed with our weekly meetings (like district meetings). The other big part of Zone Leader's Council was emphasizing the fact that we should make the branch we serve in OUR branch, just as we would at home, and have the kind of relationship with the members as we'd have with our families. The next ZLC is the beginning of March so I just pray I can fulfill this calling to the best of my abilities down here.
Mariupol is an amazing place, it might very well end up being my favorite area (and possibly my last one on my mission). We live about 15 min. from the Azov Sea and the branch is amazing. It is like a huge family. And yesterday I had to give a talk (again) haha. The elder who got transferred from Mariupol passed me the assignment but it was fine though, my talk went better than I thought. I talked about D&C 4:3 and what it means to have desire. The branch welcomed all of us very warmly, it might be the best first day of church I've seen on my mission. The branch president is awesome, his name is President Gooshin. He's 25 and just got back from Novosibirsk mission a year ago. He lives 5 minutes from our apartment and has helped out a ton so far, plus he knows perfect English. I'm sure we'll get to know his family very well. And you might find this interesting, all the snow has melted down here! The sea is still frozen but there is absolutely no snow. It's cold because we're by the sea but that will go away pretty soon probably. This winter has been weak, last winter was 10 times colder. AND one more awesome piece of news-- Elder Sanger and I put an investigator on date last night for February 23!! She's golden, she is a member referral from the Gooshin family and the sisters taught her basically everything except some commandments and then got transferred. Her name is Nina. She is 73 years old, loves church, and has been inviting friends to come each week. So mark the date! And there's one more investigator on date as well in the Center area for next month. The work is progressing down here, that's for sure. They already had 3 baptisms in January. We will keep it up!
Now for some comments/tidbits. Elder Harrison got transferred to Kharkov, the Alekseevka branch and HE IS TRAINING THE RUSSIAN ELDER FROM SAMARA! I'm pretty proud of him, he's going to be a great trainer. I didn't see him doing anything else, he's born to train and lead. They'll do some great work up there. It sounds like Joe's ready to enter the mission field. I can't believe that his time has come now. Tell him good luck for me. Here's a question for you - was I an active child growing up? I told a member here when my birthday is and she said there's some belief that if your date has lots of 1s it means you were an active child. I told her I'd ask haha. And this is also interesting- there is an American LDS couple from South Jordan in Mariupol right now adopting three kids. They've been here for a month now and are leaving next week. They come to church and I met them yesterday because I translated for them. I don't know their last name, perhaps I can find it out. But they invited us to get some pizza with them today so we'll be doing that. It's a small world!
Well, I hope this email has answered some questions for you all. Missionary life is a roller coaster. One moment you are very comfortable with your area and then all of a sudden you end up by the Azov Sea wondering what happened haha. It will be an interesting first week figuring the area out and meeting people but all will be just fine. I love you family! Know that you are in my prayers and thoughts everyday. I hope that all is well with you. Have an excellent week and remember that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, and the Book of Mormon is true. Talk to you next week!
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