This past week has been crazy, tons of stuff happened every day so I'm just going to do a day-by-day account and see if I can get it all written for you. Here we go!
Monday - Pday. All the normal things like studies and shopping, then we played some ping pong at the branch and went to FHE at Sasha's house. Sasha is a recent convert who is also a branch missoinary. He's awesome, like 28 or 29, pretty well off, and knows great English. He found the church through English. The turnout was really good, Tanya, Elder Bolingbroke and Fife's investigator/Sasha's friend came, as well as Natasha, the sister's investigator. Tanya and Natasha come to everything, they're basically members. But Tanya's husband is against baptism so she can't be baptized yet. And Natasha is just worried what people will think when she joins. They're both Saints though.
Tuesday - We planned on getting two contacts and only had a little more than an hour to do so. We planned to do this before our lesson with Denis. So we got to the area and started looking for apartment buildings with open doors that we could go in and tract because it was freezing cold on the street, like -3. So we finally found a door and went to the top. Every door we knocked if they opened just got slammed back in our face. After several of these Elder Harris was like "Elder, I feel like this is worthless. Let's go on the street." I also felt the same way so we left the podezd and were out on the freezing street again. In the distance I saw a lady walking towards us and I had the thought to stop her and get her contact, no matter what. I talked to her as she walked by and she said she was in a hurry. So I started walking next to her and talking. She asked what church we were and I said the Mormon church. "The Mormons? Wait, really?" Yeah, we're Mormons. "Just last week me and my husband were talking about your church wondering what's with you!" So then we started talking about the Boof of Mormon and whatnot and got her number, plus she referred us to her husband. She said to call in a few weeks. And then after this we still had some time and found another dom with an open podezd. We went to the top and the second door we knocked was a really nice babushka who gladly accepted a Book of Mormon and a return appt. for Friday. Miracles! Then we went to Denis. We talked about the Atonement a little bit and showed that baptism brings a remission of sins, not just repentance alone and that we need to come to church in order to get baptized. His commitment was talking to his mom and sharing his feelings because we feel that she thinks that we just want him to get baptized, not him. It was a good lesson. That night we had another FHE at President Gushins. We gave a spiritual thought and there were like 20 people there, great turnout. We played a fun game where you have to suck m&ms through a straw into your cup and roll dice and stuff. We quite enjoyed this, FHE is always fun. After this like 9 of us hopped into the freight elevator in President's dom. We got to the bottom and IT BROKE!!! We were stuck at the bottom! For over an hour!! It was me, Elders Harris, Bolingbroke, Fife, Tanya, Natasha, Ruslan (recent convert), Zhenya (less active) Alona (RS Pres). It was actually pretty fun haha, we called the operator lady and she could care less about our situation so they were all saying really funny stuff to her and making tons of jokes as we waited. I don't know how to explain it, just not expected. As we waited Brat Oleg the first counselor and Artur a cool kid from English were working on getting us out. Neighbors came out and complained about the noise and made fun of us for being stuck, etc, and then after an hour we were free! For sure something I'll never forget.
Wednesday - We started a split with the other Elders. Elder Bolingbroke came to me on Left Bank and we went and played soccer with President and some youth in the branch because school got cancelled this whole week due to snow. So we played indoor, it was pretty fun. I'm really out of shape though! We also held English class for the last time. I gave a spiritual thought about Pray to know the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. There were about 20 people that stayed for the thought and President Gushin translated for me (the thought is in English and translated into Russian) I felt the Spirit testify to me of the truthfulness of the restoration as I spoke. I just hope that the people there were able to feel it and want to know more. English is over now for four weeks as we find new people and then we'll start the 8 week course again on May 1. After English we had a lesson with Tanya. It started off great and she was opening up about her husband and how we can help him not be angry about the church and let her be baptized. But then Ruslan came in (recent convert) and was offended we hadn't invited him on the lesson so Tanya invited him to stay and we ended up talking about forgiving others and love. Ruslan seems to be offended at everyone in the branch for really silly reasons, and at us for not inviting him on all lessons, blah blah. He's in our area and we need to meet with him and explain his role as a branch missionary and that he can't act like that and ruin lessons. The branch is having a lot of problems right now, you don't need to know but basically just people getting upset over little things. We're doing what we can as a district to just maintain good relationships because everyone likes the missionaries. President Gushin is a stud, only 25 and the branch president dealing with a lot. He gets along very well with us and helps a ton. He's a great guy.
Thursday - Woke up to yet another blizzard. Elder Bolingbroke and I didn't want to go outside and talk to people at all, but we decided to anyway. As we were walking down the street we stopped an older guy maybe like 60 yrs. old and I was like "Good morning!" and he says 'haha, you have to talk to people about religion, no one cares about you' and so we're like "well, we like being here and there are people ready to hear" and then I tried to change the subject a little with "how are you doing today?" and then he grins/sneers through his gold teeth and says 'Better than you my lads!' and just walks off in the snow with his cane and shopka hahaha. I thought this was hilarious, it's so Ukrainian/Russian culture, just really bold, tell you what's on my mind response. We kept going and stopped another older man named Gennady. He said he believed in Christ and recently had a hole in his lung 17 mm but after he started believing it shrunk to only 8 mm. He took a Book of Mormon and then said he has tuberculosis! So we're not sure if we can meet with him or not, still not sure what to do about this situation. We ended the split at district meeting and set some good goals. Oh, fyi, the sisters are back in the district now. So we set the following goals for our short transfer (it ends April 18) As a district, 1 baptism, 5 on date, 5 at church every week, 100 contacts, 10 new investigators. We feel that we can achieve these and are on our way to doing so. I had a great split with Bolingbroke, we get along really well and are planning on keeping in touch after the mission.
Friday - Elder Harris and I were able to set up a lesson with Oleg, a former investigator from about 2 years ago. His nickname from Elder Mironchenko who found him is 'Oleg the Gentle Giant.' He reminds me a lot of Santa Claus. He almost got baptized but couldn't stop drinking black tea and also stopped coming to church. So we met him on the street and were basically like "Why aren't you baptized?" And he admitted his problems are church attendance and black tea still. He wants to get baptized though, it's interesting. We think he's scared of commitment. But we're thinking of making him a calendar with things to do each day building up to his baptism and he seemed to like this idea. Now we need to meet with him and get him to church, see if he's serious or not. In the evening we set up with the nice babushka from Tuesday. Her name is Nelya. We showed up though and she had her son come to the door saying she was sick and wanted to return the BOM, and wasn't interested anymore. Bummer! But we left it with him and told him to read it or give it to someone else. Our goal was 2 contacts again and we had said in our prayer that we would stay out until we got them. So we tracted the rest of that building and the second to last door on the bottom another nice babushka opened up who was Russian Catholic but wanted to know more about us. She took a Liahona and said we can come back soon! Then we went out on the street and felt like we should walk towards a grocery store. We felt that we'd find someone before we got there and then celebrate by buying some doughnuts inside (we heard from other missionaries they sell doughnuts) So we went walking there and sure enough, as we got by the store, we walked by a lady and I felt I should talk to her. It was almost the exact same as Tuesday. She didn't want to talk to me, but I kept pushing and just talking about the Book of Mormon and she finally wanted to read it and give her number. It's amazing to see how people change during conversations, how they are touched by the spirit. We went into the store and bought those doughnuts but they turned out to be really dry and not very good haha. But hey we got our goal and maybe some potential investigators.
Saturday - So Tanya has a friend named Vova who is a studio drummer! Ever since she found out I play she's been trying to hook us up and so she called and said we could come and jam on his drums! So me, Elder Harris, and Tanya went to the outskirts of town past some coal factories to this really sketchy building and met him there. He pulled up in his Jaguar and introduced himself, then showed us his studio. He had an electric kit and an acoustic kit (just normal drums). It was really weird playing again! My mind wanted to play certain things but my hands didn't cooperate. This was kind of depressing haha but I'm faithful I'll get back into music after the mission. Just need to practice again. Vova said it's really bad we haven't played so long and was also Atheist and said something like "yeah, it's a shame you gave up your talent for some business all the way in Ukraine. Why would you even come here? What a waste" So the best we could do was testify but as far as teaching him the gospel probably need to wait a little. If we go back though I want to talk to him more, we didn't have too much time. BUT I GOT TO PLAY THE DRUMS! After this, we had a lesson with Rustam (the one whose picture I sent) about seeing others as who they can become. It was a good lesson. We also found out during this that daylight savings time was tomorrow so we had to run to get home. I still despise daylight savings if your wondering haha. But there is better news though - PRESIDENT CAMPERO CAME BACK! All his tests went well and he is feeling good. We're very happy to hear that he's back.
Sunday - Church was good, Elder Harris had to give a talk (I dodged that one) and as a disrict we had 8 investigators at church! New record! Afterwards we had branch council, then later on had another lesson with Denis. This one we just filled him in on what he missed from church (families, atonement) and asked what his mom said. When it gets warmer, she'll let him come and he can be baptized. So now we're just waiting for the weather. We walked around tonight and talked with people, for the weather is very nice now. The snow is practically melted and people were more willing to talk.
So this is my week. Lots of stuff happened and we are seeing success bit by bit, miracle by miracle. I know that God lives and is with us in our daily lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world. He loves each and every one of us. And the Book of Mormon is the word of God, translated by Joseph Smith, His prophet. I read D&C 100 yesterday and was reminded that as I serve, you are all taken care of. I know that Heavenly Father watches after each of you as well. I hope you all have a great week. Know that I love you so much and pray for you often. I can't believe it's April. Basically three months now! Just gotta live each day like its the last and don't look back. Thanks so much for your love and those Easter pics. I tried to send some pics today but it didn't work. Maybe next week. But I'm out of time. Love you all and talk to you later!
Украинская Донецкая Миссия