Transfer meeting was Thursday and I honestly didn't expect to hear where I've been assigned - I'm back in Kharkov to finish my mission, serving with Elder Jones in the Alekseevka Branch!! I never thought I'd make it back up to Kharkov, I haven't been here for almost a year. It's pretty weird being back here but I'm happy. The Branch President of Alekseevka (maybe you remember) is Alosha Miroshnichenko, my landlord from Cold Mountain who lived above me. It was crazy seeing him again since the last time he saw me I was a greenie. He's happy to have me in his branch. I've also seen a few other faces I knew when I was a greenie. It's weird talking to them, they all remember me but now I can actually talk Russian with them so it's cool. And my comp is pretty sweet, Elder Jones. He is from West Jordan and got to Ukraine in November. Side note/small world - His dad Mark Jones graduated from Cottonwood and his grandparents live just beyond the Sinclair on 9th East, across from the elementary school dad went to. He is pretty young on the mission (transfer 5) and is still 19 years old but we get along great. And Elder Harris was his trainer so Harris talked about him a lot so I knew a little about him already. He'll keep me in line as I finish my mission. He is District Leader and senior comp so unless something changes I'll finish my mission as a normal missionary, no leadership or anything! Freedom!! I just get to work hard everyday and not worry about call-ins and meetings and all that stuff. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at! And my district is great - myself, Elder Jones, Elder Moss (yes, The Elder Moss, MTC companion, he's going home at the end of May one transfer early), Elder Kumferman, and Sisters Helsten and Bull. Don't really know the sisters that well but they seem pretty cool.
So Alekseevka Branch is pretty awesome. There are tons of brothers in this branch, and by brothers I mean African brothas here for school. They come here because it's cheaper or easier to get education and lots of them have joined the church here. There are about 10 members and several of their friends come. We haven't met with any investigators yet but Jones tells me that we are teaching 6 brothas right now named Michael, Edmond, Luke, Theddy, Toosin (Cash), and Jay. I met Edmond and Luke yesterday at church, they're pretty cool. Apparently they almost got baptized but they never come to church on time and miss Sacrament Meeting. So we're hoping to get them baptized. We have several other Ukrainian investigators as well but just need to meet with them it sounds like. The past missionaries in this area got tons of contacts and first lessons so we're going to focus on meeting with these people who only know about the Restoration and get them to church. This area has tons of potential, I'm pretty excited to be working here. Jones says we have a lot of lessons in English so it's gonna be weird teaching in English again. And my first Sunday yesterday I had to give a talk! The missionary that got transferred was supposed to do it but passed it to me. Such is my luck. My topic was "How reading the Book of Mormon helps us share the gospel". I pretty much used Preach My Gospel Chapter 5, I think it went well. I don't write out my talks anymore so I can't really send you a copy. Sorry!
Upon getting to Kharkov I called Akbar and told him I was back. He wanted to meet the next day so we met Friday night. It was great seeing him again! But honestly he's not doing so hot. He can't find a job anywhere and the church hasn't been able to help him he says to get citizenship here (there is a new Ukrainian law just passed that foreigners can't be given jobs) so he thinks he'll go back to Iran pretty soon. He's going to hide the fact he changed religions and maybe go to Armenia or somewhere he can find work. I felt impressed to talk about patriarchal blessings with him. It went pretty good I thought and he wants to receive one. The only problem is that the patriarch is coming here in August so he doesn't think he'll be here anymore. He wants to get one though so I hope very soon this works out. He's going to play a huge role in getting the church into Iran.
Now for some comments/tidbits. Elder Harrison (the one who I trained) is now my Zone Leader. This is pretty weird for me but I always knew he'd be ZL pretty early on in his mission when we were together. We're going on a split this Wednesday, I'll catch up with him a bit.
I love you all so much! Have an awesome week and keep on keeping on! D&C 84:85.
Украинская Донецкая Миссия