Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Last Week in the Promised Land

Privet family-

Well, I will start off by telling you about last night. We got a transfer call at 9:00 from President Campero (which is weird because the APs always do calls) and he said, "Are you home?" 'Yeah.' "Good. I called to say that you're BOTH GETTING TRANSFERRED. But don't worry, it's a good thing, you'll understand later." Then he hung up the phone...This isn't what we expected at all!!!! Elder Harris has been here a total of 4 weeks and next transfer is his last one. He wasn't happy at all to get this news. The APs even told us when they came down for Denis' baptism that he was staying and I probably was too. But things have changed. I really wanted to stay and keep working Left Bank and see more miracles here but I have learned on my mission that whenever transfers come it's always something better, even if we don't think that way. Our thoughts are not the Lord's. So today will be spent finishing packing, cleaning, writing whitewash notes for whoever is coming to our area now, saying goodbye to people if we even have time, then tomorrow morning at 8:30 the transfer bus comes to our apartment, transfer meeting is at 1, and I'll probably be assigned to my final area. It's crazy being a missionary, so much moving and goodbyes, but I know the Lord's hand is in it all. My guesses for transfers are as follows - either Elder Harris and I stay together and go to a new area, I train one of the three new greenies coming in, or go somewhere else. Only time will tell! 
Last Tuesday we had Zone Leader's Council. It wasn't as spiritually uplifting as I expected, but it was good though, we talked about lots of topics and where the mission is going at this time. Our focus is the family - families can be together forever, teach families - investigator families or part-members, emphasizing the family proclamation. And this was the last ZLC with all elders. There has been a new guideline made for all missions around the world that there will now be sister coordinators (basically sister APs) because of all the sister missionaries serving now so all the meetings will be "Mission Council". But this probably doesn't concern me anymore haha, just thought you might be interested about that announcement. I'm very grateful for the time I've spent down here in Mariupol. The people I've met have changed my life forever. The branch is very special, I have experienced true love between the members and missionaries. And I have grown so much spiritually as well as in leadership skills. I was blessed with awesome missionaries to work around. I will miss Mariupol but I'm excited to see what is in store for me to end. 

Elder Harris and I have been doing lots of contacting/tracting chastni doms (private houses= normal size houses put together like neighborhoods). You walk up to the fence and if there's a doorbell you can ring it, if not you can yell for them to come out or just move on to the next house. It's a pretty wild experience. And there are always huge dogs that can easily jump the fence just barking and drooling everywhere the whole time you wait for the person to come out. We had a few people say we could come back but then it didn't work out (example - a lady in a really nice house said we could come back. We went back two days later and walked up to the gate and a really sketchy guy sitting in a parked car told us we had better get lost or else some bad things were gonna happen). We think it was a mafia house. But anyway, moving on, there continue to be tons of miracles happening in Mariupol right now!!! The sisters finally got Natasha on date for May 4! I don't know if I've talked about her, she is a member referral, about 30 yrs old with a son named Vlad, 12 yrs old. She directs the choir that the member sings in (we went to their concert a few months ago). She is basically a member already, comes to church each week plus FHE, and it's just super awesome she is getting baptized. She wants Vlad to get baptized as well and serve a mission. The sisters are also working with a great family that President Gushin referred, a mom and two sons. They have committed to baptism, just no date yet. And Elder Bolingbroke and Fife two weeks ago were walking out of their apartment and a lady came running up to them asking if they were Mormon missionaries. They talked with her, turns out she lived in America with a friend and heard about the church there but just didn't have time to find out more. She knows English, came to conference, and is on date now for May 4. AND Elder Harris and I got a referral, FIRST OF MY MISSION. He's way awesome, his name is Georgi and is a good family man. He saw the Kiev Temple recently and looked the church up. He's already into 1 Nephi 17, maybe further, and we were going to meet him tonight but have passed him to the elders since we're getting transferred. He also came to conference, only saw a little bit but seemed to like it a lot. He'll for sure get baptized soon. We also taught a lesson to a man named Sergei. He is the husband of a lady we contacted a few weeks ago. It turns out the wife gave him the Book of Mormon we gave her and he read the whole thing and had tons of questions for us! So we met after conference. He is an atheist, but the lesson was really good though. His thought process at the end seemed to be that "If I believed in God, this would be the only true church, it's the most logical". Perhaps he'll get baptized sometime in the future as well. 

I'm running out of time so sorry if this is rushed. Conference was awesome. We watched it in Russian with the members and then in English. I received many answers to questions, mainly about what to do as a returned missionary. The answers were simple - keep sharing the gospel and my experiences with everyone, especially family members; marriage should be a top priority :D; my education is important to God; don't forget the basics - church, prayers, scripture study, temple; and President Monson's formula of success - 1) Study the scriptures diligently 2) Plan life with a purpose 3) Teach with testimony 4) Serve the Lord with love. It was an excellent conference, just what I needed. It really impressed me that President Monson talked about missionary work and obedience as well.

I'm out of time! I love you all so much!!!! Have a great week and know that you are always in my prayers. God lives. Jesus is the Christ. Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today. The Book of Mormon is true. Talk to you all on Monday again!

с любовью,
Старейшина Каун
Украинская Донецкая Миссия

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