Privet family! Man I feel like I haven't written in a really long time. Thanks for your emails and updates, they mean a lot to me. Glad to hear that things are relatively good, minus craziness with school. This past week and a half has been crazy, not really sure how to explain it. Last week was my final full week with Elder Jones. I think we worked our hardest yet, but unfortunately didn't see the success we wanted. All we've wanted to do is put someone on date but it hasn't happened. It's been a transfer of ups and downs. Many investigators that he and Rooney met with haven't been able to meet and the ones we've been meeting haven't gone anywhere. We spent lots of time on the streets and only had two lessons total, both with Vadim young. He also isn't progressing and we have told him now that if he drinks anymore we will stop meeting with him. We met and worked out in the morning Saturday and that night he came to the member meeting for Kharkov District Conference drunk...we explained that this isn't fair to the members who have changed their lives to have someone come drunk to the church, let alone it is disrespectful to God. He agreed and so hopefully he can kick the booze. We're following up with him daily so we hope he can stay strong. Last week I also translated for another brother to get his Temple Recommend, his name is Michael or his nickname is "Apostle of Laughter 13" haha. He passed so now all the brothers have recommends! Their temple trip is at the end of June.
Thursday we went on a "super split." One of the assistants, Elder Coakwell, came with Elder Harrison (yes, the Harrison who I trained). They were with us for two nights. It was super weird to be with Harrison again, this time as my Zone Leader. He has changed a little bit since I trained him but is still about the same haha. He truly is filled with charity for everyone around him. He is the type of missionary that literally talks to every single person, for example, we were on our way to district meeting and were already late 10 minutes and he stopped a guy on the way and we talked another 10 minutes. He is a good Zone Leader and is striving to do his best. And now his Russian is on fire (it was already better than mine when I trained him) serving with the native after me pretty much perfected it. We got 4 contacts on our split total but none of them have turned out yet. We'll see what happens with them in the upcoming week. All in all it was a good split.
Friday President Alosha threw Elder Moss a going away BBQ. They have a BBQ at their house (we call it the Seev Cave) and President loves barbecuing so we got together and had a great time. We were just talking about how time has gone by so fast. A year and a half ago I was a greenie at his other house with Schoen not knowing anything lol and now I am serving in his branch, understanding and speaking Russian. President's a pretty sweet guy, perhaps one of the strongest members in Kharkov. That night Elder Jones and I were contacting and wanted to get one more before coming in. We walked by some guys playing basketball and we remembered one of our transfer goals was to teach the gospel through basketball. We both looked at each other and said "I'm down if you are" so I walked up to them and said "Hey, we have a proposition for you. We will play you 2 on 2 and if you win we'll buy you juice and candy. But if we win then you have to listen to our gospel message." The one guy looked at his friends, then back at us, and said "You're gonna play in those clothes?" Yeah, we'll play in them, don't worry. "OK, let's play." haha so me and Jones played against them at this court right in front of our dom. We played to 15 and ended up winning 15-7. It was weird playing basketball again, haven't played in so long. The guys were mad they lost haha but agreed to listen to us. They all sat on a bench and we taught them a short restoration lesson. We offered them Books of Mormon but they didn't really want them, they're content with being Pravoslavni (Eastern Orthodox). However we got their number though to play again sometime so this is good. Saturday was a Zone Meeting in the morning, then the first session of Kharkov District Conference in the evening. Zone Meeting was amazing, I haven't felt the spirit that strong in a while. the Zone Leaders talked about the principle of accountability and responsibility, the Atonement, our callings, and faith. I have a set a goal for my last transfer to really be accountable for all that I do through daily prayers. So many times I just get into the motions and forget why we need prayer. The evening session was good, all the members watched the training videos from the church that came out recently about the Priesthood where some church leaders are sitting in a circle and discussing how to use Priesthood. I had to translate for the senior couple which was really hard cause of the fast speakers on the videos for 2 hours but I think I got the main points across for them. If you haven't noticed I seem to always get stuck translating haha because I'm the oldest in Alekseevka and Kharkov. It's sometimes scary stuff but I've had many good learning experiences doing it. This is definitely a spiritual gift I've developed on my mission, gift of interpretation of tongues.
Sunday was the actual Kharkov District Conference from 10-12 am. It was weird seeing old members that I haven't seen for a year. The speakers were the District President, the District Relief Society President, President Campero, Sister Campero (who spoke Spanish and President translated that into Russian) and the Kiev Temple President and his wife. And you guessed right, I translated for all the English speakers haha. It was super frustrating because we couldn't get the translating equipment to work but finally did halfway through District President's talk. I sat in a side room with the headset and watched a TV with the speakers on it. The topics were sanctifying yourself, daily scripture study, family home evening, the temple, and the doctrine of election (D&C 29:7) This final topic very much interested me because it was what the Kiev Temple President talked about. My patriarchal blessing specifically says that I would be called to serve among the Lord's elect and my whole mission President Campero has put an emphasis on "finding the elect." The Temple President expounded on this scripture and talked about what it means to be elect. The elect are everyone who fought on Christ's side in the pre-mortal life. So even those who died without the chance to have the gospel in Ukraine are elect and their work must be done through their ancestors, the members of the church in Ukraine right now. It was an awesome talk. Sunday night Harold invited all the missionaries over to his house. He gave us playoff updates of course and we just talked/ate with him. He shared his conversion story and said final goodbye to Elder Moss. Then that night we all stayed at the Seev Cave because Monday morning Moss left early for Donetsk and so I've been in a threesome with Jones and Elder Kumferman since Monday. It was super weird to see Moss go/the whole group who left. I have spent my whole mission around them and now they're gone! Elder Moss called us Monday night and gave me some advice for my final transfer. I can't believe it's almost here! So crazy.
We met with Vadim old yesterday and unfortunately dropped him. He hasn't prayed about baptism and that commitment was three weeks ago. He just can't make up his mind. He believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet and Book of Mormon is true, but that everyone is a prophet and that all paths go to God. He has met missionaries a very long time and hasn't done too much progress. It is sad but he understood fully why we're going to stop meeting so it's good. And last night transfer calls came out.... Elder Coakwell called and we all gathered around and listened on speaker phone. "Can I speak with Elder Jones?" "Yeah, he's here." "Elder Jones, you have received a transfer call. You're coming down on the transfer bus Thursday morning, 6 am. Come with bags packed." "Awwww man, I don't wanna go!" he said. "Sorry Jones, it'll be good though. Now can I talk to Elder Keown and Kumferman?" "Yeah we're here listening." "OK so Elder Keown, you need to pack your bags as well and move to the other Alekseevka area." Wait, I'm moving to the Seev Cave with Elder Kumferman?" "Yeah, you're going to be finishing with him." silence..."Yeeeeeaaaah!!!!!!!" SO I will be finishing my mission where Elder Moss just finished, in the Seev Cave with Elder Kumferman. My area with Jones was called Pavlovo Poley, this one is just Alekseevka. But we're going to be working both areas because they're not putting missionaries in Pavlovo Pole. So we're gonna be super busy but I'm way excited. It was a bittersweet moment having Jones there to see me learn I'm going to Kumferman but all is well. I don't know what I did to deserve this put I am very grateful and just ready to work this area until the end. I have come full circle because I started my mission in President Alosha's house as a greenie and am ending in his way nice one in Alekseevka. We have air conditioning, a BBQ, all new appliances, and heated tiles, plus a TV to watch Mormon Messages/church dvds on. I am very content with where I'll be ending. Still super surprised but very excited. I was Kumferman's first companion in country when he came in because his trainer was in Bulgaria and I have served around him this past transfer so we already know each other pretty well. He's from Idaho, his dad teaches Russian at BYU-Idaho, and he's now going into his ninth transfer. I'll send a picture next time.
Alekseevka is a super ethnic place, I love it. Yesterday we got a contact in the morning who is a brother here from Maryland studying medicine, met with Paddy in the evening (from Cameroon) then after went contacting and talked to people from Turkmenistan and China (there's tons of students in Alekseevka) and throughout the day spoke Russian! It's awesome.
And to end this email we found out that the Elders who left yesterday morning (Moss and all them) didn't get out of Ukraine because their flight got cancelled from Donetsk to Kiev in the morning which messed up all the rest!!! So they got new flights to Kiev, stayed there in a hotel and probably went to the Temple. I'm pretty sure they're on their way to America right now so keep them in your prayers. We'll see now what happens to my group in 6 weeks!
Family, I love you all so much. Thank you all for all that you do and tell everyone I say hello and send my love. Know that you are always in my prayers and I am doing well. Have an awesome week and I'll talk to you on Monday!
Украинская Донецкая Миссия