Yesterday was Orthodox Easter here so we're a little behind on the holidays. But actually a little Ukraine fact, almost every day is a different holiday but they are holidays for orthodox kings and queens/icons. The next holiday coming up though is May 9, Victory Day. This is when Nazi Germany was captured by USSR in WWII. It's a pretty big deal here and already kids have been on break and there will be tons of parades and stuff. Maybe I'll get some pictures, we'll have to see.
Things are picking up a little bit in our area, we found three new investigators this past week - Johnson, Erik, and Igor, and JOHNSON HAS A BAPTISMAL DATE! We found him on the street coming home Tuesday night. He is a brother here from Nigeria and knows one of the brothers in the branch already, Michael. We had a great first lesson with him and he said 'Of course I'll get baptized!' So the date right now is May 25 but we found out yesterday that we're having Kharkov district conference that day so we'll probably have to move it back into June. And he didn't make it to church yesterday which was a bummer so hopefully he can come this upcoming week. He seems pretty promising and should get along great with the other brothers.
Erik is the boyfriend of a less-active in the branch named Aliona. Aliona is friends with Anya who we just helped get active again. His lesson was mostly just asking questions about the church and why we do what we do. We're not sure exactly how serious he is but he took a BOM and wants to read it. We found out yesterday that he and Aliona broke up now though so this might effect if we meet again or not. Aliona might have forced him to listen to us haha but that's not a bad thing.
And Igor is a former investigator. He's a really nice guy, in his 40s and divorced. He is unemployed right now because he does some type of industrial work that isn't needed anymore. He wanted to rent us his apartment which is super nice but it's too expensive for the mission. When he was meeting with the other elders before me (Jones already knows him) he said that he feels God is too busy to answer his prayers. Elder Rooney (Jones' previous comp) told him that this isn't true and that he should pray. He finally prayed and claims to have seen Christ and talked face to face with him. He says that it's all thanks to Rooney and pretty much worships him now. I asked him what Christ told him and he says that Christ told him to love all people and that there aren't any bad people on the earth. I don't know if I believe his vision or not, I think it's possible he saw an angel but I don't know. Lots of people I've talked to say they've seen things, even members. We taught him about the BOM and he said he'd pray again and start reading. We stopped by yesterday since he didn't come to church and gave him the Del Parson picture of Christ and he invited us in to have some Coke and hard boiled eggs. (By the way, Ukrainians dye their eggs using oil peels. You boil the peels then add the eggs and they come out a really pretty dark red.) He's a super nice guy, we'll see where he goes.
We also met with some brother members, Paddy and Herold. So Paddy got baptized when I was a greenie and he's doing great. We helped him make plans to share the gospel with his family since he's the only member. All the brothers are getting ready right now to go to Kiev Temple for the first time so it's gonna be sweet. And Herold got baptized back in 2007 and is married to a Ukrainian with three kids. He fed us great food and brought us up to date about all the crazy stuff going down in America right now. He moved to Utah not too long ago and I found out he might just live in our stake! His kids go to Cottonwood Elementary and he said that he knows President Little. He's going to med school right now through the U of U but is also doing some studying/working here because it's way cheaper and he knows Russian. He's way sweet, I'm gonna need to find him when I get home.
Progress with other investigators- we only met with the two Vadims. We were going to drop Vadim old but then had an alright lesson about prayer with him. He said he knows the church is true and that the Book of Mormon is true but doesn't want to get baptized. He is very unsure about everything. We might need to drop him if he hasn't prayed about baptism. He's just met with missionaries for a long time and so if he's not progressing than we've got people that are/can find people that will. And Vadim young. We worked out with him on Friday morning and he was doing ok, then Saturday there was an easter activity at the center branch. We invited him to it and he wanted to come, but it got to be half an hour late and he still hadn't shown up. So we called him again and he said he was almost there so we went out and waited for him. He walked up pretty drunk, like we could smell him from a mile away and he had buzzed his hair off. (He used to have really long and curly hair) He came up to the door and we're like "Vadim, what happened man?" He said that he was remembering his dark past and needed to forget it so he got drunk. "Where did you get the money?" 'The barber gave me money for my hair'....This was so sad to see. He then said, 'So can I come in? The members have seen me drunk before, they won't mind. But you're my friends, you're the missoinaries. I trust your decision.' Wow, I really felt a slap in the face from his words. Sometimes I forget just how much we mean to people. I don't know Vadim that well and would consider him an acquaintance, but he really depends on us. And then I got to thinking that if I was really his friend then he wouldn't be drunk right now. Elder Jones and I decided that he shouldn't come in but that he should go home, sleep off his decision, and then we'd see him tonight at FHE. He agreed. But from this experience I have been reminded of just how much I mean to these people. Too often I get caught up in the motions of missionary work that I forget why I'm really here. Vadim needs our help right now and the Lord has seen fit to trust Elder Jones and I with him. This was a hard lesson to learn but I feel that it was needed.
And now I have some pretty shocking news. President Campero sent out an email today that he will be finishing his mission at the end of June as ordered by the First Presidency due to his health issues. We will be getting a new mission president on July 1. I forwarded you his email so you can read it. He really wants us to achieve our goal we set together, 100 baptisms before he goes home. I feel a very increased desire, almost burning duty, to do all I possibly can to make this happen and do my part, sacrificing more than ever and giving it my all. President will be coming to Alekseevka on Friday and doing some training with our district so I'm looking forward to this very much.
I love you all and pray for you always. Have a great week, tell everyone that I send my love, and I'll SEE you Saturday on Skype!