First off, investigator progress. We met with three investigators last week, Raad, Aleksander, and a new one, Anton.
Raad is a practicing Muslim and we met him with a member from Pakistan here named Joshua. It was hard to teach him because he just wanted to talk about who Jesus Christ was, not why we need Him. Every time we tried to say something he just cut us off and "corrected" us because he doesn't believe Christ to be anything more than a prophet. He is different than Akbar because Akbar wanted to change religions and knew who Christ was. This week we will try to get Akbar with us on the lesson. Joshua says we're just wasting time because we need to read the Koran in order to understand Raad's view.
Aleksander read from the Book of Mormon, but asked many basic questions like "Why is your church different from the rest? I think that all churches are true." His big problem is that he can't come to church. If he came to church then he'd really know why we do the things we do. We might be going to his summer house this Saturday to help him pick cherries so we'll see how things turn out.
And Anton is my new favorite investigator. We ran into him on our way to Raad's lesson Tuesday night. He is about 6' 3", knows awesome English, and is 29. He plays tennis and was actually on his way home from tennis. We gave him an English club invite and then he came Friday night. He liked it a lot and actually translated the story and spiritual thought. And after English he asked "What makes your church different?" So we sat down with him and had a great first lesson in English with a little Russian and found out his history. When he was 6 he started studying English because his Grandpa immigrated to America and wanted his family to come as well. Life went on and Anton's parents got divorced, then his mom and step-dad actually decided to move to Italy for work. They are very smart scientists and apparently do pretty well. So Anton got left in Ukraine and his parents set him up to become a Computer Engineer in University. But he hated this and decided to try his luck gambling. He turned out to be a pretty dang good gambler and started making $15,000 a month (this comes out to be a Ukrainian millionaire after 1 year.) He bought a car, house, and toys, but always felt something was missing. He kept gambling and eventually ended up losing everything in a huge bet. He said that God must have had different plans for him. So he sold his house, car, and now lives in his mom's apartment as a translator for English and German. Our topic for English club was The Apostasy, and during our lesson he said that he just felt lost. It seems that everything has led up to him meeting us. He accepted a Book of Mormon and said something that most Ukrainians don't: "I don't care whether its Mormons, Catholics, Pravoslavnies, you show me their fruits and I'll decide from there." So many times people here the word Mormons and automatically decide. Anton is special. And on Saturday he invited us to come play tennis with him, so we spent a little time with him and got to know him better. Elder Kumferman played tennis all throughout high school so loved it. I'm not that good haha but it was a sweet experience. And Anton is coming to Family Night tonight at the Arnesens, so we're hoping he can make some good friendships there. New investigators are good!
This past week we also had a zone meeting about member missionary work, and I didn't know this would be the last one but bore my final testimony! It was very weird because I've seen so many other missionaries do so who always say 'yeah, the time comes fast' and never believed them until now. There was a great spirit at the meeting though.
Saturday we got to go to a WWII Museum with the branch and did a picnic afterwards. This was probably one of the coolest experiences of my mission. I had no idea that Kharkov was such a historic city. The stuff I saw in the museum was unreal. I took tons of pictures and videos to better remember it. I have plans after mission to really understand the history of Ukraine and former Soviet Union better. This was a great starting point to that.
And yesterday was Mission Conference in Donetsk. We left on a bus at 4 AM from Kharkov with all the missionaries, arrived in Donetsk at 9, 10-12 was the Donetsk District Conference so I got to see all my favorite members from Donetsk, Makeekva, and Mariupol, then 2-4 was Mission Conference. The speakers were President and Sister Campero, President and Sister Bennett (Europe East Presidency) and President and Sister Soares (Presidency of the Seventy). Conference was very different than a year ago, but in a good way. The mission has grown a lot and so focus on member work is being pushed. The main topic from President Soares though was to cast out all fear. We all made covenants with God to serve in Donetsk in the pre-mortal life and renewed these covenants by writing Thomas S. Monson back that we'd do it. He talked a lot about having a good attitude for the new Mission President as well because it won't be an easy change. There's a lot more but I just don't have time to say everything. Yesterday was awesome though. Probably the best news was to hear that Brat Vladimir Vovk (convert with Elder Harrison in Donetsk) got the Melchizedek Priesthood! He's definitely the strongest out of all the converts.
Now for some comments/tidbits. Happy Father's Day Dad! I love you so much! And in case you didn't hear, Elder Nelson organized the first Stake this past week in Armenia. He came over with President Bennett and Elder Soares and talked with the Camperos personally. It's so cool to see the work moving forward in this area of the world and to see/hear of the lives of the Prophet, Twelve and Seventy.
This work is true, I know it with all my heart. Have an awesome week and I'll talk to you later!
Украинская Донецкая Миссия