Monday, November 19, 2012

First week in Ukraine!

So I stepped off the plane in Donetsk to smell the ripe scent of burning trash and metal. We were shuttled into a little airport, and had to show our passports to a guy in a warehouse thing. He didn't look too happy. Welcome to Ukraine. We got in the Van, and went to the presidents house and Office. That's when I emailed last. From there, I stayed the night in an apartment with 6 people in the Donetsk area, and attended zone conference the next day. I sat next to Jones anxiously awaiting my call when all of a sudden....dun dun dun, "Elder Litzenberger will be trained by Elder Smith in Gorlovka. They will be white washing in" Elder Smith was the AP that I met the day prior, and I was pretty happy to find out he was training me. After the announcement, a guy in front of me turned around and said "Good luck, whitewashing into Gorlovka, you've got your work cut out for you.." So whitewashing is when they take two missionaries out, and replace them with two others that aren't familiar with the area. Usually it wouldnt be too bad, but there are generally 3 sets of missionaries in gorlovka, and because of housing issues theres only two. We have the privledge of picking up their extra space. IN short, we have a TON of area we get to cover. Woohoo, right? Haha. Gorlovka is, well, the definition of Ukraine slums. I love it though! Even though the transports all smell like rotten fish, and our apartment is 6 stars short of motel 6, I love it to death here. 

So let me tell you some random things that have happened since I've gotten here
First off, we've been teaching a black french guy named Jared. He's here for school, and luckily for me the lessons are in English so I feel like I can somewhat contribute. In our first lesson with him, he opened up to us and poured his heart out. We got him to commit to baptism for the 22nd of December. How cool is that, my first lesson here and I got a commitment  We will be meeting him again on the weekend. (If I have time I'll come back and add more to this story)

The Southams (senior couple) are having a taco party to try and get members to bring their friends to a church activity. We announced this in the morning branch meeting, and had to spend 15 minutes trying to explain what a taco was. When the announcement was made over the pulpit, everyone looked around confused when he said the word "Taco" 

SO the first full day I was here, we stopped by a members apartment. She wanted us to give her mom (stereotypical babooshka) a blessing. We were with the branch president at the time (Pres. Agarkov), so I wasn't too worried about it. When we got there, he said "Do svidaniya" and left. It then occurred to me that I would have to anoint, in Russian. Needless to say, it wasn't that high on my priority list to study when I was in the MTC. Smith had a card I could read off of, so I wasn't too worried after I found that out....until I asked for her full name. Imagine the hardest Russian name you can think of, and double the length .That's about what it was. I had to write it out on my hand so when I put my hands on her head I could read it. And I did! I read it around .5 miles an hour. It was rough. ON the bright side, Lyubof called us today and said her mom is doing a lot better. That's always good to hear. Apparently the first 3 blessings elder smith gave on his missions, the people ended up dying a couple hours after. I'm pretty happy that I wasn't given his curse, haha.

The shower. I'll send pictures, but you have to know something about this shower. It's the shower from hell. Let me tell you about what happened the other day. As I was showering (if you can call it that), the water started getting really hot. I mean, REALLY hot. I pointed the water thing to the ground so I could fix it. I saw steam everywhere, it was hot. Around 90 Celsius  CELSIUS. So guess what happens? The tube that carries the water to the shower head, yeah, it melted. It melted and shot out literally boiling water right onto me. Not just anywhere, but all over my groin. I have a second degree burn on both of my thighs and...yeah. My whole groin. It hurts, and I'm waddling. I have to admit, it's funny. Funny but painful. At least it will make for a good story when I can walk normally again, haha.

As for my last name, it's not so much that people don't like me, it's just that I've only heard 2 people actually try to say my name. I've started introducing myself as Elder Litz now, and plan on ordering new name tags. No one, and I mean NO one can say it. They grab my name tag, look at it for 30 seconds then just say, Elder German, go do this. In 6 weeks I'll be Elder Leets.

This is random, but I just wanted to assure you all I"m not getting fat! My comp and I do P90x each morning, gotta stay toned. You know how many pounds that watered down cabbage soup can add? ;)

So we went to a Pblhok the other day for me to get a coat. I needed to exchange my money, but there was no place to do it. We walked over to some sketchy looking kids smoking and asked where to do it, and they pointed down the street. We went down the street, and Smith turned and walked into an alley where a happy looking man in an Adidas track suit was standing. We told him the situation, and he snapped, and another guy walked over with bags full of different currencies. We exchanged my USD for Grieven at an 8.2 ratio with no charge. Pretty good deal if you ask me. I transferred over 200 dollars, and the guys were super surprised I had that much. If you haven't figured it out by now, these guys were mafia. Don't worry! The mafia likes missionaries over here. Well, from what I've seen haha. Not only did I meet some mafia guys that day, but I also bought a sick peacoat, I'll take some pics in the next couple of days and send them over!

Ward family-The members here are old. And I mean old. Babooshkas, and great war vets. Their Young Mens program has like 2 people in it. They're both strong though, and super good kids. The ward lives all over, and many of them live in different cities and have to commute up to an hour to get to church. Everyone is so kind, and our building is gorgeous. It's an actual church building .I still have to get a picture of it (I forgot), but I'll send one out soon. If you look up Gorlovka LDS building on google it might show up. But yeah, the ward family is all super tight knit, and nice. Half of their names are either Olga or Natalia, so if I don't remember a name there's a good chance it's one of those. Not that many families are there. Or married couples for that matter. 

Area- Gorlovka. We cover the center region and kvartal. If we want to get to most members apartments, we have to take transport. It's a ways away. I'll be here for 3+ transfers, so you'll hear a lot about it in the next coming weeks. Sorry these are getting short but I"m short on time.

Companion- Jordan Smith,  He's from Cali, and a super hard worker. I'm glad I'm with him, because all of our goals are well above most of the mission goals, so it's a good start for my mission. Now, if I aim any lower I will know that I can do better because of what we're shooting at right now. I will hopefully have high standards for the next 2 years. 

Spiritual Experience- Man, I've had a ton. I only have 5 minutes, but the main one was the lesson with Jared. It truly was a testimony builder of how sharing testimonies can invite the spirit. Every concern he had we were able to solve by bearing our testimony. Contacting too. It's amazing how sometimes we think "We need to talk with him" even though a guy is speed walking, and he turns out to be super nice and giving us his number for lessons. This happened last night with a guy named Ylder. I saw him and pretty much chased after him. BY following the prompting, I was able to hopefully get a new investigator.



Pictures of Kyle's new apartment!

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