Monday, February 25, 2013

Week 15: Crazy Grandma, President, & New Mission

Hello! This week has been crazy! I'm sorry this is short, but here's the lowdown of what's been going on:
I still get along with my companion Elder Groothuyzen really well. He's been pretty sick lately, so I've been doing a lot of housework and making lots of phone calls. Hmmmmm lets see...any crazy stories this week.
Oh yeah! That crazy grandma lady that we are pretty sure is possessed, well, when Groothuyzen was sick I walked into the kitchen and was making some food, and I heard a tapping and look out and she's staring into our window with the creepiest grin ever! I got super jumpy for a second, then got mad and was like "GET OUT OF HERE GRANDMA" and went up and hit the window and started yelling at her in English. Hahaha. I think that's the only crazy thing that happened so far ;) I have a feeling this week is going to be pretty wild though!

President Campero came and told me that he was going to America for a little over a month because he is having some health issues. In the meantime, we have President Podvodov (works for the mission, was St. Petersburg last mission president) taking over. He doesn't speak any English. ZLC will be interesting. Anyways, if you can, keep president Campero in your prayers. I don't think the mission knows about it, other than the APs and ZLs, but I think it's a little more serious than he makes it out to be. Hopefully he will be back soon.

I heard about the new mission, and I'm incredibly pumped. The fact they are opening a new mission in western Ukraine makes it evident that they are trying to establish another stake there, which, after Donetsk would make 3 in Ukraine. That would be more than all of Russia. The work is really moving forward here. In the dedicatory prayer of Ukraine, it says that temples will pierce the sky across all of Ukraine. Last week our mission was highest in all of the key indicators for the Europe East area. The Donetsk mission has a ton of potential, it's just a matter of getting missionaries to realize what they are capable of. They have talked about splitting this mission in the future, making a Kharkov mission and a Donetsk mission, but that won't be for another 5-10 years at least is my guess. 

Things have been pretty good, and the weather is getting a little chillier, but the sunlight is starting to peak out of the clouds more. I love you all, and I promise I'll be more diligent in writing in the future! 

P.S. Jordan Smith. Man. That In-N-Out picture killed me. >.< All in due time!
Love you all! You're the best!

With love,
Last Pday around 3:30 shooting hoops. Yes, it gets that dark here that early!

Cliche "Onward Christian Soldiers"

This icicle is nothing compared to some of the ones here! 

"Gorlovka the BEST" graffiti that I laugh at everytime I see it!
6 Month Picture

The field behind our apartment

Monday, February 18, 2013

Week 14: New Companion, Babushka, & Pictures!

The new companion is great, he reminds me of James in every sense! Looks, humor, voice, he's even from northern California, and he is willing to work hard, so, as you could imagine we get along great. We've had a great week, but a crazy one. For example, we met some crazy possessed babushka (who is a convicted murder) who tried chasing us down the street, and as she was yelling at us and probably trying to put a curse on us, a car almost hit Elder Groothuyzen, going pretty fast. It was pretty crazy. Good thing we have mastered our speed walking skills, haha. We've had a lot of weird experiences happen, but I think it's because we've been putting so much work in that Satan is trying to do everything he can to stop us. Our companionship works out great because each person is equally motivating to the other, although Elder Groot always jokes that I'm going to kill him several transfers before he goes home, haha. Anyawys, yeah. This week has definitely been the "most successful" in terms of contacting and teaching people. It's been a real blessing. Being Zone Leader is a little stressful, but I like having work to do. I like fixing things, or trying to at least. I love working hard. Like, I feel sooo lazy from before my mission! You're going to be surprised I think when I get home, about how much more effective I am!
 Sorry this is short, I'm rushed for time this week.
Keep it real,
Looking down an elevator. We got on at the ninth floor, and the door didn't close, so what did I do? Lean out and take a picture! Haha

Graffiti on one of the abandoned buildings behind my apartment building. Words to live by.

Officially the hardest companionship names in the mission! ;) Groothuyzen and Litzenberger. We go by Groot and Litz

 One of the many sewage leaks that are around our apartment. I didn't know it was a sewage leak when I walked through it.. 

The wonderful roads of Gorlovka! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Week 13: Zone Leader!

 So transfer meeting was, well, interesting. I was called to go to transfer meeting to pick up my companion, so I hopped on the transfer bus the mission hired and went down to Donetsk. While there, they were reading off companionships, and then it got to Gorlovka. "Coming out of training, will be Elder Litzenberger serving as Zone Leader of Gorlovka, with Elder Groothuyzen as his companion". Needless to say, I was pretty shocked. There has never, in the history of this mission at least, been a transfer three missionary as Zone Leader. I don't want to sound like I'm bragging or anything, but it really is a shock. I'm still shocked. I got my wish of wanting more work to do, haha! Then, last night I got the call in numbers from all the missionaries here in Gorlovka, and my level of being shocked diminished a little bit. Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do here, and a lot of increased productivity needed. 
Being zone leader here in Gorlovka is kind of like being second counselor in the sense of running branch activities and all that, and I have to go down to Donetsk quite a bit for meetings with President and all of the other Zone leaders. I guess you could say more or less I'm in charge of this city in terms of missionary work. I'm excited! I promised President that I was going to try and get the missionaries more motivated, more focused, and double numbers. I really think we can. I think we can do great things here if people work hard enough and work together!

Anyways, there is a good quote about working hard by Seneca that is my "motto" if you will, for the transfer. "No man knows what he may accomplish except by trying". In other words, "Why not?" I'm a firm believer that as long as I work as hard as possible, and as long as I have faith then the sky is the limit. If I'm willing to do the Will of the Lord, no matter how challenging it might appear, then he will qualify me for it. 

Have a great week, love you all!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Week 12: Transfers, Lessons, & Salt Mines

Elder Smith is gone! It's weird to think that he's probably reading this right now, from the other side of the world. So Jordan, how's the 26C weather treating you? Anyways, I was totally blessed to have him as my trainer. He was the best missionary I've ever seen, and it was awesome to be able to learn from the best. 
I don't have my new companion yet, but I will be getting him tomorrow. I have been in a threesome the last couple days, so I moved to Center Gorlovka for the week. I'll be going back tomorrow though. So as for this week, I have a story below about Elder Smith and I on our last P-day, but I think it's more important to note that the first day Elder Smith was gone I went into a lesson, hoping and praying that I could speak good enough russian to get all of the points across, and left the lesson with the investigator on date to be baptized on March 2nd. I don't know if he has anything that is holding him back from being baptized, because it was our first lesson but he was really into everything we had to say. He was excited to read, and wanted to move the baptism date up earlier. I decided to keep it back, because unlike the missionaries in our home ward that baptized a homeless man, I am not trying to get numbers but rather trying to baptize people that will further the kingdom of God. We need worthy priesthood holders here in Ukraine, so that is my biggest requirement as to whether or not I'll bump the date back. After we meet with him more, is he spiritually progressing or is he just wanting to get baptized? I don't know, time will tell!

Since I lost my name tag people have thought that I was mafia these last couple of weeks. A couple of days ago, we knocked on a door while tracting and some guy thought we were mafia, and was like, crying behind the door that he "didn't have the bottles". I was like "Uhh..We're Missionaries. We have a message about God", like 6 times until he finally heard me. Haha.

Okay, so this last week we talked with president Campero, and moved our Pday to Thursday. Why? We went to the Salt mines right outside of Gorlovka! (They weren't open on mondays). On Thursday morning we met with a member here (Sasha Galoporov) and headed to the train station. From there we rode to a little town called Aртёмск. We had to wait a while at the train station for a bus to come, which took us right outside the village to the salt mine. Apparently we had to have 10 people to go down, so we waited and waited until it was obvious that no one was going to be coming. Sasha went in to ask if there was anyway that we could go down, and they said they'd let us go because we were american. (I think it's the first time that's been a benefit here, haha). It was so cool! The lift reminded me a lot of the one from "October Skies". The mine is the lowest salt mine in the world, down somewhere around 1,000 feet in the ground. We got down, and it was way awesome! It was so cool to have a private tour! There are tons of mines around here, but this one was nothing like the coal mines that are scattered across Gorlovka (at least from what I was told). This mine had vast ceilings, wide hallways, and ground that was like sand, but salt. (And yes, I did lick the walls. And yes, they were salty) ;). There was one part of the cave that was so big, that they fit a mini soccer field in! They had a cafe in that same area, with a giant projector playing the history of the mine. There was one part of the mine that they transformed into a concert hall, because the accoustics were so unique. Anyways, I could go on and on, but I think the pictures speak for themselves.

My thought for the week is in Mosiah, 5:13. It reads "For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?" I love this, because it's pretty much like a self evaluation. How can one expect to feel the light of Christ in their life if they don't make an effort to recognize His influence? If you ever feel like there is a pavilion between you and the Lord, take a second and ask yourself if your thoughts and intents are far from God. 

Kyle C Litzenberger

Last Pday with Elder Smith
Andrei an investigator of ours
At the Salt Mines with our landlord Sasha
Soccer field underground!
Yes, of course I had to lick the walls.
And yes, they were salty ;)