Monday, June 24, 2013

Week 32!

When I was serving in Gorlovka (Kyle's old area) I found an older woman named Lydia. I worked with her several times a week for 3 months or so. When I left she was on date to be baptized, and she's been keeping in contact with me since i've gotten here (in Donetsk). A couple days ago she called me after her baptism and told me that she was so grateful I hadn't given up on her, and it was the best day of her life. It was really touching. I wasn't there for it, and I wasn't the person that baptized her, but I know that I helped make a big difference in her life. I was the one that found her! It was a great feeling. We are all truly planting seeds everywhere we go.
We've been focusing on getting the zone all pumped up. We have been doing a good job in our positions I think. In our zone alone we doubled the amount of people on date that were for the entire mission! It wasn't that much because the mission is in a huge slump right now, but it's still a start.

Other than that, the weather has been warm and we are keeping busy with lots of lessons. Sorry I don't have a lot of time this week, I will be sure to give you a better update next week!

I love you all,
The Shakhtar Jersey I got here.  

This fly was HUGE. It was flying around my head on the bus ride to internet today. Easily an inch and a half long.
Just a picture overlooking the bridge that leads from our area into center Donetsk.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, I'll try to get more this next week!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 31: Zone Meeting!

What a week, what a week. Well, I'll focus mainly on Zone meeting and the meeting with Elder Bennett, Soares, and the Camperos last meeting during our mission conference. So! As Elder Carley and I sat down to plan the zone meeting, we couldn't think of anything. Of course there were the points that we talked about with President Campero that he would like talked about, but we had no idea what to throw in of our own and what to focus on. We threw in the towel after a while and decided to get ready for bed. As we were brushing out teeth, and idea hit us. "We should start off talking about time". The mission has a lot of programs and methods for missionaries to do work, but it doesn't do anything if we don't have desire to use them. So, we decided to help missionaries appreciate the time they have on the mission, and how important it is to utilize every second of it. The ideas flowed forever. One after another, it was the coolest thing! By the end of the night, we had a very good idea of what it was going to look like. So now comes Zone meeting. People get in, sit down, we sing, read the announcements, then ask everyone to hold their breath for a minute and ten seconds. Not impossible, but difficult. Then, we asked 2 people to come up and do rubiks cubes in the same amount of time. It didn't happen. What was the difference? The first example we were struggling to survive, while in the second we were struggling to strive. Time is completely relative, and it's speed will go according to your attitude of towards the given situation. Then, we had an elder walk around for 160 steps, but we didn't tell him how long. We just asked him to walk, and everyone else watch while he did it. We told him when to stop, and wrote up the time. Somewhere around 2 minutes. Then, we had him take 4 steps and time it. It was about 1 and a half seconds. If you cut the numbers in half, the 160 represents 80 years of our life, while the 4 represents the 2 years on the mission. Then, to make it even more visible we unraveled 160 feet of yarn. It went EVERYWHERE! It was super long! Then we pulled out 4 feet of yarn, that was the mission. THen, we divided the 4 feet into sections. We did the math and we spend 8 months of time sleeping, with 3 months eating. That cuts time down quite a bit too. Then, we took 1/16th (There are 16 transfers in a 2 year mission) of the 4 feet, which was around 7 centimeters and that represented our time in Donetsk for this transfer. We explained that even though the time looked SUPER short, it could affect an infinite string: someone's salvation. Time is short and we have a great work to do. We then transitioned to my spiritual thought on Nehemiah the wall builder from the old testament. (Super good story, lots of applications. Only a couple chapters, I suggest everyone go and read it if you don't know it off the top of your head). We went through the meeting and talked about how amazing Ukrainian culture is, charity, how to minister effectively to those in need, and a myriad of other points. It was really cool to see the reaction of some of the missionaries, it was really fun. It's always good to be able to have a good laugh in meetings. They said they really enjoyed it, and a couple came up and thanked us because it really helped them.

Then, This last weekend President Soares and Elder Bennet came and gave a talk on the exact same thing with all of the missionaries. They were incredibly nice, and brought up a ton of awesome points. Sister Bennet brought up the point that we can all do things differently to become "uncommon" missionaries. The same goes with life in general. Everyone of us can become extraordinarily good at whatever we put our minds too. The number one thing is that we need to love what we are doing, and truly strive to master it. 
This was the last mission meeting we would have with the Camperos. It was truly heart wrenching. We all love them so much. President Campero is a shining example of how to love everyone. Elder Soares was telling us that Elder Nelson spent a long time trying to get off the plane(he was headed to Armenia to set up the first stake in that country) just to get a hug from president Campero. He is loved by all. 
I don't have much time, but in short the conference was awesome! It was super nice to see all of the missionaries from the mission. They are all fantastic! We took a mission picture, so hopefulyl I will be able to send that back to you this next upcoming week. 

As for the rest of the week, it's been a blast. I can't believe this transfer is almost halfway over already. Last night we had the elders from Lughansk stay with us over night because they had to to registration early in the morning. We had a bbq, which is what the pictures I'm including is of. The weather has been weird this week. There were a couple days where it broke 100 degrees out, and I think it was on tuesday or thursday where it broke 106. hot. That's not taking into consideration the humidity either. Kills me. Perma-sweat 24/7. I remember stefan talking about the humidity on his mission and I was like "well, sucks for him! I know I won't be sent any place like that!" Boy, was I wrong. Karma has come back and kicked me, that's for sure. I love it though. I guess it's an easier way to lose weight, and hopefully I'll be getting a tan soon. (Even though I say I love it, I love the weather back home more!) Oh, I forgot to mention there was a huge hailstorm too. Some mini flash floods too.

I love you all, I think about you every day! Hope all is well. Also, shoutout to Chuck Baxter: did you ever get my letter? I sent out yet another one in the mail a couple weeks ago. It should be getting to you any day now. 

Catch you on the flip side,
Elders Carley, Withers, McKinney, and myself! That kitchen gets SUPER hot, so yeah, that's sweat on all of our faces. 
It went from gorgeous sun to huge pieces of hail that like to nail me in the face.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Week 30

Here is the only update I got from Kyle: I'm getting settled in this week and we are planning a big zone meeting. I'll include all the details and pictures next week!!

Dinner at a Members Home (This was from his last week Gorlovka.)

Left to right, back row. 
Elders: Claypool Wood Litchfield Carley Pres. Campero Withers Harrison Myself Page 
Bottom Butterworth and Hodgeson. These guys are great, I learn something from every single one of them! 
Elder Page (Gorlovka), Myself, and Elder Harrison (Kharkov). Love these guys. Rocking our ties president Campero made for us!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Week 29: Transferred to Donetsk!

Where are you now serving?
I'm now serving in Donetsk, in a region called Kalininsky. I don't know how to spell it in english but it is sounded out like "kal-LIN-in-skee. It's in the Center Donetsk branch, so it's pretty much the middle of the city. 

Who is your new companion?
Elder Joseph Carley

Has he been out long?
A year and a half

Where is he from?

Do you have a leadership role at this time? 

If so, what?
I am Zone leader with Elder Carley of Donetsk (It includes 3 donetsk branches, and a city called Makeevka)

What is your new area like?
The new area is a little bit out of Downtown Donetsk. The church building is right next to our apartment, and it's GORGEOUS (by ukrainian standards**). It used to be an old play/opera hall or something like that, but they remodeled it into the church it is now. To my understanding, it's going to be the stake center when Donetsk becomes a stake. The new branch is super cool, they have a TON of little kids! I love little kids!  Everyone seems pretty cool, and I already have most of their names memorized. The new apartment isn't nicer than my old one, but there's more rooms and there's a weight set so yeah, I'm super pumped. Carley and I are going to be doing a lotttt of working out together it's gonna be so awesome! The oven doesn't work though....luckily his mom sent him a mini oven to cook with haha. 

It's going to be a fun stay here :) 

"Couldn't have a companionship picture with just us ;) Elder Carley and I with our girlfriends of 4+ years. "
"When I moved here there was a man named Kolya on date. He's a miracle story. Just walked into the church 2 weeks ago and wanted to learn more. He took everything super well and ended up getting baptized this Sunday. I had a couple lessons with him beforehand. I'm really excited to keep working with him, he's awesome."

"For the first time in 7 months Elder Jones, Bingham, and I are serving around each other! I love these guys! Some of my best friends in the mission." (They were all roommates in the MTC)
"This is the front of one of our church buildings here in Donetsk. It's so awesome! Somehow Donetsk got hooked up with realllllly nice church buildings compared to the rest of the Europe East area."