Here is a bit of a compilation of the last few months. I have been serving in L’viv Ukraine at the Mission Office.
I am getting settled in L'viv pretty well. We found an apartment, and we will move in on Thursday of this week. It has been a blast living with the other elders here. They are so fun. When I left Chernivtsi I thought I was done with being a branch clerk, but I guessed wrong. I was called yesterday to be the assistant branch clerk here, because I know how the system works and what to do, and how to do it, and they called a new member to be the branch clerk, so I am helping to train him to be a clerk. By the way, he has the coolest chops (facial hair) I have ever seen. I am very excited to help him and help the branch.
Just a quick question, did the things happening in Ukraine make world news? Just wondering. I think it is mainly in Kiev, but also things in L'viv have been pretty crazy this week. There have been a lot of protests and rallies in the center of the city. Ok, now on to what I did this week.
At the start of this week we were able to go with the branch president out to a small village to visit a family of members. The dad is active but the mom is not active, but it might have something to do with the fact that they just had a little boy who is way cute. It was a lot of fun to visit them. The bus ride back was really bumpy because of the horrible road that we were driving, but since it was an hour drive I was able to strike up a good conversation with the person next to me. I love speaking Ukrainian with Ukrainians! It's such a good feeling when you in the middle of a deep conversation and then you realize "Hey, I am not speaking English."
My Thanksgiving was great! It was so fun. We thawed it out and them I rubbed the turkey spices all over it and then we got him cooking. We made stuffing too. We got a stuffing receipt that had wheat bread, apples, and walnuts, among other things so we decided to try it. It turned out to be way good. Not as good as Mom's, but I was proud of it. We also made potatoes and pistachio pudding to go along with the rest of the meal. After our dinner we were so tired. Oh, we went around the table right before we ate and said what we were thankful for. I am thankful for God, my family, for my friends, and for my country.
You will be happy to know that we got all moved into our new apartment on Saturday night. It was a blast living with the other elders, but it is nice not sleeping on an air mattress. Plus it is a lot easier to get to studies on time in the morning because it was hard with four people and only one shower. Our apartment is very nice, and so is our landlord. We are about 30 minutes out of center and away from the church, and the mission was a little hesitant to let us move out here because it is apparently the "ghetto" of L'viv. But I think it is a very nice area. We live right next to a playground where little kids play and a school.
Tonight we are going over to the office couple's house for dinner at five, and then we are having family home evening with them and a less active family from the branch at their apartment. We are so excited.
On Saturday we went on splits with members to go out to talk to people. Since right now in L'viv, missionaries are not allowed to preach. So we went with members, and they talked with people, and we were with them to help them out and teach them how to be a missionary. My day was very special because I got to go out with a member named Sasha from Uzhhorod. Elder Sweeten and I found him while we were in Uzhhorod but then a week or two later I got transfered. Anyway he ended up getting baptized and he happened to be in L'viv for the day. And what better way to spend your vacation than contacting people and telling them more about the gospel! We even contacted into a less active member, went to her home helping her carry her heavy bags in the snow and were able to pray with her and her husband. They invited us back and expressed desire to begin attending church again!
On Sunday we had the opportunity to travel to Ternopil for the day to hold a church service. Once again I was blown away with the spirit that the saints in Ternopil carry. They may be few in numbers, but as far as I am concerned they are some of the most spiritually strong people I have ever met. Their faith blows me away. One of the Members from Africa came up to me to ask about getting his membership records transfered so that he would be able to pay his fast offering! We took a train to get to Ternopil in the morning, and half way through the meeting President Lattin showed up because he was in a close by city for church. So he spoke and then we all drove back to L'viv in the mission vehicle with the mission driver and a senior missionary. We heard two talks from members there. The first one was on the atonement as Christ's gift to us, and the other one was about having hope in Jesus Christ.
As far as office work goes, I get to sort out the phone bill every month to make sure every one is doing what they are supposed to with their phones. That took a lot of time on Microsoft excel as we use a lot of formulas to sort out the entries because there are ten's of thousands of them each month. Also we got these little scripture books printed that we designed and made for Sister Lattin as a gift for all the missionaries for Christmas to help them memorize scriptures in Ukrainian. Every Friday we have a "staff" meeting in the office which is really fun to be at. The nice thing is that we don't have to be in the office too much, so we still get to have the fun of being missionaries.
There is funeral that all the elders are going to today. A lady in the branch had her father die. And she asked the missionaries and the branch president for help. We will be carrying the casket and the cross for them. Her father is not a member so the funeral will be done by another church I think. I am interested to see how it will be. I am glad that this woman is a member of the church and she will be able to take comfort in the gospel knowledge that she has about the life after death. This will help her through this tough time in her life.
This week we had an area 70 come to sacrament meeting. He spoke Russian, but I was able to understand his talk pretty well. He talked a lot about couples, and the need to still show your love for each other, as you grow older. He gave a scenario where one wife asked her Husband "Dear, do you love me?" to which her husband replies "Yes, I told you like ten years ago.... if anything changes I will let you know!" The area 70 then emphasized the need to share our love often, both in words and in actions.
This week I got to see President Boychook at the office from Chernivtsi. He is such a great man. He shared a little miracle with me that I would like to pass on. Tolik, one of my recent converts there had been struggling with attending church for a while, so President Boychook grabbed Vitally (another one of my recent converts who is on fire) and they went to home teach Tolik. Anyway, Tolik is back and going strong!
On New Tears Eve we had to be in at five pm for safety reasons. So Elder Robinett and I made ourselves a nice dinner (Chicken wings, veggies, potatoes, and bread), listened to some church music, read the Liahona, worked out a little, and went to sleep. We are on the top floor of our building and we have a lot of windows on either side of the apartment. Our apartment is very open from one side to the other, so when huge fireworks started going off all over the city at 23:55 the apartment became very light. We could hear loud noises from the fireworks, and our beds are right next to a huge widow too, so we could see them. It was hard to sleep. The fireworks lasted for about an hour. After which, we were able to sleep well until the morning. This morning we got up, and decided that we wanted to start 2014 off the right way. So what did we do? We went on a 40 minute run, came back, stretched, and did some abs. We both agreed that it felt really good. I wore my Cowboys sweatshirt running (as always). It keeps me nice and warm.
Right now I am sitting at a computer in the apartment of the senior couple who works in the office with us. They are the Boddells. Elder and Sister Boddell are so great. They invited us to come over, do email, and then have lunch with them today. They are from Salt Lake, and being in the office we get to have a lot of interaction with them. We love them, and they love us. They are such good people. So know I am being taken care of, and I will have a good meal today!
I love you all.