So I'm here in Ukraine, this is my first week and well... my legs hurt. A lot of walking and what not, but it's been good. So first off, the rest of my flight went really well. On the flight to Germany, I sat next to this nice man named Jim. He was from El Paco, Texas and he was headed to Saudia Arabia for work. We talked a whole lot during the flight. He was really into our message, so Elder Saltmarsh and I gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and taught him the whole first lesson, the message of the restoration. He really liked it and said that he would get in contact with the missionaries when he got back to Texas. You can really find out a lot about a person when you're on an 8 hour flight with them. Anyways, we spent the first two days in Kyiv, did a little sight seeing and the Mission President, President Steinagel, explained a lot about the mission and about Ukraine. We did a little contacting in Kyiv and got a few numbers, but those were transferred over to some other missionaries. We had a welcome dinner that night at the mission home, which was really nice. We spent the night at the mission home. The next day we got up, packed our stuff back up, and headed to our transfer meeting which was at the mission office by the Kyiv Temple. I hope you got those photos that were sent, the ones with the mission president and my new trainer. We had a Thanksgiving meal and discussed goals for the mission and then we watched that news report, the one that was shown after conference, about the Kyiv Temple.
Alright so, my first area is in a city called Vinnitsya(I know how to spell it in Ukrainian but I'm not sure how it is spelled in English so this is my best guess). We had to leave right after the meeting, because our train ride was at 6:30 and the meeting ended at 4. So I didn't get a chance to go into the Temple, but I'll be able to next time we're in Kyiv, which will probably be in 6 weeks at the next transfer meeting. So, yeah, as of right now I'm in an internet cafe in Vinnitsya. Vinnitsya is southwest of Kyiv. The train ride was three hours. It's a pretty ghetto city, but I like it. It definitely has that old European feel to it, nothing like any of the cities in America. I would recomend that you E-mail me from now on because the" dear-elders" are sent to the mission office in Kyiv. And well, I love you but I'm not taking a three hour train ride every week just to pick up some letters.
Missionary work is done a little differently here in Vinnitsya because we are not allowed to tract, hand out books, nor contact here. It's against city law. So, how we find people is through the members, through referals. We meet with the members a lot, teach lessons and discuss if there is anyone that we could meet with. They are all willing to help. English lessons were a big help too. A lot of people showed up to those but President Steinagel discontinued lessons for now. I think it's because he thinks we focus too much on teaching English instead of teaching the gospel. So that has made it a little harder to find people. But we still do, however. We have one investigator with a baptismal date. His name is Serhi, a super humble man. He has a date on the 9th of January, but we're trying to bring it closer to December 25 or 26. He invites a lot of his friends to hear from us. It's cool. He's a missionary and he's not even baptized yet. We're teaching another person, Sasha, who's mom and sister are both members. He used to be really against it but he came to church for the first time yesterday and wants to meet with us again. He has already had the first lesson, restoration, so we think we are going to give him a baptismal date for the 25th as well. He has changed a lot.
I'm struggling to understand a lot of people. My trainer helps me out though. His name is Elder Ben Munzer. He is from York, England. I'm starting to understand people better, but it's gonna take some time. I do teach portions of the lessons, except when someone asks me a question, then I have no idea what to say. Most of the time, I do teach a few principles. We have these two soccer players from Nigeria, who were recent converts, but they don't speak Russian or Ukrainian. So I had to translate Sunday School for them yesterday. I was totally lost. I got the gist of what was going on. I mostly just read scriptures with them. Elder Munzer helped me out a lot though. Oh, the youth in our ward can speak English really well, so they help me out a lot too.
All is good in Vinnitsya. The food is really good. They eat a lot of pastas and grains in Ukraine. So that's what we eat too. Lunch is the big meal here, we eat a big lunch and then just grab a small snack for dinner. Oh, the chocolate here, is ten times better than the chocolate in America by the way.
It's tiring here. I'm still suffering from the Jet lag, but I really like it here. I'll send some pictures soon.
Love, Elder Zach McEntire