Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas from Vinnitsya! 12/20/2010

Inside of church building in Vinnitsya

Decorating for Christmas with Gena and Elder Munzer

Zach and Elder Munzer

Alright so, this week has been better than last week. We've had a lot of our lessons work and made some progress with investigators this week. Zone conference was also really cool. L'viv is a really nice city. Everyone says it is the most beautiful city in the mission, so hopefully I'll get to serve there someday soon. L'viv is for Ukrainian speakers only, so chances are that I'll get there someday. But for right now I'm really content here in Vinnitsya. L'viv is titled the City of Lions, I think it is because they have this running of the lions in L'viv, similar to the running of the bulls in Spain. I don't know if that's a rumor or if it's true, I suppose I'll have to ask around. Zone conference was on Friday and it was a lot of fun. President Steinagel got up and talked about the importance of being bold but simple. Simply teaching the basics, doctrines of Christ. It reminded me of when Elder Bednar came to the MTC.  President Steinagel said a lot of the same things. Then we had some contacting exercises about how to be bold but simple on the street. Elders Whiting and Larsen from Zhetomyr, who have been getting like 12 new investigators every week, got up and shared their success stories and some of their secrets. It didn't really apply to us  who were in Vinnitsya because we can't really contact here but it made Elder Munzer and I think of how we could try to talk about the gospel with people on the streets of Vinnitsya. The new missionaries, including myself, then got up and bared testimonies. Later that night we went caroling in the center L'viv.  Some of us were singing and others were contacting.  People in Ukraine love carolers. So we are going to be doing that in Vinnitsya soon. Probably this week.  And then till the next Christmas on January 7th. I contacted a few people as well. People in L'viv seem to be more open then in Vinnitsya. It made it seem easier. Then we got on the train and headed back to Vinnitsya. The train left at 8. The train ride consisted of the following: Telling scary stories with Elder Whiting and Elder Larsen, playing the harmonica with Elder Brink(who is also serving in Zhyetomyr), and quoting Harry Potter with Elder Lewis and Elder Morrisen(who are serving in Xmelninske). We got back to Vinnitsya at 3 in the morning. We were exhausted, but glad to be back and full of new ideas.
So here's a little bit about President Steinagel: He served a mission in the Caman Islands, I think he said, speaking Swahili. You might think how someone like him would be called to be a president in the Kyiv Ukraine Mission... well, he's a linguist. Not only does he know Swahili, but he also knows Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Ukrainian. He is a very optimistic and up beat person. He somehow makes everything sound exciting. He always has so much energy when he talks. He's very open to change and he's all about new ideas. He always saying, "Now, how can we make this more fun?" He also really enjoys numbers. He thinks that when you focus on numbers, you can better focus on individuals. Which didn't make sense to me at first, but now I think I get what he means. Now, I'm pretty sure Sister Steinagel was a nurse or a nutritionist because she is always giving advice on how to be healthy. Always telling us and reminding us to eat fruits and vegetables and always offering advice on how to recover from illnesses and to eat healthier. So either, she's a nurse... or she has a lot of free time on her hands.  President Steinagel told us that we are going to be having a mission doctor come in  February, and when he said that he joked about how Sister Steinagel won't know what to do with herself when that happens.
Anyways, exchanges went really well this week. We had Elder Lewis and Morrison come over from Xmelninske for another exchange. So we had two exchanges this week. We went out to what is called a celo. A celo is a small village that's located on the outskirts of the cities out in the countryside. The celo here outside of Vinnitsya is called Medvezhavyshka. We have a lot of members out there. So we go out every now and then and spend the whole day meeting members and investigators out there. We went out on Wednesday.  The people there always feed us soooo much food. I'm stuffed by the time we leave the village. I ate so much food on Wednesday that on Thursday I didn't really eat anything and I wasn't hungry at all that day. The women here always tell me to eat more and feed me so much. Even the youth. Tanya and Zina made me like a million sandwiches last Sunday and they kept feeding them to me and kept saying that I need to eat more.  Oh, also the youth here are really into Ping Pong. Who knew? Ukrainians love Ping Pong. So while I'm preaching the Gospel here, I'm also honing my Ping Pong skills. Tanya and Zina play it all the time. They are always at the church playing ping pong. And they crush me every time I try to play them. My goal is to beat them at least once before I leave Vinnitsya. The other elders say that that will never happen. We'll see.
So, what do I do for P-day? We sometimes go bowling. One of the youth here, Gena, he loves to go bowling and always asks us at church "hey are you going bowling tomorrow?". We do a little sight-seeing. Vinnitsya has some pretty sweet statues here. As for today, we are just going to go shopping. One of the members asked us to shovel the snow by the church so we are going to do that, and then just relax for the rest of the day. At 6:30 we have FHE with the youth. So we hang out with them, eat ice cream, have a spiritual thought, and play games for the rest of the night. Oh, and play ping pong. Oh, we also have lesson with a new investigator, Hastya. She is a grandaughter and lives with one of the members, Sister Chalix. We're going to teach the rest of the restoration and help Sister Chalix hold Family Home Evening at her house.

Love you,
Elder Zach McEntire

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