|Church in Vinnitsya|
We have a washer in the apartment, but we have to hang dry our clothes. That's how we do laundry in Ukraine. So there's two Christmas' and two New Years here in Ukraine. There is the December 25th Christmas, which usually members of the church celebrate it with us and other Christian denominations in Ukraine. And then there is the Pragoslavian (orthodox) Christmas which is Jan 6, which is what most people celebrate in Ukraine. Some people celebrate both, just as a way to give and get more gifts. Then there's New Years Day(Jan 1) and then the old New Years Day which is like Jan 18.
This week has actually been pretty warm. It's been like 5-9 degrees every day this week, so like 40-50 degrees this week. It's cooled off a little and we got some snow yesterday.
As far as this week goes it hasn't been too well. We set the record for most investigators at church and member present lessons last week, but this week didn't go so well. We got dogged on, ditched, so many times this week, probably like 10 or 11 times. We had planned for like 7 investigators coming to church, who told us they would be there, but only one showed up. Serhi was the only investigator to show up. Bummer.. But it just makes me want to work harder.
We still had a pretty interesting week. Here's what happened:
1. So we have these less active members, Natasha and Demitri, who are from Russia, and they speak English really well so we just teach them in English. They really love the church and the Book of Mormon but the only reason they don't come to church is that they are afraid to leave their house. Natasha is a very paranoid person. I'm pretty sure it's something mental and Demitri kinda agrees with everything she says. She thinks that ex-members of the KGB are after her and Demitri and they are part of a conspiracy to tear down the Kyiv Temple. They always feel like they are being watched and people are trying to kill them, so they never leave their house anymore. We went to visit them this week and they found this phone w/out a sim card. It was a pretty nice slider, even though it looked a little beat up. They said that they looked on the internet and found that you can still listen to people through a phone without a sim card and only a battery. And they were like " we have proof now that people are listening in to our conversations and that people are spying on us and that people are trying to kill us!" They have a tendency to make everything sound dramatic and to jump to these random conclusions. They also said that they found these stereos and they thought that they were tapped as well. Elder Munzor and I were like..."we gotta go" We shared a quick spiritual thought about the Book of Mormon and following the counsel in it. They gave us the phone when we left. President Steinagel's advice to us concerning Natasha and Demitri is just to be their friends and keep telling them that we'd love to see them at church. We do that and usually share a thought about faith and prayer, doing what God wants you to do even though it seems scary.We haven't really made much progress with them.
2. We've had a couple of drunk people walk into the church.. it happens sometimes. One of two things happens when drunk people come into the church building. They either swear at the missionaries or tell us how much they love us and this church and then grab all the pamphlets we give them and then they give us their number. The second option happened. His name was Roman and he seemed to be loving life. He said he would come to church the next day(This was on Saturday) but he didn't show, no surprise. We'll probably give him a ring soon.
3. We got this referral from Kyiv. Her name was Nadiya. She invited us over on Saturday to her house and said that she would be happy to meet with us. We got excited and thought "Yes! new investigator!" It took us like an hour to get to her address and when we finally got there she wasn't there. Her roommate/friend was there and told us that she went back to Kyiv to visit her son and that she said that she didn't want us to call her anymore. If she wanted to meet with us she would give us a call. After wards... we kinda just stood there walked around for a little and then I turned to Elder Munzer and finally said "Well... this sucks" We took the hour journey back into Vinnitsya and tried to figure out what we could do for the rest of the day.
4. So on Sunday, Sister Prakobovich, the Branch chorister, wasn't there. She was in the hospital for a check up that day. So Elder Hackett, who was also the 2nd counselor in the Branch Presidency, approached me and said "Elder McEntire, do you know how to you lead?" I answered "Yeah kinda" He replied "Oh, good. You are like the only one out of us who can kinda sing. You're leading today." It was pretty much a train wreck. Elder Fudge played the piano with one hand because he only knows how to play with one hand. There's only one person in the Branch who knows how to play piano, Katya. Well actually Tanya and Zina(mini missionaries that came back with us from Kyiv) know how to play but they refuse. So Elder Fudge and I were in charge of the music that day. Even though there are people in the Branch who can sing, the people who can't sing try so hard and sing so loud that you can't hear the people you can actually sing. And all you hear is high-pitched squealing from those who can't sing. Sister Prakobovich sings really loud and really well. So the music usually sounds good because you can only hear her. But it was me trying to lead and I don't sing that loud. All the youth had this grin on their faces as I was going up. They probably felt my pain.
So that was my week. Oh, we had a read the Book of Mormon day on Wednesday. Which was nice. This week we're going on exchanges with some of the Russian speaking elders on Tuesday and Wednesday. So we'll see how that goes. Then we have zone conference in L'viv on Friday. Which I am definately excited for. Mostly cause it's an 8 hour train ride from here to L'viv and that gives me an opportunity to nap. I also hear zone conference is way fun.
So this week was more meeting with the members and less actives. All our investigators can be given baptismal dates. We just need to meet with them and none of them could meet this last week. We need to start handing out baptism dates like they're hot cakes. The youth are really cool. They joke around with me a lot. The call me Elder Macaroni for some reason. Well the girls do(Tany, Zina, and Lena). So, Tanya and Zina are the ex-mini missionaries from Kyiv. They're both like 17/18. Lena is a returned missionary. She served in Moscow. She is like 23. Then there is Gena. He served a mini mission too. But he is starting to work on his mission papers. He is 20. Then there was Sasha who just left for the MTC. He was a goof, he's 19. And that's pretty much the youth here. I need to start taking more pictures and videos to send you. I have a couple.
Love Elder Zach McEntire