Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Hey! This week was pretty good except for somehow I got sick on Saturday and I'm still pretty sick and out of it haha but what can I do right? This upcoming week have pretty much every day booked so it should be a fun one. I hope you guys have a good time this year, and as of tomorrow, I will have a little of 9 months left! I'm glad that this will be the last New Years that I'm away from home though, it'll be fun not to have to work haha. This New Years we have some free time today and tomorrow to sit in the apartment but other than that we are running errands all day, and the last New Years in the MTC was just 2 normal days, so it will be cool to be able to celebrate it again. But other than that this week was pretty standard and things are going smoothly. To answer Mom's question, my current companions full name is Kameron Brinkerhoff and he is from Grants Pass, Oregon. That's about it for this week though, the two baptisms are schedualed for the 13th, so we'll have to keep working with that and see what happens! I love you guys, stay safe and have great week. Until next Monday!

-Elder Skene

Monday, December 17, 2012

Talk to you in 8 days!

Hey! So about the Christmas call, as of right now we are set up to call you guys using Skype at the Senior Couple's house here in Rostov at 7:00pm our time on Christmas Day, December 25th, so that should be like somewhere between 6:00-8:00 am Christmas morning for you guys. I'm way excited, it should be rad, I'm not sure how long we have but I hope it will be maybe kinda like last time but I would assume probably shorter so along with what I sent in the package this will be Christmas present to you guys that you'll get on Christmas morning. We don't know yet if I'll be emailing you next Monday but we'll see. I don't have a lot of time to write today so I'll make it shorter but this transfer is gonna end in the beginning of Febuary, it's gonna be a longer transfer than normal due to the MTC changes on some things, so I'll be in Selmash with Elder Brinkerhoff until then. This week we have had a lot of meetings and worked with our investigators, we currently have 5, and it's awesome to be able to work with people and bring them the Gospel and watch how it changes their lives. I gotta run, so this will be all for this week, and I'll be emailing you personally, have a good one and I'll be talking to you next week! I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Good Week!

Hey! So I don't have a lot of time but this week have had a couple cool and crazy experiences, I don't have a lot of time to go through them all but the work here is really good, we have multiple investigators who are following up and working with us, and we have had at least one member/investigator meeting almost every day for this entire transfer! It's awesome, it helps the time pass a lot, and it helps you learn to love the people more and helps you serve them and really want to help them and give the best gift that we can, the Gospel. I'm excited to see what happens this week the progress they have been making, and even tonight we have a meeting planned, and we should be looking at a new apartment. I feel like a missionary in Latin America, like Elder Pathakis, at least that's what the stories and stereotypes say. I better wrap this up but I wrote you guys about everything else this week and I hope you got all of it, but know that I love you and miss you all so much, and in 9-10 months I'll be able to tell you all about this stuff face to face, I'm excited for the Christmas call, I gave Mom the details as far as I know them right now but I'll find out more, but until then and next Monday, have a great week and stay safe, I love you!
-Elder Skene

Monday, December 3, 2012

New Investigator(s) and a Baptismal Date!

Hey guys! So I don't have a lot of time to write this but we extended a Baptismal invitation to a younger girl in the branch this week when we taught her with her Grandmother, her Mom in a member but inactive, and we are trying to reactivate her brother so he can do the baptism, but we'll see what happens, either way though she will be baptized soon, way cool! Then we have a new investigator that we met on the street and taught after Church yesterday, he accepted the Book of Mormon and we're meeting with him with the Branch President later this week most likely, he has a marijuana and cigarette problem and promised us that he wouldn't smoke the day we met with him and he wants to quit, and we wanna show him how he can and how much better off he will be and use the example of the day he meets with us to show him the difference it can make and we have one more man who is sorta an investigator, it just depends on what will happen, he used to go to Church for like six months but was never baptized  and he knows a lot about the Church and the Branch knows him, I'll have to ask the Branch President about him to understand why he couldn't be baptized  because he said he was just denied permission because he "wasn't ready", so that could mean a lot of things, so we'll have to find out and keep in touch with him. We're going on splits to Severny this week, and that should be exciting, I'll get to see my old area again. We have an average of around 33-36 members show up here to Sacrament and other meetings, but there aren't a lot of men in the branch so we have gone to the Relief Society meeting the past two weeks haha, we'll have to see if we can change that and get some lessons rolling even if it's just us and the Branch President haha. I can't tell you the names of these people or show you pictures I guess, new rule, I'll see if I can tell you next week in my emails. Well that's about all for this week. I love you guys, have a great week and stay safe!

-Elder Skene

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Dinner at President's House

Hey guys! So as I was saying we had the usual Thanksgiving dinner at President's house with everyone that was in Rostov zone, it was pretty cool and it was fun to have a break. This will be pretty short I guess, I don't have much time, things are good in Selmash, and we have been working a lot and trying to improve things and open Selmash back up for missionary work. Have a great birthday Mom, and I'm glad you guys had a good Thanksgiving, that's about all this week, haha, besides what I wrote, I'll be getting the package in a little while, maybe tomorrow, it was supposed to come today but the power is out at the post office so we couldn't get it, but we probably won't be in the office until next Monday. Well have a great week guys, stay safe, thanks for everything, I love you guys!
-Elder Skene

Monday, November 19, 2012


Hey, so like I was saying, this would be our P-Day, and it turns out that I will be staying in Severny, and Elder Jacobson will be going to Selmash to finish his mission, I will be getting Elder Brinkerhoff from Oregon, he's in the same group as Elder Gill age wise, just a transfer younger than me, I know him an okay amount, but I think things will be interesting. This week we had an acitivity on Tuesday night at the branch that was awesome, and today we are headed to President's house for Thanksgiving, which should be a good time. I'll miss you guys, but I'll be there next year right? So this week we helped a Babushka with service rigging a coat to be warmer haha, but that's about all for service, other than that we are just working, thanks for the package, maybe I'll get it today, we'll see, have a good one though! I'll be writing to you next Monday as far as I know, have a great Thanksgiving and stay safe and tell everyone I said hi, thanks for everything! I love you guys!

-Elder Skene

Monday, November 12, 2012

Over Half-Way There!

Hey everyone! This week as you know was my Year Mark, we burned a tie and ate some good food that my comp had from a package sent from home, and the rest of the week went pretty good, we had a couple meetings scheduled but they didn't work out, so in that case we will just be working on the street or maybe doing branch open house stuff, we have today and tomorrow booked though, so this week should be a little more eventful than last week, haha, besides the year mark, the transfer is being extended to end after Thanksgiving, for which we will be at the Presidents house, and it's Elder Jacobson's birthday, so it should be a good time. I heard about the election, I won't share my thoughts on it here but it looks like we'll have 4 more years of Barry in the White House.

I'm excited to get the package when I can and see you guys in less than 11 months assuming everything goes as planned. It was below freezing this morning even with the sun out, I'm in a coat and a beanie as I write this email to you, it hit us pretty suddenly, maybe it won't warm up a little again, this could be the start of another Russian Winter, concerning which, the Russian Babushki (Grandmas) everywhere will probably tell us that it's the coldest winter in a long time and it's terrible, haha, just like they did last winter, haha, I'll miss the Babushki here for sure, my buddy Elder Roberts has to go home for some health issues, he has some nerve damage in his back and has to get some tests done, I guess he is my friend on Facebook, send him some love in about a week for me would you? He is one of my best friends here, it's pretty tough to see him go, but I guess that's what he has to do and hopefully they can figure out what's wrong with him. I love you guys! Thanks for the package and everything else! Stay safe and have a great week, I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, November 5, 2012

Year Mark!!!

Hey I don't have a lot of time to write this week but last week didn't have a bunch of eventfull news, we are still trying to work with our investigators but most of our time is spent on the streets. Halloween was as about as fun as it could be for a Missionary I guess haha, not much transpired, we have splits with the zone leaders this week and my Year Mark, I'll burn a tie and think of you guys, have a great week and stay safe, I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Hey so this week I kinda updated you all on so far through personal emails, but we have just been doing the work and trying to stay healthy haha, but we did have Zone Conference last week, and that was pretty sweet, but other than that we have been visiting members/investigators, like the married couple that Elder Gill and I met with that was a referral from the Selmash Elders, and our newer investigator who we see on the street and talk to once or twice a day sometimes, usually during the work week, I can't write there names on here I guess, it's a new mission rule. We're also planning on having splits this week so it should be a good time, other than that there isn't much planned, but I'll for sure see what I can do about the flash drive next time I have a chance to look. Things are good though and we are excited for Halloween, and I hope you guys have a good one! I love you guys, until next week, stay safe!

-Elder Skene

Monday, October 22, 2012

Zone Conference This Week!

Hey! So this week there isn't much news other than we did have our investigator Olya come to church last week (not this week though she was out of town) and came to our activity where we ate borsch as a branch that Elder Jacobson and I made, (mostly Elder Jacobson though haha) and we had root beer floats that we made with some of the concentrate you sent me and watched a church film and she liked it a lot. Other than that we just tried to work a lot, Elder Jacobson is getting sick, but who knows it might go away, I was pretty sick for one day too this week again, but I seem to be on the downside of whatever I had. Zone conference is this week though so that should be fun to see everyone. I'll make sure I think again and make a list for the Christmas package, I'll be sure to email you guys personally too if I have any questions or ideas and about college. I'll let you guys for sure know, transfers aren't for a few more weeks, it's a six week cycle, and we find out almost at the very end, so I'll let you know for sure about transfers when I find out. Haha I know that's not a bunch of news on this email but oh well. Hey I was wondering maybe this will be possible or maybe not, let me know what you think, I might be able to back up all of my photos on a flash drive that I'll pick up here somewhere and then send it to you in the mail, it might be a better time though if I can just show you the photos with you in person when I come home, let me know what you think but regardless, if I get a chance to send more photos I see what I can do. Well that's about it for this week. Thanks for everything! I love you guys, stay safe, and have a great week!

-Elder Skene

Monday, October 15, 2012

Work Week

Hey! So this week there isn't a ton of news, we just tried to work a lot haha, we do have an investigator coming to church now though! Haha I guess it might not seem like something big, but here and for us it is, we are pretty excited to see how this moves forward. I was sick for a day or two this week, but we still worked a lot and now Elder Jacobson and I are gonna make some Borsch for a ward party tomorrow night, and we get to go see Sister Elenora Aleksevna, a way funny old babushka, (Russian word for grandma), we usually do once a week on Tuesday mornings to help her with things, I did this with Elder Gill too, it was always a good time. To answer the same question that all of you have, yeah I did get the package and everything was fine and untampered with as far as I could tell, it was awesome, I'm loving the watch and the card game and everything else, thanks so much! Other than that there isn't much to report on this week, my birthday was a good time, Elder Jacobson and I kicked it and made some good food and had as much fun as we can as missionaries haha. Well that's about it for this week, I'll be of course emailing you all personally, thanks for everything! I love you guys, stay safe and have a great week!

-Elder Skene

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanks for the Birthday Wishes!

Hey! So thanks for all of the happy birthdays that I got from all you guys! It was awesome! Today we don't have any major plans or anything, we ate somewhere and are writing home and then we are working for a couple of hours, then we have studies, and that's about it, haha it's good though we will kick it back in the apartment, I mean there isn't a ton of options as a missionary for fun things to do, but it's good to know that I'm serving the Lord even if I can't do maybe the same birthday activities that I would participate in back home. I got my package last week, thanks for everything, it was sweet, the watch is awesome, I got it fitted at a store for like 5 bucks, and I loved everything else in there, thanks so much! The debate is pretty good news, I hope things continue to get better for Romney, and I heard that conference was pretty cool and that they even talked about our mission, and I heard about the 18 and 19 age changes, that's way interesting. 

Other than that we just worked a lot when we could this week and I had my all-day, well just about all-day visa trip to Donesk, Ukraine and then back to Rostov last Friday, I will try to send photos maybe on Wednesday if I can or the following week on Monday. This I suppose will also be a shorter email and I'll email you all personally, but that's all for this week, things are good and we are working hard, my new comp is awesome and my area is good stuff, have a great week and stay safe! Thanks for everything, I love you guys!

-Elder Skene

Monday, October 1, 2012


Hey everyone! So as I said I'll tell you what the transfer is gonna be, we found out on Friday night, I'll be staying in my area, but I'll be serving with Elder Jacobson, stud, he is just finishing being an AP, and we've always been good buddies since I met him, other than that not a ton of news this week, we had 7 lessons and met with some awesome members and had good times finishing up with Elder Gill and I, and today is our last day together, and I'm going to TGI for a birthday dinner haha, that is legitly probably the nicest restaurant here haha, well one of them, but I think they make the food better here for TGI than they do back home, I've been there once before, so today should be a good time. I haven't gotten the package yet but I'll check the office today and tomorrow due to transfers and we have to come in to the office to switch companions, Elder Gill will be going down to Krasnodar and serving with Elder Hansen, also a stud. So we'll see what happens next transfer, but I was blown away to be serving with Elder Jacobson, something I guess I really never considered even. We expect this week to be a good one and to get some work done for sure. I just wanna reafrirm to you guys how nice we have it back home though, really like haha it's hard to look at photos sometimes even, I have loved serving in Russia for like the 9 months I've been here, I have learned a lot of lessons and received so many blessings from the Lord and met so many cool people and had some great experiences, along with all the hard times, and for sure one of the lessons I guess I had to learn was how good I had it back home, how good all of us really have it, it's not like we are starving here or anything, but I guess it's just something that has to be experienced rather than just said, but for sure I want you guys to know that you have it so good at home, not just our home, just America in general. It'll be pretty unreal to come home in like year and a week, but when that day comes it should be good times for sure! I love you guys, stay safe, and have a great week!

-Elder Skene

Monday, September 24, 2012

Slowish Week!

Hello again! So this week as the last there isn't much to report due to the new floor getting put in and they are almost done now so we can go back to normal life but on the flipside is we find out transfers this friday, I wanna stay here for sure and do another transfer with Elder Gill but at the very least I hope I don't leave, I love the members here, there is a lot of cool and active youth, the area has some awesome stuff in it, it's in Rostov in the middle of the action, the apartment is pretty cool now, and we have Timernik, the biggest rinok in the mission close to our house. The main thing that's difficult about Serverny is just the contacting, haha which is a big part of missionary work but I would for sure want to do another one here and I would also want to stay because of the packages coming, it's really difficult to transfer and have a package with you or deal with having to pick it up later on but if I stay it would be ideal for that situation, but we'll see what happens, it's not about where I wanna be it's where the Lord wants me to be, but I'm hoping that I'm wanting the same thing here does for this next transfer, but next week I'll let you guys know. Other than that this week we met with members, made a mormonad that I'll try to send if I get a chance, and had a party at the branch with the youth, all of which were awesome and good times! I'll be sure to keep you all in the loop on everything that's happening here and this week I send my package to you guys, it's totally finished. So stay safe and have an awesome week! I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sick Week!

Hey! So this email will be pretty short as there isn't much to report on, I'll try to send some photos but this was kinda a sick week like as in I was feeling pretty but it's nothing to worry about, I'm fine, but I'm starting to feel better now and should be pretty normal this week, I don't know what it was but it just felt like a cold maybe, but we try to stay pretty clean here so I am left to guess as to what it was from. We don't have to new floor yet, that will have to be this week now, but if I can send photos either this week or the next I will try to take some before and after photos and just some photos of the apartment to send you guys. We'll see what happens though. Things are still moving forward with our investigators and we are looking forward to this week, besides having to stay in while the floor gets put in I guess, but who knows haha maybe it will be good times haha. To answer Dad's question, I haven't talked to Brad since Novo, I think I'm just gonna see how he is doing after I get back. My package to you guys is just about finished and I'll be sending it this week or next, so in case I leave Rostov it will already be in the mail. That's about it for this week, stay safe and thanks for everything! I love you guys! May the Force be with You!

-Elder Skene

Monday, September 10, 2012

High Numbers!

Hey everyone! So this email will be shorter due to time but things here are pretty good and we had a lot of success this week, we got 18 lessons, and are still working with our investigators, but we haven't made permanent success yet if that makes sense, like baptism, but things are pretty good though. This week will probably be slower though because we have to stay inside for a while because we are getting a new floor haha so it will be way cool, but no we don't have hot water for some reason, but we'll see what happens, hopefully it doesn't last more than a day or two. Other than that this week felt kinda slower but things were pretty good, I don't have any crazy stories though but I'm loving learning more about the gospel and learning more Russian. I am really liking the language more and more, and the Gift of Tongues is for sure real, I'm so thank full that God has allowed me and others to be able to speak, read, and write as much as he allowed us to, it's interesting to see how things change over time and how I seriously sometimes have trouble with English haha, I can't wait to watch some Russian movies when I get back and speak some Russian for you guys, and if you guys come to Russia or if we go sometime when I get home it will be awesome to take you around and go places, it's definitely worth visiting, but all in all things are pretty good and moving forward. I love you guys, have a great week, and stay safe, Happy Anniversary!

-Elder Skene

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Russian Blessing!

Hey guys! So this week was pretty interesting. Things went pretty standard and we met with some of our investigators, but on Saturday and Sunday things got pretty intense. We met a random guy who lived in the US for like 20 years who speaks English almost without an accent who wants to maybe meet with us, a guy wanted to take Elder Gill's name tag and started shoving us around and we then just walked away and he threw his subway sandwich at us haha, a guy was passed out and needed an ambulance on the steps of the branch building right before district meeting, and then we gave a total of 4 blessings on Sunday, and of course they were all in the Russian which was awesome.

This was the first time I have ever given a blessing of comfort or healing, and it was in Russian! Good story right? We gave two at church, one with oil and one without, and then after church we went with a member to the hospital to bless a younger kid in our branch named Nikita and then we blessed a Nurse their and talked about the Gospel with the hospital staff and got a number and taught a lesson there with some members. As the Nurse we blessed got up she had tears in her eyes, and the spirit was so strong, It felt like the spirit was with us so much on Sunday, and I guess the spirit is with you the most when you are trying your hardest to extend yourself to others and truly be an instrument in Christ's hands to accomplish his purposes, and it's amazing to see how people can be prepared for things through the Lord or by experiences, maybe even some experiences that he helped come to fruition to help shape that person, and change them, I feel like he does that to us so much as missionaries, and it feels like so many of our mission experiences are just for us and only us, and the Lord has them play out in just the right way to change us or humble us or bless us like he wants too. I love this Gospel and how it has changed others that I've seen and how it continues to change all of us, even if sometimes we don't realize it, the hard part is sometimes those changes have had to be through hard circumstances, but as we continue to grow and learn I hope that the Lord will bless all of us. Things are rolling forward and we'll have to see what is in store next week! I love you guys, have a great week and stay safe! Until next Monday!

-Elder Skene

Monday, August 27, 2012

Another Week Gone By!

Hey everyone! So this week turned out to be pretty interesting as it was pretty cooled down at the start of the week, now the temperature has gone back up a bit but things are still more mild which is better for us, here the temperature seems to stay pretty consistent through the day and night, it reminds of me of summer nights back home, and how much I loved the summers before I left. So the news for this week, we have 5 people we are working with 2 of which are a couple, Andrei and Eva we see them about once a week and they are way cool, a random lady who showed up at church, a man named Yuri from Ukraine, he's a stud and comes to English club and is reading the book of Mormon, and a Serbian named Lubomeer. So we have to see what happens as we continue to work with them! That's about all the news from this week though, we are doing pretty good and continuing to do missionary work as usual. In your personal emails I tried to update you more on what's new so you'll have to take a look at those to see how the mission is progressing. I forgot that Dad's birthday is next week, not this one haha, but I'll be sending you guys a Christmas package, hopefully that will make up for all the holidays I'm missing, one question for all you though, I don't know what happened to my HDMI cables when I left, they all just turned up in different parts of the house, they are all grey and one is orange and black, let me know if you see them around outside of my room haha. That's about it for this week, I love you guys, stay safe and have an awesome week!

-Elder Skene

Monday, August 20, 2012

A quick email this week!

Hey so still no picture capabilities, we went to a different internet club, but it's still not possible, they don't use windows operating system in these clubs and the comps are pretty restricted compared to what we had in Novo, but we'll see what happens I guess. I say this is a quick letter because I've been able to talk to you guys through email and I'd rather do that. This week we just worked a lot, had a lot of fun, and got to meet some cool people, we play ping pong once or twice a week at the branch building which is cool, and I still get to play piano sometimes which is awesome. We are around other missionaries about twice a week generally, and we get to be in on the action of service projects and parties at the President's house, which is good. The transfer is over now but I'm staying another with Elder Gill in Severny, the transfer call was last Friday, so this week was pretty good and we were able to work with investigators and members and it was just a pretty fun week all around. I gotta go but I love you guys. Thanks for everything! I'll talk to you more in my main emails, have a great week, and stay safe!

-Elder Skene

Monday, August 13, 2012

Still No Photos!

Hey! So as the title says I still won't be sending photos due to the conditions of the internet club here, we need to go to a different one, but for us that's a far away trip, maybe an hour or so by a bus, because we live the northern area of Rostov, it's a concrete jungle to be honest, but we'll see what we can do. But like I was saying last week, we are better now and pretty normal, we are working and moving forward, it was an odd transfer mostly because we were both pretty much bed ridden for at least half of it, but time moves forward and we are doing better. The apartment here is better and things are good. There isn't much to report this week but we did have a good work schedule and we were able to meet with some people and teach on the streets. We also had splits with zone leaders and that was a good time. Ha, ha these letters are probably pretty boring lately, it's just haven't had many major events happen yet, but we are having good times and getting work done. I can't wait till I can tell you guys all about this when I'm home, ha, ha only 14 months left right? Well I'll have to get to your personal emails, but I hope you guys have an awesome week! Stay safe! I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, August 6, 2012

Getting Better!

Hey everyone! So I guess there isn't much to say other than what you guys already know from what the Mission President emailed you. I'm getting better though and pretty normal now, the cool aspect of all of this though is I haven't had to shave so I have an awesome beard right now and I have permission for it haha, I gotta take a picture before I shave again, and if we go to Center Rostov to write home next P-Day I'll try to send some photos if I can. Going to the hospital/clinic here was crazy but thankfully all went well and we were able to get everything resolved but I'll say this much, socialized medicine is vastly different than what we have in America, I'll have to tell you more about it when I get home when I have more time to talk/write.

But as far as living conditions here, they are better apartment wise than they were in Novo, thankfully we have water on a pretty consistent basis, even hot and cold at the same time haha, showers are normal again. Other than that we had a pretty good work week for the time we were able to work, we got a lot of lessons on the street and all in all it was a pretty good week looking back. But other than that there isn't much to say in the main email, Rostov is just really interesting, we see other missionaries pretty often, have good times, and things feel more fast paced here, hopefully things just keep speeding up more and more in a good way so before I know it, time will have flown by, the mission is great and I've had some great times, all along though, it's really hard not to miss things about life back home, there really isn't any way to put it into words, I just can only imagine how good home will feel to me and how much I think I'll be able to appreciate it. Well all in all things are looking up and next week should entail some good times. I love you guys, stay safe, and have a great week!

-Elder Skene

Monday, July 30, 2012

An Odd Transfer So Far

Hello everyone! So this week was kinda interesting. A lot of the week we were just busy doing meetings with other missionaries and running around with errands, English club stuff, etc. We didn't get a ton of missionary work done but we did get a couple numbers and lessons, and one of them is a good story. So on Friday we had District Meeting, and Saturday we had Zone Conference, both of which went well, but after District meeting we went to go get a team tie to wear for zone conference, and we didn't end up getting any ties, but what we did get is a cool story. Elder Roberts, my buddy in Selmosh, (an area in our district) had really been praying hard for an investigator to teach, a new number to get. He and I were looking to get a little soda and we were walking around and we just happened to stop at a particular drink stand after passing so many ones similar to it. The lady inside noticed who we were and asked us if we had a Book of Mormon, and we looked around and Elder Roberts had one to give her with the church invitation for his area in it, we found out that she lived in the boundaries of Selmosh, where Elder Roberts is serving, and she had seen the missionaries a long time ago and always wanted to get a Book of Mormon from them but never saw them again, she waited for years, then we just happened to stop in at that exact stand and give her the Book, and it must of truly been an answer to her prayers as is was to Elder Robert's prayers. I'm excited to see what happens with them in the future!

So other than that I have worked with the Mission Leadership on the skin stuff and they have had doctors look at it and they just said for now to just keep and eye on it, I would send you pictures but like I said we can't lately because we don't have access to a USB port but we will try to find one, and we can still only use Internet for a short time once a week on Mondays, when I was with Elder Roberts it was an exception for him. Other than that this week I know have a lump in my throat where they think a gland would be and they're not sure if it's an abscess or an infection but I'm taking some medication for it, I stopped taking the amoxicillin indefinitely though, I don't want to build up a resistance to it, and I figured that the recommended dose of 1000mg every morning for this long might be too much, but there is nothing to worry about yet, we'll see what happens, I just figured I would tell you now so if they're was something that had to be done like lancing an abscess, then you would already be in the loop but the Mission President and his wife are fully aware of the situation and know what's up, they'll call for sure if something merits it, but otherwise you can assume that everything is ok. This transfer has been so odd because it's just been one of us sick after the other, it's already coming up on half-way over and it feels like not much has happened, but we'll see what the future holds. I love you guys, stay safe, and until next week!

-Elder Skene

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Wild Week!

Hey everyone, I'm glad that you all recieved my package that I was able to send and everything turned out well and you guys like the stuff that I was able to send! It's rad! I wonder how long it took exactly, but it sounds like it was relatively short. So to answer your questions, Rostov is different, largely different in the regard of the proximity of other missionaries and most other things that are going on, but it's just faster paced and a lot of fun sometimes. Today we went to the Presidents house, and we had a big party with the whole Rostov zone. We had a water fight, food, and an epic ping pong tournament. This whole week was even more crazy because my companion, who I like serving with for sure and it's a change of pace to answer your other question, he got way sick, so sick that we were gonna go to Moscow to see a doctor, I'm fine and he is better now but the whole week was like chilling and we were uncertain of what was up, 2 nights and like 3 days of the week we were just in the mission home with the Mission President and his wife, they are awesome. So all is well now, but it was just crazy because they didn't know what he had and he went to the hospital and just in the end it was a big toss up on a lot of things. Haha I realize that this doesn't make the week sound exciting or intense but it was when your comp is on the verge of going to Moscow because he's way sick.
So other than that I was way surprised because the President made me a district leader which I was kinda blown away by, and just that all along with the sickness stuff, hanging out with missionaries today at the party, and just everything else. Just for the record, the internet here is out of this world, and by out of this world I mean it's so bad that it doesn't belong in this world, with dial-up we could have gotten more work done, and I'm not kidding, not just that but there isn't any way for me to send you photos even if the internet did work, honestly I don't even know if I'm gonna get to send this letter, but we'll see. Our apartment here is for sure better than in Novorossysk, but not a ton better, but I have to be thankful for it none the less, Russia is way awesome in a lot of cool ways and it's way epic, but to be totally honest, I have never seen a more depressing and dirty looking place in a lot of locations and towns I've been too, we live in a straight up concrete jungle haha, but I'm not here on my errand, I'm here for the Lord and I just have to remember that he wanted me to go to the Russia Rostov mission, for one reason or another, but I'm really glad I came here in a lot of ways, there is a bunch of cool sights, cool food, epic language, and just crazy stuff all over the place all the time haha. Well this is for sure pretty abrupt, but I gotta go because half the time we had here in the Internet club was spent on loading my email inbox, but I love you guys, stay safe! Until next week!
-Elder Skene

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Great Gig in the Sky

Hey guys! So I was transferred last week up to my new area in Northern Rostov on Tuesday, and I arrived there on Friday, after my visa trip and some other complications, which brings me to my bigger news for the week, one of our Elder Potter, a senior couple missionary, passed away last week in the morning when he went for a jog, his wife and him were on a walk and he started jogging so she sat down and waited for him to come back but he never did, she then left to search for him but by the time she found him he had already moved on to the other side, it was way hard to hear this news, the Potters are an awesome senior couple, they are in my visa group and would have been in my district here in Rostov. It's really hard to hear stuff like this not only because of the news within itself, but then you think and worry about your family and friends back home and then you start to worry a little bit about your own safety, because life is so precious, and you can lose it so easily. As I've said in the past, in a mission of about 30 Elders, everyone knows everyone, and when the death of a missionary happens like this everyone's gonna know about it and it's gonna hit hard for everyone. We thought about why it maybe happened or what went on, but God works in mysterious ways, and we don't always know when he will intervene and when he won't, and what parts of this mortal experience are parts of his plan and what are the result of the free agency of mankind, but in the end all we can do is try to keep the commandments and be good people, and trust in the gospel and follow the Lord, and at the end of the day, the Great Gig in the Sky rolls on. At the best, I would think that if there was anyone in this mission that had come to earth and accomplished the things he came to do, and was maybe ready to be taken so he could continue on the other side, it would have probably been Elder Potter.

Other than that there isn't much more news, my area seems pretty cool, and my comp is a good guy, I knew him in the MTC though, he was the group younger than me, and it was cool to be able to see his progress and my own while we were there and now when we are in the field. There isn't photo sending capacity at this internet club currently, but I'll see what I can do in the following weeks. Anyways, I'm looking forward to a fun transfer and it's good to finally be around people know! The branch president here is a good guy, he visited the Novorossyssk branch one day before I knew who he was, and I got a chance to talk to him, and I told him that I'll see him again if I ever serve in Severny (my area), and it was good to meet him. Little did I know that a few weeks later I was assigned to his branch haha, he's a good guy so I'm pumped to be able to work with him, and his Russian is very clean cut and formed, not mumbled, so it's a good learning experience to listen to him talk. So I'm good and I'll have to send some photos when I can get a chance, assuming that chance comes. I love you guys, have an awesome week! Stay safe, and keep the faith! Until next week!

-Elder Skene

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

Hey guys! Happy Fourth of July, and from the pictures it looks like you had an awesome time at Lake Powell! So as you noticed in my last email I and Elder Belnap are safe and alive. Brad here and his family are also safe, thankfully in our section of the town we didn't receive a ton of damage everywhere, but there was a lot of flooding, we walked in a foot or two of water every time we left the apartment or came home, and we woke up on Saturday morning when the raining finally stopped to find that our bathroom and kitchen flooded, although the damage isn't super severe and we weren't hit way had like some other people we know, and especially where brad lives wasn't too bad because he is in a really elevated location. The bad news is that we have no water but I guess that's old news, and we've had power jumps, so we have to go to the grocery store and grab some bread every time we eat and we can't shower, and our water reserves are out, we only have drinking water now, although, I would assume this is largely due to the flood damage, but we can go to the branch to brush our teeth and wash our faces though haha.
In our area of the city there wasn't much damage, however, in other areas, like in the home of our investigators Andrei and Artyom, they have a foot and a half of water all in and throughout there house, and they're not alone, we offered to help out with anyone that we heard of that got hit pretty hard but they wouldn't let us help because they wanted us to do work elsewhere, some of the people here and just incredible individuals, they have always been so kind and nice to us when they have nothing, it's really compelling to be a part of, but thankfully all the members are safe as far as we know. After church yesterday we all got together as a branch and got a bunch of supplies together for the people in Kryimsk, which is a village that we pass through every time we go to Krasnodar and come back, it's pretty close by, and I remember that a couple days before we left for zone conference on Wednesday, we contacted a pretty nice guy who was visiting Novorossysk, and was on his way back to Kryimsk where he lived, it's just odd to think of where he might be know. I'm attaching some photos of the damage here in Novorossysk, where there is a bunch of debris in the bay. I'll try to get more when I go up to Krasnodar through Kryimsk tomorrow.
So I have a visa a trip on Thursday, I've already been out for about 9 months now! Also, I'm being transferred to Rostov! I'll be serving with Elder Gill in an area called Severny in Northern Rostov, he's a good kid, I knew him in the MTC. I'll be senior companion, so I'll have to try to work hard and be an example, but I'm way excited. I'm very thankful for the times I had here and the people I met, I will miss many of the so much, and it's hard to say goodbye, but at the same time it's good to have a new experience. That's the good news that I talked about, I'll tell you the other news in my person emails to you, but I gotta piece, I love you guys, stay safe and have a great week!
-Elder Skene

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hey Just a Quick Note

So I'll go to the internet club tomorrow to email you guys like usual, and I have some good news and some bad/depressing news for you, but it's nothing I can change and it's nothing you need to worry about, there's nothing I can really do about it. Anyways, I'm emailing you because our mission president asked us to, as you guys might have heard of the epic flooding that has taken place here in Novorossysk, Krimsk, and Gelenjek. Members and the mission president said it's apparently the worst natural disaster in Russian history. I don't know about that but things were pretty crazy, and there's like 150 people dead, but you don't need to worry about us. We are okay and safe, I'll have to tell you more about it in my email tomorrow but no worries we are safe! I love you guys, until tomorrow! I love you guys!
-Elder Skene

Monday, July 2, 2012

Birds and Zone Conference!

Hey guys! So zone conference is this week and it should be awesome, we'll get to do some awesome stuff in krasnodar and get together with a bunch of other elders and meet the new president, so that should be interesting. As far as birds go, i'm attaching some cool photos of the splits we had with the zone leaders a while back, check these out, Elder Smith and I fed the brids across the street and sometimes just held out our hands, and they fly right up, it was rad. Other than that this week wasn't super eventfull, we just did some contacting and standard work, it was Elder Belnap's year mark on Friday so he burned tie, but mostly we've been busy with just keeping the branch together. This week there is a lot planned though and I anticipate a transfer, so I'm thinking that this will be my last week in Novorossiysk, but we'll see I guess. I'm starting to really feel the Russian Language now if that makes sense, like I understand stuff and say stuff without even thinking about it, I'm starting to really like the language more than I ever did before, it's weird to think about it when I catch myself doing it sometimes.
Well I guess this will be another short email haha, but I love you guys, stay safe and have an awesome 4th of July!
-Elder Skene

Monday, June 25, 2012

Splits with the ZL's!

Hey! So I named the title splits with zone leaders because that's the only thing that happened this week. We did some cool stuff but I forgot my camera so I'll have to send them to you guys next week I guess. But honestly that's about it for this week, this letter's gonna be short, I don't have much time to write and there really isn't much to write about but this week have nothing scheduled so hopefully we can make something happen, and then next week is zone conference. The work is pretty hard down here lately, but we are still trying and managing to get over 10 lessons a week now if we try for it. I hope the package you guys sent comes soon. It'll be cool to see Brad and his family this week though, maybe we can do something fun with them. Don't worry about me though, I'll live, I love you guys, stay safe!
-Elder Skene

Monday, June 18, 2012

Practically Arrested!

Hey! I'll get to the title in just a second because I'm sure your wondering what I mean haha. But before I do Ill just wrap up everything else that happened this week which is honestly the standard stuff except we surpassed our goals in lesson on the street, which is awesome, and that's about it haha, but things are still running smooth though, and I'm so glad to hear that you guys are doing good after those health concerns. I'm attaching a photo of us with the branch here in Novo, another of everyone in our zone at last zone conference, and 2 more of a hike we went on this week with a member and some investigators, we climbed the highest mountain in and surrounding Novo, its not too high though but it was a wild climb because there's no trail haha. Here in Russia everyone just goes up the mountain anywhere they see appropriate haha, but it was a good time though and we had an awesome view and we got to see a trench line dug by the Nazi's when they invaded Novo in WW2 and some other cool stuff.
So by practically arrested this is what I mean. The assistants the the president came down to Novo for splits this week, and they were bringing down some supplies for our branch here in a box with them on the train, and they accidentally left the box in the train wagon, so Elder Jacobson and I went to go get it back and after being tossed around from person to person at the train station to try to pin down the packages location, we finally got referred to our local friendly Russian police officer who referred us to a building where we where interrogated for like an hour because they thought the box was a bomb, so they made us list everything that was in the box, which was just sacrament cups and water filters, and then fill out some affidavit type of thing, all while being interrogated in a room by the Russian police with the classic one light bulb above us a room with a sheet of glass you can't see through, it was wild, all with a warning on the wall with a picture of prison bars with the phrase, "You Can't Hide" written in Russian on it. It was truly a trip haha, but all in all we got out fine with no lasting problems and got our box back with everything in the end, but I guess it's in interesting story to tell! Well I gotta go, stay safe, until next week! I love you!
-Elder Skene

Monday, June 11, 2012

I feel like a Missionary in Mexico!

Hello everyone! So about the title of this weeks email, when I say I feel like a missionary in Mexico, it's because the yesterday we had 2 or 3 people just walk up to us on the street that weren't crazy or drunk and seriously wanted to know about the church and wanted invitations! It's way rare in Russia for something like that to happen, and the stereotype among missionaries is that it happens in Mexico and Spanish missions all the time, apparently it's actually true though from at least what I've seen stat wise and from talking to people who served there. I guess when I get home I'll be able to relate at least one experience now to Elder Pathakis haha. This week we also played some Basketball for family night with Brad and his friend Nick, Nick also works for chevron and is from America, it was awesome, I haven't played though in like 5 months though and I was already a bad player to begin with so you can imagine how that went haha. But none the less it was still a competitive game though, because well to say in an alluding way, basketball didn't start in Russia.
I'm attaching the mission photo, a photo of yesterday when President Nechiporov visited our branch to say goodbye, and a photo of my new Elder Travis nametag. Other than all that though this week wasn't super eventfull other than we met some cool people though some investigators and members, and we just had a standard week contacting wise, I haven't sent my package yet but I'll be doing that soon, I have the box and nearly everything ready though, and I'm making sure there are no mistakes by having one of the members here help me and double check everything, I don't wanna get ripped off, as you can imagine, the public opinion of America and Americans in general usually isn't that warm, and if that's with the people, imagine what the government is usually like. This week the AP's are coming down for splits and later in the week we are going on a hike up in the mountains with some members and investigators, so that should be fun. We also took a branch photo yesterday, I'll send it when I get it from the branch president here. Well that's about it for this week, I love you guys, stay safe! Send my love to everyone at home for me!
-Elder Skene

Monday, June 4, 2012


Hey! So I will stay another transfer here in Novo, 4 transfers, I'll almost see every season, I'm not sure how I feel about it yet but to be honest I really wanted to get a transfer and experience something new in the mission, but that's not gonna happen for at least 5 more weeks. Anyways, we went to Krasnodar, then to Rostov, and then back down to Krasnodar this week for Elder Belnap's Visa trip, the entire mission was down in Rostov, except for 2 missionaries who were at the police station in Taganrog near Rostov because they got attacked a month or so ago, but we took a huge mission picture! Huge as in all 30 of us Elders were in it haha. Well other than that there isn't much to report, other than I'll be giving brad my clothing when he leaves this week, I'll give him your phone numbers so he can get a hold of you. Just set the clothing in my room and lock it up, it's some of my favorite DI classic shirts, hopefully they can remain intact and unused while I'm still here. I'm attaching a picture of a bucket of fresh cherries that Andrei and Artyom picked for us from their trees at home. They taste great! Russians are pretty good about growing there own food here. I'm also attaching some photos of the trips back and forth that we had this week. There's one with Elder Roberts and I, and one with Elder Sprouse and I, they are 2 of my favorite Elders in this mission, they are both serving in Sochi together, Elder Srpouse is the one with blonde hair and Elder Roberts is the one with brown hair. I'll attach another one of a huge Provoslavnic (Russian Orthodox) temple we visited while we were in Rostov. But that's about all for this week, the new President comes this transfer, so we'll see how that goes, he sounds pretty cool though, another Elder in our mission was set apart by him I guess? Anyways, I love you guys, stay safe, and may the Force be with you!

Elder Skene


Monday, May 28, 2012

Maybe a Transfer!

Hey! I can't say for sure whether or not I received a transfer yet, because I don't know for sure yet, because there might be some last minute changes apparantly, but as of now I'm staying here! CRAZY! Being with the same companion and in the same area for 3 or 4 transfers is nearly unheard of, and in an area like Novorossiysk where you never see anyone, that's insane, I was honestly kind of hoping that I would have been transferred, because I really wanted to go see and experience new areas and people, I'm so grateful for the people I've met and some of the experiences I've been able to have here though! I found out that apparently my transfer was dead set on me going to Rostov with a zone leader! Haha that was my dream, when you have a mission of about 30 Elders everyone knows everyone and I love that kid up there, but that's not gonna happen I guess. Oh well, I just gotta do as Gandalf says, "Do the best I can with the time that's been given to me." If I stay here there are some cool perks I guess though, I'll get to see Brad's family, well some of them, and work with some of the people here more, and see the south in spring time.
Other than that there wasn't much new this week, other than the standard encounters with the drunk and insane, but we actually managed to have a smoothly scheduled week though, which isn't too common haha. We are having a harder time with our investigators though, but we're still working with them, it's frustrating to see the potential that everyone has and how much work they can do, and then they just don't use it, it's tough to watch, especially as a missionary. But it reminds me of how God must see us when we make a mistake or don't do what we should or don't use our potential sometimes, his mercy and love is truly infinite and incomprehensible to us, we're just so blessed to be able to experience it though and be forgiven and given second chances.
We travel up to Krasnodar today for Elder Belnap's visa trip. So we'll see how that goes, it should be a fun time, because after we get to Krasnodar we travel with almost everyone in our zone up to Rostov. I'll tell you how that goes. Well everything is pretty smooth and normal here and we have more water now haha, but our bathroom keeps flooding! Haha Novo is a good time! Well that's about it for this week, I love you guys and I miss you, stay safe! THE CHURCH IS TRUE!
-Elder Skene

Monday, May 21, 2012

Transfers this week! Well as in I find out!

Hello everyone! So as far as the title goes, what I mean is the transfer call is this Friday, it's when the AP's call us and let us know our transfers after messing around with us a little bit haha, but like I said I'm anticipating leaving but who knows for sure, I really don't know any specifics about my transfer though, so we'll just have to see what happens. Well everything here is still relatively the same here but things improved in the branch here for sure last week, more people are coming, I was thankfully able to translate talks, and interview, and the branch presidents explanation of one of his paintings that they want to buy, and we did three orders haha, all for the senior couple (the Davis's) who visited from Krasnodar, it was way cool, I'm so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to be able to learn and use and understand the little Russian that I have been able to haha, the gift of tongues is real!
Funny story this week, we had sports night at the branch, as in people come and and play Frisbee or ping pong or something, anyways we had 5 people show up, and the second we left the branch they all for some reason went they're own way once we walked out of the branch building without even saying anything haha and we had 1 come with us, so we just played Frisbee with the 1 member, it was a good time. I don't think I have really any photos this week, but I'll just send a random one I guess if I can, but I will send one of my new cool Russian shoes, we don't have a lot of time though. But that's about it for this week, we'll see what happens this week, things are getting interesting with transfer guesses from everyone, but we'll just see what we end up doing, but I'll let you all know of course! Well stay safe, I love you guys all so much! Until next week!

-Elder Skene

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day! (kind of!)

Hey Everyone! I can't express how awesome it was to be able to talk to you guys yesterday, and how much I loved every second of it, we were so blessed to be able to use skype like that and chat about everything and to be able to see you guys and my room and the house again. Well I don't have much more to report besides what we already talked about, other than that I'm sending some photos of a concert that I went to last week before our call that I forgot to tell you about, it was pretty sweet. It was a concert of Andrey's son Artyom, our investigators, it had a lot of Russian cultural songs and other stuff, it was the 60th anniversary concert of the music school that Artyom goes to, which in Russia is a big deal, music education here is big. He did a great job and the concert was awesome, well by now the photos are attached and all that, so I'll keep this brief. I love you guys all so much, thanks for everything, really, I can't put into words how cool it was to see you guys and how much I am grateful that you have done and continue to do so much for me, I love you all and miss you so much! Well until next week!

-Elder Skene

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy Victory Day!

Hello everyone! Happy Victory Day here in Russia, this is our P-Day, that's why I didn't write on Monday, I apologize for no forewarning, they told us the night before. Anyways, well Victory Day is pretty cool, people are out on the streets EVERYWHERE, so many people! I'll be sure to take photos of all the stuff I can! Victory Day of course is celebrating the end of World War 2, but honestly, in Russia, it's just a celebration of Russia's military power, and full of the propaganda of how the US, Britain, and France didn't do anything in the War except for walk into Berlin after Russia did all the work, I mean they're right about France, but Russia has a huge pride when it comes to the Armed Forces.
We went to Anapa this week, so I'm sending some photos of that if I can attach anything, the computers here have issues today, as always, I don't even know if you'll  get this email. We went to the Branch Presidents art show, it was way cool, his name is Damir Krivenko, I think I've told you that before though. We have a little less water than last week and still have to deal with that, but yeah I on the bright side it toughens us up, like you said. We also have the usual, crazy people and skin heads trying to mess with us, but nothing happened so it's all good. I can't really write any more because I'm spending money to try to fix this problem with this comp so I can at least send this, so no personal emails this week probably, we don't have time now because of this, sorry. Well I'll call you guys on mothers day sometime between 3pm and 8pm my time here in Novo, either on Skype or on the phone, so look for both. I love you guys, until next week! 

-Elder Skene