Monday, July 22, 2013

Splits and Progress with Investigators

Hey! This week we had splits with the Traktorny Elders, I was with Elder Vail here in Volzhsky and Elder Lambert went with Elder Goodwin back to Traktorny. It was a really helpful to shake things up a bit and see different ways to work than you're normally used to. Elder Vail and I visited Michael the American, who actually I guess was just out of town at some camp thing so he didn't answer his phone for a while but we had a meeting with him and it was interesting, but maybe the best part of it all is that we got to meet and talk to his girlfriend and she should be coming to our Spiritual Night activity that we are having this Friday here in our branch. We also had a lesson with Mihail that Gosha, our ward mission leader, sat in on and testified with us which was a really helpful and they are friends outside of lessons so things are moving forward with him getting used to the branch. He prayed and came to Church! It went from him being like atheist and telling us that our Church is nice but we don't really know whats going on to him praying with us, reading, coming to Church, and agreeing to meet again. He speaks English really well and could be a huge help here for the branch, he's a good guy and has a lot of potential. We are gonna try to work on home teaching here and get that set in motion too, and we've been doing a lot of work on the branch member list and looking for the people who we haven't met and getting the people on there who need to be from either other branches or from the Moscow file, and we've been able to make some really useful changes and this week should prove to bring more as well so we'll just have to see what we can find out. Other than that there isn't a lot of news to report about, there is a transfer here coming up in three weeks, it will be my last transfer, I really hope that I can stay here but I guess we'll just see what ends up taking place for everyone. I love you guys and thanks for everything you do! Have a great week and be safe! Until next Monday,

-Elder Skene

Monday, July 15, 2013


Hey! This week there was some changes made in how we do the work here. For one thing, no activities for missionaries except for monthly events, at least as far as I understand it, they are trying to shift the responsibility to the members so we have to have full confidence that they can make the changes they need to to take control of things. Obviously it's a little tough because we just had like a big renaissance in our branches over here where a lot of people were starting to come back and participate, and we were getting a lot of investigators and referrals, nearly all of them in fact. This is all being said though, this is the new direction that President wants us to move in and even though it's hard we just have to trust that we maybe can't understand the full long and short term effects of it all and that we will be blessed from it, we just need to try to work hard to adjust to it and get another game plan in action. We also had a few audits this week that I was able to participate and and translate and do MLS stuff. I worked with Elder Bergerner, the chief Eastern Europe auditor, and it was a good experience and I learned a lot about Church policy, finances, and a bunch of other stuff even though it was just for a few days of doing it all. Not a bunch of updates this week as far as investigators go, we are still working with all the Russians but the Americans seemed to have gotten derailed somehow, granted one of them told us that he read about Mormonism on the Internet and you can imagine how that conversation went but we just told him that he is entitled to his opinion and that we are just here to invite people to read the Book of Mormon, pray about its' message, and come unto Christ by being baptized by someone holding the true Priesthood authority. On the bright side though we are having some progress and moving forward and working with people that we never really thought would be willing to hear our message. I hope you guys all have an awesome week, thanks for everything you do for me. I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Work is Progressing!

Hey! So this week we had some good progress with our investigators and the work here. We had our last English conversation group for a couple of weeks to let the program rotate and that went well, we had family home evening on Tuesday and had a handful of investigators there and they brought their friends, some of which we are now working with. Namely, there is a guy named Michael and his friend Truman, both Americans who live over here and among other things teach English. We had the first lesson with Michael and it went well. He agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, so we'll have to keep meeting with him. It was kinda strange to teach the first lesson in English to be honest, but it was cool to experience a little bit of what the missionaries back home in the US do. We'll be seeing all of them hopefully this Tuesday along with our other investigators who couldn't make it last week and Elder and Sister Crane will be there so it will be good for them to talk them and discuss the Gospel and become friends. We had Zone Conference this week too, my last one, which was kind of bizarre. There will be zone training meetings but I guess there not really the same. Sometimes the mission has gone by pretty fast and at other times slower, but I'm sure that either way I'll be at the mission home having my final interview before I know it, which will also be unreal I'm sure. You're whole mission you never really anticipate that day coming, as though it does for other Elders and Sisters but you have a special assignment or something haha. You come into the mission office on you're first day here after leaving the mission home and see the pictures of everyone on the board and then you realize that every single person in the mission on that board will be gone before you are, except for those you came with, it's just been an interesting process to see the change happen and almost everyone I knew before is home now but have been replaced by everyone, but the transition has been over 2 years so it's all been step by step so not super alarming. I gotta run, thanks for all you're support and everything you do, have a great time in Lake Powell! I hope that you have a great week. I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, July 1, 2013

Talent Show!

Hey everyone, this week we have Zone Conference here in Volgograd, which should be exciting and I guess it's my last one unless there will be another before October, which is kinda unreal to be honest. I always assumed a day like that to be far away in my future. Either way, it should be helpful and cool to see everyone again. This week we'll be meeting with some people hopefully who can provide us with some contacts and who can be really helpful to our branch. This week we did some service for a member who moved here a little while back and got a working lock put on her door so she can leave freely. Her daughter works in the city and I guess makes the money for the family while the Mother builds the house all day with her own hands. So we've been over to help a few times, we went with the other Elders and Sisters in our district and we want to do that again sometime soon, maybe on splits this week. It was really helpful to her, she wasn't able to ever leave for fear of someone robbing her house. She lives out in a village north of Volzhsky, about 20 minutes our so by car so not to far out but if something were to happen it may be tough for her to get help in time, so she's been confined to her home for a while. She comes to Church though now and was at the talent night, speaking of which, it went really well. A lot of people performed and a lot of inactives showed up and some investigators too. I got to MC the evening and sing a hymn with two members from our Branch here. It was all a really good time. After counting things we realized that our attendance was over 40, maybe even over 45, which is a huge improvement and jump ahead for the Branch here. It truly is a blessing to be able to take part in the work like that. So the work here is going well and things are moving forward, I can't believe that I have like 12 weeks left, crazy. I'll just need to keep continuing to do the work and try to focus on what good we can do here. The Work is true, it's of the Lord. I love all of you, thanks for all your support and help, have a great week and be safe, until next Monday!

-Elder Skene

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Week Flown By!

Hey! I don't have a bunch of news aside from what I wrote you in my personal emails to each one of you. The work here is going pretty good. We have been doing service for the members lately and we are really gonna start trying to work with them a little more in the work and ask them to get their friends involved and coming to the activities and Church. This week we had what I think you could call a miracle. We were working with the ward mission leader here who's about to turn in his mission papers here pretty soon, Gosha, on the street. A day or two earlier we called Elder Williams in the office requesting the some info on a member who has been lost out of the records for years. We were contacting some people and visiting members when a lady approached us on the street asking if we were Mormons. We told her who we were and she informed us that her family was searching for years for us and their names were the same people who we were trying to find and requested records for. We took down her phone number and we're excited to see where that can go this week. We're still seeing good news here in Church every week as people are coming back or are willing to meet all the while making big efforts to make it out here and change their routines. We have a cool talent night here planned for this Friday, and a lot of inactives have agreed to come and some investigators, so we're excited to see how that turns out. I don't know if I'm gonna perform or anything, maybe I'll play some Candle in the Wind on the piano or something, I don't know how funny Tim Gunn in Russian would be haha. We have been meeting with some really cool members and families and really trying to build friendships and get to know each other. This branch is awesome, I love the members here and the area is cool too. In short, things are going good here and we are moving forward with the work. I gotta run, I love you guys! Have a great week and be safe, until next Monday,

-Elder Skene

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Fathers Day!

Hey! First off, Happy Father's Day! I hope you had a great weekend and from what you told me it sounds like you did. This week here we were doing a lot to serve the members and build there trust with us and we have been kept way busy. We had a couple inactives show up this week at Church that haven't come in a long time, it's truly an awesome blessing to be able to see the hand of the Lord in the the work that you do, and how through you he blesses his children and the joy that we can all experience by being a part of it. I'm sure that the Lord has been so merciful to allow me to participate in miracles like that, I can't even begin to pay him back for the life he gave me or the atonement that he performed. We are working pretty hard here and stuff is moving forward and we are kept super busy. The time goes pretty fast, I'm sure before I know it my time will be up and I'll wonder what happened. I really hope that I can finish my mission here I think, the branch is awesome, I love them so much, and every branch I've served in has had some of the coolest members that I've ever met before here in the mission so that's saying a lot haha. Attached is a photo of Oleg, one of the inactives, don't post in online though until I get confirmation that the rule was changed or whatever the current policy is haha things change here out of the blue sometimes and before you know it the guidelines have all changed. I gotta run, I hope that you're having a great week and staying safe. Happy Father's Day, I love you guys! Until next Monday,

-Elder Skene

Monday, June 10, 2013

Attendance is Growing!

Hey! This week was pretty good. We had even more people come back to Church that we've been working with. We did a service project this week for a member named Natalia who lives in a village outside of the city and has a mother at home who sometimes needs to be watched out for, so for her to come to Church is a risk and sacrifice, it takes time and faith that the Lord will watch over her mother at home. She came and was happy to be there, and all of us were so excited to see her there. Oleg also came to Church again, Igor, our investigator, and more inactives. What a blessing it is to be able to see how the service that you render and the work the Lord does through you blesses others, and how they change their lives. I consider it an awesome blessing to be able to participate in that here in Volzhsky, granted, things can be tough and opposition exists, but we just need to keep moving forward and watch the miracles happen and witness the hand of the Lord in the lives of others and in ours. We are kept pretty busy here and sometimes that can make the time fly by pretty fast. This week we have a lot planned ahead and splits with our district so that should be an interesting change of pace. Zone training meeting was pretty interesting and gave me some insights. It was cool to be part of the circle to dedicate our zone for the preaching of the gospel, and feel the spirit there. The work is moving forward and the branch is growing, and we know that if we keep working hard and exercise faith the Lord will bless us. I love you guys, I hope you have a great week and be safe! Until next Monday,

-Elder Skene

Monday, June 3, 2013

Workin' Hard!

Hey guys! This week I don't have a bunch of news to report or anything, if I get a chance to send some photos I will. Speaking of which I've been able to see some really cool WWII stuff while I've been here and across the river, which is awesome, it's kinda unreal to think that one of the biggest battles in world history took place right here in our backyard, and some sweet stuff has been preserved and scenery is really cool in some places. I've been taking photos when I can, so I'll have to show them to you guys in a couple months here. We have been really busy this week, like there hasn't been one day that I can recall where we've been able to do everything that we need to and that is coupled with rushing everywhere even, and the spirit has been strong as we've worked with inactives and actives alike, contacted, taught lessons in Church, and just everything else. We about doubled our Church attendance this week, which is also way awesome. Even though it can be pretty tough, I consider being here a blessing and an opportunity to do a lot of good, haha I guess the Lord gave me a good way to finish strong, we are now from what I've heard, visiting every single person in the branch every week, that's a lot of meetings and a lot of people and only 2 companionships to divide and conquer, so it sounds like a good time and we got our work cut out for us. We have had some big progress with the inactives here, and it's exciting to see what could happen in the future. We visited Oleg, a professional photographer/cinematographer who was inactive in our branch and later on in the week did a service project for him to help clean up some stuff at his work. We shared a few spiritual thoughts and invited him to come to combined family home evening with the other branch across the river in our district, he agreed and he'll be the photographer for the activities, and we're riding there with him tomorrow night. We thought that would be a good idea to get him back into the scene by just getting him socializing with the members and then start to get him back to Church, we didn't want to do too much all at once. The Lord must have worked a miracle with him, we are not only going to the activity with him tomorrow night but he came to Church! He expressed the love the felt from us just looking out for him and helping him out, and I think it meant a lot to him. This is all not to mention the work that the Sisters have been doing with other inactives who came back this week who haven't been coming to Church really for 4 or 5 years if I remember right. It's really cool to be able to make friends with the inactives and have them help us with the work by referrals, coming to lessons/meetings, and everything else. Our investigator, Igor, told us about how the Lord help him quit smoking and how he has a testimony about tithing. His stories were really cool to listen to and we are committed with him now to work with his wife and get him baptized, he has been an investigator for something like 8 years apparently but he's really nice and seems to know the doctrine better than a lot of members do here, not to mention what he's shown us too. So all in all things here are moving forward and are doing well. I love and miss you guys, have a great week and be safe! Until next Monday,

-Elder Skene

Monday, May 27, 2013

First week in Volzhsky (Volgograd)

Hey! So transfers this week was an interesting experience. I had a mission conference with Elder Bennett, a member of the quorum of the Seventy and the East Europe Presidency which was pretty cool and really helpful, I set a lot of goals and got some good insights, then a visa trip, my last one, to the Ukraine with some of my best friends here on the mission. Then the next morning I took a 8.5 hour bus ride to Volgograd with Elder Sandoval, and then an hour and a half taxi ride through Volgograd and then across the bridge to Volzhsky. I saw the big statue and some interesting stuff on the way including of course the Volga river, all of which were cool to see. I expect to probably finish my mission here, having only 2 transfers left after this one is done, especially with the policy of wanting someone to remain in the branch who knows the members and all like if my comp left and someone new came, but either way we'll just see what happens in these next 17-18 weeks. The branch is cool and my comp works hard. We have talked to like everyone we see and have made a lot of plans for the work we are going to do here. I have realized a lot of things lately as I study and continue the work, I was thinking about how often we all play the role of the prodigal sun in our lives, how often we ask for forgiveness, especially when sometimes others may be really good at what we struggle at, and then we can understand how they feel when we see someone else have a weakness with something we consider to be easy. Christ overcame it all, suffered it all for us, he and our Heavenly Father truly are the Father in the parable who accept us if we repent. The branch here is cool, about 1/3-1/2 of the about 15 active members are youth, and they're way cool. I consider it a blessing to to be able to meet everyone and work here. Our landlady is awesome too, she lives right next to us and is way nice, she makes us food and helps us out with stuff like water refills or anything else that we need. So we'll just have to see how things play out here but there is a lot of potential for success branch growth/reactivation, and I'm excited to be a part of it. We're working hard and playing by the rules. I miss you guys but I gotta run, have a great week and be safe. I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hey! So we got transfer calls this week and I will be leaving Selmash. I have served a total of 5 transfers here, which is a lot for the average area, but it was hard to say goodbye even though I was ready for a change. I love so many of the members here and I love the people I was able to serve around/with and I learned so much from so many different people, stuff I may have never learned otherwise. I'll miss my companions and the Williams for sure, but I think it will be interesting to have a new change. Elder Cook will be staying here and Elder Wilding will come to replace me, he's a good missionary, I've gotten to know him a little bit over the mission and I was his temporary companion on his first day here. He's 4 transfers younger than me if I remember correctly. Sisters will also now be in Selmash along with the Elders. I will be going up to Volgograd (Stalingrad) across the river in a place called Volzhsky, actually I'll be the second oldest Elder in the whole zone and the oldest within a transfer, crazy right? Although maybe not my first choice to be totally honest haha I'm excited to go and I'll be serving with Elder Lambert, I've never met him but I've heard some good stuff and apparently he's pretty smart and good at the language, he went to Stanford before his mission, he should be an interesting guy. No other major news this week than we had a good turn out at Church this week and things in the branch are improving. We've been kept busy between the work and getting stuff ready for transfers, we have to transfer all the area book records to a separate book for the new Sisters, the rule here is that if it's a single individual the Elders teach the men and the Sisters teach the woman. There are Sisters in Volzhsky too, and we'll be in a district of 10 people, including the Cranes, a senior couple. There awesome and they'll be helping us out in our two areas with some branch training and things. I guess that I'm on another branch assignment, as there is a lot that needs to be done in these two branches that make up our district, and who knows, maybe I'll finish my mission up there, who knows, but hopefully we can be kept working on some specific stuff now and then instead of just a lot of contacting or other standard routines, thankfully the Branch Presidency assignment in Selmash helped out a lot with that and kept us occupied. So we'll have to see what is in store for this next transfer and the two after it before I'm finished and on my way back home, this week I have my last visa trip and a mission conference with Elder Bennet before I go up on the 8-12 hour bus trip to Volgograd Center, and then the hour and a half taxi ride through the city and across the bridge to Volzhsky, so it should be exciting. Have a great week, thanks for everything! Be safe! I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hey! This will be short because we just talked yesterday and I updated you on the week and what's happening over here. Nothing really happened since we talked, but I wanna wish you guys a Happy Mother's Day again and I hope that you had fun with the family. It was awesome to get to talk to you all! I miss you guys so much, I'll just need to keep myself occupied with the work over here until the very end and I'll see you before we know it. Have a great week and be safe, until next Monday!

Elder Skene

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Victory Day!

Hey everyone, today was Victory Day here in Russia, today being the 9th of May. We were able to see the big parade this morning and some other cool stuff, I have some cool photos that I'll have to send to send to you if I get the chance, I'll try to attach a few in this email. So this week we had a higher than average turn out at Church and things went smooth for the most part, there were a few isolated incidents that took place, but we just gotta keep moving forward and get past the bumps in the road. Other than that we are just working with mostly the same investigators that we had in the past few weeks. Due to the Easter Holiday though, or as we hope, not all of them came to Church this week. We also had splits with the Severny Elders, and combined we received 5-6 numbers and handed out a few copies of the Book of Mormon, so they went pretty well, and it was good to mix things up a little bit from the casual routine. Zone training this week was good, it provoked some thoughts in me about goal setting, my progress as a missionary, and other stuff that I've been thinking about, essentially about just how we all can keep improving as missionaries, and what I need to do specifically, it's interesting to see how we change over time, and how far you realize that you need to go every time you evaluate things, haha even in the things that don't seem like your biggest weaknesses, but that's life right? Well, I gotta run, you guys have a great week and be safe! Talk to you on Sunday!
-Elder Skene

Monday, April 29, 2013

Easter here next week!

Hey! So this week wasn't super evenful as far as the majority of the days are concerned, but towards the end of the week we found a few people in interesting ways that said that they were interested. Then at Chruch we had over 40 people in attendance, I know it sounds small but that's more than I've ever seen in Selmash before and more than I've ever seen on my mission regardless of where I served. Despite the few individuals who don't seem to be onboard with the new changes in the branch, we had a good Sunday and got a lot accomplished, if they choose to continue to act the way they have it will be their choice and their issue to deal with, our job is just to fellowship them, not fuel the fire, and be forgiving. Sometimes that can be pretty difficult, but I'm sure with someone as experience as President Williams, we can all collectively do it as we heed to his council. I was translating the whole day it seemed, which was pretty cool. It's a rush to have your brain just working on 2 tracks at once, and transferring not only the words but the meaning too. President Williams and his wife both spoke about the Atonement and forgiveness. The congregation really seemed to enjoy the talk, and we had multiple inactives show up. This past week or so Elder Cook and I have called all the inactives on the branch list and let them know about the new changes and to tell them that the new Branch President would like to meet them. We had a couple show up to Church, who were brought by another member, that aren't members that we have the number of now, and our investigator Maxsim came too. We now have MLS all up-to-date and all the records sent in, we just have a few more things to do and then everything should be caught up. So to make things short, it seems that things can really turn around here, and that's awesome. It's been way too long since things were appearing to make big improvements. With next Sunday being Easter and all I don't know if I expect a ton of attendees seeing is many will probably be visited family as some of them have expressed, but we'll just see what happens. The inactives who came expressed a deep desire to come to church and their love for the Gospel, they even payed tithing! So all and all our week turned out to go pretty good. I love you guys, stay safe and have a great week!

-Elder Skene

 Elder Cook
 8 year old boy we baptised

Selmash Branch Presidency

Monday, April 22, 2013

Forgot about the transfer news!

Hey! So the news about the transfer is that there is no transfer, we are both staying haha I forgot to tell you about that last week. I anticipate maybe staying here for even a 6 transfer due to the branch situation and all that. As far as updates on Selmash go we had a lesson with Vera this week and the biggest progress we have made with her is that she will now pray with us, she is just really accustomed to praying to icons and reciting written prayers. We are working hard with her and Maxsim, and they are still both progressing and keeping the committments that they are willing to accept and both of them have accepted the soft baptismal challange, but the hard challenge (as in setting a date, not just a comittment when they come to know that the gospel) is TBA at this point. They are great people with honest desires though and they have a lot of potential, I just wish I could help them more along the way, but it's up to them to make the decisions, we just need to do our part and understand that they have their own agency and that's part of the whole plan. That's key to missionary work, you need to understand that you need to do your part but that others will ultimately make their own choices and we just need to love them undconditionally, and that's for sure hard sometimes and you have to try especially when you don't have a bunch of baptismal success, I suppose that everything can't be easy, but we're all growing together right? Sunday was kinda intense but I'll let you know more when I'm home about some of the things that need to be dealt with here, well the things that aren't confidential I mean but yeah it's always a great week in Selmash haha. The work is moving forward and miracles are happening here in the mission. I miss and love you guys, have a great week and be safe! Until next Monday,

-Elder Skene

Monday, April 15, 2013


Hey! So as an update, we have 2 investigators who could be likely to accept a baptismal invitation here in the near future, namely Vera and Maxsim, we are searching for other people to meet with though and we'll be calling everyone on the member list this week. This last Sunday was interesting, I was pretty busy helping President Williams with administrative stuff and learning my way around the MLS system with the Branch Presidency. I'm happy that I've gotten a chance to be part of the whole operation, it's nice to have a change of pace now and again. Things went smoothly this past week for the most part and we were able to do everything that we were supposed to other than send in the weekly financial report through MLS, so President Williams is going to send from the office so it should work out, but either way we need to call a Branch Clerk asap so we can deter this problem in the future. I was able to watch the Saturday session of conference but barely the Sunday due to the errands we had to run, but I'm enjoying being pretty busy. To answer your questions from last week I would recommend Elder Cook's talk to listen to, it gave me some interesting insights, on things. When it comes to peace in the soul it truly is an eternal principle that no amount of wordly goods or treasures can really bring us sound and consistent peace, it's only our relationships, good deeds, and most importantly, our standing before God that can do that. I'm glad to hear that you guys are doing well, I gotta run though, so have a great week and be safe, much love,

-Elder Skene

 Russian icicle
 In the Branch Office
 The apartment (nice tie!)
 Elder Reingard (my trainer), me and Elder Cook (who I am training)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy Easter! (as far as Russia is concerned)

Hey! We had a good Easter this week, and we'll find out transfers this week but my guess is that I'll be staying in Selmash for a little while, due to some new updates. Yesterday, Elder Williams, a senior couple missionary from the office in Rostov who's an awesome guy was set apart as the new Branch President for our ward, and I'm the second counselor. I'm serving along with a first counselor named Yuri, a nice guy in our branch who's Russian though so he doesn't really speak any English, so I have my work cut out for me and we are on a blitzkrieg mission here to turn things around in our branch here as quickly as we can with making sure that the right steps are taken so we don't rush anything, but I gotta be honest, it's pretty intimidating but I know that with the Lord's help I can do it, I know he issues calls that we can fulfill if we just rely on him for strength. Other than that we are indefinitely putting-off Pavel's baptism until some things can be figured out, and this week we'll be meeting with Vera and Maxsim and trying to make things happen for them, and contacting some people we have been teaching on the street from this past week, so hopefully some cool stuff will come out of all of it. We have a youth baptism in the next couple weeks too who technically counts as a convert baptism due to some odd circumstances but nevertheless he is an 8 year old, and we'll be watching conference, the general sessions I mean this Saturday and Sunday, so I'll let you know how it goes but I haven't seen any of it yet. I love you guys, thanks for everything you do for me and all of your support, have a great week and be safe! The Church is true! Until next Monday,

-Elder Skene

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter!

Hey! Thanks for your emails as usual, I loved them and it's a bummer that I missed Easter with you guys this year but I'll be seeing you in 6 months to the day, so we'll have plenty of Holidays to catch up on. Easter here is this upcoming Sunday, so we'll see how that goes, last year there wasn't much other than a lot of people going to church and telling you that Christ has risen, which is true, so we'll see what this year holds in store. We committed an investigator, Pavel, to baptism and he accepted this week for the 21st of April, but we'll see what happens with that, he is having some personal issues that could prolong the whole process or postpone the date. We had a lesson with him again this week and while we were waiting for him to show up a lady walked by the building and was interested in the church building when she noticed the repairman that was working there with his son, both members from Zapandy. We together taught her a lesson and they showed her the building and we both took down here number after giving her a Book of Mormon, and she along with Pavel both showed up to Church this week, it was awesome. The only worry is that it may have seemed a little strange to them because to the few people there due to the temple trip, but they said that they liked it and she stayed and participated in Sunday School. We'll keep working hard here to move the work forward, I love you guys, have a great week and be safe!

-Elder Skene

Monday, March 25, 2013

Quick note for this week

Hey! So I don't have time to write you guys personally this week really, but thanks for the emails and I'm reading them. I'll let you know if I get the package, thanks so much for going to the time and effort to send it! We are still working with some individuals towards baptism, namely Pavel and Maxsim, both of which have accepted the soft baptismal challenge on the first lesson, and both of which are meeting with us this week. We were able to have a member present on almost all of there lessons and there looks to be some promise on their behalf. We are planning to commit both of them to baptism this week. That's about it for this week, I love you guys, have a great week and stay safe!

-Elder Skene

Monday, March 18, 2013

following the Spirit

Hey! I'll be staying here for another transfer with Elder Cook but this transfer is only 4 weeks so we'll see what happens. We are still working with the same people that we were working with in the past few weeks, but we were able to meet a man named Aleksei who wants to change his life. We felt prompted to talk to him when we were in the park so we sat down on the bench were he was sitting alone and eventually got his number and we are gonna get a meeting with him this week if we can. Another man about our age was in the same situation, in a different park haha, but we walked past him originally, then I asked Elder Cook if he thought that we should go back and talk to him, we decided that we would turn around and speak to him if he was still there. On the path he met us and we gave him a Book of Mormon and got his number. We had another lesson with Maxsim this week with a member too, his biggest issue is that he is just really into different philosophies and doesn't like to align himself with one confession, but he accepted the soft baptismal challenge, two times actually so we'll keep working with him. I gotta run so until next week! Be safe and have a good one! I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tales from Selmash

Hey everyone, still working on wrapping up the college stuff so this will be shorter, so this week we worked hard and saw miracles, working with active members who were beginning to lose their vision or inactives who have lost their way, multiple people opened up to us that we would have never thought would, people who were claimed by others to never want to see the missionaries, let alone talk to them. It gives me hope and faith that I know that if we try our best here Elder Cook and I can feel successful and make things happen, even if that means that our work down the road will make a huge difference. When things go rough and it seems that we just can never hit gold no matter how hard we search, it's important to keep in mind the future and the eternal perspective. Many people in the book of Mormon saw little to no success, but they were successful, what a principle, only in the Gospel can one really make it or break invisibly. It doesn't matter if we had tons of baptisms or none at all as long as we go down fighting, as long as we finish strong and keep the faith. If we work hard and try our best then we really don't have anything to worry about. We are hoping and praying every day that our work will bear some fruit that we can see with our own eyes, but if not, we will carry on and keep a smile on our faces. I love you guys, have a great week and stay safe, and always remember to keep the eternal perspective in mind as we all constantly have to remind ourselves of these principles and teachings.

-Elder Skene

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tales from Selmash

Hey everyone, I wish I could tell you all the crazy stories of everything that happens here but they don't want us writing things like that home. Don't worry though, I'm keeping track of everything and writing it down in my journals or my notebook. This week we were able to get two member present lessons, and two promises that this next Sunday we will have some people at Church, one of the two seems a little bit more on the iffy side of things but hey, it happens. We met with Tolik on the street and have had a lesson with him and he accepted the soft baptismal commitment, and Yura, our other investigator, said he would come meet us at the branch sometime this week, and while we were waiting for Tolik, I should have payed attention more but it seemed like he wouldn't come for a second but my doubt was swept away to be honest, I just knew that he would come, like a confirmation from the spirit, and low and behold he showed up and it was a good lesson. As we were wrapping up he shared with us his desire to start a family and how he hopes that God will help him, so of course we are gonna jump on that in our next meeting with him. But the work rolls forward here and we are really trying to do everything in our power to make things happen, but as seen with events in the past, we really can't influence anyone's agency, but we can have faith that they will make the right choices, and follow the spirit that we know they are feeling. It's amazing to see how much you care about people you've just met, and their salvation, back home it was usually like, oh well if he wants to hate someone or something to each his own, but here it's something totally different, you pray and fast for people you may never even see again, and desire them to partake of the fruit that the Lord has blessed us with a chance to partake of. All and all, despite it's setbacks, things in Selmash are going well. I love you guys, the Church is true! Have a great week, I'll be seeing you before you know it!

-Elder Skene

Monday, February 18, 2013


Hey I wrote you guys already quite a bit but this will refer more to my week here. This week I experienced what I would consider a miracle. We have an investigator in her 40's named Natalia who is to be baptized on the 24th of February, and we have completed all of the lessons but the last half of lesson 4, and all have been with a member present. She was planning to come to church and have another lesson with us but she had to go to the hospital because she drank some solution that looked like water and it messed with her body. We went to the hospital on Friday at the time we originally schedule the lesson and towards the end of the lesson I felt inspired to tell her that if she would exercise enough faith, she would be able to attend sacrament meeting. The next day Elder Cook and I were on the street walking contacting and we received a phone call informing us that she wouldn't be released from the hospital until the following Monday, thus she wasn't able to come to church. I honestly wasn't 100 percent sure what to think after that, I knew that the prompting that I received wasn't something that I just thought up in my mind, it was something that she needed to hear. Sunday morning broke, and she was at church attentive as ever, and was able to attend sacrament meeting. She told us that she just left a note at her bedside and came to Church, and then returned to the hospital. We are finishing the lessons this week and have the baptismal interview scheduled, and we're really excited for things to happen. That's about it for this week, until next Monday, stay classy and may the force be with you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Work Rolls Forward!

Hey! Things here are pretty good in Selmash, I'm just still training the new Elder Cook here. He is from Palm Bay, Florida, 19 years old, a few siblings, one of which is in Hong Kong on a mission right now, and the rest is TBA. By the way my last companion Elder Brinkerhoff is from Grant's Pass, Oregon. Anyways, this week we were just contacting and had a meeting set up where we couldn't get a hold of the people, and we didn't know what we could do to make something happen, and then a random lady in her late 40's named Natalia, (we can say the first name now), stopped us and asked to meet with us, she came when the other people were supposed to, so everything worked out fine. She accepted baptism at the end of the lesson and is supposed to be baptized on the 24th of February, so that's good news, and we are still waiting for Sergei to get out of the hospital, Angelika to finish her exams, and we're still just working with the other potentials that we have. Also, Elder Cook had a couple of warts on his hands and feet, which as far as he knew it was like 3 or 4, well we walked into the dermatologist and it turned out to be like 10, and we got them frozen off, so he couldn't walk a lot but we still managed to do the work like normal for the most part. Well, I gotta get going on the school application but know that I love you guys! Be safe and have a great week!

-Elder Skene

Monday, February 4, 2013


Hey so I'm not really gonna have time to write you each individually this week due to applying to BYU and all but I'll try to make this as informative as I can, and if there's time left I'll try to send you each something, but as always I loved you emails and it's awesome to get to hear from you and see how things are going. So I got the transfer calls and it looks like I'll be training Elder Cook from Florida, I don't know a lot about him, just that apparently he likes Star Wars so that's a plus. I'm gonna send you guys some stuff soon if I can that I was able to get, like a legit Russian version of monopoly that was in the Severny apartment when I served with Elder Jacobson, but now that board games are against the rules I'm just gonna send it home, it's a smaller box than usual. I think you'll like it.

Other than that this week wasn't super active and full of meetings or anything, it just seemed that a lot of things fell through. We are still waiting on our investigator to get out of the hospital so we can baptism him, and we are still working with the woman who promised to be baptised in February. We recently received a referral from the Severny Elders that's a couple that was interested in the Gospel, the first time the Elders came in contact with them we received the referral but there was a missing digit, so we weren't able to reach them. I woke up in the morning a few days later with a feeling that somehow we were going find an investigator who would show real interest, I really wanted to express faith and confidence in the work and that things would progress here in Selmash. Later that same day I received a call from Severny, after they ran into those same people again after they waved the Elders down. They were asking why the Elders didn't call them and they were excited about and interested in the Church. They then promptly took down there number and gave them a Book of Mormon, and didn't hesitate to pass it on to us, now we are planning to meet with them this week. I know that if we express faith, the Lord will bless us, sometimes it's not always his will for things to go the way that we want, but it seems that if we just ask in faith, we will receive it.

I love you guys, have a great week and be safe!

-Elder Skene

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Miracle

Hey this is gonna be short but some cool stuff happened this week, an answer to our prayers and fasts that have gone on for a few weeks, our investigator who seemed to have vanished without a trace a week or two before the baptism came to Church and stayed for all the meetings! It turns out that what we thought was the case, an unexpected problem occurred, he had been in the hospital for some issues with his heart, and now he has to get heart surgery in a couple of days and will be returning to Rostov after it in probably about a month, and then we will baptism him assuming all goes as planned. He came from the hospital just to come to Church and then went right back, and many of the members here were very welcoming to him and they based their lessons around helping him as much as they could as he willingly read and participated with everything, it went pretty well. He will probably go up to Moscow or another city up in the North for the operation, and we will try to keep in contact with him, and before we left we gave him a blessing with Branch President in his office, and it went well. Other than that there isn't a lot to report this week, we have just been working and have gotten a couple appointments and contacts through the area book, but they haven't usually happened due to a cancellation at the last minute. What can you do though, just your best to try to keep working.

Thanks for everything, you guys have a great week and stay safe! I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quick Note for This Week!

Hey I have to make this fast but I got the package, it's awesome! The ZL brought it from the office for me, thanks a bunch! I'll think of things for the next package like you asked me to. Things are fine and moving forward, you got my personal emails to you so you know what's up and how things are I hope. Have a great week and stay safe!
-Elder Skene

Monday, January 14, 2013

Another Week on the Board!

Hey! So as you know, I emailed each of you and tried to answer your questions as much as I could, and I'm pretty rushed for time this week so this will be shorter but transfers are in a couple of weeks so I'll let you know what happens when I find out, and we are just moving forward with the work here and the Baptism happened yesterday with the little girl but we are still waiting on our other investigator and we are trying to work with our investigators still and praying that things will be successful. Not a ton of news this week though, we had Zone Conference and Elder Bennett, one of the counselors in the East Europe Presidency was there, and I personally got to have an interview with him and it was pretty cool, and we have some changes that are interesting, so we'll see how they effect the work here but we are ready to try things out. That's about all for this week though, I gotta run, but thanks for everything, stay safe, and have a great week! I love you!

-Elder Skene

Monday, January 7, 2013


Hey! So this week was good, we met with members, taught lessons, had other meetings, and had a decent new years for only being able to sit home most of the day haha. There are two members here that are awesome, if I could I would tell you their names but I can't on the blog due to the new rules, we met with them for a lesson with a non-member, and they met with us again and made Borsh and Pirozjki in the branch, it was of course a good time, I'll have to make you guys some stuff when I get back. We had a branch Christmas party this week where we had like a dozen non-members show up so it was pretty good. I tried some pickled watermelon and drank a glass of a freshly squeezed tomato, I'm not a huge fan but the watermelon was alright haha. I don't have a lot of time this week to email, I have to spend some time looking at the college stuff but I'll see what I can do, so I'll have to keep this shorter.

The webcam is as far as I can tell on the main street in center Rostov where their will generally always be a lot of people between like lunchtime to like 3 or 4 in the morning, as we write, we are actually probably like 100 yards away from the web cam from the looks of it. The snow is melted or cleared away there but where we will there is a bunch of Ice and slush everywhere, they don't clean that and everything is way dirty, after living in Russia for soon to be a year here I'm starting to realize more and mroe about the meaning of the Lorax and some other novels about taking care of your enviroment, back home is so much cleaner, nicer built, and so much more in order and people don't litter EVERYWHERE like they do here, I have seriously tried to see if I can look in any direction when we are contacting and see if I can't see any trash on the ground or cigarette butts, I nearly always fail, even in the woods.
New Years was cool, just tons of fire works and drunk people, they have parties here and the fireworks are huge and everywhere, I made sure to take some videos so I can show you when I get back or send them on a flash if it works out.

Haha well that's about it for this week, thanks for everything you guys do for me and all the support and the presents and everything, I love you guys, have a great week and stay safe!

-Elder Skene