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