First few days in Sumy have been a blast! It did take a while to get up here, though. After I met my new companion, Elder Baggaley, who is brand new to Ukraine, we set off to get on our train to Kharkov. When we got to the train station, the lady behind the counter told us that the train had already left--20 minutes BEFORE our ticket said it should. So that stunk and was a problem. But thankfully we were able to get to Kharkov only a little later than we had planned via Ukrainian ride sharing, haha! We then stayed with the Zone Leaders in Kharkov (one of them being my past companion from Zaporozhye, Elder Rex). We then finally got into Sumy the next day and have been learning about this town ever since.
Elder Baggaley is my new companion! He's only been in Ukraine for about 6 days now, but his Russian is already pretty darn solid, and he'll learn quickly thanks to this good foundation. He understands all the grammar really well; we just need to teach him some words. He's going to do great! He's 18 and from Roy, Utah. He is fluent in Spanish. When I asked him what he likes to do, he said, "everything." And it's true--he's pretty good at lots of different things and enjoys them all. Thank goodness he likes going out to contact because that's what I like, too. Missionary work will go well. We're going to have a great transfer!
So right now we're staying in a large apartment with 4 elders, so my "son" is being raised by a whole village! He'll absorb a lot. We're up here in Sumy with Elder Rowland, who was in my MTC District, and Elder Terry, who was with us for a bit at the MTC, and also with an awesome senior companionship, the Fasts! Elder Fast knows Russian and is actively engaged in the work here. He's showing us kiddos how it's done, haha!
Anyway, good busy week. I'll write more next week. Hope you all are doing well!
Shout out to my son Elder Baggaley for giving out his first Book of Mormon already!
Sorry I didn't write an email last week. My sister, Rhiannon, had her first child, Atticus, and it was my mom's birthday! So I decided to just talk to them during my e-mail time. But now I'm back.
In the last two weeks, we've had Zone Conference in Kharkov (which went well), we've contacted a lot on the street to try to find new people to teach, and we've even started going tracting, or knocking door-to-door. Training isn't that hard--especially because my companion learns fast and he's being trained not only by me, but also by the other elders with whom we live. So I don't even have to work that hard. He has 3 trainers, so he'll definitely learn what he needs to learn. At least someone will end up teaching it to him!
Zone Conference was especially fun because we slept over at the apartment of my MTC companion, Elder Decker, who I haven't gotten to talk to for like a year! So that was awesome!
So last Friday night was the first time I've gone door knocking since my first transfer here in Ukraine. Most of the housing here consists of massive Soviet-esque apartment buildings, so what we do is ask someone to open the door for us so we can share a message about Christ with people. Then we take an elevator to the top floor and make our way down from there.
On Friday it went okay, although nothing special happened. Sunday night, we were invited over to the family of a recent RM's (RM = returned missionary) place, and after being with them, we said we wanted to go tract and they suggested to do it in their own building. So we did, and it lasted about 3 minutes because the owner of the first door we knocked on yelled threats at us and actually came out of her apartment to chase us and "prevent us from leaving so the cops could get us." We ended up sprinting down 10 flights of stairs terrified that this lady was still chasing us and not daring to try to use the elevator in case she'd be able to catch up to us. Scariest moment of my mission so far, but 1) it doesn't beat my trainer's experience of being chased out of a building by a knife-wielding drug dealer, and 2) now it's just a good story, haha!
Then today, we talked to a man on the street who looked up our church online and was basically an "expert." He tried pulling all the logical fallacies on us, and I was having none of it, so I called him out on all of it. Thankfully, the conversation was never very heated, and when he told us as we were walking away that we were sinning for sharing our false message, we showed him what we thought by talking to the next person we saw. I also felt pretty awesome afterwards because I "won" that conversation--all while speaking Russian!
Despite those things this week, we'll keep knocking doors and talking to everyone about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ because it is true. Love you all. Have a great Thanksgiving holiday!