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We'll pass your words of encouragement along to Chris!

December 2010

Chris is enjoying the holiday spirit in Ukraine. This will be his second mission Christmas. People are happy to hear about forever families at this time of year and he is hoping that will extend to some continuing investigators. He says:

Just one picture- my new coat!

But I remembered some funny stories. I rang the doorbell at one
apartment and it continued to ring and ring and ring. The lady came
out, tried to turn us down, whacked the doorbell a few times but
couldn't get it to stop and finally went back in. It was kind of
anticlimatic and it was hard not to laugh.

It has gotten cold and icy everywhere. I got out of a bus and turned
around just in time to see Elder Jackson slip. He stayed perfectly
straight while his feet slipped out from under himself and he ended up
accidently slide-tackling a young lady. Thankfully everyone laughed
otherwise I would have felt bad for laughing so much.

Also we tracted into a young lady who warmed right up to Elder
Jackson- in fact she tried to set up a return appointment at a
restaurant today! Not exactly the kind of "dates" we're looking for as

Dedication and Tricking a Trainee

Chris LOVED the festivities for the dedication of the temple and was especially happy to see how excited everyone was to meet President Monson. Later in the week, he was assigned to be DL and a trainer--making a new companion every single transfer for the first year of his mission. He promises to treat this one better so that he'll stay longer, ha ha! Chris had a funny story this week:

On Saturday Elder Tucker and the other new missionaries came into Kyiv. We had a meeting where they bore their testimony in the mission language, then their trainer would reveal himself by standing, saying where they would serve, and bearing his testimony in the language. I started off in Russian for fun and startled Elder Tucker a little, but quickly reverted to Ukrainian. He is from Oklahoma, a little shorter and with reddish blonde hair. He is of Irish descent and looks very Irish indeed to me. He is very good at Ukrainian already and impressed all the members with his testimony on Sunday. He also plays piano very well, which is a blessing to the branch and earns him big points with President Polishuk.He seems ready to work and we had a very good start to the week with some solid lessons yesterday. It is good to finally be in Lutsk and know I'll be there solidly for a while.

Summer in Lutsk

As Chris prepares to give tours for the new Kiev Temple, he still continues to have crazy adventures in his daily routine as well! The top image shows the relief of he and his companion after they lost and then recovered the (only!) area book for Lutsk on a bus with an irregular route! Chris also visited the castle in Lutsk and met a veteran from St. Petersburg. He's very excited for the temple--it occupies many of his thoughts!

Heat Wave

Amidst the summer swelter, Chris and his companion are tearing Lutsk apart looking for the Gospel-ready! People often mistake them for twins and that seems to be a great conversation starter. They are currently teaching two girls that just agreed to a baptism date--Chris is very excited! The branch out there is full of helpful, faithful saints who support the missionary effort with all their hearts. Everyone is in full work mode for the temple opening this fall. Go Chris!

End of another Transfer

Chris is in high spirits. Although his creative attempts (loaves of banana bread, origami classes, etc.) at drawing investigators are not yet yielding fruit, he's excited to start a new adventure in another part of the city this week. Chris says his next strategy will be to toss around an American football. These aren't available in the Ukraine and people are often very interested to see one. Here he is last week with an advertisement for a tire replacement shop.

March 25

"Easter is coming up quickly, and we have a plan. On Easter people will greet you with "Isus Voskres! (Christ was resurrected!)" and respond with "Bo istynu voskres! ( In truth he was resurrected!)." When we greet people we will give them Living Christ pamphlets.
I have also been trying an idea I had with member families. We teach them a short powerful lesson, then give them two banana breads or plates of brownies: one for them and one to give to friends. If their friends like it, we ask them to invite them over and we will make the dessert together. It is a non-threatening way to introduce people to missionaries. We've only just started it so we will see how it goes."

Valentine's Post

I enjoyed my exchange in Bila Tserkva (literally, White Church), my first trip out of Kyiv. I was with Elder Parker, one of my companions in the MTC. We had some great contacting with people on the street. We went to get light bulbs at a hardware store and talked to the store owner. Bila is also a very Russian speaking city, but he was very excited to hear Ukrainian. Through the course of the conversation we were able to give him a family proclamation and tell him about why we are here, etc. Every situation can be an opportunity to share.

Chris is in permafrost

Chris and Elder Brooks are known as the tallest companionship in Kiev.
Chris finds a way to use his "skills of an artist" by lettering a sign inviting pedestrians to stop in at church.

Chris says they are working really hard, but that things are just about as frozen as the ground with investigators. Appointments keep falling through, and they decided to cancel the free English lessons they had been offering because they weren't turning up anyone that way either. He did meet someone the other day who said (in English) "Look honey! These young men have come to preach to us!" And he was genuinely enthusiastic! Chris has high hopes for this fellow and his family. Let's pray for more people Chris can try out those excellent Ukrainian discussions with!

Not the senior, but chief of hijinks

"I have some funny tracting stories. First I need to explain that alot of apartments have what missionaries call "Babushka guards"- little old ladies with an office by the entrance who keep the riff-raff out of the apartments. We were up in an apartment building. I was talking to a little family at the door, when I heard someone start shouting at us. It was the babushka guard who had come to throw us out! It probably would have been distressing if the whole thing wasn't so ridiculous- a 4' 10" babushka taking the two of us by the arms into the elevator and all the way out the building all the while speaking angry Russian as though we were two little kids who had broken into the cookie jar! I couldn't help but laugh when we were outside. She was so dedicated! I think I've come to realize something: if you don't laugh on your mission, you'll go crazy within a year; if you do laugh on your mission, you'll go crazy within a month and be just fine!

Then yesterday I knocked on a door and the people behind it started wiggling the peep-hole around like a perescope- again, I couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all!"

The Honeymoon's Over

Chris was training with the district leader and they were just told that Chris will inherit the area when the companion moves on next week. Chris has only a vague idea of where they go and how to get there, but you can bet he's paying close attention by today! The companion illustrated a map for Chris with member homes so that he knows where to find help. Good luck Fuzzy!

This is where Chris' ward meets.
The Michaelenko family, some of Chris' favorite members (they feed him!).
Chris rides a marshrutka like this just about every day. They are like city buses.

Looking for teachees...

Chris' water bottle froze in his pocket while he was out tracting
Chris places his first Book of Mormon. He's not sure if the founders of Kiev will follow up...

"It was a pretty quiet week, but we have hopes of finding some investigators through some service we did. We helped some men break up some ice in front of an apartment building. They were pleased to meet us and interested about why we are in Ukraine. We'll see what happens!"

New Year

Chris is the kid with glasses, back row, fifth from the right
Who lives in an onion dome above the Black Sea?
Chris tracts in sub-zero with his comp
Who loves being an Elder more than Chris does?
Chris and one of his MTC companions, Elder Munzer

A Whole New World

Chris with his MTC group and Ukrainian teacher. After more than 3 months, he was ready to go!
The Provo Temple
Chris with Elder Benny (Australia bound) at the MTC

They are between Christmasses at the moment in the Ukraine, ask Chris what that means!
Lovely Kiev

A Mission and a Purpose

Chris is busily serving on the other side of the world, but part of his heart is here at home with all of you. To that end, he has asked me to post pictures and updates in the hopes that you will write to him. Let's cheer Chris on together as he undertakes the work in the Ukraine!