Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I'm Home..... 7-25-17

Final thoughts... Hold on thy way and Remember!

It was a great two years and time that has blessed and will bless my life significantly.  The experiences that were had and the testimonies that were born can never be replaced! I love the people of Ukraine and truly tried to administer to their spiritual needs as the Savior would. Excited to move on in life and keep progressing. Thanks for all that you have done in supporting me and I wish you all the best.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Done My Best..... 7-24-17

Dear Friends and Family,
Thanks for all that you have done for me and for your support these last two years! This last week was amazing. Everything just really seemed to fall into place.

I was able to go eat out last week with a tons of my favorite missionaries and friends on P day. The work seemed to pick up a bit, we had amazing meetings with President and I just had my exit interview.  We had a great exchange and made stencils of the temple and used spray paint and handed pictures out. I was able to go back into my old area and have dinner at the summer house of the family whose son I was able to baptize. Recent converts in our area blessed the sacrament and gave talks. We had a ward picnic this past week.  Today I was able to see a person that got baptized in Odessa last summer and go by a family that I love that lives near the temple for lunch. Yesterday it was announced at church that our investigator, Sergei, will be getting baptized this Saturday! I can't be grateful enough. Work here keeps moving forward. I felt an amazing feeling of gratitude and peace in my nightly prayers this week that can't be expressed. Hard to say how I feel. Greatest feeling that I have done my best and that God is pleased despite all of my weaknesses.
I have figured out the "why" a lot more on the mission. I could go on and on but I know that this Church is true and that it is led by Jesus Christ through living prophets. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that we can all return to him thanks to Jesus Christ. The more I have used and applied the atonement of Jesus Christ the more I know that without it I would not be able to become the person that I am today. I could have said this all before, but it means a whole lot more now.
Not a whole lot of time so...Can't wait to see you all! See you soon!
Love, Elder Devashrayee
Taken right after my "Exit" interview with President

Monday, July 17, 2017

Memories.... 7-17-17

I had a great last week! 

We were able to head down to Odessa to conduct exchanges with missionaries. I thought that I was never going to be able to see the Black Sea again, run on the beach, or ride a bus in the wet and hot summer heat of Odessa... but I got to re-live it one more time. 

We went down with the goal of finding a family and the way I prayed and thought how to do it was ask everyone that would stop a strange but realistic question. I would stop someone and then say, "I am about to ask you a very strange but serious question." I would then go on to say, "Have you ever heard or seen one of your relatives or ancestors after they have passed away... or at least felt their presence near in hard times?" To get people to stop is hard enough, but out of the 10 or so that did over the day and half there, about 6 of them had very real and spiritual experiences of this occurring. This was then a perfect lead into the Plan of Salvation and it was a fun way to contact. Praying that someone's ancestor came to them in a dream and then hitting the streets really opens your eyes and you don't wan't to miss someone that potentially had that happen the night before. It made for some awkward conversations, but that is just being a missionary. 

While I was there I was also able to see a mother of a member that I had gone over the first lesson with, over a year ago and then got transferred! She was baptized and is now the ward librarian. She gets up at 5 am every morning and reads the Book of Mormon for two hours. She is planning on making a trip soon to get her endowments out and I am really excited for her! I was also able to meet up for lunch with a family that I interviewed before baptism last year and they are doing great also. The most rewarding part of being a missionary is seeing people change and a year can do a lot!  The list goes on and on. And then to walk down the streets of the two areas that I served in while serving in Odessa brought back floods of memories of when I had a lesson with someone on a certain bench, got yelled at on that corner, bought amazing bread at that store, got the worst haircut of my life at that place, took that wrong bus and almost got lost in the middle of nowhere, and the list goes on and on. It was an amazing experience that I am very grateful for!

Today, we visited the Mykola Syadristy Microminiatures museum. You will have to look it up. Art that can't be seen to the naked eye, but if you look through a magnifying glass you can see that it is 50,000 times the size of a poppy seed or located on the end of a piece of hair. In order to do the work, he has to use the most precise diamond cutters in the world while looking through extreme magnification and slowing down his heart rate to the point where he can work between his heart beats or else it would make him flinch and ruin the art work. He has shaken hands with nearly every president from all of the major countries in the world, received thousands of rewards, and has his own museum located in the heart of the most famous and sacred grounds of Ukraine. 
It turned out that he was there and it being Monday morning, we were the only ones in the museum. We bought a little card and had him sign it and took a picture with him. 

He is one of the most renowned artists and public features from Soviet times, had been all over the world, and yet he has probably never even seen missionaries. It hit me while we were talking to him that this man is very very accomplished in life, but is missing the only thing that matters before God. Every other sentence he said had something to do with money, a slander to other religions/countries/races, or a very confused belief of who God is. I was sent here to help those "Who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." I felt the need to make sure this person knew how and where to find God. I had a brochure with the temple on it and pointed out the art and architecture and that he could take a look and walk around the temple sometime and then testified that everything written in the brochure was true and from God. It wasn't much, but I saw him as a brother that I needed to help. I realized that with all of the famous people he has associated with his whole life, I was most likely the only one that was a living extension of the Apostles and a holder of the Priesthood. It put life into perspective.

I was reminded of a quote from President Kumferman, "Everything will fall into place or fall away by the wayside if we are focused on God and Jesus Christ." A great lesson that was learned just before being thrown back into the "real world" back home.

Hope that everyone has a great week! I will probably be able to send home a little something next week so until then!  

Elder Devashrayee