Monday, December 28, 2015

Treat Every Day The Same..... 12/28/15

This last week was crazy! We were able to meet with a lot of new people and it was good to feel like this area is starting to progress. We had the AP's stop by this last week and they had an exchange with us and then the other two missionaries that stay in our apartment for half of the week too. We had a lot of success and exchanges never disappoint. 

On Christmas Eve we had zone conference and it was great to see everyone and then after we were treated with amazing chili and desserts from Elder and Sister Mikkelsen (Senior Missionaries). 

We then spent most of the day trying to set up lessons and contact. It was a great day. We woke up with a surprise for one of the AP's because his birthday is on Christmas. We had a surprise party and cake at about 6:45 in the morning and then I made sure to keep the tradition alive and made Christmas omelets! 

Tons of cheese and meat. 

We then went without studies for the day and hit the streets. We contacted for practically the whole day and we were dead tired near the end when we had a lesson and then we were able to skype to end the day. 

A good lesson was learned this Christmas though. Not for the sake of praise of any kind but just so I can share what I learned. To start the day off, Elder Western and I bought a good 12 or so loaves of bread and pastries and a lot of smaller juice boxes and hit the streets looking to distribute all of it before we returned that night. We had always seen homeless people before and were sure if we worked all day we could give these "presents" out. Didn't quite work out that way, and even a lot of people that were obviously in need rejected our offer. We handed out maybe a 1/5th of what we bought and I ended up just carrying that heavy bag around all day. On the way back I thought about it more and more and it seemed when we were searching to do good it was no where to be found and in earlier times it seemed like we had millions of chances to do good but we were never prepared. Take it for what you want, but what I learned is that Christmas isn't the only day we can look for opportunities to do extraordinary (or even small and simple) things for people. It made me think of a scripture I read a little while ago where it talks about how we shouldn't treat the day different than if it were an ordinary day or if Christ was coming that very day and then applied it to our proselyting. It was a great Christmas and then Skype was awesome to see everyone! 

Probably the Hardest part of the mission so far was after Skype. I call the next 24 hours the "what next...?" stage and Elder Western and I found a little pink french pastry shop and bought some pastries to mend our hearts with sugar! 

We then had a ward christmas party and the members did a little play that was representing good and evil. That is all I can tell you what happened because I had no idea what was going on for good hour because everything was in Ukranian and I thought it was going to scare away our investigators but apparently it is  a play that would compare to Scrooge in America. These last two days I have had a lot of funny moments too and they were definitely there to help me out. 

One investigator said he could look at me and tell me about my family and my life. He then said, "you eat too much peppers/spicy food" and then said, "your mom suffers from serious nose bleeds." Not even close and then tried to do Elder Western's family too. Not quite an investigator anymore. 

A man from Mexico City, Mexico came by on Sunday. He's about 50 years of age looking for a wife. He sat through sacrament meeting and hit on 20 year old girls and it was hilarious. He then noticed that I never sat next to my companion during the first two hours of sacrament meeting and called each of us aside and said that he could tell we were having problems and to fix them ASAP. We tried to explain to him the whole "meeting members" concept and that we were advised not to sit together. He wasn't having it and told us to be work things out. Apparently we hate each other, which we don't. 

Then on Sunday while making pasta we opened a package that looked like it contained sausage and was bought in a hurry on Saturday night and realized it wasn't quite sausage... through our Ukrainian dictionary we found out it was boiled pig head grounded up.... anyways, we ate it and then failed to mention what it was to the other missionaries what it was until after. It was a good laugh! 

Good times. Have a great New Years! 
Elder Devashrayee

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas To All!.... 12-25-15

Just wanted to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas this year from Central Odessa, Ukraine

Monday, December 21, 2015

Centered on Christ..... 12/21/15

Part of this last week was spent in Kyiv for the Mini MTC training.  It was crazy to think I was there being trained just 3 months ago. Hahahah I think they just brought me back because I needed to go through it twice:) The biggest thing I think I took from that 3 day training in Kyiv was this.. 

When you plan out something: a day / time/ life and then you move forward putting your trust in the Lord, everything will work out. If you make a plan, then it can be changed according to what the Lord wants and what he knows is best for you. If you attack everyday (hours for me) with no specific plan, you don't give him the opportunity to correct/ guide you or to tell you that you are doing the right thing at the right time and in the right place.  Make a Plan and then have faith.
On the Temple Grounds - brings it all back to Christ!

The food was great in Kiev and we ate a great lunch and dinner everyday. It was a fight against the natural man in all of those meals haha. The Cheesecake was the best I have ever had.... or at least in the last few months :) We came back to Odessa with loaded days full of visits and lessons. About half ended up working out but we were busy for the couple of days we were back in our area. Our area is so cool! Every time I think I have seen it all, I walk around another corner and boom- cool stuff! 
Around another corner... Cool Stuff!

Through the hard times here many people come to me almost as a psychiatrist and it is crazy thinking that I am here and they trust me enough to spill their life over to me. This last week it happened a good 4 times and I just had to remember my job here and that I can help these people spiritually more than money or other things. 

Some man walking past us one day gave me a good stare and said something when he passed. Without thinking, I turned and asked if he wanted to know more about our church and he came up to me pretty fast and I thought "uh, oh" haha I thought I was in for a tongue thrashing and it just ended up with him saying "why the heck are you here in Ukraine?........ why are you here teaching about Jesus Christ and not just in America where you have money and jobs and cars and friends? This Church has been here for 1000's of years, why would you come over here to try to start your Church?....... Go home and teach about your 20 year old church back home....." hahaha I just kinda started laughing cause everytime I told him why we were here he just fired another question at us and then in the end he ended up comparing us to the church of science and we had a good laugh together and he said we were of the devil and that was that. Hahahaha it was an interesting conversation but a funny one. I wanted so bad to be able to give him something at least but he refused. Hopefully we at least left a good impression. Made me realize exactly why I am here and was a great experience.

It has been a great week and the area is really lit up in lights and trees and you can literally feel the happiness in the air. It is awesome. 

I hope everyone has a great Christmas! 
Elder Devashrayee
p.s. He sent a lot of photos this week. I have updated the folder with his 2nd Area pictures as well as his current area. Just wanted to let you know. You may have to go to "View full site" mode if you are on a smart phone/tablet.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Elder Western & Downtown Odessa..... 12-14-15

Barely any time today so if I don't get to your email if you emailed me I am sorry, next week I will! To stick with the basics last week I visited "Big Mamma" and it was such a cool place. I'd recommend it, but it is here in Ukraine :) I wasn't able to go inside due to being short on time, but I will get inside before I leave. It is amazing!

Saying goodbye to my last area and Elder Young was hard but I think that is how every transfer will be. The excitement of the next transfer engulfs that right away. My new companion is Elder Western and he is a stud. He is 21 and is from San Bernardino County in Southern California. He came to Ukraine to teach English last year from January to April and has also has attended two years at BYU-Idaho already. He knows Russian a whole lot better than I did first transfer and he only spent 2 weeks in the MTC. He has an amazing memory and he is my child, crazy. I now know what is it like to have a child and look out for him and stuff ;) 

Our new area is the Central Branch in Odessa (Downtown Odessa) and this place is so cool. It has a small town feel because we can walk to almost everywhere if necessary, but also is a downtown with big buildings. Hard to explain, but google it or something. Tons of cool stuff here to look at and every time we think we have it figured out, there is more just around the next corner. 

First Sunday here was awesome and the members are really excited to have missionaries here full-time. Awesome atmosphere and everyone is very nice. Had a few interesting lessons this first Sunday with random people who stopped by. We have some investigators that are amazing also and this area is due for a lot of baptisms. We had chance to do service this week and it involved shoveling dirt/cat poop and I think I lost of couple of years in my lungs :( 

We had dinner with the Senior Missionaries who are in the area and it was delicious. We were also able to clean the font this week for the Sisters' baptism from another area. It was great to see and the spirit was very strong. Energized me for this week. Training is awesome and this has been a great week. We will be in Kyiv this next week for Mini MTC training until Friday or so. 
Elder Devashrayee 

Monday, December 7, 2015

He Is Always With Us.... 12-7-15

This week we had to the opportunity to give some blessings and it is crazy that people can turn to a couple of 19 year old's and entrust us in stuff like that... that is pretty much how missionary work is in general though! We are out here teaching people's dads/moms and grandparents and it is kinda cool when you think of it in that sense. We are affecting generations.

It has snowed here in Kyiv! It is cold but cool to see....
Elder Young & I

We were able to go back to the apartment that caught on fire and scrape off all of the black in the place. Luckily we had the help of a number of missionaries, but I was little bummed it wasn't "manly" manual labor, but I was glad to help out. The moment I had a chance to rip something off or use a hammer I was right there waiting and willing. 

For English this week we talked a lot about greetings and goodbyes and then transitioned into the First Vision at the end. It went well and I realized that I don't know English grammar at all!! When they asked me grammar questions I didn't know how to answer them. I will probably know Russian grammar better when I return. 

We were able to meet with an investigator for the first time this whole transfer and so many people are itching to be baptized but don't quite understand what needs to happen first for it to happen. Commitment is a real fear and I respect the people that truly think it out but the impatience gets to me. This is especially when we met with another one of our investigators who says he wants to be one of the best members of the church and doesn't want to be a "lazy member", he pays tithing, comes to church every week, brings other investigators with him, and told us on Sunday he wants to be able to serve a mission... but, he won't get baptized anytime soon! Frustrating! 

We had a member visit experience this week where it was fun to find and was a good walk out to the house. They had no idea we were coming but were very grateful and nice when we showed up knocking on their apartment door. It went well.

On the way back from their home I had my hood pulled up because it was cold and Elder Young was walking behind me a bit on the side of the road. He suddenly saw a bus with our stop on the side of it, yelled to me to hop on and he hopped on near the back and then he realized I wasn't with him hahaha. As the bus passed I looked behind me and he was no where to be seen and I thought my companion had been kidnapped or something! The street was dark and completely empty at that moment and it scared me so bad. I then got a call with him laughing and saying to just keep walking and he would get off at the next stop. I was alone for a good 5-6 minutes and it was the weirdest thing. I felt so alone and it was weird not having someone right there beside you. But then again I knew I had someone with me and I was calmed.

We had a lesson with a Preacher of another religion this week and he was all for the Trinity and everything we taught was instantly brought back to that point of the Gospel. We finished the lesson with as much patience and love as possible and then the next 20 minutes he tried to preach to us and the moment he discounted the Godhead my mind just completely turned off. To be honest I wasn't trying to listen and or hear what he had to say. After, I thought about it and that was probably exactly what he thought and what he did when we mentioned the Godhead. I have been trying to put myself in "other people's shoes" this week especially and see their side of everything and it has helped a lot. 

I found out that I will be heading back down to the Odessa area this week and will be training. YEP, me a trainer, not sure what to think! I haven't seen my new comp yet but his name is Elder Western, so for his sake (because I will be training him) please throw him into your prayers please! I will be in the Central Branch in Odessa I think. 

I have had a great time here with Elder Young and have learned tons from him. I am very thankful for my time with each of my companions so far. I am learning a lot from each of them. Hope I can be a good trainer!

Food of the week: I had a "pomela" that is how it is pronounced, not sure how you spell it. But it was like a large orange that had to be peeled and was really good. I also was convinced by a native to throw sugar into a container of sour cream and eat it like yogurt...  it wasn't bad until I realized I was literally just spooning all of that into my mouth and then didn't feel so great. Could try it again sometime, but in a smaller quantity. I am becoming quite a chef. I try to cook nearly every meal and learn when others come and see what they cook. My borsh is better than some of the senior missionaries...... just saying. I learned from the best though. I will try to make it probably twice a transfer so my English Comps can learn how to make it the right way :)
This little guy, a chinchilla, was the guest of the mission office staff last week while the Packer's were out of town. I am having so much fun with some unusual animals! 

Great week and excited for the one to come. The mission in general is experiencing a lot of success right now and I really liked this verse for the week. Alma 29:14
Elder Devashrayee

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Feast - Word and Food!..... 11-30-15

Great last week. Didn't end up how I was hoping numbers wise, with a handful of people we have done all that we can do and it will take some help and the will of the Big Man Upstairs. We are placing our faith and trust in him and them. It did snow here on Sunday - cold but okay.

Monday we had a dinner with one of our investigators and a family in the ward. Little did we know when we hopped on the bus at some random metro and were told to take it all the way to the end the bus ride would be an hour... Elder Young and I were joking that we were going to a lesson at the bottom tip of Utah Lake when you put it into perspective. Crazy going around and getting places but somehow it always works out and people here will go out of their way to help you. The FHE went great and it was the happiest we have ever seen our investigator. Good to see people laugh and smile here. 

Tuesday was a little strange.. the other Elders staying with us took the keys to our apartment on accident so we had to stay inside allll day. We couldn't lock it up and leave. Made for a long day but we were able to get a lot done in the apartment (cleaned it well) and made an effective day out of it. I was also able to make Borsh all by myself for the first time because of the extra prep time I had. It turned out pretty good! 

Wednesday was Elder Young's b-day and we were able to start off the day very early with doing 2 1/2 hours of service at this lady's house that was burnt to a crisp in the inside. There was a fire in her apartment and everything was completely gone in the inside, everything looked just like wood does after a fire in a fireplace (obviously) but that's the only way I can explain it. Sad time there but glad we were able to do something to help. We came back and they only thing I could really do for Elder Young was make him good food so we had french toast in the morning and then I made a pizza for dinner when we got back after being out on visits.

Wednesday evening we then had English class and it went really really well. We talked about birthdays and how to say dates correctly and then went over the Family Proclamation to the World after in English. Not a whole lot of preaching was done, but we felt like it went really well and we could feel a difference. 

Thursday was Thanksgiving and it went really well. We had zone conference that day and we gained a whole lot of good info and advice from President Packer. In the middle we walked into the gym to a feast! We had just about all you can ask for for a Thanksgiving Dinner. Hahahaha no need to feel bad for me cause I ate just about as much as one could and it was great to be surrounded by the other missionaries and the senior missionaries who prepared the food. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving back home! 
This is our Zone - President Packer and his family are on the front row. 
After zone conference, we went to another appointment where we are teaching this 8 year old in English. The whole family speaks English and we had a duck and a little feast there too. Great day. 

Friday we had the chance to walk around this big lake near our apartment that we run to in the mornings. We walked all the way around and took about 1 1/2 hours but we answered all of his questions and he is progressing rapidly. I was really grateful for my increased knowledge of the scriptures, being able to answer most of his questions by scripture. I was completely helped out and guided where some of the answers could be found. Now I can't remember where I showed him. It was awesome. It was the Spirit.

This was taken right the first of our "walk" around the "lake". I was opened to a scripture I was about to drop on him. He sensed it and wanted to take another pic hahah, look at my hand... lol 

Saturday we filled in for the Sisters in another area and taught the beginner class. We also had a number of lessons that went really well. Sunday was crazy as usual but also great. I had a talk that I have been prepping for a couple weeks daily, and when I got up in front of the ward my mind went blank. In the end the talk went alright and I just tried to make sure to smile and talk clearly and really slow. At one point I repeated a phrase maybe 3 times, it was embarrassing but oh well. 
Good times here in Ukraine. 
Elder Devashrayee

Monday, November 23, 2015

Realize Small Miracles...... 11-23-15

Happy Thanksgiving this next Thursday! I will miss the Turkey and all of the food and football but I know the day will have it's own events here for me to experience.

Last P-day we went to downtown Kiev and found some little circus monkeys, and just did some looking around. Best part about p-day here might be at the mall (I have been in Malls here more than I ever did my entire life in Utah) and get the cinnabuns! So good. 

Elder Young & Derek - playing with the Monkeys

This last week has been a little crazy, we have been hosting a couple of other Elders due to some circumstances with their apartment. One of them is a native so it is nice to have a language informant. We have about a 2 meals a week with members and they are always really delicious. 

In English lesson on Wednesday we answered the "questions of the soul" (Plan of Salvation) and had a great discussion with the 10 or so that were present. They were amazed we had the answers and were so sure of them and there were some interesting questions.  Wish I could learn Russian as fast as they learn English.

Something interesting happens on public transportation nearly every week and this week some grandma got on a started belting out a solo while walking around gathering money. Her song ended right as the metro rolled into the next stop and she walked to the next car and started all over again. I had never seen that, it was funny but props to her. 

We had lesson this week at probably the most interesting apartment I have ever been in. To keep it short, I had my back to a wall that was swarming with cockroaches. When I say swarming, I mean completely infested. My back was to it and I could see roaches around the room but the moment I looked at Elder Young, who was facing the wall that was behind my back, and I kept hearing this crawling/scratching/hissing noise. I turned around when I got a second in the lesson and was face to face with literally hundreds and hundreds of roaches. It was the fastest Restoration lesson we have ever taught and then it was followed by shaking out everything we owned after we were outside and away from their place. It was crazy! Good memory though. 

That same night I got a call from a prisoner in the Kiev jail or something close to that. Long, long story short I gave him the Restoration lesson over the phone and he seemed extremely genuine (or he had been practicing for a good year what to say to me) but he get's out in about 7 months so who knows. I was practically Dr. Phil. I then taught him how to pray over the phone. Very interesting call and maybe a Book of Mormon will be shipped his way. Not sure the protocol on that type of stuff, but somehow he got a Sister's number and they then gave him my number. He just wanted someone to talk to and it was just odd but cool at the same time. 

We had a "pie night" here with the International branch (English branch) and were able to find an investigator that never wants to meet but speaks great English. There were 15 different pies and cakes and treats just laid out and it was hard not to just sit down and gorge myself instead of working with the investigator, but I did it. We showed him around the Church and showed him the font and answered a list of questions he had previously written out. Yes, I did end up having some pie.

This week the story in the scriptures that is often talked about but I read is this week is Alma 17. It is when Ammon cuts off the arms of the people haha. The 3 points I gained out of this story is how he was the best missionary and it is through these 3 main ways. 1. Become the servant  2. Lead through service and example  3. Be optimistic. Bottom line Trust in God. 

We currently have a baptismal date and are working to get 3 by next Sunday night. Very possible, but it will take a lot to reach it. Excited for this next week. We have also been trying to notice the small miracles. When you sit back and realize "wow, that went really smooth" or "that worked out better than we could have imagined/ planned" we need to stop right there and thank the Lord. He does so much for us out here and sometimes the little things get skipped. This next week realize the small miracles around you and also have a great Thanksgiving! 
Elder Devashrayee

Monday, November 16, 2015

What Can We Offer....... 11-16-15

This last week flew by... P-day comes up and I never know what to even say because I feel like I was just writing! A lot happens but then as I sit down I seem to forget it all.

This week we had a lot of appointments fall through which was a bummer but we also found a lot of new members/part-member families that we can work with. The best thing we could have here is 3 Mondays in a row and then just skip to Thursday every week because of all of the people who want to feed us and have us come over for FHE. I enjoy being with the families and participating in their FHE's. 

Both of the wards we work with are very nice. They are both very different though.. Last week I gave my testimony/introduction in one of the wards and instead of 20 people in the congregation cheering me on and a little grandma correcting my grammar in the front row and nodding her head when I say something right, I just looked at the congregation and they just all stared at me with blank stares and at one point I almost started laughing because I wasn't sure if I was speaking in their language. Elder Young had a talk this week and did very well, they then found me and told me I have a talk in 2 weeks. A little nervous to be honest, hope I can say something that they can relate to and understand. Every ward offers something different, as missionaries we just need to recognize what they have to offer.  

This week we had just a few lessons, but I felt like they went really well. I find myself in lessons literally trying to focus up a ball of the Holy Ghost and concentrate the Spirit and then just throw it at them so they know what it feels like. It sounds funny and strange while I am typing it, but I find myself just trying my hardest to toss the Holy Ghost over at them, because without, we really can't do too much for them. One of our investigators is being persecuted at work for him coming to Church and it is really crazy to see the sacrifice that goes on here to become and member and then stay active. 

On my birthday we had a District Leader training meeting (Elder Young is a DL) and then we ended up getting a weird and random call to go over to a house to teach a lady and her 30 year old inactive son who lives with her. We showed up and there was pizza! She had a cute little dog and we named her Utah.  Then the lesson was easily the best I have had here in Ukraine. It was led by the Spirit and the conversation bounced from all 4 of us in the room. It was a great way to spend my birthday. 

This last Saturday, we set up an appointment to play some basketball! Yes, I was excited! We have a hoop at one of the wards. We asked a local RM to bring a 17 year old we are working with who has a girlfriend in the church and comes with her family every week. It was good to do because apparently he is afraid of the missionaries and thinks we are robots. So we just wanted to try to get to know him better and show him we are normal people. It was good to do something he was familiar with.

It was really sad! I could barely touch the net, and wow I was off. Gained a few pounds...yikes. And haven't shot a ball in a long time. But it was for a great cause. I just need to remember that I am not heading into the basketball season back home. I am here doing the Lords work and trying to get people, like this 17 yr old, to understand what we are all about - the missionaries and the church.

At the end President Packer brought his sons over to play for a bit and instantly this amazing idea we had to play with an investigator was thrown into question in my mind. It is good to always think on the mission what we would do if Jesus was literally right there with us all day. Not comparing President Packer to Jesus, but it was kinda just how I thought of it. He was all for the idea and supported us in our efforts, and we had all the right intentions, but it is just interesting that the moment someone shows up like that you instantly think of all the bad and not the good you are doing. Need to perfect ourselves always. 

S/O to my family for the peanut butter (none here in Ukraine) and Nicole for the bouncy ball (she knows how much I love mine back home), and then the letters and emails from Grandparents and family and then all the wishes and pictures I received this week and last week! No I don't feel any different, but yes it is weird to say that I am 19. The language is coming but very very slowly. Good times here in Ukraine. 
Work goes on. 
-Elder Devashrayee

Monday, November 9, 2015

Life = "If, Then" Equation...... 11-9-15

A whole lot of work was accomplished this week, and by far the highest numbers I have ever had (don't matter really but they are nice to see sometimes). I really don't have a whole lot to say about this last week except that it is starting to get really cold! But I am thankful I am not sweating/melting in the heat and dealing with mosquitoes and bugs like friends of mine are. One can always add layers to stay warm :)

We have a whole lot of great people on the tipping point and we are just trying to give them that simple nudge so they fall into the font, sort of speak. They are already practically members, but just don't want to make that final commitment for some reason. It is crazy to think of how many promises I give people from God, literally almost everyday. I constantly talk about trials and patience with people, then sometimes I don't quite do what I tell people will help them! Sometimes you gotta be able to take your own advice. I have come to realize more and more that life/mission is just one big "If, then" equation if that makes since. There is cause and effect in literally almost everything we do. If you ever think about if you are ready to meet God just go read Alma 5, it lays it down pretty straight. I have a lot of work to do. 

We have been eating at a lot more members houses here and the other day we were eating and this spider was literally just walking all over the table and on them and they didn't notice until it was on the dad's shirt. He just looked over and said "hi" and was happy to see it. The wife just carefully scooped it up, played with it and put it in one of the plants in the room. Elder Young and I were pretty puzzled. Just a totally different way of thinking. They said it doesn't harm them, it just eats the bugs, and it's cold outside so they let it stay inside. Hahahaha I told them what I would do if I were home - I would pound the table to squish it with a cup or something, or if I were my dad I would huck a shoe at it from 10ft away at about 30 mph - believe me, we have the shoe imprints on our walls downstairs to prove it. 

This week I was really trying to see when God was testing me and being grateful for those times. Easier said then done. Every time I started thinking I'm bad off, something else happens to someone else and it humbles me. We need to be grateful for our trials but understand that others have them too. 

Last P-day I went to center Kyiv and checked it out... it is so cool! On the way a monkey in a little sweater was handed off on my shoulders by and man and it was just chilling on my shoulders during the ride and then later it just chilled in Elder Young's hand. Didn't have the photo with me but here is down town Kyiv.

Good work here, the members this last Sunday invited us left and right to come over and so we have all of our FHE's pretty much booked for the rest of the transfer. Good times here. Oh and yes, it is getting pretty cold! 
Elder Devashrayee

Monday, November 2, 2015

"Greenies" Doing Their Best..... 11-2-15

One of the better weeks of the mission was just completed this last week! I love my new area, there is so much to do, always. Big transition from the last area but I am grateful for the experiences I had there.  I have realized I probably won't have those type of experiences in any other area. But those lessons will help me the rest of my life. I learned a lot from my last comp. I realize now how much I really did learn when it was all said and done and he wasn't around anymore. He was a good trainer! I am beginning to realize that every area and every missionary has something to teach me. 

Elder Young and I are practically brothers as of now. It is crazy how much a different area and companion can change everything you have come to know. E Young is a great missionary and we are both "greenies" here but we are just trying to do the work the best we can and get the language together. We are forced to speak Russian because we don't have our trainers here to do it for us. We are the ones doing all of the talking now, crazy!

Some of the best times on my mission happened this last week. I would love to serve a couple transfers here with E Young, but we both know that it is not up to us. We just have to give it everything we have and do the best we can. This is a very different area and people. I am inland now so I don't see the Sea like last time. And we have more public transportation here. The Subways are crazy. The escalators just seem to go on forever. Still walking a lot but we use the buses and subway more. We are eating a lot more "American" food now, so that has been a good change, though I was starting to really like the food E Gorba made.  

This past week I was reading and Alma 1:21 stood out to me. That is how all members of the Church should act at all times! We are all on the same team! We had the Eastern Europe Area Conference and President Russell M. Nelson presided. It was a podcast, but it was really good. It was like a mini general conference but directed specifically to Eastern- Europe. Favorite thing I got out of it was when President Nelson said that we need to always have an answer. 1 Peter 3:15. He focused on this and said when we give short and simple replies to people it leads to longer discussions. Elder Young and I will try to focus on that this week and see how it works out!  

We had a chance to work with the Helping Hands organization here this week and rake a whole lot of leaves and clean up this huge park. Lots of missionaries where there and it was good to see them! It created a great Service Project and a way to help out the city and people here.

We would rake the leaves and then just put it all in the back of a truck
This is the huge park with HUGE trees... more leaf raking to come I think.

This week also included Halloween, which was a fun day. They kind of celebrate it here. Not with all of the tradition that we do back in the US, but kids will dress up and there are parties to go to. We had a great Halloween too and tried to celebrate as much as missionaries can! A black bowl on my head with some orange paper sticking out. Also a painted mustache, all the facial hair we can have.

Because of the work E Young and his trainer were able to do before I got here we have lots of investigators right now at the point where any day they could be baptized, just need to help them over the hump! We are working really hard, trying to get them there. It takes their faith as well as ours to achieve this, but it will come. 

Great area and good times. 
-Elder Devashrayee

Monday, October 26, 2015

God Gives, But On His Own Time.... 10-27-15

This week was easily my favorite in илыичёвск. It was an example of exactly what I teach and try to tell people nearly every time. God will give according to the desires of your heart, but on His own time and will. I found out that I would have an exchange this last Friday and was getting pumped for it all week. Finally a day just devoted to missionary work and nothing else. 

Elder Gamett and his trainer came from an area and both of our trainers went off doing their stuff while we just contacted. We prayed for a miracle, set the goals and plans out for the day, knew exactly where we wanted to go and what to hand out, basically in our actions told the Lord what we wanted to achieve. The main goal was to get an investigator. That is the one main thing I have been praying for here, to find and teach an investigator. Again, on His time, I must be patient. We tried to talk to nearly 50 or so people and only about 6 or 7 stopped. Out of those we had (tried our hardest) conversations with about 4 or them. Out of the 4, we found 2 new investigators in one day. One of them didn't have a lot of time but he asked where the church was and what time and said he would come Sunday. 

I know I'm new, but the other seemed like "Golden Investigator" she had millions of questions that were sincere and led right into what we wanted to say and the message we had to share. Every single question was honestly perfect. We talked with her on the street for 40 minutes and then got her contact and the next day Elder Gorba and I went to her house and taught her. My first Lesson! It didn't go all "magically" but it was good and we are going back to teach her today. She didn't come to Church this Sunday because she wanted to read more first but Sunday night she called and asked questions from the Book Of Mormon from 1st Nephi chapter 4! 

The other investigator we found came to Church an hour early on accident because we had a time change here and he didn't realize it. So, before Church started we were able to give him a little tour of the building and tell him what would happen in Church. We are also meet with him Monday evening. I prayed to find an investigator and we found two. Saturday night and Sunday morning I prayed to have them at church and a lot of members also and we had the most since I have been here. I guess I just need to start praying for baptism and not just the smaller things :). 

We also taught a record, for our transfer, number of lessons to less actives and actives this week. I ended up giving "my" farewell talk on Sunday. I approached it in a different way that I have never thought of before. I tried to prep it for "if out in the congregation we had an investigator" or really tried to think of "what the members needed" instead of just thinking of something cool to say. I also found myself thinking about the other people giving talks this last week and hoping they would prepare. We just need to always act like an investigator is watching you in church and plan talks as if an investigator is there to here you and you alone speak! Never thought of sacrament meeting like that before.
My Illichivs'k District
Top: E. Christofferson    E. Evalde    E. Gorba      me   
Bottom: Sister Karren    Sister Ivancovich   (not sure about spelling)

Right as we finally get investigators, I am being transferred though and it is a bit frustrating but I guess that is missionary work. I will be serving in  Kyevo-Svyatoshinskiy rayon with Elder Young! That area is up closer to Kyiv. So excited. He went to Alta and I was able to talk to him a few times before the MTC and then we were in different districts in the MTC but the same zone. His trainer just left for home and they just had a few baptisms, so he will have a lot of experience which is great! We are both going to be a few short weeks out, so it will be a little rough, but it is going to be a great experience and I cannot wait to serve there and with him. #801takeoverUkraine 
I was able to make another dish for us - Pizza!

 - If we expect miracles, and then do everything in our power to qualify for them, they can happen. 

- We need to "cheerfully submit to the will of the Lord and have patience"  He will lighten the burden upon our back. We don't know when He will deliver us, but just wait for the day that He says, "on the morrow, I will deliver you"....or something like that. Story when He causes a great sleep to come over the Lamanites and the people of Alma escape. Mosiah 24. 

That is all. 
Elder Devashrayee
Cool sunsets and sunrises. I will miss Illichivs'k!  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Time To Focus...... 10-19-15

This week we had Zone Conference on Wednesday.  Zone conference was great and President Packer set some goals for us that I am excited to try and achieve. They will really push all of us to do more missionary work and take away the time we have been wasting trying to decide what to do and not just aimlessly contact. Be more Focused.

Then we went to Kiev on Friday and got back early Sunday for a Branch President's meeting for my companion.  I was able to go through the temple for the first time here and it was awesome.  Kiev temple is hands down my favorite temple. It is a beautiful temple. I was glad I was able to go through it.

Unfortunately, not a whole lot of exciting things to report for this last week so this will be short. Between Zone Conf, traveling to Kiev and branch work there hasn't been a lot of time to contact.  We did help a lady in our branch try to winter-ize her shack. It is crazy how people make it through the winter here with so little. We are very blessed back in Utah.

The work is going great in my area.  It is not at all how I envisioned missionary work, but I feel like we are truly doing the Lord's will here.  We just need to make time for missionary work along with branch items. We will get there!

Fun fact:  Nearly almost everyone here smokes all of the time and still we have better air quality than Salt Lake with that smog layer.  Another fun fact: I literally saw a man hold a lighter under his finger time and time again on the metro and eventually he lit his finger on fire. Crazy!

My mind is constantly mush from the language and when I go to bed at night my mind is just CHAOS. To prove that, I had a dream last night that I was running from a T-rex and eventually we had a duel where we were throwing and dodging meteors at each other. That is how I would describe the language is coming along for me-  it just makes no sense! That's about all I have to report for this week and sorry no additional pictures, I forgot my camera back in the apartment. 

All the best.
-Elder Devashrayee

Monday, October 12, 2015

Learn Then Tested..... 10/12/15

Not a whole lot went down this week regarding missionary work, but we were very busy with Elder Gorba being the Branch President. Good news! I got yelled at for the first time when a fellow said "eeeeegooooooo eeehomeee yaaaaaaaannnnkeee!!"  hahaha it made me really happy I am not going to lie. He was drunk and it sounded really funny. 

This week we spent a lot of time traveling up to Odessa to go to the hospital for different needs in the branch.

Our path to Odessa

I was able to give a spiritual thought that wasn't my own at all. I had read Mosiah 10 the day before and then read it again in the morning because I couldn't even remember reading it, and I got a totally different message from it.  When we feel like we are wronged we have 2 choices: 1. Seek for revenge, be wroth, harden our hearts, turn from the Lord, and have hatred  2. Seek for understanding, soften our hearts, and forgive. 

While at the hospital we were talking to a member of our branch who has 2 or 3 different types of cancer right now... I had no idea what Elder Gorba had previously said or where the conversation was and wasn't expecting to speak much. Then E Gorba turned to me and said something about what I have read recently and instantly the thought of giving the message that God gave me earlier in the day to the lady came to my mind. I would have never thought to have given this message to this lady who was going through so much, but it was made plain to me that that was exactly was I was supposed to say to her. It was a great experience. 

After the Lord knew that I had understood and learned this lesson he made sure to test me on it this week. It really is so hard.  Later in the week I made the little triangle of Faith, Diligence, and Patience after reading the latter part of Alma 32. I know that through these 3 steps repeated over a long time (long suffering) we can all find and partake of the fruit (hopefully Russian for me). 

The highlight of the week had to of been when we pealed and cut up a lot of potatoes and my comp was getting ready to add onions (whenever we "add" onions it becomes the main course) and I stopped him in his tracks and said, "no Elder, today we add cheese." It was a proud American "DEREK" moment when I covered the pan with cheese and we ate cheese fries. It's the small things out here :)

We were able to watch conference finally and it was awesome. First time I have watched all 8 hours and actually stayed awake! Each one seemed a lot shorter than two hours so that was a good sign. I am not going to say which was my favorite but I learned a little something from each of them. It gave me a lot of new insight on how I can perfect myself and become a better servant of the Lord. There seemed to be a lot of personal stories and it really brought the spirit, I know I need to have some summaries prepared to give when I teach. The new apostles are great and when Elder Nelson spoke I could truly feel the love he had for them. I am going to come back as emotional as my mother I already know it... speaking of mothers, they were a huge focus of the meeting also and deserve all the recognition. Overall, great conference. 

It got cold here and fast. I found a coat in the apartment that says Tiger Force, so judging by the name alone, I think I will be just fine this coming winter hahah. Elder Gorba says that it will be a good coat - but I am finding out that he not only loves to take more photos of himself then me but he is also just about as cheap as me. I will soon find out if the coat is good or not. The wind is really the factor here. It is so cold. 

Good times
-Elder Devashrayee

This is the beach in our area. I hear it is crazy busy in the summer. It is pretty cool!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Every Interaction Must Count...... 10-5-15

So... to start off, the investigator that Elder Gorba had been visiting for some time and said he wanted to be baptized had been battling health issues from smoking for 50+ years and the only thing he needed was to go to Church but was always too sick. He passed away last Monday night and it was really an eye opener because we went over there the week prior (the really humble house) and that was most likely the last message about the gospel he heard. Crazy stuff to think about. Gotta make every interaction one that lifts the other person, because you never know. 

On the light side, this week went by just as fast as the last! We visited a lot of the members and less actives this week and it was fun to meet all of them and to share a quick spiritual message and then sit there like a fly on the wall as they all talk ;). It is frustrating, but I know it will come. 

My favorite lesson this week was when after the dad (not a member) of the part member family asked me if I lifted. I knew that was a pick-me-up from the big man upstairs, I needed it ;)  He let me know that I matter to him and that I just need to keep doing what I am doing and He will bless me.

Someone in the ward travels to Germany and France and is a renowned barber so we went there today and it was the best haircut I have ever received while in Europe! She did a great job and I just walked in a said "I trust you" and closed my eyes, good times.

 Sporting the new haircut - "exceptional style" was his title

We made Borsh and it was actually really pretty good! Doesn't look too good and putting in the ingredients myself doesn't help, but in the end it tastes great! Other than the fact that then it takes 4 days in a row of eating it for dinner to finish it,  it drops down a bit on the "good" scale. 

We visited a less active and in his house he had a great picture of the Kiev temple! It was a bummer when I saw that he had packs of cigarettes in front of it.. but, he showed up to Church and bore his testimony and that was the first time he has done that in a good 6 months, so that was awesome to hear. Elder Gorba said that was the best visit during the week he has ever had with him... we gave him a hair cut to start off with so maybe he was a little more open after that :). 

We visited my favorite little grandma Lidia (in Ukraine) and she fed us some pears, that were a little questionable, but she was too nice to say no to! She told me to stop putting my hands in my pockets. She had me tell her about God with my hands in my pockets, and then had me try again with my hands out of my pockets. Ya, it was funny and from then on I have been trying to keep my hands out! Elder Gorba could understand her better so she gave him a lot of advice in finding a wife. One time I was very grateful for my lack of the language.
Babooshka Lidia

 My favorite verses I read this week were Matt 23:11, and another one in Mosiah 7:12 the latter half of that scripture. That is how I should try to approach my opportunity as a missionary every week.  I am going to work on it.

This last Sunday was my favorite by far. I bore my testimony again (3 weeks in a row, they are sick of me) and then after the first hour I went out of my way to talk with the members as much as possible. It was the happiest I have felt since the MTC and that is really the key to everything.  Just love the people. I have accepted that I will not just magically be able to speak the language but am looking forward to the 6 month mark with lots of goals to have accomplished by then. I know it will take the full 2 years to master the language, but I just want to be able to talk to people!  I do all I can just to entertain myself at times and I do a pretty good job, but it gets a little lonely ;) 

I heard the new apostles names. Great Men.  Elder Renlund was my favorite speaker from last Springs conference. I quoted him in my farewell talk, who would have thought.  We will able to watch all of General Conf. this week, so I am looking forward to that! 

 That is all.
-Elder Devashrayee

The View out of our window this morning
P.S. - Some follow-ups:
* My Comp is a convert at age 12 with his mom.
* I am trying to cook more, that way I can control what goes in the oatmeal, but mainly because I am tired of always doing the dishes.
* Thanks Nicole for the mini Bball Hoop! I love it!
* Enjoying my Ukrainian fashion Style - the hat and all... from the photo above.