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