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