Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Welcomed Elder Glade...... 1-26-16

We had a crazy last week so I might just recall it more like a list for this week. 

Elder Western and I spent a lot of time at the beginning of the week cleaning the baptismal font from top to bottom. It looks great and is better than ever. We were preparing for our Baptism that weekend. 

I went up to Kiev to drop him off and received my new son, Elder Glade! Elder Glade is great and full of energy. He is from Washington State and ran track in High school. He did a summer semester at BYU and is 18. We had a great meeting in Kiev with President and his wife and then we headed back down to good old Odessa. 

Me & Elder Glade

The next morning we had a World-Wide missionary training video that we watched where some of the apostles and missionary directors talked and gave out great advice. Elder Klebingat (of the Seventy)  was in the area this week so he visited the mission and he and the Packers came to my branch for Church on Sunday. I found out the night before that he would interview me personally. Wow it was a stressful stretch until Sunday at times. In the end it all went very smoothly and we had a great turnout at church. Elder Glade was able to give his testimony and I was called up to the stand last second to bless the sacrament which was a great experience. I remembered back when I read over it 100 times before I blessed it in the MTC in Russian and it was great to see the difference. All three hours of Church were great and then we were able to have a fireside that night where there was a Q&A and all of the surrounding wards piled in for that. 

The next day we had a zone conference with Elder Klebingat and the Packers. We were taught a lot and honestly this week I have learned more than I think I can retain. Lot's of great stuff. In the meanwhile I can't imagine what my companion was thinking about his first week in Ukraine. Quite the eventful week with visiting authorities and the Mission President.
Odessa Zone with E. Klebingat in the center with Pres & Sis Packer and Bro & Sis Mikkelson on the ends

We had P-day changed to today this week because of the zone conference yesterday. The baptism that we had scheduled did not occur because of some family emergencies, but I am positive it will happen. Perhaps the rest of his family will now be more open to the gospel and more open to our message. Everything is a blessing, just depends on your vision. 

One thing that stuck out to me this week is how important Repentance really is. We have been stressed as missionaries to not just check that principle off but "Teach repentance, and baptize converts." We were given a lot of information on this principle in zone conference. We then had the opportunity to have someone come in with the desire to repent and become better and we were able to teach him exactly what we had learned throughout the week and apply everything. Great week. Too much to re-tell. 

Good deeds and our actions are multiplied 100x in Heaven and no effort goes wasted. Every day something happens whether we know of it or not depending on our example, words, or deeds. Try to always be the light that God can see on the earth and help raise the warning voice. 
Elder Devashrayee

Monday, January 18, 2016

Power Behind The Fast...... 1-18-16

This week was full of tiny things that added up to be a lot and I am excited to tell you about them! Elder Western and I set a goal for a record on lessons in general for the week (member, less-active, or investigators) and set off to accomplish it. A lot happened and long story short we were able to reach that number. We visited a lot of members homes and the people here are awesome. We are able to just sit and listen as a number of the members recounted their conversion story. It is easy to forget here that seriously everyone are converts and that I have been a member of the church longer than most people here. 

We were able to learn the real power of a fast this week and received one of the fastest/clearest answer to a prayer I have really ever seen. It was amazing, and out of it we have a baptism coming up this Saturday! I'm pumped. We were also able to meet with a fellow who loves to read the Book of Mormon and just met and read with him a number of times this week. Not much we could put in about doctrine, but we will see what the Book of Mormon can do for him! 

Found out on Saturday that Elder Western will be going up to Kiev to serve in the Borshagovsky area (they are splitting my last area in half and he is taking one of the halves) and then I will head up to Kiev also and pick up my new greenie and bring the jet-lagged Elder to Odessa with me! I am pumped and I know that Elder Western will do great in Kiev. I have learned a lot from him and he is already a very capable Elder in taking 4 semesters of Russian and being away at college for 2 years. Gonna miss my boy... hahah it is like going to drop him off at the MTC. 

The thing I learned from this last transfer was that there is a reason for Left Overs... I learned to love leftovers this past transfer so victory for you Mom. I always cook so that we have leftovers now. Easy and fast when we don't have a lot of time. My cooking skills have improved.

We might be in store for a hugggge snowstorm here. We woke up Sunday morning to about 6 inches and then in kept snowing throughout the day and I am thinking we reached about a foot total yesterday. Sunday night we had an appointment for dinner at the Senior Missionary couple's home. All of our investigators backed out due to the snow, but the meal was awesome, especially her rolls! Here we are getting ready to head back outside after a wonderful meal!

We woke up this morning and our door to the building was snowed-in so we had to push it out and noticed that another good foot of snow had fallen over night and and maybe even more. It was kinda cool walking the streets so early in the morning through a blizzard. We wanted to get to the church to email home before it snowed even more.

The city just shuts down when snow falls so we just walked right down the main street all the way to the Church. The wind here is crazy so there are snow drifts everywhere and it looks like a white Sahara in some places. I am probably being dramatic but it has snowed a lot in the last few days and if it keeps up it might be a really slow week. 
My White Sahara

Biggest thing I learned this week was:

Helaman 10:4-5, We had an experience previously mentioned about fasting. It started off like any other fast and then in studies I was hit with a headache and when I looked at the book to read all I could see was blue dots and my vision was horrible.. I figured I was just being tested and such because of the fast so we kept moving forward. Next, we had an appointment with an investigator where my patience was tested to the max and then at one point I realized, "darn, another test" so we got through that and then had District Meeting where my head was on the brink of dying.  But then eventually we got to our evening lesson and were hit with a miracle. The moment I thought of everything as a test of my faith was when I was able to get through it all. Then when our prayers were answered... Helaman 11:14. 

At one point this week I realized that one of the unique things we tell people is that we have a modern day prophet. I thought about it and could only pick out a few things from his last talk and came to a realization that we should probably know exactly what he said last! We read over it and had a great discussion and were able to share a lot of points on it with families this week. I need to always be able to answer this question... "What did your modern day prophet say last?" I would invite everyone to read, listen, or even study over his talk and be that light in the world.

Elder Devashrayee

Monday, January 11, 2016

Two Christmases..... 1-11-16

This last week was awesome! We were able to celebrate Christmas for the second time! For Christmas the whole zone got together at our ward and we sang in front of a mall! We handed out little papers of "Jesus the Living Christ" rolled up with candy! I was in charge of walking around and giving them out to interested people most likely because the Sisters in charge of the activity had had enough of my singing. It was for the best. We did see a "jammin" Santa out in the middle of street as well. Love celebrating two Christmases!

We had a lot of mini miracles happen this week and the area keeps getting stronger and stronger. We have a great "Motto" for this Transfer.... What do you think it means in English?

Heroes Aren't Born, Heroes Are Made
We had a few good snows and snow shoveling almost made me feel at home until 15 minutes in and I remembered it is not that great, hope all of your backs are holding up well. We were able to go and meet with a less active that lives way out there this week. She has done over 80,000 names in Family Search. Pretty amazing! I was able to see some cool sights along the way. (I have included them in the photo link). My favorite one was of the "Anchor Monument". It reads "Forever Glory to the Heroes". 

We had our interviews with President Packer this week and it was great to get insight about how we can do work in different ways here and strengthen the branch even more. Grateful for Priesthood power and was able to give a couple more blessings this week and I truly felt led. After I was told I answered all of the questions she had.. crazy how it works. I was just grateful to be able to do it.  

Honestly, it was decently slow as this 3 week holiday is coming to an end but what I really liked was what I read about service and the two scriptures I studied in detail this week. Helaman 5:8 &  Ephesians 6:6. Crazy this transfer is almost over but we are going to try to end it with a bang this next week! Hope January is treating you all well! Beautiful weather here (haha!)
Elder Devashrayee

Monday, January 4, 2016

Plant A Tree..... 1/4/16

Hope everybody had a great New Years! This last week was great and Ukraine pretty much shut down for a good 2 or 3 days to celebrate. 

Tons of great stuff this week. I have been able to give a lot of blessings in English here, but on Monday night I was able to give my first full blessing in Russian and it was awesome. I know for a fact it was not all correct, I also know for a fact the grammar and enunciation didn't matter to the big man upstairs either. It was a cool experience. 

We had an exchange with the Elders that live with us for half of the week and then they headed off to their area for the other half. I lost Elder Western and picked up Elder Simmons for a couple days. One of the main points of exchanges is to help a missionary become better and it is a good time for correction/support. Before giving any sort of advice, this time I decided to go the scriptures and give it a day of prayer also, it helped out immensely so that I could know exactly what to say and how to say it. 

At English Class this week we talked about New Years Resolutions and some things really stuck out to me. A quote that was mentioned by someone was, "Best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago... when is the next best day?" I really liked the thought of that and then someone used the analogy of a new computer and how over time it just gets slower and slower and finally you just need to clear everything off and start new and then related it to the Atonement. One of our investigators who is near baptism said, "I don't think that we need to necessarily clear everything off, we just need to avoid all of that junk in the first place." To hear that from an investigator was awesome! Through reading chapters in Alma I picked up a few things that can help with Resolutions. 

Alma 48:5 Satan knows our strengths, places of resort, and weaknesses... 
9 - we must put all of our "numbers" in the weakest places to resist 

Alma 49: 3 Satan will attack the previously weak points over and over with confidence
4 - how great will be his disappointment be if we make these weak areas strong. 

 New Years Eve... wow. We had to be indoors by 5 and we hit up McDonald's for lunch to celebrate. We then bought a whole lot of cookies (Super Conteek)

and then a whole lot of potatoes, cheese, salsa and chicken. It was a good night. I had as many cheese fries as one man can possible eat!

And then we slammed (what we call when we drink the milk through the cookies). 

Besides all of the food, at around 12:10am I woke up to the noise of fireworks and was even able to see a few outside the window. I got up and yelled and woke everyone else up and then it took a while to try and get back asleep. 

The coolest part of New Years Eve though was a phone call I received from a past investigator whose friend we are currently teaching. Our previous investigator was sincerely worried about the decision making that the 22 year old (Edward) would be making that night and called to tell us to pray for him, call him, and possibly meet with him for the night to try to help him stay out of trouble. At this point it was past 5 but we were able to call him and share some scriptures and tell him to choose the right and so on. He asked if he could come hang out at our apartment and I had to say no but that would have been kinda fun. I was impressed about the sincerity this person had that he went out of his way to call us to ask us for our help in helping this 22 year old out. It was impressive and made me see the perspective of a Parent/good friend /God. 

Great week here in Central Odessa. It got REALLY cold here this last week. 
Elder Devashrayee