Monday, April 25, 2016

Expect Results..... 4-25-16

This last week was a little slower than the rest to be honest! New area can really make you feel a little useless at times to be honest. Guess people weren't sure where it was I was sent. It is an area just South of Central Odessa - the other name I have seen this week is Tairovo. Cool area...

First, to catch up on the last little bit from my previous area... Last P-day in Center we went and got burgers and squid rings! They were good, but missing french fries!

The week before we went to Arcadia and ended up going through a mirror maze which was fun. I learned a lot from Elder Glade. He taught me how to be orderly, to talk more, to be over enthusiastic about the work, and to appreciate others people quirks instead of letting them bug you. 
Notice the gloves, we had to wear them in there so no one would leave finger prints on all of the mirrors!

We had our last District meeting at the Mikkelsen's and we had enchiladas... so good. I realized this last transfer as the zone leader that trust is necessary throughout the zone and I learned a lot about letting/inviting others to share their talents to the fullest and learning from them. 

This last week has been wet and we spent most of time either lost or contacting in the rain. Elder Jorgensen and I are getting along really well. I love his outlook to the work. We had very little visible success this last week and he was really looking to change that. I guess I had gotten "used" to not having success in a way.. and he is very motivated and expects results and seeks to change whatever we can to have it. 

It is odd serving with a companion that can speak Russian again, and he speaks really well. I will get there! 
We have a few investigators that are awesome and I am excited to see where they go. 

We had a service project this week where we did demolition work at an apartment. It was a great time and even Elder Glade and his new companion was there. 

After we were done, I got to witness the first Sharma of his companion at the same stand that I took him for his first one. Proud moment! 

Sunday was great. This branch is very organized and really strong. I was able to bare my testimony and Elder Jorgensen gave a great talk. This area is great and I am excited to see what happens here. Easter will be next Sunday! I choose a scripture to highlight this transfer and it is D&C 136:32. Humility will be huge if we are able to do any work here. We both know how to speak decently, but that could be a hindrance to listening to the Spirit if we let it. Hope everyone has a great week! 

Elder Devashrayee

p.s. Thought I was getting pretty good at my cooking skills, think again! Tried to make banana bread... have work to do on that one. The inside wasn't bad, tasted okay but dry.  Thoughts... a little over cooked :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Value of Gratitude..... 4-18-16

A very event filled week with 2 exchanges, new call, and goodbyes. To start off, I recieved a transfer to a neighboring area that is still in Odessa and still in the Zone. It was unusual because transfers usually take missionaries out of Odessa to Kiev and other areas and vise versa, but I am more than happy to remain in Odessa! I will be serving with Elder Jorgenson (he was in my district in the MTC) in Tairovsky (not sure it is spelled right) as Zone Leaders. He has been there one transfer already and there have been a handful of baptisms out of this area lately. One of them was a family of three that I had the privilege to interview this last week. They are amazing people and will be great members. I was nervous for the interviews, but the moment they started it all washed away and they were a great experience for me and hopefully for them too. Elder Glade will remain in Center and will be training! Crazy to think that is where I was a while back. Time flies. He will do great. I learned a lot from the last two exchanges and realized that my calling really doesn't mean anything about me, but what I am called to do.. I feel like I continually learn more and more how to be a better missionary. 

I was able to bare my testimony this last Sunday alongside with one of the Sister Missionaries leaving the area. We had a great turn out on Sunday and had a handful of people that we have been working with there. One of them by the name Boris. We have been talking/working with him since the beginning and I just found out while talking with him before I was due to leave that he knew a close friend of mine (Alex Stoddard) who was the JV coach at Brighton! Talked with him a lot and he showed pictures. 
Boris is the one on the right in the black shirt

Sunday was a day of special moments for me. Boris looked me in the eye and said, "you brought me back... thank you." I quickly made sure he knew it wasn't me, but it was just as special to hear as when I saw Klara get baptized. 

We were able to journey out to Klara's home on Sunday and bless the Sacrament for her. It happened that a couple of less-actives were there too and one of them partook of the sacrament for the first time in a very long time. I am grateful the chance I had to say goodbye to Klara, she will always be a special person.

The Lord works in mysterious ways. I am going to miss this area. Center is amazing. I have just gotten on a personal level with all of the members and see the fruits of staying in an area for a long time. Center Branch is alive and well. It is being left in good hands though!
A couple of things that I learned this week is that complaining (murmuring) in any form is a direct opposite of gratitude and try to visualize myself talking to the Lord himself when I feel like I am about to complain about something. Another goal is to try to eliminate the word "I" while speaking.
Maybe your "typical missionary story" but this last week we stayed out just 5 minutes longer than planned and we were able to give out 2 Book of Mormons in the matter of minutes without seeing success for nearly an hour. We had desire to reach the goal and the Lord made it possible. I will look to try to serve with increased faith this next transfer. 
Still haven't seen all of the talks from General Conference but go and re-read them! They are amazing. 
This is how we were able to watch some of the talks from conference.

Have a great week everyone!
-Elder Devashrayee

Monday, April 11, 2016

Higher Level of Thinking...... 4-11-16

Already Monday again, whoa. This last week flew bye and I think it will have to be more of a list of what happened. 

This last week I was able to hear a few instances that were uplifting to know that every effort does not go wasted. 
- On an exchange last week we were contacting in some free time and were able to find a family and talked to them. Now, they have invited their friends and the Elders there have a good group of 4 or 5 that are interested. 
- Another one I heard this week... about a month ago Elder Glade and I were walking and talked to a woman who was handing out flyers, so we exchanged one with her and she was very very excited when she saw Jesus' picture on the front of the one we gave her. Turns out... the night before in her dream she was holding a new born baby that looked just like me in her arms and rocked it to sleep and took care of it. When I walked up she recognized my face and was sure that this was a message that she needed to listen to. Hahahaha I don't know what to think of it. The Lord works in mysterious ways. When she comes she always calls me her little baby and I just barely found out why. 

- After exchanges this week I was complaining about the Kodima Elders wiping out our food supply and Elder Glade mentioned that we should be saying, "I hope they had enough to eat" instead. To be of One Heart and One Mind that is what it takes. A higher level of thinking. He's been a great companion for me!

- We held a mini Young Men's activity this week seeing that there are only 2 of them and there are no leaders in that area. We taught them how to slam and played a little ping-pong. We are excited to keep working with them and bring others in. 

-Max, from Illychosk (First area), just got his mission call and is going to Scotland! Exciting stuff.

-We had exchanges with the Assistants to the President this week and it was awesome. One of them (Elder Palmer) is only one transfer ahead of me and is an amazing missionary. He is practically fluent and it was an eye opener and showed me how we can really open doors here when we can communicate with the people. Gave me motivation to keep going with the language. He said we should go to members and ask for service in a "not if, but when" form. 

- We were able to do some service this week with the branch for "Mormon Helping Hands". We were able to help Till a large garden plot. We were also able to do some tree hauling for a member. As the weather gets a little nicer I am excited to do more service outdoors. 
 What it looked like when we arrived
What it looked like when we were done! Ready to plant now!

- We made some cookies again during the week.  Then on Saturday we made some pizzas and salsa at the Mikkelsen's. Good stuff. Glad they are willing to help us out! They are amazing people.
Our care packages really do make a difference :)

-Listened to the Afternoon sessions on Sunday and had a great branch brunch in between. Were able to listen to Priesthood this morning and can't wait to listen to the morning sessions. Great stuff from conference. Questions have been answered without a doubt. I tried to go in with D&C 64:34 on my mind. That is all he requires out of us. 

- Funny thing happened, someone we hadn't ever met before dropped by the ward this Sunday and pulled our strings as a golden investigator and let us go for about 20 minutes. He then called us back and asked us to help him fill out his tithing slip with his temple recommend right there next to it, hahaha. Ya, he got us!

-On Sunday, we walked past a Church and they invited us in and I said, "We have our own Church, thanks." Then I realized I have heard that a million times from other people. Later in the day, we had a short lesson with a guy on a bench when people from another Church came up and interrupted and wouldn't stop talking. I left the man with our information, shook the hands of the other people, and got out of there. Interesting experiences seeing it from their perspectives. Makes you think a bit about what we do and how we go about it out here.  We will be more aware of that now thanks to this experience. 

Have a great week and make sure to wish Nicole a Happy Birthday today!!

- Elder Devashrayee

Monday, April 4, 2016

Keep Smiling...... 4-4-16

This last week came and went and it seems like it happens faster every week.

Not a whole lot to report on to be honest. Sunday we had a great turn-out. There were a good handful of less-actives we have been working with in attendance and some have really made a full re-activation. I will say the way a few of my church buddies stay awake during church helps :) I try not to participate but it gets hard sometimes :) Star Wars legos have got to be the coolest!

This week I had an exchange with Elder Jorgenson (he was in my district in the MTC) and I learned a lot from him. He is a great missionary and it is fun to see how far we have come since the MTC. We ended up giving a man a Book of Mormon and writing our number in the back... says he will call when he finishes the book in 25 years... One thing I realized that Elder Jorgenson does well on lessons is smile when he is talking. I might have lost that over time, need to work on that. We have a really amazing zone and there was a baptism this last week of a 13 year-old girl from another branch. It was on her birthday too so it was really awesome to see. 

We made a trip up to Kyiv for Leadership Council this week and we came away with a lot of amazing things. We are trying to make a huge celebration for the 25th anniversary of the Church in Ukraine in September and I can't wait for it. We also talked about Unity in the mission. Here are some things that I took away from it that can be applied at here as well as at home: 

-Without complete trust in fellow missionaries, you can never be fully unified. You have to remember that they are representatives of Jesus Christ also and they do the work in different ways. 

-Gossip/Rumors. When you spread or even participate in it, you are denying the power of Repentance and are saying that the Atonement doesn't work.. that people cannot change. 

-"Follow the direction of Priesthood leaders no matter what. Even in it seems odd, or even could be incorrect, you will be blessed if you follow and they will be held accountable." -President Packer 

I was able to see one of the first people I talked to here in Ukraine. He was my buddy from day one. When I saw him on the temple grounds he ran up and gave me a hug. It was precious. His name is Valentine and that is his younger brother. 

Heard this in testimony meeting in Church from a lady: "Whenever I see someone that I cannot physically help on the street, I just a say a little prayer inside my head for them."  We can all do that!

The work is coming along in Center. Lessons with investigators are more unpredictable then Utah's weather here. On the downside, this last Friday while exiting the Night Train in Odessa at 6 in the morning I was not fully awake and missed the last of now I am emailing from a hospital in Center Odessa with a fractured collar bone, 5 bruised ribs, and a broken thumb. I don't know what the mission is going to do with me at the moment, but I know that I will recieve the treatment that is neccessary. I also hope that everyone had a great April Fools this last week. Ukranians take their holidays seriously and I dare say they celebrate it better than America. 

I hope that everyone enjoyed Conference this last week. I am excited to be able to watch it soon! I have seen a couple of the talks in Russian, but we should be able to see it later this week.

Love from Ukraine! 
-Elder Devashrayee

p.s. Yes, he is okay! We even confirmed with the Senior Missionary Couple in his area. We assumed it was his April Fool's Day prank, but weren't 100% sure.... glad to have their email address, knowing they can email any time. Thanks Mikkelson's!!! Darn Kid!