Monday, June 27, 2016

A Family Affair...... 6-27-16

This week I have a whole new appreciation for missionaries that work in hot weather, but they have no idea how it feels to be on a jam-packed bus full of people dripping sweat and yelling at the driver, or maybe they do???

This last week was great. Had a few exchanges and one of them was with a native. His name is Elder Preshipchook. He is waiting for his visa to serve in Utah, but at the moment is serving in Odessa. His father found a Book of Mormon in a pile of books ready to be thrown away, brought it home, put it on the shelf, and then a number of years later the Missionaries knocked on his door and showed him the same book. The whole family was later converted and now his son (Elder P) is serving a mission. God works in many ways. Great story. Everyone has a slightly different take on how to teach a lesson "correctly" and it opens my perspective whenever I teach with a native. 

I spent a good 3 hours for 3 days in a row doing registration. At times, it is very inconvenient and takes up a lot of time, but is necessary. Our landlady's daughter was helping us out and we had some miscommunication (as expected) and we showed up 15 minutes late. She ripped us out and was in a horrible mood. We then just talked with her and she slowly just began to be nicer and nicer and by the end we were great friends. Just a small example of how people can change. 

We have an investigator who is really progressing at the moment. I kid you not, the light in his eyes just keeps getting brighter and brighter. His countenance is changing as well as his testimony. It is great to see. Anyone can change if they want to.

We painted some rails at a smaller soccer stadium this week and it was a good time. Not a lof of people showed up, but it was almost better. Great bonding time with some of the members. 

Another service opportunity this week, we were able to clean up an area around garbage bins. It seemed as if there was no garbage in the actual bins, but everywhere around. Had some really great conversations out of it. 

Random fact of the week: I contacted someone on a horse. 

Sunday Morning we got up early and Elder Jorgensen was able to see his cousin get baptized over skype. He is my age and went to a year of school in South Carolina. Saw some missionaries there and met with them. Before all of this, he had been on a few scouting activities and had seen great examples in those around him. He came back home from college and was a gift to the missionaries serving in his hometown, San Diego. Goes to show that whether you "reap or sow" how great shall be your joy in seeing one come unto Christ.  It was so cool!

Reading the New Testament is a great experience. The challenge I would like to offer is to invite someone over for a meal this next week in some shape or form that could use a good meal/good company. Luke 14: 12-14 really stuck out to me this week. I was reading "Only an Elder" at some point this last week and a phrase also went really well with this. "Salvation is a family affair" God gave us families to help and support us. He gave us our amazing families to be able to reach out and help others. I am grateful for all of those that have been family to me, and am grateful to God for their influences. Help others see the light that the gospel brings to you and/or your family this week! 

Elder Devashrayee

P.S. Had a great game of beach Volleyball this last P-day.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Listen..... 6-20-16

Sweat. 'how I would describe this last.  It officially got hot in Odessa. Good times keep rollin' though. This last week, cherries and all sorts of berries are starting to appear on the trees and it is the hardest not to just stop and eat cherries every time you see a tree. This last week I also earned $20 the hard way, but I will let the pictures do the talking.... 

I tried to switch up the way I approach people this week on transport. One of my favorite was to pull out a pamphlet and ask people which picture of Jesus they like the best. They would then pick and we would discuss and then I would end up "Gifting" them the picture as long as the pamphlet. If nothing more, it brought some smiles. 

I was on an exchange with Elder Young (my second companion from Alta that I served in Kyiv with) and it was great to serve with him again for a day. He helped me up my Organization as a missionary and really taught me a lot. He is one missionary that I know will get 100% out of his mission and helped me learn how to do the same for myself. The way he approached the language is that he wants to double-major in it when he gets home. He is looking at the big picture and that is why his Russian is incredible at this point. Great Friend/Missionary. 

We had a lesson with the friend of a less-active this week and it was one of the lessons that I will not forget. She came to us completely open and knew that our Church helps with quitting smoking. I felt completely led the whole lesson and said things and went ways that I have never taught before. I felt that I was truly an instrument in God's hands for a solid 30 minutes and it was a great feeling. She said the closing prayer and started bawling, the Spirit filled the room and I felt as if someone lightly placed their hand on my shoulder. Hard to explain. I got the feeling of someone saying, "thanks for listening". It was incredible. Now it is up to her to act. 

I learned how to work an abacus this last week from a less active. Whoo! It wasn't easy, and I think I will keep using my calculator when I get back :)

We had another ward picnic and received a call the night before saying that we need to make a lot of brownies.... my training has finally come into effect. I was ready for the call haha. With the Mikkelsen's recipe in hand (THANK YOU!!!) we cranked out 5 big batches of brownies in time for the next day and the branch really enjoyed them. We were heroes! The picnic was a blast and there was some 5 on 5 Bball and volleyball and all sorts of good food.  

I was reading a scripture and it really hit me, especially for being on the mission during the Summer. Often, I hear "I am missing out" or "I wish I was there right now" and I found the perfect verses. I am reading the New Testament at the moment and found a verse in Mark 10: 28-30. I know that what I am doing here is totally worth it and I will receive blessings 100 fold and feel them daily. I hope everyone is having a great summer and doing fun things, but I am grateful to be here in Ukraine and do the Lord's work. Have a great week and stay safe! 

-Elder Devashrayee
Here are some of the scenery shots from this week. This place really is amazing!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sharing Our Talents.... 6-13-16

This was a great last week. Obviously, the highlight was Elder Ballard! It was great to hear from him and the most that I took from him is I need to open my mouth more. All of the big guns from Eastern Europe were there also and it was a great 2 hours. 
This is our entire Kyiv Ukraine Mission - all together to hear Brother Ballard Speak.
I am in the second to last row and the third from the left...

Here are some of the major things I got out of it: 
*Talking slowly is not a bad thing at all. 
*Don't move on to a new subject until you have asked questions that make sure they understand.
*You can be reverent always. That doesn't mean being quiet at Church, it means that we revere and love our Father in Heaven and our actions reflect that love. 
*Are you angry or offended? Get over it.
*This is the Lord's time. Not yours. 
*Whenever you feel prideful in anyway, mentally go to the Garden of Gethsemane and remember what Jesus Christ did for us and how he felt. 
*Be in a Hurry to prepare this dispensation. 
Sister Packer (Mission President's Wife) had a few words that were great also. She used 1 Nephi 15:24 and talked about the divine power of the Book of Mormon. I realized that I had gotten comfortable on the mission in my studies and wasn't really pushing myself how I should. Don't ever get comfortable, always push for more! 

I have set a new goal to be able to write down the name of something to remember from each conversation every day and try to increase that number every day. I encourage you to start with 1 a week and see where it leads! 
We contacted in the park with a book-stand and a poster of Jesus Christ and many great things followed. We had a number of lessons right there on the spot and found some amazing people. We then tried a lemonade stand later in the week and it was a complete bust, weird huh! For some reason people here don't want free lemonade... 
No one wanted our Lemonade???
While up in Kyiv I was able to stop by a few old Members in the area that I used to serve in and it was great to see them. Can't believe it has been so long. Tatiana Poliakova is a member in Kyiv. We got completely soaked in the rain and she fed us and gave us a little lesson about sharing our talents (a little basket of candies) Elder Young and I went over there a lot when we served there. 
 Me, Elder Young and Sister Poliakova

I had the opportunity to shake Elder Ballard's hand and it was awesome. I was thinking of what I could say to him and the only thing was felt appropriate was "Thank you for your service." These people give their lives to serve the Lord and we can do the same in our own way daily. 
Have a great week! 
Elder Devashrayee

Monday, June 6, 2016

Step Back.... 6-6-16

This week we had a lot of success, and we did nothing different than from other weeks. That is the way of the mission, and this last week we were just here to do our part. Lessons worked out, people were home, and people were answering their phones. It is nice to have some of those weeks. Just able to step back and let things happen that are supposed to happen.

The Highlight of the week was a friend of a less active recent convert, that the Sisters have been reactivating recently, wanted to be contacted. We set up the meeting for Saturday after meeting him at Church. We showed up and he told us that he had quit smoking, was completely following the Word of Wisdom, had started the Book of Mormon, had been shown the Church were the baptism font is, and wanted to learn more. 5 minutes into the lesson he said that he wanted to be baptized. I couldn't stop smiling for a good half hour. We are working with him for the first part of June. 

I also found out that an investigator from Center (my last area) that I worked with for all 3 transfers there has now finally set a baptism date! We were able to have lunch together and that was fun! So glad he is progressing. The work is exciting here in Odessa at the moment. 

I had an unplanned exchange with my Son (Elder Glade) this week due to timing of registration and helped welcome in the new Elders into Odessa. It was great to be with them for a day or so. 

We had Leadership council this last week in Kiev and it was very uplifting. Plans for Elder Ballard this Friday were finalized and I cannot wait. I am about 20 pages away from finishing the Book of Mormon challenge and I feel spiritually prepared. We did a few exercises in the meeting where we put ourselves in the shoes of the people that we meet every day and wrote stories from their point of view. I choose a mother pushing her baby in the stroller in a park. For me, that is the least successful contact and I was able to see and take a step back and realize that this a real person and not just someone to talk to. 

We talked about stepping up the maturity and acting our part at Church especially. It isn't "putting on a show" or "being fake" but really turning it "on" and being a missionary and loving the people those 3 hours without stop.  I guess no more "entertaining" the kids to keep them quite so their parents can pay attention:) I will miss it, but I know it is for the best.

I am beyond excited to meet Elder Ballard and listen to him speak. It makes it more real when I envision myself listening to one of the apostles from the New Testament speak. We truly have a living prophet and apostles on the earth today that lead and guide us. 

Until next week, -Elder Devashrayee
Here are some fun pics from this last few weeks... Crazy how they interpret US things.