Friday, July 29, 2016

Wanted That Moment Back...... 7-25-16

This last week was a good one. We were just about to walk into a family home evening and received a call that I needed to go to some urgent registration. We were able to go into the family to say hi and have a really quick thought and then we had to leave in about 10 minutes. We didn't feel too good about the situation or the lesson and felt bad that it was so rushed and short, but felt that it was better than just cancelling. While trying to find the mailing place before the store closed the son came up behind us and said, "my mom felt like you needed my help and sent me." He is 17 and a stud. He helped us find the place before it closed. If we wouldn't have gotten there on time it would have taken a good 2 days out of our schedule to get it all figured out. We made the deal with him that we would contact 5 people and then bought him ice cream. It really increased our relationship with him and I knew that that was exactly what the family needed.

We are working in a smaller town called Borispil half of the week. But these photos are in Alexandrivkaya.

We were contacting there and we stopped a person on the street and started talking with him. The next thing we know a Provoslavny Priest came up and started yelling at us and saying that we don't believe in Christ and denouncing us right there on the sidewalk in front of a ton of people. This is a moment where I wish I could press "pause" and really think of something good to say or what to do. Without having a universal remote, I just opened my mouth and instantly it became an argument between him and I without even having those intentions.There is a line between defending what you believe and arguing. I realized what had happened and then stopped talking. He definitely "won" the word battle, but I really wanted that moment back. Hard situations to be in. Hard to know how to act/what to say.

We visited a couple that was baptized almost a year ago. They are the most grateful people that I have ever met and they live in the middle of nowhere and in an old aircraft storage unit. They are amazing people. The commute they make to church is enough of a sacrifice, and later in the day (Saturday night) they showed up to clean the Church and were nothing but smiles knowing that they would be back the next morning. When I first met the husband the first week, he slipped me a little candy and I didn't think anything about it. After we visited them, we walked off with half of their kitchen it seemed like. They just gave and gave and gave and we felt bad about taking it but couldn't refuse the line, "it's from Jesus, not us"! Great family. I seem to have those visits here and there that really put life back into perspective. They have the bare minimums and are the happiest people ever. 

Great time to be in Ukraine. One of the things that hit me this week was reading more about the Atonement. Jesus had no debt to the law of justice (he lived a sinless life), so he was able to pay the debt of all those that don't quite make it (all of mankind). I am grateful for the atonement and the ability to change. Change doesn't have to wait. The biggest thing that is necessary is the belief that others can access the atonement and change. D&C 45: 3-5

Have a great week! 
Elder Devashrayee

Monday, July 18, 2016

1 Year Down..... 7-18-16

This past week was my half way point. Still can't believe it! I have a lot to do and learn this next year and I know it will be over before I know it and before I want it to be.

Last week flew bye, but at the same time Monday seems like forever ago. Last P-day we went to the Catacombs in Odessa. It was awesome. 
I was able to say goodbye to Odessa and the Black Sea and it was a moment I won't forget. 
Two of the older natives did a "Come to Jesus" this last week where they preached and answered questions for anyone that wanted to come by. They handed out nearly 1,000 flyers the week before and just 1 lady came. We went down there (Illycheck, my first area) and were going to be on crowd control and to help talk to the extra people there. They didn't need that :(. It still was a great experience though. 

The next day I was able to do a baptismal interview, my last one for that area, for their investigator. The grandma that I met there in Illy was the one who found him and has been helping the missionaries teach him. Incredible Lady!

When I headed up to Kiev I forgot how much I hate packing/moving my luggage all around. That's all I am going to say about the trip!

The moment I got back into Kiev my head just went up and up... there are millions of apartments and tall buildings here with freeways and I was just not used to it. I got to my area and met my new companion, Elder Johnson. He has been on his mission about 8 months and is from the Island of Man (an island by Britain). He has a Brit-ish accent and I am currently now learning another language haha. He is awesome.

My area is the харковский ward. We are living in the apartment with the Assistants and sharing the area. We also work half time in Борисполь. It is an area about 40 minutes out of our area and there is a town there with a bunch of Members that have stopped making the trip in on Sunday for church. I am excited to work there and possibly open up the area again. We will have to see.

Fun facts of the week:
I was on a bus and a hedgehog just came and chilled by my feet....

I had KFC and Dominoes Pizza for the first time in Ukraine - jury still out on how good it was :)
My companion looks like Captain America, no really!
I have been fed by members more times this last week than in the last 9 months. The weight is coming on...
Found a man to teach and the next day before the appointment he said he was too drunk to come...
I played something called "Gatorball" for P-day today. I will have to explain it later.

Hope everyone has a great week!
Elder Devashrayee

Monday, July 11, 2016

Really Listen..... 7-11-16

Good last week in Odessa. Found out that it was also my last :( I have grown to love Odessa and I practically know the whole city inside and out now! I will be moving to a ward (area) in Kiev (харковский) and serving with Elder Johnson. I don't know a whole lot more, but will update you more next week. Change is necessary and good, but not always the easiest. 

We had a great 4th of July! We had a feast. I made pan apple bread, hamburgers without buns, and home made fries. The cake we bought. It was delicious!!! Happy 4th!!!

This week we had a lot of different opportunities from travelling around Odessa to find a store to pick up flyers for proselyting, talking to a man our Branch President had been talking to in the Hospital, and even a baptism! His name is Dima and he has been a "member" for about 15 years. He was baptized in Russia and has moved many times. In the process, his records were lost, so we were authorized to teach him and ultimately baptize him. It was a great experience, and not many members can say that they have been baptized twice in the Church. He went through the process and truly humbled himself and was a different man after the baptism. Great to see. A second chance to start new! 

We had an exchange with the Assistants this week and it was great to serve with them for a day. The biggest thing I learned was to listen. Instead of hearing them and formulating something to say, you should give them 100% of your attention, which will lead you to what needs to be said. They are great missionaries. I was with Elder Houston. He was in my district in the MTC. It was great to see him again and work with him.

Sometimes people see missionaries & missions and think of the trials and struggles as mostly being physical. I am here to tell you, for me, it is almost all mental. We did a book stand in the park and a lady came up to me and yelled/preached for a solid 30 minutes and there was nothing we could do to get her to stop. At one point I got her to stop and I felt the urge to go over the First Vision. I had maybe 45 seconds of silence from her as I recited the account and then she started back up. I felt completely content at that point. We are here to give people the opportunity to hear the truth and sometimes it works in different ways. This week I can say we had many interesting conversations with many interesting people... I wish I could remember them all to be honest, they would give you a laugh. 

Great week in Ukraine. Excited to see whats ahead in Kiev for me. It is about an hour from the temple, so not the same area I was in last time I was up there. 

A new and different experience awaits me.
Elder Devashrayee

Found the coolest hoop while out in the city area. Best one yet!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Daily Tests..... 7-4-16

This last week was great. For P-day last Monday we went to a ping-pong place and to celebrate the 4th we went and played some beach volleyball this morning. One of our favorite things to do on our P-day. We had some interesting things happen this week. 

On an exchange with Elder Roobitski (native) we met up with a missionary who served here 3 years ago and came back and was trying to find someone by the name of Vasili. 
 Me, returning missionary, E. Roobitski
Unfortunately, in Ukraine it is one of the 10 names that all males have. We weren't able to find the correct
one, but we another we thought was ready to teach a lesson to. Found out that he just wanted to show us the apartments he rents and figured since I was American  I could afford them, funny! Weird things happen on the mission, but I wasn't complaining. The view off the balcony was great. In the end we tried to invite him to tour the Church because he showed us his homes but it didn't quite work out. 

Cool view from the apartment he wanted us to rent

We have had a lot of outward success in receiving numbers on the street lately, but one of my favorite contacts was when we passed a boy and his friend and then I felt like I should say hi. I did and he was not interested at all, but offered us free peaches. Nicest anyone has ever been on the street. Made a goal to be like that kid. 

Parable of the McShake:  We went to McDonald's and got a shake as a treat. Walking out, the door swung back and hit my shoulder and the shake went flying. As everyone laughed at the stupid American I picked up the remains and went back in with 2 thoughts in my mind. a] They will not give a refund at all and that will be that. b] I will receive a full refund. Turns out, they ended filling up the shake half way and giving it to me. At first it was a surprise and it was almost funny, but then I was truly ungrateful. That split second I had the choice to see the cup half empty or half full and I was on the pessimistic side. They didn't owe me anything. It was ultimately my fault that it fell. What I felt was entitlement. God tests us in these small moments and sees if we will choose to be grateful of not. Next time, I hope to be grateful. Which happened to be the next day buying a yogurt and somehow dropping it. This week was not my week :(

Went up to Kiev this week and had a great meeting. We focused on asking good questions and I realized that I need to work on it. The next day, after we got back to Odessa we got a call from President saying that he was going to be with us for the day... In that moment, we realized that we fear Man more that God. President Packer is the nicest man on the earth, and we had no reason to worry, but our urgency, work ethic, and schedule should have not been put into question at all with that phone call. He didn't end up even making it, but we learned our lesson of always being ready and really working as if our Mission President was with us.

Had some great lessons this week, but my favorite part of the week was with Roma. We have been teaching him for about 5 weeks now and his eyes just keep getting brighter and brighter. The Atonement is real and repentance truly changes your outlook on the world and yourself. He gets up at 5 every morning to get ready to go to work. He has felt his life / attitude change to the point to where he said for the first time the other day, "I wake up and hear the birds chirp now." That sentence has stuck with me throughout the week. I can tell that he is genuinely happy and his countenance shows.

I hope that everyone has a great 4th of July! Shout-out to sloth (Justin) for his birthday on the 2nd!  He is 15!!! But I hear still shorter than me????

Hope all is well. Enjoy the fireworks. For some reason I don't think Ukraine celebrates... 

Elder Devashrayee

p.s. A very kind member gave us a liver to be able to cook up and eat. Needless to say I am very grateful that my cooking skills have improved. It ended up pretty good! Key, lots of potatoes and onions!