Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Season..... 12-26-16

This last week was amazing! Lots to talk about so it will be more of a list... First off

We had one of our dear Grandmas here fall and end up in the hospital for therapy on her leg so we were able to go there a number of times. She was in a room with other grandmas and it was amazing to be there and talk about the gospel and when we prayed the room went completely silent as we blessed the hospital and all that were in it. 

For some reason we have given a large number of blessings lately. We averaged a blessing a day last week. We got the idea to call a member and she said that she really needed a blessing. The word got out through that "secret association of grandmas" that talk on the phone in the branch that we can give blessings for anyone that is sick and we had a lot of blessings, haha. 

Elder Reese carried a cat in a pink backpack as we went with a member that was in despair over her cat being sick to the vet. It was a different experience, but a good one. She was very thankful. 

As missionaries we always ask, "How can we help you?" Someone decided to hold us up on that and asked if we could fix the hinges on her closet. We said, "of course." Well... you know. We tried. When she checked to see if it worked the door ripped off the hinges and she told us that she knows we will not be engineers when we go back home, and then offered us food before we started to try again. 

Heard an amazing conversion story of a family who had their daughter go to America for the last two years of High school. She was then converted, decided to go to college, and then eventually got married to a returned missionary. Her being only 15 at the time, she had to ask permission from her parents to get baptized, which then introduced her parents to the church. The mom joined within a year and the husband within 17 years.... it made me feel a little better and compare 3 or 6 months to several years and know that we are doing what we can and it will all work out in the end. 

Christmas Eve we were able to go to the temple. We went with Artur, the mini missionary that is usually with us, to pick up his call for his mission! He opened it up with us and others... He got called to Melbourne, Australia!
Great to see him now on a path to a mission and how the mission blesses us and our families. We then had a session in the temple which was amazing, then we were invited back to a members for dinner. We had a huge desire to contact and when we finally were able to get ourselves out of their house (near impossible while not being rude) we found some great people instantly, bought a little Christmas tree for 90 cents and headed on home. If only I could contact, interact with people like it was Christmas Eve, after just being in the temple, and having a feast everyday. That is the goal. 

Christmas! Woke up and opened some presents from my family and also the family of Elder Reese. Notice our nice little tree :)

We then immediately started peeling potatoes for the dinner that night. We were to bring them for the dinner later that night. There was a baptism of two little girls who just turned 8 in the ward right after Church. We wrote our testimonies and had the Bishop and others add theirs, and gave the little girls copies of the Book of Mormon. I sound like a Sister, but they were so cute all dressed up in their white dresses and it was great to see. My favorite part of baptism is actually not the baptism itself, but the giving of the Holy Ghost. When they received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, it felt like there was no roof over my head and heaven was looking down on us. It was a great feeling and this weekend has not lacked those type of feelings. 

One of my favorite things to do is bless the Sacrament for the grandmas and spend time with them on Sunday. But, I remember at home that was a great responsibility and I really wanted to get the Young Men involved here in doing in so they could do it on their own. For 3 months or so we have taken different young men with us and this last Sunday two of them went and did it on their own. It was great to see and I know it will bless their lives. 

I have tried really hard to "Find the lost sheep" in the ward and one of them involved a 20 year old named Daniel. His mom died this last year and he hadn't been to the ward for about 2 years. We have called and called him and nothing has worked. We called and invited him to the baptism and he came! The ward absolutely smothered him with attention, hugs, tears, and love. I was truly seeing the "prodigal son" unfold before my eyes. It was amazing how they reacted to him and helped him out. He was able to see my family while we skyped and we set up a lunch with him this next week. I would say that was a miracle. The ward kept saying, "Good job, Elders!" to us, but we honestly didn't do a thing. The Lord prepares the hearts of those that are willing to change, and I believe that Daniel had hit a point where he was ready to change. He even discussed a mission with us. Crazy stuff. 

Skype was also great. I was able to talk with my future sister-in-law, Cassie. It was great to see and meet her. Travis is a lucky guy. The family is great and it was nothing but pure happiness to be able to talk to them. A great boost. 

To end Christmas, we went to the house of our Ward Mission leader. He and his wife are my best friends and work in the temple. There was great food, and I was happy to spend my last Christmas here in Ukraine with them. 

Today, we were able to go to the house of an investigator and grill some chicken, make burritos, and even did s'mores. Great day. 
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and has a happy New Year! Be safe and look out for others! 

Elder Devashrayee

Yes I did look out the window for Santa and Rudolph on Christmas Eve with my buddy John...

Monday, December 19, 2016

Remember Everyone..... 12-19-16

Last week was great. 

We had a lot of people come from out of the wood works that are interested in the Gospel and knowing more so that is always great. It is amazing what this time of year will do.

We had a wonderful Christmas concert near the Temple and it was great to see everyone and be there. Remembering our Savior and being with people you love is always a good place to be. I truly love this temple, the people here and the spirit I have felt while being here. This place will always hold a special place in my heart!

We were able to stop by a lady in the ward that got lost due to missionaries not being in the area nearly a year ago. She thought that the ward completely forgot about her and was so grateful when we stopped by. Moments that like (Followed by her feeding us soup and cookies and tea ) make the days go bye so fast.  Try to remember everyone, let them know you miss them.

My companion was mistaken for a girl by a very old grandma on a bench this week (picture below) and I just went along with it and said that he was my girlfriend haha good times. He even took off his hat to show her he was a "boy", but she still wouldn't believe him. Below is Elder Reese, in the hat, and our Mini Missionary Arture.

My Companion also had his first Sharma this past week. What a proud moment for me to share such a special tradition with my "kid". It's amazing to think of all of the "kids" I have shared this tradition with, cool feeling!

This last week was one of the busiest and tiring week I have had in a very long time and it felt good, but don't have much to report about other than the work keeps moving forward. The days all blend together and I often forget all that has happened. Just know that we worked hard this week.

I hope you all have a great next week and have an amazing Christmas!! 

Shout out to Travis for getting engaged this weekend too! Crazy stuff!

Love Elder Devashrayee

Monday, December 12, 2016

"Willing"..... 12-12-16

This week a member of the Area Presidency stopped by the mission. He is the 2nd counselor and his name is Elder Katcher. I read an email from a missionary that had an Apostle come to their mission and it completely changed this missionary's outlook on life and the mission. I took that and thought that there is absolutely no reason we can't go into any meeting, reading of the Book of Mormon, church activity, or even a service opportunity without that mentality. I prepared mentally for the Conference, prayed for guidance in what I need to grow and do better in/with, and I received those very answers in the meeting. I have never had a bigger desire to become a better person/missionary and I want to keep this momentum to the end. There is always something more we can do. It completely takes out the "I" and allows us to be instruments in God's hands. 

Treat this next Sunday as if the Prophet were coming and talking at Sacrament Conference. Even if the Prophet came to talk and we weren't receptive to the Holy Ghost, we wouldn't walk away with any spiritual uplift. One of the biggest gifts we have is the Holy Ghost, and it can be with us on any lesson or at any time. Whether that be a sacrament meeting, Priest Quorum, Primary, or even Young Womens/Mens. "All the Lord requires is an open heart and willing mind." I think this last week, something clicked inside of me to a higher level of "willing". When we give those little things to the Lord, he compensates and gives back 100x. 

Had the opportunity this week to have a delicious meal prepared by this amazing women. I have grown to love the food here, especially when someone else makes it :)

This last week we met with our investigator that is struggling with drinking coffee. Since he does not yet have a testimony of Joseph Smith, the Word of Wisdom does not have significant meaning for him. We showed him the Prophet's recent talk on that subject, shared a lot of personal experiences, and the Spirit was one of the strongest as I have felt on a lesson. There was no way he couldn't feel it! The idea popped into my head to ask if he would like to receive a blessing to help him live the Word of Wisdom. He agreed and it was a great experience. He then told us that he had already agreed with a friend to grab some coffee after our lesson. We told him that God was testing him and wished him the best. 

Later that day, on our way to a different lesson, we somehow ran into him and his friend waiting in line at a "Coffee and Tea" shop. We said hello, talked for a bit and left. We didn't mention the coffee or anything. We wanted this to be his decision. The more we thought about what just happened these thoughts came to our heads:  To be in that very spot. To see him and his friend in line. For him to be there at that time. For us to have had that lesson in the morning of that very day. That fact that you can buy tea or coffee at nearly every store in Kiev but that they were right in our path. This was no coincidence! We saw the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 put to work right in front of our very eyes. The only problem was that the investigator didn't seem to quite grasp what had happened. He has been searching for a sign and God gave it right to him. We fasted with him this last week and we will see what happens. 

It has snowed here and is very cold! Here are a couple of my favorite shots from this week. 
A quote that I liked this last week. "Miracles don't build faith. Faith comes through prayer, fasting and the Holy Ghost." I agree that miracles strengthen faith, but I have run into too many people that have seen miracles, and have now lost the faith. 

I hope you all have a great week and help others see the miracles in their own lives. 

Elder Devashrayee

We were able to go bowling again for Pday... fun times with them all.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Don't Do It Again.... 12-5-16

Great last week. 

Highlights of the week: 

1. I was a father this last week. We had a (mini-missionary) with us for a week. He is a member from the ward and turned in his mission papers and started to live with us for a week. I feel like I understand my parents 10x better now ;). At one moment a phone was taken away, we had a talk about trust, and I was having trouble balancing the amount of attention I was giving to him, my (son) and ultimately my companion (wife). They both needed attention and they both speak in two different languages at the moment. On one of the times where a phone was taken away for the third time he asked, "How can I gain your trust?" The answer was simple. Just don't do it again. He could have washed all the dishes, he could have made me dinner, shined my shoes, etc. But the main thing that was needed was trust. Then I thought about our Heavenly Father and how many times I have told him, "I'm sorry, it won't happen again," and how many times he has forgiven me. Or even my parents. It was an eye opener to a lot of things. This week at times was a bit stressful with 2 people to take care of, but I feel like I really grew a lot and learned tons. If you are struggling to earn the trust of someone, God, or even with yourself... just "Don't do it again." 

2. We have been visiting a grandma for a while now that has recently lost a some loved ones. We were able to go over with our bishop this last week and it was amazing. The difference it made, and the gratefulness that we and the grandma had for the bishop to be there was all worth it. He magnified his calling, sacrificed his time, and made someone's day. Try the same this week! 

I hope you all are following the 25 days Calendar, here is the link!
Even if you can't do it every day do something each day that helps you focus on Christ. 

Hope your holiday season is changing and you are growing,
Elder Devashrayee

P.S. Congrats to my cousin Oliver on getting baptized. That is an amazing choice you made and will always be grateful for it.