Monday, January 30, 2017

Become Even Better.... 1-30-17

This last week was a great one, like so many others :)

For 3 days we had a mini MTC training where all of the missionaries that have arrived in the last 4 transfers went with their companions. Elder Reese fell in that category so we were able to go the temple site and receive instruction from President and Sister Packer. Here are some ideas / thoughts / quotes that I wrote down from that meeting: 

"Give all to the Lord as Quickly as possible!" -Sister Packer

"We cannot make people happier that we are, just as we cannot convert people beyond our own conversion." - Elder Kovalov

"We don't need to be afraid to invite people to exercise some faith. Give the Lord a reason to bless them and see what he does when they act." -President Packer

"We should not be so busy to get to the "work" that we pass all that "work" that was waiting for us and should have been done along the way" - President Packer

"Magnifying a calling does not mean that we expand our responsibilities, it is focusing on what we were called to do." -President Packer

"If you are active in the Gospel, being active in the Church is not even a question." -President Packer 

"Don't forget to put salt in the cheesecake" -President Packer haha 

Our calls are based on a certain time and geographical location. We are here to help people make something that is eternal. 

"On a mission, the only distraction is your own mind." -President Packer

"This work could happen without any of us, but the Lord allows us to be a part of it." Sister Packer
I am in the back corner working with a member. It was a great training by two great leaders!

Lots of great things happened this week. We were able to help a grandma clean her kitchen, did a book table with the district, and Elder Reese is a changed man. He was and is amazing, but this last week I really saw him come out of his shell and one of the assistants mentioned to me that he heard him say, "I have really come to love contacting." He has big things ahead of him and I love being a part of this process. 

I realized that I have gone throughout my whole mission without having received a blessing. I have set a number of goals and I am really stretching myself to the fullest extent to finish my mission strong. I asked Elder Reese to give me a blessing and it was exactly what I needed to know what and how I can leave it all in the mission field. 

This last week was great. There is a missionary that is going home that I have looked up to my whole mission. He is one of the greats and deserves to have a book written about him. He bore his testimony and said, "Only 2 or 3 months ago could I really say that as I looked at someone on the escalator that I truly loved them and saw them as a child of God." There is always more we can strive towards. We will never reach a point where we cannot become better. 

I hope that everyone has a great week! 

Love Elder Devashrayee

Here are a couple of photos from this past week.  Enjoy.
 Really :)
 Thank you notes/messages from my home ward - Thank you all!!! 
 Can't believe you still remember me ;)  See you all later this summer...
KFC Time with the guys!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Let It All Out..... 1-23-17

This last week: 

Last Sunday we had the idea of getting the Birthday list from the ward so that we could call people on their birthdays (thanks to my Bishop at home, who does this). Elder Reese noticed that it was going to be the birthday of one of the oldest grandmas in the ward, and we go by her house every other week or so to bless the sacrament. We told her we were coming over but made sure she didn't expect anything. We bought a cake and put a big ol' candle in the middle. We made it up the stairs and into her house. Her face was the best part and she was very grateful. Only a few family members and members of the ward had remembered that it was her birthday. However, we were the only ones to stop bye. She turned 87 and is the greatest. We had her give us some grandma advice and it was a great experience. 

We had a lesson with a less-active that loves to talk. His job includes him sitting all by himself all day and occasionally locking and unlocking the doors to the apartment complex. He came to the lesson and usually if I just sit back and let him get it all out for about 20 minutes, he sits back and realizes that he just talked a lot and the lesson usually goes a lot smoother after that. This time, I was on an exchange and he saw the new missionary..... so he then went on to tell his 1 and a half hour long conversion story that is very emotional for him. During the lesson my original thoughts were: "How can a person possibly talk this long without stopping?" I then realized that we were probably the last people he talked to 2 weeks ago. I then realized that this was the best thing for him, to bear his testimony of his conversion. I then realized that as missionaries, we are sometimes just called to listen. Give someone a chance to just let it all out this next week! 

Back to the Grandma who called a professional to fix her cupboard because we messed up. She had me replace her light bulb during the week and said, "Because I know you can at least do this." It is good to see her joking around again. I would take it any day to sadness. I can change a light bulb :)

Well, we had a lesson where we tried to set a baptismal date in March, she then changed it to February, in a week and half, and then to the 21st of January. All in all, it didn't work out, but it just made me think of how simple it really all is. She is ready because she has repented, and has a firm testimony in the Book of Mormon. She has been coming for 2 years, and all of sudden she just decided that she was ready, and now she has kind of disappeared because of setting the date she did, missionary life. We will find her!

On the 19th of January here in Ukraine. Priests bless all of the water and people line up for days outside the churches to fill up holy water. Water from the tap, from the shower, and in all of the river and lakes is holy on that day. We decided to make holy borsch - it was good ;)  

In honor of this holy water day I have heard about how people cut a big cross in the ice and get baptized since I started my mission here, so we went to go check it out. People would walk in 3 times and submerge themselves. All people believe that it helps with health and that people do not get sick the rest of the year if they do this. A family showed up and their kids did it and one cried on the way out, wrapped up in a towel they said, "I will never do this again!"  It was an interesting thing to see.

An update from the family in our apartment. This time around, the son brought his girlfriend and they only had fruit and mint tea out! We are in the "Friend Zone" as we call it in high school, and are trying to get out and progress them along. Amazing family though. Wish us luck. 

The Stake President here was just called to the St. Petersburg mission and a couple of the 70 were at our stake conference. The three main points were: 1- Serving in secret, 2- the way the Lord chooses his leaders, and 3- becoming self-reliant.  It was a great conference!

On the way out of the meeting someone asked us to walk an older man to the metro with us. We did not have the time, but walked with him anyway. It took an hour to get there in what could have taken us 10-15 minutes. I recently read that we must treat every person in the church as if they were a recent convert. Every person! On the way, I realized that he was a recent convert from an area I served in last year and that one of my companions (Elder Linden Young) had baptized him. How would I have looked differently at the situation knowing that before hand? He shared his story with us. He was a walk-in that just wanted to know why the temple seemed to drag him in, and that was how he was led to the church. Amazing! I was blessed in the end for taking the time to walk with him.

Hope you all have a great week! I saw mummies today for our P-Day... photos to come!

Elder Devashrayee

p.s. Blessing the sacrament for Ukrainian Grandmas = FOOD! 3 meals in a row. It was the hardest trial I have had here on the mission to eat the last one, haha!  So much food!!


Monday, January 16, 2017

Surprises in Heaven.... 1-16-17

Another week, new experiences. 

To catch up from the last week's brownie delivery to all of those in our building. The 14th here was Old New Year so we used that as another excuse to stop by a nice couple that opened before. This time the husband was not there but the son was! They are great and invited us in for tea which was an instant conversation starter on how we couldn't drink most of what they had. They pulled out a table and set it with treats and it was a great experience to just be welcomed into a home so nicely without warning. Everything went perfectly and hopefully we can help this family. 

Last Sunday night, a family had us deliver a present to a member in the ward that is kinda "crazy and rude". They wanted it to be a secret so they had us deliver it and we promised not to say from whom it was from. We saw this man again this last Sunday and he was the happiest person ever. He said, "It is proof that God loves all of his children." I think one of the greatest things could be in heaven when people figure out that someone did something for them or realize who it was that helped them. Make it a goal this week to create some of those surprises in heaven. 

Some of the best days as a missionary are those where we cannot plan anything no matter how hard we try and no matter how many people we call. We chose a park and started out with a prayer when we got there. We prayed to give out a Book of Mormon and find someone that would read it and then desire to be baptized. We ended up running into 2 people that night that were receptive and took information and even the Book of Mormon. I was on cloud 9. It was amazing.... and now they won't answer their phones. I was convinced we had just found 2 golden investigators. The highs and the lows. Most important thing to realize is that God works on his own time table and we must always stay grateful. Maybe in a week we will meet with them, maybe future missionaries will meet with them, and maybe their grandchildren will have interest... all that is important is that we do what we can and leave it up to God. 

I just had the opportunity to email the Mini Missionary that went to Odessa (Artur) and I feel like his Dad replying to his email to me. I got a little emotional reading about what is happening with him and then I had to slap myself out of it. A big shout out to all of the parents that have missionaries. 

I feel like I hit a point with Russian that I can really be myself with my speech and my personality doesn't need to change to a robot when I talk with people. It is great. Long ways away from fluent (whatever defines that) but I am grateful to be here and the Russian language is awesome. 

We had a lesson with an Atheist who said 5 months ago, "I will never set foot in this Church again." Well... he did. We had a great lesson with him. He asked why we called him again, and we said, "we believe in change and we believe in the Atonement." He left on great terms and hopefully we will keep working with him. 

We were able to go and see the Ukrainian "Statue of Liberty" today for P-day. It is pretty amazing. I will send some pictures of our adventure.

Have a great week! 

Elder Devashrayee

From our P-day adventure today....

Monday, January 9, 2017

Irreplaceable..... 1-9-17

This last week was great. 

This week we had our Second Christmas. Making that my 4th Christmas on the mission! That right there is evidence of the blessings that come from serving a mission. To celebrate, we baked a whole lot of brownies and tried to give them out to everyone in our building. There is 14 floors with around 6 apartments on each of the floor and we only had time to go to 8 of the floors but we had 8 doors that opened and it was great. One of them was an extremely drunk family and we found ourselves seated down at a table with people drinking and us being offered shot glasses while someone talked about how worshiping the sun, and Nazism is related haha. Another showed us his skinned wolf rug and offered us deer meat that he killed recently. On the other hand, we had an amazing family open up and we are really excited about working with them. 

We had a ward party this last week and my companion played the piano. It was a good for him to see the happiness him sharing his talents brought to the members. 

We went over to a less-active during the week and he invited us over for Christmas. That night, his mom (not a member) chewed him out for being 50-50 and not just fully doing what members should haha it was hilarious and even he had a good laugh. They prepared amazing food and Wow. 


That was the dinner table and then the amazing layered cake she made!
We are eating amazing food here. On Sunday, he came for the first time in a year! Good to see him there. 

We had a lesson with another less-active and it was about tithing. She said, "I have gotten the hint" and told us that she just couldn't pay at the moment. We bore our testimonies of the blessing of tithing and then said the closing prayer. At the end of the prayer she asked how to pay and we got out an envelope and helped her out.

.... Last month we payed the largest fast offering I have paid on the mission x 4. The next week, I lost my wallet. I keep little amounts of cash in my wallet and nothing of vital importance but all the same it was a bummer that I lost it. Tonight, we went to a family's home for dinner and returned the tupper-wear that they gave to us last time. After the meal they just refilled the containers and I am beginning to believe that we could survive in this ward without buying groceries. This ward is great. Paying our Fast-Offerings work!  

Artur will be going to Odessa for a mini mission before he heads to Australia and I am excited for him and jealous at the same time because of how much I love Odessa. 

The whole mission is putting more and more things aside and really trying to give the Lord everything. I feel like with every transfer there is more and more you realize that you can give and now I have around a 1/4 left and I am really working hard not to coast to the end. The more I sacrifice, the more the Lord gives. These times are irreplaceable and I love em'. 
Have a great week everyone.

Elder Devashrayee

Monday, January 2, 2017

21 Days..... 1-2-17

This last week was great!   I will start off in saying Happy New Years and good luck to everyone in the year of 2017! 

A list of interesting things that happened this last week: 

Got to "enlist" in the army here ;)  Just kidding mom! But was able to try on some pretty cool gear and yes, that gun is real. 
Notice my Armour protecting my heart - the Book of Mormon & our Black Book! 

A cat died at the end of a lesson that we had at a family's home that we have been trying to reach for a long time. They recently had a baby (8 months now) and haven't come back to church since then because they are scared that the baby will get sick. We blessed the home with health at the end of the discussion and then the cat died... the husband got all philosophical about what happened and we just got out of there quickly. 

This week Artur took out his endowments in the temple and I was able to be his escort! It was great to be there with him.  Here is the Demchenko Family - Artur is between me and Elder Reese.
We then took him out to eat after and it was a great time. We went to Puzata Hata - great meal!

We were able to make brownies with Daniel and invited a lot of the youth to come for Sloppy Joes also.  He is starting to come around more. It is good to see. Our Sloppy Joes were very plain tasting, to me, but all of the others loved it. As I told my family over skype, everything here is very mild and bland. Last time we "spiced" something up they couldn't eat it.

For New Years we made a huge pan of cheese fries (see the photos below) and I woke up to fireworks at night! Gave the new year a long and loud howl and went back to sleep.. 

The Bishopric made bags for about 25 of the members filled with products and we were able to help hand those out the members in need.  It was great to be in the service of the bishop here.

A member shared a story named 21- eggs that happened on his mission. Every morning he and his companion started the day together kneeling and praying to find a "golden" investigator. Every morning they would cross off the days on their 21 day calendar. They had high expectations, worked hard, set a goal that was visible and attainable, and ended up baptizing a family of 4 out of this act of faith. Within those 21 days a miracle occurred because they invited and allowed the Lord to help in his own work. I hope that we can all make goals this next year (or even over the next 3 weeks) and show the Lord we are ready to serve. 

This is a quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf that I really enjoyed this last week. 
"I have confidence that we will not only be satisfied with the judgment of God;we will also be astonished and overwhelmed by His infinite grace, mercy, 
generosity, and love for us, His children." 

This last week I really enjoyed reading the General Conference talks. I would like to add my testimony that they can truly be treated as scripture for our day and we can find answers to our prayers reading them. I would like to invite you all to read a talk and really study and apply it this week. 

Tons of amazing little things this last week and not even half of them were mentioned. By small and simple things the work is moving along and I am on the hunt to save the "one". 

Elder Devashrayee

My New Year's Eve party food :)

1/3 bbq sauce, onions, chicken & corn 
1/3 just cheese and chicken
1/3 salsa and chicken

Ukrainian version of Nachos.  Potatoes are the base for almost everything here :)