Monday, February 27, 2017

Harmony...... 2-27-17

Solid week;)

We had a lot of lessons taught to investigators and it was great. The big one that we were excited for was with the person we set a baptismal date with last week. He ended up showing up to the lesson in a suit, told us that Joseph Smith must have been pre-ordained by God as a Prophet before his life on Earth, and that he realized he should have prayed before and after his reading of the Book of Mormon in order to understand it better. When asked to pray he said, "If I want to learn how to swim, I just need to jump in," and said an amazing prayer. He is awesome and we are hoping that he continues at the rate he is at. All of our investigators are currently reading the Book of Mormon. That is about all that we can do other than guide them and answer questions at this point. 

This past week, Elder Durtschi and I only ate buckwheat. We bought a lot of Monday and stuck through with it through the week. We ate it with onions, eggs, meat, soup, put it in pancake batter, made omelets out of it, diced up apples and put in syrup, milk and honey, crushed up crackers... you name it we did it. Time to start eating unhealthy again :).  Went out to eat and enjoyed the "non Buckwheat" meal.

This week a member invited us to come over for lunch. We had a great meal as she calls it "The physical feast" and then we return the favor with a "Spiritual Feast", and we ended up having a really great lesson.  As sad as it is, we say so many prayers I sometimes get a rut in what I say. During the prayer I said, "Please bless her with...." and then the words "comfort and peace" came to my mind and it was definitely not what I usually say but I went for it and didn't think much more of it. After the prayer I was surprised to see her on the verge of tears and fervently thanking us. She was going to ask for a blessing of comfort and peace earlier that day. She was feeling that Satan was really trying to rattle her. She had been in the temple the day before, knew the missionaries were coming over, and for some reason that morning she had not felt at ease. She went on to say that everyone needs spiritual help. Not just investigators or less actives in the church. That helped me realize that even when we go over to "Strong Members" we have a message that can help them and strengthen them. You never know what someone is going through, but the Holy Ghost does if you invite it. 

My trainer (Elder Gorba - now I called him Dima Gorba because that is his first name, which was strange), called me this last week. He is from Ukraine and has been home for about 4 months. His main message to me was to make sure I was enjoying every second of my mission and that I was happy. He said that life gets busier, you get more tired, and you don't have as much time to read and study the Gospel. Grateful for his call and looking out for me. 

We tried to stop by a house of an unknown member to us, by wishing her a happy birthday. The grandma that watched the building and monitored who was coming in and out at all times was not having it and escorted us herself to the floor to knock. She did so fearlessly and pounded on the door and rang the doorbell, I kid you not about 30 times. It was hilarious. She knew everyone by name, their work schedule, and who they were. She adored this older member and how she always lived by her principles.  I guess when little kids came home from school they came in and gave her hugs and told her about their day while they waited for the elevator. This grandma had a person that came in, contact this lady's kids on her phone and hand it us to make sure this member got her "Happy Birthday call"! We knew this grandma that watched the building (We call them Bob-guards) needed a Book of Mormon. We had grown a relationship of trust and when giving her the Book of Mormon she said, "What an open and sincere feeling I get when looking at your faces." This bob-guard is an All-star and we can't wait to follow up on her. If we are doing the right thing, then the people will recognize us as representatives of the Lord. 

One person we met was saying that he was worried about how he stood before God at this given moment. We talked about happiness and I asked, "How do you believe we can help you gain this happiness you are looking for?" He then said, "It's not the happiness I'm looking for.. it's the harmony." It was such a deep answer, but so funny to me at the same time that I had to really sit back and focus and just make sure I wrote it down. But on a serious note, he had no stability in life and was looking for it and came to us to find it. Shows great desire. 

Hope that everyone has a great week.  Shout out to my Grandma - Happy Birthday, as well as my cousin Emily.  Also congrats to my cousin for becoming a deacon. Everyone is growing up back home. Not sure I will recognize anyone ;)

Elder Devashrayee

Here are a couple of photos from the past week..... enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2017

We Need an End Goal.... 2-20-2017

First off, credit needs to be given to our wonderful Senior Missionary couple - the Mikkelsen's!       I made and brought some brownies to an activity a week or so ago. This last week we had a number of members call us over and asked us to show them how to cook Sister Mikkelsen's brownies. We were able to have them invite less-actives over also and had an amazing time with some great members. Who knew one recipe could do so much good for the country of Ukraine. Thanks to Sister Mikkelsen and her incredible brownies!
This was at one of the members houses this past week.

Last Monday evening at the home of the bishop his wife was talking about Gratitude. What I really enjoyed and stuck with me was when she said, "When we fast, we: ask for things we need, we have a list of blessings that we would like, we ask for miracles and etc.. All of that is amazing and the Lord expects that from us. But, every so often we can have a fast of gratefulness. If life is going amazing, if we randomly received something out of nowhere, or even if life is not going so well at the moment."  I had never thought of that. Ever. That is a higher level of thinking that I am grateful to my mission for. I challenge you all to think about what you are grateful for and before this next General Conference set aside some time for prayer and fasting.  

This last week was great. I have never seen so many little miracles packed into one week. We have been working extremely hard and handing out a lot of material and even at times contacting whole trolleybuses. That can make the work seem "robotic" but I have been focusing to try to make the work "Love inspired" and it turns to the idea of contacting into a whole different objective. The work is going great. Our motto for this transfer is "Don't sink!" In reading the story of Peter walking out on the water to Jesus, that is how we envision us walking out the door everyday in contacting and keeping our faith high. We have studies in the morning and head out in hope to find someone that is ready. If we lose our faith, then we might as well not be outside.

We set a goal last week that we have prayed for and are working forward to in having a baptism on March 18th. We also have a goal to give away at least one Book of Mormon everyday. Somehow, everyday we found someone ready to receive one. Not just allow us to give them a Book of Mormon, but they want to take it. We have found tons of new investigators and potential investigators this last week. Some days we gave away just one and others we were able to give away 3! 

We were on the way home this last week and it was a little past 9 (when we should be in) because of transport, but we hadn't yet given away a Book of Mormon. In my head I said, "we can stay out another 5 minutes" and just at that moment Elder Durtschi pulled out the Book of Mormon from his bag and we were on the same track. We then saw a grandpa standing near the bus stop and headed towards him. He was more than willing to take a Book of Mormon and gladly gave us his information. He had work, but said that he would be able to come on Sunday. He came and stayed all 3 hours and we had a great lesson with him about the Plan of Salvation. We extended the baptismal commitment and he agreed to March 18th! All signs denote that he is "Golden" as they say, and it got even better when he talked about how his son was also interested and wanted to share the message with him too. 

To rewind a bit to sacrament meeting, I was sitting between 2 investigators. Life doesn't get any better than that as a missionary. I can promise you that! Then life took a turn for the worst as the talks in Sacrament meeting were by temple workers and the word "Endowment" was said at least 50 times and temple terms were only used. At least that's how I thought about it at first. We aren't only here to baptize people, but to get them to the temple. It was a great opportunity for them to know that there is something more to strive forward for. After sacrament meeting, one of the investigators left and the other stayed and that is where a the role of the temple was introduced in the Plan of Salvation and the Sealing of Families. We had a member on the lesson who would only speak in Ukrainian, but did an amazing just about testifying of the family. 

This week for Valentine's Day we had a Buckwheat Night for English! We made a huge pot of buckwheat and spiced it up with some onions, salami, eggs, and of course chili ketchup and it was a great time. We made poems out of the prompt "Roses are red, violets are blue...." about buckwheat "гречка" and then told everyone tons of cheesy pick-up lines that are used in america.

After Church on Sunday, the Bishop asked us to go with a man to buy him some food from the grocery store. At first, I thought about taking off my badge before walking into the food market. I couldn't be doing this on a Sunday in front of people that we are trying to convince that we are of Jesus Christ. But, at it is said, "The ox is in the mire" and that includes helping a member in need. That was exactly what Jesus Christ went through when he was on the Earth. People were Pharisaical and he established and left the higher law. He changed the "norm" and was judged and criticized at every chance. I felt a little more judged than usual in that store on Sunday, but I felt the strength of doing the right and turned from being ashamed of having His name on my chest, to knowing that is why we were there. This man had no food. We visited him earlier in the week and decided to bring a huge bag of crackers not knowing he was without food. He had been living off of those crackers for 3 days. 

A quote I heard from this week: "If we live day to day with no end goal, then we wake up and let the day's events rule us. If we have a precise and end goal in mind, then we constantly strive to that point and the day's events become less and less influential in knocking us off our course." 

We, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, have a very precise and amazing end goal. We know that by using the Atonement of Jesus Christ every day in our lives, we can one day become like our Father in Heaven. Never lose sight of this goal and the things that pop up to knock us off our path will all of a sudden not seem so important. 

D&C 30:1-2 These verses stuck out to me this week. This can be applied to any calling. A check-list to see how we stand before the Lord in what has been entrusted to us. 

I hope that everyone has a great week! 

Love Elder Devashrayee

Monday, February 13, 2017

Love Inspired Disappointment.... 2-13-17

Another great week. Sorry for no photos though... they will come next week. Not a lot of time today.

My new companion is Elder Durtschi. He was originally called to Russia, but served in LA for a couple of transfers while waiting for his visa. He is from Idaho Falls, Idaho and is in his 3rd transfer here in Ukraine. He is awesome and I am excited for this transfer. 

For an update on the person we found tracting last week. We called her and she had a big headache. So we told her that we could come by and give a blessing of health. She agreed but said that tomorrow would work best. We then set up a meeting for the afternoon. The next morning I had the prompting that we needed to fast before we gave the blessing. So we started fasting and headed over there later in the day. On the way there I was more excited than I have been for a lesson in a long time. We get to her door and hear people inside. Ring the doorbell and everything went silent. Rang it again and no answer. We call her on her phone and we hear her answer from inside the apartment. She said that she had been taken by ambulance for her headache and that she was in the hospital and would be there at least for the next 10 days.... this is all going on while I hear her talking on the phone right outside her door. I was pretty bummed. But we all have our free agency and we need to respect that.

That day we had 5 lessons planned and all 5 fell through, we had the cops called on us by people in an apartment building while we were waiting there for a member family that didn't show up, and for some reason I was certain that we needed to fast that morning.

I was really wondering why we fasted. I really wanted an answer. I made the goal to really pay attention hard in Church on Sunday and I would find out why. Not only was the fast a test to see how I would react, but also the fast was checking who the fast was really for. Not so that I could say I fasted on the weekly email and a lady got baptized after she received a blessing, but purely to do the work of the Lord in this part of the mission and keep going even when we have done all that we can and for the right reason. Nothing is more important than caring for what the Lord has given you. Went over Jacob 5 again this week and it was a great reminder to what I am called to do. 

I have had an odd desire to really be disappointed in doing the work, because that would mean that I was putting my whole heart into it. Not a disappointment without hope or a depressing disappointment, but one that was really love inspired. This last week we had some things fall through that really disappointed me and I think it was a great answer to me that I am putting my whole heart into the work. 

We went over to a less-actives and every time I ask how his reading of the Book of Mormon is going. This time, he didn't have to go get his Book out of the closet, but it was on the table along with a Liahona opened. He told me about his favorite story in the Liahona and then where he was currently reading in the Book of Mormon. Next, he offered us tea and had a lot in stock that was not black or green, which is good. I couldn't tell if he was just putting on a front because we were coming, or if he really was changing. When he said the prayer, I knew that this person was now feeling the love of God again in his life. He commented that he has started to feel the Holy Ghost more and more. 

We have taken a step back, and now with everyone we just go over and read from the Book of Mormon. No little spiritual messages, but really help them start receiving guidance themselves.

Hope that everyone has a great week!

Elder Devashrayee  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Daylight & Dark of Night..... 2-6-17

This last week was great. Really felt led and that makes you feel good at the end of the day. 

First off, I will be staying in Voskresensky for another transfer but I will receive a missionary that is going to be in his 3rd transfer. Elder Reese is going to Nikolaiev, which is near Odessa. Loved my time with Elder Reese! We had a great District!

There is a less-active that is bedridden. He can't really do much and sometimes that leads to smoking... I have gone over to his apartment almost weekly for 6 months and finally I just really sat down and gave it some deep thought on how to help him. I then remembered a member from Center Odessa that has a leg problem and more or less is home all the time. I then remembered that he has done nearly 80,000 names for Family History work. We set up a call between them on skype and it was great. Our member really got interested and hopefully that is how he can do the work and also get a great hobby. We found out on the call that the other member in Odessa is now up to 104,000 names... crazy. 

Our Bishop had his 50th Birthday celebration and we were invited. It seems that every thing I "miss" back home is always made up here! (I missed my dad's 50th birthday last fall) It was fun to be at and a bummer because we had to leave before it finished to get home on time, but in all reality we were probably invited for set-up and clean up crew ;) fun time though. 
50th Birthday Party - I arranged those cups!

             Pizza & Sardine Sandwiches...

Hard to explain, but I was again really just thinking about where we could tract to find a family / person. In my head we were riding the 28 tramvai and I saw a couple of buildings out of the window to the left. The next day we stopped by that very place and magically we got in. Usually there is the first outer door that is locked, then a person that guards the building, and then separately locked doors on each level of the building. This building we got in when a couple of people came out, there was no person to stop us, the elevator was already open for us, and on each floor the outer door was also unlocked. 14 floors and 7 doors on each floor and we started from the top. On the 12th floor I could honestly say that I felt the love for the people behind the doors and knew we were in the right place and then on the 11th a woman opened and started to bawl. Her husband had recently passed away and she had the feeling that God had left her. We were able to give her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and then went back 3 days later and she had read it a number of times and asked for more so we then gave her a Book of Mormon and now have her contact. Hope that all goes well! From the Building we were able to give out 3 Books of Mormon and that was a pretty good ratio for the number of doors there. 

We had a night that had absolutely no plan and we started thinking what we could do to use our time wisely. The idea came to our heads that there was seminary. We have been trying to connect with a couple of the Priest aged young men in the ward and we set up a ping-pong night with refreshments after Seminary. It all went great and while being there we had a walk-in that we were able to teach. The activity went great and us sitting in on Seminary helped the teacher too. 

We had a less-active open up to us this last week. I always mix up the names Sergei and Andrei and we wanted to meet with a Sergei but accidentally got in touch with the Andrei but it was for the better, luckily. He hasn't been to Church for 7 years, has a 4 year old kid and wife that left him about a year ago and he has zero direction in his life at this point. We pointed him to the temple and we are now starting to emphasize that with everyone we meet that isn't endowed/doesn't attend. That is the ultimate goal and all steps lead to it. 

I sat back and observed an instance on a trolleybus this last week: 2 men got on that seemed to know each other. One was obviously an overall happy person and you could see in his countenance/eyes that he was such. The other seemed really like he had years of hardship that had taken their toll on him and not happy at all. It was also visible in his eyes. Guess who payed for the bus ride and who didn't? Guess who said, "Hi" to the ticket lady and guess who acted like he was going to pay but put the money back in his pocket when she didn't notice him. The difference was obvious. It is a promise that as we on a consistent basis make right decisions, the Holy Ghost will be with us and we will have a light about us. Choices will be as clear as "daylight and the dark of night."  I had no right to judge those two men on the bus, but I saw the difference. 

(Moroni 7) 15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
 16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
I hope that you all have a great week!

Elder Devashrayee

We had an awesome District! Here are a couple of great photos...
Yes, I am in focus because I know how to jump and hold "still" :)

Can you guess what I am doing here???