Monday, March 27, 2017

Time Well Spent..... 3-27-17

Great last week. We had a few things that were really interesting. 

First, we had set up a special sacrament meeting in the ward for the 26th of March a couple of months ago. We have been getting names that members came up with whom they could share the gospel for the past 8 months. We had prayed for those names every night (around 70) for about 6 months, and then revised it to a group of about 15 that really had potential once we got with the Bishopric and decided on a date for the special sacrament meeting. It was announced over the pulpit every Sunday and in quorums. Special talks and speakers were assigned. Musical number was planned. The young men were out holding the doors open. The ward got there a little earlier than usual and everyone was really on the top of their game. The time came and church started. The only notable new people that came were: the family that we are working with, a spouse of a member that baptized back in '93, a member couple that hasn't been sealed yet and the Bishop picked up a grandma that we have been working with who who can't walk too well who also brought her friend. The result wasn't anything huge to be noted number- wise. However, the eternal significance it had and will have for them that came will be monumental. If the only outcome is sealing a marriage together for eternity, a testimony booster for a member, or even having the members really thriving to get the people that didn't come to the next event then every ounce of effort was worth it. I really felt a deep sense of gratitude for the those that did come when the first hymn started and the meeting had a great spirit to it. 

Secondly, a member came to our minds and we decided to meet with him on Thursday. He is a great man and was one of the first members of the Church in Ukraine and we had complete faith in him that he could give a Book of Mormon away before Sunday. We got together and discussed the importance of it and then prayed with and for him. Saturday night at 9pm he was able to give it away and came to church on Sunday ecstatic. Great spiritual strength comes when we put all of our faith in the Lord and let others show their faith in Him as well. 

There is a family of refugees that came from Eastern Ukraine. They asked who we could go visit together. We brought them to one of our friends who can't sit or walk and it was great to see them interact and talk with him. This family is made up of a Mom, daughter (13) and son (9). The boy really wanted to play soccer, so we set aside some time to play with him and it was a blast. He has no father-figures, brothers, or friends in this area and it was time well spent. Times he won't forget. 

I heard an interesting phrase this week. "Those who don't want to become Gods submit themselves to the devil." It sounds a little more upfront in English, but I really enjoyed it. Choose God's side and actively fight for Him.

Hope you all have a great week and enjoy Conference!! 

Love, Elder Devashrayee

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ping-Pong Works Miracles.....3-20-17

The ward I am in is amazing and I found out I will be staying another transfer with Elder Durtschi here. That will make it 9 months! I am practically a member now :)

We had a great week involving going to the temple and doing baptisms for the dead with Elder Durtschi's new convert Leo for his parents! It was a great experience and this week we really focused a lot of people on temple work. We have a lot of people pointed in that direction at the moment including sealing a family, doing work for passed away family members, and getting people inside for the first time. The best part for me was seeing a less-active from Center Odessa that we found and worked with doing ordinations in the temple! When we met with him, he was having trouble drinking alcohol to try to send away the pain that he has had in his leg for 40 years. He would scream out in lessons due to the pain and would hit his head on the wall, which drove him to drink. About a year later, he is in the temple with us doing temple work. I saw a couple of other members. One of which, we worked with his mom and she ended up getting baptized and he was telling me all about it! Shows that we never really know the impact of our service in the short run. 

We join the Youth every other week for Seminary and bring treats and pull out the ping-pong table for a bit. We have more youth in this ward than in all of the other areas that I served in and also have some non-member youth that come to Seminary. It was out over night and we had a lesson with a less-active there the next day. His face lit up when he saw it and we told him after the lesson we could play for a bit. The lesson was about doing Baptisms for the dead for his relatives. He loved it and came Sunday with information about his father. Ping pong works miracles. 

We committed a family of 3 to baptism this last week. The father is from Iran and is a refugee from the 90's. His wife is from Ukraine and is (was) Eastern Orthodox. They have a kid that is 15 and is an example to most of the Young men on how to behave yourself at church :).  They are a great family. The only thing holding them back is being legally married. We also had a family come to church this week that we didn't even know! Lots of great things are happening here! 

Really looking forward to this next transfer. A lot has been set up and I can't wait to see what happens. Hope you all have a great week! If you missed it, Give my momma a call for her birthday on St. Patrick's day last week!! 

Love Elder Devashrayee

Here we are celebrating St Patty's Day 

Some fun time during our Pday

Monday, March 13, 2017

Burden to Blessing..... 3-13-17

This week flew by just like the rest and was an interesting one. 

At one point it involved going to a mental hospital that was run by the Eastern Orthodox Church, wandering around the grounds, and then finally finding the member we were supposed to meet. We read the Book of Mormon with him through the bars of a window, and then gave him a blessing also through the bars. Stuff you can't replace. 

We had a couple of experiences this last week where we were able to give some of our time to service. Going into service, we must always have an open mind and try to be joyful and do it willingly. If not, absolutely no one benefits from it. 1. The person does not feel the genuine love and they feel like a burden. 2 We are "wasting our time" 3. We are not open to feel the Spirit in an activity that we could very easily feel the presence of the Holy Ghost if we just soften our hearts 4. If not done willingly or sincerely (Just like praying) it counts for nothing, and can in reverse be held against us.  We must change the word "burden" to "blessing". 

This last week there was a situation where Elder Durtschi and I saw 2 different things, but were looking at the same exact thing. A couple came onto the bus with a stroller and twins inside. We helped them on and the bus got going. Everyone on the bus was completely dead looking and not a smile was to be seen. It was the end of a long work day for many and the bus was completely silent. The moment these twins were on the bus, smiles started appearing on all of the faces of those that saw them. People started having conversations between themselves, complementing the parents on how cute the twins were, and the light of the trolleybus was brighter. We were also coming back after a long day of doing a book table in another area with other Elders and I did not notice this at all. Only until after when Elder Durtschi mentioned it, did I realize that is was 100% true and gained a small testimony of the Christlike light of two little 1 year olds. Without Elder Durtschi sharing with me what he saw, I would have never known or even thought of it. God gives us moments of understanding and happiness and then expects us to share them with others. We all see the world differently at times, help others see how God's hand is in your life and help them recognize His hand in their's.

Elder Durtschi was asked to speak at church and he chose a subject. On Friday, we were at the ward and a member walked in and asked what topic he would speak about. She said, "My husband is talking on that subject and using that exact same talk, you have to change or he will have a heart attack." This was not a coincidence and he had to start over on his talk with a day to go. He was distraught, but we brainstormed and his talk was even better than the first and it helped a lot of people. It was all grammatically correct, he had a great story, great verses, but the best part of the talk was when in his broken Russian he shared his testimony. The Spirit was the strongest when he was not grammatically correct or elegant of speech. The spirit is the most important part and we invite the Spirit when we testify with a sincere heart. 

Read through Mosiah 21: 6-13  and discuss the characters in the story and what role they all play. Assign the King the role of God and see how it can apply to you. Then continue with 14-16 and consider to yourself what level of trust is between you and God at this very moment and pray to ask God how you can strengthen it. 

We went to Maidon (the Main City Center of Kyiv), the Chernobyl museum, and bought a pig head from the market. What fun that created! Just trying to "take it apart" and cook it was a fascinating adventure.

Have a great week! 

Elder Devashrayee

Here is a photo from the Chornobyl Museum
 Those are mannequins there by me.

Here are a couple of photos from Maidon - the City Center in Kyiv

Monday, March 6, 2017

Love is the Ultimate Answer....... 3-6-17

This last week was a good one.  Hope it was for all of you too. Had a chance to go to an outdoor market. It was pretty cool...

This last week we followed up on a Bobguard whom we gave a Book of Mormon to about a month ago. We stopped bye and there happened to be a different lady there. After 5 minutes of talking through the window, she let us in the building and into her lounge area, after 10 minutes she asked if we could give her a Book of Mormon for a time and she would give it back "on loan" and then after 45 minutes or so we came back and she gave us her number. It was a situation where we couldn't plan anything for the day, and the Lord made something out of nothing and had us find someone that was looking for truth. 

My testimony grew this week that even us just being on the street with a name tag and looking and acting like representatives of the Church moves the work along also. People notice. We had a man get off at our stop and call to us to stop because he had been thinking about God a lot that day and had seen our church a couple times. Before leaving the house he asked God to show him what to do and he knew that seeing us was a sign. He came Sunday and we are hoping that he will progress. 

We were on a bus and I noticed two girls that were whispering and it was obvious they were talking about us. We were standing on the bus and they were sitting and I saw on one of their phones that they had looked up the Book of Mormon and had pulled up a Church site. Not knowing what to do and not wanting to sound creepy I just let it slide until a seat opened up next to one of them after the other got off. I said, "Good night!" (Sounds weird in English) and she was so scared that she would just look forward and wouldn't look over haha I felt bad but I needed to do something about it. I asked her if I could give her a Book of Mormon and she accepted but was obviously scared for her life, it was too bad. 

We have an investigator that has tons of questions and we weren't getting anywhere. Instead of one of the main lessons, we decided to go with the Word of Wisdom mid-lesson. He said that his blood pressure had been rising and was still suffering from a hangover the day before. It was exactly what he needed and is one of the really unique things the Church believes in. We gave him a blessing to get over his habits and he held his hands out like a Buddhist monk as if he was meditating and really got into the blessing. We will see what happens there. 

We have a less-active that has all of the desire in the world, but can't act. He can't come to church and there is nothing stopping him other that his own free will. He wants to, but doesn't come. This last week I had an idea during the lesson. I took out our key ring (this was Saturday) and gave him one of our 3 keys. 1 key to the church, 1 key to our door at home, and the key I gave him was for the deadbolt to our door at home. I couldn't give him any of the others because they were needed that day. We told him that we trusted him completely and had faith that we would see him tomorrow at Church and that he would give us that key back. He was excited and reassured us that he would be at church the next day. We told him that key was important and we would need it back. He trusted us and we trusted him. Sunday came..... and he didn't come. We waited until about 7pm and tried to get in touch with him. He could have cared less and said, "I'll give it back to you sometime this week." I did not want his little lesson to destroy his faith and bring him down, but at this moment I am trying to know how to approach this correctly. Getting mad at him would accomplish absolutely nothing. Going over and chastising him also wouldn't do anything. Going over and acting as if nothing happened would accomplish nothing. Love is the ultimate answer, but to what extent? If he came to Church it would have been an amazing faith building moment for him and for his life. If he didn't, it could push him further back. Interested to see where this will go. I was sure he would come. 

Our Heavenly Father has a tough job. He gave us his only Son and TONS of resources to help us get back to him. Let's help him out this next week and find someone that that needs to feel of his love and hasn't for a long time. Someone that just needs to hear that God loves them. Think to yourself how you would approach this situation and ponder about something similar that has happened or is happening in your life and how you handled it or will handle it. 

The work is moving along and the area seems to be exploding at the moment. Thanks for all of your prayers, they are felt. I hope that you all have a great week. 

Love Elder Devashrayee

I taught my new companion how to make Borscht.... I would say it turned out pretty good!