Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I had wonderful holidays, I hope you did too!
On Christmas Eve, we had a big Mission Christmas Conference where all the missionaries from the entire mission came to Kiev to celebrate. The day started out with a transfer meeting- I'm staying in Kiev with Sister Morton. Then we had a lunch- PB&J- a missionary's favorite since peanut butter is scarce in Eastern Europe. As we ate lunch we watched Dr. Seuss' “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” After that President Steinagel spoke to us on the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was a very powerful talk, and I have no idea how anyone could ever disprove of his divine calling. Then President Steinagel talked to us about our goals for the next six months. Then we picked up our packages and Sister Morton, Sister Pack, Sister Garff and I went to another church building in the center of the city to meet Cveta, and Masha. We had a fun little reunion there and ate pizza as well! I was sad to say goodbye to my former companions, not knowing when we would see each other again.
On Christmas Day we woke up at our usual time and read Luke 2 before we opened presents. Then Sister Morton made me the biggest pancakes I have ever had! I couldn't eat half of them! Then we had our morning study as usual. For lunch we met the Elders in our ward and ate pizza at a place by our house. Then we all went to the street market to do some shopping. I bought some super thick socks and a puzzle to play on New Year's. Then we went and watched “It's a Wonderful Life” while munching on our Christmas candies and sipping hot chocolate. Then we went home and I waited for my mom and sister to call, but they didn't so Sister Morton and I ate some salami, cream cheese and green olives, which didn't taste at all like what I thought it would. Then we started some transfer planning and my phone finally rang! The phone call went way too fast, but at least we still have e-mail. Then we did some more planning and went to bed!

Have a Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Season's Greeting!

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Please put a kopek in the kosak's hat!
This Christmas season, I have been thinking about what Christmas means to me. I realized that we don't just celebrate Christmas for the presents and family, and we don't just celebrate because Christ was born, but we celebrate because of what he was born to do. He was born to be out Savior, to live and to die so that we may live again- with Him. What an absolute miracle! I love the quote in Isaiah 9:6, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Councellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." I couldn't ask for a greater gift than that.

Last week we had a lesson with a member and her non-member husband. They have read the whole Book of Mormon together and he doesn't seem to have any objections to anything. We just need to get him to church and then we'll see what happens.
We've been teaching another girl for a while now. At first she didn't want to take a Book of Mormon, but she did and gave it back to us the next week. We gave it back to her the week after that, and now she's read three chapters and says that she knows it is the word of God! We're so happy!

I hope everyone has a warm and toasty Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It started snowing this week. It's not as cold as I thought it would be- yet. The lowest temperature I've seen on the bank is -7 degrees Celsius, which is 19 degrees Fahrenheit. My biggest fear is the black ice. I slip around three times a day on that stuff, but I have not fallen! Keep me in your prayers and I might make it another week without falling!
Last Monday Sister Morton, our friend Cveta and I went to a miniature museum where there were about 15 works of art the you look at underneath a microscope! One of my favorite ones was a fully functioning lock and key that was displayed on the end of a hair! Another one was a rose that was built inside of a hair. It was incredible!
On Tuesday we had our district meeting at the Goth's apartment. (the Goth's are the doctors for our mission) Since the Goths are going to be traveling until Christmas they threw us a little Christmas Party. Sister Goth cooked us an amazing Christmas feast and gave us hats and stockings filled with candy and other yummy foods! We were all stuffed to the point of explosion and had so much fun singing Christmas carols and telling stories.
After the meeting we had exchanges. I went with Sister Movchanyk to Borshahiivsky and Sister Larson went with Sister Morton to our area. After a couple of lessons with Sister Movchanyk we were on our way back to the church building for another lesson. We were waiting at the bus stop and I was looking down the road for our bus to come and then I looked back to my companion and she was gone. I searched for her through the big crowd of people at the bus stop, but I couldn't find her. I was without a companion. According to mission policy, I waited there for her to return for me. After a while I started asking people if I could use their cell phones to call her, but they looked at me like I was crazy. So I figured that she was probably waiting for me at the church since that was were we were headed, so I got on the next bus and went there. I had always wondered what it would be like to be without a companion, and there I was, by myself, and I didn't like it! So I got to the church and went in and she was there, teaching a lesson. She asked me, “What took you so long?” Apparently she thought that I had been on the bus with her the whole time and I just didn't get off at the right stop. Then I sat down and we continued our lesson as if nothing had happened.
Ever since we moved into our apartment, we have had a cockroach problem. We mop with bleach, keep all of our food in air tight containers, and never leave dirty dishes in the sink, but they keep coming back! Last week we bought some expensive cockroach poison and thought that would finally work. Last night I got up to use the restroom and I saw eight full-sized cockroaches outside of the bathroom door. I grabbed my shoe and chased them around and tried to get them before they could escape. It was like something out of a nightmare. I had a hard time going to sleep after that because I could feel them crawling all over my bed. So if you have any suggestions on what we can do – other than moving, please let me know!
Missionary work has been hard this week. We have a new investigator, but it was a very difficult lesson with many distractions. We had Cveta come on a lesson last night with us, the people we were teaching were not very receptive to the message, but I think it really strengthened Cveta's testimony, which she has been struggling with. Tonight we are meeting with a part-member family, and I think there is some good potential there. All in all we are still pressing forward with the work!

Monday, December 7, 2009


I thought that you might be curious as to how an average day goes for me so I will write to you about yesterday.
It started off like all Sunday mornings with Missionary Coordination Meeting. This is where each set of missionaries tell the Ward Mission Leader who they have been meeting with throughout the week. Yesterday was good, we got encouraged to have more member present lessons, but it was not as judgmental as last week when we were the only missionaries without a baptismal date.
Then we had Sacrament meeting. Constantine was confirmed a member of the Church since he was baptized on Saturday. During the testimony part, I think only three people bore their testimonies because each one was so long. For Gospel Principles we had a lesson on life after death, the teacher spoke in clean Ukrainian, so that was nice to hear. In Relief Society we talked about bearing testimony, and how that helps us and the people who hear it as well. After church we had Ward Council where they discussed the upcoming “Open Doors” it lasted about two hours and was mostly in Russian so I had to fight to keep my eyes open to stay awake. I didn't feel that we really needed to be there because the only thing that they told us was to bring our investigators and walk them through the tour of the church. They could have told us that without having to go to the meeting, but I appreciate that they want us to be involved with everything.
After that I went home and planned on making myself a grilled cheese sandwich with chicken and tomatoes, but then I opened the bread and there were a couple of moldy pieces that made the whole loaf smell rancid. So I just put the chicken, cheese and tomatoes on the frying pan and ate it that way. I think it tasted better than if it had been on bread. It was probably the best home-cook meal that I've had in Ukraine.
We had some time till our next appointment, so we decided to stop by some in-active youth in our area. When we got there only the active parents were home, and they invited us in, so we taught a small spiritual thought. It was the most awkward lesson that I have had on my mission. When we would ask them questions they would respond as shortly as possible and when we were talking they wouldn't even make eye contact with us. So we made it a short lesson and when we ended and started to leave, they asked us why we were leaving so soon. It was strange. Fortunately we committed the mother to talk to her mother about having a family home evening together, unfortunately I left my umbrella there, so we're going to have to go back one of these days.
On our way to our next appointment we heard a huge explosion that shook the ground and scared us. Then we turned to see huge fireworks in the air. It was slightly misty last night, so the mist reflected the light and made it appear even bigger then it was. So as we were waiting at the bus stop for ten minutes we were watching these fireworks that were bigger than I have ever seen them. I'm not sure why they were being set off, they were behind a movie theater, so it was probably a promotion of some kind. I love how fireworks are legal in Ukraine!
For our private English lesson last night we played Bonanza with three people from our large English group. They really liked it and it taught them new words like “stinky bean” and “shuffle” it also taught them how to barter in English. After the game, we asked them how they liked the movie, “The Testaments,” which is what we showed after our last English lesson. They said they liked it, but didn't really understand it. So we told them a little about the Book of Mormon which brought up other questions that lead to a long question answer discussion. It was good, and we learned a lot about them and vice-versa. But next time we meet we want there to be more structure to the gospel part, but I see good potential in them.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Thanksgiving

I hope that you had a lovely Thanksgiving. Mine was very nice.
We started out our day with a combined district meeting with 12 missionaries there. Then we all went down to T.G.I.Friday's for lunch. I had a bacon cheeseburger with fries, then Sister Morton and I split a banana split. Yummy!
The six missionaries in our ward put on a big event for the English group. We started out with country line dancing as everyone was arriving. Then, when everyone was there, we put on a little skit that showed what the first Thanksgiving. Then before we ate, everyone went around telling something that they were thankful for. We had corn, pumpkin, turkey, stuffing, corn bread and brownies. It wasn't super American, but I don't think anyone could tell. I enjoyed it when people put peanut butter on their cornbread and gravy on their brownies. Ukrainians love their condiments.
Now that the swine flu scare is over, and everyone is back at work, it is harder to find appointments because they are all trying to catch up on their work.
We found a new investigator this week. She is very nice, but is very busy with work. We have been working with a woman who is less-active and she is re-discovering her testimony. We are preparing her to go to the temple next year and she has so many questions, it's a lot of fun.
Lately in my personal study, I have been cross-referencing my patriarchal blessing with the scriptures. I have gained much more insights to what the blessings mean, and what I need to do to achieve them. I recommend doing the same thing with your blessing. If you don't have one- get one.


Monday, November 23, 2009


Sister Morton and I have had a very good week. Although the weather has been a little rainy, it hasn't been too cold. And we found two new investigators! One has a concern with the God head, she believes that they are all one person, but she has agreed to study and pray about it along with us and we are going to share what we learned at the next meeting. The other new investigator has a concern with God- she doesn't believe he exists. Sister Morton shared her beautiful testimony of how she knows that she will see her mother again after this life, and that God is the only one to make that possible. It left the girl with tears, and a definite yes when we asked her if she would like to learn more. Our other investigator that we have been teaching for a while now is almost to the point where if we don't see any improvement, we may have to drop her. I really don't want to, but she is just taking the lessons at face value and not applying them to her heart. I asked her to pray for us the last time we were there, but she refused. I sometimes wonder if I'm not doing enough, or if another missionary would be able to reach her better then I. But I know that we feel the spirit when we teach, so I'll just keep pressing forward.
I had salo (pig fat) for the first time the other day. It has been available for me to try before, but I somehow find a way out of it. Then a grandma placed in front of me to try. Sister Morton just took a little tiny piece, but I wanted the full experience and put two thick slabs on my bread , then put some tomato sauce on the top. It was much harder to chew than I was expecting! It didn't have much flavor to it though. All in all, I am not looking forward to the next time I have to eat it.

Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Eat some turkey for me!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Plan of Happiness

Transfer week is always crazy! I don't know why. I love my new companion, Sister Morton, we are going to work miracles together!
We taught the restoration to two women after English on Saturday. The lesson ended abruptly, but I hope we can meet with them again.
We also taught our main investigator about the Plan of Salvation. I really think she perked up when we told her we were going to answer the age old questions of where do we come from? Why are we hear? And what happens after death? It is still hard for her to believe it though. She says is sounds like a fairy tail. And it really is. We are princes and princesses of the Almighty King. Our elder Brother has made it possible for us to inherit kingdoms if we will obey. Like my mission President said in conference last week, we can not imagine what the Lord has in store for us. So yes, it is unbelievable! But it is true! And I know it is true! If I didn't have that hope, there would be no point in life, we wouldn't exist, there would be no earth, no sun, no stars, no universe. We can not comprehend it all, but it still makes so much sense to me. God loves us, he wants us to be happy. Why doubt such a great and wonderful blessing?!

Sister Howell

Monday, November 9, 2009

Swine Flu

Despite the Swine Flu scare and all the people who are too afraid to meet because of it, we have had some good lessons. As the year is drawing to an end, I think we are getting more bold with bringing up gospel topics in our private English lessons, and we even have a new investigator from it.
We were able to contact a former investigator and she seems to still love us and wants to meet soon. I see very good potential in her. We watched Finding Faith in Christ with another investigator, but she still doesn't know if she can believe. We can not force a belief on her, but we can be consistent with love and hopefully she will find out for herself.
One day last week, while Sister Garff and I were advertising for English we talked to a man that was so happy for our service that he said he wanted to kiss us. We backed away and said “Не Можна” to which he replied, “You right, the flu” So there are benefits to a wide spread sickness! Even if it isn't in Keiv yet.
Transfers are this week, and I am yet again in wonderful Voskresinsky. Sister Garff is getting transferred out west, maybe opening an area. And I think Sister Morton will be my new companion. I've only met her twice before but she seems like a lot of fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Crazy Week

Last Monday we went bowling with Lena and Sveta. Sveta won, and it was her first time ever bowling! The bowling alley was the nicest I've ever been to, and it was only two dollars for two hours!
Tuesday we went to see Romeo and Juliet the Ballet. We went with four other sisters and they bought the tickets the day before since they were in the area. The other sisters had really good seats in the front of the balcony, and Sister Garff and I had seats in the very back of the balcony and had a pillar in front of our view. We were not happy. Especially because we told the sisters that we were willing to pay more money for better seats. I liked the Ballet though. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I could have seen more. We ended up leaving after the second act.
On Thursday for our English group we talked about Halloween, and then had everyone make up a Halloween story. My favorite one went something like this, “One dark night...a boy, a girl, and a dog were sitting by a campfire. After a while the dog disappeared. Then the girl disappeared. The boy noticed that there was something shaking a bush. He went to go see what it was behind it and discovered the dog and the girl...and that their stomachs did not like eating so much fried pumpkin.” We didn't do much to celebrate on Halloween besides eat some candy. On Friday we were at someones house teaching English and the 11 year old girl got a phone call from her school that it was closed for three weeks. We knew it was getting cold, but we didn't think it was cold enough to shut down school for three weeks. We went to our next lesson and while we were there, the girl got a phone call that her university was closed for three weeks to prevent the spread of the Swine Flu. The girl's brother (who is a med student) was home and he came in and told us all about it. Apparently it is really serious in western Ukraine and will hit Keiv in a few days. So all schools and places that can shut down are shutting down. About 50 percent of people I see on the streets are wearing masks over their nose and mouth. I survived the Swine Flu scare in the MTC, so I hope I can survive it in Ukraine as well. I'm just not looking forward to all the people that will cancel on us for fear of the sickness. We're just going to have to find ways that we can take these lemons and make some sweet lemonade out of it!
Sunday evening Elder Mills had a baptism. When we arrived at the church, he told us that the guy who he was supposed to be baptizing was being held by police! We waited for two hours till the guy finally came. It turned out to be a lovely baptism.
Snowflakes are in the air today, which is too bad because I had a goal for there not to be any snow until December. I think I need to work on setting more realistic goals.
Well, that miracle investigator that we had last week has not answered any of our phone calls or responded to our texts. It is so sad. We knew she felt the spirit, but she still has her free agency. We found another investigator though. She was taught by sisters a couple of months ago and was progressing well, then she went to volunteer in Turkey for a while, but now she is back and wants to continue the lessons! Hooray for area book work!
We have another investigator who is does not believe Christ can help her. Sister Garff and I have been discussing that this week. It is truly amazing and incomprehensible how much Christ has already done for us, is currently doing, and will continue to do for us throughout eternity. To get her to see that and really feel it in her heart is going to take some work, but if she is willing to try, that is something.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturday is a special day

This is a Ukrainian pigeon house. It is similar to the one I wrote a story about before, but not the same one.

Saturday was my favorite day this week. We started out by teaching an English student and showed her the Restoration. She had questions afterward and we gave her a Book of Mormon. She admitted to us that she has never believed in God, but has noticed that there is a light in believer's eyes and she is curious to know why they are so happy all the time, when she can hardly find the time to smile. We asked her to read Alma 22 and asked if next time we could talk about why we are so happy and she agreed.
Later that day we had an English lesson at the church and we started by giving her a tour. When we got to the chapel, she started asking so many questions about our church that we had to sit down and start teaching the first discussion. She continued to ask inspired questions about everything and even answering some questions herself as she worked it out in her mind and heart. We also shared the Restoration film with her and gave her a Book of Mormon with the challenge to read Alma 32 and 3 Nephi 11. She was very accepting of everything we discussed and even committed herself to things before we could even ask her. Sister Garff and I occasionally looked at each other with shock about what was happening.

Sister Garff and I have been studying how the Book of Mormon and the Bible support each other. They have the same truths and principles. Sometimes the Bible shares more revelation about a gospel principle, and sometimes the Book of Mormon does, but they both go hand in hand with each other. I'll invite you to do the same. Choose any topic you like, and then search it out in the Bible and Book of Mormon and draw links and similarities with the teachings. It is very fun!

P.S. I have the sad feeling that I've seen about all the things to see in Keiv. I know this is not true because the city is huge! So if any readers have been to Keiv and can make suggestions to where I should go, please comment on this blog and my sister will get it to me. If you have not been to Keiv and would like to search the internet to find suggestions for me, please do so! Thanks!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Chair-bed

Sister Garff and I moved this past week. We were having problems with our old apartment and we knew that we had to get out of there before it got worse. We looked at four different apartments and finally found one in a good location for the right price. After we moved into the apartment we literally spent days trying to figure out the best furniture arrangement that would be best for us. We had a full-sized bed, a couch that folds out into a bed and also a chair that folds out. We spent a lot of time trying to think how to get two beds into one room according to the standard in the missionary handbook. Having the bed and the fold out couch in one room would take up way to much space and it would be back-breaking work to get that to happen. I finally came up with the idea to have the fold out chair be one of the beds. This was the very best option that would work out for us. The chair is smaller than a twin and a lot shorter as well. Since I came up with the idea I offered to sleep on the chair-bed. Sister Garff did not want to sleep on it, but offered to anyway because I am taller. But I chose the chair-bed because the full-size bed has a foot-board at the bottom and I didn't want to hit my feet on it every night like I did in the old apartment. I would rather have my feet dangle. So now I sleep on the chair bed and it's really not that bad. And it makes a funny story to share with other people!

My Silly Mistake

The power of prayer has been prevalent during this past week as we have shared gospel principles with our private English students and asked them to hear more about the church, as we have moved and settled arrangements with our new landlords and our old ones and as we have heard news that our investigator who we thought had ceased investigating has started to return to church activities! The power of prayer is always there and will help us with whatever we need. Even if the result isn't quite what we were expecting, what needed to have happened happened. Story time- Sister Garff and I wanted to meet with a member named Sveta and share a spiritual thought with her. I found the “MA Sveta”(member active) on our phone and called her. I asked her if she could meet with us sometime this week, but she said she was busy with basketball practice and going to the Black Sea and doing other activities that I didn't think that Sveta was doing. I had to call a couple more times to finally find a time for us to meet. The night that we were meeting with Sveta, Sister Garff and I were waiting in the church and a woman walked in and started chatting with us. I had only seen this woman once before when I had first came to Ukraine, so we did not know who she was or why she was there. Then Sister Garff asked her name and she said she was Sveta. We quickly put the puzzle pieces together in our minds and realized that I had been calling the wrong Sveta the whole time! We tried to “play it cool” though and acted like we knew that we had called her. I hope she couldn't tell. We taught her anyway and ended up having a great lesson. It turns out that she is in-active and is struggling with her testimony. We testified to her and gave her specific things she can to do build up her testimony. Later, she told us that we really helped her day. I don't know if it was the Spirit that had me ignore all the signs that were telling me that she was not the member I was trying to call. But the Lord works in mysterious ways and we would not have met with her and helped her otherwise. Now we have an appointment with the original Sveta, and a new less-active to work with and help strengthen! May we all make our silly mistakes turn into spiritual strengths.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

General Conference

We watched general conference this weekend. It was great! I loved it! It was being shown in Ukrainian in the chapel, but we had an audio recording of it in English which we listened to in the back of the room. We tried to match it up the best we could to the video, but it was a few seconds off. It was a little distracting but ok though.
I could post some of my favorite quotes from my favorite talks, but I love them so much that it would not do justice if I do not post the whole thing! So here are two of my favorites, and my thoughts are after each one.

The Love of God
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is continually growing and becoming better known throughout the world. Although there will always be those who stereotype the Church and its members in a negative way, most people think of us as honest, helpful, and hardworking. Some have images of clean-cut missionaries, loving families, and friendly neighbors who don’t smoke or drink. We might also be known as a people who attend church every Sunday for three hours, in a place where everyone is a brother or a sister, where the children sing songs about streams that talk, trees that produce popcorn, and children who want to become sunbeams.
Brothers and sisters, of all the things we want to be known for, are there attributes above all others that should define us as members of His Church, even as disciples of Jesus Christ? Since our last general conference six months ago, I have pondered this and similar questions. Today I would like to share with you some thoughts and impressions that have come as a result of that inquiry. The first question is:
How Do We Become True Disciples of Jesus Christ?
The Savior Himself provided the answer with this profound declaration: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” This is the essence of what it means to be a true disciple: those who receive Christ Jesus walk with Him.
But this may present a problem for some because there are so many “shoulds” and “should nots” that merely keeping track of them can be a challenge. Sometimes, well-meaning amplifications of divine principles—many coming from uninspired sources—complicate matters further, diluting the purity of divine truth with man-made addenda. One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation. And gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of “good ideas.”
This was one of the Savior’s criticisms of the religious “experts” of His day, whom He chastised for attending to the hundreds of minor details of the law while neglecting the weightier matters.
So how do we stay aligned with these weightier matters? Is there a constant compass that can help us prioritize our lives, thoughts, and actions?
Once again the Savior revealed the way. When asked to name the greatest commandment, He did not hesitate. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” He said. “This is the first and great commandment.” Coupled with the second great commandment—to love our neighbor as ourselves—we have a compass that provides direction not only for our lives but also for the Lord’s Church on both sides of the veil.
Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.
When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden.
Why Should We Love God?
God the Eternal Father did not give that first great commandment because He needs us to love Him. His power and glory are not diminished should we disregard, deny, or even defile His name. His influence and dominion extend through time and space independent of our acceptance, approval, or admiration.
No, God does not need us to love Him. But oh, how we need to love God!
For what we love determines what we seek.
What we seek determines what we think and do.
What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become.
We are created in the image of our heavenly parents; we are God’s spirit children. Therefore, we have a vast capacity for love—it is part of our spiritual heritage. What and how we love not only defines us as individuals; it also defines us as a church. Love is the defining characteristic of a disciple of Christ.
Since the beginning of time, love has been the source of both the highest bliss and the heaviest burdens. At the heart of misery from the days of Adam until today, you will find the love of wrong things. And at the heart of joy, you will find the love of good things.
And the greatest of all good things is God.
Our Father in Heaven has given us, His children, much more than any mortal mind can comprehend. Under His direction the Great Jehovah created this wondrous world we live in. God the Father watches over us, fills our hearts with breathtaking joy, brightens our darkest hours with blessed peace, distills upon our minds precious truths, shepherds us through times of distress, rejoices when we rejoice, and answers our righteous petitions.
He offers to His children the promise of a glorious and infinite existence and has provided a way for us to progress in knowledge and glory until we receive a fulness of joy. He has promised us all that He has.
If all that is not enough reason to love our Heavenly Father, perhaps we can learn from the words of the Apostle John, who said, “We love him, because he first loved us.”
Why Does Heavenly Father Love Us?
Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.
God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.
What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us.
How Can We Increase Our Love of God?
Since “God is love,” the closer we approach Him, the more profoundly we experience love. But because a veil separates this mortality from our heavenly home, we must seek in the Spirit that which is imperceptible to mortal eyes.
Heaven may seem distant at times, but the scriptures offer hope: “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
However, seeking God with all our hearts implies much more than simply offering a prayer or pronouncing a few words inviting God into our lives. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” We can make a great production of saying that we know God. We can proclaim publicly that we love Him. Nevertheless, if we don’t obey Him, all is in vain, for “he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
We increase our love for our Heavenly Father and demonstrate that love by aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s word. His pure love directs and encourages us to become more pure and holy. It inspires us to walk in righteousness—not out of fear or obligation but out of an earnest desire to become even more like Him because we love Him. By doing so, we can become “born again . . . [and] cleansed by blood, even the blood of [the] Only Begotten; that [we] might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.”
My dear brothers and sisters, don’t get discouraged if you stumble at times. Don’t feel downcast or despair if you don’t feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ at all times. The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you.
How Can We Hear the Father’s Voice?
As you reach out to your Heavenly Father, as you pray to Him in the name of Christ, He will answer you. He speaks to us everywhere.
As you read God’s word recorded in the scriptures, listen for His voice.
During this general conference and later as you study the words spoken here, listen for His voice.
As you visit the temple and attend Church meetings, listen for His voice.
Listen for the voice of the Father in the bounties and beauties of nature, in the gentle whisperings of the Spirit.
In your daily interactions with others, in the words of a hymn, in the laughter of a child, listen for His voice.
If you listen for the voice of the Father, He will lead you on a course that will allow you to experience the pure love of Christ.
As we draw near to Heavenly Father, we become more holy. And as we become more holy, we will overcome disbelief and our souls will be filled with His blessed light. As we align our lives with this supernal light, it leads us out of darkness and toward greater light. This greater light leads to the unspeakable ministerings of the Holy Spirit, and the veil between heaven and earth can become thin.
Why Is Love the Great Commandment?
Heavenly Father’s love for His children is the core message of the plan of happiness, which plan is made active through the Atonement of Jesus Christ—the greatest expression of love the world has ever known.
How clearly the Savior spoke when He said that every other commandment hangs upon the principle of love. If we do not neglect the great laws—if we truly learn to love our Heavenly Father and our fellowman with all our heart, soul, and mind—all else will fall into place.
The divine love of God turns ordinary acts into extraordinary service. Divine love is the motive that transports simple words into sacred scripture. Divine love is the factor that transforms reluctant compliance with God’s commandments into blessed dedication and consecration.
Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder.
Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship.
Love is the way of the disciple.
I testify that God is in His heaven. He lives. He knows and loves you. He is mindful of you. He hears your prayers and knows the desires of your heart. He is filled with infinite love for you.
Let me conclude as I began, my dear brothers and sisters: what attribute should define us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Let us be known as a people who love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and who love our neighbor as ourselves. When we understand and practice these two great commandments in our families, in our wards and branches, in our nations, and in our daily lives, we will begin to understand what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus the Christ. Of this I testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I think President Uchtdorf really captured how important and vital love is to our every way of life. I love Love. It is the driving factor of – everything. If we don't have love we have nothing.

Safety for the Soul
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world . . . that the Book of Mormon is true.
Prophecies regarding the last days often refer to large-scale calamities such as earthquakes or famines or floods. These in turn may be linked to widespread economic or political upheavals of one kind or another.
But there is one kind of latter-day destruction that has always sounded to me more personal than public, more individual than collective—a warning, perhaps more applicable inside the Church than outside it. The Savior warned that in the last days even those of the covenant, the very elect, could be deceived by the enemy of truth. If we think of this as a form of spiritual destruction, it may cast light on another latter-day prophecy. Think of the heart as the figurative center of our faith, the poetic location of our loyalties and our values; then consider Jesus’s declaration that in the last days “men’s hearts [shall fail] them.”
The encouraging thing, of course, is that our Father in Heaven knows all of these latter-day dangers, these troubles of the heart and soul, and has given counsel and protections regarding them.
In light of that, it has always been significant to me that the Book of Mormon, one of the Lord’s powerful keystones in this counteroffensive against latter-day ills, begins with a great parable of life, an extended allegory of hope versus fear, of light versus darkness, of salvation versus destruction—an allegory of which Sister Ann M. Dibb spoke so movingly this morning.
In Lehi’s dream an already difficult journey gets more difficult when a mist of darkness arises, obscuring any view of the safe but narrow path his family and others are to follow. It is imperative to note that this mist of darkness descends on all the travelers—the faithful and the determined ones (the elect, we might even say) as well as the weaker and ungrounded ones. The principal point of the story is that the successful travelers resist all distractions, including the lure of forbidden paths and jeering taunts from the vain and proud who have taken those paths. The record says that the protected “did press their way forward, continually [and, I might add, tenaciously] holding fast” to a rod of iron that runs unfailingly along the course of the true path. However dark the night or the day, the rod marks the way of that solitary, redeeming trail.
“I beheld,” Nephi says later, “that the rod of iron . . . was the word of God, [leading] . . . to the tree of life; . . . a representation of the love of God.” Viewing this manifestation of God’s love, Nephi goes on to say:
“I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, . . . [who] went forth ministering unto the people. . . .
“ . . . And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits; . . . and they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.”
Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times—including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” That phrase—taken from Moroni’s final lines of testimony, written 1,000 years after Lehi’s vision—is a dying man’s testimony of the only true way.
May I refer to a modern “last days” testimony? When Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum started for Carthage to face what they knew would be an imminent martyrdom, Hyrum read these words to comfort the heart of his brother:
“Thou hast been faithful; wherefore . . . thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.
“And now I, Moroni, bid farewell . . . until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ.”
A few short verses from the 12th chapter of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Before closing the book, Hyrum turned down the corner of the page from which he had read, marking it as part of the everlasting testimony for which these two brothers were about to die. I hold in my hand that book, the very copy from which Hyrum read, the same corner of the page turned down, still visible. Later, when actually incarcerated in the jail, Joseph the Prophet turned to the guards who held him captive and bore a powerful testimony of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Shortly thereafter pistol and ball would take the lives of these two testators.
As one of a thousand elements of my own testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, I submit this as yet one more evidence of its truthfulness. In this their greatest—and last—hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth?
Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be “houseless, friendless and homeless” and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor. Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true. Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as imposters and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”
I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, . . . a rock of offence,” a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”
Now, I did not sail with the brother of Jared in crossing an ocean, settling in a new world. I did not hear King Benjamin speak his angelically delivered sermon. I did not proselyte with Alma and Amulek nor witness the fiery death of innocent believers. I was not among the Nephite crowd who touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord, nor did I weep with Mormon and Moroni over the destruction of an entire civilization. But my testimony of this record and the peace it brings to the human heart is as binding and unequivocal as was theirs. Like them “[I] give [my name] unto the world, to witness unto the world that which [I] have seen.” And like them, “[I] lie not, God bearing witness of it.”
I ask that my testimony of the Book of Mormon and all that it implies, given today under my own oath and office, be recorded by men on earth and angels in heaven. I hope I have a few years left in my “last days,” but whether I do or do not, I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days.
My witness echoes that of Nephi, who wrote part of the book in his “last days”:
“Hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, . . . and they teach all men that they should do good.
“And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day.”
Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived”—and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you. Of this I earnestly testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

This talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland blew me away. His passionate testimony of the Book of Mormon is very much what I desire for myself. I think that if I could share with my investigators just a fraction of that kind of testimony I will bring so many more people to Christ. Can I join my testimony to his and declare my love and gratitude for the Book of Mormon?
I did not come on a mission just because I know that Christ lives.
I did not come on a mission just because I wanted to serve others.
I did not come on a mission just because I love my church.
I came on a mission because I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
I know that it will bring people closer to Jesus Christ than through any other book. I know that it was written by prophets of God anciently and translated by a the Prophet Joseph Smith by the power of God. I know that by reading it and living it's principles you can find more happiness in this life than you could in any other way. I invite all to read, study and pray about the Book of Mormon so that they may know of it's truthfulness and glory for their-selves. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Sunday, October 11, 2009


This is me in front of the Kiev Opera House where we went to see the ballet, The Nutcracker
Sister Ethington, me, and Sister Pack in front of the opera house
All of the sisters serving in Kiev going to see the ballet, of course, elders were not invited
This is my favorite picture! Some missionaries gain other skills while they are on their missions. Some learn how to play the piano, others learn how to sing or cook, the learning environment is so strong that you can't help but gain new skills. My new skill that I learned is how to complete a Rubik's Cube! I'm not so sure how that will help me later in life, but I'm glad that I can do it. This picture was taken just after I finished the first one. After I took the picture, I checked to see what it looked like, then I noticed the cheap broken one in the background and laughed so hard. Sort of symbolic of what it takes to get things may need to destroy somethings along the way.My new companion Sister Garff. She is from Michigan, has been on a mission for three months longer than me, and is an excellent cook!

Transfer Week

Mission conference was really great. Elder Imangazine said a quote that really stuck with me. It was, "Work without vision is drudgery, vision without work is daydreaming" I don't know who originally said that quote, but it makes sense, and I've really noticed that in my work. Days where I do missionary work just to do the work, are days where I am not happy, I have less patience and less charity and don't feel much like a missionary. Days when I keep thinking of wonderful things to do and excellent goals to accomplish, they are just a waste when I don't do them. But when the vision and the work is combined, those are my best days, there is so much excitement with worthy goals and so much satisfaction when they are carried out. I am trying to work on having every day be like that day.

Our zone leaders gave us a new referral (I love referrals!) we met with her the other day and we weren't really sure whether or not she wanted to practice English or if she wanted to learn about the gospel. Whenever we tried to swerve our conversation to gospel topics, she would quickly change the subject. I guess we'll have to ask her right out next time why she wants to meet with us.

A non-member couple showed up to church yesterday, just out of the blue, no one knew who they were. They stayed for all three hours, then after church Sister Garff and I talked to the woman. She said that she has been to church before and she feels the spirit here, but she is not ready to be taught by the missionaries because she is unsure about the Book of Mormon. She said she would come again to church next week and we'll try to talk to her again without scaring her away. It's difficult though. Later that day Sister Garff and I were talking about how central the Book of Mormon is to our religion. Not only is it proof that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, but it gives us so much more knowledge that is essential to our salvation. You can not be a member of the church and say that you believe in everything except for the Book of Mormon. It is such a central part of our religion. It is the keystone. Without it, everything we believe would crumble to the ground. So there is only two options, she either stops coming to church and rejects the spirit that she has felt so strongly here, or she accepts the Book of Mormon to be another testament of Jesus Christ through reading and prayer. I hope she chooses the second option.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Curve's for Soviet men!

When I was with Cectpa Movchanyuk we were walking through an apartment area and we saw this very soviet style work out equipment all in a circle- it reminded me of curves. So this is me on one of the weight lifting things. It was super heavy!

We haven't had much success this week. I don't know what it is. I feel like we are trying really hard, but they aren't cooperating! Why does this work have to be so hard? Oh yeah, accepting the gospel and acting on it it is the most important and essential aspect that there is in this life, so of course it isn't going to come easy. Just as anything worth getting in this life doesn't come easy. A few examples... getting in shape, earning a degree, having a baby. All wonderful things in the end, but in the process it seems like almost too much. So I just need to keep the big picture in mind. If it didn't seem like a very successful week this week, and I did my best, maybe next week I'll see the reward, or the next or the next... no matter how long it takes, it will eventually happen because the Lord has promised it to us, we just need to keep our confidence in Him and not in ourselves.
There is good news though. We had two investigators at church on Sunday, the elders had four. I felt the spirit there very strongly and I think they did too. The Gospel Principles class was filled with so many questions and lots of learning! It was probably one of my favorite Sundays here. I can't wait to see what is going to happen next Sunday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Exchanges and Angel Moroni

It has been a week of exchanges for me. For the first half I was serving with Sister Mavchanuk and the second half I was with Sister Ethington. I learned a lot. And I hopefully will apply all the new ideas that I have to my area. When I was with Sister Movchanuk we even committed an investigator to baptism! It was kind of strange, because I knew that we were talking about baptism, but I didn't hear that she accepted the date. But she did!
I was privileged to be able to attend the Angel Moroni dedication with an investigator. She didn't say very much when I asked her what she thought and felt, but there was such excitement, she probably just needs to let it all sink in and ponder what she herd and saw.
As I was watching the Angel being placed atop of the Temple, I was thinking of the visual mark of the missionary work in Ukraine that it symbolizes. A little over 20 years ago, Ukraine was under Soviet rule, then the walls were brought down and the Church was brought to the country. Now, a temple is being built and I'm sure it is just the beginning of all the wonderful things that are going to happen in this country. I feel so honored to be apart of it.

Here is a quote from about the Angel Moroni:

The statues of the angel Moroni atop our temples symbolize the Restoration of the gospel in these latter days. They represent the angel in John’s vision in the New Testament: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth” (Rev. 14:6).


Monday, September 14, 2009

Three days without Sister Pack

I am still alive. Sister Pack is back from Bulgaria and all is well. Having a native mini missionary was something. Since she is from Odessa, she speaks mostly Russian, a couple words in English and only Ukrainian when she remembers it. I think we managed somehow with my very elementary Ukrainian and me guessing a whole lot of the time. I didn't end up calling other people for translations like I was expecting to. Fortunately all the people we taught understood us so that is all that matters. All in all, it was a good experience.
After Sister Pack returned, we had the most amazing lesson about the Plan of Salvation with our investigator. We even included some of the next lesson because she was ready to hear it. It was wonderful. We all come out of it walking on air with smiles filling up our faces. We think that she already has her answer to everything, she just needs time to realize it. We love her so much!
It appears that it is transfer time for all of the sisters in Kiev. This next week I'm going to two different areas with two different companions. I don't think it will be too bad though, I'm just not looking forward to the packing. I'm horrible at packing.
This morning I was studying the topic of obedience. I was led to ask myself, "Why wouldn't I want to be obedient to the things that the Lord asks of me to do?" He is all knowing and ever loving. He would never ask me to do something that would bring me unhappiness and misery. He only wants the very best for me and I know that if I am obedient I will be happy. And it is an everlasting happiness because he is everlasting. The things of this world may bring happiness, but it will only be temporary, because nothing that is impure can last forever. Those who love the Lord love his laws. It makes perfect sense, so why do we still question and disobey?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to YOU!

Just kidding. I just had to say it for old time's sake.
I guess I'll tell you about my birthday then, if you'd like to know.
I woke up at the usual time, 6:30 and started my morning workout. Sister Pack came in and yelled at me for working on my birthday. But, I'm a missionary, so I continued to work-out. I then made some pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream for topping!
After we finished eating we went on to have our three hours of daily study. During study Sister Steinagel (the mission president's wife) called and wished me happy birthday. She also asked if Sister Pack knew if it was my birthday because she says a lot of the time when she calls, the missionaries companion never knows! After study we went to Forshet to talk to an investigator who works there. She was kind of cold to us when we got there, so we talked to her for a while and got her cheered up. Then we returned to our apartment and made some chicken stir-fry for lunch. After lunch we began weekly planning which we do every Friday for the next week. This weekly planning was super intense because Sister Pack is going to Bulgaria next week (to re-new her visa) and I am going to be the senior companion to a mini-missionary who is from Ukraine and might not speak that much English! I'm super nervous! Especially because we have lessons set up to teach investigators and I don't want to be lost in the dark and have really awkward conversations! At 5:00 we went to visit a member who invited us over. She fed us a fish salad. It was very tasty, but since we are not supposed to eat fish, for fear of contamination, I couldn't enjoy that salad as much as I would have liked to. But I didn't get sick from it, so I think I'm ok. On our way back home Masha, our investigator, called and wished me happy birthday. After Masha called Elder Beleshov called and sang happy birthday to me and asked me questions about what I had been doing that day. I felt bad because for the longest time I didn't recognize who it was that I was talking to! And Elder Beleshov was in the MTC with me! We then returned home and had cake and ice-cream, using a match for a candle. The cake was ok, it kind of tasted like a chocolate sponge. But it was cake nonetheless. I liked the ice-cream more though, it was cherry-vanilla!
After that little bit of celebration we finished our weekly planning and then started to clean our apartment. Sister Pack was vacuuming when all of the sudden the power went out. Then the power came back on. Then it went out again. We waited for a while for it to come back on again, but it did not. There was only one electrical outlet that was working in the house and it was in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it was across the room from the refrigerator. In order to save our food, we spent a while finding extension cords to reach the fridge. One of the extension cords was attached to the iron. And the cord was in there pretty tight. Sister Pack was convinced that the iron was warm, so she tried desperately to un-attach the iron. She succeeded. Sister Murphy called and she and her companion sang to me and asked me how my day went. Earlier in the day we had planned to put on some mud masks for fun, so even though our apartment was pitch-black dark we did anyway. Then it was time for bed. That was my birthday, I hope you enjoyed it.
Last week I went shopping and bought myself a blow-dryer and some earrings. The best birthday present though was a new washing mashing! Yes, for two months I have been washing my laundry by hand! Even though the land lady didn't purposefully get the washing mashing for my birthday, I accepted it as a birthday present anyway.

An up-date on the electricity. This morning, after three days with only one outlet working, it stopped, we were upset, because we didn't want the food in the fridge to go bad. So Sister Pack walked out into the hallway and twisted a knob. Just a little bit. And the entire apartment gained electricity again. This is very weird, because we started playing with those knobs the morning after my birthday and Brat Kikno came over and spent a good hour fiddling with the knobs and fuses. We were thinking that a lot of work would have to be done and it would cost a lot of money and the land lady would probably try to put the blame on us so she wouldn't have to pay for it. Power of prayer? It has to be.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Trolley-Bus Contact

Yesterday I had my Book of Mormon in my purse, then I got the feeling that I should take it out and hold it in my hands.
Later that day, Sister Pack and I were riding the trolley bus to go to the church building for something. Then, a lady leaned over and asked me that she would like to read that book (as she was pointing to it) and asked if she could have one. She was speaking in Russian so I called Sister Pack over and she asked her if she would like it in Ukrainian or Russian. We didn't have a Russian one on us, so the lady gave us her name and phone number and we arranged to meet her today and maybe tell her a little bit about it! I love it when that happens! We are going to meet her in about 20 minutes, so I better get going!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Inconvenient Messiah

We had a fantastic district meeting this week. It was based around Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's speech called, “The Inconvenient Messiah”. As we were reading we stopped several times to discuss what was being taught. Every person contributed something to the discussion and the Spirit was so strong that after we were finished reading we all just sat there for several minutes pondering in silence. The talk that we read is about how Christ's life never ever was easy- so if we are to be true disciples of Him, why should we expect our lives to be easy? Even though following the commandments, keeping our covenants, and being the very best that we can be is, of course, not convenient all of the time, but it is what brings the most joy. There are so many aspects of life that this applys to. This morning, I wanted to make some crepes, but I didn't have all of the ingredients, and I was lazy and didn't measure what I was throwing into the mixing bowl, so my breakfast didn't turn out so well. It was edible, but not as good as if I had taken the time to make sure I had all the ingredients and follow the recipe according to the recipe. Just as in our lives, if we take the time to do what is right, even though it may be inconvenient for us at the time, it will be most rewarding to us in the end.
How can I apply this to missionary work? -Even though sometimes I just want to jump straight to a baptismal commitment with my investigators, that would be too easy. It takes time and effort and a lot of learning and growth to prepare a person for a baptismal commitment. When all of that has taken place, you know that they are ready, and will be truly converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
How can you apply this principle to your life?
We also read the same article again in our mini zone conference, because it is that good! I invite you to read and study it as well, even discuss it for Family Home Evening.
As for updates on our investigators, I'm glad to know that out of small and simple things, great things come to pass. I just need the patience for it! I think that our investigators don't even know that they are receiving missionary lessons, we just talk to them about what they want to talk about, and something always leads into exactly what we wanted to share with them that day! It's amazing!
In other news, Monday was Ukraine's Independence day. Happy Birthday Ukraine! While we are on the subject of birthdays, mine is coming up soon- Sep. 4Th, so how about everyone write to me! Hooray!

P.S. The word “to punish” in Ukrainian is Karate! Love it!


Monday, August 17, 2009

I get to stay!

I am just about to complete my first transfer (6 week time period) and I have found out that I get to stay in my same area, with my same companion, Sister Pack! I am super excited about this, because just one transfer here is not enough, the ward is so awesome, and I know that there is so much more that I can learn from Sister Pack, and we have so much potential right on our fingertips that something just has to happen with! It just has to!

There are so many little miracles that are happening that it is so wonderful to see and be a part of!
A couple of weeks ago, a man and his daughter walked into the church asking about English lessons. So we met with him and his wife once, but all our appointments kept getting canceled after that. Sister Pack and I were talking about how we could share the gospel to them without them getting offended and thinking that the English lessons are only for that purpose, because we really do want to help them learn English. Well, one day when we had finally made another appointment with them, we were walking out to their house and were just minutes away when they call and say that they are out taking a walk and can't meet with us. We were upset that once again a planned appointment didn't happen. Then, as we were walking back to the church, we ran into the family! We shared greetings then the husband simply asked us how our religion is different from the Jewish religion. So we simply replied and then he pointed to the Book of Mormon and asked what that was and then we explained that as well and told them that he could have it and read it if he wanted to and he did! Wow, it still amazes me that the Lord's hand is in everything that we do!

Monday, August 10, 2009

What kind of pigeons are we?

It has been another week where all of our investigators have been away at their "dotcha"s or at the Black Sea, or at weddings. I'm glad that summer is almost over! We have been making progress with our English students though. A family of four has been coming to English for about a month now and they always left before the spiritual thought, well, this week they actually stayed and accepted a Book of Mormon! I am so excited for them, they are all such wonderful people and I know that the Gospel will bless their lives and strengthen their family. I love English class!
Here is a story about how I was taught by the spirit this week:
We were on our way to stop by one of our investigators, and outside of their apartment building was a strange tree-house looking thing, but it wasn't in a tree. Sister pack and I were trying to figure out what it was, but then gave up. Well, we got to the door of our investigator, and she was not home, so we took a step out onto the balcony of that floor to take in a view of the city from the very tall building. I looked down and noticed a man swinging a very long stick with bags on the end of it over the tree-house-thing. Then he made a funny call and pigeons started landing on top of the roof! It was a pigeon house and he is a pigeon trainer! Cool! My great-grandpa trained pigeons, so I was curious to see what he would do next. Most of the pigeons that were in the air landed on the roof, except three that were still circling about in the air. The pigeon trainer watched for them to come down but after a few minutes he then walked away. As I was thinking about this later that day I was wondering to myself- am I one of the pigeons that will answer right away to my master's call? Or do I just fly around in circles, doing my own thing until it is too late and the master walks away. I also noticed that the pigeon trainer only called once. He did not call several times and wait and wait for all of the pigeons to come to him. It is only the obedient pigeons that he wants to train, it is only the obedient pigeons who will be blessed with food and the protection of the birdhouse. Just like the children of God, it is only the obedient who are fed and nourished by the words of Christ. It is only the obedient who will find perfection and blessings of the temple. Our Father calls to us all and the opportunity is there for all the children, but only the obedient respond. So it is my mission to teach those wandering children how to hear their master's voice.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

English lessons and Charity

This has been quite an interesting week. All of our investigators were super busy and could not find any time to meet with us. Although we did have some English lessons that we hope will lead to investigators. Speaking of which, on Friday, Sister Pack and I were practicing a song to sing for a baptism at a church building, and out of nowhere, in walks a man and his two year old daughter. He said they were just walking by and saw an English lesson advertisement in the window and wanted to learn more about it. We told him that we had a class on Tuesdays and Thursdays that he could attend, or we could give private English lessons to his family at his home and he said the private lessons sounded great! We met with him and his family on Saturday and they are very nice people and we have another lesson with them tomorrow!
There is another girl from the English class that we have been meeting with, she has a member friend and knows a lot about the church. Actually, she and her member friend are going to give Sister Pack and I a walking tour of Kiev today!

In personal and companionship study this past week we have been studying the Christlike attribute of Charity and Love. We were brought to a new enlightenment when we realized that the opposite of charity is selfishness. And how every sin is derived from being selfish. Jesus Christ, who was filled with charity- pure love, was without sin. When we have so much charity for our fellow men, that we in no way think about ourselves, we cannot sin. I can apply this to missionary work and how if I am filled with charity, I will truly forget myself, and do those things that will only help people find their path to Christ. In so doing I will not fall into the temptation of doing things that only I want and what would be easiest for me, and all of the missionary guidelines will fall into place, and I will have a great desire to love and serve the people.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Has it already been a week?

I know I've heard people say that missionary work makes time fly by so fast, but now I actually believe it! I really enjoyed our mini-zone conference we had this week. It was very inspiring to hear from the other companionship's and how they were seeing miracles in the work. As for miracle investigator that my companion and I have been working with, we were sad to find out that she does not live in the areas in which we cover, so we are beginning the process of transferring her over to the other sisters so that they can help her continue in her progression. We were hoping to give her over with a baptismal date already in sight, but she still has some small concerns, but she is so close! It is amazing to me how the adversary can focus on the small little things, which can prevent a baptism from occurring. But then I remind myself of Elder Holland's quote, "Salvation is not cheap" then I am inspired to continue to work my very hardest to bring about salvation and not get discouraged when faced with opposition.
I think my biggest struggle right now is the language. It is very depressing when little kids come up to me and ask me questions and I have no idea what they are saying. But just when I feel like I will never make any progression, we go to a lesson and I say things that I didn't think that I could- far from perfect of course, but it is baby steps. I think that is something that I need to remember now, baby-steps; that I shouldn't be trying to run marathons when I barely even know how to walk.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Meagen in Ukraine!

These are some nice looking buildings in downtown Kiev, unfortunately, not all of Kiev looks like this. Mostly all of where I live, which is on the outskirts of Kiev, is all apartment buildings that all look exactly the same- (because of the communist rule in the soviet era) it gets so confusing trying to find my way around! Thankfully, my trainer is an expert!

These are some of the sisters that were in Kiev at the time and who wanted to go to the opera, so this is in the theater. The opera was not as good as I was expecting, it was called "Rigetello" - I think. It was sung in Italian and I wouldn't have been able to understand what was going on if Sister Pack would not have translated the Ukrainian program for me.

This is at a ward picnic out in the forest near where we live. the girls pictured are Lenna and Cviata, they are super nice. The forest was kind of weird and unnatural. All the trees were in perfect rows and looked like they had been planted. The ward put on a little skit of Lehi's vision of the Tree of life, it was so cute! The lady who narrated was Sister Zoya Gulko, she was one of the committee members who translated the Book of Mormon into Ukrainian! Her husband is the bishop of our ward and he usually dubs the general conference into Ukrainian! Cool! To eat we had sausages which were like American hot dogs, but shorter and fatter. We played badminton, Frisbee, and catch. they also played water balloon volleyball, but Sister Pack and I just watched, because we were going to a baptism right after the picnic.

This is me at the Kiev Temple of course! I asked the Mission Pres, when the Temple should be completed and he gives it a year. So I actually might be here still! Who knows?

This is me on an empty metro car. Usually they are jam packed! But we started at the end of the line, so we could actually sit! I think also subconsciously I was showing off my bare leg! Yep! Great news, we don't have to wear nylons till September! Hooray! We're going to try and find some nice sandals today, because we can now wear those too! Thank you to Sister Steingal who served her mission in Argentina and knows what it is like to wear nylons in the hot hot humidity!