Saturday, December 28, 2013

Family and Friends,
I'm so happy about all the things everyone is telling me about back home!  Everyone seems to be doing very very well! I love every single one of you, and it's great to hear that everyone is feeling the blessings of this wonderful season! 
I've gotten a whole lot of great reminders of love over this past little while!  Thank you all for the packages, letters, and other types of goodies that I've received! You'll never know how great it is to have people back home who care!
As far as my MTC training goes, it's been great.  I've lost count of how many lessons we've taught in Ukrainian now.  It hasn't gotten any easier to teach in this language, but it has gotten a bit more fun!  Fluency in this language is a huge hurdle that I'm going to have to jump.  It's more like a mountain actually... that I'm climbing REALLY SLOWLY.   I'm glad to know that the Lord called me to do this, because otherwise, I wouldn't be quite sure if I'd even be able to!
It's amazing, because I'm looking at my 4th training week.  This means that I only have 5 more training weeks before I'm shipped to the other side of the world!  Our zone leader is going to have to leave in just a week... which means they're probably going to reassign leadership soon.  It's kind of sad to think about preemptively, because I think of all the fun I've had being District leader!  I know that there's only 3 of us, but I quite being deeply involved with the other missionaries. 
Our zone is celebrating Christmas the best way that anyone could;  A makeshift tree composed of a suitcase, a blanket, and an assortment of whatever else we can find that may or may not be festive. I added my flower that Dad and Robyn sent me, and that little bear made of nuts from Grandma and Grandpa LeBaron.  On top, is the Canadian Flag, courtesy of Elder Ferbey.  HE GOT MAPLE SYRUP FOR CHRISTMAS!  FROM CANADA! He's so Canadian. 
Elder Carr and I got the chance to sing hymns together, which invited the spirit into our dorm rooms.  After my companions finished with their naps, and I finally submitted to my language study, we all sat around and played UNO as a zone.  Elder Carr won almost every single time.  He's a sneaky little man. I never won once, but I blame it on Elder Nielson, I think, counting cards.  Trust no one. ;)
We're in for some really cool devotionals tonight and tomorrow.  We're going to be hearing from Two members of the Quorum of The Twelve!  I AM SO EXCITED.  Notebook; Check.  Pen; Check.  Notes? they'll be priceless.
In other news, I got giant, comfy sweats.  They are huge.  And I love them.
I also love you all!  Your letters are appreciated, as well as your emails!  I love to make full use of my email time!
I trust the Lord is watching over each and every one of you!
Have a very Merry Christmas!

з різдвом!!!
старійшина LeBaron

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Family and Friends,
I can't quite describe just how much I LOVE the MTC.  Being a missionary is awesome, and I'm not even really being a proselyting missionary yet!  The best is yet to come!
My companions and I are working hard to try and get a handle on this language, and we've seen some awesome improvements on learning!  I'm just really glad that our teachers are so supportive and helpful.  I know that Heavenly Father put this plan into action, and all I've got to do is put in the work.  There's a whole lot that needs to get done in Ukraine, Russia, and the Baltics altogether.  If you don't believe me, check out D&C 133 26(ish... I don't have scriptures in front of me right now).  We're just lookin for some "Prophets from the north". 
I honestly haven't eaten this well in my whole life. If it weren't for Elder Carr (an Elder in my zone going to the Baltics Mission) going running with me during gym time, I'd actually be putting on some weight!  I don't think that I'll ever eat this well.... ever again.  I'm savoring every moment of it.  Believe me.
We had the chance to listen to Elder Cook, and listen to the BYU men's chorus this past week.  Now THAT was awesome.  Elder Cook talked about how we need to present ourselves to Heavenly Father, so that we can become his tools in performing this work.  He told a story about how he overheard a little boy he heard on his mission say to his mother, "Mommy, are those real missionaries??"  Being a missionary is 100% love with an additional 100% working and 200% patience.  Overall, you should be operating at 400% the capacity of a human being.  Heavenly Father actually makes that possible when we submit ourselves to his will, and honestly try to serve the people who need this message.  It's starting to click in my brain... I just have a lifetime of practice to go!
The BYU men's chorus sang a couple of songs that were great.  They sound good!  I was happy to have something to listen to and not have to memorize it!  One song really touched my heart; He Ain't Heavy.   IF YOU HAVE NOT HEARD THIS SONG, you haven't heard the real meaning of missionary work.  Missionaries get one ultra blessing, and that's a strengthened backbone.  We are sent out into the world to help people shoulder their burdens long enough for them to find rest with the Lord.  Find someone to help this week, with whatever their problem is, and keep this in mind, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother".
I love you all! I appreciate the letters and packages!  You're all such a huge support, and I know that I've been given hope to push through some hard days already!  I'll keep you all in my prayers and heart. 
I also am requesting a Christmas present.  I NEED pictures (according to my MTC Teacher) of my friends and family.  It's a huge trust builder in Ukraine to invite someone to see your friends and family, and to explain your relationship with them.  Ukrainians love to see strong relationships and it helps invite the spirit when getting to know someone.  I need pictures of everyone.  Send them please! :)
I'll try to figure out some way to send pictures of what I'm up to... I haven't quite figured that out yet.
Much love,

Elder LeBaron

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hey there family and friends!

Wow, it seems as though I've been gone from you all for weeks now.  It hasn't even been a week yet though, has it?  Time makes no sense to me anymore... but it seems to have such a greater importance.  I've never been more grateful for just 10 minutes to sit down in my entire life.  I love that.  It means I'm always "abounding in good works".

I'm in a trio right now with Elder Ferbey and Elder Newton.  We're the only Ukrainian language missionaries currently at the MTC.  A District of 3, a zone of just over 10, most of the which are actually speaking Russian.  We had another Russian zone here with us, but they left last night.  My last zone leader was an AUSTRALIAN! He was weird.  Strangest sense of humor from any culture I have ever encountered. Hearing Russian being spoken by everyone around me, even during sacrament meeting; That can get really confusing. Ukrainian is a really tough language!  So many words that sound NOTHING like English words. We've already taught 3 lessons in our native language.  That's actually not true; we've ACTED OUT 1 lesson now and thrown in some random vocabulary just enough to confuse our "investigator", Natasha. The second lesson, we actually had some phrases we had memorized to throw out, and helped her read some verses... BUT, our 3rd lesson, we actually were able to understand things she said to us! Our teacher, Brat (brother) Adams is awesome.  This is going to be a difficult 9 weeks... but completely worth it.  Look out L'viv, you've got some missionaries who are PUMPED to give you the Restored Gospel!

Food: Incredible.  Jeff, you were right about the Chocolate milk.  A-yup.  Also tried out that wrap bar thingy.  Delicious.  I've never had the problem of having TOO MUCH food and TOO LITTLE time to eat it.  It's a good problem.

Companions: Weird. And Awesome.

Elder Ferbey is from Edmonton, Alberta (or some town just outside of it... it has a big name, so he just told me to remember edmonton), and He's your stereotypical Canadian.  He want's his parents to send him maple syrup for Christmas.  HA! Also, for those who know him; ELDER FERBEY LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE BRENNER SWENSON.  To the T. He talks like him... he walks like him.  He dresses like Brenner, and even has the same haircut (he fears the MTC Barbershop. haha!)  Fact.

Elder Newton is... well, he's got a lot to talk about.  He's from Redland California.  Basically, imagine a grown up Chunk (from the Goonies), and you've got Elder Newton.  He's hilarious though.  Sometimes, focusing is not his strong-point, but there is NEVER a dull moment when Elder Newton is around.  

Oh! And guess what? Day 2 out here, President Cranny made me district leader.  Of three people.  Yeah.  It's kind of weird.  But it's also entails a WHOLE LOT of meetings.  Meetings up to my ears! woo-wee.  They're good though, because I'm starting to learn how to really love the people I'm serving with and for.  Not to mention the love I have for my Heavenly Father for giving me the chance to be out here, working my buns off! These next 2 years are going to be INCREDIBLE.  To say the least.

Much love family and friends! I hope you are all well, and that you aren't shy to send me a letter or two! I would love to receive letters.  Send them to this address;

Elder Jonathan Curtis LeBaron
2007 N 900 E Unit 46
Provo UT 84602

We check our mail box daily.  I can read handwritten letters every night, but I only get email time once a week.  This is also the address to which you can send packages or whatever!

I love you all! I really do hope everything is going alright back home.  Let me know how it's going.  

Ready for a Ukrainian Lesson?

Elder = (Star-ee-she-nah)

Much Love,

[insert cyrillic spelling that I'm too lazy to find here] or
Elder LeBaron