Friday, January 31, 2014

Howdy Folks!

So... Looks like we're finally at the last p-day at the MTC.
It has been hectic!

I never even knew how hard it was to get two suits dry-cleaned.  Apparently, it's like a two week job... Luckily, I planned 2 weeks ahead for this.  BAM!
I'm scheduled to ship out of here at 2:30 AM on Tuesday morning... Oh boy.
I have also become the residence hall tailor - as it pertains to buttons.  I've sewn on at least 5 different buttons that have popped off of other Elders' Suits.  I never knew my extremely limited experience with sewing would actually help anyone out here.  Good thing Mom taught me how to sew my merit badge on!

Sometimes, I'm convinced that my MTC emails are super interesting.  Then I go through and read them again, and I realize that I just spent a paragraph talking about buttons.  Are you asleep yet?

We got the chance to listen to Elder Martino from the quorum of the 70.  He gave a talk about working with members.  Before you tune out by this usually off-putting topic, I will tell you that he gave us the most embracing spirit of love.  I just sat there, happy as a clam (where does that expression even come from? How to people know if clams are happy?).  He really did bring such a strong spirit, and I realized that I often disregard the administrative aspect of the Church... and only focus on spiritual matters.  Heavenly Father's is a house of order, and I think that sometimes I just forget that every rule, method, or training course put forth by the Church is through inspired leaders.  So... yeah, I suppose my invitation to all of you is this;
Next time you're thinking, "This talk does NOT apply to anything that's going on in my life... I have no idea what the point of this is.."
Remember that Heavenly Father put you where you're supposed to be, when you're supposed to be, for whatever you're supposed to DO!
So, yeah.  This talk is important... we just need to listen a little more closely and pray for the spirit to teach us whatever we're apparently missing.
I promise, as I have learned, you will learn that there's no such thing as coincidence, and everything has it's purpose.

I know this church is true!
I know that He has a purpose for us here, so that we can learn and grow in ways that only he knows how to show us!

I love you all! thanks for the support! 
My next emails should be coming from the field!  Whoa!

Yours Truly,
старійшина ЛебЕРОН

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dear Family and Friends
Well... The Church is true.
I've had a lot of learning experience this week.  The MTC is a magical place where that happens.  I mean, of course it's not THE MISSION FIELD, but it's definitely time the Lord has set apart for me to learn.  My testimony has been sky-rocketing, and I am really starting to develop a love for my companions.  I'm honestly sad that I'm only going to have one more week with them until we are separated. 
This report is going to be short... sorry bout' that. 
Fun things that happen at the MTC;
1) We play 4-square like fiends.  Our zone is legendary... 9 weeks in the MTC will make you one wild and ferocious player.  We've developed intricate moves, and each have signature ways of playing.  It's getting ridiculous, but it make gym time something to look forward to.
2) We give service twice a week.  I cannot express the number of toilets that I have cleaned appropriately so that you can understand how sick I am of seeing porcelien.(however you spell that).  BUT, some missionary gets cleaner toilets because of that.  It does my heart good.
3) Our residence hall has developed a method of playing golf, bowling, curling, and all manner of exciting game.  This is the product of much time spent drinking and collecting milk bottles, wrapping tape balls, and slicker-ifying the floor (and stealing a broom [we'll put it back]).  Sometimes, you need to unwind on p-day, and these sports are a way of accomplishing just that.
These things are really a side-effect of being here for this long.  Staying sane in such a monotonous situation would be impossible otherwise.
Spiritual things that happen at the MTC;
I have seen more miracles in my life here than anywhere else yet.  I have learned, grown, and experienced the love of God so strongly.
I love this place... and I can't wait to get out there and share with people just how much I love this gospel.
Let me just extend a commitment;  Take this week to make your prayers a bit more sincere.  Through sincere prayer, I've managed to overcome the hardest challenges that I've ever experienced.  If you are struggling, pour out your heart to Heavenly Father.  Don't time your prayer, but REALLY get EVERYTHING OUT. 
If you've read that, you are committed.  I'm counting on you!  And Heavenly Father probably can't wait for you to talk with him.  I'll even work on this commitment with you!
I know we'll will learn something new. 
And something important.
God Loves Sharing.
Yours Truly;
Elder LeBaron

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hey there family and friends!

The MTC is really starting to teach me something important.  Not to say that it hasn't been doing that already... But I'm starting to get what Heavenly Father wants me to understand here; It's all about love.

The language is the craziest thing I've ever seen or heard.
The Weeks can sometimes drag on forever, and the days can seem twice as long as the weeks sometimes (how does that even work??  MTC time fluctuations.  Ask anyone who's been here)
And I really just want to go out and start working to help real people...


It's also important to remember that nothing is given to us without having a proper foundation to receive it.  Let me explain.  This week, I started with a question - how can I have the spirit with me during lessons.  Simple enough right?  WRONG.  You don't just get answers without working for them.  I've had to go to every single one of my classes this week, listen to every word my teachers have said, study nearly for more hours than I actually sleep, and pray my heart out to feel something.  

But the answer didn't come all at once.  It came in little bits and pieces... 
My teacher says something that clicks,
I get a letter from home with encouraging words,
I read a verse that inspires me,
I get a prompting in prayer,
I get thoughts while at the temple,
I get a letter from home that helps me find a verse that helps me understand something my teacher says that helps me get those thoughts at the temple, which in turn gives me a goal of something to accomplish by the end of the week which may or may not help me find a solution at this time.  If it does, awesome!  If it doesn't work... well, time to try again, but just a little bit harder.

EVERYTHING COMES IN IT'S TIME AND ORDER.  It's crazy how I find answers to questions I didn't even know I had out here!

I bear witness to you all that the Lord will answers prayers.  Through our diligence, pondering, and sincere desire to know, Heavenly Father will give us what we need, when we need it.  He is a God of Truth.  He is a God of Love.  He's our Father.  I know it, and I love Him.  And I know we can count on Him.

In other news;

We successfully stole some of the comfiest blankets at the MTC, tell no one.  They won't notice they're gone anyway.
We found a secret room in the top floor of 11m.  It's magical. 
I'm running 2 miles every day now... and I've gained 10 pounds since being at the MTC.  I'm not even puttin' on pudge, mates!
The Elders from England in our residence hall are nutty.  They keep telling me I look like Daniel Radcliffe.  
I have less than 3 weeks until I'm in-field.
Aaaaaaaaaand the Church is true.

I love you all,
I pray for you often,
I hope to hear you're in good health,
Did I mention I love you?

Elder LeBaron

P.S. Send black licorice...  and Crystal lite.  Elder Ferbey is weird about it

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hi there!

Turns out, January 7th is the day we say "зриздвом!" In Ukraine!  Obviously, I'm not IN Ukraine yet, but we did sort of celebrate it here in our class.  (Including wearing the traditional garb of... honestly I don't remember why they wear it, but it looks cool.)
The MTC rearranges the Schedules for the Elder's and Sister's here every once in awhile... and really, the only ones who are affected by it in any major way are *BUM BUM BUM!!!*  the Old folks (AKA; Missionaries learning some impossible language).  I went 9 days without a P-day.  It doesn't sound like much, but it was actually pretty tough.  Classroom everyday can get so monotonous.  Plus, this P-day, we get to go to the temple!  That's probably why it felt like it would never come.  I haven't been in so long!
Things here are going the exact same way they were before... just at different times.
We've had tons of killer devotionals, great food, fun times, and definitely some game changing - spirit growing- soul trying- experiences.   I've never been stretched so thin and upheld by the Lord in this way. 
The language is coming along well enough.  I'm learning things, and I know that the Lord gives unto us the knowledge we need when we need it... as long as you're studying your brains out.  I think I studied my brains out already.  I've got to be stuffing information into my soul by now...  cause there's no more room in my brain.  I'm exhausted most days, but I'm almost always smiling by the end of each of them.  It can't get much better than that.  I can wait to see what it's like in the field! 
I hope everyone is well at home! You're all great, and I appreciate every letter and email that I get!  You're all such great examples to me, and remind me that I can do this.  The faith of the saints isn't forgotten here... at the training grounds for the battlefront.  I can't wait to get to work though.  There are people to help!  There are some people out there who just need some love in their lives, and I've been building up some serious care for the people in Ukraine who I haven't even met yet.
(Attached are some pictures of our celebrations; inclusive of our makeshift christmas tree, my companions and I, my ukrainian nametag, my ENTIRE BRANCH...)
Much love,
My prayers are often in your behalf!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Time moves incredibly slow here.
I think I may die here some days.
Other days, I feel like I haven't been here long enough!
The language is coming along at an average rate I think... but then again, I can never tell when the only people I have to compare myself with are the other missionaries around me.  The Spirit is so helpful to help us learn and to grow.
We had an awesome devotional on Christmas day!  Elder Bednar came and spoke with us; and we did something historic!  He sent out cell phones, hundreds, throughout the audience.  We were instructed to text him questions, and he would answer them ON THE SPOT.  It was so spiritual.  I was fed more than I could chew!
Our zone leader, Elder Nielson, is departing for the Baltics next wednesday.  This means that we are going to have to rearrange the leadership for the zone.  We are also getting 6 more sisters next week... Oh boy.  The composition of our zone will soon become 6 elders (2 trios).... and 14 sisters.  Sweet Mercy. 
I wish I had a ton to talk about... but nothing new really happens at the MTC anymore!  I love it here.  We learn every day, we teach every day, and we do dorky elder things... every day.
Our Christmas went like this;  Playing Uno in the residence halls, eating tons and tons of candy canes,  going to music performance.. after music performance... after music performance... and listening to Elder Bednar Talk.  It was so awesome.  I love this place! 
I love you all back home!  I hope that you all are in good health and that the Lord is continually watching you in your ways.  He loves us all!  I'm so glad I know that I'm a child of God! 
P.S. I intent to send a letter to the ward... as soon as I have a moment to breathe.  Fret not!  I received every package and letter I believe that was intended for me tot receive this Christmas! thank you all!
Your's Truly,
Elder LeBaron