Sunday, March 23, 2014

Never Marry a Teacher, Boys

Прівит, Everyone I love!!
This week has been a great week.  
Our mission goals from Zone Conference have mostly encompassed working with members -- which means we've spent the last week working with our members!  This entails family nights, spiritual thoughts, and eating food.  I can handle that I think :)
On Monday, we went over to Brother Sodovie's house.  We bought a big packet of vanilla ice-cream to share with him, a spiritual thought was packed away in our bags, and we also thought we could read something from the Book of Mormon with him -- it's good to read with members to help practice reading (they love to correct you!) -- He was so happy to see us.  He let us in, was excited to have the surprise of us wanting to have family night with him!  He wasn't as excited about the ice cream... at first.  "I can't eat cold things, boys!".  That was sad... at first.  Then, we sat down, and split up a bit of the ice cream between Elder Peterson, Myself, and His mother (who is not a member).
DISCLAIMER** living with your mother is not weird here. ** 
Anywho, he ended up eating ice cream anyway, despite what he had told us.  He told me that I'm a bad eater, and that Elder Peterson needs to teach me how to eat faster.  Pfft.  I totally got a bigger helping of ice cream.  Now, we're going to be coming by a couple times a week to read the Book of Mormon with his mother! So cool! 
We have two investigators with a baptismal date;  One is a 13 year old boy, and the other is a cool 26 year old man with a sweet beard.  The 13 year old is probably the first Ukrainian that I have upheld a solid conversation with, and I actually love talking with him!  He's really great, and I found a friend in him!  He's steadily progressing towards his baptismal date, and we're really hopeful for him!
The other man is so busy all the time!  We haven't had a meeting since we set up his baptismal date!  It's really hard, but he earnestly is trying to meet with us, so I'm sure everything will work out soon enough!
We taught our English class the Star Spangled Banner, and sang it with them.  Is that a bad thing to do in a foreign country?  I don't know.  Most of them seemed to like it.  Only one man complained... and he said it's because he hates singing.  
Bohdan, the man who was just baptised (like, my 3rd week here) let us come over to visit with him the other night!  He's so cool!  He's been trying to throw us into situations where we are with his family members, and that night, we had dinner with him and his wife! They joke and laugh at eachother all the time, which is really cool to see in a couple who has been married for as long as they have.  She teachers school here, and has a big class full of 11 year-olds.  Bohdan gave us what he considered to be solid advice, "Never marry a teacher, boys".   Elder Peterson and I laughed really hard... and Bohdan just got a spiteful glare and some sort of rebuff in Ukrainian that I failed to catch.  He was still laughing though afterward, so it can't have been a fatal mistake.
I love the people, the culture, the heritage, and the MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH in Ukraine!  This place is incredible!  Even though I still have a hard time understanding and talking with people, I'm seeing miracles here all the time.  The Lord has prepared the people out here to receive this incredible message, and I'm so glad that He sent me out here as one of His representatives.
Thank you for all your emails and prayers!  I'm so grateful for all of you!
Much love,

Elder LeBaron

Miracles My Friends, Miracles

Allo, family and friends!
Well, a whole lot of great things happened this last week, and I'm pretty excited about those people that we have the opportunity to work with this.  Ukraine has plenty of people who have been prepared by the Lord... the trick is finding them.
Or not...
We recieved a refferal from a woman, over the phone (randomly), to teach her 13 year old son the other day.  Bam.  Insta-investigator who is way cool.  We're pretty confident that he'll get all the way to baptism and onward with his attitude.  He reads the Book of Mormon! By himself!  At HOME!  Oh my goodness.  I can barely handle the miracle-ness!
We were walking down the street behind this man... who suddenly flipped himself around, looked at our name-tags, and spilled out his life story about how he had a problem and he needed Christ to help him fix it.  He wants to meet with us soon.  He asked for a Book of Mormon.  What?
We called someone out of our Area book... and he agreed to meet with us, at the church, and he accepted a baptismal date on the first lesson.  POW.  Not to mention that we had a ward member from Kiev there who spoke fluent Ukrainian to help us deliver the message of the restoration.  DOUBLE-POW!
Miracles my friends, miracles.
We also had ZONE CONFERENCE!!!  Whoooo!  It was way cool.  On thursday, we hopped on an автобус (a weird travel bus) which traveled into L'viv.  The road from Lutsk to L'viv is a mess.  It was so bumpy.  Elder Peterson got kind of car-sick.  I just fell asleep...  because there was nobody on the bus to talk to.
In L'viv, we had a couple hours to just go out and get something to eat, and take a look at the city.  What happened in our couple hours was pretty nuts;
First of all, Elder Peterson was DETERMINED to find the Souvenier рінок in L'viv.  We ate at McDonalds (MCDONALDS!  I ATE A CHEESEBURGER!)  on our way out... and we ended up not finding what we were looking for.  We found a this cool Greek food place - - this meant that we had to eat the cool greek food there.  It was a pita... filled with pork, cabbage, and french fries and some magical sauce.  What? I don't even know... but it was good.
As we were happily munching away on our spoils, we were met by a Ukrainian woman who was interested in talking about our foriegn-ness.  The situation rapidly changed (not for the better) when she declared that she was actually a Jehovah's Witness.  Oh man...
We exchanged numbers with her, committed her to pray about reading the Book of Mormon, and then kindly left her by walking off the opposite way.  
I loved zone conference!  There was just this magnificent spiritual uplift and a whole lot of loving missionaries were there to talk with.  I really just felt loved, appreciated, and united there.  It was great!
On the way back from L'viv, I ended up sitting next to this woman on the bus.  I was so pumped about missionary work, that I felt like I could just proselyte to the whole world -- which means I obviously I had to talk to this lady.  Only one problem... I don't speak Ukrainian very well.  
My Spirit brain thought better than my earth brain.  I just started talking with her.
She helped me practice my Ukrainian -- I shared a small part of the Restoration -- she took a Book of Mormon with the Sister's number in it.  
What does this mean?  It means that the Lord knows what we're capable of doing, and that He will only give us commandments that he knows we can fulfill.  Remember, He knows us, loves us, and wants to help us grow!  I love the Gospel, and I'm so glad that I have this chance to be out here serving the Lord.
I love you family!
I wish you the best, my friends!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Once upone a time...
Elder Peterson and Elder LeBaron were out on the streets of Lutsk, happily proselyting and smiling, because during planning, they had settled that they were going to teach an english lesson and have a member present lesson with their new investigator who had a baptismal date.  Suddenly, they recieved a phone call from their Zone Leaders that everyone needed to go home to the apartments, stop by a grocery store and get 2 days worth of food, and STAY INSIDE.   Nooooooo!!!!
We had to cancel our awesome lesson with Sasha!
I was going to actually going to be able communicate with Ukrainians! (We had the Advanced Class that night at English).
So much dissapointment!!
So inside we went... and inside we stayed for about 48-ish hours.  It wasn't anything that was WAY long, but it was incredibly inconvenient.  Why did this happen?  Because of political stuff.  That's really all I know...  Sorry to make that seem so much more intense than it actually is.  We have been out proselyting again, and though some of the material that we are allowed to distribute has been declared "against the rules", we also can't hand most anything out on the street... or go tracting...  We are still being missionaries!  A smile can go a long way, and many people have been coming up to us and talking to us of their own free will!  Just the other day, some random lady came up to us asking (in russian), "Hey, smoking is forbidden, right?  You're not allowed to smoke? It's bad, right?"  Luckily, Elder LeBaron remembered the Russian word for forbidden, and was able to respond in kind.  "No, smoking is not allowed.  It's bad." (Because I speak like a toddler, I'm probably the most graceful missionary that ever was).  She then insisted that we talk to her friend.  We invited them to church.  We also gave them a Restoration Pamphelt!  Cool times!
We also had a random man stop us, and in FLAWLESS (okay, broken, but it was understandable) ENGLISH, he asked us, "Hey boys!  Do you know the city "eldersburge" in the state of maryland??"  We both responded in the negative, and he instantly broke off communication with us and proceeded on his way.  What?? What is in Eldersburge? What does that mean!? Who are you random man?? I may never know.  I should have stopped him before he ran off.
Also, There was a wedding!  The groom is a member of the ward named Serhi, and he wanted his reception themed after - - BUM BUM BU BUM!!! - - FAMILY NIGHT!  
WHAT? Who does that?  I don't know, but the missionaries were SO EXCITED.  We all showed up, and we had a battle strategy to work this to our advantage.  He even, of his own free will, wanted to show two mormon messages about Marriage. What manner of man is this!?
They had this awesome ring ceremony that I didn't understand a word of... and then suddenly, out of nowhere, the Bride gets up, and starts this song on her ipod, and RAPS to her new husband.  SHE WROTE HIM A RAP.  HOW COOL IS THAT??  It was even cooler to me, because I got to hear what a rapping Ukrainian sounds like.  So cool.
Afterwards, we met a lot of cool people, I talked to the other Elder's investigator Dieter, who is from Germany.  He speaks a blend of Ukrainian, German, and English.  I understand him sometimes.  That's more than can be said for most of the other Elders.  Whoo hoo being useful!
Anywho, I just want to testify to you that I'm really being assured everyday that the Lord is preparing ways for us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our friends, neighbours, and family.  If you haven't already done it, get a chance with a ward mission leader, work with missionaries in your area, or just invite someone over for food and share a bit about your beliefs, and what you know (your testimony and witness are very powerful!).  Who doesn't like food?  And the Gospel? (Everyone really liked the idea at one point; Otherwise, they wouldn't be here on earth!) When they're combined, it's a win-win! If that sounds WAY to uncomfortable... well, it usually is a little bit uncomfortable at first.  That's okay though, because it'll be a great experience!  Just tell them how much you love the gospel! I love the gospel :)

I also love food.
Luckily, God gave us both :)
I love you all as well, and I pray for you constantly!  
Continue to be good examples!
Continue to smile often!
And continue to send me emails and such.  I love hearing about everyone!
Your's truly,
Elder LeBaron

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hello beloved family and friends!
I just would like to say;  I love you all!  Thanks so much for the support that you've provided for me out here! You're all being such great examples of charity and Christ-like care.  It makes me want to be better every day!
Now... I know that you've all heard that some crazy stuff is going on here in Ukraine.  I would like to tell you that it will be important to pray for all of God's children out here.... and that the worst of the difficulites is actually over. The situation never stopped the work from progressing here in Lutsk, and we were actively involved in proselyting for the most part of last week.  I fear that there was a lot of sad things that happened here and in Kiev.  It's been a very rough time for Ukraine, but the members are now very hopeful for the future of the country.
As for me and Elder Peterson, we're getting along just fine!  We work hard, we look for opportunities to share, talk, and teach every day!  We pray hard.  We work hard.  I couldn't have asked for a better trainer. 
We have so much work to get done all over the world! It's a good thing that so many people have responded to the call to serve a mission!  To all of my friends, you are amazing! I've heard so many reports of paper submissions and active work in serving the Lord.  Man, this is just a super cool time!
Not a whole lot of new stuff is happening in our work.  We're still working with the same people, and we're working hard to help them progress.  It's been difficult to set up meetings with a lot of them, but this week is looking hopeful.  Tonight, we're going to be having family home evening with the Danko family.  They're just awesome! 
Something kind of interesting did happen actually.  See, we have this investigator named Sooliman.  He's from Jordon.  Yeah... like, near Israel, full blooded Arabic, Muslim born.... He's super cool.  He's reading the Book of Mormon, and has about a ZILLION questions.  He speaks english... not much Ukrainian, and he thinks it's funny that we don't drink coffee, and laughs each time he invites us over for juice.  I think there is going to be a miracle happening with him soon.  I just feel so optimistic all the time, know that the Lord has provided people who are ready to hear the message!
I love you all so much! I think about you all often, and pray for you every day!  
Much love,
Much thanks,
Many miracles!
Elder LeBaron