I hope you all are healthy and happy. I pray for it a lot :)
Things of interest -- I was in Rivne on exchanges with the Zone leaders. Rivne is a great place. I hope I get the chance to serve there someday.
My companion and I get along great. He's like an older brother to me, and shows me a good example of the older brother I should become someday! (Shout out to Matt, who's working really hard back home, and got a new job!!)
Before I start off my story this week, I'd kind of like to prepare your minds. You should all think of something that you have sacrificed for the Gospel. For my friends out on missions, this is going to be a really easy one. Family members will come to mind. Friends will be there too. Maybe your favorite music or some sort of video-game you used to play. It's okay if it's one of those things, as long as it means something to you.
Now, I'm going to tell you about Sister Matsyoha.
There is an old woman who lives in a little village, 2 hours away from our tiny branch here in Lutsk. The village is called Volodimir Volynsk. In the standard of America, you could consider this a village, but it's actually just a small town out here. Out there, you can find just about everything that you need to live, and that's about it. It's quiet, peaceful, and nothing much goes on there.
This sister of ours is a small woman, with a big heart. She sits at home and sings hymns to lift her spirits, because her days are hard. It's difficult to walk, because when you get to about 86 years of age, everything kind of creaks a bit. She can't do much more than sing, prepare food, walk around her house whenever she builds up the energy to do so, and wait for her children to come and visit her. She waits for them... or for one of the sets of missionaries from our church.
When we got to Sister Matsyoha, she was having another hard day. It's been raining here for a long time, so there wasn't even a whole lot of sunshine to warm her little house. It was just kind of dismal. The smile on her face though... it's going to stick with me for the rest of my life. The way she laughed when she shared stories about her children, just how excited she was to have us try her cooking (as it's one of the things she's most proud of), and the way she sincerely prayed to her Father in Heaven --thanking him for everything that he had given her-- will never leave my heart.
Sister Matsyoha hasn't forgotten the face of a single member of the branch back in Lutsk. She used to attend when she was younger. She had the chance to go to the Kiev temple twice. She loves the gospel, and she does everything that is still possible for her to do in order to show it.
Remember that thing that you sacrificed for the Gospel? What you gave up to do something for the Lord? I just wanted to tell you that it is worth it, that's all. It's incredibly hard for us to see sometimes, with these little mortal minds, the effects of our sacrifices. Are they really going to mean anything? Why don't I just pack it up and go home?
I'll tell you why. Because Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Sacrificed everything for me. What is stopping me from giving up everything I have to serve him? Only that temptation to think that it won't be worth it in the end. Faith is a powerful thing. It changes lives. I know it's changed mine already, and my faith is still very, very small.
So when something God has asked us to do seems hard, we just need to exercise our faith, and do it. He fulfills all of his promises. I can just see him smiling when he sees his little children learning how to walk up the path back to him, holding the hand of our Elder Brother (We'd be a mess without him, you know?). Sometimes, he's got to pick us back up, but we'll get there.
Well, I just wanted to say that I love you all very much.
I'm excited to be where I am, and I feel like I'm right where I need to be.
I hope you all feel the same.
PS. In the pictures, I must explain the МОХІТО bottle for those in Spanish speaking contries. X's are pronounced as H's. That is all. I thought it was funny.
-- Старійшина ЛеБерон