Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Last of the First....

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELDER LEBARON!  I've got something great to tell you!"
"Uh- thank you president!  What's going on?"
"You've been in Lutsk for a long time now, huh?"
"Yeah! I love it he-"
"Well, I'm sending you to Ivano Frankivsk!"
"Oh.  Um.  Thank you president."
"Great? Great.  Have a nice birthday!"

I'm finally leaving my very first area.

I've lived in Lutsk, Ukraine for almost 6 months, and now they're sending me to a bigger city in the other zone - Ivano-Frankivsk.  I was a little bit shocked to get the call.  It was a stretch for me to expect that I would get to serve in the incredible city for 7 whole months, but hey, it was a miracle I was hoping for!

The members are incredible here in Lutsk, and leaving them will probably tear my heart out and stomp it into a million little dusty pieces.  We get calls almost every day from members who just want to ask us how we're doing, want to know what we're up to, and if they can talk to us before I leave the area.  I love this place so much, and if President Lattin allows, I would love to come back to this area and serve here again.  Lutsk will probably always feel like home to me in Ukraine.  Brother Zhuk said he is going to get a Skype account so he can talk to Elder Hadfield and I when we go back home.  I love him a whole lot.

Luckily, I've got a testimony that President Lattin is listening to Heavenly Father, and knows exactly where I need to be, and who I need to be with.  So, Ivano Frankivsk -- Look out! I'm on my way!

Things we did this week --
1) We went to the village again and gathered up hay bales.  Three 19-21 year old boys were left alone in a wide open field with just one bale of hay, and three boards of wood.  I wish I could show you every picture that we took, but let's just say that over 100 pictures of shenanegans later, we may have found every single way possible play with one hay bale, and three boards of wood.

2) We went and blessed the Sacrament for Sister Matsyoha again!  I love that woman.  Her husband walked out without pants on, and started chuckling and laughing.  He's kind of crazy, but he's got a sweet heart.  She told us that he puts on a sweater, a coat, a blanket, and still complains about being cold, but "he won't put his darn pants on!"   It's quite an interesting situation there...

3) I learned how to make Borshch from Brother and Sister Kostachyuk.  I'm going to get started practicing for weekly meals, that way I'm a pro when I get back.

4) Our investigator who dropped his baptismal date and dissapeared came to church to say goodbye on my last sunday!  He wants to start meeting again!!

5) I had an awesome birthday, and one of the members even called me to sing me "Happy Birthday" in english.  (Shout out BROTHER CADOVIE!)  [he doesn't have internet... so he'll never know I did that...]

And yeah!  I got a lot of adventuring to do ahead of me.

ALSO!  The "old - folks" went home.  This wednesday, Elder Ward and Millard are flying back to america!  Wow...  It was sad to say goodbye to them.  I wish them the best, and hope that they find a whole new big adventure awaiting them back in america. 

Elder Ward is my size in everything, so I got a lot of nice stuff to prepare myself for the coming winter!  Score.

Anywho, I love you all very much.

Keep up the good work.
Stay faithful and never falter.
I'll stay in touch.

Elder LeBaron

(Pictures : Limbo in the middle of a field... Me with Brother Sadovie... Me with Sister Mastyoha)

The Elders and Baba Katerina,  "Planking" in a field,  Brother Zhuk and I.

More Field Shenanegans, How we carry Hay Bales,  BORSHCH that we made with Sister Kostachyuk.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Old Folks Home

Ican't get over how witty that title is.
I will explain shortly.

So, this week was pretty darn cool. 
First of all, you need to know a little bit of info:  I was on exchanges with Elder Millard last transfer, and I got him to finally tell me about what his favorite desert from back home is.  He told me it was strawberry rhubarb pie.  I thought, "Okay, heck no.  I'm not making that. That sounds hard."  and kind of jokingly said that if he got me a recipe, I would make it for him.  But then... he got me the recipe.
This week started out by me baking a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie on p-day for Elder Millard, who's birthday is actually in a few days.    
How we got this rhubarb is a miracle actually.  You see, we were on the street, contacting people, not really making a whole lot of friends... when we met a guy named Sanya.  I know. Weird name for a guy.  It's short for Alexander here.  Anywho, he said that he'd be into chatting with us some time, and gave us his number.  FAST FOREWARD!!  We call Sanya to meet with us, and he says that he's bringing us a surprise from his Dacha (house that is not in the city).  Sure enough, he shows up with rhubarb.  
The thing is, I don't know the first thing about rhubarb, or how long it stays fresh...  so I decided to make it as soon as I possibly could.
ANYWHO!! PIE.  I made one.  You know when Nephi was commanded to build a boat, but had no clue how to make a boat?  Well... I'm not drawing any parallels or anything... but... yeah.  The miracles just seem too crazy to be coincidental.
Unfortunately, this whole incident did not mean that Sanya became an investigator.  In fact, whe only really could keep communication with him long enough for him to give us rhubarb.  Darn.

Okay, so then the rest of this week.  We at the pie at district meeting, and it was amazing.  I have been given a surprise gift on my mission that I'm really excited about, just so you all know.

Now the title -- We spent our last weekend with the other Elder's, because we needed to do exchanges with them for this transfer, and we don't have any hot water in our apartment.  These two are part of the oldest group in the mission, and therefore, old folks.  It was a lot funnier when I typed it up at first.  I chuckled about it for a solid 2 minutes.  What happened to my sense of humor....

I digress.  It was incredible to spend some time with these two.  Elder Millard knows how to work, plan, and go about doing good.  It's become a part of who he is, and he's taught me a lot.  Elder Ward may as well be a Ukrainian.  His language skills are incredible, and he has no problem expressing what he wants to say.  His gospel knowledge is nearly flawless, and I really look up to him in that respect a lot.  We've learned a lot from them.  I mean, we spent 4 days over there... so I'm hoping something about being an excellent missionary rubbed off on my somehow!

I've been thinking a lot about goals, and about succeeding.  I think that it's been very therapuedic for me to really dig down inside and think about what I really want to accomplish out here, and who I can help.  

The best goal I could think of is just to do what Heavenly Father wants me to do.  Follow all the rules, keep the commandments, and do my best. 

D&C 123:16-17.  This my favorite scripture.  It really encompasses what I think I'm striving for.  I hope you all can find something enlightening from it as well!

Keep studying your scriptures,
Keep saying your prayers.
Keep loving your neighbours,
I know God really cares.

Elder LeBaron

Icebaths and the Irish Pub

Hello everyone!  

So, this past week, we went on an adventure.  I don't know if you know this about me, but I love nothing more in the world than going on adventures.  So, needless to say, I was way excited to get to go all the way to L'viv for Zone Conference last week.  This was an incredible experience for me, and I really enjoyed it!  President Lattin is a very wise man, and he has a great understanding of the scriptures.  It's admirable, to say the least.  I had a lot of questions answered by him, and felt that this was a much needed experience for me.
As part of this adventure, President and Sister Lattin had a surprise for us; A sports activity, some "american food" (a resturaunt called "Tex-Mex" [shout out to Hayden and Kenna]), and then we watched Ephraim's Rescue.  Our mission gets the chance to enjoy some free time like that twice a year, once and Christmas, and once around the 4th of July.  I really loved it, and felt a lot of unity with the other missionaries who are here serving in our mission.  I met and became friends with a lot of the other missionaries who are in our zone, and in turn, and very excited to see them find sucess throughout the mission.  
The focus of our Zone Conference was one four big subjects;  Temples,  The Holy Ghost, Planning, and Setting Goals.  I'm still processing all of the great things we learned, but one of those was just how much of a pinnacle thing the Temple is for all of the members of the Church, and everyone else on earth for that matter.  President talked about how our goal is not only to get people baptized as missionaries, but to set them up to make it all the way to the temple someday!

​Okay, email title.
Icebaths;  Our quadrant of the city is having the water pipes worked on.  We do not have hot water, and will not for a 15 day period.  It is rather chilly, but I'm coming to find it to be refreshing.  

Irish pub;  Yesterday (yes, sunday), we scheduled to meet with a friend of ours from english, so that we could talk with him.  We thought that this would be a stellar opportunity to see if we could get him to meet with us about the Gospel, and help him to start investigating the church.  We met him in front of the major centeral complex here in Lutsk (it's called ​ЦУМ (ts-oom)).  He was with a friend of his who also comes to english practice, and we started walking and talking.  Elder Hadfield was talking with our friend in english, and I was talking with his friend in ukrainian for about 30 minutes.  They took us to an irish pub... and in order to avoid an awkward situation, we explained the Word of Wisdom to them.  It was awesome!  They completely agreed with us, that drinking is bad, and that smoking should be avoided altogether.  Our friend's friend and I talked about how it's bad to have any sort of addiction in our lives, and how we should avoid those things.  They ended up buying us some banana juice (we also told them that we don't really buy stuff on sunday too.. but that was a whole completely different awkward 5 minutes), and we all sat and chatted a little while longer.  
We didn't get new investigators, but I finally got to teach a principle of the restored gospel after a very long dry-spell.  It was like a waterbottle in the middle of the desert.

Well, I love you all very much!  
Thank you for all of your support and love!

I'll be praying for you!

Elder LeBaron

Monday, July 7, 2014


Remember how last week I sent an email about working hard, even when it rains?
Well, it rained again.

Lutsk flooded.
We got trapped inside the Church for about 2 hours.
On the bright side, we have a lot of great new ideas for the logo of our english program.  We had a lot of time to just sit there draw pictures.

Okay, but for real, how this week went -- 
We had the Zone leaders Elder Vernon and Elder Inman over for a visit!  They came all the way from Rivne just to come show us how to be better missionaries!  These are the same guys that I went on exchanges with just about 3 weeks ago in their area.  
They're great young men, and I had a blast!  Elder Vernon is a super genius, and he worked in his father's Bio-Engineering lab before coming out here.  He's only got about a month left, so it will be sad to see him go soon.
Elder Inman is a kind of shorter guy with a big personality.  He's hilarious.  It's been a long time since I've laughed that hard.  It was a real treat to spend a day with him, and he'll be in the mission for another 6 months.   We spent most of our day pounding through the Area Book.  I used to hate that thing.  Now, I very much less hate it.  All of the information in it dates back to FOREVER AGO (aka 10-14 years).  Needless to say, they area book needed some TLC.  It was just what we needed, having those two come out to help us.

Our investigator who was going to get baptized kind of decided that he didn't want to anymore...  it's been hard to set up another meeting with him.  We're kind of hoping for a miracle here, so if you could put Volodymyr in your prayers, that would be awesome.  

We have 2 investigators right now.  The other one is a Photographer for the Sports something or other important Of Ukraine!  He takes pictures of soccer games.  Mikola just really is in love with the feelings he receives from the Holy Ghost, and loves the meetings we have.  He has insisted on investigating the church for an extended period of time though before making any commitment to be baptized.  That's good though, because a well thought out decision is better than the wrong decision I guess!

That's really all I have to report this week.  
No worries though! We're going to zone conference in L'viv this week, so there will be all sorts of cool things I'll have to share with you all next week!

I know this Church is Christ's Church, and that this work is His.  

Elder LeBaron