Sunday, September 21, 2014

We Get Things Done.

Dear Friends and Family,

This week has been pretty cool.  Have we seen a lot of success?  Well, actually, a WHOLE lot more! 
We got in contact with a potential investigator from our formals -- and here's the best part -- It's a FAMILY!!! I want nothing more than to teach families.  My companion is probably getting sick of me harping on us needed to call and contact families.  We're working our best on it.
Elder Rubliuk and I found a new investigator!  We have been working pretty hard in the Area Book, and we finally got a meeting with a cool guy named Serhiy.  He drives one of the public transport buses in town, and he's way down to earth.  He's your typical crazy buff Ukrainian bus driver with a steel chain cross dangling from his neck... but somethig extra -- He speaks completely in Russian.  Chance would so have it that my new friend Elder Rubliuk actually uses Russian at home.  He not only CAN speak in russian, but it's the language in which he thinks.  So that's pretty cool. It makes Serhiy much more open to talking with us.  Miracles people! I've been working with Elder Rubliuk on all of the material that trainers are supposed to work with trainees on, and I get to see him put it into real time action on lessons. It's actually pretty awesome.  I love this! 
This week, I've come to find that there are SO many chances for us to help those around us.  As we go about our day, we might even miss some of these vital experiences.  Do you realize how critical it is that we are looking to serve every day?  Think of all of the people in this world who could be benifitted if every single latter-day saint got on their knees, and prayed that Heavenly Father would show them every opportunity to serve someone else that day... and then ACTED on it!  The world would be a way better place, and SO MANY people would have great interactions with our church.  A lot of members think that Missionaries are the only ones who go around preaching the gospel every day, but in reality, it's every single member of the church.  Through your actions, you could bring the next person you come in contact to back to Heavenly Father.  That's a big responsibility, and it's an incredible gift!

I don't have a lot of crazy stories to report in this email... sorry.  Just a big thought about how important it is to give 100% effort in everything that we do.  Heavenly Father gave us this life to use it as best as we could.  100% in my mind doesn't mean we do it perfect, is just means that we give it our all.  In order to show our appreciation for what we're given, we ought' to really dig in, and show what we're made of!  I love thinking about the gospel that way.  It's a challenge, and it's an adventure!

I love you all!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Search Begins Again!

Hello, to one and all!
It's been a pretty interesting week.
We got to L'viv late on Wednesday night, and I was introduced to our 2 new Elders from Kiev.  Both of them are very impressive young men.  We had very little time in the evening to talk and get to know one another, so we just got ready for bed.  It was good to see a lot of my favorite missionaries there (Which was almost everyone, considering how few Elders we actually have in our mission).  
The next day, we were with our trainees.  We got to the branch building in L'viv, and there had a little training sesson for the 4 of us.  The trainers got taken aside, and we talked long and carefully about our responsibilities and how to help these new missionaries get along. 
It overall is an interesting experience, being with a native companion.  In a lot of ways, I feel like he is training me!  He knows the culture, the people, the language, and even has a good grasp on the Church Culture, being born and raised in the church in Kiev where the church has been for awhile now.  I'm in charge of the hardest part... learning how to live like a missionary.  It's a whole new ball-game people, trying to teach someone about something you struggle yourself with.  It's a great teaching tool that the Lord uses.  It's ironic, and it's effective.
Finding new investigators has been REALLY ROUGH.  I feel like we always come back to this seemingly hopeless search every single transfer.  I think I accidently contacted 8 drunk people the other day with Elder Rubliuk.  In our nightly prayer, he prayed that Heavenly Father would, "Make drunk people stay as far away from us as physically possible".   I had to REALLY try hard to stop myself from laughing out loud.
He prays in English a lot of the time, because I pray in Ukrainian.  His english is pretty darn good, and he's working really hard to learn as much of it as he can from me.  I could definitely learn a lesson about dilligence from him about language study!
I've had an incredible experience this week with casting one's cares upon the Lord.  Obviously, I'm not the most amazing missionary in the world.  I've got a lot to work on.  I already was aware of that.  Now, Heavenly Father gave me a lot more chances to minister, and work for the benefit of my brothers and sisters.  The only problem is, I see my own weaknesses blindingly gleaming as I stumble about trying to get everything done right, and on time.  Many times this past week, I have dropped down on my knees and begged for help with the things that need to get done. I've prayed just to give thanks. I've prayed for miracles.  I've prayed for blessings.  I've prayed for just about everything I could possibly think of.  The only thing that has helped me is putting a smile on my face, and just going out with one thought -- "If the Lord wants it done, He will get it done.  All I have to do is listen and do."
My cares at certain points of the day have completely melted away through giving them up for the sake of just doing what Heavenly Father would want.  
I may not know a whole lot, but I do know one thing;
Heavenly Father loves us, and so doing what He says can only help.
I love you all a lot.
I pray for you often as well, and hope for your success and happiness.
Heavenly Father loves you.
I promise!
Elder LeBaron

(Sorry, pictures next week... I hope....)​

-- Старійшина ЛеБерон

Fun in Frankivs'k!

Hey everybody!

Everything is going just dandy here in Ivano Frankivs'k!  It's your standard week for a Ukrainian missionary -- working your guts out to just set up an appointment.  Luckily, we've still had a pretty productive week, and I'm looking at some pretty hopeful prospects for the future of our area.  I think that there is a whole lot of good about to come on it's way!
As for our investigators, nobody is really progressing right now.... and I think it has to do a lot with how difficult it is to get a meeting with them.  I'd like to tell you a pretty funny story about us finally (sort of...) getting an appointment with our investigator from Nigeria, Alex.
So, Alex's son turned 1 year old this week, and we sort of called to set up an appointment on that day.  My companion, out of the blue, offers for us to bake a cake for him and bring it over.  That means that Elder LeBaron will be baking a cake, and his companion will wash the dishes... Anyway -- cake gets made.  We take said cake across the city to our friend for his sons 1st birthday part.  We get there, and we have both forgotten which apartment number he lives in.  Luckily, his other friend from Nigeria walks up, and gets us inside the door to the stairwell.  We get walking... get to the door.... knock.... and there is Alex's mother in law, staring pretty dumb-founded at the two Missionaries.  Then, in the most hoodlum way a black man can convey in Ukrainian, he says to her, "Naw, they with us".  
Next thing I know, we're just two little american boys sitting in an apartment sitting next to a really cool Muslim guy from... somewhere, a couple of Nigerians,  lots of Ukrainians, and a few Russians... all celebrating a little kids birthday party.  It's another one of those moments where I just kind of looked around and thought, "How... did I get here?" 

That seems to happen a lot on this mission.

I also forgot to mention that this week is Transfers.  I am staying here!  WHOOO!!! Unfortunately, Elder Stout is heading to Uzhorod (Furthest west you can get in our mission).  I was kind of chuckling to myself when he got the call, because Elder Stout is a pretty strict guy with not much slack to spare, and Uzhorod is known for being a bit more lax part of our mission. He's going to be District Leader there!  It'll be good for that part of the mission.  Not considering fully what that meant, Elder Stout then hands me the phone....
"Uh, Hi president!"
"Hello Elder LeBaron!  I've got some things for you to do..."

I'm training a great new elder from Kiev.  I sure hope that he speaks English!  We'll see.
I'm also picking up Elder Stout's job, and I'm district leader here.
Starting Wednesday.

Heavenly Father heard all of those times I said, "Man, I'm glad I'm not in charge of that!  Someone will figure that mess out", and he laughed.  And then he dropped a bucket of cold water on my head to get me up and moving a bit quicker.  Ahhh.... Fatherly Love.  The only kind of love that really helps us grow.

It'll all be good! Heavenly Father runs this work.  I'm sure glad that he does, because it operates entirely on His miracles, and on our faith in Him, and our willingness to get out and work.

I'd like to say that I know that He answers our prayers.  I know that it's true.  I've seen countless silent prayers be answered in the most gentle and clear ways.  I've seen open vocal prayers be answered in ways that only became visible until after I made it through the hardest times.  Prayers work, and Heavenly Father is listening.  I can guarantee it, and you can confirm it with your own experience.  Pray, and put your faith in Him.  He's ready to help and bless us.  I know it!

I love you all very much!
I'm going to be praying for you all!

Elder LeBaron