Monday, November 10, 2014

L'viv and Back -- A Missionary's Tale

The title is a lot more interesting than my week was,

HA! sorry.

We just went to L'viv for another mission conference.  I swear we have those once every month now.  President just reemphisized the 19 points of missionary work that we are focusing on in our mission, and we had a great time learning and discussing methods for finding more families to teach in each of our respective cities, and work with the members who are already here.

Ivano is a great city!  I love this place THIIIIIS MUCH! *Arms extended wide*. 
I wish that I had a whole lot of interesting stories to let you in on for our week, but we didn't have a whole lot happen here.  It's been cold, and it's been humid.... like always.

One EXCELLENT highlight of our week... with a bittersweet sting -- Orest Rubitsky left for his mission yesterday!  It's so cool to see young men like him head off on the coolest adventure every.  He was so excited.  Many members from the Branch went to the train station to bid him off as he departed to L'viv, where he will serve for a few days, and then  be shipped of to Madrid for training.   He'll be an incredible missionary.
The bittersweet sting comes from knowing that Orest was one of our most helpful members in planning and running activities... 
Take good care of him Kiev.  He's golden.

Cool little miracle for you all --
Last night, we planned to meet with an african man who we had contacted who wanted a Book of Mormon in english. We dug through the library, found the book --- but he didn't pick up his phone... so after we had done most of our things there, we set out onto the street to get home, packing the Book in our bag.  Street contacting after dark is very difficult, since Ivano is so poorly lit.  Most people think that I'm CIA as it is, and when you have two figures dressed in big black coats approach you in the night, it tends to make you a little less inclined to have a friendly conversation with them about Jesus.
As we walked up to a small cross-walk area, we found ourselves under one of the few street lights to be found.  Suddenly, a small -- clearly not ukrainian -- man came into the light as well.  I blurted out one of the biggest "Hello"'s of my life.  Not sure where it came from.  The man stopped and greeted us like we were old friends.  He told us his name was John, and that he was from India.  He's here for medical school, and that he is a Christian.  We instantly pulled out one of the most christian books we had on us... and the only book we had with us in english -- BOOK OF MORMON!  It was the craziest coincidence.
We're planning on going over to his house tonight to teach him the first lesson. 

God's pretty much the coolest.  He makes lots of good things happen, even from where you don't expect them.... like from India, on a dark poorly lit street in Ukraine.

You all keep doing what you need to do!
Be good, wash your faces, and brush your teeth.

And study the scriptures ALWAYS!
They're the word of God, people.


Elder LeBaron​

-- Старійшина ЛеБерон

Taking a Bite of The Apple.

I'm very excited to be writing you all, my friends and family!

We've had one of the most blessed, exciting, and enlightening weeks of my mission.  It's going to be fun to talk about all of this, so hang on tight as I go on a long blabbering rant about how awesome life as a missionary has been.  I'll start from little miracles and move up :)

Our week this week started off like a lot of them do...
Lot's of area book work -- lots of contacting.
We worked hard, and in light of the "Missionary/Member work night" we have on Thursdays, we set up what seemed to be 4 solid meetings to go on splits with the members to over the course of 2 hours.  It's a great experience to do work with the members, and I was ECSTATIC to go out to work!
But... as unfortuantely sometimes happens, all 4 of the appointments fell through.  I was feeling pretty down about it.  
Then, something awesome happened;
I got a call as we were doing some service for the branch president (carrying new childrens clothes to his house [members donated them because they just adopted 3 children from Donetsk] and dropping them off)  When I get a call from one of the youth in our branch, Ivan Rubitsky -- 
"Elder LeBaron! Guess what?"
"What's up Ivan?"
"All my classes got canceled today, and I'm bored.  I could play dumb games on my phone all day... or I could come hang out with you guys and go preaching and stuff.  Do you have any time that I could come do that??"
"Uh... I... yes.  Very yes."

It was like a little ball of happiness that just fell out of the dark and stormy sky.

Next, we had the Branch Halloween party.  Halloween is a really weird thing in Ukraine.  Most of the old people think it's for Satanists and Pagans.  A lot of young people think that as well... and celebrate it "accorrdingly"  *shivers*.  Creepy days.  So you can imagine what people are thinking as a whole when they hear that our branch is throwing a "Halloween Party!"  
Well, it turned out AWESOME.
This was probably the most effective activity of my mission so far. THE MAJORITY of people who came were non or less active members.  Everyone had a BLAST.  All the Elders were wrapped up as mummies with toilet paper.  Bobbing for apples was a blast! The scare room that I designed and all the elder set up and ran was the favorite attraction of the night. 
We set it up like this - A bowl full of macaroni hidden inside a black garbage bag was "brains", a bowl full of olives was "eyeballs", and well... there was a bowl of hearts.  I literally just bought 13 грн. of chicken hearts... so... it really was hearts.  HA!  And then... we set up a false box, with a hole that actually led to under the table, where Elder Salamatin was sitting, ready to grab and yank the unsuspecting hands of anyone who put their hands into "The black hole".  The room was almost pitch black, so nobody could see a thing.  I was given the honor of ushering people into the door.   The screams were hilarious.  My favorite was when the sister missionaries asked "Can we go in?"  "SURE!" :D  Sister Rudolphi is tough as nails, and didn't budge an inch... which is more than I can say for her companion.  She scores an 11 on a scale of 1-10 for loudest screams. 
Best part of this whole thing -- we had a couple of people just show up to church and stay for sacrament meeting as a concequence of how much they loved to spend time with the member and missionaries.  A young man named Maksim asked if he could get texts about our english program and come to more things!  Great activity.

Okay... and now... drum roll!
We met with a man from the Area book named Serhiy (not the bus driver, this one kind of reminds me of Santa Claus without a beard).  He's SUPER friendly, and loves to talk with us.  We had a nice meeting, talked all about the Book of Mormon.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, I hear the baptismal commitment blurp it's way out of my mouth.  He said yes.  December 13th, 2014.  
We have a baptismal date.
Heavenly Father is so cool.  
It's awesome how he can talk to his children, and work with them through us if the spirit is there.  I really didn't even do anything, and now I get to witness a whole lot of awesome things about to come!

I love being a missionary!

Well, keep on working, and loving, and praying.
The Lord is on our side, when we choose to be on his.

Elder LeBaron