Monday, March 2, 2015

It was a really hard week.

And also an incredible one!

Elder Trohkymenko is starting to blossom up, and is making jokes and laughing with me every day!  We're talking with people, making friends with members, and getting used to the area.

Yesterday, they had me do that standy thing in front of everyone to let them know that I'll be acting as the 2nd councilour in the Branch Presidency.  This is a lot of work.... being a missionary and trying to understand how a branch works.  You know the complicated process that the church uses to make sure that every Kopek (cent) is accounted for here?  I'm still trying to figure that one out.  We don't have any real clerks here, so it's my and Elder Ballif's job to do the money. All things are done monetarily in the church here, so checks are NOT ALLOWED for tithing and fast offerings.  Lets just say that you really become a penny pincher with the Lords money.

We gave a blessing to an old woman who is the sister's investigator, and she said that her eyes were magically healed by us.  So, the sisters had us go over and explain the priesthood.  It was a great lesson, and we took our good President Hawkins with us to visit her.  Afterwards, she told the sisters, "They're really bright.  It was hard to look at them, because they were glowing so powerfully!"  So, we fixed her eyes, and then we hurt them.  Not sure how that works, but the Lord works in his own ways.  I won't argue.

I'd like to go ahead and tell you that the Lord always "prepares" a path for us.  Sometimes, he literally just puts a path where you didn't see one before!

Elder Trohkymenko and myself just got to Chernivtsy, and we've been trying hard to catch on to everything that's going on, and get some good work done.  The other missionaries here have been 100% supportive and helpful in doing so... but it's still tough to start from scratch, and build an solid group of investigators.

Well, the Lord dug up, set a foundation, and made a nice cobblestone path for us.  As we were walking through the park after an extensive period of contacting, we were about to turn about and head home.
The road ahead of us was unusually empty, especially for a nice sunny day.  A little discouraged, we trudged along, hoping for a miracle. 
The, that miracle swung around a path on the right, directly into our path.  When Elder Trohkymenko said hello, he went directly into it.  He said, "We are representatives of Jesus Christ, and we'd like to talk with you."
"Sure!" The man said, "I've always got time to talk about Christ!"

One whole restoration lesson on a bench later, Illya, our new friend, left us with this beautiful statement,
"I just want to find the Church of Jesus Christ".

Oh, Illya my friend, you've come to the right place.

And we'll be meeting further!
​So, don't worry.  The Lord takes care of His servants, and we are blessed to be a part of his work!

Also, we had a waffle party at President Hawkins house with the Other Elders after all of the crazy sunday madness (fast sunday is killer here).  When we told President Hawkins that we can't gather in groups without permission, he said, "Well, then it's a presidency meeting.  I'm allowed to do those however I want."  So we had a presidency meeting with waffles.  It was so awesome.  Waffle heaven.  Like america!  My little greenie ate himself into a coma.  He ate so much, that at the end, he just set his head down on the table and just about slept through all the talking (getting trained is hard, people!)

We're going to have a massive conference with all of the members from Western Ukraine in L'viv on sunday!  I'M SO STOKED TO SEE ALL OF MY FAVORITE MEMBERS!!!!
As a result, P-day will probably get moved.  Just so you are all aware of that little fact.  I don't know when it will be, but you'll get an email from me sometime next week.
Anyway, we're having lots of fun, working hard, and seeing miracles!

Thanks for all of your love and support!

Have a great week! Talk to you soon!

Elder LeBaron

Welcome to Chernivtsi

Oh boy, Have I had a crazy 4 days.

You know something about white-washing here?
It's terrifying, and exciting.
It's even better when you are white-wash training.

My companion now is a very serious, small, straight-minded young man from Kiev.  Elder Trokhymenko.  It's my goal this week to make him break into a smile as often as I can get it out of him... I think that says enough about him as far as a sense of humor.  He knows the gospel like a champ though, and is ready to work very hard!  It's pretty impressive to see the motivation he has.
This is one of the few areas in our mission where we have 2 sets of Elders who aren't traveling leadership (zone leaders/Assistants), and we have a set of sisters.  And a senior couple.  Talk about a blessed area!  The Branch Presidency = President Hawkins (senior missionary), Elder Ballif (1st councilour), and... Yours truly (second councilour).  We have very small numbers as far as active priesthood go...
I have been assured that Elder Ballif will be leaving at the end of this transfer, which will leave me as the sole translator, councilor, financist, and district leader.... so I've got a lot to learn.  This has also earned me a long sitting in this area.  Elder Ballif has been here for 7 months.  The Elder before him was also here 7 months.  Oh boy.  Here we go.

To top it all off, my companions baggage is somewhere in the baggage delivery system of Ukraine called Nova Poshta....  

His clothing options are limited, and he's been in a distressed tizzy for the past few days.  Training has been rough, and we're still learning about trust and humility... together.

That hasn't stopped the missionary work though!
This is one of the most active and focused districts that I've ever had the honor to be in.  I love this place already!

Well, I'm hoping to tell you more of our crazy adventures.  There are sure to be many!

I know that the Lord lives, and that this is His work.  We are here to save our great big family people!!

Yours Truly,

Elder LeBaron

​(pictures; Me with our Hebrew reading investigators Yelena and Lev (from lviv) -- Cool picture at a museum we went to today for P-day -- Cool looking Great and spacious building with gold roof...)

Transfers, and I'm not in charge!

I'm being transferred.  That means that my protege, Elder Shnyriov is in charge of making sure that everything goes off without a hitch.  He's a protegy, so I'm not gonna break a sweat about it.  He's a rock!  BEAST FROM THE EAST!
Speaking about "from the east", we got another companion!  He's from Donetsk.  He'll be sticking around with us in a sweet trio for a week.  President is pretty excited to have trio of elders working in the office, because it means that things can get done in there really fast, and we can get out and do MISSIONARY WORK!  HOO-RAH!
I'm going to a beautiful town called Chernivtsi, and I will be training again!!  WOO HOO!! I'm opening a new area (no area book... bah-leen...) with a new "Ukrainian" Elder who was born in Kazhakstan.  I don't understand nationality in this part of the world.  Anywho, he's actually 27 years old.  He got special permission to come out on a mission, so I'm pretty darn excited to serve with him.  I've only heard that he's got a very contagious smile.... and that's all.  I'm stoked!

Thank you all for your continuing support!
Always be faithful, and diligent in the work of the Lord, and then the spirit can be more present in our lives.  With his presence, comes greater joy, greater knowledge, and a greater conversion to the gospel. 
How can we build our testimony of a loving Heavenly Father?  Listen to the words of the prophets, and try as actively as possible to immerse yourself in the programs and direction that come from them.  This love will be unfolded to all of us as we excercise faith in the actions and words of his specially selected servants here on earth.
(That's for you, brotha')
I love you all! 
I wish you the best, and hope you have a great week!
Elder LeBaron

​ps. It's colder than ever here... and it's supposed to get coldest in March, I hear.... oh boy.  Hope you're enjoying all of the HEAT THAT YOU STOLE FROM THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD YA GREEDIES!​