Tuesday, May 19, 2015

At the Corner of Prospekt and Holovna

Hi everyone!
I hope that life is treating you well!  It's been treating us just dandy here in Chernivtsi!
We've had a pretty ridiculous week with it's ups and downs concerning missionary work and our spirits.  Luckily, it all ended up, and not down.
We had exchanges this week with the other set of elder's in the city.  The first day, I was with Elder Ballif, who is STELLAR.  He's about 2 transfers ahead of me, and he's got the most impressive teaching skills that I've ever seen.  He's very careful with words, but never slow about showing love to the people that he works with.  I'd say that he's a very strong and true Elder.  As we were out doing our assigned 2-3 hours of contacting, we ran across a man carrying some really heavy bags.  He's like 70ish, which is pretty normal in this country.  Lots of old people carry big heavy sacks everywhere they go.... and It's usually a mystery as to what their intentions are.  Nevertheless, we turned aside and spoke with him, and offered to carry his bags.
"Who... are you boys?"
"We're missionaries!"
"AH!  You're believing people!  You're preachers!  What church?"
"The Church of Jesus Christ of-"
"The Church of Jesus Christ!  Now that's a  church!"
We continued on with him until we made it to the corner of Prospekt and Holovna, where lots of people sell fresh goods that they made themselves.  As he started to set up his stuff, we left him with our number and address and every possible way to get in contact with us (considering that he has no phone...).  Sure enough, a couple of people next to him get a bit interested in what's going on. 
"Who are these boys?"
"Are they teaching from the bible?"
"What makes your church different?"
And thus began a string of team teaching that I've never seen executed so well on my entire mission.  We switched back and forth, weaving in and out of people bustling by, teaching principles and testifying, picking up where the other one left off.  It was one of the most wonderfully powerful teaching moments that I've had out here!
One woman said,
"So tell me about this sect of yours..."
and instantly, Mykhailo, the guy we had helped to carry his stuff yells out,
It was so awesome.
At the end, a woman came up and gave us two apples as a gift.  This is momentous, as she has to sell those things to make her days wages. 
As we were walking away, admiring the apples, we realized something.  Our hands were empty.
"Where's your Book of Mormon?"
"Uh... I gave it to you."
"No... we left both of them back there with them."
Sometimes, the Lord just hands things to you on a silver platter, and you can't do much more than smile, work your hardest, and thank him for everything he does.

Something great we learned on thrusday is that I hadn't yet been legally registered in the new city... so that's pretty bad, since I've been here for about 3 weeks.  That meant that we had to get a lot of documentation done that day (you know, 2 or so days past the deadline).  This is not a missionary's responsibility, as we have members who work for the church, and usually help us to be legal here.  Unfortunately, since everything just moved so slow, Lyubomyr (one of my favorites from Ivano-Frankivsk [ the MCL who we moved a piano for that one time] ), showed up to help us out with the registration!  This adventure took us the whole day.  We had a meeting set up with an potential investigator, and Lyubomyr was sooooo patient and waited with us for him to come to the church, so he could be on the lesson.... but the guy never showed up.  Well, Lyubomyr can't go very long without eating, so he booked it out of there to finish up some more documents and get something to eat.  I was supposed to go and find some place to get document pictures taken, and meet up with him to take a taxi to the other side of town.  We finally got everyting done... just in time to get back home for some dinner, and then some finding for a bit.  The day ways nuts

I was reading in Mark 8 today about the Savior healing a blind man.
As I read, I pondered over the moment when Jesus heals the man only partially, and then asks him what he sees.
"I see men as trees, walking."
I was thinking about that line. People? Trees? What?
And it kind of made sense to me...
We came here to earth, and we see these people who we probably once knew very well. Coming to earth has made us blind, and unaware of our connection with them. As we begin to dive into the Gospel, we get a hazy view of what it means that we are "Children of God". We say, "He's my Brother" or "Hey Sister Smith!" or something along those lines.
I realized, that if I'm honest with myself, I don't always love these people as a brother, or as my own dear sister. The trick is the second part of this healing.
"After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly."
So the trick about charity and love is this; Only The Savior, who gave us our light and knowledge from the beginning, can finish the job as we are honest with ourselves, and allow him to "make us look up" through prayer, study, and practice. Then, only then, can we be restored, and see everyone clearly as people we once, and can again love deeply as Christ loves us.
I testify of the reality of the Savior.  He lives, and he loves each of us.  I know this Church is not only the true church of God restored back to the earth, but that the commandments and direction we recieve come from on high will bless us more than we can even understand in this lifetime.  Happiness, true and living happiness (the kind that developes and spreads to others) comes from obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
My invitation is that we each offer up a prayer today, and express our thanks to Heavenly Father.  
Also, please pray for our Mission President's wife.  She's gotten a bit ill, and has had to return to America for medical attention.  Sister Lattin is a true saint!
I love you all!
I wish you the best in all of your work and endeavours!
Hold tight to the rod.

Elder LeBaron

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