Monday, August 17, 2015

Chess and Check-ups

Honestly, I'm really hungry right now, because we haven't gotten lunch yet.
That may influence some of the things I write.  Apologies before hand.

This week was kind of a bust as far as our numbers go.  We've had an interesting situation with the fact that Elder Podvodov is going in for an inevitable surgery sometime this week, and is going to need to be babysat for at least one more week.  That makes things a bit difficult for our distrit's numbers.  The hardest part is having 4 elders in 1 apartment.  We've just been trying to take shifts with him.  In the evening times, we take turns playing him in chess. But hey, it's only going to get better when we get the Zone Leaders up here on wednesday and thursday!  We're going to hit the streets hard (finally) and get a'preachin'!  

Missionary work is awesome.  Somedays, it's sad because I feel like we don't get enough done.
But it's okay!  We just do what we're asked and we dig in wherever we can in whatever way we can to help the work go foreward!  Ultimately, it's Heavenly Father who makes everything work out.  My testimony of that was built today by this little article in our mission news letter!  I'll just share it with you:

Elder Hubbert

The longer I am on my mission the more I discover that this is the Lords work and not my own. The story of Roman goes all the way back to May. His journey from that point until now took many steps and involved different companionships, united districts, and a loving and welcoming Branch. It was Elders LeBaron and Трохименко who found Roman one day by the church. They did exactly what we need to do as missionaries, they invited him to see the church, gave him a tour and took his number. At that time they didn't realize what impact they had just made on this man's life. Several months passed and transfers came and went. This whole time they continued to try to call Roman but he could not meet. Soon it was Elder Hubbert and Трохименко working in the area. Elder Трохименко one day was cleaning the area book and came to Roman's number. At this point Roman had given enough excuses and missed calls to be moved to the "excuses" page in the area book, but he decided to call one last time before moving his number. The call was worth it, Roman was able to meet. Elder Hubbert and Трохименко met him at the church and it was one of the best first lessons that they had ever had. Roman was a man who was ready to receive truth, he accepted all of the commitments to the first lesson, gave comments and even accepted a baptismal date in the end. Over the next three weeks the missionaries continued to prepare him for that date. Every time a commitment was extended he willingly accepted it. When it came to the word of wisdom he had been smoking, but we showed him the 15 steps program and offered any other help that we could extend. The next time we talked with him he said that he had stopped smoking. The success of his baptism was his own. He quickly developed the desire and was willing to act. He also had great support from the members in the branch. On most of the lessons there was at least one member present, and a few times we would be getting ready to begin a lesson and more members would show up to the church and join in. Roman quickly made friends and was welcomed into the church. With each lesson that lead to the baptism the district of missionaries also worked together either welcoming him in, being present on lessons through exchanges, or just making sure he felt a part of the branch. A final miracle came the day of the baptism. In the days before the event a pool was reserved, and people were invited to come, but there was a problem: Roman's phone was turned off and no one could get in contact with him. So everyone knew the time of the baptism except the person being baptized. After doing everything that we could as a district the baptism was actually canceled the day before simply because we couldn't get in contact with Roman. Then after much prayer, the morning of the baptism his phone turned back on and even though he didn't know the original time, he could still be baptized then. So once more we contacted all we could, uncanceled the baptism, and still had it on Friday. On that day, August 14th, Roman was baptized by a great member here in the branch Віталій Серафім.

This is a huge testimony builder for me, that no matter where you are, as long as you dedicate yourself to serving and doing what you know is best,  the Lord will use your efforts for the building of his Kingdom!
Everyone can take part in amazing things! Even if it's just a little one :)

Have a great week everyone!
I hope that you will see the miracles that you are, or have been, a part of making this week!

Love you all a lot!
Take care!

Elder LeBaron

(Mission) Home alone.

This week was way weird.
I felt like a homeless person.

So, we had the saddest, coolest, most spiritual thing happen.  4 of our best missionaries went home.  I got to go to the departure dinner  The dinner was awesome, and then we watched this slideshow that me made in the office of pictures from their missions.  I didn't cry.  Miracle.
Then, we listened to all of their testimonies -- Let me tell you -- Those are 4 young people whose mission changed their lives!  I was really touched (still didn't cry).  

Then, we went to bed... and I got up at 3 in the morning to go with my companion, Elder Salamatin, to the airport.  Sister Shylina also was there, and it hit me like a wall that they were going home.  They walked through the terminal... and I realized that I may never see those to beloved Ukrainians ever again.  That's my brother and sister.  I still didn't cry, but I really wanted to.

Got home... didn't sleep... I was with the office couple, because my companion was now gone.
We ate breakfast together (they're super generous, and fed me food!)
Then, we went to the office to wait for the other 2 elders to send them off as well.  
Elder Asay and Elder Mollinet are like my big brothers -- they've been watching out for me my entire mission....
and the same thing happened.. one more time.  It was like being at a funeral.  But, this time it was a little less painful, because I knew I was going to see them when I got back... but still sad. 

Well... then we were on to our next project:  Get the 2 new missionaries coming in from the Spain MTC.  2 new Ukrainians!
Well... my job was then to get with president and got pick them up at 10:20pm or so...

So Elder Plaster (Senior Elder in the office) took me over to the Mission Home.  Poor guy was huffing and puffing, because he was trying to keep up with me (should've slowed down... it's just natural), and tell me stories from his mission (which were AWESOME!)

When we got upstairs, Sister Rizley met us at the door, and ushered me in... and informed me that I would be staying on the 2nd floor, in a back room with a bed, and that I was to stay there until I was summoned.  Obviously, she didn't say it like that at all, but that was what I gathered from the way I was sat down and the door was closed.  Maybe President wasn't home yet... I'm still unsure.

But... then I was the most alone that I've ever been for the past 20 months...

The flight for the new missionaries was delayed around 4 times.
We ended up finally going to the airport at 3 am.

I slept a total of 4 hours over the course of those 3 days between the getting up in the middle of the night, and the crazy noises and people talking really loud.  Somehow, through it all, we managed to find 3 new investigators who are really cool, and teach our english class, have lessons, and I finally got my new companion, Elder Tykhomyrov.  

So... I was a missionary hobo for a few days.

Now things are going really well.
It's weird right now, because Elder Podvodov got his wisdom teeth removed last week, and so we've been taking shifts to watch him...
I somehow haven't gotten stuck in the apartment to nanny him though... so I've been kinda lucky -- even though I love the kid.

I'm happy to be out here in the field!
This is the best place on earth!!

I just want to bear my testimony that I know that this Church is true!
I wouldn't have stayed out here for this long if I didn't know that by now.  This has been a very trying experience, but I'm more happy now than I ever was before.  I'm sad to know that I only have 4 months left... but I'm also happy because, hey, I've STILL GOT 4 MONTHS!  YEAH!

The Lord blesses us for the desires of our hearts and for our good efforts.  I know that if we will dedicate ourselves to God, He will never lead us away from that which will ultimately make us the happiest!  And that happiness lasts forever!

I love you all a lot!
Take good care of yourselves,

Elder LeBaron

​-- Pictures:  Elder Podvodov's ice packs for his face... in socks.  
                    The departed.
​                      My mugshot for government documents in ukraine!

How to not be trunky -- A traveler's tale.


Today, we have 4 of my favorite missionaries leaving...
And I'm going with them to the airport to say goodbye. One of them is my companion, Elder Salamatin.  

It feels like I'm going home.
But I'm not.

Since we just need to make the best of our circumstances, I've come up with some ways to AVOID TRUNKINESS.

1) Study your scriptures as though you will never see them again if you put them down!  
2) Bear your testimony ALL THE TIME!
3) Eat well, sleep well, and enjoy your life.
4) Never say, "Man, when I get home..."
5) Pray for strength to focus on what's important
6) Remember that you still have lots of time, and that it's all really valuable!
As I've been trying to follow each of these goals, I'm keeping myself from going crazy. 

I'm going to be following Elder Plaster (our local senior couple elder) and President Rizley for the next two days...  No companion till wednesday.

Life is weird.
But it's pretty cool.

There are really big changes coming, and I'm certain that they will lead to make these next couple of transfers AWESOME!!!

I'm very positive for the future here!

I love you all!
We are eating really well, so I'll attach pictures.

I guess I'll talk to you next week.
​See ya!​

Baptism, Bunkers... Burnt Yellow.

Hello Everybody!

This week has been a week to remember!  It'll be easier to remember because I GOTS PICTURES!

Most every day is crazy here.  I like it a lot.  Planning for the conference was not my favorite thing to do, but I think everything turned out alright.  Elder Salamatin put me in "charge" of everything, but was ready to catch me if anything broke through the floor.  WE had a 1 hour presentation of the culture of our mission, and what to expect as the mission's overall vision.
I have but one regret;
We should have made popcorn  
Nobody slept though, so it's fine.

Again -- so many elders crammed into one house.  You'd think that a war had broken loose, and our apartment was the only safe bunker available in the city of L'viv.  The aftermath was comparable to an open war-zone.

Then, we had both sets of Zone Leaders up in our area so that we could go on exchanges with them.  NUTS.  I got to go with Elder Ferbey (my companion from the MTC) and Elder Rubliuk (My Trainee from Ivano Frankivsk).  It was lots of fun... except that I felt like my brain was going to explode out of my eyeballs on the second exchange for most of the day... but hey, sometimes you only get to choose HOW you're going to work, and not your working conditions.

There was a baptism in the Branch on sunday!  It was actually kind of cool, because he was baptized in the morning at 9:30, and then he got the gift of the Holy Ghost in sacrament meeting right after.  He was happy as a clam, but he also fell asleep in sacrament because of the extra early train he had to take to make it on time from the village he lives in.

Before his baptism, however, we had a serious problem...
The font was filled with cold water, even though we had it turned to warm...

And it was yellow.
Like, burnt yellow.
Like urine.

So... the next morning, we were at the church at 5am trying to fix everything so that we had at least clear water.  It was freezing, but hey, that's invigorating, right?

Overall, everything turned out just fine.

My companion is going home next week!
It's definitely time for him to get back home -- He's been serving for over 2 years now because of his switch from his Russian Mission to being sent over here.  Tired, old Elder Salamatin.

That's about it for this week!
Have a great week, and keep yourselves immersed in the scriptures! Keep a prayer in your heart!

God's love will shine brighter and more clearly on us as we do.

Elder LeBaron

President Rizley's Race-car

Hi everyone!

It's been a good week.  We had a lot of things that needed to get done, and not a lot of time to do them (like, you know, every week).  One of those big things that we had to get done was preparing for the departure of President Steinagel, because the new full-time mission President was coming in on Friday.  The mission office has never been so clean... ever.  It's spotless.  Not to mention that we had a bunch of new equipment put in, and we had NO training on how to use any of it...  it's been an adventure to say the least.

Volodymyr is still getting baptized next week!  We're stoked!  He's a good guy, and will make a wonderful addition to the branch.  He's good friends with the Branch President, Roman Lisniy, so it's been good to have that direct member help. 

President Rizley came in on friday, and he's honestly one of the coolest people that I've ever met.  As we were in his office talking about the plans for the mission, he turns to us and says, 
"You're going to need to speak up/ I actually have really bad hearing.  It's because of fast cars, loud music and machinery, and guns."  
"Fast cars?" 
"Yeah, I used to have a race-car"
"You had a race-car?"
And then he kept talking about whatever he was more interested in.  Still don't know a whole lot about him, but I know one thing for sure -- He owned a race-car.

He's actually a very successful businessman, a rancher, and a well known church leader.  His wife is a FIREBALL.  She's a professional teacher, and one of the most positive people ever!  She hiked the grand canyon not long before coming out here... 
So, needless to say that they are impressive people.

He's said a lot of good things to us about what the Apostles are saying about our mission, and he's super excited to be working here.  I was asked to translate his talk on Sunday without much warning, and despite my struggle, everyone understood and felt the spirit! :)

Most of the week beside that has been just planning for the conference this coming week, and running around in an attempt to get everything else under control.  I'm loving how busy it is here!  Busy days with lots of success make for happy missionaries :)

I love you all!
Remember to always live worthy of the spirit in order to follow his promptings.  Those promptings will be what puts our lives in line with God's will, and will make us the most happy!

Have a great week!

-- Elder LeBaron

Insert Title Here

It's been a good week.

Missionary work is a great learning experience. 
I'm learning a lot about patience, kindness, love, teaching with the spirit, listening with the spirit, how to be a better disciple of Christ... 

and as a headline principle for this week:

Don't eat a big bowl of 4 day old spicy macaroni and then take a nap.  
The following are symptoms;
Dreams an unnatural nature - Stomach noises that frighten your Ukrainian companion -  Being so disoriented that you have a burning impression that you are in the matrix - And finally a good 30 minutes of spicy penalty time out on the ceramic throne in the back room.

Mercy, me.

On a less 19-year-old boyish note, we have some great things going on in our area!

There's a baptismal date in the branch for the 26 of July!  Another Volodymyr.  He's 23, and is AMAZED by temples.  He loves the prospect of going to the one in Kiev, and is willing to do anything to get there.  On top of that, he's looking for a change in his life that will help him to be a better man.  It's nice when people ask for exactly what you have to offer, you know? He's also a good friend of the Branch President here (some of you might know this guy). Those are the moments when you thank Heavenly Father for making the gospel so simple, that anyone can use it.

Not much else to report except that it's going well here in L'viv.  A little rainy.  Happens.

I know that God loves us!  I know that His work will continue, and I'm glad to be a part of it.  

Keep going!
Keep smiling!

Elder LeBaron


I'm super clueless.

Sometimes, I think that I've been on a mission, just so that Heavenly Father can show me how much I don't know.  It's a HUGE blessing.  If you'd like Him to fix your pride, just send papers to Salt Lake.  

I've been out long enough that I understand what it feels like to have the spirit with oneself in missionary work, and what it feels like to try and do it all by oneself.  Though, The problem that exists here is universal.  We all understand that we have specific duties to perform in order to be worthy of the gifts of the spirit (i.e. comfort, empathy, empowerment through the atonement...), but we sometime just are too lazy to dig in and get our hands dirty.  
This week was a great opportunity for me to realize what it means to cast out your fears and distractions, and just "dig in and get your hands dirty".   In order to really do this work, you've got to be willing to make mistakes, look dumb, repent, change, and be humbled.

A couple of lessons throughout the week have led me to believe that I haven't been a bold enough person throughout the course of my mission.   Finding lots of investigators and inviting them all to be baptized and planning everything and this... and that... and business;  that's actually very easy.

What's not easy?  Taking hold of the gospel with your whole heart, loving it, taking hold of a person, loving them, and helping that person to really grasp hold of the reason for your hope.  It amazes me how much more personal missionary work is than any other work.  This is truly the Lord's work, because you learn to love in a very real way.

We have one young man who says he wants to be baptized, and we'll be setting some solid plans with him this next sunday.

We have another member referral that we're exerting a lot of effort for to help him get himself on track for baptism.

I'm more tired than I've ever been on my mission ever before.  It's awesome.  I hope that we accomplish a lot of incredible things in L'viv!  The plans need to be set in place, and we've got to account for all of our resources... it's just difficult to find a peaceful moment to think sometimes because of random special assignments and unexpected speed-bumps.

It'll all get solved though. This is God's work, and He helps all of those who want to give it their all.

Okay, on a more INDEPENDENCE DAY  note:
We went to family night with the Clinger family.  Yup, they're americans.  It was so weird going to a house where kids were speaking, and I understood everything they were saying.  I forgot what american kids are like.  It was so much fun!
We ate burgers... american style burgers.  That's the best burger I've had in... we'll, in Ukraine.
They're family is super cool.  Brother Clinger used to be a pole-vaulter, so we had all sorts of fun stories to tell.  His wife is super spunky and funny.  They're just the coolest.  We had 3 Ukrainian missionaries there, and then me.  I was the only american missionary!  It was insane.  They didn't understand any of the references or informal words that the family used, and I was sitting there, thinking, "U.S.A!  U.S.A!".  I love Ukraine, but I also love my home country.  Needless to say, that was the most trunky hour of my entire mission.

I think I'm okay now, though.  Don't panic.

Anyway, I love you all a TON.  So much, that it doesn't fit on a bun.

Take care of yourselves.
See you when we see you.

-- Elder LeBaron

ps.  Congrats Zack on getting home!  I don't think you'll actually get this email.... but whatever.

Pictures: Elder Salamatin, Me, Branch President Roman Lisniy, and Sasha ( from Uzhorod )
Apparently, we can't take a normal picture without someone trying to tickle me.

-- Старійшина ЛеБерон

Welcome Home!

I'm back home everyone...
Back in L'viv.

These have been the weirdest transfers ever.   
So, for mission conference, we had everyone sit in the auditorium, and President announced the transfers, and everyone applauded and cheered and hugged and such.... which we've never done before.  That was a bit new.  Then, he announced my transfer, but I was sitting in the back translating, and my companion was conducting the conference, so we just nodded at each other, smiled, and sat back down. 

I'm with Elder Salamatin, who is a really fun guy from Odessa.  He has one transfer left, and he's helping me get a hold of all the ropes here in L'viv. A lot has changed since I left!

I didn't have much time to do anything here, because I had to go back and run the branch in Chernivtsi this Sunday.  President Hawkins had to go home because of some health issues in the family, and so it left the branch without a president.... only with a first and second counselor.  So... I took the 6 hour train ride down on saturday, and 6 hours back on Sunday afternoon. The members were all doing good, and it was great to see all of their faces!  I love that city so much.  It's one of my favorites that I've served in.  Elder Lemons came with me, and he was glad to have a chance to come back.  He'd served there for at least 4 transfers, inclusive of his training, and he was happy to be around for that as well.

I feel kind of weird about being back here.  Everything seems so familiar and so different at the same time!  Maybe it's also strange because I was told that this is probably where I'm going to finish off the mission.  A little strange to hear that.  I still feel really young.  Probably because I am. I'm going to be 20 in few weeks, can you believe that?

I can't.

Hopefully I get in touch with our investigators soon and there will be more stories about things that are really important... but you'll probably have to wait till next week, because there's been really little time in our area for me to be able to tell you any fun stories.  

I know this Church is true, and I know the Gospel is God's plan for all of us to be happy.  I love you all!  I hope that this letter finds you all well.  Please, take care, and enjoy your week.  Read your scriptures, pray, and get yourselves to church!  Most importantly, use all of this to feel the joy and love that Heavenly has for each of us.  Use the gospel, don't just read and say it.  It'll put a smile on your face, and a song in your heart!!

--Elder LeBaron


​ ( Pictures: District Sweater Night in Chernivtsi (going through old clothes together), Pizza with our new convert bud, Kolya,  my companion Elder Salamatin).

-- Старійшина ЛеБерон


We had the greatest week in the world, but I have no time!

We had a baptism!  Kolya got baptized!  He's preparing for a mission.

I'm getting Transferred!  I'm not allowed to tell you all where I'm going until next week.  Weird rules.

Our District is number one!
My companion is the best.

I know the church is true, that Joseph Smith was God's chosen prophet to open this dispensation.  I know that the Saviour, Jesus Christ, has felt and suffered for all of our sins, and through his atoning sacrifice, we can all find comfort and strength!  I know this is true!  Read the Book of Mormon, and pray.  Study diligently, and seek answers for your questions.  You will find them!

Have a great week!

Elder LeBaron