Wednesday, October 14, 2015


I don't know how to explain how much I love conference.  
It's not possible with words.

First of all, I will begin ponderizing.
I'm sold.

I had the most incredible stream of revelation pounding my brain the entire time.   I love our new apostles!  I love our Prophet!  I love those examples of real faith coupled with action prompted by a loving Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost.  Could you feel the intensity with which President Monson spoke?  Did you see how determined he was to get the message to us, no matter what it took.  I thought of so many examples of Prophets of old who, despite their physical fatigue, strove to do everything possible to deliver the message that God had for His children.

I was deeply touched by two other the talks especially--
Elder Nelson's talk on the divine role of women in the church just completely shook me.  I sat there and realized something.  If it weren't for my mother, my sisters, my friends (who are girls), and the great example of the sister missionaries around whom I served,  I don't know if I would have 1) Left on a mission and 2) Stayed on a mission.  Maybe those two points don't seem that significant to you, but one needs to understand that these almost Two years have been the most influential in shaping my character out of any other given years in my life.  Because of those good influences of righteous women, I'm where I am now.  I understood something else from this -- It's almost the same story for every male in this church.  I felt a sense of righteous pride swell in my heart when I thought of the quality of women in the Church.   It's incredible.  So, I came to a better understanding of the value of the opposite gender.  It's about time that I got that one through my thick skull, I suppose.  Thank you Elder Nelson!  And a deep personal thank you from me, to all of the young women who have helped me in my life to get where I am. 

Next, I was obviously impacted by Elder Holland's talk.  Who didn't feel that one rock their soul?  Mom, I love you.  
I wish that I could explain more about the impact of that talk on me without getting too emotional, but shorter explained,  I have felt more support from my Mother on my mission than from almost anyone else... and it all came to a cumulative emotional jab when I listened to this talk.
Thank you Elder Holland.  Thank you, Mom!

Our mission conference also went very well!
I taught about being good leaders, and good disciples.
My companion spoke about planning and how to have a good relationship with your companion.  
Elder Sichkarenko taught about charity, and how we can develope it more as missionaries.
President Rizley spoke about unleashing the truly powerful missionary inside each and every one of us.  It was a rock-solid day of testimonies, teaching, training, and inspiration.

Being a missionary is the best thing I was ever given the gift of doing.  I wish I was better at it,  but that will still come with time.  

I know, that this Church is the church of God, and that anyone can find joy in living by the principles which are taught here.  I know that through keeping our covenants, we can become what Heavenly Father is striving to create us into -- which is the happiest, greatest, and most glorious version of who we are.  I love my Savior, and I'm more than thankful for his sacrifice.  I need to be better at repenting, but my heart is filled with thanks, knowing that I can change.  I know that the Priesthood has been restored, and if you need evidence of that, look to the incredible leaders of this church.  I know that our Apostles and Prophets are chosen by God.  I know it!

I love you all so much!
I'm thankful for your prayers on our behalf.
They're felt, no matter how far away you may be.

Have a great week!
Get ready for your next sacrament!

Game night shenanigans
Set up for conference

Good Week

It was a good week.
and a weird week.

Moment of shame:  I kicked an old lady.  We were coming home from a long day, and we have a big metal door that leads into our apartment stair well.  You need a little magnetic key to open it.  Well, my companion put the key in, and I thought I would be funny and police kick the door in after the magnet gave out.... and there was a little old lady on the other side of the door.  Luckily, I didn't kick it too hard.  She was still standing, and forgave me.  But man... that's embarrassing.  Oh be wise...

We're are getting ready for our AWESOME mission conference on thursday!  It's going to be really inspiring, and I'm super excited about it.  We've finally changed it up, since half of our missionaries are native Ukrainians, my companion is going to teach in his native language, and I'm going to be the only missionary teaching in english this time around.  That's going to be very cool to see everyone taking part in their native language!  It's going to be awesome.  It also means that my companion and I are going to have to run back and forth to do the translating.  This is going to be a blast!

This week was good!
Our miracle investigator Erlan didn't make it to church, unfortunately.  He's socially not very open, and so we've had a hard time getting him to come to any group... anything.  Finally, we invited him to sports day with the promise that we would play soccer.  He came, and played as goalie... you know, the position AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE FROM EVERYONE ELSE.  Well, after awhile, something happened.  The prayers for him to feel comfortable with members of the church worked out, because he says, "Hey, Elder LeBaron, switch me out."  And he ran out and started playing!  The members made great friends with him, and how we have a much more solid base to work on.  I'm excited about the direction things are taking with him.  With time, more and more miracles will begin to happen.

Andrew... andrew.  He's been kind of flaky on us.  He has two very demanding priorities -- a job, and a girlfriend.  Meetings with him are really great, and the spirit is there whenever we talk about the church and about the gospel, but he's always busy!  We've just got to keep being patient, inviting him to everything, and making every moment with him quality.  The more he feels the spirit, the more he's going to want to come back.  We're glad that we're working with him right now.

Other than that, we're just living the dream.
It's a great thing to be serving in this mission.  I'm so glad the Lord lead me to where I am today.  The Lord will always work with us so that we can become what will make us the happiest.  

A long time ago, a friend of mine taught me the parable of the currant bush.  I think that I finally get what that means.  Took long enough, right?

Well, you all have a good week!

We visited an old lady in the branch.  She fed us so much food.  We bless the sacrament, and then had a photo-session with her.
I stole all of the nametags at MCM.  Awwww buddy.
We helped a member who had an operation at the hospital.
​We're inviting EVERYONE to conference!

My One True Love

No... We didn't get transfer calls.
We just spent the WHOLE WEEK training new trainers and their trainees, and it was a BLAST!!! I love training so much, and it was like Christmas for me to have many classroom and field practice sessions with our 6 new Elders and Sisters, and also get to work with their Trainers, who are all great missionaries who I respect and love.

One whole week of that...
That's better than Disneyland, people!

The only issue behind that is that with the first trial of our program, we spent a lot of time in the classroom, which meant that we didn't get to go and work on our area very much.

Well, throughout the day, I was saying a little prayer in my heart that Heavenly Father would bless us to have opportunities to still be missionaries and do what we could to build the Kingdom in all the spheres that we are responsible for!

And then a miracles happened, because Heavenly Father loves his children.

A returned sister from our mission met a returned missionary from the Moscow, Russia mission.  That sister found out that this young man had taught a fellow named Erlan, who moved from Moscow to L'viv, Ukraine, and she gave my contact information to that young man.  The returned missionary sent me an email with Erlan's phone number, and we contacted him and met yesterday!

So, in a really complex and incredible way, because everyone was focused on the good of others, we are going to be teaching Erlan now!

He's a really nice kid who's in university.  He's studying German and English language here, and is also a really great artist.  We had our first meeting just recently, and we're excited to get to work on teaching him soon.  We spent a long time talking and getting to know him, and we even gave him a tour of the branch building.  He really thought it was pretty and took lots of pictures of the outside of the building.  

That was my testimony builder for this week!

Things are going great here.  
I'm so glad that I'm a missionary.
There's nothing better I could be doing with this precious time.

I hope you all know that God loves you, and he's watching us all very carefully.
Read your scriptures,
Say your prayers,
Go to church,
and seek Heavenly Father's will!

Everything will work out just fine!

-- Elder LeBaron



There's not much to talk about this week, because it's been focused on one thing;
New missionaries!

President Rizley is very focused on making sure that these missionaries are trained to bring a new life into the mission, and to keep the work going strong.  That in mind, we now have implemented a week long training program for the trainees and their trainers.  
So we've been spending most of our time preparing for this massive training program.  It's an interesting feeling, because it's not the kind of missionary work that I'm used to, but it's what we've been asked to do.  I enjoy teaching, discussing, and planning with these six new Elders and Sisters.  This entire week until Friday will be the "Synthesis Week" for them, and so we will have nothing else to do but teach them almost all morning and afternoon, send them out with their trainers, review the teaching with President, and when they come back in,  review how their proselyting time went.   It's the first time they've ever done something like this before out here, and it's mostly to help the missionaries develop the skills they need in the Ukrainian language before throwing them out into the water to try not to drown.  
It should supposedly prevent missionaries from going home caused by severe stress also. (not that that's ever happened before in the history of our mission, as President Rizley informed me).

My companion has now infected the mission with his cold, and even President Rizley and Elder Plaster have caught his bug.  Now, nobody will touch him.  Poor Elder...  I gave him a hug yesterday, since no one will shake his sickie hand.

We did get to stop by an almost non-active older woman in the branch on Sunday with the Branch President.  She planned to make us lunch, but she felt not super great when we first got over... so what did we do?  My companion got himself an apron, cut the bread, made the sandwiches, and stirred the soup.  What did I do?  I took pictures for you to enjoy.  I also might have helped a tiny bit.  Hope he doesn't get her sick... now that I'm looking back at this...
The plan was to help her set a goal to go to the temple, but she's gotten to a point where she just wants Elders to come over and help her feel the spirit in her home and to give her the sacrament.   We're going to keep trying to help her to see the benefit and blessings that come from temple attendance by teaching her more about it at home.  There's a big push in the branch right now to get all of the less-actives to be signed up for the next big temple trip in October.  We're praying for great results!

​I know that this Church is true!  If we will have charity towards one another, God can accomplish miracles for all of his children as we diligently strive to BE that miracle for others!  I love this gospel, and I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us.

My beautiful companion
Our last district meeting this transfer
The Clinger family (americans in a Ukrainian habitat).​

The last week of the craziest transfer.


Sometimes, that is the greatest miracle of my weeks.
This week especially!

The story of this week begins like this:

Just as he had recovered from his rolled ankle, my companion got a crazy flu or some sort of infection.  At first, I thought that it wasn't that big of a deal, so we just had him take a little nap and got to work.  We don't usually have a whole lot of time to sit still, especially the week before our transfers, so we were running around all over the place.  Well, by the time night swung around, he had a temperature of 103*F... which is not good.  So, he went with another Elder to the hospital, and I took the other office Elder to go and finish up some of our chores.
Things that are adding to the craziness:
The Rivne Missionaries have been up here since the incident, and so we've been having to coordinate the sickies and the beaten up ones to hospital appointments, back to their apartments, and making sure that there is enough for them to eat (Elders eat so much food... it's crazy... what's wrong with us??)
Not to mention that we're trying to organize a week-long training program for the new missionaries coming in on Wednesday.   Without my companion in a sound state of mind, it has been near impossible to put together the curriculum that we're in charge of teaching.  With a bit of push and some fierce determination, we've managed to pull all of that together.

I ended up in the office elders apartment on unplanned exchanges around 3 times this week.  

We're organizing all of the travel for almost the entire mission to have the biggest transfer since last may.

We have two missionaries going home, and have stacks of protocol that needs to be gone through before they take off.

We went to find a new apartment in L'viv for the sisters, and Heavenly Father so loves us that He provided a really nice one in a matter of 3 days!  But, it's on the OTHER side of the city... and so that means a lot more running, calling, and in dire situations, taxis.  

I was sitting at the point of just sitting down and saying, "Okay, I'm way too tired for all of this.  I'm done.  I'm dropping all of this and just going out contacting!" 

I've had this over-looming feeling that everything is being held together by a little thread.  

But after pondering it a bit, I realized something;

That's only if I'm counting my own strength.

With prayer, and with faith in God, I've seen miracles begin to happen in our mission!  

Khmelnitsky just had 4 baptisms in the course of 2 weeks!  It was awesome!  We only have 3 missionaries in that whole city.  

The Lord is doing his work, and we are so blessed to be a part of it.

At the end of this week, I realized that the true miracle isn't that "While juggling all of this, I managed to keep all the balls in the air!" It's more like this -- 
"God loves us so much, that he not only helps everything to work out, but He lets us have the opportunity to help in his service to all".

​All I can figure is this:

God loves me, and He is trying to teach me humility in every shape and form it comes in.  I'm now excited for this, the more I think about it.  It will probably take my entire life, but it's going to be a long journey!   
My whole mission seems to have a reoccurring theme: Remembering that without God, we are nothing. With him, we can do anything!
I love the ennobling power of the atonement of Christ.  I'm proud in my God who has all power to make me into someone of great worth.  

I hope that this week, there will be even more trials, and just as many successes!

I love you all, and I'm thankful for the support you provide for me.  You are heaven sent my friends.

We've got to make the most of the time the Lord has provided for us!
Let's joyfully take our posts!

Elder Le Baron 

Bystander Education

This week was fun, sad, a growing experience, and altogether I would say that it was an important piece in my understanding of our Heavenly Father. It's been a miracle to have the experiences that we've had on our missions.  

I want to talk about each of these things, and explain what I learned!

First couple of things -- Always make a good shopping list.  One of the office elders stayed at our place, and we ran out of shampoo.  After the 2nd day of greasy hair, he decided to wash his head with dish soap.   His head smells like lemons.

New converts are awesome.  After some bad stuff went down (I'll explain later in the email), they gifted one of the elders a magic cross that's supposed to ward off evil spirits.  I'm not sure how he's supposed to wear it around his neck while contacting... oh well.

Active Members who love missionaries: If you're going to refer to a missionary (My companion) as "Count-Dracula" behind his back, don't tell his companion (me) about it.... because then all sorts of jokes at home come up about deportation to Romania  :) 

If you're going to stay in a hospital overnight, always bring a mini chess set, a pair of shorts, and an air mattress.  Necessities, my dear friends. And if you're going to order Tex-Mex, just have the office elder's go get it for you, because hospital staff lies when they say that they can get anything.

Okay, I had to get those ones out of the way

The Second thing was something that really amazed me, even though it was sad.  One of our best sister missionaries had to return home because of illness!  She still had a lot of time left on her mission, and it was sad to see her go.   Aside from that being said, I learned a lot from her!  She was an incredibly hard worker, dedicated, and faithful in all things.  She never stopped trying to talk with everyone.  She loves the gospel.  So, I took that as a reminder;  That's what I want to be like when my time runs out on me.  What an great example.  I hope the Lord finds us all doing good when He comes!

​We also had our Mission Conference!  This was an awesome chance to see all of my favorite people again.  In a mission as small as ours, you make a lot of friends really quickly!  Some of these Elders, I've been serving with for almost 2 years!  I love them so much.  Just seeing them and their bright attitudes, with their hearts as wide open as their scriptures and notepads, and all the energy that the brought to our little chapel here in L'viv, touched my heart, and made me want to really carry this important message even further.  So many inspiring words were said, commitments to change were given and accepted, and President promised us all a few special blessings if we would be faithful to the changes we agreed to make.  I loved conference! I got to teach a segment about enduring to the end, and I feel like I understand that doctrine so much better now than I ever did before.  What a blessing.

The Fourth thing that happened was really not fun at all.  In one of our cities, the elders were attacked by a group of teenage guys, and beaten up pretty badly.  They broke one elder's nose, and knocked the other one clean out.  They're here in L'viv right now, and in a half-decent shape.  We had to evacuate the missionaries from that city on the request of the area presidency, and we're waiting a week and a few days before we send them back in.  
At first I was really mad, and I wanted something to be done to have this taken care of.   I muddled over every possible way that we could get back at this people, or at least make them responsible for what they did.
I prayed to know what we were all supposed to learn from this, and I thought about it a lot.  I didn't feel like I got an answer for the first few days... 
And then on Sunday, the two elders who took the most damage worked their way up to the stand to testify on our meeting.  

Those were the most inspiring testimonies of love for the gospel that I've heard in a long time.  With bruises and cuts on their faces,  they stood and testified of the Saviors love for all of us, and how the gospel can change anyone.  ​

​I feel like I learned a big lesson on charity and love through the example of these Elders.

I know that God loves all of his children, and even though we may not be the smartest, nicest, or most helpful sometimes, he wants to give us all the chance to reach our potential.  Reaching that potential often means that we require the help of others, and that others require our help in order to reach their own divine role in Heavenly Father's plan.

I know that Jesus Christ suffered for us so that we could ​conquer these weaknesses that we have, and that we have the opportunity to become like Him, if we'll just humble ourselves and seek Heavenly Father's will for our lives.

Be sure to make a list of the lessons that you've learned this week!

I love you all!
I hope you have a great week!

Elder LeBaron
​(Pictures: My vampire companion conquering his few of crosses...
Elder "Lemon Head" Podvodov and Elder Lemons.. companionship bonding)​

Roll on down to Rivne


This week was great!

The big highlight of the week was definitely our exchanges with the Zone Leaders in Rivne!  We rode an electrichka all the way up there... and that was rather unpleasant.  Talk about no leg room -- especially when all the legs across from you are young women's with rather short shorts.  I'm not sure I'll ever recover from the crick in my neck from staring at the ceiling for three hours.  I digress...

We got there, and we went to work!  I haven't gotten the chance to do so much personal finding in a long time!!  Elder Shnyriov and I went out and street contacted most of the day through, and had some really fun conversations, and a lot of positive chances to share the gospel.  We also had the opportunity to meet with some members, teach about how they can do their personal missionary work, and hear some REALLY AWESOME conversion stories!  I loved it. 
Then Elder Ferbey and I went out.  We managed to get one man to stop throughout our contacting all that day.  Luckily, he gave his number and is really interested in learning more about the church.  I will consider that day a major success in a few weeks when he gets baptized, I'm sure!

Then, we took the only bus back that we could find.  The problem is that it weaved in and out of every little village between Rivne and L'viv... and was going WAY slow.  Then, it stopped in a town called Brody, and they made us get off... and buy another ticket to get on another bus that was 3 more hours to L'viv.  6 hours of travel by bus on these roads?  Not my favorite plan, but hey, we figured it out.  Thanks to Heavenly Father, we each made it there and back in one big tired piece.  What a ride!

Otherwise, we've been planning a great new training program for all of the new missionaries who will be coming in not to long from now!  It's going to be awesome, but it's going to mean that we will spend almost a full week training them with president.  Hopefully, we can use this to get a lot of work done in our area, since they'll be doing the training here in L'viv.  Exciting things, people!

I'm learning a lot, and this next week will be a great chance for change.  Heavenly Father has done unimaginable things with my character over the course of my service in Ukraine, and I'm still learning many important lessons, and growing in ways that I would not be able to anywhere else.  I know that this is God's plan, because it's just too perfect for anyone else to have come up with it.  I'm glad to know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me personally.  He loves all of his children.

Have a great week!


Today, is the day of Independence of Ukraine.
We will have a fun activity.  I will be singing as song called
О соловію!
You can look it up if you would like.

This week was really crazy.  Most of the things that happened were involved with the nature of my calling, and I'm not allowed to talk about the details.  Shortly said, it was really fun! 
We had the Zone Leaders in for exchanges.... and they went really fun.  We talked with a really nice monk!  I had a picture with him... but It's not with me now, so I'm going to have to send it next week.
He took a book of Mormon, and he gave us a protestant copy of the new testament.  Interesting trade off.

Today, we have one more missionary going home from his mission.  It's the saddest thing in the world.  I don't like it... except for going out to eat dinner with them, and leech off as much good advice and inspiration as you can, it's a pretty melancholy affair.

I'm feeling pretty good, but It's taking a lot of mental effort not to fall into the trap of feeling like "It's almost done, so I'll just ride it out".  That's just the honest truth.  Working hard is an important piece in that formula.  I will not become a trunky monster.  No sir.  No matter how much my brain wants me to.

Meanwhile, we're having a lot of fun doing training excercises, exchanges, and planning out how to help the mission take a big leap forward in accomplishing the will of Heavenly Father in this special little piece of the world!

This mission is the most incredible thing that ever happened to me.   Though I know that we are here to bless people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I feel like it's had an especially potent effect on my heart.  I love my misison!

I've got just enough time left to make the most of myself, and to really crank out some worthwhile service.

I pray for many of you by name.
I think the world of you, and desire you all of the best.
God loves you all, and I know that's true.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder LeBaron