Wednesday, October 14, 2015

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)​

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