Thursday, November 19, 2015

It's that time again!

That's right!
Hello everyone!

We've had a pretty good week.  We found a new investigator named Yevhen. He's pretty darn cool.  An older gentleman who's met with missionaries before, but never really actually heard all the lessons.  He's the head facilitator at some multi-company rental building.... and EVERYONE there knows him.  He only had one concern.... aparantley, apostles don't exist anymore.  Prophets, cool.  Apostles -- no.  That kind of stuff doesn't happen now-a-days. I've never run into that before on my mission.  Weird.
As we finished up the restoration, he looked really intently at us and said, "I need some more of those books.  Can you bring me another one next week in Ukrainian?"  Sir yes sir.  His biggest worry about getting his friends to call us is that we'll run out of money on our phone.  #REFERRALNATION

We also spent a lot of time with our new converts this week.  There were just four baptisms in this city not too long ago, so there's a lot of new convert lessoning to get a movin'.   One of my favorites is a young man named Bohdan.  He's got some sort of learning disability, but he's HILARIOUS.  He explained all of the animal noises he can make for a good 30 minutes while we played chess with him after a lesson.  He's the best.  Also, he keeps Elder Ferbey awake during sunday school by whispering every few seconds, "Hey... don't sleep.  Listen to the bible...."
Gotta love these people.

These week, we also spent a lot of time with Elder Hubbert in our companionship, because Elder Lemons went with Elder Ferbey up to Rivne to do exchanges with the Zone Leaders.  Elder Hubbert's super power is baking pie.  So... we ate a lot of pie this weekend.  We also took some to our new convert, Yeva.  She was very excited about it.

​And... lots of other fun stuff happened this week, but I've forgotten a lot of it.  Things are moving WAY TOO FAST.

Anywho-- I love you all.  
I'm so thankful for all of your support and care.  I wish you all the best of weeks!
Don't forget to do the big things -- Read your scriptures, say your prayers, and go to church!  Your life will be way better for it.

Much Love,

Elder LeBaron​

Do you have ears??

It's been a hilariously wonderful week.  I haven't laughed this hard in a long time.

The best thing about this district of Elders is that everyone here is really funny.  On top of my two hilarious companions,  Elder Ferbey and Elder Hubbert add a unique flavor to this district.  We were standing at a bus-stop waiting to go the Branch President's for family night, and Elder Hubbert is explaining some joke... and my new Ukrainian companion is listening as intently as he can.  Finally, after looking at Elder Hryshanovs confused look of disgust for a good couple of minutes, Elder Hubbert stops his story, and yells (people don't yell in Ukraine unless they're drunk)  "Чи.... у тебе.... ВУХА??". (Do you have ears?)  It went silent on the street, and then EVERYONE bust out laughing.  We had several people come up to us just to talk about they're lives and "meet the funny american".  Not very tactful finding, but it worked.  Well done Elder Hubbert.

We've mostly been trying to work with our awesome group of English students!  We had 3 of them come to church on sunday!  One of them invited me to go work out at the gym with him sometime during the week...  actually, he invited me right after Sacrament meeting, but I told him that we had a great lesson that we were planning on staying for.  Cool guy -- his name is Vadym.

Then, we had a dating couple -- Katya and Kolya.  The class in second hour was pretty much flat lining... Elder Ferby only had 10 minutes to scramble a lesson together, and it was about a couple of chapters in acts.  The members were not really helping us keep the conversation lively... things were looking bleak.  Katya and Kolya were listening very intently the whole time we were talking about Peter taking the gospel to the gentiles, and then out of NOWHERE, Kolya bursts out all of these awesome related verses and explains God's love for all people and.... Katya just stared at him with her jaw on the floor.
"What kind of Militia officer knows the bible?"
"I studied before I joined the militia."
"How come I didn't know?"
"Cause we never talk about that kind of stuff, babe."

Good times.

I'm having a lot of fun, and really loving my time here in Khmelnistky.  It can be frustrating, because I want to do everything in my own time (which I know isn't very long).  I have reminded myself over and over this week that everything is on the Lord's timetable, because He's the ultimate planner, and sees the effects of all things that happen.  Sometimes, we just want to take things into our own hands, but then we forget that our hands are weak and imperfect.  I'm thankful for a Father in Heaven who knows everything, and whom I can trust. 

Everything will work out fine when we're on the Lord's errand, right?  I sure know so.

I hope you all have a great week!
Keep yourselves safe and happy!
Study your scriptures!  They bring peace and happiness!
Say your prayers -- God wants to hear you!
Go to Church!  It's the best!

Love you all!

Elder LeBaron

Pictures -- My companion got Israeli chocolate and coke.
me giving elder Lemons a disapproving look during planning with my kvas.
sharing cooking secrets with the Elders
I found a 5 star hotel.... kinda
We went with our english friend to the MASSIVE bazaar in town.


Woo hoo!
I'm finally in my new area -- Khmelnitsky.

You know, I don't think I could have picked a better last transfer for myself.  President Rizley sure was listening to the spirit.  I've been sent to a nice quiet town in a trio with a missionary who is learning how to be a new district leader, and I'm training a brand new missionary from Crimea!  It's really just the best situation.

Well, I've only been in town for a day and a half, but we have a potential meeting on tuesday with a new fellow, apparantly some potential in our english classes that still has yet to be tapped.  We have english TWICE A WEEK in this city!  How cool is that!?  I've always loved teaching english, because it brings so many people into our meeting places, and gives us a great opportunity to teach them about the gospel in a way that allows us to give them a church tour and everything!

Oh, but here's something straight up awesome about our church building--
It's on the second story of a stairwell in a complex where we have a lot of different businesses... and if you ascend up the stairs, you go to our church... and if you descend down the stairs, you go to a poorly lit bar.  

Ha.  Irony.  I almost cried laughing about that when we showed up on sunday.  The gospel is true, people.

Anywho, I'm having lots of fun with my two companions.  Elder Lemons is an old friend from my Chernivtsi and L'viv districts.  We've always gotten along pretty well.
Elder Hryshanov is a fireball, and has a very sturdy work ethic.  I'm very glad that we've got such a solid team.  There's definitely a whole lot of work that needs to get done in this branch!

Our Branch President is SO solid.  I really like that man.  We're going over to his house tonight for Family Home Evening, and it's going to be great!

I don't have much else to report, besides this;

I LOVE my mission! And I love my Heavenly Father even more.  I'm so glad that the Gospel was restored, and that all these people that I've come to love can be blessed with things of eternal value.  I'm grateful for a beautiful world that was created for all of us.  I know that Jesus Christ is our savior.  He atoned for us, and because he did, we all have the opportunity to break out of the pains that this world can trap us in, and become free and happy.   I know families are forever.  I know that for sure!

Remember.  There's nothing more important than being a good example of the believers.  Let's do everything in our power to bless the lives of those around us.  It's what Christ's people should do. 

 "Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day... And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at thelast day."  -- 3 Nephi 27:5-6

Elder LeBaron

With Elder Tikhomyrov in the sunset
Saying goodbye with the assistants 
All my planners from my mission -1
District from L'viv
Getting into Khmelnitsky late


They're shipping me out of here.

It's obviously a mix of feelings for any missionary to get transferred.  I already knew that this was going to happen, so I figured that it wouldn't be that hard.
I was wrong.
Bearing my testimony at church yesterday was one of the most difficult things I've done in a long time.  
I really love this city.
Aren't all of these transfer emails the exact same though?
It's never easy... and then you fall in love with the next place you go.  It'll all be good.

The one thing that's kind of difficult about it is that I'm only going to be in the next city I'm going to for 6 weeks.  I'm also going to be training -- in a trio.  I'll be training a new missionary from Crimea, Elder Hryshanov, and Elder Lemons is going to get a 6 week leadership training program on how to be a stellar district leader!  I'm so excited-  I get to do the things I love most for 6 straight weeks without distractions!  Isn't life the best?  So much to smile about!!
 That means that I've got to go out sprinting.  Luckily, that fits right into my personal goals!  Isn't the gospel great like that?

This week, we had exchanges with our Zone Leaders and our District Leader.  I went with Elder Shnyriov (my old companion who became a zone leader) and Elder Hunt (the only other elder trained by my trainer, Elder Peterson!)
It was a good, productive week!  I felt like we worked pretty hard.  There's always room for improvement, but it was a pretty satisfying week.

I learned a lot about two things:  Kindness, and Patience.  Not because the missionaries are hard to work with, or because anything went wrong... actually, the exact opposite.  I saw how these missionaries, in spite of difficult circumstances, exhibited these characteristics, and I was very impressed by their examples.  I've still got a lot I can learn from such great people.

I've been thinking lately about the decisions we make in this life.

The lines from "Have I done any good in the world today?"  always hangs on the back of my mind:

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?

These are the questions that I ask myself frequently throughout the day now.  I'm kind of looking at them as my: "What are you REALLY doing" questions.  After I've reflected, and feel pumped up, I sing the chorus in my head:

Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

Isn't it so great that the way we find the greatest joy in this life is through helping other people?  We are happy because we make others happy.  I can't believe it too me traveling to the other side of the world and being away from home for almost 2 years to get that!

Missions are the best.  You learn so much.  I think I'm going to just stay on mine forever, even if they take my tag off! :)

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom ; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Mosiah 2-17

I hope your days are filled with service and joy this week!
It's the fastest way to improve your life.. at least, that's how it worked for me so far.

I wish you all a great week! have fun, and make all the best choices!

here's the bad news about my email....
I forgot my camera today.

Sorry!  I might send pictures later in the day If I get the chance!
Love you all!

Elder LeBaron

What it means to be free...

It means : 
Not having to plan for conferences
Not having to plan for transfers
Not needing to do ANYTHING besides MISSIONARY WORK!!


I can't even tell you how good it was to have a week like this right after conference!
Let's start from the beginning!

Monday -- monday...
So, many of our beloved members left to the temple!  Among them was our senior couple, the Plasters.  We were asked to help them get a taxi... but it was rainy and stormy outside, so there ended up being no taxis available.  I called and told them that we would find a taxi, and to be patient. We ran down the hill from the church, and like a white lightning crack out of heaven, we saw one taxi parked on the side of the road.  We enlisted the driver, and were off to the Plaster's house!  They had around 40 minutes before their train was supposed to leave. I called them, and asked where they were.... and they had already gotten on a Tramvaj!  ​They would be late if they took that all the way to the train station... so we told them to get off at the next stop.  They did... and then wandered off into some ally way to wait for us! Here, we have a lost senior couple and a couple of missionaries with an agitated taxi driver trying to find eachother on one of the busiest streets in L'viv.  Awesome.
After Elder Plaster had explained where they were for the 100th time, we finally just swung a right turn, I said a little prayer, and we saw them standing right on the street corner!  We found them, and they made it to their train on time.  That was pretty awesome.

We also went on exchanges with our beloved Carpathian Zone Leaders.  I got to go with Elder Huth!  What a great missionary he is!  Diligent, dedicated, and dignified.  We had a funny moment that day, where we had run to the store to grab some stuff for sandwiches that we could eat at the church before our investigator showed up for a lesson.  Elder Huth had made himself a sandwich, when all of a sudden, our investigator calls and says he is walking up to the front of the church.  Elder Huth wasn't fast enough to eat it, so as we ran out, I saw him hide his sandwich behind his back and shake hands with our investigator.  We began the church tour, and at some point, he managed to hid the sandwich in a back room.  After our lesson, and after the investigator had left, he said nothing about the sandwich.  We ran around all day doing lessons and such, and when we got back, he snuck into the back room, and grabbed his sandwich.  HA!  Apparently, he had told our district leader to get it and finish it, but Elder Hunt didn't want it... so it just sat there all day.  

Also, we did this activity on the street where we stand behind a table and invite people to come and test their english skills on us.  It was such a positive experience!! I met a man who was born in Chernivtsi, moved to Philadelphia, married a woman from Argentina, and had returned to visit L'viv!  A couple of people from the United Kingdom, another man from Iowa.  One guy started singing "If you could hie to Kolob" right there on the street when he found out that we're "Mormons".  I was impressed.
Overall, in the space of 2 hours, we got 15 numbers and a set up lesson.  Talk about a good use of time!

Then... the rest of the week blurs together into all the people that we're teaching!

First, Paraskeva -- she's the 90 year old mother of a member of the church, and she really wants to be baptized.  I've never raised my voice so loud on a lesson.  She's mostly deaf, and mostly blind.  It's actually really fun to teach her though, because she laughs and jokes with us (when she can hear).  Her son is really supportive, and even wants to take us to see some really cool art gallery in L'viv sometime.

Then, Brother Oleg's mom started talking with us about the gospel, and she became a new investigator!  She's progressing okay, but her son needs to show a bit more enthusiasm about life to be a real help for her...  being really sad all time doesn't really help people believe you when you say, "the gospel makes you happy!".  Gotta figure that one out.

OH! and my favorite right now -- Viktor.  He's GOLDEN.  We called him up from a number that another missionary gave us.  Basically, we had two stellar lessons with him already, and he's thinking about baptism on the 7th of December!  We're definitely going to be helping him as much as we can with that.   We meet with him every tuesday and thursday, and it's just a joy to talk with him!

I also learned this week that my companion knows the scriptures insanely well.  I mean, seriously well.  He can whip out 15-20 verses to explain one topic from all of the books of scripture without even blinking an eye.  It's nuts.

I love teaching with him.

I'm sad and happy at the same time, because soon we will have transfers.  Transfers means 2 things -- Sad, because that means that I'm going into the last transfer of my mission.  Happy -- because IT'S GOING TO BE THE BEST TRANSFER OF MY ENTIRE MISSION!  I'm going to make this time really count!

So what does free mean really?

It means that when we follow the Lord's plan for us, we open up the doors that give us the most positive array of choices.  I've already seen how the sequence of my choices has gotten me to this point in my life, and how bright the future looks because of the Lord's loving influence.  Search diligently for Heavenly Father's guidance through prayer and scripture study.  Listen very closely to what was said at conference!  You will find the path that God has prepared for you.  That path will bring you the happiness and peace that you are looking for.

I sure love you all a lot! Thank you for being a support for me, and friends in the faith.  I hope that I will be able to return the favor to each of you some day for the good role you've played and are playing in my life!

Have a great week!
Get ready for one more week of joy in the vineyard! :)

-- Elder Le Baron