Monday, December 7, 2015

To sum this up....

I've been abandoned at the office by the assitants to be companions with the senior couple.
So... I've got a little extra time this week to write.  Good, because this is the last one.  Next week, I won't send out a general email because I won't have much time, though I will answer on maybe a few personal ones.

Let's start!
This week was great!

So far, I've gotten the opportunities to listen to a General Authority speak 4 times, and got to be involved in several different interviews and interactions with members of the church.  This has been a great week for training, learning, and growing!
Gotta love Mission Conference Weeks.

The only downside is that they tear us out of our area for awhile....
I was pulled out of my area for a little bit longer, because President Rizley wanted me to help out with some of the workload on the assistant's shoulders.  Elder Kacher of the seventy came to visit, and it was a real big to-do.  So... I've been back in L'viv since wednesday, and I'm going home (to Khmelnitsky) tomorrow on a train.  By myself.  Weird.

That being said, I've had the chance to stop by two part member families that I worked with while I was serving here just a month ago.  It was really great to get to see Brother's Stankevich and Haleta, and their mothers.  Sister Stankevich was going to be baptized last saturday, but due to medical issues, she won't be able to be baptized soon.  Keep her in your prayers.  She sure could use it.  Also pray for Brother Haleta.  He's having a hard time as well.

I feel like my whole mission has been teaching me about how to minister.  No matter who you are in the church, we are called as ministers.  We seek out those in need, we strive to serve and to lift, and it's our privelage and blessing.  I've come to better understand the words of King Benjamin who said, "... I tell you these things that ye may learnwisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the serviceof your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."
​I'm not sure if it sounds cliche... but I really learned, in a deep and personal way, what it means to feel the Saviors love for me.  I discovered that love as I've been given these opportunities to serve the people who are around me in various ways.  I have seen that God loves them.  I in turn, can see that He loves me.
Perhaps I was never the best missionary.  Maybe I never learned Ukrainian the best out of all the other american missionaries... it's certain that I've had many struggles and doubts in my own capacaties.  I've learned that our self-confidence actually comes from confidence in our Master and in His work.  As I feel I have been on the Lord's errand, I have felt peace beyond what I've ever felt before.  I feel as though I finally recognize who I really am.  I'm a son of God.  He loves me.  He loves all of His children, and whats the best for them.

Our God, our Heavenly Father, has prepared a perfect plan for us, and His Perfect Son has prepared the way for us to accomplish our part of his plan.  We will find the most joy on this path, and on no other.  I will stay on this path that I've started.  I am excited to see where it takes me in this life, and to whom it will lead me.  It starts with going back to Khmelnitsky and working hard this next week, and it will end with an embrace from my Savior, and from my Heavenly father.  It will end in the warm arms of loved ones who have gone ahead.  

I can't wait to hear the words, 
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful..."

I thank you for your support for me during these 2 years.  
I love you.
I care for you.
All of you.

​Many of you, I'll see next week.

​Until we meet.

Elder LeBaron


Jonathan LeBaron

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Highlights and interesting moments of the week before I get into the joy of thanksgiving:
1) I got called from Hitish!  He wanted to be baptized... but his family says they'll disown him if he does.  I should get to see him in L'viv during our mission conference this week though, and I can't wait to see him!!!!
2) Edik came to english practice!  I hadn't seen him for a long time... like, since my first two transfers of my mission.  He's changed a lot... but he still likes the church.  He's just going through a pretty gnarly teenager stage.
3) We spent more time with Elder Hubbert.  I like him.  He's funny.

Phew. okay.

I'm so thankful for thanksgiving.

And turkey.
and pie.

This year is especially great though -- because we planned to prepare and have a thanksgiving dinner with our member friends, our english friends, our investigators, and our potential investigators.  It's going to be our family night tonight.  

I made the make-shift Kool-aid.
12 liters of it.

Stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls... you know, and a MILLION PIES.

For my email this week, I'm going to share with you the spiritual thought that we are going to share tonight at our thanksgiving dinner.  I hope you enjoy it.

As you know, the family of Lehi traveled for a long time in the wilderness, because the Lord led them out of Jerusalem to save them from destruction.  They had many interesting and inspiring things happen to them during the course of their travels.

 12 And it came to pass that we did take our tents and depart into the wilderness, across the river Laman.
 13 And it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction, and we did pitch our tents again; and we did call the name of the place Shazer.
 14 And it came to pass that we did take our bows and our arrows, and go forth into the wilderness to slay food for our families; and after we had slain food for our families we did return again to our families in the wilderness, to the place of Shazer. And we did go forth again in the wilderness, following the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea.
 15 And it came to pass that we did travel for the space of many days, slaying food by the way, with our bows and our arrows and our stones and our slings.
So this is how they got their food.  They traveled according to the word of the Lord, and as is written in verse 16, they followed the directions of a compass that was given to them by the Lord, called the Liahona.
 17 And after we had traveled for the space of many days, we did pitch our tents for the space of a time, that we might again rest ourselves and obtain food for our families.
 18 And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of finesteel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food.
 19 And it came to pass that we did return without food to our families, and being much fatigued, because of their journeying, they did suffer much for the want of food.
 20 And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael did begin to murmur exceedingly, because of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness; and also my father began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord.
 21 Now it came to pass that I, Nephi, having been afflicted with my brethren because of the loss of my bow, and their bows having lost their springs, it began to be exceedingly difficult, yea, insomuch that we could obtain no food.
 22 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did speak much unto my brethren, because they had hardened their hearts again, even unto complaining against the Lord their God.
 23 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?
 24 And it came to pass that he did inquire of the Lord, for they had humbled themselves because of my words; for I did say many things unto them in the energy of my soul.
 25 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father; and he was truly chastened because of his murmuring against the Lord, insomuch that he was brought down into the depths of sorrow.
 26 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord said unto him: Look upon the ball, and behold the things which are written.
 27 And it came to pass that when my father beheld the things which were written upon the ball, he did fear and tremble exceedingly, and also my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and our wives.
 28 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to thefaith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.
 29 And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give usunderstanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.
 30 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did go forth up into the top of the mountain, according to the directions which were given upon the ball.
 31 And it came to pass that I did slay wild beasts, insomuch that I did obtain food for our families.
 32 And it came to pass that I did return to our tents, bearing the beasts which I had slain; and now when they beheld that I had obtained food, how great was their joy! And it came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord, and did give thanks unto him.
​What do we learn from this story?
We learn that The Lord loves us very much, and even in hard times, we need to realize that as we follow his commandments, we can be assured that our trials will help to build us.  We can grow by following his paths.  Will we choose to complain and give up when times get hard?  Or will we follow the directions of the Lord, pick ourselves up, and go and do?  God wants us to progress, ​and only when we humber ourselves, and give thanks for what he is trying to do, will we be able to succeed, like Nephi did.

Remember, this Thanksgiving is a time for us to reflect on how much thanks we have given to the Lord for what we have.  Gather with friends and family.  Let's rejoice in the blessings we've been given, and humble ourselves to say, "I'll go where you want me to go!".

I hope you all have a great holiday.
Say your prayers.  Count your blessings.  
Read your scriptures.  Enjoy your church services.

Life is too short to always feel like you don't have enough!  Start thinking about how the Lord has given you more than you can count :)


-- Elder LeBaron

Pictures from English practice and pingpong
Preparing for thanksgiving dinner