"TO EVERY THING THERE IS A SEASON AND A TIME UNDER THE HEAVEN." ECCLESIASTES 3:1
Working on new material for the blog!
It has taken me awhile to decide what to do with the blog. I felt lost not posting pictures of the missionaries and I've felt lost with not having my missionary routine. We are starting to settle into a different routine and I have decided to start blogging again. It will take me a little while to get things squared away but we are rolling into the next phase of our journey in life - recovery from the best experience of our lives ( the mission), knee surgery( Tim's), physical therapy for my back, and the economy with our business. We look forward to continuing our growth spiritually and preparing for what comes next!
To learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
It has been a joy to tour the mission with the Gibbons. We started in Kharkov where we held 2 Zone Conferences and one fireside. Our zone conferences were about member participation (Chapter 13 in Preach My Gospel). Then we headed to Donetsk and had 3 more Zone Conferences and 2 more firesides. I will review some of my notes and key points that helped me. Our missionaries need not fear because they were ordained by the authority of the Priesthood and belong here in this mission. They are the only ones that have the right to represent Christ and preach His Gospel! Teaching with power and authority going 2 by 2 - declaring my word like unto angels of God. We are all the descendant's of Abraham - everyone of us who are members of the Church and our duties are to share the Gospel. We have been prepared and taught before this life and after this life we will continue to preach the Gospel which is the Eternal nature of missionary work. We are here to help members teach the Gospel. Pres. Gibbons went over the role of the priesthood leaders. Never having served a mission -I found it all fascinating. I also find myself feeling more and more guilty for not sharing the gospel more. I've had to come out of my comfort zone so much serving in this capacity. I wish I'd come out of my comfort zone more at home. The Lord has given us tools to do missionary work. We have the language of the spirit. The members here need to be able to trust us and the only way to gain that trust is to love them and spend time getting to know them. Be selfless and be willing to sacrifice. Teach doctrine, principles then application. The Lord will strengthen us to do missionary work through the Atonement. Sharing the Gospel can save other's lives. Faith requires work. The Lord will help as we put forth faith - he will guide us. Faith is centered around the unknown. The members responsibility is to invite - not to convert - that comes with the Holy Ghost. The missionaries responsibility is to teach. If you had the most precious gift in the world - wouldn't you want to share it with those you care about? "I have something that really means a lot to me and has made my life complete. You are a very good friend of mine and I'd like to share that with you. How about you come to my house and have dinner one night? You know we've talked a few times about my church and I'd like to invite 2 young men over to explain a little more about our church to you. It would take about 1/2 an hour. What night would you be able to come and have dinner?" If we strengthen our understanding of the doctrine of Christ, it will do more to increase our excitement to do missionary work than anything else. It has been an exciting time to have my knowledge increased, my faith strengthened and my testimony of missionary work over flowing. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ and I'm happy to serve Him in this capacity.
Sister Lant (General Pres. of Primary) and Sister Thompson (General Relief Society Counselor) visited our mission on November 10th. We started out in Kharkov and visited families for Family Home Evening. The next day we visited some sisters and their families in the various branches. It was such a delight to visit with these two sisters and to visit these wonderful families. They gave a training session that Tuesday night. We traveled down to Donetsk Wedneday and that evening had another training session. These sisters have such a love for the gospel and for the people around the world they have visited. I felt so inspired and uplifted to be in their presence!
These are the Baptisms we've been able to attend. Alexander was taught by EldersPermenter & Andrus. He was Baptized in August and has been a great asset to the branch. He was looking for something that would make him Happy! Anya is 15 and started coming to the branch with friends. She attended girls camp and decided she liked what she felt. Sisters Howard and Chiriac started teaching her. Elder Crossley baptized her. Her father liked the changes in his daughter and gave his consent. Sister Lilia was taught by Elders Green and Fedotov. She has a strong testimony. Elder Green baptized her and he was only there for one transfer. Daniel had been investigating the church for about 6 - 8 months. He liked the Elders and enjoyed their company. He did not believe in God at first. His Heart was Softened. He is very happy. Many Elders participated in his conversion. Elder Andrus baptized him and Elder Carlson confirmed him. Volvo is a good friend of Yourslav(we call him Randy) and Randy taught Volvo to pray. Volvo started coming to church. He had a great desire to be baptized. He was the first baptism in the new Kalinsky building. Elder Andrus baptized him. Yourslav knew the church was true and decided it was time to be baptized. He asked President Fry to baptize him. President worked very hard to learn his name in Russian and the prayer. His name was harder than the prayer(Greegoriv, Yourslav, Valdeeslavavich). President was the first president to baptise in Russian in the Donetsk Mission. When President started out the prayer he stopped and paused - then he started over and said it perfectly. It was as if the holy ghost fell upon him and the gift of tongues was there. I know that is what happened. I've seen it several times with him. When he was done I think I started jumping up and down with joy! Sasha was also baptized this day. He also has been investigating the church for a very long time. He knows the Scriptures so well you'd think he had already joined the church. His brother Dema baptized him. That is how we'd love to see things - members doing the baptizing. His mother and younger brother attended. After the baptism was a testimony meeting(that is how they do it here). It was a very good meeting. The spirit was great. So many bore their testimonies. A very talented family in the branch played violins and the piano. They played "I know that My Redeemer lives" and then said , in the name of Jesus Christ - amen. It was so touching and so beautiful - it reminded me of when my daughter Danni sang that song and told me that was her testimony. After Randy bore his testimony - he told President Fry it was his turn. He did a simple testimony in Russian. After the testimonies were finished and food eaten, the violinist played more music. The mom played for an orchestra in town and the dad was a folk dancer. She played for his concerts and that is how they met. They have 3 beautiful daughters - each play the violin. The oldest, Ksenya plays the piano also and dances, Katya has a perfect pitch and has traveled playing her violin(she has become famous here), the youngest is Nastya and she plays the violin also. It was a great baptismal day. Each baptism has been incredible. The branches support the baptisms which is great. There has been other baptisms but we were not able to attend.
We are so lucky to have the best couples in our mission! The things they do are amazing!
Elder and Sister Clark are our office couple. We could not survive without them! Sister Clark runs the office. She is in the office 5 days a week from 9am to 5pm and she is busy. Her day does not end there. She volunteers to help with English classes on Tues. and Thurs. evenings. She gives the most interesting stories and facts to the advanced English classes and the students love her! She also attends many institute classes on Wed evening. She comes every Sat. morning with Elder Clark and helps with the maintenance of the church grounds. She has planted her own flower garden and because of her more flowers will bloom in the spring! She and Elder Clark are to every Branch activity, District activity, Baptism, Transfer Day, Zone Conference and anything to do with helping members or missionaries. She brings food to all these events and always has missionaries over for her tasty cooking. She remembers every missionary's Birthday and yet does not put her own on the calendar to be remembered. These are not her duties for working in the office - these are her choice because she has a deep love for the missionaries, the work that they do and for the Savior Jesus Christ and his Church. Elder Clark is right there with her helping her in all they choose to do. He is responsible for the finances, making sure apartments are taken care of, bills are paid, training missionaries on their responsibilities for making sure bills are paid, replacing lost or broken items and the list goes on. They are the back bone of the mission.
Elder and Sister Crittenden are our CES couple and they are up in Kharkov. They also help with the Dneiper Mission too. They train seminary teachers, institute teachers and if there isn't anyone to teach then they teach. They help the institute council plan activities and they participate in each activity. They also help with missionary work as well as helping the missionaries. This is not apart of their assignment but they want to help and we are so grateful. The missionaries in Kharkov have a special treat in having them as a part of their missionary experience. They too have more energy than I would know what to do with. They hold district meetings with the missionaries, help guide them as leaders in the mission and of course feed them. They help with English Classes several times a week and visit Branches in the Kharkov area. They too attend anything to do with the missionaries as well as keeping up on their CES assignments with the other mission as well. They are hands and feet of the mission - always giving a helping hand where needed and running without being weary! We are surely blessed by their great example. They have had many wonderful and rewarding experiences with the youth and with those seeking the gospel. Their testimonies are strong and their love for others and the gospel are very much appreciated.
Our next couple is the heart of the mission - our Humanitarian couple, Elder and Sister Kinghorn. The help they have given to needy organizations and their experiences are the most heartfelt in the mission. They are so many that are in need of help here just as there are all around the world. Their patience with paper work to even start a project is incredible. Their experiences as they have dove into the culture and tried to help and understand a part of the world that has been so persecuted and never taught to help each other because they were not allowed to and yet the people have persevered as well as the Kinghorns. They have seen a sadder side to Ukraine that many of us will not see and yet they have not given up. Their Christ-like love for others is seen in their tear stained faces as they have helped a woman cross the street and she looks up at them with gratitude. Their joy and laughter comes as they continually try to get a smile out of the bus driver when they say "Thank you " as they get off the bus. They too help with the missionaries even though it is not a part of their work - they choose to do so and we are forever grateful. They have district meetings, feed the missionaries and are to every event that involves the missionaries. We are blessed to have them in our mission .
Each one of our couples have left their area better than they found it and has made a difference in the mission, which brings me to our last couple, President and Sister Jacob. They are the eyes and ears of the mission. When they see something that needs to be done - they do it. When they hear something that needs to be done - they do it. There is no hesitation - consider it done. President Jacob is the first councilor in the Mission Presidency. He handles many things that the President cannot get to in places further away places like Kharkov and Sumy. There is 1 district in Kharkov with 7 Branches and he visits them. He also helps a great deal with the Sumy Branch which is a Mission Branch. Sumy is 3 1/2 hours from Kharkov. Sister Jacob is by his side every step of the way. She teaches piano to many of the young and adults and they have successfully progressed to play in church! She also teaches English to adults, children and a spiritual English class as well. Both of them teach Strengthening Marriage and Family class. They help in every branch whenever possible and cook and cook and cook!!They never quit smiling. It is always wonderful to visit them. They too bring a lot of warmth to the mission. They help the missionaries also. They help those that are sick in their area, to train the missionaries in leadership skills and to keep them enthusiastic. They really are the backbone, hands and feet, heart, eyes and ears and the life blood in Kharkov. They truly love the Savior and his work.
We love all of our couples. Each of them has made a difference in the lives of the Ukrainian People as well as the missionaries. The people and the missionaries will always have a special place in their hearts for the couples that have served here. We wish we had more couples. There are so many small branches that could use a couples love. You do not need to know the language. There are many that speak English and the missionaries help interrupt many times. The humanitarian couple is allowed an interrupetor with their program. It is a beautiful country but a struggling country as well. The members are loving and appreciated. Many others are as well once they are exposed to you. We are examples when it comes to showing how to be happy and to feel joy. Many of our couples go home in 2009. Our summers are warm, winters cold and spring and fall - wonderful. The last 2 winters have been mild. In the summer the nights cool off. If you know of anyone - give them the blog address and the Kinghorns also have a blog -www.kinghornscalledtoserve.blogspot.com You are also welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I can tell you how you can be recruited to this mission. We hope to see you!!!
Transfer day was a little quieter this time. I'm not sure if it was that they figured out where they were going or if it was just a different group of Missionaries. Since it was Presidents B-day this week I decided to do a little demonstration. His favorite saying is "You're only as good as your tools!" He uses that a lot in his talks, so I presented him with a tool belt! The tool belt was to hold the tools that pertain to 1. "VashaSel "which is "My Purpose" from Preach My Gospel. These tools will help bring others unto Christ. 2." Effective Study" - using the scriptures, companionship study, personal study - the "Hammer" there are different types of hammers - some are weak and not well constructed while others are stronger and much better constructed. Just like our study - we need a well constructed study to make it effective. 3. "Study and Teach" the lessons from this chapter - "Pliers" - a ply what you study and teach. 4. "Recognize the Spirit". I liken this to a "Flashlight" - when we recognize the spirit - the light comes on! 5. "Book of Mormon" which is the keystone to our religion. If the keystone is not in place the 2 pillars will eventually crumble. Without the "Buckle" on this belt - the belt will fall. 6. "Christ-like-Attributes". "Nails" - Christ sacrificed his life for us - He has the nail prints in his hands and feet. We too are asked to sacrifice and we go thru trials that seem like nails sticking us. These trials help grow and help us develop Christ like Attributes. 7. "Language Study" - be dedicated, diligent and seek for the gift of tongues and interpreting of tongues and "STICK TO IT"(duck tape). 8. "Use time Wisely" - set goals, daily and weekly planning session, be accountable for your time - it's the Lords time and it's only 2 years of your time. Use your "Planner". 9."Finding People" - talk to everyone, keep up the area book, help those in need, involve members, FHE Books. Every person is different and every situation is different - I liken this to a "Screw Driver" which is a very valuable tool in construction. There are different types of screw drivers - a phillips or a flat head and all different sizes. Your finding tools are very important just as a screw driver is in construction world. 10. "Teaching Skills". Involve members, use scriptures, listen, ask questions and be flexible." Adjust" to the teaching needs for those you teach. The Key work is adjust - just as a "Wrench" adjusts to what size you need it to be. 11. "Keep Commitments". Bear Testimony - followup! The use of some form of device to mark things with is important in the construction world also. "A Permanent Marker" - to mark down their commitments and bare you testimony and mark it in their hearts! 12. "Baptism and Confirmation " On a construction site, it's important to be prepared- and most sites you may need to measure things carefully. Investigators need proper preparation for Baptism and confirmation. Just like a "Measuring Tape" - if the measurements are off - everything is off - if the proper preparation with interviews etc. is not correctly done than everything is thrown off. 13. "District and Branch Leaders" Build good relationships with them. Keep in touch with them and inform them as to how things are going. The "Cell Phone" becomes a great tool in construction work as well as the work of keeping everyone informed. So remember - You are only as good as your tools!! Sorry to be so long in this. I just wanted you to know what all the pictures were about. Our new Zone Leaders are: Elder Blad - he is going to Gorlovka to serve with Elder Gwynn and Elder Johnson is going to serve with Elder Sutherland in Donetsk Center and Elder Peters is going to serve with Elder Doxey in Kharkov. Our District Leaders are Elder Hammond in Mariupol serving with Elder McArthur and Elder Stevens in Lugontsk with Elder Eckersley. Seniors are Elder Woodhead serving in Alexsavka with Elder Wadsworth, Elder Summerhays serving in XTZ with Elder Thompson, Elder Greener in XTZ with Elder Beus, and Elder Putnam in Lugontsk with Elder Balser. Our Trainers are Elder McKinney in XTZ with Elder Rosen, Elder Dorman in Alexsavka with Elder Duffy, Elder Marineau in Petroskey with Elder Howard and Elder Kalian in Petrosky with Elder Jones. Elder Green was brought into the office over finances and Elder Ehrisman went to Solvtaka. Co-Seniors are Elder Crossley and Elder Harris. Everyone seemed a little more quiet this time and yet as they packed up to go all seemed pretty excited about their companions and where they were going. It is hard to believe we've been here 4 months now - and this is our 3rd transfer. The missionaries don't talk in months rather in transfers which is about every 6 weeks. There was plenty of food and everyone was fed and sent on their way.
We had a great family home evening last night. We had the Assistances(Elders Andrus and Permenter) over with an investigator, Alexander, and a member of the branch, Tonya. We watched the movie, The First Vision. Then we all wrote down a question of the soul and took turns sharing our questions and getting into a discussion. It was great to watch the missionaries work with the investigator. Their knowledge of the scriptures and where to find exactly what they needed was great! We also had 2 other misionaries their, Elders Riley and Gwynn. Alexander is amazing. You can tell he has been waiting for the gospel. The spirit was so strong and watching him respond to the gospel teachings was incredible. Elder Andrus asked about being baptized and he said he would like to be baptized! August 10th is the date they are working towards. Alexander has been attending church, the english classes and even a branch picnic. He loves how the church is so strong in the committment of families. He said that families are an important part of society. Elder Andrus met Alexander on the street and they started talking and hit it off. He said he wasn't happy and wanted to be happy. Elder Andrus told him he had a message to share with him that has brought happiness to his life. And here we are now!
I hope this works this time. I wrote another one and it didn't post and it only saved 2 lines. Anyway, we've been here for 4 weeks now. We've met all the missionaries, some of the members and some investigatiors. We've traveled to the farthest point north of our mission which is Sumy(7 hours fom Donetsk) and then south to Mariupol(2 hoursfrom Donetsk). The branches are wonderful and the saints are warm and friendly. We have 17 branches and many of them struggle mainly for Priesthood leaders. The Elders help out quite a bit but it makes it hard to work at finding more investagators. Our 4 couples help tremendously! Now if we could only have 4 times as many couples.
The country here is beautiful, so green. The summer has not been too bad. It gets hot and humid but not like the mid-west. I expected worse but it has rained once a week and cools things down. The people have been through a tremendous amout of changes and it has taken its tole on many. They just need good examples and the saints here are just that. They are small in number but the faithful are so strong. Visiting the branches is humbling yet the spirt is strong. I will write more later. Love Pres. and Sister Fry