"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!
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We did about the same as Kharkov but let me fill you in on the gifts - calendars with pictures of the church buildings, missionaries, sites in the various cities, quotes from Preach My Gospel & from General Conference. The missionaries loved it!!! The games we played helped to build unity in the missionary districts. Each district built a tower out of spagetti and gum drops. It was so fun to see what they did. We gave them 30 minutes to do it. They all started out well but some began to tople over. After the aloted time, we then shook the tables to see which one would stand the earthquake. Then we talked about working together and buiding strong bonds in our districts as well as strong testimonies that could with stand anything. The next game - we created a thunderstorm. That was really awesome - with the rubbing our hands together, then snapping our fingers, then patting our legs and then jumping. Again we talked about working together to make the thunderstorm work. Then we play egg, chicken, dinasour and leader. It's a game of challenging each other to rock, paper, sissors. When you work up to be a leader then you help others to become a leader. It was really interesting to see some immediately help others to work up to be a leader and some leaders band together and just watch. We talked about how good leaders help others become leaders. These all were so fun to do and watch and I feel that we all learned something. The last thing we did was to make up jinggles for our districts. That was hilarious and so clever! It was great fun and I think all in all it was a great day!
We celebrated Christmas in Kharkov with the Missionaries this last week. I could hardly wait to post but I needed to wait until after p-day came to an end so no one in Donetsk would peek and see what we did in Kharkov and that way it would be a surprise to them. We had so much fun!!!! Wednesday evening was our Christmas Eve. We had a yummy dinner of chili and homemade rolls all the way from Donetsk(Sister Lydia made them). Then we ate pumpkin cake and well you can't get canned pumpkin here so when I was home, I bought some and had it shipped here!The look on the missionaries faces was pure joy to me. We had a wonderful fireside. I told a little about the traditions of each country that our missionaries are from. It was fun to learn about them. We have missionaries from Germany, Sweden, Russia, Canada, England, Armenia, Ukraine and the United States. We then heard from Elder and Sister Reed(CES couple serving in Kharkov) and they are so wonderful. They do a lot for the missionaries in Kharkov. Then President Pacilliyac(the 2ND counselor in the mission presidency)spoke. He and his wife are very wonderful and they are from Kharkov. We communicate pretty well thru what little English they know, what little Russian we know and lots of sign language! President spoke and all of the messages were great!! I will tell in my next post what we(mission couples) gave the missionaries(just in case we have some peeking on my blog). Then the next morning, which was our Christmas, we met at the Church and played some awesome games. It was so fun(thanks to my daughter Denise for sending the ideas for the games. She is a teacher of French in the Cinn. area and attends a leadership conference with the students. She gave me games for last year too! Oh by the way, Denise if you read this - the CES couple is anxious to use these games for the young adults too!) Anyway I will go into detail on the games in the next post. We had lunch - yummy barbeque sandwiches, cake(from a cake mix which is a lot lighter) and frosting(from a can which you can not get here) sent from my home(missionaries loved it) and cabbage salad that Sister Lydia made. We were as stuffed as Sister Phebe(President's family joke - mom and dad, if you read this, thought you'd get a kick out of it). We boarded a bus and off we went to an orphanage. We went there last year too and what a great experience. We got there and it was bitter cold! Inside the children gathered in a room. We were told we could not visit the other rooms because of the flu quarantine. Bummer!!! I had many of the children that have been my favorites upstairs! Well we or rather (I) convinced myself to be flexible (which is hard for me to do sometimes) and instead of playing and coloring with the children(I brought coloring books) we thought of any song we could sing in Russian and sang it. I was so proud of our missionaries! I have challenged them to memorize a certain hymn in Russian every 6 weeks and they remembered them!!!! We also sang children's Christmas songs in English and the children sang some of their songs. We sat with them(as the care givers did not want them to be wound up because it takes too long to calm them down) and taught them rock, paper, scissors. For some they could not do it but then these wonderful missionaries taught them to pile their hands, one after another with their hands, then touch their head on top of the hands and then let go with a whoopee! So simple and yet it thrilled the children to know end. Some of the children just wanted us to hold their hand and to feel of our warmth. Well they didn't want us to stay too long and so we left and it didn't even seem cold outside any more. We love these missionaries and their time, talent and energy in serving others. It has truly been a full filling 2 days! Isn't Christmas wonderful and no matter when or how you celebrate it, all that matters is that you have the Christmas spirit!! And in what better way than in serving others?
Our Zone Conference this time was on making and keeping commitments. We recapped on last months of finding people. Here are some of our wonderful Missionaries from Sumy. Back Row: Elder Howard, Elder Mueller, Elder Valverde, Elder Rader. Front row: Sister Khilova, President Fry, Sister Fry, Sister Ziganshina.
Elder Beus and Elder Gardner. One of the other talks were given by Elder Whitehead. He talked about testimony, knowledge and belief and how studying the scriptures and feeling the spirit helps us gain these. When investigators feel our sincerety and the spirit - they become more ready to make commitments.
Elder Richardson. His work is never done. Elder Shumway also spoke and he touched on follow up and planning. Know the needs of your investigator so you could help them. Plan out every single contact you have with your investigator and have a commitment planned.
Sister Ward and Sister Burke and Elder Rice. We had yummy chicken and rice for lunch!
Elder Lott, Elder Allred and Elder Jones. Many comments were made by other missionaries. The participation was great!
Elder Williams and Elder Thompson. And time for picture taking!
Elder Demyonov, Sister Ziganshina and Sister Khilova. Writing our transfer goals is really important too!
Elder Rader, Elder Moon, Elder Hyer, and Elder Richardson. President Fry talked about how keeping commitments begin with us. You can't expect investigators to accept and keep commitments if we don't do like wise. The strength of your own moral character is felt by our investigators. Your own personal life does matter. By understanding the doctrine - helps us understand the "Why" of keeping commitments and covenants with God. It will also helps to strengthen us.
Elder Mueller and Elder Howard. Our "treats for the road" are greatly needed after a couple of hours of absorbing the knowledge and spirit.
Elder McArthur gave a talk on commitment. "Making commitments is a process of repentance. If your investigators aren't keeping commitments - look at your self first. What keeps us from making commitments - excuses. Act do not be acted upon. Persuade do not force - lovingly - kindness - help them to keep commitments.
Elder Beus and Elder Tillotson in the back and Elder Prince and Elder Steele in the front. Elder Steele gave a talk on "Boldness".( I don't have any quotes from him because I had to leave and take care of the food. Sorry)
Elder Allred, Elder Hess and Elder Prince.
Elder Ketchum and Elder Huckstep sporting their hats they bought to take home. They leave next week!!
The sisters separated to have our own discussion for about 20 minutes. It is so wonderful to get to know these sisters a little more. They are definitely the "HEART" of the mission!! Aren't they so pretty!! Sis. Ziganshina, Sis. Khilova, Sis. Reed, Sis. Fry, Sis. Burke and Sis. Ward.
Elder Demyonov, Elder Huckstep, Elder Rader and Elder Mueller. Elder Green spoke about purifying ourselves and to help investigators do the same. Success is measured by our commitment and they have their free agency to choose.
Sister Belkina taking a moment to write down her goals. Our three Armanians! Elder Nersisyan, Elder Mikhaylov and Elder Tsaturyan. They are so awesome!! Elder Thompson, Elder Dietrich, Elder Eckersley, Elder Kearsley and Sister Salomonson. Elder Taylor gave a talk about how commitment is the path to repentance and invites others to come unto Christ thru repentance. Giving commitments helps people to repent. Elder Beck, Elder Tilgner and Elder Balser. Lunch is so good. We love the chicken and rice with the rich creamy gravy!! Elder Balser talked about David and Goliath and how David was bold. He knew the gospel and he did not shy away. If we will be bold with the gospel of Jesus Christ - we will help others come unto Christ. Elder Valverde, Elder Hansen, and Elder Shipp. And here's to you! Zone conference has been great thus far. Elder Summerhays spoke on promising people blessings( with the right spirit of course) gives them a reason to want to change - it gives them motivation. Always bear testimony! Elder Mead, Elder Belyeu, Elder Stirling and Elder Rosen. Elder Cullen, Elder Bell and Elder Putnam. Elder Balser, Elder Thompson, Elder Dietrich, Elder Eckersley, Elder Kearsley and Sister Salomonson. Elder Thompson talked about following up is an act of love. Tell them you will follow up on their commitments and will call and encourage them and then do it. Talk to them daily - help them. Elder Putnam, Elder Eckersley, Elder Shipp and Elder Bell. Elder Eckersley talked about explaining to our investigators what happens at church with Scarament Meeting, Sunday School etc. Preparing them for the experience at church and come to church with a prayer asking for the Lord's help. Elder Thompson, Elder Balser and Elder Duffy. Elder LaMarr talked about a "code for action". Be devasted when commitments are not kept. This is life eternal - the most important work and pick them up when they fall. When you assign a Chapter - next lesson should enclude that chapter. Tactfully ask why commitments weren't kept. Elder Tsaturyan and Elder Nersisyan. Elder Tsaturyan talked about faith and hope are the building blocks of commitment. He quoted the Apostle Paul"Go Boldly - proclaim the gospel with the spirit." Vlademir, Elder Thompson and Elder Eckersley. President Fry recapped the David and Goliath story. David picked up 5 stones but he knew he only needed one. He was prepared. We can take down the barriers that keep our investigators from making commitments with one stone at a time. If one stone doesn't help them make a commitment - you have 4 other ones to try with. Our wonderful sisters in the Donetsk Area: Sister Vinicurava(serving until she can get her visa to go to the MTC) Sister Tsaprova( as mini missionary from Donetsk) Sister Krivulya and Sister Belkina. We talked about how important a Sister's touch can be to the mission. What wonderful examples they are and how proud and grateful we are to have them in the mission. We studied from the white handbook on how the Prophet has promised us safety both spiritually and physically as we follow it. Aren't they just beautiful!! Elder Tilgner, Elder Thompson, Elder Balser, Elder Duffy, Elder Jahnert and Elder Smith. These are our Elders serving in Petrosky just next to Donetsk.