Archive for December, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

I hope everyone had an absolutely wonderful Christmas. Mine was great, albeit quite different as a missionary. I LOVED being able to talk to my family. Our mission is able to Skype, and with the newest version, we were able to have a group video chat. It was one of my favorite moments of my mission so far. It was wonderful.

Christmas day was really fun. We showed the movie "Joy to the World" at the branch, and went Christmas caroling in between the two showings. We drew a nice little crowd as we belted every Christmas song in the Russian hymn book. "What Child is This?" is in the Russian hymn book, and everyone here loves to sing that hymn, just because it isn’t in the English hymnal. haha.

We had our "real" Christmas meal for lunch on the 24th. Sister Smirnova has been having a lot of pain in one of her teeth, and she was going to the dentist. She didn’t know what he would want to do, so we did the lunch before her appointment. I roasted a chicken, and made mashed potatoes, and the sisters baked a banana cream pie and rolls. It was wonderful. We even capped it off with a reading of "’Twas the Night Before Christmas". Sister Smith’s family found a copy that you could record yourself reading the story. Her dad always reads it to the whole family on Christmas Eve, so he recorded himself reading it, and mailed the book. It was pretty nifty, all we had to do was turn the pages and the book read itself to us! haha.

We went ice skating today for P-Day. That was really fun. Well, at least for everyone but Elder Berndt. He isn’t the best skater (I’ll defend Elder Condie and myself, we tried to teach him, but he wouldn’t listen) and was really mopey the entire time. Elder Condie and I had a great time πŸ™‚

The only other really "exciting" news if you could call it that was that I made peanut brittle. I took it to the branch on Christmas day for our district and accidentally left it there, so I just gave it out to people at church. They don’t have anything like it here and were all amazed by it. I guess I am quite the master chef. Everyone asked me to teach them how to make it, so I wrote down the recipe, gave it to a member, and told everyone the he knows how. haha. It was pretty flattering πŸ™‚

Well, once again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Also, a EXTRA SPECIAL HAPPPPPYYYY BIRTHDAY to my Mom! I won’t say how old she is, but she had a birthday on the 25th.

Elder McClintock

PS: Happy Birthday Hannah Davis! Yet another Christmas Birthday πŸ™‚

Merry Christmas Everyone! (And Happy School Break Too!)

I hope everyone is thoroughly enjoying the holiday season, it truly is my favorite time of the year. I also hope that all of you BYU students manage to get through those finals unscathed. Just know that there was at least one person on the other side of the world praying for no "E"s to show up on the monitor at the testing center!

This week has been a crazy one, but I will first start out with the general news of our mission, and Ukraine! They are organizing a stake in Donetsk. This is a huge step for the church here. Right now there is only 1 stake in all of the Eastern Europe Area, and that is in Kyiv. To put that into perspective, our area is Ukraine, Russia, the Baltic States, Armenia, Belarus, and Kazhikstan. So to now have 2 stakes in is a big step in the right direction.

That other big news, is that after zone conference, in talking with Elder Lawrence (The 70 who came to speak to us), President Nielsen has decided that we will no longer be able to play games (board games, card games, etc.) that aren’t educational or church related. Yes, that even includes P-days. It has been frustrating because of some missionaries’ reactions to it. I think it is great, and our mission in general has too much of a relaxed, unprofressional feel to it. Yet some keep talking very negatively about it, and don’t really understand (nor seem to try to want to understand) its purpose and intent, and how it will help us. I think it will really help us, and bring a lot more focus to the mission as a whole.

Yesterday, also, was Elder Sarkisian’s last day in Nicolaev. We dropped him off at the bus station, so now Elder Condie will be with us in a Tri for the rest of the transfer. It was a very sad goodbye, I can’t believe I have already served here for 2 months. Elder Sarkisian was a great missionary and district leader. He really wants to go to BYU, so it’d be sick if everything gets worked out. I helped him a little looking at international student stuff, and it is a freaking pain in the neck. I’m glad I just went to a US high school, and basically don’t have to do anything to apply to US colleges πŸ™‚

I am again in Kherson today. We are having a Christmas lunch as a zone at the Senior couple’s apartment. I am very excited, Sister Webb is an amazing cook, and she has her kids send her American food to make. In honor of the event, I made….Thin Mints!
You cannot find mint extract here, but Sister Smith is way into essential oils, so I used some of her doTerra Peppermint Oil to make them. Yes, Caplin Family, I thought of you while I was making them πŸ™‚

So now to the investigator update: Aleksei is doing well. We met with him again this week, and he said that he always feels peace and happiness while he is with us, and that’s why he likes to be with us. He was very apprehensive about taking and committing to read the Book of Mormon, but I finally just promised him that if he would read just a page a day, he could feel that same peace he feels when we are with him. It was a very powerful lesson, and it was a very "wow, I’m actually getting somewhere with this language" moment. I am very excited to meet with him again.

One of the questions he asked us, was how we know that our church is the same, considering we have 15 men we call Apostles, when Christ only called 12, and how we know that Thoms S. Monson is a living prophet. He was also very inquisitive as to why only one isn’t from America. I explained to him that it was because the church was much older there, and that is why. I compared it to the Orthodox church, and how you don’t just go from being a plain old member to being the head of the church. It takes time for you to be prepared and gain experience to be able to do it. I explained that we have many 70’s from all over the world, even Ukraine, and that answered his question with that.

Now with is question about organization. I have been studying that a lot the last few days. I am amazed at how much of the unique aspects of the Restored Gospel are found right in the Bible. Christ called 12 Apostles, and sent out 70 Elders. After the death of Judas Iscariot, Matthias was named an Apostle. It is made very clear that Peter, James, and John we the 3 main Apostles, acting as a 1st presidency after Christ’s death. This is made know by them being the only ones at the transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’s daughter, and in Gethsemane. Paul also calls them "pillars" in Galations. Paul, Barnabas, and James the Lord’s Brother are all named Apostles as well. Boom 15.

In addition, the Apostles also called 7 assistants, Stephen and the 6 others. There we have the 7 Presidents of the 70. It is so simple, and all there, all we have to do is look for it.

That is my thought for the week. Here are some pictures. We went to a birthday party for Slavic, and member in our branch. That was way fun. I hope everyone is doing well, keep sending me things, and keep being happy!

Elder McClintock

Finally a little bit chilly!

Hello Everyone!

So it is finally starting to get a little bit chilly here. It is snowing lightly right now, but not enough to really stick at all. We went to the zoo this morning, which was pretty fun, even in the 30 degree weather. A lot of good things happened this week, that I am very excited to tell you all about!

So last week, we saved some of our P-Day to go shopping for a companionship tie. It is a mission tradition or sorts to by matching ties with every companion you have. We had no luck, we couldn’t find any pairs that we liked, so we need to keep looking! I did buy a webcam and headset though, so everything will be squared away to Skype home for Christmas! I am very excited, it is very different celebrating as a missionary, but I am very excited to call home. After I got the webcam and headset, we walked outside and started talking to a street vendor selling movies. He said he had talked to missionaries before, and had a Book of Mormon, and read a little bit of it, but that he wasn’t very religous. Oh well….BUT! He sells movies, and for 20 greevin each, ($2.50 USD) he sold Elder Berndt and I each a DVD that had all 7 Harry Potter movies out so far, all 3 Chronicles of Narnia movies, and (drum roll) Nanny McPhee 1 and 2! All in Russian of course! haha. The last two seem pretty random, but I would say that that is a steal of a deal. Yay for no copyright laws! Man I love Ukraine. Also, one of the ladies who was selling books, was selling a Book of Mormon (Russian copy) for 25 greevan. I really wish I had my camera to take a picture of it. It was really funny.

We are down to one investigator now. His name is Aleksei. We met him last Saturday, and he came to church on Sunday, and liked it and said he wanted to meet with us. We had 4 lessons with him this week, and he came to church again yesterday too. He is an older guy, who is VERY Russian Orthodox. He crosses himself after almost every prayer we say, haha. The biggest challenge for him is viewing prayer as a conversation with Heavenly Father. We asked him to pray about our message, and the Book of Mormon, and he told us that he did! His praying, though, was reading 3 Our Fathers, 2 Hail Marys and pondering about it. It is very interesting how different religions are, and how they feel about things. He is making a lot of progress though. He has a hard time keeping things straight in his head, being an old guy, and wants to meet a lot of times to really understand it. He is showing a lot of promise, so I am excited to work with him some more.

We got a crazy contact this week. MLMs are officially taking over the world. We were at the branch, waiting for Aleksei to come to a lesson, and this lady just walked up and rang the doorbell. She is selling Xango. Yes, that Xango. She read about how the headquarters are in Utah, and knew that Utah is the "Mormon State" so she found our building to try to sell it to members. Not a bad business move, haha. We talked to her a bit, and passed her info to the Sisters. She seemed somewhat interested in the church, but we will have to see whether it is just to try and boost her down line or not πŸ™‚

Elder Condie and I were at the post office together last Tuesday, mailing some letters (Jessica, Hannah, Terryn & Torree, they are on their way!) and this lady came up to me and said: OH! Three letters to America, you must be really popular! and started rubbing my back. I said I was from America, and moved so she couldn’t awkwardly rub my back anymore. haha. Basically she wanted our passports and to get married to get to the states. We told he we were here as missionaries, and just invited her to come to English class. It was very strange. Creepy Natasha from the post office, please don’t touch me, thank you.

So that is pretty much everything, I hope all of you at school are enjoying your finals week, study hard! Life is good, I’m excited for Christmas, I have attached a few random pictures for your enjoyment.

The second picture is a sign outside the tigers den. The tiger is saying that he is hungry, and wants some lunch…The guy is telling the tiger he is just drunk from the vodka. hahaha.

Elder McClintock

First Zone Conference!

So this week, I had the wonderful experience of going to Simferopol for Zone Conference! Under the new system, zone conferences are only quarterly, rather than every transfer. It was our "Mission Tour", so it was very good. Every mission is visited by a general authority at least once a year. We had Elder Lawrence, who came from Moscow. He is in the Eastern Europe Area Presidency, but he is actually from Fresno.

We had an 8 hour bus ride from Nicolaev to Simferopol. Thank goodness we got a train the way back! When we got there Tuesday night, we went to the branch building there because they were having a member fireside, and Elder Lawrence was speaking. When Elder and Sister Lawrence came, he walked in, and I was right by the entrance. He looked at me and said "Oh, Elder McClintock! Nice to meet you, you are the Elder who President Hawkins sent out here!" It was slightly intimidating to have a GA shake your hand, look you in the eye, and you feel like he already knows everything there is to know about you! ha.I talked to him one on one for about 20 minutes, and then with his wife for another 15 or so. That was pretty neat, he gave me some solid personal advice that I have been applying already over the last week. Along with them, were President and Sister Nielsen, and Pasha. Pasha is the President of the district in Dnepropetrovsk. He works for the mission helping with translating, and just other things that need to be done, but mostly translating. He is way cool. It was great to see President and Sister again. We didn’t get much chance to talk to them when I first got here, so it was good to get to see them again. The member fireside was very good. I really enjoyed Sister Lawrence’s talk. She shared a story from President David O. McKay. He was talking to some primary children once, and he asked them how much he could by their mother for, then their father, sister, brother, grandma, eyes, ears, nose, legs, etc. The point was, is that we are all millionaires when we look at the value we place on the things we love. It was very good.

That night we had 10 elders sleeping in one apartment. It was sooooo packed. haha. It was Elder Walton’s apartment, which I was very happy about. He is my best friend on my mission so far, he is great. I really miss getting to talk to him and see him every day. So it was great to see him. Zone conference on Wednesday was amazing. We had talks about the gathering of Israel, and just missionary work in general. We have high goals set for next year, that we are all fired up and ready to get. We are shooting to have 60 baptisms next year, which is almost double what we had this year. Yes, Ukraine is far from Brazil, or the Philippines. haha. But, one thing Elder Lawrence talked about is that Ukraine and Russia are slightly ahead of where Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines were 20 years after the church began there. So where we are now, to where we will be, is amazing. It really is starting to pick up and grow. We are getting a full on chapel built in Dnepr! That is pretty exciting news, it will really be nice to not have to have a rented place to go to church. He talked to us a lot about what we need to do to change our mindset and get those goals we have set. Along with the baptisms, we had 60 reactivations, and to average 535 people at church every week. They are lofty, but we are gonna do it.

After the conference, we got on a night train and headed back home. I completely lost my voice being down there, so it was pretty difficult to talk for a few days. On the way back though, it started snowing! Finally. It has since all melted, and it is pretty warm again, so it’s still not the "Ukraine" people kept telling me I was going to freeze in.

We got two contacts this week, who said they wanted to come to church and check things out before they had a lesson, and they actually came! It was great. It was branch conference, adn they both really enjoyed it, so it was really good. I am starting to understand pretty much everything at church, so things are looking bright at the whole "be fluent in Russia" thought. Sister Nadezhda is a bed ridden bob (grandma) who we take the sacrament to every week. Last week she said she wanted to help us by making calls to people who aren’t coming to church and talking to them. We got her a list on Saturday, and she called everyone, and set up lots of appointments for us. It was great! She really helped out a lot, she got a lot of new updated information from people, so it was really really good. After church on Sunday, during lunch I was laying down in our room during lunch, and our land lady came. I was trying to take a quick nap because my head was all stuffed up. She heard me cough, and she told Elder Berndt that I needed to drink an egg white, mixed with sugar and milk and it would make me better. haha.

Funny story time to finish off! She asked what we are doing to do for Christmas. We said probably just make a good meal at the branch, since the Sisters can’t come over. She (moustache and all) offered to come over and make a good dinner for us. I am very excited at that, btw. So anyways, I came out right when she left, I had heard the whole conversation. I told him that I had a weird dream that it was Christmas, and Olga was at the branch making dinner for us. He started flipping out, because Olga had just been there and they had talked about that…….he still doesn’t know πŸ™‚

Elder McClintock