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 🙂

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 🙂

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

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