Archive for January, 2011

Well, that was quick.

I can now chalk up 6 months of being a missionary. I can’t believe it’s already a quarter of the way over. I celebrated in grand fashion. There is a lady on the renok (bizarre/market type of thing) who normally sells ties for 70gph, but she gives all the missionaries a discount. Elder Mills, who is in my group, is also in my district now, so we met up and bought matching ties in honor of the occasion. They are pretty classy if I say so myself. And no worries, I kept the age-old tradition alive of burning a tie on my six month mark 🙂 The stove in our new apartment is like a flamethrower, so it went up pretty quickly, haha. I’ll talk more about that in a little bit.

On to my week! Last monday for P-Day, we went Laser tagging, it was pretty fun, after that we had a lot of work to do so our day got cut short a little bit, we saved time to go and get that tie on Friday. The renok isn’t open on Monday, so if we need/want to get something, we have to bank some P-Day. On Tuesday, we had a way fun English class. We had planned to talk about movies, but instead we ended up talking about Oreos, and how great Ukrainian babushkas are. haha. It was quite the party. When we get people laughing in English class, it is always a good time. I have noticed that if we get them laughing, we usually get them staying for the spiritual thought afterwards.

On Wednesday, we had a great district meeting about receiving revelation through prayer. The first step in the gospel being restored, was a prayer by a 14 year old farm boy. It really is the basis of our spiritual well-being. In the Bible Dictionary it says that as soon as we realize we are literally children of our Heavenly Father, prayer becomes instinctual and natural. So true it is. I have really been working on making my own prayers more meaningful. One thing we always say to people is "Молитва – разговор с Богом." it means "Prayer is a conversation with God." The more I think about what I am saying, the more I realize that a conversation is a time where you say something, and then you wait for a response, then you repeat the process. That realization has helped me really develop the habit of having meaningful discussions with my Father in Heaven.

On Thursday, Elder Hammon and I were on splits with Elder Jessen, one of our zone leaders. I really like him a lot, he is a way cool guy. We taught a lesson to Nina. She is reading a lot, and is in the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi, so she had lots of questions (don’t we all?), but after we answered those, we gave a quick run down of the Plan of Salvation. We gave her a pamphlet to read in preparation for our next meeting, so it will be really good. We are shooting to put her and her husband on date for the end of February, we are very excited with their progress.

Nothing really happened throughout the rest of the week. Our contacting is going well, we have a massive pool to start pulling people out of to teach. We just need to get people to actually show up when they say they are going to 🙂 Yesterday at church I was talking to a member about how I celebrated my 6 month mark. She started freaking out about how I had only been here for 6 months, and that she thought I was about to go home. I guess that means the language is picking up. I wouldn’t consider myself totally "fluent" yet, but I am on the edge. Or at the edge you could say, haha. Ukraine means "At the edge" in Russian (and Ukrainian too, haha). It comes from it being the outer edge of the ancient tribes that lived in Eastern Europe. I’m starting to learn a little Ukrainian just from talking to older people who speak in Serjic (mixing the two). When I get really comfortable in Russian, I will ask President if I can start studying Ukrainian a little bit.

So now for my 6 month review. Well, I have learned a lot, and grown a lot more. There are a few things that I have been especially taking note of:

1. If we understood how much our Heavenly Father loves us, we wouldn’t have any agency, because we wouldn’t want to do anything wrong.
2. The power to understanding our purpose on Earth, and the way to return to live with our Heavenly Father lies within the pages of the Book of Mormon.
3. When you are trying to fulfill a calling, you will always be given "super powers" so to speak. If Heavenly Father needs it done, he will make sure you can get it done.
4. There are two key ingredients to a successful companionship (or marriage too I guess, it’s sorta the same thing.) : Service and lots of Humility.
5. Молитва – разговор с Богом.

I hope you are all doing great. Especially my NEWLY ENGAGED sister 🙂 I’m glad that my family is going to practically double in size by the time I get back!

Elder McClintock

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Well, that was quick.

I can now chalk up 6 months of being a missionary. I can’t believe it’s already a quarter of the way over. I celebrated in grand fashion. There is a lady on the renok (bizarre/market type of thing) who normally sells ties for 70gph, but she gives all the missionaries a discount. Elder Mills, who is in my group, is also in my district now, so we met up and bought matching ties in honor of the occasion. They are pretty classy if I say so myself. And no worries, I kept the age-old tradition alive of burning a tie on my six month mark 🙂 The stove in our new apartment is like a flamethrower, so it went up pretty quickly, haha. I’ll talk more about that in a little bit.

On to my week! Last monday for P-Day, we went Laser tagging, it was pretty fun, after that we had a lot of work to do so our day got cut short a little bit, we saved time to go and get that tie on Friday. The renok isn’t open on Monday, so if we need/want to get something, we have to bank some P-Day. On Tuesday, we had a way fun English class. We had planned to talk about movies, but instead we ended up talking about Oreos, and how great Ukrainian babushkas are. haha. It was quite the party. When we get people laughing in English class, it is always a good time. I have noticed that if we get them laughing, we usually get them staying for the spiritual thought afterwards.

On Wednesday, we had a great district meeting about receiving revelation through prayer. The first step in the gospel being restored, was a prayer by a 14 year old farm boy. It really is the basis of our spiritual well-being. In the Bible Dictionary it says that as soon as we realize we are literally children of our Heavenly Father, prayer becomes instinctual and natural. So true it is. I have really been working on making my own prayers more meaningful. One thing we always say to people is "Молитва – разговор с Богом." it means "Prayer is a conversation with God." The more I think about what I am saying, the more I realize that a conversation is a time where you say something, and then you wait for a response, then you repeat the process. That realization has helped me really develop the habit of having meaningful discussions with my Father in Heaven.

On Thursday, Elder Hammon and I were on splits with Elder Jessen, one of our zone leaders. I really like him a lot, he is a way cool guy. We taught a lesson to Nina. She is reading a lot, and is in the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi, so she had lots of questions (don’t we all?), but after we answered those, we gave a quick run down of the Plan of Salvation. We gave her a pamphlet to read in preparation for our next meeting, so it will be really good. We are shooting to put her and her husband on date for the end of February, we are very excited with their progress.

Nothing really happened throughout the rest of the week. Our contacting is going well, we have a massive pool to start pulling people out of to teach. We just need to get people to actually show up when they say they are going to 🙂 Yesterday at church I was talking to a member about how I celebrated my 6 month mark. She started freaking out about how I had only been here for 6 months, and that she thought I was about to go home. I guess that means the language is picking up. I wouldn’t consider myself totally "fluent" yet, but I am on the edge. Or at the edge you could say, haha. Ukraine means "At the edge" in Russian (and Ukrainian too, haha). It comes from it being the outer edge of the ancient tribes that lived in Eastern Europe. I’m starting to learn a little Ukrainian just from talking to older people who speak in Serjic (mixing the two). When I get really comfortable in Russian, I will ask President if I can start studying Ukrainian a little bit.

So now for my 6 month review. Well, I have learned a lot, and grown a lot more. There are a few things that I have been especially taking note of:

1. If we understood how much our Heavenly Father loves us, we wouldn’t have any agency, because we wouldn’t want to do anything wrong.
2. The power to understanding our purpose on Earth, and the way to return to live with our Heavenly Father lies within the pages of the Book of Mormon.
3. When you are trying to fulfill a calling, you will always be given "super powers" so to speak. If Heavenly Father needs it done, he will make sure you can get it done.
4. There are two key ingredients to a successful companionship (or marriage too I guess, it’s sorta the same thing.) : Service and lots of Humility.
5. Молитва – разговор с Богом.

I hope you are all doing great. Especially my NEWLY ENGAGED sister 🙂 I’m glad that my family is going to practically double in size by the time I get back!

Elder McClintock

Hellllooooo Everybody!

I hope you all are doing wonderfully this week. This week has had a lot of success, but not a lot of real exciting/funny stories to share with you, haha.

It is great to be able to be teaching Nick and Nina as a couple. They really are making great progress. They have read through the "Answers to Life Questions" sticker we put in the front, and decided to begin reading from the beginning of 1st Nephi, without us asking or suggesting it at all. We met with them, and they told us that they had just done it. Our goals with them in our lesson were to 1) Answer any questions they had from reading, 2) Get a better feel for their religious background, 3) Talk about baptism a little in preparation of delivering the baptismal commitment, and 4) learn their last name. The lesson was amazing. After beginning with a prayer, the first question they asked was about Moroni chapter 8, where Mormon is talking about infant baptism. This sparked a discussion about their religious background, and how they both feel it is wrong to baptize children, because they are just too innocent to be deemed "guilty" in any way. This was very interesting, because Nick said that he was Orthodox when we first met them, but things are churning in his head, it is great to see. We also found out that Nick played for FC Dnipro in the 60’s and his brother played professional soccer in Argentina as well. Right after the lesson, I was talking to Nina about fast offerings (she saw the slip on the table in the branch), and how that is the general humanitarian fund for members of the church. She also asked about making a donation to the Missionary Fund and the Book of Mormon fund, that was a pleasant surprise! At the same time, Nick was talking to Elder Hammon and said "There are a lot of Nickolais in Ukraine, you should know our last name.". The Lord is definitely preparing these people, and the change I see from lesson to lesson is amazing.

Also, with contacting, there is a large park near our new apartment. It is great if we only have a short time to be able to go contacting, especially since there are a lot of families there. We went with Elder Piccolo and Elder Clifford to go contacting there for an hour on Saturday, and again last night. It was aboslutely amazing. Between the 4 of us, we got 9 contacts in 2 hours of work. It is great to have people to talk to, and have things written down on your planner after you pencil in studying and lunch 🙂

I have also gotten to know know Vova Davidenko, our mission’s visa clerk pretty well this past week. He is a great guy. Yesterday, he and his whole family came to church in matching outfits that his wife had boughten. It is great to see how serving a mission changes the lives of people. As I look around Dnepr, you see all of the people who have gone on missions, and they all have great families, are well off by Ukrainian standards, and are just plan happy. Vova’s kids are absolutely gigantic. He is about 6’8" and Mosha, his wife is probably 6’4"ish. They have a son who is 19 months old, that looks like a 4 year old, he is enormous. Vova says that he is going to be the first Mormon Ukrainian to play for the Lakers and will make him a lot of money some day. They are in our area, so we will have to teach them, that members are supposed to feed the missionaries often 🙂

That’s all the news for this week, I hope all is going well with everyone. Keep the support coming, I got a Christmas card from the Hoeft’s this week, it made me feel all at home! Thank you for that.

Elder McClintock

Miracles Miracles.

Elder Hammon and I are doing absolutely wonderful. I don’t remember if I told you all, but we have been reviewing our weekly goals in companionship study and our daily goals before we pray every time we leave the apartment, then checking up on them in our daily planning session. This has led to amazing success. We were able to achieve all of our weekly goals last week, except for contacts, which we got a little to ambitious when we set. The apartment search took a more time than we expected because of looking at different apartments, so we didn’t get all of those. More about the apartment later 🙂

One thing I have learned this week, is how when we lay everything on the line, the Lord will make those goals become reality. It seems like every day this last week, we would have our contacting time with some success. Then as we are heading in for the night, or riding the tramvai across town, someone would pop up who is very interested. As we have really devoted our focus to our goals, I have seen more "great potential" contacts this week than my first 2 transfers combined. The next step is get rid of that potential. I absolutely hate that word. A life full of potential is a life empty of success. So Elder Hammon and I are going to flip that potential into results.

We have been focusing on families, and starting every contact with asking to share a thought about the family. We are getting a lot of success right now. We are currently teaching an older couple, who are setting the commitments for themselves. They said that they "need a copy of the Book of Mormon to read, because reading and praying about it is the only way they will know whether it is scripture or not". Nick and Nina are their names. She is an English teacher, and she is bringing her class to English tomorrow because she loved it last week. We are also teaching a man named Max, who I have only met with once since I have been here. We are really working to get to work with his whole family together, but haven’t been able to yet. The feeling of teaching a family is completely different than a single person. As they talk amongst each other, you can see the understand of what we are teaching, and their testimonies of it also being strengthened. It is an amazing sight to behold.

We also had an interesting lesson last week with a man named Alexander. We met him on the street, then he said "yeah! you can come over now and we can talk if you want!". Man oh man am I glad that I’m a missionary and feel protected. He seemed completely normal on the street, then we got there, and he started making some tea (we always carry our own so we know it is only fruit or herbal tea, and not green or black, so no worries 🙂 ), so it was just like a regular appointment. Then he asked us if we smoked something. Neither of us knew what the word was, but we are assuming it was marijauna he was asking about. My knowledge of slang terms for Cannabis isn’t nearly extensive in Russian as it is in English, I just haven’t gone to High School here. hahahahaha. Well, that was weird. Then we started teaching him about the Plan of Salvation. Then in the middle he stopped us and asked us if we had any cocaine. At this point, I wrapped up the lesson, and said we had another lesson to go to. Needless to say, we didn’t schedule a return appointment, so don’t freak out mom!

Now to our apartment situation……drum roll……..WE ARE MOVING IN TOMORROW! This was a miracle in and of itself. We got a bunch of classifeds, and made some calls, realized we should probably quickly study some real estate jargon, then made some calls again, and then went and looked at an apartment. It was okay, nothing great, the landlady was really nice, but it didn’t have a microwave, or a washer, and the stove only had 2 burners. That was a "well, we are still looking" moment. President said it would be great if we found an apartment with the other Elders in our branch. Their landlord is awful (he goes over there all the time while they are gone.) and their apartment is a dump and he won’t fix anything. So we called another ad, and the number was for a realtor. We talked to her, and said we wanted an apartment for 4000 griven if 4 of us could live there, or only 2000 for 2. She misunderstood us, and showed us nice apartment for 3500, but it would only be two of us. Her boss was there too, and when we explained that we wanted an apartment for four missionaries for 4000, he started laughing. He said that people don’t want to rent their stuff out to teenagers, let alone foreigners who are coming an going all the time. Understandable. He said he’d look for 2 people apartments in each of our areas and keep his eye out for a 4 person.

Well, 35 minutes later, I got a phone call. I answered and it was the realtor, he asked if he could show us an apartment for 4. It is nicer than the way nice apartment that was 3500, and it is in one of the nicest parts of town. It is a block off the main street of the city (where the Center Branch is, and the mission office). It is 2 blocks from where the new chapel will be, about 4 from the train station, and 3 from all of the nice restaurants in town (They just opened up a TGI Friday’s!!!). Both companionships only have to walk a block, and we can get either a shuttle or take a trolley to anywhere in both of our areas. It is an absolute miracle. To top it off, the landlady said that the whole first and last months’ rent was too much, so she only wanted a month in a half, and she had no problem with her having to help register the new missionaries who live there. Today we went back over to look at it, and had Vova our mission lawyer come to check all of the contract stuff. After we talked to the landlady some more about why we are in Ukraine, and explained that we wouldn’t have the money until Thursday (the mission has to send it to Salt Lake, and then they make the deposit, so it takes a few days for everything to happen) she said "well, I trust these boys, they are honest young men. I’ll come by Thursday morning to pick up the rent and the realtor fee" then handed me the keys.

The last time Elders in this city needed an apartment, it took them almost 2 months. It took us 4 days, and we have an amazing apartment, in the best part of town, with a great landlady. Heavenly Father must really need us in that spot, because for all of that to happen like that, is a miracle. An absolute miracle.

I got a Christmas card today from the Greenwood’s. It even included some Dewar’s Chews. My, were they wonderful! Thank you so much!

I’m glad everyone is doing well, I love you all,

Elder McClintock

Hello from the Big City!

So I must tell you, that I absolutely love Dnepropetrovsk. It is absolutely gorgeous. The buildings all have victorian designs, and the streets are cobblestone and brick. There are a lot of people, and a lot of things going on. It is amazing. I also love Elder Hammon. We are working so well together. I found out a little more about him and his family since I have been here (naturally of course). He is a triplet, 2 boys and a girl. He also has a younger sister too. His brother is currently serving in Salvador Brazil. He and his sister went to USU last year, but his brother went to BYU. His dad is an orthopedic surgeon, and went to med school at Tennessee. So far everything has been "cheeky-peeky". There is a Russian phrase for you all to begin using in English 🙂

Transfers were crazy, Elder Ditto (Elder Condie’s new companion in Nicolaev) came at 5 AM Wednesday morning. Oh yeah, Elder Berndt was in Dnepr for a training meeting, so Elder Condie and I were together in Nic. I was back in a 3some for a day. On Thursday, I got on my bus at 9 oclock, and heading to Dnepr. It was verrrryyyyyy strange being alone, haha. It made it more awkward when the lady next to me started breast feeding her baby. Blankets are cheap lady, invest in one. Well, buses go extremely slow here. For the just under 200 mile trip, it took 6 hours and 45 minutes. I had called the APs and told them my plans, and they said they would have someone for me at the bus station. My bus got there at 4 oclock. My ticket said it should arrive at 4:40, so I waiting a bit (it was absolutely FREEZING). I wait, I wait, then I wait some more. Finally at 5:15, I start asking people if I can use their cell phones. Finally this lady lets me, because she had MTC (haha, that is our phone service…ironic) so it would be free to call anyone with a mission phone. I call the APs. No answer. I call my Zone Leader, no answer. Finally, I get a hold of President Nielsen. I told him that I had been outside for an hour and a half and couldn’t get a hold of anyone else, so he said he’d come get me. Just as I got off the phone, Elder Rhodes and Elder Piccolo got off their bus from Poltava. So the 3 of us crammed into President’s car with all of our stuff, and he dropped us off at the APs. He said he would talk to them about making sure there was someone there next time 🙂

All of the greenies also came Thursday. I got to meet all of them because they all slept at the assistants’ apartment. They are a good group. Elder Hammon and I also got to baby sit 3 of them (Elder Ku was with us as well, I really like him a lot, btw.) because there was a zone leaders’ council, and 3 of the 6 have ZLs for trainers. Between the 6 of us, we only had one phone, so we had to all stay together, it made for a fun tour of the city. We took them around to all of the food stands to try a sharma (a grilled chicken wrap sort of thing), pirichki (basically a scone filled with mashed potatoes, or other stuff) etc. etc. They were very shell shocked. It is crazy that I was in their shoes 3 months ago, and I’m closing in on 6 months of my mission gone.

Elder Hammon and I are currently living with the AP’s because we don’t have an apartment. We are hunting, I guess that is the fun of opening an area :). Church was also great, I love the branch. A lot of people recognized me, because they held our culture night the first day I got here. Elder Mills is in my district, so I am very excited to be back with someone from my group. It is unbelievable how much we have both changed, and how much better we speak! The branch president asked me to speak, which was a fun surprise, since it was 10 minutes before church started. I am really starting to feel like I have a grasp on the language, I understand pretty much everything, and in a few cases I have heard a word, known the meaning just out of context, and been able to turn around and use it. I can attribtute all of that to dedicated study, and reading of the Book of Mormon in Russian. Since I began to seriously read it, my language skills have gone through the roof.

That is about it for the week, I hope you are all doing well. I love you all, and miss you (sort of….Ukraine is pretty dang awesome). I will wind up with a thought:

Our goals are the true reflection of our desires. As we set goals, we are aligning ourselves and our plans, with what we want to achieve. To be successful at ANYTHING, we need to set goals, and create a gameplan of how we are going to get there, and then review them regularly to keep us focused on them.

Elder McClintock

It’s My Birthday and I know you want to Fly-y-y-yyy out!

Happy 20th birthday to ME!

Okay, there is my selfish moment 🙂

So far, my birthday has been a good one. It started out with a text from President Nielsen…the transfer text (drum roll!)

I’m going to Dnepropetrovsk! I will be serving in the Center Branch, with Elder Hammon. He is from Bountiful. I haven’t talked to him that much, only a few minutes when I first got in country, but I’m way excited. We will be opening a new area, so I am really pumped to get the work going.

To celebrate my birthday, we are going to a basketball game tonight. I wonder how quality the professional bball of Ukraine is, I’ll find out…hahaha.

Yesterday was a great Testimony meeting. I particularly enjoyed one members testimony, it really hit me. She is 83 years old, her name is Klavdia. She looks a lot like my Mom will in 30 years (youll still have hair, and it won’t be gray! haha). She talked about how she is so grateful for the gospel, and so grateful for all of "these good looking American boys who leave their families, educations and girlfriends to bring the people of Ukraine the gospel." It really hit me how much the world values what I sacrificed, which in reality is nothing for what you get out of a mission, and how much I absolutely LOVE Ukraine and the people here.

I am really starting to understand pretty much everything at church (the streets is different, haha). I finally feel like I can be myself somewhat when talking to people. So that is a good sign. The other day, I also had my first dream in Russian. It was weird, but everyone says that’s when you know you are catching on to the language, when you dream. So that is good. In the dream I was on a bus, and the bus driver wouldn’t stop at my spot, so I just got off, and started tracting back towards where I was supposed to be, then Elder Hagee pulled up in a car and gave me a ride. It was sooo weird. haha.

For New Year’s, we had to be in at dark on the 31st, and couldn’t go outside until chruch yesterday. They get crazy drunk, and the streets are ridiculous, so we must be inside. It is the biggest holiday of the year, and people here sure know how to party. haha. We entertained ourselves by cooking, making Backstreet Boys music videos, and writing letters. It was pretty fun, but I definitely hate being stuck inside being unproductive. I don’t know how I used to be able to do that. haha.

Well, that is pretty much all the news, since such a big chunk of our week was taking up by that, and that we had splits with the APs and ZLs this week. So we had 1 normal day. haha. I will miss two baptisms this Saturday because I will be in my new area, which I am sort of sad to miss, but it will be good. One is an investigator, the other is a member who turned 8.

I’ll finish up with one funny story: I had to use a public bathroom, because we were in the middle of nowhere, and I really needed to go. Most public bathrooms here are called "squatters". Fill in the details yourself. haha.

My "Black Year" has officially begun. In all of 2011, I will never set foot on US soil. Crazy.

Elder McClintock