Archive for March, 2011

Missionary Math.

Let u equal the number of people in Ukraine.

Let p equal the number of people in Ukraine who missionaries have talked to.

u – (2/3)p = The number of Ukrainians who don’t think the missionaries are JDubs.

Unfortunately, that is the truth. Even yesterday, as Elder Adams and I were walking up to the branch before church, a lady all dressed and ready to go to church came up and talked to us. She was ready to come in with us, and than asked the question: "вы свидетели Иегова?" (Are you Jehova’s Witnesses?)

No. No we are not.

Then she asked where the nearest Jdub church was, and when we told her we didn’t know she turned around and walked away. Church was very good though, choir practice and all.

I found out this morning that I will be spending another transfer with Elder Adams on Pobyeda, and I am extremely excited. We have a few investigators now, and we will get to continue to visit Victor every week. It is very strange every time missionaries go home, especially this round so far. I know all of the missionaries going home tomorrow fairly well, but they are all ready to move on with their lives. Everybody watch out for Bryndon Belnap, who will be walking on the football team in the fall to be the replacement of Jake Heaps a few years down the road. Also, ladies, I will gladly give you his information, just ask. He literally is one of the greatest people I have ever met in my life.

We have been going through the area book trying to get a hold of as many former investigators as we can. The stack is very thick and the area book is bulging with formers who haven’t been contacting in a long time. So far we haven’t had anyone who is interested, but we have had a lot of good lessons with people. We have also been doing a lot of less active work, and are trying to bring people back. Our contacts aren’t working out so well, so we gotta get interested people from somewhere else.

This week when I was exchanges with Elder Merkley, we stopped by a older couple into whom he and Elder Calaway tracted into last transfer. They are English students, and have been staying regularly for the spiritual thought afterwards. Elder Calaway forgot where they lived so he and Elder Adams could never stop by their place again, so when Elder Merkley was here, we made sure to. We had a great lest with them that started off very interestingly. When we got there, we saw the wife talking to her daughter who lives in San Francisco on Facebook. When we got to starting the lesson, we asked if we could show them a short video on the computer. We pulled up LDS.org and watched the video about the cultural celebration. It is a very powerful video, and really invited the spirit into the room. Afterwards, they just sat there for a moment, and then said "How did you manage to get the government to allow you to build that? That is a miracle." and were instantly interested. We had a very good first lesson, and they both committed to read the Book of Mormon. I am very excited to see how things progress with them. They are a great older couple, who are very honest and just all around good people. All they do all day is study English so they can go visit their daughter and grandson in the US.

That is the only thing of note that happened this week. In my personal study, I’ve been contemplating the importance of the temple. I remember writing a letter to a friend who was preparing to go into the MTC, and telling her that we aren’t baptizing people, but rather helping people do what they need to do to go to the temple. I have thought and thought about it some more, and I began to pray to have the opportunity to help teach a family who gets baptized. I want nothing more than to have a family get baptized, and then be able to be at their sealing on my way home. I cannot think of any greater joy I could find in my missionary service. Really, the temple is everything. That is as simply as I can put it.

I am sad that BYU lost to Florida, but it was a good run. I heard Kyle Collinsworth got his call though, and is going to Russia, that will be legit. I hope you are all doing well, I am sorry for the short email, but there wasn’t much to report.

This morning for P-day, our whole zone got together and we played football at a park. It brought back memories, and felt a lot like home. I have pictures, and also pictures of getting Victor dressed up in a suit. Sadly though, I didn’t have time to go get my camera cord, so next week (I PROMISE!) I will have pictures of the chalking, victor, football, and downtown Dnepr! Please don’t hate me! I also got a letter form Terryn and Torree today! Thanks! I will write y’all back as soon as I can!

Elder McClintock

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You fool, ForEx isn’t a game!

Or at least that is what crazy Alexander told Leonid yesterday during Sunday School.

We found Alexander in the Area Book, and he lives in an area that President Nielsen has asked us to focus on. All it said was "he didn’t come to church, so we decided to stop by". Thank you former Elders for keeping a good area book. We stopped by, he let us in, but didn’t remember us at all. He talked a lot about money, you could tell he sure likes it a lot. After we got over that, we taught him a normal 1st lesson, nothing special, he didn’t seem too interested.

Yesterday, we get a phone call asking what time we would be at the church. We thought he was going to come to church and it was a pleasant surprise. He no-showed for sacrament meeting, and then 20 minutes into Sunday school, Leonid walks in and pulls us out of class because Alexander came and asked for us. As soon as we walked out, I could tell something was a little odd about him. He pulled out two matching folders with this packets of information in them. When I read the first page, I saw mine and Elder Adams’s names type and listed as Project Managers. After a quick flip through and reading, I fell upon the last page: a contract to start a business with him. He wants to start a business teaching people how to do ForEx trading so they can make money from home. Obviously, missionaries are not allowed to have any kind of job or business, so we had an easy escape chute. Our "no" wasn’t good enough and he wanted to talk to a leader of some sort. President Nielsen was also sitting in the room, but he wasn’t part of the conversation, but I thought it would be better to have someone from the branch presidency talk to him (even though President Nielsen does speak Russian very well. He is literally one of the smartest people in the world) so I grabbed Leonid (see the last email) and had him come out. Leonid was in the branch president’s office doing some business with President Gelmeev.

He came out, and Alexander gave the same schpeal to him, and Leonid was trying hard not to laugh. There were a total of 9 people in the room watching all of this happen: Leonid, Elder Adams and Alexander were near the sacrament table. President Nielsen was in the first row of chairs. I was near the people next to President Gelmeev (our branch president), and Vadim and Ksysha, two branch members in their 20’s were standing behind us trying not to laugh at what was going on. Leonid told Alexander that we wouldn’t officially support anything like that, and people needed to choose for themselves what they wanted to do for work, and we weren’t going to tell people to work for somebody. He also told him that ForEx trading was basically a game, and unless you were rich it was extremely stupid to do. To which Alexander just about yelled:

You Fool! ForEx isn’t a game!

The rest of us were trying so hard not to laugh. Leonid started smiling and apologized for laughing after Alexander was going off about him being a coward and a fool for laughing at the true way to make millions. Note: Alexander’s apartment? Not that nice. Finally he said that "You Mormons are fools just like the Adventists, they didn’t want to do this either!" and Leonid said that he would sign a paper saying he received the packet, and that was it. After he signed it, Alexander turned around and started talking to President Nielsen, who also fighting back a chuckle just said "Thank you, good bye" and had me show him the door. I told Alexander we would be in touch, and then locked the branch door behind him as he left.

When I walked back into the sacrament hall, we all started busted up laughing, and the branch president said "Who are you meeting with!? Can’t you find anyone normal?" while laughing. It was hysterical. Leonid put his fingers to his head like a gun and shot himself, as if to say "kill me". I started laughing at that, and the branch president didn’t understand that. People don’t joke around with death here, but a few of the younger people in the branch know what that means. All of the people near my age who have been members for a very long time have very American senses of humor and all speak English very well because they have essentially grown up around the missionaries.

Other than that, Elena got really sick this week, so she couldn’t come to church or meet with us, but she called us yesterday and set up an appointment so that was good.

We taught a lesson to Alexander Boboshko, an inactive member. His son is one of the most active members of the church here and just turned in his mission papers. Alexander had something happen and got offended a few years ago and slipped into activity, but he said that it is time for him to come back. We are going to set a plan with him to have him get the Melchezidek Priesthood from his son before he leaves on his mission. It was a very good lesson, and he is a way cool guy. He was a mechanic and a navigator in the USSR Air Force and showed us pictures of all of the places that took him back in the day.

We also taught a lesson to an old lady who didn’t have any clue who we were even though she was on date to be baptized at one point 6 years ago, and her daughter is a member somewhere. We realized she has the memory of a goldfish and was reading the Book of Mormon out loud and then repeatedly asking us if it was printed in Russian or not.

We tried to stop by a few former investigators yesterday, and after we tried them, a man just stopped us and asked if we were preachers. He asked if we could sit down and talk for a few minutes, and we said of course. He had just talked to missionaries of some sort from another church, and was very interested in "being saved" as he described it. He has a huge desire, but it was very difficult to teach him because he wanted to know everything all at once. He has a very minute religious background, if any at all. He didn’t know who Adam and Eve were, and had never heard of Gethsemane or Eden. I guess that is a plus, because his mind is free for molding. At the end of the lesson, he asked if he could throw the paper the born-again preachers gave him away, and we politely told him that he could do as he wished, but to know that it wasn’t entirely correct.

This week we helped a man change his tire when we saw him on the side of the road. It kind of took him by surprise that we were young guys who wanted to actually help him, but afterwards he gave us his info. He was a nice guy and we had a good chat, but it goes to show that service is they way to go!

We also went "chalkboarding" this week. The APs came down to our area, and we went to a park and drew the Plan of Salvation in chalk on the sidewalk, and talked to people as they went by. It drew a lot of attention, and we had a lot of good conversations with people. It got really windy, so we didn’t have an extreme amount of people, but it was way fun. I took pictures, but I don’t have my camera with me, so I will send them next week.

I hope everyone is having a good time, and I’m glad that my Cougars are in the Sweet 16!

I love you all,

Elder McClintock

PS: I sent letters off this week to Alex Hoeft and Alison Jones, so be on the look out for those you two!

Spring is in the Air.

And slush is on the street. They have about 292093750293752093852395 holidays here, and if "Melting Snow Day" isn’t one of them, it should be. It is nice to see the ground, and not freeze when I walk outside if I don’t have my huge coat on.

This week has been a good one, most notably with finding an investigator. Her name is Elena, and we were able to meet with her at a member’s apartment. We "taught" the lesson at Leonid and Natasha Pigulevich’s apartment (the 2nd counselor in our branch presidency). I say "taught" because it was great to have them be able to answer questions much better than we can and really relate to Elena. When we first met her, she said that she would be most comfortable meeting at a member’s so she could meet some people from the branch. Natasha and Leonid have always been very active in asking us when we had lessons, or how they can help us, and they certainly did. We met at their house, and were able to teach a wonderful first lesson and commit Elena to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Elena also gave herself the commitment to come to church this Sunday, but was called into work yesterday morning. When I called her, she said that she was called in, but told them she wouldn’t work next Sunday, because she already had plans. She is really striving to find the truth. She had a very typical Ukrainian life, and had an abortion when she was young. She told us that shortly after the abortion, she had a vision or visitation of an angel of some sort, and she has been trying to find a fulness of the truth ever since. She currently attends a protestant congregation, but she doesn’t agree with everything that is taught or done. The way she described it was along the lines of "it is the best I have found so far, but I am still looking". I am very excited to keep meeting with her.

I also now have an even stronger testimony of member missionary work. Having two returned missionaries, who both taught using Preach My Gospel was extremely helpful. I have always felt that members want to help, but just don’t really feel like they know how. I truly feel like the fruits of the switch to Preach My Gospel will become even more manifest as now missionaries who used it will now be in positions to really work with their coworkers, and help the current missionaries. These two members are amazing. They have both been members for a long time and know the Gospel very well. They met serving together in St. Petersburg and got married shortly after Leonid got home. It was amazing when at church Natasha came to us and said "I didn’t see Elena. We have nothing planned during the week. Call her and schedule a lesson at our place ASAP". If there was a member missionary draft I would take them in the 1st round. The best part about the lesson may have been that Natasha pulled a cake out of the oven as we walked in 🙂

One thing from the lesson that Natasha started with, has been on my mind for the last few days. When we first started the lesson, she started by bearing her testimony, of the truthfulness of what we were going to teach. I have never done that before, but it instantly invited the spirit. The part that has been on my mind especially, is that she said "I love the gospel because it has the answer to every question". She followed that by using the "How to begin teaching" phrase concerning the missionaries not having all of the answers. She said that she doesn’t know everything, and won’t figure everything out in this life, but she knows that the Gospel has the answer for every question, and if we seek an answer and need an answer, Heavenly Father will always give it to us. It was an incredible way to begin a lesson, and I had never thought of the all encompassing nature of the knowledge we have of the Restore Gospel.

We have decided to make an effort in the area of less/inactive work. Their are many young(er) people who have just seemed to fall away. We have been stopping by a lot of them and have set up a few appointments for the upcoming week. We had a good lesson with Vacili Klezhnyov. He came to church yesterday, which was very good to see. When we met with him, he said before we even began that it is time for him to come back to church. He has a 4 month year old daughter, and I think that may be weighing on his mind. His wife is not a member, but we found her information in our area book and she has been worked with a little bit. He has not been endowed, but his immediate family has been sealed. Unfortunately, on the mother, and his little sister are currently active. We are going to make a push to work with that family.

I’m sure you are all aware of Victor, the handicapped member we meet with each week. He is really struggling right now. He doesn’t feel like he is worthy to talk to Heavenly Father and ask him for help understanding the scriptures. In our last visit I committed him to pray for understanding, and told him I would call the next day to check up on him. When I called back he said that "Americans can ask God for help with spiritual things, because they have all of the physical things they need and Ukrainians are still trying to get the physical things". It was very saddening to me, and I told him we would talk to him about that on Friday. I just did my best to assure him that life is far from perfect and what he sees on TV.

Things are turning around in Pobyeda. I am very excited to be here, and very excited with my progress in the language. I can understand and talk freely, and do not feel hindered in any way. Yes, I understand there is a long way to go, but I have seen the fruits of my labors in studying Russian and am starting to feel the language barrier slowly fade away.

I have sort of in the loop with the earthquake in Japan. That is really scary. There is an elder from Japan here, it was a big scare because he didn’t know about his family for a while. I also know the status of my Cougars. [Thank you Elder Roach! Senior couples are the greatest!] We are having a district bracket challenge. I’m going to really have to realy on the spirit for that one.

Here are pictures! I know it has been a while! The first is a shot of me on the balcony of my old apartment. The second is at FHE my last night in my last area.

I love you all! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Pray for Jimmer Fredette to take us to the Sweet 16!

Elder McClintock

Oops, that was an important syllable.

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I have some pictures for you all today, I know I have been bad about that.

Things are going well in our area. We have a lot of contacting time. Unfortunately we don’t have any progressing investigators at the moment. We are getting contacts, but they just don’t seem to be turning into people who are willing to actually meet with us. It is slightly frustrating. But I know there are people out there. We are going to work on Sokol this week. It is an area that the missionaries haven’t been to in a while. President Nielsen wants us to spend some time over there finding (aka ‘gator huntin’) people to teach. We haven’t had time to get over there because of all of the moving and things with the fumigation.

Speaking of that, all of the bugs are gone! We got our apartment fumigated by a professional, just to make sure. The downside to that, was that the poison was everywhere, so we had to wipe down every square inch of our apartment and wash every article of clothing we have. It took an entire day. We had a solid 8 hours of scrubbing everything, listening to Disney’s Greatest Hits. haha. It was a fun day.

I have had a few hard days this week with really wanting to give it my all contacting. Moving back and forth between our apartment and the Assistants’ and having to travel a long ways to our area is very tireing, and I let it wear on me. It was probably the lowest point of desire that I have had since I have gotten to Ukraine. Then yesterday, in testimony meeting, I had a very spiritual impression of how much I truly love these people, and how much they need me to want more than anything to have people learn about the restoration. It was a very powerful moment for me. I made the realization that Satan was working on me to try to keep Elder Adams and I from doing big things in our area. I love our branch, and I love Ukraine whole heartedly.

There is a lady in our branch named Natasha whose husband has been coming to church lately. His name is Victor. We talked to her about him after church and he is Hare Krisha, but he has come to church off and on. Everyone in the branch knows him. She thinks he may be closer to being ready to meet with the missionaries, and she was going to ask him again. They seem to have a very good marriage, and talk freely about the church, and he is supportive of her being there. I hope that turns into someone we cant teach because our area is looking kind of slim right now. We could use a boost.

Adams and I are still doing amazing. We have been in a "German Pancake" phase this week. We have made them like 5 times, haha. We also make biscuits every Saturday, so it is just like the good old days 🙂 Our landlady gave us two giant things of fresh made apple juice. It is really strong, and we didn’t really know what we wanted to do with it. So we decided to make syrup out of it, and it is quite delicious I might add. She gave us a huge thing of honey too, which was way nice because honey is very expensive here.

My computer is twigging out, so the pictures will have to wait one more week, I’m sorry!

Oh, and as for the syllable….Education and circumcision are very similar words. And it gets awkward when you tell members that you are paying for your own education at BYU……

Elder McClintock