Archive for April, 2011

Христос Воскрес!

Воистину Воскрес!

That is what I heard all day yesterday at church and on the street. It is an Easter tradition to say that as a greeting and farewell. It translates to: "Christ is Risen!" and the reply being "Verily he is Risen!".

It was very exciting to have such a large branch at church yesterday. All of the members seem very excited and are glad to have such a large group of people each week at church. I think Luba Gilmeeva (the music coordinator) was most excited to have a bigger choir, and she just about cried tears of joy when she was able to have us sing in parts. It was a great Easter program, complete with Easter Cake. They have a traditional cake that they only make at Easter, and that is what got used for the sacrament yesterday. It was pretty tasty, I might add.

Our new attack on working our area is going well. We have been having a lot of good conversations about the gospel, and are increasing our presence in the areas that haven’t really been touched too much lately by the missionaries. We had a great lesson on Saturday with a man named Anatoli. He is a very religous man who studies the Bible and understands it better than any nonmember I have ever met. He was talking about things that he believed because of the Bible that in my opinion, he thought were going to thwart us off, but were completely doctrinely correct with the teachings of the church. He is very interested in the fact that the church is organized the same way that Christ established. He had a 200 year old Bible that is absolutely gigantic that he studies. It is written in Old Slavonic, and is very interesting to look at. He said that he had a run in with the church before, and borrowed someone’s personal copy of the Book of Mormon but only had it for a few days and didn’t really give it a solid read because of lack of time. He said he his a Baptist, but not in his soul, and that the Baptist church is just what he has found closest to his interpretation of the Bible. I am very excited to keep meeting with him and see how he progresses. And to boot, he fed us borscht afterwards which is always a plus. I will never turn down free food unless it is holodyets.

George, our 21 year old investigator is doing well also. We have him on a soft commitment to be baptized on May 21st. When we gave the commitment, he said that it was a very serious step, and he didn’t come right out and say yes, but he did pray and ask for help to prepare for baptism at the end of the lesson. It was very good. We also met with him earlier in the week to teach him the Plan of Salvation. It was great to walk into the branch and see him playing ping pong with Zhenya Boboshko. They have known each other since they were 8 or 9 years old. George agreed with everything about the lesson, and when we asked him about reading he said "If I know that it is all true, do I still need to read? I don’t like reading". It was funny, yet very promising. He also asked if he was still allowed to talk to Hari Krishna people. When we asked what he meant by that he said "I don’t believe in their weird religion, but they have free yoga classes at their temple and there is always free food afterwards." He is a funny kid, I am glad to see him on the path.

Victor is doing well. We had to rearrange his bed for him, but now I think he is happy with how comfortable he is. I gave him a copy of the picture we took together and wrote a note on the back. He called to thank for me for such kind words, and say that he was going to give me his "small manipulator" which is the nickname he gave to his little stick with a hook on the end that he grabs stuff with. He also has a medium and large manipulator. We called him yesterday to wish him a happy Easter and he was very confused. Then he called back and said he thought it was still friday, and wondered why I was celebrating Christ’s death, but then he realized it was Sunday and wished me a happy Easter. And then he called back again to tell me to say hello to Elder Adams for him. He is a funny guy with a good heart.

Saturday was Sister Roach’s birthday, so Adams and I threw her a surprise party. Well, really it was just our companionship and she and Elder Roach. We told them there was an Easter Activity at the branch, and to come, but really we just made them Plov and brownies. It was very good. Plov is the national dish of Uzbekistan, and is delicious. It is kind of like a pilaf, sort of, but it is very good. If you want a recipe ask and I’ll send it. It is one of my favorite foods I’ve learned to make here.

We were tracting yesterday and this old lady invited us in for Easter cake and brought out a bottle of juice. She said she made it herself…in 2009. I took a whiff of the now wine and just avoided eating it. Adams took a swig and make quite the face as it burned going down. The look on her grandkids face was pretty funny. Thankfully, that lady spoke in clean Russian. Where we have been working is full of farms and every old person speaks Ukrainian. If we get off a gospel topic, it is a fun challenge to try to understand them. Thankfully, I can just speak Serjic, aka use Russian words with Ukrainian grammar (or vice versa) and they seem to get the hint of what is going on 🙂

Last Monday I got a hair cut. I told her what I wanted, and pointed to a picture in the book of styles thingy. She buzzed me. Ugh.

I have realized that since I have started my mission, my appreciation for holidays has greatly grown. Hearing everyone say Христос Воскрес! yesterday really made me think about how great the knowledge of the resurrection is. It truly is the real battle of good and evil, so to speak, and because of him all will receive the gift of immortality. I can’t really put into words my thoughts or feelings about it, other than sheer joy and gratitude. In a talk yesterday, a lady quoted a very popular song that I like a lot and said "Любовь спасет мир" which means "Love will save the world". It got a chuckle out of the congregation, but it is a true statement. Look up the song if you’d like, though if you watch the music video, it might be scandilous, it is from Eastern Europe. haha.

Thank you for all of the love and support!

Elder McClintock


The Biggest Branch

is now Pobyeda. No, Elder Adams and I did not baptize 30 people this week. They combined the Topol and Pobyeda branches into one branch. I am very excited to have the branches be together. It will be great to have 70 people at church each week, and have a good sized primary, relief society, and Elders’ Quorum. It will feel even more like an actual ward, and less like a small branch. The response I have seen from the members has been very positive and they seem excited as well. The branches used to be one branch until 5 or so years ago, and then they split them. Both have been dwindling on numbers, but it will be good to have everyone working together.

Our new plan of attack for our area is going well. It has been good to build our presence out in the areas we have been working lately that haven’t gotten touched very often. A lot of people think we are Jehovah’s Witnesses, who apparently spend a lot of time doing missionary work out there. But when we tell them we aren’t it leads to good conversations. We haven’t seen a huge jump in the number of contacts we have received, but it seems like every door we knock, we are having a 5-10 minute conversation rather than just being told "no" within a few minutes. It is going very well. I am glad to see it turning around. There are a lot of families out there which is great to see. It seems like every woman I talk to here is a single mom, unfortunately. It is very encouraging to see some families together.

We have been working a lot with Alexander Boboshka, and he has come to church the last two weeks. He didn’t come to conference, but yesterday and two weeks ago he came and stayed for all three hours. It has been good to see him come back and to see the branch welcome him. As with investigators, George is doing well. We talked to him a few times throughout the week, but he was too busy to meet; he had exams. He ran into Zhenya Boboshka, a member who lives across the street from him at the mall downtown and they recognized each other and had a good talk. Zhenya is excited to help us teach him, and is really excited to see George meet with us. We got one new investigator this week, though we have already passed her to the sisters. Anya is an english student who asked us a few questions after the spiritual thought last week. We met with her at the Roaches’ and receive the message well, and said that she needed to read and pray for herself, but that after talking and watching a video she couldn’t say one way or the other whether it was true or not. She was very honest and open, and it will be good to see where she goes. We are planning and having the lesson to pass her sometime this week.

On Saturday, I got the wonderful opportunity to translate for the Roaches at their quarterly training meeting for Seminary and Institute teachers. It was pretty fun, and it is always good to get some training on being a better teacher. We also got fed a free lunch, so you cannot complain about that 🙂

We have also been roped into singing in the District Choir for District Conference next month. That was a fun experience. The choir director is a lady from my branch, and she is funny. She doesn’t mess around. She was takling about something and it was just funny how passionate she was about it, and Elder Adams and I started to chuckle a little bit, and as a result she instituted Yellow Cards and Red Cards for choir practice. haha. I also got a surprise when I got to church yesterday morning. We were there for branch choir practice, and she said "Elder McClintock! You are singing in church today, are you ready?". So I got to sing a solo in Sacrament meeting. haha.

That is about everything that happened this week. Thank you for the support. Happy Birthday to my sister Kelsey, and Happy 0th Anniversary to my sister Jennifer and new brother in law and Jeremy who got married on Friday!


Words of Prophets

Are wonderful aren’t they?

I am very grateful for the opportunity we had this weekend to watch conference. It is amazing that we have such great men and women leading the church, and have the opportunity to hear from them every 6 months. It seems as if every question you could possibly have is answered. Just as was taught, if you focus attentively, you will have a personal prophetic insight given to you.

I especially loved Elder Scott’s talk. I don’t think anyone loves their spouse more than he. Everyone should watch that. And then they should all follow the advice of President Monson and put a picture of the temple in every room of the house.

The work in Pobyeda is going, and about to be going a lot faster, we feel like. I made a realization this week while reading in Ether about the Brother of Jared. I made a realization that asking the Lord to light the ships wasn’t going to get the job done, and he thought of a plan, and said "Heavenly Father, this is what I need done in order to do this" and that is where the miracles began. I have learned that miracles do not come from prayer and routine action, but rather decisive action with directive prayers. I have realized that if we have a righteous desire, or goal, and create the best plan we can, it gives Heavenly Father something to work with, and something to work a miracle with. Elder Adams and I have broken our area down into parts and decided where and how in our area we want to work; which general parts of our area each work for the rest of the transfer. Each day, we are planning to decide where we need to be that day. We both feel that by taking the time to tell Heavenly Father where we are going to be during week 6 of the transfer, we will give him the opportunity to make things happen between now and then to prepare people there. That is our new approach to finding people, and I am very excited about it. Not only do I feel that we will be more effectively drawing upon the powers of Heaven, but we will also be spreading ourselves out and creating a presence in more of our area like you asked us to focus on.

Our investigators are…going. We haven’t been able to meet with Elena since the first lesson we had with her. I think we are going to wait until Leonid and Natasha return from Kyiv and have Natasha give her a call and try to meet her, or just talk. That has been very discouraging because we had such a great first lesson with her. Anatoli and Ludmila have moved to their cottage for the spring/summer and are only in town for English on Wednesdays, which is difficult. I talked to them to try to set up an appointment, and they said they are busy all the time when they are in the city, and if they had any questions they would call us. So they don’t seem to be quite prepared right now, but it will be okay, they have the Book of Mormon, and they have felt the spirit. Sergei is, as Elder Hagee would say, a "box of crazy". We had Vadik and Zhenya with us on the lesson yesterday, which unfortunately lasted for 2 hours. Sergei has a question or comment for everything you say, and everything is taken 100% literally to where he cannot see the difference of things in certain situations. We are unsure what to do with him because he says he is reading, and he prays, but he isn’t really progressing, or understanding what we teach. We taught him last week, but this week he had forgotten everything and nothing seems to stick. It is a tricky situation because he wants to do what is right but it just doesn’t seem to make sense to him.

I am confident that if we can get George to an FHE or another activity with the youth in the city, he will be baptized. He is a great kid. We met with him before English, and taught him the first lesson, and he said "so, in short, if I read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know if it is true, God will give me an answer and I will know that Joseph Smith was a prophet?" We met with him again on Friday, and were planning on teaching him the 2nd lesson, but when we started, he asked us about commandements. We taught him the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity and found out that he is already living both of them. He told us that he has two friends who want to meet with us as well, so we will hopefully meet with them as well, with a member there. I am very excited to see what the next few weeks have in store.

So….This week Elder Adams was in Bulgaria. It was a fun week with Elder Hagee. The "highlight" of the week was having a "Bible Bash" with a 7th Day Adventist. We taught the first lesson, and afterwards she began to pick apart everything we taught. Undaunted, and possibly unwisely, I sort of gave her the "truth" forcefully in a polite manner :). While we were teaching her the lesson, she quoted James 1:5, and said it was her favorite scripture. Then when we shared Moroni 10:3-5 she wanted to write it down because she said it was amazing. Yet at the end, she said that you cannot possibly pray to God to find out the truth of things. She also laughed at us when we said we had church on Sunday, and started ranting about Saturday being the sabbath. To this I just asked her which was more important: worshipping and setting aside a day, or what day it was. She didn’t have an answer. She just responded with "Joseph Smith is the false prophet Paul was talking about" to which I posed "Then how will there be two prophets who will die in Jerusalem in the last days"? After that she just said that the Bible was perfect, and God says in the Bible he will not longer give revelation to people. Amos 3:7, and Hebrews 6:1 gave a fun little twist. She wouldn’t stop, so I just got up and said we had to leave. Her last comment was "THAT BOOK IS NOT THE WORD OF GOD AND JOSEPH SMITH IS A FALSE PROPHET WHO IS LEADING PEOPLE TO HELL!" I realize in this moment that I have changed a lot on my mission. Instead of blowing up, I took the pamphlet the other lady there gave us, and said that because I respected them and their beliefs I would read it. They refused the Book of Mormon, and we left.

It really is sad how in the dark people are, and how much light the restored Gospel sheds. This woman contradicted herself about 20 times, and I could basically get her to argue anything I would have wanted to. I’m so grateful that we do have a living prophet on the earth, and that the foundation of the church is YOU receiving personal revelation directly from the Godhead of its truthfulness.

Here are some pictures!

Downtown walking to the mission office, thats the back of Elder Hagee’s head.
The Europe Shopping Center, a big place down town. A lot of streets are just brick/cobblestone like you see there.
Thats our Plan of Salvation we drew a few weeks ago.
Victor and I. Yes, You have finally seen him!

I love you all, thank you for the support.

Elder McClintock

Watch it one More Time:

This is the greatest video ever. Watch again, and again. I feel smart that I can understand it, except for the crazy Armenian, that junk is just ridiculous.

"We need the temple more than anything else" -Joseph Smith

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Happy P-Week Elder Adams

My companion, Elder Adams is going to Bulgaria to get a new visa. Lucky for him, and his group, the church travel office messed up their flight plans. Normally, you fly out early Tuesday morning, and get back late Thursday night. Well, they are flying to Kyiv tonight, staying in a hotel, flying to Bulgaria tomorrow, and on the way back, they will get to Kyiv Thursday afternoon, and their flight to Dnepr doesn’t leave until Friday at 5. That is two hotel rooms, and a lot more taxi rides, aka a lot of money for the mission.

President Nielsen told the Area Presidency that this bill won’t be paid without a reward: Elder Adams and his MTC district will be going to the temple in Kyiv all day on Friday.

This is something that President Nielsen has been trying to get worked out since the dedication, but it hasn’t happened. As it sits now, he did get it to where we go for a day on our way home, but not Bulgaria too. Hopefully this mistake keeps happening, or at least it does when I go to Bulgaria in the fall. Bulgaria isn’t just a P-Day, it is a P-Week. haha. I am excited to be with Elder Hagee this week on splits, we are going to have a great time. His companion is also going to Bulgaria with Adams, so we will be covering both of our areas.

Our area is doing well. Sadly, we have not been able to meet with Elena again, they woman we met with at the Pigulevitch’s. We were able to get a hold of her on Saturday, and she said she would be coming to church, but didn’t come yesterday. We think we are going to have Natasha give her a call and see what is going on. Yesterday, Alexander Boboshka, Zhenya’s dad, came to church and stayed all three hours. It was very good to see him come, and see the branch welcome him back. Everyone was talking to him as if he hadn’t missed a single week. It was very good to see. I do love the branch on Pobyeda. It feels a lot like a ward back home in that there are young, old, babies, kids, etc. You have the entire range of church members and they truly are like a family.

Yesterday we met again with Sergei, the man who has a million and a half questions for just about every sentence we say. He has a huge desire to learn, and yesterday we told him there would be a time for questions at the end of the lesson. That calmed him down a little, and we were able to make some head way with his understanding. We talked about prayer, and he asked us to pray for his family and friends so that the Holy Ghost would help them understand that they need to change their lives. He offered the most sincere prayer I have ever heard from an investigator on a lesson to end yesterday. He is going very slowly, but there is progress.

Crazy story about Sergei. Last week, he showed up to the branch at 4:30, when we had a lesson scheduled with someone else. He said he came because we called and told him to come at 4:30….except we didn’t have his correct phone number written down. We thought maybe we got two people mixed up, and actually scheduled an appointment with Sergei. We called the number of the contact we originally tried to meet with, and set up a lesson, and that guy is most definitely not Sergei. It was Grisha (who we thought it was) and he was absolutely hammered. But hey, maybe crazy Sergei is supposed to meet with us. After an hour and half, we made some progress (like I said) and he is starting to believe that there is no trinity, and that you don’t have to pray to an icon.

We also got a solid contact this week from a younger kid named George. He is 21 and lives on Sokol, across the street from Zhenya Boboshka, a member about the same age who is turning his papers in this month. George overheard us talking to someone else and chased us down afterwards to talk to us. We talked to Zhenya and he was pretty sure that he knew which George we were talking about. We are going to try to meet with him, and have Zhenya with us, and then get George to FHE at the Hardy’s (The Senior Couple in the Office) on Thursday. Elder Adams and I had a long discussion about the fellowshipping of the young adults in the city, and how amazing it is. No one goes left out, and it shows by the number of young investigators who turn into young people baptized. It is a great sight to see. Every week on Thursday night, they Hardy’s usually have 20 or so people at their apartment doing FHE. It is so much fun.

This week at English, we had 14 people in the advanced class. We told them if they brought 20 the following time, Adams and I would make them brownies. We also told them that if they wanted to make brownies, we would judge them and tell them how American they are 🙂

I had a great interview with President Nielsen this week, although the best part about it was talking to Sister Nielsen before and after. She told us a lot of stories about her mother in law, and hitch hiking across France, and how Chinese has absolutely zero grammar, etc. She is a funny lady. She also told us that gray and white hair feels the same as normal hair, so we didn’t need to worry about getting old.

This week I finished reading the Teachings of the President’s of the Church: Joseph Smith. It was an amazing book. There were so many inspiring quotes, especially pertaining to missionary work. It really strengthened my testimony of him being the prophet chosen to open the dispensation of the fulness of times. I’d like to share one quote that is now written on the front of my planner for this transfer:

"Love is one of the chief characteristics of diety and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the Sons of God. A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. This has been your feling adn caused you to forego the pleasures of home, that you might be a blessing to others who are candidates for immortatily, but strangers to the truth."

That basically sums up my entire mission. Here are some pictures for you all!

Well I just got back from walking to the front desk of this internet club, and the worker said that the card reader isn’t working, so I can’t send pictures today. I know it has been like a month, I am sorry, but that’s what happens when you use internet and computers that a million other people use too.

I love you all, thank you for the support. I hope you are all having a wonderful spring. Please make today the hopskotch kind of day.

Elder McClintock