Archive for May, 2011

Well. This week was boring.

We have been contacting everywhere, everyway and with everyone we can possibly think of, but we just aren’t getting new people to teach. I don’t know what it is. Maybe if you have some ideas you could let me know. This email will be a short one, because nothing really happened. A lot of days spent talking to a lot of people, not getting a lot of teaching appoitments.

My relationship with Elder Ditto has definitely improved, in large part to our companionship inventory on Friday. I had been praying to know what to say to help him feel comfortable around me. Well, in short, my prayers were answered and we had an hour or so discussion where he let me know all of his struggles and I was able to be supportive. Even if I didn’t say much that was of any use, I at least felt that the opportunity to encourage him was something our companionship needed. He has a lot on his mind, and a lot to deal with. I can tell you that I have never seen anyone pray more in the last week that Elder Ditto has. He is giving Enos a run for his money. I can honestly say that he is the best missionary that I have served with, despite his struggles with the language.

We are still have a hard time with finding people, but we are in the process of planning a branch activity after church on the 12th to teach members how to help us find, fellowship, and implement Preach My Gospel into their homes. I think it will build trust with the members that we are doing everything we can to find new people to teach. I had a very good talk with President Gilmeev yesterday about our branch. I felt like we should stop by Natasha Klezhnyova to see how she was doing because she has been sick for the last few weeks and hasn’t been at church. We had a great visit with her, and talked about her conversion, and I gave a few encouraging words about the inactivity of her husband and sons. She is an amazing lady with the biggest testimony in the world. She is holding that family together. While we were there, President Gilmeev stopped by, to talk to her about some medical things (he is a doctor), and we gave her a blessing. President walked us home and we talked about the branch, giving people callings, etc. He said he feels like he is in a rough place, because he knows people need callings, and wants to give them callings, but no one from Topol has been consistantly coming since the branches were combined. We also talked a lot about less actives and he is really doing everything he can to help people. I asked him about all of the people I had been trying to get a hold of this week, and our list of names matched up and he had talked to a lot of them. It made me feel like I was doing the best I could do in regards to reactivation work when we talked about that. He is also planning a branch picnic for after the baptism on Saturday, and said that he was going to make sure to note Valdimir’s birthday, which is on Thursday. He is a great branch President and I really do feel like he is doing everything he can to make the branch run properly. I love this branch and the people here. I would love the opportunity to be able to serve on Pobyeda until this branch is running smoothly, regardless of whether it takes until next summer when I go home or not.

Vladimir’s baptism will be on Saturday, which will be good since I will miss Logan’s! I can’t believe he is all grown up and getting baptized in less than a week! It will be a busy day. That morning there is a training meeting for every missionary in the city, so we will be running all over the place the entire day.

Nothing funny happened this week, so I don’t have much to make you laugh about. Sorry for the lame email.

Thanks for everything, and all the support,

Elder McClintock

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Patience is a Virtue.

And therefore I can honestly say that I have become much more virtuous since I walked into the MTC last July. I am really struggling with Elder Ditto. The language is hard, and I understand that, but he is Mr. Mopey all the time. It is kind of starting to wear on me a little bit. I guess I’m supposed to go through a little more of the refiner’s fire.

This week had its ups and downs. Zone Conference was very good. We talked almost exclusively about finding people to teach. It is something our mission is really struggling with at the current point in time. We are teaching very effectively, and have a very high investigator to baptism ratio, but we just aren’t finding well enough. I can attest to that, because I have been talking to everyone possible, and we got 5 contacts this week, some of which we had to pass to the Sisters because they were women. The Zone Conference was good. I got to meet the Merrills. the new senior couple who will be serving in the office. They are great, and have a cabin in Island Park so we have talked a lot about that. I am excited to get to know them more, but at the same time it is sad to see the Hardy’s go home. They are like everyone’s grandparents in the mission.

It was a good day yesterday, because there was a baptism in the Dnepr. A girl named Katya was baptized by Elder Hardy, which was a great way for him to go out. She has been waiting a year in a half to be baptized, and yesterday was her 18th birthday so she was finally able to. Even though she became a member of the church yesterday, she has been amazing in member missionary work. A few months ago she walked into the mission office and asked for proselyting materials so she could give them to people. I also learned a valuable lesson about the timing of the Lord. Katya came in contact with the church around the time the Hardies got into country. She, like all the youth in Dnepr, fell in love with them and started coming into the office to visit them, going to FHE at their apartment, etc. Their release date was supposed to be May 2nd, but Sister Hardy got sick last December and they went home for 3 weeks, because the doctor here said she might have cancer. They went home, there was nothing wrong, and they came back. Because of that, they were able to extend and be here until the day after her birthday, and Katya was baptized by Elder Hardy, something she had wanted since she decided to be baptized a year and a half ago.

Anya, our English student/the Sisters investigator just got back from a two week trip to Europe. She brought Elder Merkley, Adams, Hagee and I all mugs from Italy. She came to the baptism yesterday, and went to church after and said the magic words to Sister Lacy: "I feel so….warm, but that isn’t the right word. I’ve never felt this way before". So basically, she is going to get baptized and be an amazing member. Now they just need to put her on date ๐Ÿ™‚

I had to teach Gospel Principles yesterday at church. It was a fun time. Our only student was Vladimir, a 70 year old retired barber who is on date for June 4th. He is a good guy and is very simple. He is kind of old, and it is hard for him to understand a whole lot of information at once but he is going with the basics. When Elder Hagee and Elder Stanford talked to him about coming to church, he said he didn’t really want to sit there for 3 hours every Sunday. But then he asked "is it a commandment for me to come?" Elder Hagee said "yes" and Vladimir said "okay, I won’t miss a week". I often feel like we come up with ways to scrimp here and shave there to wiggle our way around to make life more comfortable, or easier, or what have you. But here is a guy who gets it. He didn’t want to come, but when he was told it was a commandment from God, he did it without complaint.

Elders’ Quorum was very funny. The lesson was about gratitude, which of course led to many jokes about their wives. When the teacher said "it isn’t good enough to be grateful once a week, or once a month" a member in the back yelled "Can you go teach that to the Relief Society?" Everyone laughed. The teacher later asked how we could show our thanks to our wives rather than just saying thanks. Sasha, and guy who in his early 30s with a wife and 2 kids said "you have to do the little things" the teacher asked for an example and Sasha sat for a few minutes, pondering then said "like lifting the toilet seat when you pee". It was a really funny lesson that made me feel like I was back at home in a full ward full of all different kinds of people young and old.

One thought I have thought about as I have looked back on the last two transfer to see what I could improve on was the little things. Tightening up the nuts and bolts, so to speak. At a zone conference in December, Elder Lawrence of the Seventy talked about miracles and how the real successes we find in life are found in the last 2% of our effort. I have really found that to be true. I’ll compare it to baseball, which is now in full swing this time of year. There is a 1 in 10 difference between a player who spends his career sitting in AAA and a Hall of Famer. 1 at bat out of every 10 makes the difference between having a career average of .250 and sitting in the minors, or being put in the Hall of Fame with an average of .350. When we fine tune the little thigns, and take our big picture of obedience, or living the Gospel, we really see how we can improve and are placed on the path of eternal progression moving towards perfecting ourselves.

I love you all, thank you for the support,

Elder McClintock

PS: I don’t know if they’ve announced it at home yet, but Elder Nelson is going to Moscow….The first stake in Russia will be getting organized on June 5th. That is a GIGANTIC step for the church there. They have a lot of problems with the government and the Orthodox church which have been preventing this from happening for a long time. Prayers = answered.

I Love Borscht.

It is amazing. Especially when you don’t have to make it. As I have been talking about for the last few weeks, we hosted the welcome party for the greenies. It was a way fun time. We started off with a round loaf of bread, with a little hole cut out of the top in which you put a little bowl of salt. It is a tradition for when you have someone over as a guest for the first time. The guests rip off bread, dip it in the salt and then eat it. The program was fun too. We sang the Ukrainian National Anthem, so I basically quadrupled my Ukrainian vocabulary. haha. We read a list of advice that has kind of gotten passed around from missionary to missionary. It gets less and less funny every time you hear it, but it’s pretty true. The things on their are like "If you see a word written on a wall, don’t look it up in the dictionary", "if you want to cross the street, remember the game frogger", and "if you see a good looking girl, read the Book of Mormon". Funny stuff. We then had a wonderful feast of broscht, vareniki, and best of all: holodyets. The latter got made as a joke because they know how much Americans hate it. I will save you the description, you can google if you want it.

So Elder Adams got transferred. He is now in Kherson. My new companion is Elder Ditto. He is very, very, very quiet. He hardly says a word. He is having a very hard time with the language and I think is a little discouraged. I think it is hard for him to be the only missionary who is junior companion to someone younger than him. He is a good kid though. He is from Dallas, and got baptized about 5 years ago. That’s about all I know about him. haha. It will be fun.

Because of transfers, not a whole lot happened this week. It was a lot of extra studying while Elder Adams was packing, getting ready for the greenie party, dropping Elder Adams off, picking Elder Ditto up, Elder Ditto unpacking, etc. etc. Sorry for the short email. I also got permission to watch Kyle’s graduation from med school. Congratulations! I really enjoyed the ceremony, the commencement speaker was great. He said that in order to be successful, you must have a vision (aka a dream and a plan), go the extra mile, and work with love. I found it very applicable to missionary work.

That was basically our whole week, nothing exciting happened. I love our branch, the members are great. There is one family, a husband and wife (Nikolai and Ludmila) who are 74. He is the definition of old man strength. He still works out every morning, and it is really funny when he talks because he has the deepest voice I have ever heard. He is famous across the mission for it. haha. He also has a full grill. All old people here get brass crowns on their teeth, and there is absolutely zero white when he smiles. His wife Luda is the one who made the holodyets. They have a granddaughter who is in our branch too. She won’t be for long though, because she will be going to BYU in the fall! She is way cool, and basically does everything for the youth. She has like 4 callings. Haha, they are all great.

I hope you all are doing well. Thank you for the support, you’re all the best!

Elder McClintock

Happy Mother’s Day!

Hello Everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day! It isn’t a holiday here, but the Relief Society did enjoy the cards that we made them ๐Ÿ™‚ They are great. I am very excited for the Welcome Party for the new missionaries on Wednesday. It is going to be a great time. We are singing the Ukrainian National Anthem, and there will be a gigantic feast of all sorts. It was great to be able to Skype home to my family, but I’m glad we can only do it twice a year. It is quite distracting and makes you very "trunky".

We met with Anatoli again this week and he is doing well. We taught him the second lesson, but it seemed like he really taught us more than we taught him. He agreed with everything we said and he is working his way through reading the Book of Mormon. He said so far he hasn’t found anything that contradicts the Bible, but he did have one concern. He asked us what kind of mistakes were in the Book of Mormon after reading the title page, and we had to clear that up by explaining that if it was a typo or something that didn’t change the meaning then it was of man, or a possible mistranslation. One thing he said to me was that was very interesting was concerning enduring to the end. He said that after gotten onto the right path, we have done everything we are supposed to, and we are almost saved. We just have to "not mess it up", so to speak. He then talked about how enduring to the end is the hardest part, but it is when we are the closest to salvation.

He told us that he would call us when he was ready for us to come over because he needed to prepare borscht and bake bread, etc. to properly have us as guests. He said he only turns his phone on when he needs to use it, and that he would call us. We will see what happens. He also talked about starting a Bible Study Group, or rather restarting it. He told us it would be great if we could come, and we told him we would look into it, but that we may just have to send a member because it is easy for people to get defensive and/or offended when to missionaries from another church come. He told us that if people want to be offended and that is their decision and he thinks it would be good. We will see what happens, and maybe have a member like President Kamenyev, or President Kovalyov or Petrenko represent the church. President Kovalyov is our District President and both President Kamenyev and Petrenko have been the district president before. All three of them know the Gospel very well and would hopefully get us a lot of investigators!

Yesterday at church, we got the choir to sing in 4 part harmonies. It was magnificent. They branch loved it, the choir loved it, and all of the old women were crying their eyes out. Sister Sofia, who I told you about last week, came up to me afterwards and said "The music was so beautiful! That is why we need a big primary here, so everyone can sing like that! I want to kiss you right now, but I know that that’s not allowed." It was very funny. She is the nicest ancient lady I know. She comes to everything despite just celebrating her 84th birthday, which makes me have little sympathy for the old people here who say they can’t go outside because it’s too cold. She is amazing. She gave a great talk yesterday as well, about General Conference.

That is really all that happened this week. I hope everything is going well with you all. We find out our assignments for next transfer today, so I may be in a different city next week, who knows. I think I have at least one more here though. Thank you for all the support and love!

Elder McClintock

A Girl Named Dude.

I really love the members of our branch, both old and new. It is a great branch, and I really hope I have the opportunity to serve here at least 1 more transfer. Our branch is in charge of throwing the culture party for the new missionaries on May 11th. It is going to be a feast, and I don’t think I have seen so many excited women as when we told the Relief Society and asked them to make food. They truly understand what is important, and that is feeding the missionaries ๐Ÿ™‚ They asked us what OUR favorite foods were since we would be eating too, and then asked us what we thought was the most disgusting so we could make the greenies eat it and laugh at them ๐Ÿ™‚ They also asked us to do "service" and come help them make all the food, because they want to teach us how to be "Real Ukrainian Cooks". Needless to say, I am very excited. I am also singing the National Anthem, which means I have to sing in Ukrainian. It is essentially the same, but it is just weird not speaking English or Russian.

There are two ladies in our branch who always have something to laugh about. One is Sofia. She turned 84 two weeks ago, lives at the very edge of our area and comes to absolutely everything. She dies her hair to be about the color of a carrot, and loves the missionaries. She told me that she got baptized because she walked in one Sunday, saw two clean cut, handsome young men, and knew that it was a good church. She refers to Elder Adams and I as "beautiful little boys". So anyways, yesterday in Sunday School, I was sitting next to her, and the teacher said something then asked if everyone understood. She leaned over to me and said "The only thing I understand, is that I don’t understand anything, and that’s the Gospel truth" and starts busting up laughing.

There is also Sister Natasha. Well, we have 5 active Sister Natashas, but this one is great. She is about 75 and giggles at everything like a little school girl. She got interviewed and it is looking like they will be making an "I’m a Mormon" video about her soon. So that will be pretty cool. She is one of the many old ladies in our branch who bring candy for the missionaries every week, and sneak it to us on Fast Sunday so nobody sees.

Speaking of little school girls…We were tracting this week and we saw this little girl playing in her yard and asked if her parents were home. She ran inside and then was relaying the conversation back and forth until they said they weren’t interested. After that, she told us that she knew everyone on the street and then knocked every door and rang every door bell and and told them that we had a message about Christ restoring his church to the earth through a living prophet. If they didn’t answer, she would climb over the fence and run into their house to see if they were home. It made it an easy street to tract, and it was pretty funny. She was quite enthusiastic about it.

Last Tuesday, Elder Adams and I were walking down the street, and a girl walked up to us and said "LDS right?" in English. Her name is Dooda and she is from Fortaleza, Brazil. She is doing a work exchange program and has been looking for the branch but couldn’t find it. The first day we went coatless and just had our classic-mormon-missionary get-up of short sleeve white shirts, she found us. She came to church yesterday and to our "family dinner" at the Roach’s last night. I think she was glad to have some people who speak English to talk to, haha. It was a random miracle, but miracles really aren’t all that random, now are they?

We haven’t had a chance to get out to Anatoli, the man with the ancient Bible, again. We are going there tomorrow. We had a busy week, and he lives quite a ways away from us. It takes about 45 minutes for us to walk to his house and as far as we know there is not marshrootka that has a route out to where he lives.

George is on a backpacking trip with his friends in Crimea until the 8th of May, so he was unable to come to church yesterday. On Thursday, however we got an unfortunate text message from him saying that he didn’t want to be baptized or join any church right now, but wanted to keep meeting with us. I’m not worried about it, it is just a set back. He hasn’t had a whole lot of time to read, and hasn’t come to church, so there isn’t really anything there to give him a solid answer of the truthfulness of the restoration. We will keep meeting with him, get him to activities and get him on track. It seemed to me as more of an unsurity of things rather than a straight "no". He understands the importance of baptism, and that it is a necessary covenant to make.

Our landlady came to get our rent this week. She is hysterical, and just about the nicest woman ever. She never comes without bringing food of some sort. This time she brought us three bottles of juice and blinchiki (thin pancakes wrapped about fruit, or chicken, etc. sort of like crepes, but not). She cleaned everything for us, and told us to call her if we are ever in Kyiv and she will takes us around the whole city, and show us everything. She said she’d let us stay at her house and she would stay at her sons, so we didn’t have to pay for a hotel. She has rented our apartment to the mission for 9 years, and absolutely loves us. I’m going to miss her when I get transferred. One thing she brought too was a "new" washer. Ours had a leak, so she got us a little "automatic hand washing machine" that is ultra-Soviet era in every way. It is basically a five gallon bucket with a motor attached to it. You have to fill it up by hand and then it has a time. Although it does clean shirts better than a regular washer, I will give it that much.

That is about it for the week. Thank you for all the love and support. Spring is in the air, ENJOY IT!

Elder McClintock