Archive for January, 2012

A Party with FDR, Churchill and Stalin.

Hello all!

I have lots of pictures to send, because we WENT TO YALTA THIS WEEK! Going on a tour of the Livadiya Palaca where the Yalta conference was held was probably one of the coolest things of my life. I have lots of pictures that I will be slapping on here. Other than that, here is my week!

We met twice this week with Oleg. He is an interesting guy. He has lots of interesting ideas and I think he may be somewhat crazy in the head, for lack of a better term. He said that he went inactive because he didn’t know what to think and he couldn’t understand what was what, as a result of studying both our doctrine and literature, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses. He also somehow had a copy of the old handbooks of instruction, including Book 1, which I asked for and he gave. Those will be destroyed the next time we are in the branch. He says that he has received revelation through the Holy Ghost, but the entire church isn’t ready for it and that is why President Monson hasn’t said anything about it yet. These revelations include (but I am sure are not limited to): The second coming ocurring in 2036, because of something related to the Chinese New Year and that being the year of the Dragon, Enoch, Moses and Elijah were taken from the Earth to be reborn as Melchizedek, Elisha and John the Baptist respectively, and the two olive trees spoken of in Revelation 11, represent the church, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses as the two folds of God’s sheep in the last day. The biggest indicator, I feel of our ineffectiveness in working with him is that he asked how we liked our "Learning Session" at the end of our last meeting. He feels like he is teaching us and doesn’t want to listen to what we have to say. He is always demanding proof and won’t believe anything unless we have a scriptural referance or a quote from one of the brethren. President Nozhnikov is planning on meeting with him to do an interview. We will see how that goes, Oleg told us he doesn’t like President Nozhnikov because he kissed his wife in the building, which is "clearly stated as a sin in the New Testament". Needless to say, I’m sure you can tell how I feel about this one: It won’t be easy, and I worry about what his effect could have on a branch this small if he becomes vocal about all of his opinions during church meetings.

Our schedules once again did not aline to meet with the family we are teaching. But we should meet again with them this week.

We met with a man named Val, who is a contact we received from the time we went to the AA meeting. We are not sure what he is really looking for in meeting with us. He said he just wants to know more about the church, but he also brought up wanting to see if the church will fund part of a video project he is working on about how various religions view the law of tithing. I explained to him that we didn’t use tithing money for that, but if he wanted I could track down the phone number of a PR person for the church who would be more knowledgable of the policies and so forth.

Our lesson with him included Anti-Mormon literature. Well, better explained, I should say Anti-Everything literature. It was written by a man who just wanted to "expand the history of every cult to show people what to beware of". Val said that he has read about the church in the book, and therefore felt that he had already known somewhat of the teachings of the church because the author "really knows his stuff". I looked at the book and started laughing because of how ridiculous the statements were the he was making, many of which were flat out lies. I told Val not to trust that book and I would throw it away, not because it speaks badly about the church, but about all groups of people who are trying to live the best they can, and that this man wasn’t trying to expound the history of religions, he was trying to destroy them. He asked what I meant and I showed him the testimonies of the 3 and 8 witnesses. Then I compared that to this book which said "John the Baptist alledgedly appeared to Smith after a question arose about baptism while translating to Oliver Cowdery from the golden plates (which were never shown to anybody and nobody ever saw)." I realized that the more people write int those books, the more they really dig for something to make them sound half way coherent. I really do find it comical.

I really don’t like being in a branch presidency. Dealing with problems isn’t fun, but yet it is great to see members progress. Having to study the handbook of instructions is really interesting. There is SO much stuff in there, the Brethren have really thought, pondered, and received revelation about every situation possible.

We found out transfers again today. I will be staying one more with Elder Garrett. I am so excited. There are no Elders going home this transfer, so it was the smallest transfer President Nielsen has ever had. It is so weird the Sister Smirnova goes home tomorrow. She went into the MTC with us and will be on a plane to Moscow tomorrow morning. She added me on Facebook before we went into the MTC, so you can track her down and skype/talk to her if you want. We both greenied in Nikolayev and she speaks perfect English. It is just strange that in 5 1/2 months I will be drinking a Dr. Pepper with In-N-Out in one hand and J-Dawgs in the other.

So the Internet Club we are in is being ridiculously stupid, so I will send lots of pictures next week. I really want to throw this computer out the window right now.

I love you all!
Elder McClintock

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Jevoon Jevah

That is to say, "Bad Weather" in the dialect of Crimean Tartar that they speak here in Yevpatoria. We actually got a little snow this week and it was cold. That isn’t allowed to happen! I also learned how to say "My name is Elder McClintock, I’m from California" in the dialect. It is a cool little language and they now use the Cyrillic alphabet, not the Turkish/Arabic script. So I may buy a textbook just to dink around with. The Tartars are like the Indians of Ukraine. Basically the white man showed up, took over and made everyone leave. It is really crazy though how there is a separate dialect here in Yevpat that is very very differnet than the litarary, official Tartar language that is written in books….considering that the "Captial" Tartar city is Bakchiserai, which is about an hour drive away. The language they speak there is what is in books and such.

We found out that the Oleg that called the branch’s fax machine is an inactive member who came to church. He came for the first two hours, but unfortunately didn’t stay for priesthood. Everyone in the branch seemed to 1) know him and 2) welcome him back. We set up a lesson with him for this week to go over with President Nozhnikov. He gladly accepted, so it appears his time for a triumphant return as come. He is a classy guy, but seemed kind of sketchy. He was dressed like a mafia man. haha.

We met with the family we started teaching again. This time with had both Vova (He came down from Dnepr to meet with the minister of religion) and President Nozhnikov with us. The lesson went well, but it went long. All the members of the family are very talkative and like to share long orations after every thought. It is quite difficult to control. We discussed it and we feel like we will need to take a much slower pace with them so that we can make sure they understand everything. They have been reading in both the Book of Mormon and the Liahona and enjoy them both.

Aleksandr, the faith healer, is still coming to church every week and says he is reading the Book of Mormon. However, he doesn’t feel ready to pray about the truthfulness of it all. We also have been keeping in contact with a young man named Sasha, who is a friend of Oksana Kushalieva, the tatarka (girl Tartar) who was baptized last transfer. He originally came to English and now comes to institute. Last transfer, Elder Bodily and I met with him, but he wasn’t interested in the church, just English (he is slightly obsessed with the "Hollywood-Dreamland-Not-Reality America he sees on TV). Yesterday he came to church to hear Oksana speak and enjoyed it. He is also friends with Grisha and Elmira and asked Grisha to help him start doing family history work. We will probably meet with him again to see what his feelings are towards the church, but they definitely show more interest than before.

We met with Oksana this week to see how she is doing and to talk about her new calling as a counselor in the Primary. She is reading roughly 20 total chapters a day from the scriptures as well as studying the Teaching of George Albert Smith, Gospel Principles and Primary manuals. She said she reads anywhere between 5-7 chapters a day each in the Russian and English Book of Mormon, and 10 or so chapters from the Old Testament, for institute. We talked to her about a mini-mission, explaining what it was and why the need occurs. She expressed interest and if the need arises she is a option. She also said that she made a financial plan (of some sort) of how she was going to save money to pair for her mission. She is planning on turning in her papers next April after she graduates from college. I’m starting to understand more and more the fact that you will never see all the result you can make in the world. Who knows what will happen on her mission, but all of that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for all of the missionaries who served her and the members of the branch.

The work in Yevpatoria is moving forward. I really am blessed to be serving in the this branch, I am becoming very attached. I really love the members, this city, and the lack of snow. I have been having very good studies lately and am really enjoying the Old Testament. I have been working through the seminary manual and am amazing at the little things I have been learning. There is so much symbolism hidden in the passages that it really makes you wonder what the Israelites were thinking and how they couldn’t get things figured out. I found a scripture that I would like to share with you all. It seems like the Old Testament is ridiculously boring, but then God blesses you by having you come accross an immaturely-really-really-funny verse such as the following:

2 Kings 18:27
But Rab-shakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?

I started busting up laughing when I read that, then Elder Garrett asked me what was going on, so I told him. We both laughed for a solid 5 minutes. I felt like I was in first grade again.

As for my housing stuff, I made an account online for the place where we want to live. It’s all fancy pants online and stuff. I think it will probably just be easiest if you just put the money in my Zion’s bank account (Lisa has the info, or I can send it to you) and I will pay online, that way my card info will just be there and it will be easier to set up direct deposit later.

Also Mom, I checked, and for some reason my Chase account is overdrawn by like $5, I think they may have raised their international transaction fee or something? I pulled off the rest of my tax return and it was there.

Thanks for everything, I love you all!

Elder McClintock