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My Final Email.

This week, to all of my answered prayers, has been one of the best of my mission. I earnestly fasted last Sunday for focus, determination, miracles, etc. and all of the above and then some were seen.

I think our finding Marina has been one of the greatest blessings/miracles of my mission. She grew up in a hard environment: she is the only person in her family who isn’t a heroin addict and because of her brother’s drug dealing was falsely accused and imprisoned for almost three years. She got out of prison 7 days before we met her. I am so grateful for President Van Bruggen after our interviews urging us to ask for referrals from everyone, if we hadn’t, we’d be down one investigator who is so excited to be baptized on July 28th. We met with her the next day and taught her the first lesson, and it was one of the most powerful of my mission. It ended with her accepting a baptismal date. She began reading the Book of Mormon right away and after church yesterday said "It is obvious that the Holy Ghost is in your church and that is how God wants to be worshiped.

On Wednesday, we tried a new finding activity that Elder Beutler brought with him from the Baltic States. It was a "branch tour" teaching the message of the Restoration going from room to room. I think it may have been one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission and the members who were there said it was the best activity they had been too since they had been baptized. We gave them the commitment to share the feelings they had with friends and anyone they could. I think it really earned their trust as they saw us teaching and felt the Spirit as we did it.

We met with our investigator Soren yesterday, he is still in the hospital. He said he knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that he can’t stop thinking about the Restoration movie because it left such a deep impression on him. He wants to be baptized, but sadly will not be able to until his family is finished tying up loose ends in Iran.

I am in shock sitting here knowing that this is my last email. I knew this day would come, but I can proudly say that I have not anticipated it. We worked hard until the very end, and still have three hours of work to do before our interviews with President Van Bruggen today.

My mission has changed my life. Looking in the mirror and at my spiritual state of being I cannot recognized the punk 19 year old kid who walked into the MTC two years ago. I have seen my life change as I have repented daily and made every effort to stand a little taller and be a little better. I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that even though I made mistakes, I served with no regrets. Every mistake I have made is no longer on my shoulders. I did everything in my power to change, be better, and learn all I could from it. I truly understand the meaning of repentance and the refiner’s fire with the fuller’s soap. This Gospel and the Book of Mormon will change the life of an person who will come with a worthy heart and willing hands.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Joseph Smith was chosen to open this last dispensation of the fullness of times. He saw what he said he saw and he did what he said he did. This church must come from some kind of higher power, it simply cannot be the musings of a mortal man. The Savior said, "by their fruits ye shall know them". Look at the church, look at the people, look at the good. The scriptures bring power into our lives to change us down to our very core and nature.

Being without my family for this time, I have really understood how much I care for each and every one of them. I am so grateful for the knowledge of the Atoning Sacrifice of the Savior, that we can live with our Heavenly Parents again as an eternal family. I always made fun of missionaries who get married right when they get home, but now I understand:

The truest joy anyone can ever find in this life is within the bonds of a family that is striving with all their might to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullest.

At the start of my mission, my testimony felt like a little flame in my chest. Now at the end, after two hard years of grueling labor, when I testify and feel the Spirit, I am encompassed from head to toe and feel almost invincible. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s church on the earth today, and the only organization existing that has the fullness of the Gospel and the power and authority of the Priesthood and is led by a living oracle and prophet of God. If every single one of you bailed on this church and said it was not true, I would be left standing alone and willing to be that way to ensure my own salvation.

The Savior and our Heavenly Father love each of us dearly. They know what our imperfections and understand and our patient with us. The key is that we must understand that they are the ones who know how to erase these imperfections and lift us to a higher plane. Perfection is an eternal process, but it can always start today. I am grateful for the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation that I have, that I know my purpose, I know God’s plan. I have the knowledge and understanding that the world is yearning for, but too blinded by vain things to see.

I am about to walk out the door to do the last three hours of missionary work as a full-time missionary in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. This may be the last chance I ever have in my life to preach the good news of our Savior’s ministry and Atonement in the Russian language. But when all is said and done, when the final count is made, I will be able to say that Elder Garrett Jon Roberds McClintock served with all his heart, might, mind and strength, to the best of his ability. Every second was worth it and every second can be useful if we are willing to humble ourselves and seek what God wants us to learn from everything we do as we work towards our pending state of perfection.

I love each of you and am grateful for all of your support and prayers during my mission. There were times when I felt as if I couldn’t take another step and go any further when I felt something lift me higher. God hears are prayers and more importantly He answers them.

Jesus is the Christ, the Atonement is real, and the church is true. Nothing else in this world matters.

Elder Garrett J McClintock

Ukrainian Dentistry.

Isn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be.

There I was, eating my borscht on Saturday, when I had a weird feeling in my mouth. I go over to the mirror and realize that my crown fell out. So I had to wait two days and this morning I went to the dentist. $8 later, it was fixed!

I realized that I had so quickly gotten used to it not being there, and that is the same way with sin. We do something, lose the Spirit and before we know it, things are seemingly hunky-doory while we are cruising along spiritually dead. It’s not until something happens that we realize that something was missing the whole time.

This week we had a way fun branch party for Women’s Day. We had some of our investigators get it set up with us and we had a good turnout. A family came that the Nozhnikovs invited and we are going to start teaching them tonight at their house.

Mikhail is doing great. He is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. We have a baptismal date set for him for April 8th, Easter Sunday before church. It is going to take a lot of work, he still doesn’t understand the Atonement quite yet. Nonetheless it is great to see the formation of a testimony going on inside.

We also got a new investigator this week named Arsen, from the area book. He is super shy and the last missionaries taught him very poorly, so we’ve started from scratch with him.

Other than that, it was a week of finding. We got some good contacts to follow up on, and the work is going forward. I can believe how little time I have left, but I am glad to be where I am at. Elder Garrett and I are getting a good teaching pattern going and we are seeing success. I also got an email this week from my boss and Independent Study, and I will have a job when I get home. So I will just need to figure out if I will start right away or go to Lisa’s to work. It would depend on getting to Provo and back everyday. So there was another tender mercy and some peace of mind.

I will be flying into the Provo airport on July 11th. So there it is. That date seems way too close.

I am glad everything is going well with everyone:

I love you all,

Elder McClintock

Ice Ice Baby.

I really hope you are all staying warm over there in your half of the world. This week was cold. Really cold. We are talking -23C (-10ish F) with 10-15mph winds cold. The sea is freezing over. Last night we were contacting and I walked five or six feet out over the water.

I am glad to report that this week has been a good one. We found a lot of new people to teach – all of them men! I read chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel a few times this week, and as I applied the things it said I felt more and more comfortable talking to people on the street.

The biggest change has been getting into the habit of jumping straight into testifying about the Restored Gospel rather than saying “Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” etc. I taught about doing this and we practiced at district meeting, and with great success. We realized while discussing, that the times we get excited about contacting are when we either had a great conversation with someone, or actually got a contact. We also realized that the common thread in those two situations is the fact that we shared a testimony. We felt that it goes great lengths at keeping our morale up if we are putting ourselves in a situation to feel the Spirit, even if the person doesn’t want to talk to us. We also feel that it is much more effective because asking someone if they can talk for a few minutes doesn’t take from a 1 to a 2 or a 5 to a 6, etc;seeing as they didn’t hear anything about the church nor have any concrete idea who we are. (Note: The missionary department has done studies and figured out that the average person comes in contact with the church in a positive discussion 7 times before being baptized.) It is funny how much more effective missionary work goes when you apply the little nuggets found in Preach My Gospel.

We met this week with Dima, a man we pulled out of the area book. He is very orthodox in his beliefs, but is open to listening to us. I don’t see it as a quick change with him. He came to church yesterday and everybody seemed to know him. It appears that he came to church for a very long period of time, but this wasn’t mentioned at all on the teaching record. He did say that he doesn’t think it is random that we called him when we did because he is having quite a few problems in his life. His biggest hump to get over will be praying to icons. And the “contradictions” he sees in the Bible that are easily explained by church doctrine….

We did a surprise visit to the family, because the mother hasn’t been answering her phone. When we were there, we met her husband, Alexander, and taught him for the first time. He is the most sincerely interested out of all of them. The mother and grandmother haven’t been reading at all, but he was full of questions. He is a very good family man. His biggest worry is his teenage sons falling into the typical college-aged Ukrainian lifestyle. He owns his own company giving work to invalids. He said he started this company because it allows him to control his own schedule, so he can be with his family, and helps these invalids have interaction with each other and feel needed in the world, because unfortunately many people just write them off. I think he is the key to the entire situation.

We also found a former investigator named Yevgeniy while tracting. We were unable to find a teaching reacord for him, but he seems to be mostly interested in learning about our culture. He is an older man, who is on crutches because of having polio as a youth. We told him that we would love to share with him parts of our culture, but our purpose is to teach people about the church. He accepted our invitation, and we will meet with him again this week.

A man came to English on Friday, as a result of our advertisements. He also came to church yesterday. He asked after English what our church taught. He said he doesn’t associate particularly with any religion, but he feels that something is missing in his life. He is on a Russian Military Pension, so he doesn’t work because he gets enough from that. He came to church all three hours and also offered to help clean the building with the rest of the members. He had good questions and it seemed that his lack of an association to one religion is because he feels that they all lack something, where is it totally left to guess work.

We met again with Alexander, the Orthodox faith healer. We watched “On the Lord’s Errand” and he enjoyed it. After the film he said that he is starting to think the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He said in his personal prayers he is now only praying in his own words. He is moving slowly, but we added him back to our teaching pool.

Things with Elder Garrett are going great. He is probably my favorite companion to date. We are very different, yet very the same. Just the right amount. We have been working very hard and now have a solid teaching pool to show for it. Things overall are just chiki-piki here in Yevpatoria.

I am glad the Giants beat the Pats again. I hate New England. How is BYU Basketball doing? And Jimmer in Sacramento? It is weird to think how little time is left. It is like a two week cycle- a month mark out then a month mark left. I don’t like it. 5 months seems like no time at all, but it goes by so fast. I have already been in Yevpat for 3. Time is money.

Pictures:
1. Snow covered Palm Trees. score.

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

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

Air Conditioning

is a blessing from heaven.

It has gotten hotter, but luckily it hasn’t been nearly as bad as last summer was (so I’ve heard). I have enjoyed sitting inside a nice air conditioned room all day rather than roasting outside. Although my tan is going away already. But I don’t have any girls to impress, so it’s probably a good thing. I’m trying to keep the girls off me, and I’ve already had a girl try to seduce me once and that was enough.

So basically, not a whole lot happened this week. I did lots of boring office things. We wanted to try to get out of the office more, but there was a mission wide youth conference, so everyone who could answer the phone was at that.

This weekend was district conference. And it will be the last one for a while. They dissolved the Dnepr district, so now every branch in our mission is just directly under the mission presidency. The church grew really quickly when it first opened, but it spread out really fast and a lot of people fell away and now there are numbers, but not activity rates to match. It will be great to have all of the district leadership able to strengthen the branches. two of the three branch presidencies were organized as well. So the branch I’m serving in has a new branch president, I am very excited. The old branch president (who, fyi, was interviewed on that Faith Reborn special about Ukraine…the very last people), moved to Kyiv a while ago, but they haven’t been sure what was going to happen with the district, so they didn’t know who was available to be called. In short, President Parhomenko had been coming back every weekend from Kyiv just for church and then going back to be at work on mondays. It was really hard for him. The district president is now the 2nd counselor in the mission presidency.

That was basically the only exciting thing that happened. We went to Puzata Hata (pot-bellied cottage), a restaurant with Ukrainian food after district conference on Saturday with a bunch of missionaries. It was really fun, and the food is amazing.

I hope you are all having a good week!

Elder McClintock

Happy Birthday America!

I woke up this morning with a song from Team America World Police stuck in my head, so I figured my body must know that it is some kind of holiday! Everybody else that is seeing this in a forward, from now on you’ll be getting it that way. Mission presidents request that everything go through our family other than things being sent to our family.

So this week was an interesting one. I had my interview with President Nielsen, that was really good. We talked about a lot of good things, and I have set some very good goals to work towards to improve in my study of the gospel, my work as a missionary, and really become more Christlike in general. President Nielsen (and Sister Nielsen too! I don’t want to forget her!) has an amazing understanding of the gospel. Maybe the fact that he is one of the smartest people in the world has something to do with it, I don’t know. Or maybe it is the sheer dedication they show in living the gospel. Either way, if I end up half the people they are, I’ll be happy.

I realized this week how valuable every minute that we have is. With little time to spend outside the office, it is difficult to keep a solid area going, and you really have to put every second you can into working outside the office. President Nielsen told us that we can leave the office and go contacting if it is really slow, and their is someone to answer the phone (since the Merrills don’t speak Russian). So we will look at doing that!

I talk to the Merrills a lot in the office, and it makes me pretty home sick. They have a cabin in Island Park, and it makes me think about being up there every time they talk about it…I just need to convince them that they are in need of the services offered by some people I know pretty well 🙂

Today for the fourth, we went out to eat at an American/Mexican/Chinese restaurant that is good near the office. It was pretty funny to have a huge group of Americans, with one Russian sitting in this restaurant laughing and having a good time. Elder Neschadimov, the one native Elder in our mission, has improved his English so much since we were in the MTC. It has really made me think about how much of a blessing serving a mission is in ways we don’t really think about. I look at the returned missionaries in our mission (people from here who served missions that is) and realize that they all have good families, VERY good jobs that allow them to come to church, and almost all of them speak english fairly well.

I hope you are all doing well, I love you all! Happy Fourth of July! I hope the Freedom Festival, and whatever else you are doing is exciting. Light a few fireworks off for me!

Elder McClintock