Today I want to start off a cool story that I hear at district meeting! Enjoy!
The Parable of the Turtle:There once lived a turtle called Shelly in a lake, which had two swans as her good friends. All three of them would meet on the banks of the lake everyday, and exchanged stories, before returning at sunset. They enjoyed each other's company. One year, there was no rain and lake started to dry. The swans got worried about the declining water level of the lake, and said to the turtle, "You will not be able to survive in this lake. All the water in the lake will soon dry up". The turtle was aware of the problem, "It is indeed difficult to live here anymore. Dear friends, please look for an alternate lake which is full of water. So first look for a lake full of water. Then find a strong stick from somewhere." The turtle continued, "Once you find another lake, you can carry me to the lake with a stick. I can hold the stick tightly with my mouth, while both of you can hold the stick at either ends and fly". As planned, the swans flew to distant places and after some time found a lake which had plenty of water in it. They returned to carry the turtle. They prepared to hold the stick from both the ends, and suggested the turtle, "Dear friend, everything seems fine. But make sure to keep your mouth tightly shut all the time. You must not speak, or you will fall off." Finally, they started flying. After some time, they had flown some distance when the turtle saw a town below. The people of the town were staring at the sight of two swans carrying a turtle in the sky. "Look at that! This is a rare sight that two birds are carrying a turtle with the help of a stick, I wonder who's idea that was?", they shouted! On hearing all the commotion, the turtle opened her mouth, "It was my idea!", she yelled. Needless to say, she went down the moment she opened her mouth, and the swans could do nothing to stop Shelly from falling down to the earth. As she fell down, the people of the town captured her to make a feast out of her.
So you might have caught on that the story is about pride. I feel like a lot of times in our lives, we are like the turtle, wanting to take credit for things that the Lord blesses us with. While the turtle was not flying by her own power, she felt very proud,and instead of remembering to keep her mouth closed, Shelly's pride was her downfall...literally! Just a cool thought for you to start off the week! I know that everything that I have, everything that I am, and everything that I will be is from God. Most of the times I don't even deserve His high blessings, but he sends them to me anyway.
One of the blessings that I feel is one of peace and safety. I am sure that you heard about the situation getting a little worse this week in Ukraine. Some people from L'viv died in Kiev this week, and their bodies were brought back and they had a huge funeral ceremony for them at a very large Catholic church right down the street from our apartment. It is a little scary to be in a country where there is a bit of turmoil going on, but I feel safe and protected. Nothing really major is going on in L'viv, which is good, I am safe and still very able to focus on my work as a Missionary. Our Mission president has us all very prepared for any situation that could occur. Though it is unlikely that an emergency would happen, we all have 72 hour kits and an emergency plan just in case. Being prepared defiantly brings peace of mind in any situation. For safety reasons all missionaries in Ukraine are now asked not to wear name tags, but most of us can still preach (everyone except L'viv). We continue to be optimistic and use all of our talents to share the gospel. My companion, Elder Randell, is very good at teaching English. That is one of his talents, so we have made that a really fun part of our week. We had our class do a treasure hunt all over the church in English (duh). We were sneaky because we got them to go on a self-guided church tour, in a low stress setting.This brought up many questions from them about what we do in the different rooms, especially in the chapel. Now when we invite them to church I think they will feel more comfortable and willing to come, having already been around us, and around the church itself! Win for English class!
This week Elder Malm came to L'viv for a few days. I guess he had planned on going to Russia but there were bombings there to protest the Olympics. I am not really sure. All I really know is what I hear, and that is not much. Well, on P-days we go to this restaurant and get gyros (which are way good) and the Ukrainian news is always on, so we get to hear a little bit about what is going on in the world. Though it is nice because our Mission President usually keeps us informed about what is going on. I feel like that is better. Elder Malm is in the area presidency. If I am not mistaken he is the second counselor and he is from Norway. I didn't get to talk to him, I only got to shake his hand in passing but he looked like a very warm, friendly man. I think he is a 70, if I am not mistaken. So that was a buzz in L'viv amongst the missionaries.
So it is snowing in DC huh? That is nice (for the Girls), I am sure it makes the commute to work much harder. Living on the outside of the city myself we normally have to take a 30-45 minute bus ride. Today we were squished in the back of the bus. I would say about 130 people were on that bus, and about 15 of them were inside my personal bubble. Personal bubble.... well, I don't really have one, because here, they do not really exist haha. In L'viv it has been snowing pretty much all week. It is not packable snow though,so no snowmen... It started right after we got done with email last Monday, and guess what? It is still snowing right now! The temperature has dropped, but that is ok,I have plenty of warm clothes. So I guess you could say that I am enjoying the snow. In a couple places the snow was up to my knees. I got in the snow just for a picture even though my companion warned me that I might regret it.Did I regret it? Not at first because I had a really cool picture...but then my legs started to freeze because a bunch of snow got in my boots (my boots are so nice and warm, I haven't fell once). On Sunday I got to shovel snow at the church after the third hour. It was a lot of fun and it brought back memories of shoveling sydenstryker during that huge snowfall we had that one time. There is a really cute family in the branch and their two sons came out and got their toy shovels and were like "Dad, we want to help shovel!" When it was time for them to go their dad called them told they they needed to go and they answered him "But dad we didn't finish yet." It was Kodak moment!
That is about all that I had planned to say for this week. Be safe, and remember that I love you! Don't forget your prayers. I had been wondering for a while if prayers on behalf of other people even get answered, or how that works,because that has been a tough concept for me. But yesterday the thought struck me, was the Atonement not a prayer by Jesus Christ on everyone else's behalf? That was a confirmation to me of how powerful our prayers for others can be. Thanks for your prayers, I feel them very strongly! You are in my prayers!