This week marks the start of my last transfer as a full time missionary. I will be staying in Luts'k. My companion however, is being transferred, and I will be serving with Elder Randell. He is a really great Elder. I served with him in L'viv for one transfer and we got along really well. He is very smart, has a very strong testimony, and before his mission was an actor on a few TV shows. He is really good with people. I am excited for all the good work we will be able to accomplish together. We go to L'viv on Wednesday to exchange companions.
We have been very busy this week getting ready for transfers. This transfer in our city we will have two elders (my companion and I) along with five sisters. Crazy right? We are moving out of the apartment we are currently in to give it to the new set of sisters and will be moving into the apartment where Elders Ward and Millard lived. We are in the process of moving right now but a lot of things have came up that we need to do before going into L'viv. We are just hoping we will have time for all of them. Elder LeBaron and I set a goal to memorize all the articles of faith in Ukrainian before the end of the transfer. We are doing really good. We only have one more to go! It gives us really good, short powerful statements of truth to share with people that we talk to on the street. I never realized until now just how great they are!
I have often wondered why so many people persecute us, even when we are doing such a great work that is ordained of God? Some people yell at us, tell us to leave, and even one time a priest tried to cast devils out of us. It doesn't happen all the time, but part of being a missionary is dealing with those unpleasant, hurtful, and painful situations. During Church I was reading my bible and came across a few verses that gave me some comfort.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
God knows the things we go through for Him and He is thankful for our love and our loyalty.
Yesterday after church we went to the bus station to wish my two good friends farewell; Elder Ward and Millard, who finished their missions together. In his closing testimony at church Elder Ward shared a scripture from 2nd Nephi 1:
30 And now, Zoram, I speak unto you: Behold, thou art the servant of Laban; nevertheless, thou hast been brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and I know that thou art a true friend unto my son, Nephi, forever.
Elder Ward talked about the importance of friends and how God places them in our lives to bless us. I have been blessed to meet many amazing people, members and missionaries, that I know will be true friends unto me forever.
It was hard to see them leave. But I was happy, knowing that they served faithfully. I am very proud of them.
Sunday was a big day for a few other reasons as well. Brother Zhuck, the amazing man that we have been working with, had his interview with the branch president for his temple recommend, then over skype he had an interview with President Lattin as well. I was able to be there on that one to translate, which made it even sweeter. Brother Zhuck is so ready to go to the temple. On most of the temple preparation lessons we have done with him, Brother Zhuck has taught us way more than we have taught him. We are planning to go over to his house tomorrow night so we can spend a little bit of time with him before Elder LeBaron leaves.
Also, Volodymyr, the man who had a baptismal date a while ago came to church on Sunday for the first time since his baptismal date fell through. It was nice to be able to get in contact with him again.
This week we have also had a few opportunities to do service. On Friday we were in a village not to far away from Luts'k with the other elders doing service at a members home. To make a long story short we helped them collect a bunch of hay rolls (big tractor rolled ones) to store them away for the animals for the winter time. We had a blast. They also fed us a really good lunch after we finished. We all got a bit sun burned. Then we played some soccer with the son of the family and some of his friends before we left to go back to Luts'k. Man I am bad a soccer. But whenever sports are involved I love to get competitive. Being competitive and not very good at something is not a good combination.
On Saturday we went and we took the sacrament to an older woman who lives a ways away. She can't travel, so once a moth we travel to her to administer the sacrament. She was so thankful that we came to her. It was humbling to see just how much faith she had. I have a long way to go.
The following is a talk called "One Key to a Happy Family" that was given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorfhttps://www.lds.org/liahona/2012/10/one-key-to-a-happy-family?lang=eng . I wanted to share it because I was flipping through my journal the other day and I have a little clipping of the story he shares called "The princes Dog" taped in on one of the pages. I go to it often when I feel like someone has wronged me or when I feel angry. It helps me quickly realize that my anger is foolish. The talk itself is about families and I thought it would be good to share with my family! I hope it blesses your life as much as it has blessed my life. Enjoy!
"The great Russian author Leo Tolstoy began his novel Anna Karenina with these words: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” While I do not have Tolstoy’s certainty that happy families are all alike, I have discovered one thing that most have in common: they have a way of forgiving and forgetting the imperfections of others and of looking for the good.
Those in unhappy families, on the other hand, often find fault, hold grudges, and can’t seem to let go of past offenses.
"Yes, but …” begin those who are unhappy. “Yes, but you don’t know how badly she hurt me,” says one. “Yes, but you don’t know how terrible he is,” says another.
Perhaps both are right; perhaps neither.
There are many degrees of offense. There are many degrees of hurt. But what I have noticed is that often we justify our anger and satisfy our consciences by telling ourselves stories about the motives of others that condemn their actions as unforgivable and egoistic while, at the same time, lifting our own motives as pure and innocent.
The Prince’s Dog:
There is an old Welsh story from the 13th century about a prince who returned home to find his dog with blood dripping down its face. The man rushed inside and, to his horror, saw that his baby boy was missing and his cradle overturned. In anger the prince pulled out his sword and killed his dog. Shortly thereafter, he heard the cry of his son—the babe was alive! By the infant’s side lay a dead wolf. The dog had, in reality, defended the prince’s baby from a murderous wolf.
Though this story is dramatic, it demonstrates a point. It opens the possibility that the story we tell ourselves about why others behave a certain way does not always agree with the facts—sometimes we don’t even want to know the facts. We would rather feel self-justified in our anger by holding onto our bitterness and resentment. Sometimes these grudges can last months or years. Sometimes they can last a lifetime.
A Family Divided
One father could not forgive his son for departing from the path he had been taught. The boy had friends the father did not approve of, and he did many things contrary to what his father thought he should do. This caused a rift between father and son, and as soon as the boy could, he left home and never returned. They rarely spoke again.
Did the father feel justified? Perhaps.
Did the son feel justified? Perhaps.
All I know is that this family was divided and unhappy because neither father nor son could forgive each other. They could not look past the bitter memories they had about each other. They filled their hearts with anger instead of love and forgiveness. Each robbed himself of the opportunity to influence the other’s life for good. The divide between them appeared so deep and so wide that each became a spiritual prisoner on his own emotional island.
Fortunately, our loving and wise Eternal Father in Heaven has provided the means to overcome this prideful gap. The great and infinite Atonement is the supreme act of forgiveness and reconciliation. Its magnitude is beyond my understanding, but I testify with all my heart and soul of its reality and ultimate power. The Savior offered Himself as ransom for our sins. Through Him we gain forgiveness.
No Family Is Perfect
None of us is without sin. Every one of us makes mistakes, including you and me. We have all been wounded. We all have wounded others.
It is through our Savior’s sacrifice that we can gain exaltation and eternal life. As we accept His ways and overcome our pride by softening our hearts, we can bring reconciliation and forgiveness into our families and our personal lives. God will help us to be more forgiving, to be more willing to walk the second mile, to be first to apologize even if something wasn’t our fault, to lay aside old grudges and nurture them no more. Thanks be to God, who gave His Only Begotten Son, and to the Son, who gave His life for us.
We can feel God’s love for us every day. Shouldn’t we be able to give a little more of ourselves to our fellowmen as taught in the beloved hymn “Because I Have Been Given Much”? The Lord has opened the door for us to be forgiven. Wouldn’t it be only right to put aside our own egotism and pride and begin to open that blessed door of forgiveness to those with whom we struggle—especially to all of our own family?
In the end, happiness does not spring from perfection but from applying divine principles, even in small steps. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have declared: “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
Forgiveness is positioned right in the middle of these simple truths, founded on our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. Because forgiveness connects principles, it connects people. It is a key, it opens locked doors, it is the beginning of an honest path, and it is one of our best hopes for a happy family.
May God help us to be a little more forgiving in our families, more forgiving of each other, and perhaps more forgiving even with ourselves. I pray that we may experience forgiveness as one wonderful way in which most happy families are alike."
I have seen from my own experience that giving others the benefit of the doubt brings blessings of love and understanding. Even if they really may be at fault isn't it still better to show love than anger? It is a lot easier said than done. I sure have a lot of progress I can make! I want you to know that I love you very much! I am glad that you are my family!
Have a good week!