Monday, December 30, 2013

Fwd: Letter #39 - 12/30/13

We had an amazing 1 1/2 hour visit on Skype!  Yay for technology!  It was so good to "see" her!  Have a Happy New Year everyone!


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery
Date: Monday, December 30, 2013
Subject: Letter #39 - 12/30/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Hello again! I've got less time to write today because we took some personal time to go to the temple Friday, so this will be quick.

First off, we had a SUPER fun Christmas evening with all of us missionaries at the Bishop's house. We did a white elephant gift exchange and everything! I've attached a picture from it; Christmas card worthy, don't you think? :)

Thursday was great because, as Mom has probably told everyone by now, we got to talk on Skype! I absolutely loved it, and it was hard to hang up. But thankfully instead of making me homesick, the call made me want to go out and fulfill my purpose more than ever; remembering all the blessings that have come to me and my family because of the gospel made me want to go out and find another family whose lives will be changed forever because of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. I often silently thank the missionaries that found, taught, and baptized my ancestors, and I hope to have the same eternal influence on these amazing people in Ukraine.

Friday I got to go through the beautiful Ukraine Kiev temple. What a sweet way to commemmorate my half-way mark (and my one-year anniversary of going through the temple) and rededicate myself to the Lord for at least the next nine months. As I was in the Celestial Room, I was studying the scriptures and my eye caught hold on D&C 7:5 when it says that John the Beloved, "desired that he might do more, or a greater work yet among men that what he has before done." I chose that as a simple theme for the remainder of my mission. I want to do more, a greater work than what I have done before. I want to be more obedient, more full of faith, hope, and charity. I want to find, teach, and baptize more. I want to change more into who the Lord wants me to be. The clock is ticking, and I want to work while the day lasts!

To end, as a spiritual thought I'll share my response to Sister Klebingat's letter this week. It was about the different aspects of "enduring to the end," and I responded with this:

Thanks to Sister Klebingat for the wonderful letter -- I'll definitely be feasting on that more this week. I especially liked the last paragraph about how enduring well means developing enduring qualities. Someone once told me that change is a lot more like freezing ice than baking cookies. When you bake cookies, there's a chemical change, and no matter how long you leave the cookies out, they'll never change back into cookie dough. When freezing water, however, there's always a chance that the ice will turn back into water if you leave it out. I've always wanted "cookie change" where my habits and character just change completely and I never have to worry about backsliding, but I've learned through my experience and the experience of others that such a mindset is fallacious and dangerous. If I walk away from my mission thinking, "Woohoo, my cookie dough days are over; I'm good to go for the rest of my life!" then my spiritual habits and urgency will slip and pride will be my downfall. On the other hand, if I think, "I am so much more frozen than I was a year and a half ago, and now I just need to keep this freezing process up until the very end," then my life will continue in the pattern that my mission has -- continual spiritual progression. There are parts in Siberia where permafrost goes thousands of feet into the ground; that's the kind of "endurance" I'm searching for, and I'm grateful for this letter that will help me deepen my permafrost a few more feet.

I love you all! Have a great week!
Sister Montgomery

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fwd: Letter #38 - 12/25/13

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Today is Christmas (and a Christmas party at the bishop's house tonight), tomorrow I get to Skype with Mom and Dad and Mike and Reanna, and Friday I'm going to go to the Kiev temple to commemorate my official half-way mark of my mission (where has the time gone?!). What an amazing week! And as a Christmas gift from my dear Heavenly Father, He gave us...

A BAPTISMAL DATE! Yep, Alisa wants to get baptized! She picked January 25th to work toward, and I think we'll need about that much time to go through the lessons and make sure she understands everything and truly repents. She is such a sweet woman, and Sister Hunsaker and I have a great relationship with her. She even told someone that "we're a wonderful 'face' to the church." Great compliment! The members have been doing a fabulous job of fellowshipping her; the member last night invited her to Institute (for adults) and two men in the ward gave her a Priesthood blessing. I'm really looking forward to what the next few weeks hold for her. I also love her story because she basically walked into my life when everything else was falling down around me; after a long week of losing all our investigators and getting rejected by all our potentials, she just waltzed into the church on a Monday afternoon. God tore our area down just to build it up even better, much like He does with our life in general sometimes.

We also got a new investigator, Aliya, who is renting an apartment from one of the women (Lidia) in the ward. She just moved her from Uzbekistan and has absolutely no Christian background (prominent religion is Islam), but after sitting in on the end of our lesson with Lidia, we asked if she wanted to hear our message and she agreed. We've already taught the Restoration and watched "Finding Faith in Christ," and the Spirit has been SO strong in our lessons, it's so wonderful. She also has a super cute 3-year-old daughter and another on the way. It'll be hard to progress toward baptism because her husband is pretty anti, but at least we have the opportunity to spend time with her and teach her about her Savior. As we were walking away from our last lesson with her, I told Sister Hunsaker, "I just love being a missionary." There's just nothing like teaching people and testifying about Jesus Christ. It's been especially interesting to teach someone who, until a week ago, didn't even really know who Jesus Christ was. And now the sheep has found the Good Shepherd who has been searching for her. :)

Besides that, the work has really been progressing with members. We came up with a service list of all sorts of things we missionaries can do for the members and their friends, and we handed it out on Sunday and had great success -- it got us both member appointments and referrals, and the ward loved it. Also, our bishop, without any prompting from us, got up in sacrament meeting and gave a talk about how much we as missionaries bring the Spirit with us and how much of a blessing we are to the ward, and he encouraged everyone to invite us to their homes more often. It was incredible, and I love that we've gained his trust so much that he chose to get up and say those things to the ward. Have I ever told you how amazing our ward leadership is? Because seriously... wow.

Lastly, little spiritual thought. I've been reading "Our Heritage" lately, and I've been so inspired by the stories of the pioneers (my ancestors in many cases). I've found a lot of connection with them; though their trials were physical and mine right now are spiritual, the spirit of persecution from the enemies of truth is in large part the same, and (most importantly) the Source of comfort is always the same. The pioneer's trek refined them as Saints, and I can think of no better word for a mission than "refining." Also, I found it interested that about 62,000 Saints gathered to Utah in the mid-1800's, and now, in 2013, there are over 80,000 full-time missionaries serving throughout the whole world. First we gathered TO Zion, and now we're going out TO gather Zion. There's just something poetic about that. "Our Heritage" has helped me see and remember the big picture of the Kingdom of God on earth, and I would highly suggest it to anyone. I'm so grateful for the faith of the early Saints, for the things they learned through all their trials, and for passing those things down throughout the generations all the way to me.

Well, I hope this letters finds all of you having a very merry Christmas! Christmas here is more celebrated on January 7th (Orthodox calendar) so that's when most of the festivities will be. Have a great week; I love and miss you!

-Sister Montgomery

PS -- Pictures: me and Sister Hunsaker, me and Genadi, and me and a snowman. (Which is which???) Oh, and Mom, you can post these to the blog, except for the one with Genadi. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Letter #37 12/16/13

Dear Family,

Thanks for all the letters that have been flooding into my inbox! Sorry for the lack of response -- slowly but surely I'll get back to everyone eventually. :)

This week was pretty good. Met with lots of ward members, had a great lesson with Alisa (she wants to see a baptismal service, which we'll do soon), had a fun youth activity (cook-off! And what did I do? Took pictures and then ate the food :) ), and of course talked to (or tried to talk to) lots of people about the gospel. Pretty much a typical week. By the way, winter is definitely upon us here in Ukraine; snow is on the ground, kids are sledding and building snowmen, Christmas songs are playing... a lot like back in America. Yes, there's also been civil unrest and protests, but honestly, you probably know more about it than I do. It's all happening in downtown Kiev, which isn't in my area, so you don't really need to worry about me.

Quick spiritual thought before I have to (get to) get back to work. It's about the Atonement. I read an interesting verse this week: Alma 31:38 -- "And the Lord provided for [Alma and his brethren] that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith."

I loved that phrase because it doesn't mean that they didn't have afflictions; it means that somehow the Atonement made up for those afflictions. It healed them, strengthened them, gave them hope where no hope was to be found, somehow filled in a hole that no other source could fill. I also found it interesting that in Moses 7:41, Enoch's sorrow as he views the history of the world is described with the words "his heart swelled wide as eternity," and a few verses later (v.53) Christ is described as "the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity." Instead of a care-free world, we live in a very difficult world in which God provided the Way for all our difficulties to be overcome, with the end result being our growth, joy, and ultimately our salvation.

I wrote a journal entry about this a few months before my mission when I was having a particularly hard day, and I feel like it'll help some of you (it has sure helped me) :

There's one thing that I can remember that brought me comfort that day; it's about changing your thoughts about the "status quo." If we think things ought to be happy and cheerful and free of suffering, then naturally we'll be disillusioned with this world. We'll turn to God and ask, "Why do you allow such suffering in the world?" If, on the other hand, we change our status quo to our fallen state—that without God, there would be no hope or joy or purpose, and there would be abundant evil and suffering—then things change. Instead of asking God about why He allows suffering, you start to ask, "Why did You provide the Atonement for us? Why have You given us everything we need to be happy and safe?" Then, instead of being bitter, you start to actually be grateful. The Atonement can overcome all the evil and suffering in the entire world in its entire history, and that is miraculous. I still have a lot to learn about the Fall, but it's comforting knowing that, in the end, with Christ, it will all be as good and even better than we hope for.

I hope to make the Atonement more real in my life so that these aren't just words, but that it actually brings me the comfort that I (and we all) seek in life.

K, gotta go. I love you all so much, and hope you have a wonderful week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fwd: Letter #36 - 12/9/13

I love her personality that comes out in her letters!  Enjoy!!! 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 8:55 AM
Subject: Letter #36 - 12/9/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear friends and family and fan clubs all across the globe,

To make up for my lack of letter last week, I shall make this letter especially awesome. Are you ready for this?

First off, Genadi got baptized on Wednesday! Go back and see "Letter #10 - 6/10/13" for the first time I met him (he's the paralyzed man, the brother of the Lena that I taught). Anyway, it was amazing. We got a portable baptismal font and brought it to his little apartment, and then it took eight or ten men to lift him up on a stretcher and immerse him in the water. Elder Romney was the one the baptized him (rather, said the ordinance while the ten of them baptized him) and conferred the Holy Ghost afterward. At the very end of the service, I was able to read the journal entry that I wrote on the day I met him (the spiritual experience I had in his apartment; again, see Letter #10), and I was holding back tears, seriously. What an incredible man. The best word I can find to describe him is "transformed." He was a burdened and broken man when I met him six months ago, and now his spirit is healed and elated while his body awaits the healing of the resurrection. What an honor it was to play a small part in such a transformation.

Also, I haven't written much about Alisa, but she's our awesome progressing investigator. She's 53 years old, and came into the church for English but was also interested in the gospel. She already knows the Book of Mormon is true, and she really enjoyed our church services the other week. We'll be meeting with her again tomorrow to talk about the Plan of Salvation. She's such a sweet lady, and I'm looking forward to offering her even more blessings of the restored gospel. :)

Oh, by the way I'm staying in Voskresensky yet another transfer (and it might be an 8-week one because we just had a 4-week one). I almost forgot to mention that because it's no longer "news" to me. I swear, if President doesn't pull me out of here by the end of this next transfer, I'm personally sneaking into his office to rearrange the transfer board. Just kidding, just kidding, I'm happy about it. :) Also, Sister Hunsaker is a fantastic missionary, and I'm glad to be staying with her too.

Spiritual thought for the week: Jeremiah 20:7-9. Here Jeremiah is having a hard time... he was cast into the stocks and is pondering about his predicament. He complains for a few verses: "I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily." And then he appears to make a decision: "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name." That's it, I've had enough, I'm done with this! It's too hard, everyone rejects me, and now I'm even stuck in the stocks. It's over! But then we see what actually happens: "But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." In other words, I imagine something like this...

Jeremiah: "Man, this is horrible!"
Jeremiah's prison-mate: "Yeah, life stinks!"
Jeremiah: "Yeah! Life sti--... hey... do you know the purpose of life? God has a plan about that, you know..."

Anyway, I know that I have certainly felt what Jeremiah has; the word of God has been like a fire in my bones, and I've barely been able to contain myself. And that's exactly how I'm feeling now. The church is true and amazing, and the world's gotta know about it!

Alright, we'll call that quits for today. Thanks for all your prayers and letters and support. I love you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much (blame Mom for that many o's...) :)

Sister Montgomery

PS -- Funny random addition: you may have wondered if I ever think about "life after mission." Well, this was my train of thought last time when I tried to attempt such a feat (one night as I was trying to fall asleep).
  • You know, one day I'm going to start dating again
  • That means I should probably buy some cute clothes or something
  • I can probably get a bunch of stuff at DI
  • Hmm... I'm probably not going to be in Utah until January, because...
  • I'll be visiting my sisters around the country before then
  • That mean I'll be at a bunch of different airports
  • Which means I can totally share the gospel with the people I meet there!
  • I should bring lots of pass-along cards and some copies of the Book of Mormon
  • What was that about dating?
Yep... not only is my body 6000 miles away from home, but a lot of times my mind is too. Not to say I don't think about y'all, but... yeah, I'm pretty focused here. :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fwd: Letter #35 - 12/2/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 7:53 AM
Subject: Letter #35 - 12/2/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Whoops... I totally didn't leave enough time to write a detailed letter to y'all this week. Let's see... in general, a pretty tough week for me. Send some extra prayers this way if you can spare the time. But hey, a lot of good things happened too (that's kind of how it goes in the mission... a crazy mixture of really hard and really awesome things). God blessed our Thanksgiving Day with a sweet potential investigator in the morning (a 17-year-old girl who was happy to take and read the Book of Mormon) and very receptive people in the evening. Our lessons that night fell through, so instead we spent the last few hours of the day in the freezing cold talking to people on the streets. And guess what? Almost everyone stopped and listened to us! We gave a Book of Mormon to someone and got two phone numbers from some others. Nothing more has really come of that, but we sure appreciated that blessing on Thanksgiving night. :)

Sorry, that's really all I've got time for. Spiritual thought: D&C 58:1-9. Have a great week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fwd: Letter #34 - 11/25/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 8:19 AM
Subject: Letter #34 - 11/25/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Hey everyone! I laughed when I read that Emily is staying in her first area another transfer too. Maybe Montgomery's just slip under the radar of mission presidents. If I stay next transfer too, I will be in Voskresensky for officially half of my mission. Time flies!

Let's see... what went down this week? Tuesday night we had two lessons -- one with an investigator (Alisa) that wants to know if the Book of Mormon is true (and therefore will know soon enough), and one with an investigator who has no desire to know it's true because she doesn't want to change her life to be in accordance with it (and therefore will never know, because God won't force a conviction into a heart hardened to the Holy Ghost). It was pretty sad. People... the gospel is AMAZING! Sometimes I just want to pour my entire life experiences into the hearts and minds of those I teach... if only they knew! In any case, all I can do is testify and pray that the Holy Ghost will convince them to keep moving forward. I have seen the gospel rejected more times than I can count, but NEVER by a humble seeker of truth. ANY person who truly follows Moroni 10:3-5 (including the "sincere heart, real intent, faith in Christ" part) will know that the Book of Mormon is true, and therefore that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth (see Book of Mormon Intro). I will go to my grave proclaiming that simple truth.

Ahem... let me step off my digital soapbox to continue the adventures of my week. Wednesday we had a specialized zone training about planning and goal-setting. Good stuff. We also had exchanges, so I was with Sister Farnsworth (wonderful sister) in Voskresensky. I've learned from other people's comments, and especially from being on exchanges, that one of my strengths is being bold. I have no fear calling people to repentance -- if you're a member who's not holding weekly family home evenings, you can bet I'm going to bring it up, continue past your excuses, back up my words with the words of prophets, invite you to change immediately, warn you of the consequences of not changing, and promise you to blessings of making your life more in harmony with God's will. If you're a stranger I meet on the street who says that all that's necessary is to believe in your soul, you can bet I'm going to quote scripture declaring the contrary and invite you to follow the commandments more fully by participating in the only fully true church of Jesus Christ on the earth. I do it with love, but I do it nonetheless. This church is true, it is THE TRUTH, and the world's gotta know about it.

Dang, there I go on my soapbox again. I think it's permanently attached to the bottom of my boots...

Friday was a really rough day -- tried to talk with 50 people, and the only conversations we got out of all of it was the very first (12:00) and the very last (8:55) people we contacted. Phew! But I definitely grew closer to Heavenly Father because of it... we had a long talk that night, and I learned a lot from Him.

Saturday we had a neat experience. We were at a bus stop and Sister Hunsaker started a conversation with a woman next to her (Larisa) and, like a good trainer, I saved her by joining the conversation (but only after letting her appropriately struggle for about 15 or 20 seconds). Anyway, the woman was really interested in knowing what we believe, and since we didn't have an appointment then, we talked with her for probably about 20 or 30 minutes right there. I felt the Spirit so strong as she was describing her search for truth, and I explained the Restoration and testified that she'll find the answers she's seeking for in the restored gospel and especially the Book of Mormon. We read the last two paragraphs of the Intro with her, and immediately her countenance changed; she handed it back to us and said, "I don't agree. There's no way that God called a prophet in our day." I explained how it was possible and how she could know it, but she was getting more and more closed. We had to go anyway, but we left the book with her and told her we'd call her.

Fast forward to Sunday night -- I called her and we had another 30 minute conversation on the phone. She said that she read the first few pages of the Introduction and doesn't agree; she's thinks it's foolish, nonsense. She was about to be done right then, but thankfully I kept her talking ("What didn't you agree with? Why do you think that?") and I was able to answer all of her questions and concerns. There were a lot of good one-liners that came from it, I've got to admit... "Listen, if I hadn't read and prayed about the Book of Mormon, I wouldn't believe it either." "Think of it this way: either we're crazy or it's true. I know for myself that it's true, and it'll be your choice to find that out too." "Do you believe the Bible? [She does.] You said that you think it's crazy that God could call a 14-year-old boy to be a prophet. But you know what else is crazy? The fact that Jesus Christ died and then resurrected. He was DEAD and then came back to LIFE. There's a lot of people that think that's nonsense, but when I read that account in the Bible, and when I live my life in accordance with the Bible's teachings, I experience more joy than I can express to you, and I know by the Holy Ghost that it's true. It's the exact same thing with the Book of Mormon, but you will never know that until you read it." Ahh! This soapbox is on fire!

Anyway, I convinced her to give us one chance at meeting face to face, and she agreed. This morning in personal study, I filled my doctrinal arsenal with all sorts of passages that support the message of the Restoration, but unfortunately I never got to use them because this morning she said she doesn't want anything more to do with us. So sad. But hey, since the arsenal is already loaded, maybe one of you can use it in another situation:
  • 1 Samuel 3:17-20 (Lord calls Samuel, very relatable to the Joseph Smith story)
  • Ephesians 2:18-20 (Christ's church built on foundation of prophets and apostles)
  • Acts 3:20-22 (before Christ comes, a prophet like Moses will be called)
  • 2 Nephi 33:10-11 (Nephi's powerful testimony of the truthfulness of his words)
  • Alma 32:26-27 (just try it! Do an experiment with the Book of Mormon and find out)
  • John 7:16-17 (he who acts will find out if the doctrine is of God or just from us [hint: it's the first])
  • Mormon 9:15-20 (we believe in an unchanging God of miracles)
  • Amos 8:11-12 (foretelling of great apostasy)
  • Alma 5:45-46 (pray, fast, and work to know for yourself)
Alright, well I think I've worn myself out with this letter. I'm sure there's more excitement to be found this week. I love you all--thanks so much for all your support!

Sister Montgomery

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fwd: Letter #33 - 11/18/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:06 AM
Subject: Letter #33 - 11/18/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Just a few mintues to write about my amazing week! First off, I forgot to mention that last Sunday was the Kiev Stake Conference. How incredible is it that there's an entire stake in a place like Kiev?! And we were all gathered together with a temple of God right behind us! It gave me so much spiritual strength to see so many Saints together like that, and the broadcast was wonderful (it was one of those area broadcasts from Salt Lake City). The Lord's work is hastening, that's for sure. :)

President (by the means of the mission leadership council, so technically me too) installed a new rule in our mission for the time being, which basically says that we're to talk to (or approach rather) at least 50 people every day. It's a little "Mosaic Law," which is totally unlike President, but it's what our mission needs right now to get us opening our mouths. Anyway, I mention this becuase it has made our week INCREDIBLE. We've been talking with so many people, and even though the ratio of rejection is probably the same, the quality of the people who haven't rejected us has been super high. We've had wonderful conversations, had a lot of first lessons, and have three new investigators (and another one today). I feel like God ripped our area apart the other week just to put it back together in a wonderful way. And here's a miracle story I just wrote President:

"So, when I was in Borshahovsky while Sister Hunsaker was in the training meeting, I was looking through the Relief Society list to find members I haven't met with yet. I saw a name of an old lady and had an impression from the Holy Ghost that we needed to stop by there, so I wrote the name in my planner. We didn't get around to it Friday night, but it was our back-up plan for Saturday night, which became our actual plan when our investigator cancelled on us. So we headed over there, talking to everyone, but nobody was at her home. Luckily I know the Spirit well enough to know that He cares just as much about the journey as the destination, so we continued our journey to go drop by some other members. A little ways away from the stairwell, we contacted this one lady, Olga, who was walking home. As we introduced ourselves, she gave the common line, 'Oh, I already go to church,' but I pressed forward, complimenting her on her faith and asking what she believes and why. After telling us a bit, I asked if she was interested to know what we believe, and she agreed. And THEN, well... that's when the Spirit took over because I literally can't remember what I said except for the fact that it was about the Restoration. Usually I remember my conversations super well after the fact, but this time, I honestly can't recall it (and we talked for a long time too). Anyway, she asked to see the Book of Mormon (we gladly gave it), she invited us over to hear more, and we ended with prayer. How amazing is that?! God led us right to that woman! All we had to do was open our mouths, and let me tell you... they were FILLED."

I was SO happy after that conversation, you have no idea. :) Love moments like that!

Oh yeah, so I got a new companion (good old #6 in Ukraine, hopefully she won't run away from me as quickly as the others ones). Her name is Sister Hunsaker, she's from Syracuse UT, she's 20 years old, and she's doing great. I feel like a mother who gets better at parenting every time she has a new child -- hopefully I'll get this whole training thing down by the time I have my last one.

Spiritual thought, spiritual thought... I'm running out of English ones because they now get programmed in Russian. Have I ever shared with you Joshua 1:1-9? It's the passage that was quoted by President Monson in last conference, and it gave me a lot of comfort and strength when I really needed it a few weeks ago. You'll have to change the situation in order to liken it to yourself, but the principle is there, and I can tell you myself that it's true: "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: the Lord the God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." I'm confident that the day will come when we see Christ face to face, and we will understand perfectly just how true that was during our lives.

Well, I love you all! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fwd: Letter #32 - 11/11/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 8:23 AM
Subject: Letter #32 - 11/11/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Hey everyone! How's it going? Hey, if you haven't written me for awhile, shoot me an email sometime -- I may be 6000 miles away, but I'd still like to know what's going on in your lives. :)

Well, part of this whole Sister Training Leader thing is that I write President every week about how exchanges went, what I saw, what suggestions I have, etc., and that can be a little time-consuming, so if you've noticed my letters getting shorter and shorter, that's probably why. I'll try to write a little less there and a little more here, but sometimes it doesn't always work out such.

So I'd be lying if I said this was a good week. :/ It was actually pretty dreary, and literally the hardest week on my mission. Basically rejection was just at an all time high / all time rude, and it really took a toll on me. It's been nearly fruitless working with members, people we talk to outside won't stop long enough for us to get a word of testimony in, and our investigators have been dropping like flies (including those I really care about it). It's been rough; not quite Alma 26:27-30 rough, but close. I even got sick on Saturday and stayed home all day. Bleh. But hey, things are looking up, and I learned a lot from all of it. This area needed to be "renewed" anyway... one batch drops to make room for another, that's just kind of how it works. I could use some extra prayers, though, so keep sending them this way.

Transfers are Thursday -- I'll be getting my new trainee. This transfer is only 4 weeks long and the next one is 8 weeks, so we'll wait and see where I'll be in a month (anyone want to put their money on Voskresensky?)

Well, per usual, I shall leave you with a spiritual thought, this one in the form of a poem I finished this last week. Consider it a peak into my woes (and other woes I've heard here) and the revelation that got me out of them. It applies to, well... every laborer in Zion.
To the Laborer in Zion
To the weary leader of a wild or struggling fold
Who listens with an open heart while his own problems go untold
And who at times thinks silently, "What good am I doing here?"
And while thinking at the task at hand, becomes filled with doubt and fear

Remember Him whose church this is, the Leader of us all,
Who knows your imperfections well, yet still issued your call
So while you're preaching what you practice, practice what you preach
You may be a shephard, but to Him you're still the sheep

To the mourning mother of a weak and wayward child
Whose love abounds unceasingly, tender, meek, and mild
And who at times thinks silently, "What could I have done more?"
And starts to count her follies till it stings her to the core

Remember Him whose love abounds far greater than your own
Who knows your flaws but still forgives and brings you safely home
So while offering the Bread of Life, drink the Living Water
You may be a mother, but to Him you're still His daughter

To the doubting missionary in a tough and fruitless place
Who's given heart, might, mind and strength to preach of peace and grace
And who at times thinks silently, "Surely I'm the one to blame"
Focusing on only failure, giving way to shame

Remember Him who gave His son, not just for them but you
Whose mercy is for all you teach and for their teacher too
So while kindling the Refiner's fire, stand to take the heat
You may be a sifter, but to Him you're still the wheat

So to every striving laborer in the fields and homes of Zion
Who's realized that you're mortal, much more lamb than you are lion
I plead with you, think silently, "I'm weak but He is strong
And if I seek to do His will, He'll lead me safely along."

And if while pondering, you can say, "I tried to do my best
And where I fell, I got back up," in Christ you'll find your rest.
You are His hands, you're in His hands, though earth and hell may shake,
You are His hands, you're in His hands, He'll not fail thee nor forsake.

Love you!
Sister Montgomery

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fwd: Letter #31 - 11/4/13

Enjoy!  I just love her letters!  Have a great week!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 7:44 AM
Subject: Letter #31 - 11/4/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Heya fam. There are cinnamon rolls awaiting me at home (my new companion bakes!), so I'm gonna cheat and copy you what I just wrote President to save time. Here's my week in a nutshell:

Well, things are moving right along in Voskresensky. Sister Gillespie is AWESOME. We get along great, are super focused on the work, have been getting revelation right and left about what to do, are talking with a ton of people (not quite "everyone," but we're getting close!), and it's just been an awesome half-week with her. She's such a great missionary, and we're having a lot of fun (don't worry, it's purpose-focused fun) :) together -- it's too bad I only get to work with her another week and a half!

Not only has our companionship been doing great, but our area is really looking up. A lot of people we've talked to have been receptive to our conversations (or in the very least, kind), and we even had a new investigator. She was a walk-in to the church awhile ago while we were studying, she came to English a couple times, and then the other day she called us and invited us over to her house, and then she agreed to hear the lessons. It was a literal answer to one of my prayers. I prayed the other day, "Dear Heavenly Father, I'm trying really hard to take care of your children here in this ward, help them stay strong in the gospel, and help them share it with others. Because of that, will you please bless us with someone new to teach?" And wallah! After two member lessons in the morning (taking care of God's children), Sveta calls and sets an appointment with us! She's got a husband and 6-year-old daughter, and her and her husband really liked the Family Proclamation. Great potential there! :)

We've got a lot of great finding ideas for this week, and we're planning our ward missionary conference coming up next Sunday. Things are super great around here -- it's definitely been an "up" week.

Yay for good weeks! Looking forward to another one. Oh yeah, and I went up to Chernigov for a couple days this past week on exchanges -- what an awesome place! The people are super different there than in my area; it's a smaller town, more cozy, a lot more greenery, slower-paced... I would NOT complain if I get to serve there sometime on my mission (if I ever leave Voskresensky, that is). We had four first contacts (taught a gospel principle and prayed with people on the street) in one day! It was awesome. I had a lot of fun there, and the sister I was on exchanges with, Sister Thomas, happens to be the niece of Jeff (I think?) Thomas, former stake presidency member in Fort Collins. Small Mormon world, I love it.

Hmm... I can't think of anything else to write. Let me know if any of y'all have questions for me. If you want a spiritual thought, just go feast on the Bible videos... every P-Day I look forward to watching new ones. These are the ones I saw today: and . I cry every time!

Have a wonderful week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fwd: Letter #30 - 10/28/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 8:50 AM
Subject: Letter #30 - 10/28/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Hey everyone! Lots happening here in good old Voskresensky! Not so much with investigators (we've got a lot of good potentials though...), but we had a sudden random transfer last week, so I'm no longer companions with Sister Cromwell. But don't worry, I'm still in Voskresensky, and I even snuck "transfo" (transfer information) from President that I'll be in Voskresensky yet again next transfer with a new trainee. In the meantime, I'm companions with Sister Griffiths, BUT it turns out she's leaving this week to go home for health reasons, which means I'll have yet another companion for the rest of this transfer, and I don't know who yet. It'll be my fifth companion in my fourth transfer! I'll miss Sister Cromwell and her funny little quirks, and I've actually gotten pretty close with Sister Griffiths too in the whole four days we've been together. But look at the bright side -- I'll have lots of friends when I go home! :)

You know what I love about being a missionary? Being an official representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, and every day discovering the deeper meaning of that. I've had some powerful experiences this past week teaching by the power of the Spirit. Not only does the Spirit testify along with me as I speak, but He literally puts thoughts into my heart and gives me "in the very moment" what I should say (D&C 100:5-6). I've been so bold and full of love lately that I've even surprised myself.

Just the other night we stopped by a less active, and after making a little bit of small-talk, I got right into the gospel by saying, "I'm not speaking as Sister Montgomery right now. I'm speaking as a representative of Jesus Christ." From that moment on, it was D&C 68:4 at it's finest: "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation." I expressed my and Heavenly Father's love for her and desire for her to return, I explained that she's been breaking commandments and I invited her to repent, I expounded pertinent doctrine, I invited her to act, I promised blessings from her loving Father in Heaven, and I warned of sin as the Spirit directed. Her choice was no different by the end of the conversation, but I had done the will of the Lord by bringing the Holy Ghost "unto" her heart (2 Nephi 33:1), and I pray that she'll remember those feelings and let Him in.

I don't relate this story to boast in the least; it's just such an honor and privilege from the Lord to hold this special calling, and it's something I've just barely realized is limited to only 11 more months. I am SO grateful to be here, doing what I'm doing, with the Power by which I'm doing it. Perhaps only those who have served full-time missionaries truly understand what I'm saying, but the rest of you can probably imagine.

We've had some interesting events happen in our ward lately. One young man (in his 20's), who I would describe as being "spiritually on fire" when I met him, chose to completely apostatize from the church because we eat meat, and he's discovered recently how opposed he is to that. He has forsaken the source of all truth because of... meat. I won't dwell here on how sad that makes me (I'm quite close with him and his wife, who has also apostatized with him), but instead, I'll contrast it with a very happy story. I wrote on 6/10/13 about a man named Genadi; he's paralyzed on his left side, his hip is broken, and he's got a hole in his skull where someone hit him with a hammer. (Okay, so far this is NOT a happy story, but hold on a sec...) Anyway, when I met him back in June, I wrote in my journal that his soul seemed as broken as his body, BUT... the Elders have been meeting with him since July, and he is a COMPLETELY changed man. I even went back over there about a month ago, and there was so much light in him. He is willing and totally ready to be baptized, but we're just working through things with his doctor and lawyers because of the risk involved (he still wants to do it though).

Anyway, all this has got me thinking about a passage in Ezekiel (yes, I randomly ponder Ezekiel in my free time... don't you?) It's Ezekiel 18:26-27 and it simply says, "When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive." That's a mission in a nutshell; while lost souls are finally finding truth in the gospel, seemingly strong members are stepping away from it. One of my favorite verses is 31 in that chapter, "Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Why will you die?! Why will you cut yourself off from the truth that can fill you and heal you? "For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye" (v.32). Turn to God and watch as the Atonement of Christ transforms your heart, spirit, and life.

That's all for this week! Hope you have a great week!

Sister Montgomery

PS -- Attached is a nice picture of the Voskresensky gang (Elder Hangen, Elder Romney, yours truly, and Sister Cromwell)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fwd: Letter #29 - 10/21/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 3:52 AM
Subject: Letter #29 - 10/21/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Hey fam. This is gonna be a super quick letter cause I need to go get my hair cut...

Man, I don't even know what happened this week. It went by before I knew it! I had an exchange in Brovary, a small town outside of Kyiv, with Sister Nikogosyan (an awesome missionary) and everything went well. I'm still getting used to the fact that I'm Sister Training Leader and that people now look at me like I know what I'm doing... it sure gives me a reason to always be on my best behavior and "grow" into this leadership position.

We've been having a hard time meeting with investigators recently, so that's been super slow. But the good news is that our Relief Society is really stepping up their missionary game, and we've got a full schedule of visiting members this week and helping them do missionary work. If the message wasn't clear back in June during the worldwide mission broadcast, it became clear this last conference: it's the Lord's way for members and missionaries to work together in this great work of salvation. I hope to see good results from it soon. I have really grown to love this ward, so much so that I don't want to leave. There are so many incredible people here!

And... that's all I have time for. Sorry! Keep praying for me and the people here -- we can always use it!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fwd: Letter #28 - 10/14/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 8:02 AM
Subject: Letter #28 - 10/14/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Heya fam! I had a really good week! Tender mercies of the Lord are befalling me left and right. I'll tell you a few of them...

First off, general conference! We finally got to watch it all (or nearly all) this weekend, and it was SO good! Man, almost better than Christmas. :) I especially liked all the emphasis on missionary work; it's so much easier to convince/inspire members to help with missionary work when you've got words of living prophets and apostles at your fingertips. It's interesting being surrounded by people who believe that the idea of prophets died when Christ died, and I just want to raise my voice and be like, "No, seriously, there's a prophet today! Yeah, a prophet, like Moses. And I heard him speak like two hours ago!" I had a hard time just sitting in the church or at home listening to conference for so long because I was so anxious to get outside and share their words with everyone else. And now this week I can. :)

Also, we had an amazing Zone Conference on Friday. Every conference leaves me on a spiritual high, no joke. Besides doing a lot of instructive role-plays, we delved thoroughly into the doctrine of repentance, and I learned so much from it. I feel like I'm better equipped to truly "preach nothing but repentance" (Mosiah 18:20) to this people, a topic which, by the way, is so much more pleasant and glorious than we normally understand it as being. As Elder Scott just said in conference, "Remember, repentance is not punishment. It is the hope-filled path to a more glorious future."

Oh, I have to tell you about our hilarious lesson with Maria Monday night. She's our neighbor that called us out as we were walking and told us to come over, and last Sunday she invited us over again, so we stopped by the next evening. Little did we know that her friend Tamara was visiting, and Tamara really doesn't like Mormons, and she's really vocal about it. We started a pleasant lesson with Maria, and she showed us her marked-up copy of the Book of Mormon through 2 Nephi (umm... amazing!), but it wasn't long until Tamara came into the room and started going off about this and that from the Bible and how stupid we are, not letting us get more than two words in at a time.

We managed to quiet her down long enough to basically say, "We're going to watch this film about the Prophet Joseph Smith. If you don't want to watch it with us, please leave." She finally went to the other room but continued to make commentary about what she was hearing from the film (accompanied by Maria's sweet commentary, "Oh the animals are so cute!"). After we were done watching it (Maria loved it), Tamara came back in and proceeded yelling at us. We managed to sneak in a closing prayer, and as Maria was walking us to the elevator (closing the door on Tamara), she said, "I'm so sorry! Please don't judge me by her... we'll meet again when she's gone!" What a strong woman. Thankfully the member that we had on the lesson thought it was an awesome experience (16-year-old girl whose spiritually on fire), and we just had to laugh all the way home, because I'm pretty sure laughter was the only thing that could get our blood pressure back down haha. Oh man, what a lesson! Good opportunity to practice charity too. ;)

Anyway, this week was just full of the Spirit. He's been guiding our plans, He's been working in the hearts of people that I love, He's been leading the elect to us and vice versa, and He's been guiding my words as I speak and testify. We had exchanges on Wednesday (I was in Voskresensky with Sister Wallace) and we were met all day with receptive people. One woman, Valentina, even wrote down all her information and gave it to us, including when she's available to meet (basically set up an appointment all by herself). A few days later we stopped by, and we were surprised to find that the address she gave us was a business, and we walked into what looked like a business meeting with six women. Sister Cromwell and a member from the ward were with me, and later they both told me they were thinking, "What did Sister Montgomery get us into?" We were worried there were going to try to sell us something, but they were actually interested in a gospel discussion (once we led it in that direction), and we basically gave the whole first lesson to six women at one time, including bold and powerful testimonies and a prayer at the end. The Spirit was so strong in that room, and we left with two fewer Books of Mormon and three interested potential investigators. I'm so grateful to have had a part in such an awesome miracle from God. :)

Alright, I still gotta go report to President so I'll call it quits there. Hope you have a fabulous week!

Sister Montgomery

PS -- Hey Addi, do you know a Lindsey Staley? She's a new sister in my zone and went to BYU-I before, and when I asked if she knows any Montgomery's, she mentioned you. Sweet! (As a pure-blooded Montgomery, I just couldn't help myself from making one of those infamous "small world" connections.) :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fwd: Letter #27 - 10/7/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 8:09 AM
Subject: Letter #27 - 10/7/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family,

I'm attempting to multi-task right now -- write this letter while listening to general conference -- so we'll see how this goes. I just couldn't wait until this weekend (when it'll be in Russian/Ukrainian) for the spiritual feast of prophetic counsel... I love conference! :)

I don't have too much to write actually. I got to jam a lot on guitar this week to advertise our English class. That was fun. We also went to the nursing home and played hymns for the old people there; they're super nice and humble, and we almost got a new investigator from it (still waiting to meet with her again). Also, we got a new investigator, Pyoter (err... "Peter" if you so desire). We tracted into him the other week and invited him to church, and he actually came! He really liked it and wants to see general conference, and it turns out he and our bishop are old friends -- how perfect is that? He's got a super interesting story too; for example, he served in the military and was wanted by the Ukrainian government in the early 1990's because he was anti-communist. Super nice guy too. Looking forward to teaching him!

Well, I guess I can leave you with a spiritual thought (I've acquired a whole closet full of them during my time here). Here it is: the Lord is in control. In Mosiah 26, there was a lot of discord in the church, and the responsibility to solve it landed on Alma. His Spirit was troubled (v.13) and he poured out his soul to God (v.14). Think about the stress he was feeling -- he had just been converted and just reestablished the church in the land, and now there was apostasy left and right (including of his own son). I bet he thought at one point, "I have no idea what I'm doing," and he probably felt a huge burden for the salvation of those around him.

But check out the Lord's response from verse 15 to 32: besides assuring Alma of his and his people's faithfulness, He uses the word "my" 18 times and "I" 17 times. What do you think the message was? "Behold, this is my church" (v.22). Do your best, follow My instructions, but ultimately know that these are My sheep and they are in My hands. Don't worry unnecesarrily. Don't take a burden upon you that's not yours to take. Fulfill your duty, direct the church like I direct My Kingdom, but don't judge yourself if things don't work out as you hope. I am in control here. "Rejoice, the Lord is King... The Lord, the Savior, reigns... His kingdom cannot fail; He rules o'er earth and heav'n."

It applies to missionary work, it applies to church callings, and it applies to parenthood. It applies whenever we're concerned with the salvation of another. We need to have the trust and the spiritual witness that the Lord really is is control, and that all will be right in the end. We do our duty, we work in the field of salvation, but we always leave the harvest to the Lord of the harvest.

Well, hope y'all have a great week! Hopefully I'll have some fun miracles stories to share next time. :)

Sister Montgomery

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fwd: Letter #26 - 9/30/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 8:26 AM
Subject: Letter #26 - 9/30/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear Mom and company,

Vote! (That's the Russian work for "behold"). I've officially hit my 1/3 mark of the mission. Ahh! I'm just glad I still have a year left, though honestly, I have no idea where the last 6 months went. It's a strange phenomenon to be "set apart" -- I feel like I've only ever been a missionary, and any pre- or post-mission thoughts are just like a dream. But anyway, expect me home in about a year. That gives me just enough time to turn into an ice sculpture during the winter months and thaw out in the summer. In case you're wondering what the weather is here, we enjoyed a beautiful autumn the other day, after which we promptly continued into winter. No snow yet, but lots of rain and BRRR it's been cold! But hey, if I can survive a Romanian winter, I can survive a Ukrainian one too.

In other exciting news, transfer info is out! As I expected, I'm staying in Voskresesnky with Sister Cromwell. I don't know if I'm ever gonna leave here haha. I don't mind though, we've got a great ward and some really great investigators. Oh, and here's something new -- I'm Sister Training Leader! Yeah, that'll make for an exciting transfer. That basically means that I'll be doing exchanges every week, going to leadership council meetings every months, and making lots of phone calls to make sure everything is in order in our zone. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to serve the sisters here and improve our mission, and though I'm sure weekly exchanges will be super stressful, I can see them being SUPER fun too. :)

So, what happened this week? ... We have a new mission goal to reach 204 baptisms by the end of the year (currently we have 101), which means that each companionship brings at least two souls unto Christ through baptism by the end of the year. So this week we've been really spreading the word to church members and just trying to do more (and better) of whatever is necessary to reach our goal. We've been opening our mouths more, finding members to fellowship investigators, reaching out to less actives to bring them back into the fold, and so on. It's been a pretty productive week, I'd say.

One of our investigators, Hadya, came to church yesterday, and she's already read up to 1 Nephi 12 in the Book of Mormon, and she's going to a super fun ward activity on Saturday with super awesome ward members her age (she's 22). We've got high hopes for her -- we met her from English and she's just super sweet. We met with Vasile again (middle-aged guy that called me over on the bus about a month ago), and the best way I can describe him and our lesson is that he's like a wild horse -- the lesson was all over the place, he thinks and speaks at about 127 miles per hour, he's yearning for truth but has little patience, and... yeah. Oh man, we've got to learn how to control that man. BUT if he does get baptized (and he really could), then he'd be an awesome member. We also met with Larisa last weekend (the one we magically tracted into) and had a really great first lesson (with lots of commentary from her Muslim sister who was on the lesson too... super interesting family). Never a lame day here in Voskresensky!

Well, that about sums up my week. Hope y'all have a great week! Keep praying for me and the people here -- I know it makes a difference!

Sister Montgomery

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fwd: Letter #25 - 9/23/13 (Lena 16)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 4:51 AM
Subject: Letter #25 - 9/23/13 (Lena 16)
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Heya fam! I've only got time for one story today, but it's a good one.

Do you remember Lena (age 16)? We spent a lot of time with her back in June -- she's the golden investigator who would already be baptized if it wasn't for her anti-Mormon parents. Anyway, we lost contact with her in July because her phone number changes, but last week I realized that we had part of her address: a street and a building number. Sometime last week we found the building, only to see that it had 400+ apartments and we had no clue which one was hers. Nevertheless, we were determined to find her because, let's be honest, you don't just let a girl like Lena fall off the charts. I told Heavenly Father that night, "If you'd like to give us a hint as to where she is, that would be great. But just know that I will knock on all 400 of those doors in order to find her if I have to." His response was, "Yeah, start with that."

We went back a day or two later, when an all-knowing grandma "happened" to be on her balcony and "happened" to know which stairwell Lena's family lived in when I told her the surname. We started knocking on doors asking where the family lived, and we narrowed it down to a specific floor (4 apartments). Slowly but surely... On Tuesday we went back to the stairwell, hoping to finally find the long-sought-after apartment. We were nervous that Lena's anti-Mormon father would open the door (and then who knows what would happen...), but it was our only hope of finding her. We waited outside the stairwell to sneak in, and finally a man walked by and opened the outside door. We followed behind him and I asked if he happened to know where the ______ family lived. Turns out he was Lena's grandpa, and he invited us outside to have a little chat!

What proceeded was a very friendly conversation with Lena's grandfather during which we briefly explained our Christian beliefs and left a very good impression on him. And then as we were talking, Lena showed up! She had just come home from school, and right there she asked her grandpa's permission to spend the evening with us, which he granted. We went to the church and had a great lesson on the commandments, she stayed for English, and then we said goodbye. Oh, and this is the type of girl Lena is: despite not seeing the missionaries for two months, she has read the Book of Mormon and prayed every day, and during our lesson, she sought to understand and agreed to live every commandment we taught her. Absolutely incredible.

Little did I know that it would be a (semi-)final goodbye; we called a few days later and she told us (nearly crying) that her parents said she can't keep meeting with us. :( She thoroughly thanked us for what we've taught her, and I told her to keep living the gospel as best she can right now. It was a pretty hard conversation. However, I thank God for the miraculous turn of events that led us to find her again. It was absolutely the will of God that we had that final lesson with her -- she has now officially received all of the missionary lessons and committed to live all of the commandments, and I had the sweet opportunity of testifying to her of God's love and plan for her. I didn't know that it'd be the last lesson, but it couldn't have been a better one.

The natural man in us had every reason to not seek out Lena: all we had was a building number with 400+ apartment doors, one of them which would most likely be opened by Lena's anti-Mormon parents, and we could have shirked at the task. But we didn't. We tested and saw the literal fulfillment of 3 Nephi 14:7-8, "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." Line upon line, precept upon precept, we were led to this amazing daughter of God in the best way possible, and we did for her exactly what her loving Father in Heaven wanted: taught her everything necessary for her to live the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as much as she can during this time of her life. "Remember, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10). It's our willingness to knock on 400+ doors that allows God to narrow it down to 20; if charity fuels our faith, God can truly work miracles all around us.

Take whatever you need from that story and use it to change your life. Know that great in the sight of God is your soul, and know that everyone around you is just as beloved to their Eternal Father in Heaven. Now go tell/show someone how loved they are! :)

Love you all!
Sister Montgomery

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fwd: Letter #23 - 9/9/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 6:53 AM
Subject: Letter #23 - 9/9/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear password-protected family and friends,

New mission rule that public blogs are nelzya (Russian word for prohibited), so if you're reading this, it means you're especially special. Pat yourself on the back, grab yourself a nice hot cup of herbal tea (as I do every night), and enjoy yourself a good ol' Sister Montgomery letter from the ends of the earth of Ukraine.

What went down this week, you might ask? Well, Tuesday was an all-day zone conference that, like every mission meeting, was awesome. We talked a lot about mission culture and creative finding. Since there's gonna be like a ton of missionaries by the end of the year (roughly "50 million" as Mom says), the mission is going more and more in the direction of service, since you can only ask members for referrals so many times. This next week we're gonna see if we can volunteer at a hospital singing for people there, or an orphanage doing laundry or something. We also got a lot of super great creative finding ideas that should work a lot better than dry old street contacting or tracting. I'm excited to try going down some new avenues to find people to teach -- it'll be fun.

Wednesday we had exchanges, so I was with Sister Rassavich (sp?) in Brovary, a small town just east of Kyiv. I had a really good time there -- very pretty, had some great contacting conversations and lessons, and in general exchanges are just plain fun (switches things up, you know?) Good stuff.

By the way, Lena backed out of her baptismal date. :( She just feels like she's not ready right now, and she'd rather wait until she gets back to New Jersey to see how the church is there. It's understandable (support at church is vital for investigators and recent converts), but I was really hoping to be there to watch her make that step in her spiritual progression. But all the same, she's doing great and she's still an amazing woman. We had a really good lesson this morning (I wrote her a song and played it for her... it made her cry), and we're gonna keep texting her verses and spiritual thoughts every day. Her time and place will come, I'm sure.

Other than that, it's been a bunch of the same. Oh, and I discovered something funny about myself: I've got a thing for middle-aged men. Not a weird thing, don't worry -- that's just the group of people that I've found that I'm most comfortable contacting, talking to, and teaching, kind of like my "niche" or something. Strange, huh? I mean, we try to talk to everyone, but give me a crowd full of teens, grandmas, and middle-aged men, and you can be sure who I'll comfortably approach.

Well, that's the gist of my life recently. Things are really quite good right now, and I have high hopes for this week. I'd like to leave you with a spiritual thought, but I'm out of time... how bout I just include the lyrics I wrote for Lena? Go find someone who speaks Russian (or Mr. Google...) and take what you will from it.

Love you all! Have a great week!

-Sister Montgomery

Шаг за Шагом
Сестра Монтгомери

У самой воды Чёрмного Моря
Стоял и смотрел Мойсей
С армией за ним, пустыней впереди
Все боялись и желали вернуться
Но Мойсей повысил свой голос, говоря,
"Не бойтесь но стойте и увидите спасение"

     Шаг за шагом, день за днём
     Постепенно постоянно вперёд
     Рядом с тобой будут мир и покой
     Ибо рядом с тобой Искупитель твой
     И день придёт когда Он же скажет,
     "Дай им место в Земле Обетованной
     Вот они шли за Мной
     Шаг за шагом, день за днём"

У самой воды крещения
Стоишь и смотришь ты
С прошлоем за тобой, неизвестностью впереди
Есть сомнения и страхи вокруг тебя
Но есть тоже шёпот Духа, говоря,
"Не бойся но стой и увидишь спасение"

     Шаг за шагом, день за днём
     Постепенно постоянно вперёд
     Рядом с тобой будут мир и покой
     Ибо рядом с тобой Искупитель твой
     И день придёт когда Он же скажет,
     "Дай ей место в Церкви Моей
     Вот она шла за Мной
     Шаг за шагом, день за днём"

У самой Воды Живой
Ты можешь вечно быть
С страхом за тобой, верой впереди
Вступи в воду, вступи в завет
И Господь будет поборать за тебя
И ты будешь спокойна
Будь ты спокойна

     Шаг за шагом, день за днём
     Постепенно постоянно вперёд
     Рядом с тобой будут мир и покой
     Ибо рядом с тобой Искупитель твой
     И день придёт когда Он же скажет,
     "Отец, дай ей место в Царстве Твоём
     Вот она шла за Мной
     Шаг за шагом, день за днём"

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Fwd: Letter #24 - 9/16/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 7:48 AM
Subject: Letter #24 - 9/16/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Hey! Fantastic week, I have to say. Lots of neat stories, neat instruction, and neat stories.

For example, you know what's really cool? When we spend all day trying to find people, and then people find US! For example, Tuesday we were dropping off an audio Book of Mormon to a less-active's house, and as we were leaving, a young guy started calling out, "Sisters! Sisters!" We got into a really good gospel conversation, we testified to him of Heavenly Father's love for him, and he wants to get together again to hear our message. He's a bit of a rough fellow (he was kind of on drugs when we met him...), but he wants to change, and it turns out the gospel is a really good recipe for lasting, positive change. It's interesting -- I've been teaching long enough to really tell when I'm teaching "by the Spirit" (D&C 50:17). The words just flow out of my mouth, I'm completely calm and yet bold about what I'm saying, I can see the person with complete charity (who they can become instead of just who they are now), and I truly feel like a representative of my Savior. It's such an incredible feeling to teach by the power of the Spirit, and I get better at it every single day.

Also later that day, a woman (Maria) from the neighboring stairwell in my apartment building stopped us and said, "I want to chat with you girls! Apartment 150!" So we stopped by, had two lessons this week, and she even came to church yesterday! She actually heard about us from the woman who works at our apartment entrance (Klavdia) -- I guess she was saying good things about us, and Maria was interested in getting to know us. That's the power of being an example of Christ at all times and in all places -- if we had ignored Klavdia or left a bad impression, we would have probably never met Maria! Anyway, she's great, very receptive to our message, and I'm excited to keep meeting with her.

One last cool story. Friday night we were on our way to an appointment, but the person cancelled last minute. We were on the trolleybus and decided to just get off and go contacting/tracting/something. Normally that would've been kind of a bummer, but I was actually pretty excited because I was feeling the Spirit unusually strong, and I was completely ready to be led by Him. I even told Sister Cromwell, "I've got a feeling that something good is about to happen..."

We walked in the direction of a big apartment complex, and I had the feeling to tract. We stood outside of one stairwell, waiting for someone to open the door so we could sneak in, but no one came so we tried the next stairwell. Someone went in so we nonchalantly followed them, and we started tracting from the bottom. The first door we knocked, a woman opened it and closed it before we could say much. We kept going, and soon that woman came out again and asked what it was that we wanted. What ensued was at least a 30 minute, very delightful conversation with that actually incredibly kind and positive woman (Larisa) about life and family and faith. She has a husband, son, and daughter, no religious background, and a lot of questions about God. We taught her the basics of what we believe, prayed with her, and we should be going back this weekend to teach her and her family. I can hardly wait! :)

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! We had mission conference on Saturday! Everyone in the mission was there, and we were blessed to have three hours of awesome instruction from Elder David F. Evans, the head of the missionary department (general authority, rubs shoulders with apostles and prophets... kind of a big deal). MAN was it incredible. I walked away corrected, instructed, inspired, and excited to step up all aspects of my missionary work. I love this constant process of change and improvement... it feels so good to always be making progress in whatever it is I'm doing.

Quick spiritual thought from Elder Evans. He talked about two different types of faith. First is the general find -- faith and hope in the future, the faith that keeps us going every day, the faith that is found in many people throughout the world. The second is a very rare type of faith that he described as, "The faith to actually cause things to happen." I've thought about that a lot in my work here: do I have a general sense of hope that things will go well here in my area and with my investigators, or do I actually have the faith to bring about the purposes that I and the Lord desire? Do I have the faith to work in such a way to actually steer the course of what's happening here? Faith is a principle of power, and I'm going to really strive to develop this second kind of faith so that I can bring about miracles here. I know that you too can develop that kind of faith, and it can very literally change your life.

Alright, have a great week! Hope the rain lets up in Colorado soon. Maybe if Grandpa Montgomery flies in, him and Dad could just spend a day or two conversing with each other -- there would probably be enough "dry humor" there to dry the state out. :)

Love you!
Sister Montgomery

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Fwd: Letter #22 - 9/2/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 2, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Subject: Letter #22 - 9/2/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Very exciting week to tell you about... :D

Lena is getting baptized! On September 14th! Ahhhh! She came to church last Sunday, we had a lesson with her about the Plan of Salvation, we met again Tuesday and talked about the gospel of Christ and invited her to be baptized, and she said yes! I can't even tell you how amazing of a woman she is... she's such an example to me. We still have a lot to teach her before next Saturday, but she's receptive to everything and she wants to embrace the fullness of the gospel of Christ, starting with baptism. I'll let you know how things progress... I'm so excited for her. :)

Also, we had a rockin awesome lesson with a man named Vasile. We met him on a bus (he actually called me over to him to chat -- doesn't happen too often here), and we met later outside and taught him about the Restoration. He's not the most receptive right now, but I could tell that he's really searching (even yearning) for truth, and I know that the gospel can help him find answers to the questions of his soul. He wasn't able to come to church yesterday because he was sick, but he wants to come, and he wants to know more. I loved that lesson with him... I think I just liked hearing all these soul-searching questions and knowing that, thanks to the restored gospel, all of them could be answered and satisfied.

We had kind of a cool experience Tuesday night. We planned to meet with a less active but our lesson fell through, and all we had as a back-up plan was contacting in our area on our way home. Neither Sister Cromwell or I were very excited about it because, for whatever reason, the area where we live is not very "fruitful" for contacting as opposed to different places in our area. But instead of wallowing in our own self-fulfilling prophecy of failure, we got down on our knees and pleaded for God's help to know where to go and what to do.

As Sister Cromwell was offering the prayer, I thought of a specific street in our area, so afterward we headed there and had a great conversation with a young father who, though closed at first, asked for our brochure by the end of our conversation. Later we contacted a man on a bench who gave us his number and was interested in coming to church. As we were getting home, I laughed and said, "So what was that about this area not being fruitful?" Looks like it just needed a little watering from heaven. :) I love how God teaches us as missionaries the exact same thing we teach our investigators: blessings come from obedience and diligence. "And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you" (3 Nephi 18:20). Trust in the promises of the Lord, "for he will fulfill all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers" (Alma 27:17).

Lastly, if I could give y'all any kind of commitment or invitation or whatever, it would be this: go find somebody in your ward who might be struggling and befriend them. Recent converts especially need support, and those who are less active obviously need that support too. We as missionaries try to help these people, but it's really the responsibility of the members to support the other members. "Remember, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10). Do your home and visiting teaching, and look above and beyond to seek out those who need your friendship or service. I promise that blessings will come to both them and you! God wants His children to be taken care of, so please, do whatever you can, wherever you are, to make that happen.

*K, stepping off my soapbox... ahem* Have a wonderful week! I really do appreciate all your support and prayers and everything. Love you!

-Sister Montgomery

PS -- Here's a pic of Sister Cromwell and I in case you'd like to imagine the person I'm with 24/7 for this transfer. She's great. :)

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Fwd: Letter #21 - 8/26/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 8:46 AM
Subject: Letter #21 - 8/26/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Hey hey hey! This week was pretty exciting -- transfer week, which always throws off the groove of the work for a day or two, but things are back to normal now in the great land of Voskresensky. By the way, after a few more days, I'll have been in Ukraine longer than I was in Romania last year. Woohoo!

Well, I went out and got myself a new companion: Sister Cromwell, 24 years old, from Rexburg, Idaho, graduated from BYU-I in horticulture, worked in Nauvoo for a bit, and now on a mission with me! She's pleasant, quiet, and still a bit jet-lagged. :) It's my first time with someone who doesn't know a lot of Russian yet (unless you count looking in the mirror three months ago...), so it's been super interesting. I'm grateful I had native companions to help with my language for so long, because now I can basically communicate anything I want and understand almost everything people say. It's been awhile since I've said it, but I LOVE Russian. It's candy to my brain, no joke. But anyway, Sister Cromwell is great, and we're gonna have a great transfer together!

This week has been interesting with investigators. We picked up a few investigators that I had a few months ago -- Tanya with the three disabled daughters and Lena from New Jersey (she's back in Kyiv for a month). Tanya seems a lot more interested than she was back when we first met her, and Lena is as wonderful as ever. The Elders have actually been teaching her brother Genadi, and I think he's gonna get baptized soon if they can find a way to get him to church (he's paralyzed and very heavy). I wouldn't be surprised if Lena wants to get baptized while she's here too -- she is so receptive to the Holy Ghost, it's amazing.

Dang, I'm almost out of time to write. As a short recap, we had quite a lot of rude rejection this week BUT we also had a lot of encounters with very kind people who were genuinely interested in our message. Very up and down, but that's mission life. By the way, prayer still works -- one night we sincerely prayed on our knees to be led to those who would accept our message, and that night we found three legitimate potential investigators who I am very excited to meet with.

Also, though rejection has been rampant, I'm grateful it has at least been met with equally good experiences. To me, it's been a fulfillment of Ether 12:26: "My grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness." Unfortunately, that gives the un-meek plenty of rein to take advantage of our weakness, but at least I have the comfort of knowing that the grace of God, combined with our elementary Russian and whatever few skills we have, is enough to find, teach, and baptize the meek. The rejection is hard, but what else can I expect while wearing my name next to the name of Him who was rejected more than anyone? "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Pet. 2:21).

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Sister Montgomery

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Fwd: Letter #20 - 8/19/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery
Date: Monday, August 19, 2013
Subject: Letter #20 - 8/19/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Woooooo! What a week! I'm pretty sure it's been the best week of my mission, not even kidding you. SO good!
First off, another six-week transfer has come and gone, and we got word about what's going down next transfer. I am staying once again in Voskresensky AND training again! Her name is Sister Cromwell and... that's all I know so far. Sister Zaretskaia is also going to be training elsewhere in Kyiv, making me a grandma by my third transfer! Didn't I tell you I was gonna have a lot of posterity by the end of this thing? :) I'm super excited to train again -- there's just something really neat about having the privilege to introduce someone to how amazing being a missionary is. However, I'm really gonna miss Sister Zaretskaia (just like I said I was gonna miss Sister Filipovska after last transfer...). :( This week especially we'd had a ridiculous amount of fun (and spiritual experiences) together, and we work so well together. And then right when we're in the groove of everything, we get split up! Oh well -- I'll just have to restart the groove with Sister Cromwell.
So why was this week so awesome? Well, for one, we doubled our investigator pool, from five to ten! Holy cow! Actually, I should say "Holy Ghost," because that's exactly how we did it. Ever since last Sunday, we've been obeying SO exactly and praying SO diligently, and we have been guided by the Spirit like never before. My testimony of prayer has grown so much, and we've really experienced what the Bible Dictionary says about it: "The object of prayer is... to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."
Those blessings were poured out upon us day after day as we went about seeking to do God's will -- we found receptive people, we taught with the power of the Spirit, and we knew where to go, who to focus on, and what to say. It was SO amazing. Our investigators are slowly but very surely progressing, and I'm nearly positive that we'll see at least one baptism this next transfer -- this area is just surging right now. Oh, and I get to rub it in Sister Z's face that I'll be able to stick around to see it while she's over in Svatoshinsky. :)
Well, I'll leave you with just one of the miracle stories from this week. I shall call it, "The Village Elect." I just wrote this to President, so here's the copied and pasted format...
Thursday night, Sister Zaretskaia and I planned to contact in the village area just west of our apartment. When we first got into the village, I felt the Spirit EXTREMELY strong. I was looking around for people to talk to or houses to knock at, but we didn't find anyone. We only had a little bit of time there before a lesson coming up, but as we were leaving, the Spirit just flat out told me, "There's an elect here." Pretty blunt, right? A little while later, I told Sister Zaretskaia about it, and we planned to go back the next day.That night, I was talking to Heavenly Father about it in my prayer, and I wanted to confirm it with Him. I asked, "So... is there really an elect in the selo [Russian for village...]?" He replied, "Yeah." I said, "Great... where?" And He replied (totally nonchalantly), "I'll show you." The conversation was in Russian, and I can still remember those nonchalant words... "Я покажу тебе." Hey, if God wants to lead us right to an elect, I'm not gonna complain. :) In my planner, in my list of investigators, I wrote: __________ (celo), having the faith that I'd be able to fill the name out soon.
The next evening we headed out to the village, but first read a passage of scripture together and said a VERY heartfelt prayer to find who God had in mind for us. I could tell God was as excited as we were, and I also got the feeling from Him, "You deserve this," because of our recent diligence in being exactly obedient. We headed to the village, talking to everyone along our path, and then in the exact spot where I felt the Spirit the strongest the day before, we found an older woman (Svetlana) and her young granddaughter (Vlada) sitting on an old tire in the field there. We went over to them, had pretty much half of the first lesson, gave them and taught them about the Book of Mormon, prayed with them (the little 8-year-old girl said such a precious prayer, AND in the name of Jesus Christ), and set an appointment for the next day. It was incredible. As soon as Sister Zaretskaia and I got far enough away, we got back down on our knees and thanked the Lord for that miraculous turn of events. (Oh, and later that night, I can't even tell you how good it felt to be able to fill out that blank line in my planner with the names "Svetlana" and "Vlada." :) )
We went back the next day for our appointment, but they weren't able to make it. Instead, we met the mother in the family (Svetlana's daughter and Vlada's mother), who is SUPER nice. The day after that, we had a first lesson at their house with the grandma and granddaughter, and they had already read the intro to the Book of Mormon. They're not ready to act right this instance, but I really feel like the more we meet with them, the more they'll feel the Holy Ghost testify to them of the truthfulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. They live by so many true and wonderful principles already, and I can't wait to give them even more!
Case in point: miracles happen, God lives, the church is true. :)
Alright, family and friends, have a wonderful week! Don't forget about the miraculous power of prayer! Love you all!
Sister Montgomery

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