Monday, October 13, 2014

Fwd: Letter #80 - 10/13/14

Here is her last letter to "the world."  Enjoy!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 6:42 AM
Subject: Letter #80 - 10/13/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family and friends,

My bags are packed, the plans are set, and two days from now I close the most incredible chapter of my life and begin a new one. Earlier I said I was excited, but this week the rest of the roller coaster of emotions caught up with me, and I've been all over the place.

If you're wondering what I'll miss about being a missionary, look back at my list, "Why it's an honor to serve a mission." There are actually a lot of those things that will carry over after the mission (at least I'll make them carry over), but as a whole and in such a quantity and quality, nothing compares to a full-time mission. If you're wondering what I'll miss about Ukraine, well... I don't think I could write a list like that for fear of crying in the presence of this teenage-boy-Internet-cafe audience. This is a blessed land with blessed people, and it has won my heart.

But... I'm still excited. :) I get to see my amazing family again and start another incredible chapter in my life (which wouldn't be nearly as incredible had I skipped this one). Recently I was reading in Ether and found these very applicable verses that describe what will most likely happen on Wednesday: "And thus [I was] driven forth, [five hundred and sixty eight] days upon [a mission]. And [I] did land upon the [terminal] of the [Denver airport]. And when [I] had set [my] feet upon the [terminal] of the [Denver airport]... [I did] shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over [me]" (Ether 6:11-12). That's one thing I can't get over: gratitude. It's the emotion that I keep coming back to over and over again: so much gratitude. :)

Well, I've only got a few minutes left, but I'll share with you my final testimony. In the words of Joseph Smith: "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of [Jesus Christ], this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God" (D&C 76:22-24).

Brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ lives! I have seen Him, not on the right hand of God but in the lives of so many people who have accepted Him as their Savior and have been changed by His grace. I have heard the voice of the Spirit bearing record on busy streets and crowded buses, in humble homes and rented church buildings, that He is the Only Begotten of the Father, the Redeemer of all mankind. He suffered, was crucified, and resurrected so that we could obtain peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come if we follow Him. He called Joseph Smith to restore His Church and bring forth more of His word, the Book of Mormon, and today He leads the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I know this, and I hope with all my heart that anyone reading these words will also do whatever is necessary to come to know this for themselves through the Holy Spirit of God.

God be with you till we meet again!

With so much love and gratitude,
Sister Montgomery

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fwd: Letter #79 - 10/6/14

To all of those who bid Liz farewell, kept up with her 80+ letters, and would like to listen to her homecoming talk, she will be speaking in Sacrament Meeting on October 26 at 9:00 am. I'm sure it will be an amazing talk!  The only thing she is afraid of is NOT being able to speak in English.  "I'm sure the Russian will make it's way through" says Liz.  Can't wait!!!!!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 4:36 AM
Subject: Letter #79 - 10/6/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear friends and family,

I feel a little bit about Moroni, not knowing if today will be my last letter or next week (he added Mormon 8-9 to his father's record and then started his own book with, "I had supposed not to have written more, but I have not as yet perished" (Moroni 1:1). I'm not planning on perishing or anything... I just don't know when my train leaves from Odessa to Kiev, so I don't know how email works. In any case, I'll try to sneak something in sometime. :) [Just got the email that our bus leaves from Odessa Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. so I'll email next week like normal. But you can read those Moroni passages for fun anyway.] :)

Well first off, President (er... Elder) Klebingat spoke in conference! It was like music to my ears -- the best of President Klebingat in 10 minutes and 23 seconds. :) He once told us in mission conference that when he'd speak in conference, we wouldn't be the least bit surprised at what he'd talk about (like exercising... ha!), and he was totally right. Sister Cromwell and I were basically finishing his sentences as we watched, and it brought back memories of zone conferences, letters, interviews, etc. (I wasn't the Sister he talked about, though our mission as a whole really struggled with the problem of low self-confidence at one point). Anyway, a great talk and a great man. We've even seen some of the memes that people have made of him... so funny. :)

Well, how was my second to last full week in Ukraine? Kinda lame actually -- Sister Cromwell and I took turns being sick so we stayed home a lot. But we were better by Friday and got back to work and now things are great. We've got a packed week between zone conference tomorrow, meeting with lots of members to say goodbye, meeting with our investigators, and watching all the sessions of general conference. It's going to be a way good last week of the mission. :)

It's also kind of funny because I realized today that I kind of have a "go big or go home" attitude about the gospel right now  (or as Sister Cromwell said, "go big then go home") -- I want to be as diligent and bold about the gospel as I possibly can because I'm not going to have the chance later. People need to know how amazing and true this gospel is! Ahh -- only one more week left! When I was sick, I felt like my gospel flame was burning out and that I just needed to keep it alive until October 15, but I've been fasting and praying and studying to get that flame back, and now I'm going to do everything I can to kindle it and make sure it's raging by the 15th!

I was studying in Preach My Gospel this morning and writing about how I can improve my teaching skills and whatnot, and I had the thought, "You'd think I'd have this all down by now!" I mean, I've been a missionary for a year and a half, and I'm still learning every single day how to be a better missionary. But then I realized that's kind of just how life is. I'm sure that principle also applies to marriages and families -- "You'd think I'd know how to be a good spouse by now -- we've been married 20 years!" or "You'd think I'd know how to parent by now -- I'm on my third child!" But we never really stop learning, do we? Even at the end of life itself, I don't think a person ever truly feels "ready" to pass on to the next life and meet their Maker.

But you know what I love about the gospel? That progression is eternal. This life is a lot more about becoming someone (or becoming like Someone) than doing things, and the person we become is the person we continue to be in the next stage of our lives or eternal progression. I'm not a perfect missionary, but I've become someone better than I was a year and a half ago, with better characteristics and habits and desires. And I'm going to take all of that and keep moving forward to become a Christlike person throughout my life. God expects us to be perfect in our own sphere (President Klebingat talked about that), and I can honestly say about my mission that I did the best I could with who I was and what I knew at the time. And after October 15, I'm going to do the best I can to become the best friend, sister, daughter, Saint, student, member-missionary, visiting teacher, employee, therapist, wife, mother, and whatever other opportunities and roles that the Lord sees fit to give me. I know I'll make lots of mistakes in the process, but weakness (combined with the Atonement of Jesus Christ) is all part of the plan. "Thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father" (Ether 12:37).

That's all for now -- I'll write next week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fwd: Letter #78 - 9/29/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 4:21 AM
Subject: Letter #78 - 9/29/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear friends and fam,

I just wrote President a couple really good stories from this last week; I'll copy them here to you:

We had an awesome lesson with our 17-year-old investigator Malina; we spent time getting to know her and establishing a friendly relationship, and then she was more receptive to our message, said her first personal prayer (not reading "The Lord's Prayer") at the end, and then later called to ask us for help finding the Book of Mormon verses we left her as a commitment. It is SO cool to watch her progress in the gospel. I already love her so much, and I can feel God's love for her very strongly too (and tell her that often). We're also teaching her grandma and hope to soon teach more family members. And it was awesome how God led us straight to their home -- both Sister Cromwell and I had a feeling to go to that area, and we had to knock only a few doors before Malina let us right in and we started teaching her. God wants to find His elect children, His elect children want to find Him, and all we have to do is be the worthy link between them. :)

Also, cute story about one of our elderly members who struggles with the Word of Wisdom. During one of our lessons with her awhile back, we noticed that she had clocks all over her room, and when we asked her about it, she said she likes collecting them. Later one day, when we were walking to her apartment, we noticed some alarm clocks being sold on the street and bought one of them (bright green, which happens to be her favorite color) and then gave it to her as a gift. She was so happy and grateful. I didn't think much of it afterward, but then in our last meeting with her, she told us that when her son was cleaning her room, she specifically said, "Now don't you touch that green one. The Sisters gave it to me, and every time I look at it, I remember, 'I don't drink, I don't smoke. I only follow God.'" When we bought it for her, we had no idea that it would make such a difference in her life, and hearing that story was a testimony to me of the power of simple, good deeds, even when you think it's just a "cute idea." :)

Also, a funny story about a quirk of the Suvorovsky ward. Every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. we have a meeting with all the missionaries and the ward mission leader. And without fail, every morning, one of the really old men in the ward comes to the room that we're in, says "May I?" (in Russian of course) in a very abrupt, funny way, and then comes in and proceeds to shake hands with the Elders and then kiss the hands of all the Sisters. OR, as has been the case lately, he'll kiss us on the cheek (which is super awkward, but you just gotta let him because he's just about the sweetest old man you've ever seen...). This last Sunday he kissed the other three Sisters and accidentally skipped me, and I thought, "Sweet, I got out of it!" but then Sister Cromwell so caringly pointed out to him that he skipped me, and he came back and gave me THREE kisses on the cheek. Way to look out for me, companion. :P Oh man... I'm gonna miss this ward. :)

So yeah, I had a great week, I'm as happy as ever, and life is good. God is sure making this last stretch of my mission worth my while -- I don't think I've ever felt consistently as close to Him as I do now, and I love it.

Lastly, I'll also share with you another something I wrote President. He asked for miracle stories from all the missionaries in the mission, and I sent him this. Enjoy!


When you asked us to share with you a miracle that we've experienced this year, I thought back to all the miracles that I've witnessed, both great and small -- being led to prepared people, watching as the Holy Ghost has softened hearts, seeing the incredible faith of the Ukrainian Saints, and so on. But there was another miracle that in a way is more incredible than them all, and that's what I want to share with you: it was the miracle of change within myself.

I feel like my story has a lot of similarities to the Three Nephites. Those disciples experienced a transfiguration that made them immortal -- invulnerable to the prisons they were locked into, the pits they were thrown into, the furnaces they were cast into, and the wild beasts which they ended up playing with like "a child with a suckling lamb" (3 Ne. 28:19-22). Literally nothing could hurt them or bring them down, and they went on their way preaching the gospel of Christ.

Looking back at myself at the beginning of this year compared to now, I feel like it's nothing less than a transfiguration. "There was a change wrought upon [my soul]" (3 Ne. 28:38) -- invulnerability, no, but instead, complete trust in the Deliverer to deliver me out of anything. I have found, recognized, and even developed weaknesses that have imprisoned my soul (like pride, fear of man, and contention), and I have felt those prisons "rent in twain" as I've come unto Christ, whose mercy was sufficient to turn them into strengths. I have been cast into the depths of despair in the face of ridiculing rejection, spiritually losing people I love, and other soul-stretching trials, and yet none of those pits were sufficient to hold me as I reached for God's hand to lift me up. I have consistently felt the burning discomfort of divine discontent, only to discover that it is merely the fire of the all-knowing, all-loving Refiner cleansing and shaping me into who He needs me to be and, in fact, who I myself want to be. And as for the devil and his tactics -- the natural man that prowls around me like a hungry beast, the shame that constantly lurks in the shadows, waiting to pounce -- they no longer bring me such harm. I know who I am, I know Whose I am, and the Lord and I handle those beasts together.

What else is there? Standing with the Savior, I feel like literally nothing can bring me down -- no weakness, no trial, no correction, and no temptation. The only thing left to do is beware of pride, continue to repent daily, and keep on walking with Him. "Thus [we] did go forth among all the people of [Ukraine], and did preach the gospel of Christ unto all people upon the face of the land; and they were converted unto the Lord, and were united unto the church of Christ" (v.23).

I've seen so many miracles during my time here, but like I said before, I've realized that the biggest miracle of my mission is actually me, or rather the miracle of Christ's atonement working within me. And as I serve out the last few weeks of my mission, I can't help but apply the final verses of 3 Nephi 28 to myself: "There was a change wrought upon me... I was sanctified on my mission, that I became more holy, and that the powers of this world could not hold me. And in this state I will strive to remain until the judgment day of Christ; and at that day I have hope to receive a greater change, and to be received into the kingdom of my Father to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens" (v.39-40). And that will be the greatest miracle of them all.

Love you all! Have a great week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fwd: Letter #77 - 9/22/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 4:44 AM
Subject: Letter #77 - 9/22/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 1:43 PM
Subject: Letter #76 - 9/15/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family and friends,

I'm getting more and more excited to go home. Not less and less focused, because I'm working as hard as ever, but still... I just have a lot of hope and excitement about my future, and I feel very at peace about what I've done here on my mission. Who knows how those feeling will change in the next couple weeks, but right now, I'm feeling really good about things.

Speaking of feeling good, I wrote in my journal one evening this week, "Nobody on the streets wanted to talk to us today, but that's okay because I wanted to talk to them, and I've realized that that's usually an indicator that the Atonement of Christ is working in my life." It's interesting how regardless of the agency of others, I can feel the love of God and the joy of the gospel in my own life. It's like what Mormon said in Mormon 2:19: "And wo is me because of their wickedness; for my heart has been filled with sorrow because of their wickedness, all my days; nevertheless, I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day." Yes, there is sorrow for the sins of the world, but there's also the sweet assurance of your own salvation thanks to the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ. And that feels so good.

A little peak into Ukrainian culture from this last week -- a lot of people who live in homes (as opposed to apartments) grow a lot of their own food, especially grapes. This last week we went over to the Relief Society president Tanya's house with the other Sisters and helped her gather all her grapes (and there were a ton of them). We each had a knife to cut them off the vines, then we'd wash them in a little baby pool thing, then we'd pick them off the stems (all the while talking or listening to Russian General Conference from a couple years ago), and later Tanya will use some kind of juice-making machine to make enough grape juice to last them probably the whole winter. It was super fun to do service like that. :)

One more story from this last week. We stopped by Malina and her grandma Svetlana and had pretty much a tornado lesson -- Malina is a typical talkative, curious 17-year-old girl who asked us questions about five times faster than we could answer them and was distracted by basically everything. Oh boy, it was all over the place... one of those things you just have to laugh about afterward because the other option is to be frustrated about it. :P But teaching her will be very good practice to learn how to teach for understanding (simply, in language that she'd understand).

She told us about some of the things she wants in life, and I told her that our message will help her achieve all her righteous desires (especially a happy, strong family for eternity). I told her that the Book of Mormon will bless her family life, and she looked at me like I was crazy. Later I thought, "Yeah, that does sound kind of crazy the way I explained it." I realized that it's not actually the book that helps you, and not attendance at church, and not even saying prayers. Those things are all instruments for our perfection and our becoming like God and partaking of His blessings and Christ's mercy. They're commandments, they're important, and we ought to do everything in our power to do those things which God commands us. But we should always remember that they are not "ends" in and of themselves -- they are the means to becoming like Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. As President Klebingat often told us, "The gospel is the best kept secret in the church." Keep going to church and doing the "churchy" things absolutely, but don't miss the gospel on your way. ;)

That's all for this week. God be with you till I write again!

Sister Montgomery

PS- Here's a pic from a couple months ago of me and my three trainees: Sister Zaretskaia, Sister Cromwell, and Sister Hunsaker. What a legacy! :P

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fwd: Letter #76 - 9/15/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 4:54 AM
Subject: Letter #76 - 9/15/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family and friends,

In exactly one month from now, I will be on U.S. soil and released as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Wow. I haven't been able to figure out my feeling about ending my mission soon, but I'll let you know as the last few weeks go on...

I came across a neat verse in the Bible the other day. It's Hebrews 13:5-6: "Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." I feel like that's what last week and the beginning of this week did to me. I felt the Lord very close to me, and I can say without a doubt that He is my helper, especially in hard times.

But despite how wonderfully grateful I am for that recent trial, let's just say I didn't complain when it passed. :) I had a great exchange with Sister Zaretskaia on Tuesday in Center Odessa (my last exchange on my mission!), and after that, our area seemed to open up and start flourishing. We've given out so many Books of Mormon that I've started to carry an extra one in my bag so we wouldn't have to go home to get another one.

Also, Sister Cromwell and I both felt like we should go to a certain part of our area where missionaries have rarely been, and when we went, we tracted right into a very kind family, immediately shared the plan of salvation with a 17-year-old girl named Malina who has lost a lot of loved ones in her life, and later went back and met her grandma Svetlana and shared the message of the restoration with her. They have never heard of our church before and were immediately interested, and I feel like that family has a ton of potential. All week I've been thinking of the phrase, "The field is white already to harvest" (D&C 4:4), and the other day the Spirit changed it a bit as I asked myself, "The field is white... am I ready to harvest?" All I need to do is follow the Spirit and open my mouth, and the Lord will gather His people.

Alright, looks like I'm out of time. I hope you have a wonderful week full of the Spirit of God. Because when He's with us, no matter what's going on in our lives or the world around us, everything seems to turn out alright. Remember, he Lord is your helper, and He will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. :)

With love,
Sister Montgomery

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fwd: Letter #75 - 9/8/14

Last week was a very emotional week for me, so I ended crying through this letter too.  What a wonderful letter!  She has grown so much during her mission!

Love to all,   Christine

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 5:08 AM
Subject: Letter #75 - 9/8/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family and friends,

I've heard the phrase, "If you pray for patience, God won't just give you patience -- He'll give you trials, and through those trials you'll gain patience." Imagine my mistake when I set a final last-transfer goal for myself "to overcome the fear of man." It's turned out to be a recipe for constant and harsh rejection. But I'm not here to complain, because it's also turned into a spiritual journey of recognizing and fighting the darkness in the world. And that's what I want to write about today: the war between light and darkness.

First off, in case you didn't know, there's a war in Ukraine. I don't write about it much, either because I don't want to worry you or because it hasn't affected very much the work that I'm doing. But I realize now that I am affected, especially when I consider coming home in the middle of October to a country where there's currently peace. It's going to be strange to not hear almost everybody talking about the destruction happening in their homeland, to not have refugees in my ward being housed by other church members, to not hear of people's friends and family being drafted into the army, and to not have my heart skip a beat every time I get an unexpected text message thinking it's a notice that all missionaries have to stay inside (like back in February/March) or leave Odessa. I promise you that I'm safe and that the Church has, does, and will take care of us. But hopefully that little amount of detail gives you an insight into what life is like right now in Ukraine for me, the other missionaries, and especially the Ukrainian citizens.

Second, in case you didn't know, there's a spiritual war going on in the world, one in which I've been fighting on the front lines for the last year and a half. On a single walk home from the church one night, I talked to a man who didn't want religion because it's only for those who aren't happy and who want something, I saw a tired woman yell at her children and another woman scold her for yelling at her children, and I heard a 5-year-old boy ask his father for a beer (surely following his example). This week I've been yelled at, laughed at, called a cult member, and ignored... and it's not just this week.

Now that I've brought you into the darkness, please don't stop reading here. Because now I'd like to introduce you to the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as radiated through Ukrainian Saints and in my own life.

Yesterday was probably the most spiritual and uplifting church meeting that I've ever been to. I didn't even realize how incredible it was until I left the church building and felt as if I had walked into another world. Testimony meeting, both during sacrament meeting and later in Relief Society, was filled with the testimonies of some of the strongest Latter-day Saints in the world. The branch president spoke of the inner peace that the gospel brings into our lives regardless of what's happening outside of our homes. One lady who had to leave her home in Donetsk, whose daughter and grandson are still there, and whose other family members have been scattered across Ukraine, spoke of how grateful she is that God has not forgotten her, that He loves us enough to try us. Another woman spoke of the war in Ukraine as a cleansing, separating the strong in faith from the weak. Another spoke of not being able to reach friends and relatives in Eastern Ukraine but praying and feeling the Spirit's confirmation that they're alright. Every testimony was filled with faith, joy, humility, hope, and gratitude. Yes, even gratitude. You cannot imagine the Spirit that filled those rooms as those testimonies were borne... it was truly a light in the midst of darkness.

As for my own battle with darkness, regardless of all the rejection and darkness that have been heaped in my path, somehow through the grace of God I am still going forward. Why? Because if I don't, darkness wins. If I allow a person in darkness to rob from me my own light of the gospel, how am I supposed to shine to those who are ready to receive that light? "But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose... To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins" (Acts 26:18). Every time I open my mouth is a victory; it's the evidence of God's love for that person, and evidence of God's power in me, constantly helping me overcome my fears and doubts. And guess what? In some miraculous way, in the midst of all the trials of this last week and a mission in general, and despite the current situation in Ukraine, I am completely and perfectly at peace. And I'm happy. Really happy. :)

I'll leave you with a few very applicable verses of scripture, as well as a very literal quote from Joseph Smith. My invitation to you is this: don't let the darkness get you down, because in the end, the light will win.

"And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve;

And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem." (Moses 7:61-62)

"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done." -Joseph Smith

With love and faith and joy,
Sister Montgomery

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fwd: Letter #74 - 9/1/14

OK....when I thought her letters couldn't get any better.......this is a "must read."  Her Sacrament Meeting talk was amazing!!!  Have a great week everyone!


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 1, 2014 at 4:43 AM
Subject: Letter #74 - 9/1/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Hello family! So, we got transfo on Saturday (the last relevant transfer information of my mission!), and looks like I'm staying in Suvorosky with Sister Cromwell until the end! It's what I was expecting, and I'm really happy about it. As I told Sister Cromwell, this last transfer was probably the most peaceful of my mission; Sister Cromwell and I get along fabulously and without any problems, and the work hasn't ceased to move along. It's also cool because Sister Barnes is coming here to serve with Sister Nielsen; ironic that we started our missions together (as companions in the MTC) and we'll be ending them in the same area. It's gonna be so much fun to serve around her again. :)

Well, we've had a good week, and I'm happy and safe and all that. Unfortunately I spent a lot of my email time writing out my sacrament talk for y'all, so this little update will have to suffice. Hope you all have a great week, and I'll write more next week!

Sister Montgomery

PS -- Here's part of the the talk I gave in sacrament meeting last week, translated into English of course. There's a lot more symbolism that I've come up with using this example, but here's just one aspect of "the mansion of God." Enjoy!

The Mansion of God

Today I'd like to share with you an illustration to explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a whole. Imagine that we are all in one enormous mansion with hundreds, even thousands, of rooms. Everything here is beautiful, clean, and interesting. This mansion is a symbol of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some have lived here since birth (like me), others have moved here later in life -- maybe 20 years ago, or maybe just recently. Perhaps you've come in, left, and returned, or perhaps it's your very first time here. In any case, we're all here right now in the grand, beautiful mansion.

Now I would like to take you on a tour of this home. As missionaries, we often have the privilege of conducting these "tours" with many different people, and it is my absolute favorite part of my service here. As many of you know, we teach people mainly four lessons: (1) the Restoration, (2) the Plan of Salvation, (3) the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and (4) the Commandments. Allow me to take you through each of these rooms.

First, let's move into the first room: the Restoration Museum. Here you find out the history of this mansion: how it was designed by a loving Heavenly Father for the happiness of His children, how it was built by prophets and His own Son Jesus Christ, how wicked people throughout time fell into apostasy and therefore destroyed this mansion and built their own homes, but how God again and again restored it, most recently 200 years ago through the Prophet Joseph Smith, because He loves us that much.

Now let's move into the Plan of Salvation Hall. You walk in and see an enormous mural covering all the walls. To the left of you you see the mural of your premortal life, before your birth, where you lived with God, where He knew you and you knew Him, and where you rejoiced at the opportunity to come to the earth. And in front of you, you see the mural of your life right now. Not everything about it is beautiful (because of course there are trials and sorrow), but you see the big picture and understand the purpose of life: to become perfected through experience, to be happy through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and to become like God. And you understand that everything that seems unfair about life will be made fair thanks to Jesus Christ because there, on your right, is the mural of life after death. There you see that we will all be resurrected, that everyone will have an opportunity to hear and accept the gospel, and that we will all stand before God to be judged according to our choices and actions here on the earth.

Next, let's take a look at the utilities room, where all the electricity, gas, and water in the mansion are regulated. This is the room of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and there right in the middle is an enormous generator, which gives unlimited electricity to every single room in the mansion. This symbolizes the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which gives light, joy, peace, peace of conscience, remission of sins, strength, comfort, and even more to every person who experiences it. And there next to the generator are four simple switches -- four steps in order to receive all the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. And we need to do everything in our power to make sure that these switches are always ON.

And finally we move into the last room: the Hall of Commandments. Like the Plan of Salvation Hall, this is also an enormous room, but in this room there's absolutely nothing... except for doors lining all the walls. Every door has a commandment written on it; there's "Daily Scripture Study," on the right is "The Law of Chastity" and "The Law of Tithing," and further down you see "Keep the Sabbath Day Holy." And next to every door there lies a key on which is written OBEDIENCE. But as your guide, I'm not allowed to open these room for you; I can only tell you about what incredible, unending treasure awaits you behind those doors. And then you must take the key, open the door, and discover for yourself what's there. There are so many blessings that your Heavenly Father wants to give you, and He is simply waiting for you to open up those doors by obedience to His commandments.

That is only a little tour of this Church, and I know that it's all true and incredible. And if you're like me, and you truly come to realize what this mansion holds in it, then you can't just stand around here by yourself. You want to go outside and tell everyone about it. Likewise, when we truly understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, we share it. And then we realize that "missionary work" is a lot more than just an invitation -- it's a tour of the Kingdom of God.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fwd: Letter #73 - 8/25/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 4:34 AM
Subject: Letter #73 - 8/25/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family and friends,

Wow... how many more of these letters are there going to be? Seven I think. My time in Odessa has pretty much just flown by already, and before I know it, I'll be sittin' on a plane thinking about future marriage plans (just kidding... sort of) :D

Well, Dasha got baptized and confirmed! I was stressed all weekend about making sure everything ran smoothly, and indeed, everything went well. The baptismal program was all that a baptismal program should be, plus President Packer and his family happened to be in Odessa and they came too! That was pretty neat. Elder Bukanov baptized Dasha (twice... the first time, her toe came up out of the water), and Elder Brough gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost the next day.

I reflected a lot this weekend on the grace and mercy that comes from the Atonement of Jesus Christ -- that a person can have the sins and mistakes of an entire lifetime washed away by baptism, and how every repenting member of the church can retain a remission of their sins every week by partaking of the sacrament. That is pretty incredible. I also realized that my perspective on baptism has changed during my mission. I used to view it as mostly an exciting event, something that every missionary strives for, but now... even though it's still very exciting, I see it now in the perspective of enduring to the end. It's a beautiful step in a beautiful process of life-long conversion, but at the same time, that covenant is in vain if not kept until the end. Retainment in the Church is just as important as baptism; in fact, everything we do in the church is for one great purpose -- the salvation of souls -- and one aspect of it is no more important than another.

I gave a talk yesterday in church comparing the gospel to a mansion. I wanted to write it out today, but I'm out of time, so I'll leave it for next week. Life is just dandy around here, probably thanks to many of your prayers. I'm still out of the know about what's happening in Ukraine, but just know that I'm still safe and happy.

Love you all! Have a great week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fwd: Letter #72 - 8/18/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 4:45 AM
Subject: Letter #72 - 8/18/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family,

What a wonderful week! You didn't know this, but last week I was in a bit of a spiritual rut, but never fear, because as I just wrote President, "I'm pleased to report that I'm so out of last week's rut that I'm standing on a hill higher than I've been in a long time. God showered out revelations upon me so fast I hardly had time to record them all, and I'm spiritually on fire again. The work is great, I'm as obedient and diligent as I've ever been, and life is just good." God is faithful; if He brings you to something, you best believe He'll bring you through it too! :)

Dasha's baptism is set for Saturday at 4:00. It's going to be a wonderful day!

Today I want to tell you the story of Svetlana Nikolaevna. She's a 74-year-old woman that the Sisters before me met in June, and a couple weeks ago I gave her a call. She sounded like a nice old lady and wasn't against us coming over, so she gave us her address and we set up a time. We stopped by at that time only to find that nobody was home. Bummer. We left a note, called her back on a Saturday, and she said she'd come to church the next day.

The next day, she didn't come to church because it was so hot. We talked on the phone and she asked what our purpose was in wanting to come over, and she said that she has her own church already (Baptist) and that so much has happened in her life to leave her with little faith in the first place. I told her, "Please, just give us a chance to at least meet you," and she basically said, "Whatever, come if you want." I thought, "Alright, well... looks like she's not that interested after all," but a few nights later we were in her area and I decided to call her up anyway, thinking that maybe she was just in a bad mood on Sunday. She was home and invited us over, so we went. We were there for probably an hour and a half and she talked about 90% of the time (she lives alone -- can you blame her?). We attempted to share some of our message and then ended with a prayer, and she mentioned something about us helping her come closer to God, which I thought was neat. But I still didn't know how interested she was in us teaching her.

A few days later, on Saturday, we got a call from her inviting us back. We weren't sure why, but we stopped by. The first thing she said was, "I wanted to ask -- can I get a copy of the Book of Mormon? I know I told you I can't see very well, but I've got this magnifying glass, and I'd like to try reading your book if that's okay." Umm, yeah! We gave her a copy and offered to read to her while we were there, and she was delighted at the offer -- we read the Book of Mormon introduction, and she asked questions and gave clarifying comments and really understood the whole thing. We read some other passages too, all the while she was listening intently while cutting fruit to make us smoothies (she had already made us an entire container full of borsht [Ukrainian soup]). SUCH a kind woman. She said a beautiful prayer at the end of the lesson, and she even came to sacrament meeting the next day and is anxiously awaiting our next lesson.

We've seen this woman a total of three times now, and I already love her more than you can imagine. And I can't even describe to you how happy I was when she wanted the Book of Mormon, and when we were reading together. I was seriously holding back tears. On the way to Svetlana's apartment, I approached a woman on a bench by saying, "Hi, how are you?" and when she saw my tag and book, she turned her head to the side in complete ignorance of me without saying a word. And to have that kind of disinterest contrasted with the curiosity and sincerity and light of Svetlana... it was incredible. I was pretty much giddy to see someone finally value something so spiritually valuable and to thirst for the Living Water that the scriptures provide us with. I'll update you more on her in the future -- I couldn't help but sharing that little story with you. :)

Spiritual thought: This last week, Sister Cromwell reminded me of an experience we had together when I trained her. The day we met and had our training meeting, we went out on the temple grounds and sat on a bench together. She asked me, "What should I know about serving a mission?" and I thought about it for a moment and replied, "That it's an honor. It's an honor to serve a mission." Almost exactly a year later, I wrote this list about why. I know it's long, but I think you'll enjoy it. I sure did!

Why it's an honor to serve a mission:
  • I get to maintain a very healthy sleep, exercise, and meal schedule
  • I get to feast on the word of God two hours every morning
  • I get to pray all day long
  • I have the time, circumstances, and gift of tongues to learn and master a beautiful foreign language
  • I'm almost completely protected from worldly media and temptations that waste my time and dismiss the Holy Ghost
  • I don't have to worry about finances, work, education, housing, dating, etc.
  • I get to constantly set goals and strive to fulfill them
  • I constantly have a companion by my side
  • I constantly have a Companion by my side
  • I get to wear Christ's name over my heart for all the see
  • I get to carry around The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ for all the see

  • I get to forget myself and focus 100% on serving others
  • I get to be incredibly involved in the spiritual lives of others
  • I get to meet amazing people and build friendships that will last for a lifetime
  • I get to receive revelation daily for myself and the people in my area
  • I get to feel very deeply God's love for others
  • I get to feel very deeply God's love for me
  • I get to teach people truth all day, every day
  • I get to learn from people's words, deeds, stories, and examples all day, every day
  • I get to see people change for the better
  • I get to see myself change for the better
  • I get to practice faith, hope, and charity, not just know about them
  • I get to develop virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence, and obedience
  • I get to suffer for Christ's sake
  • I get to experience constant opportunities for growth, AKA trials
  • I get to discover my weaknesses so that I know what I can improve
  • I get to be a full-time instrument in the hands of the Lord
  • I get to discover the amazingness of the gospel again and again
  • I get to spend all my time strengthening my relationship with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost
  • I get to receive a continual remission of sins (D&C 84:61; D&C 62:3)
  • I get to have my testimony confirmed every day
  • I get to have my testimony received by some
  • I get to shine the light of the gospel on everyone I come in contact with
  • I get to help "bad" people become good and good people become better
  • I get to see miracles
  • I get to be part of miracles
  • I get to find people that God has prepared to receive His gospel
  • I get to prepare people to receive the gospel that God will later find through His other servants
  • I get to promise people blessings as an official representative of Jesus Christ

  • I get to teach people about how our loving Heavenly Father restored the fullness of truth through a modern-day prophet
  • I get to teach people about God's magnificent plan for His children that explains where we came from, why we're here on earth, and what happens after death
  • I get to teach people about how to partake of the Lord's mercy through faith in Him, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end
  • I get to teach people about the commandments that God has given us for our safety and happiness
  • I get to teach people about other laws and ordinances that God has revealed to help us on our path home to Him
  • I get to watch people's faith in Jesus Christ grow stronger and give them great peace
  • I get to watch people repent and change their lives because they love God
  • I get to see people unlock the gate to the Celestial Kingdom by being baptized by proper authority
  • I get to witness the Spirit working in the lives of others to comfort, warn, protect, direct, teach, cleanse, and testify
  • And first of all, last of all, and above all:
    • I get to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end
Well, that ought to give you enough to spiritually chew on. ;) Have a great week! I love you!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fwd: Letter #71 - 8/11/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 8:57 AM
Subject: Letter #71 - 8/11/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear world,

I planned what I'd write today so this should be a little more organized on my part...

First off, it was a HOT but fine week around here. Dasha changed her baptismal date to August 23rd instead of the 30th -- you know you've got a good investigator when they want to get baptized even sooner than they originally planned. I'm not sure that it'll be in the Black Sea though, but that's okay -- baptism by proper authority is valid anywhere, plus maybe someone else will want to get baptized in the Sea... :)

Honestly, teaching Dasha has been such a delight for me. It's like a missionary breath of fresh air to teach someone who just "gets it," who has experienced such a mighty change of heart that "[she] has no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Mosiah 5:2). She reads the Book of Mormon like it's a brand new popular novel, she prays constantly and gets answers from Heavenly Father, she's coming to church and gaining spiritual strength from it, she both is edified and edifies us in lessons, and it's all changing both her and her family for the better.

And on my side, it's been a lesson in teaching for understanding (using examples and stories that will interest and stick with her) and also teaching "for the long run." I know that baptism is only the beginning, and that much of her life will be influenced by what we teach her in this important beginning stage, and so we're very careful to teach her right. I mean, we should be that diligent with all our investigators no matter how close to baptism they are, but the principle is the same -- the more clear and bold and with the Spirit we teach now, the more ready she will be to start and stay on the path to the Celestial Kingdom.

A quick little thing I've learned on my mission and especially in the last few weeks: the journey is often greater than the destination. We've had so many moments where we're going about doing good, trying to stop by members or former investigators or potential investigators, and God blesses us with people in our path who are prepared for our message. For example, in asking for directions from some old ladies on a bench, we got to talking about the Book of Mormon, and I was able to testify about it (and oh how strong and sweet the Spirit was in that moment) and give it to her. Another time, the member we were hoping to drop by wasn't home, but the neighbor opened up and we immediately started talking to her and shared a little about the Plan of Salvation, and we're planning on going back this week. As long as we're striving to do our best, the Lord will strive to lead us where we need to be.

Looks like that's all I have time for. I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Sister Montgomery

PS -- The pics are at the famous Odessa stairs and the main port right nearby. Gotta love it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Fwd: Letter #70 - 8/4/14

So Liz talked about changing her prayer to be a gratitude prayer.  Elder David A. Bednar spoke at our stake conference a while back and challenged us to say a gratitude prayer once in awhile.  It might be kind of hard, at first, because we are so used to "asking" instead of "thanking" (for me, anyway).  Try it sometime to express all your thanks to our wonderful Heavenly Father.  I, too, encourage all of you to count your blessings before you count your complaints.  It will be an amazing experience!  And the new video, that's amazing too!!!!!

Love you all!      Christine

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 4:53 AM
Subject: Letter #70 - 8/4/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family and friends,

Hello! I don't have pictures right now because the USB port isn't working on this computer, but I'll send them sometime. Last Monday we went to Center Odessa and it was BEAUTIFUL. We saw the sea, climbed the famous stairs there, walked by a beautiful opera house near the ward building, walked through a neat park, bought some little souvenirs, then came back to our area. It was really neat!

I have literally like nine minutes to write... dang, I gotta learn now to manage my time again! This week was a busy one with investigators. Our investigator, Dasha (16-year-old girl), is doing fantastically and definitely headed toward baptism on August 30 (in the Black Sea!) :) We also have Alina and Nastya -- Nastya is a spunky 12-year-old girl and Alina is her spunky mom. They're awesome and really fun to be around, and they've got some good potential. And finally, there's Olya and Ruslan, but they haven't been that interested in meeting ever since I replaced the other Sister here (they were really close to her). But we'll see with them.

There were a few miracle stories that I might share next week when I have more time, but I'll just leave you with this little spiritual thought. There was one day when literally everybody on the street rejected me, and usually quite rudely. I was writing in my journal about it, kind of complaining how all I want is to find someone who will accept and thrive on the amazing message that I have to share. But then when I was saying my evening prayer that night, the Spirit kind of prodded me to replace my complaints with gratitude, and I started to do that. I realized how much I have to be grateful for: the opportunity to be on a mission, the fact that I'm still in Ukraine, the honor it is to wear my name tag and be in a proselyting area, the God-given testimony and charity that I have that makes me want to talk to people in the first place, the opportunity to suffer for my Savior in just a fraction of the way He suffered for me, and on and on. I felt so much better after that, and the Spirit rejoined me full force. I encourage all of you to count your blessings before you count your complaints -- you'll be a lot happier and will remember just how good God is!

Love you all! Have a great week!

Sister Montgomery

PS -- You should watch this new video; I think it's the best Mormon Message that I've ever seen!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fwd: Letter #69 - 7/28/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 4:03 AM
Subject: Letter #69 - 7/28/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family and friends,

Greetings from Odessa! No pictures this week, but after we're done emailing, Sister Cromwell and I are heading to Center Odessa, which everyone says is just awesome. I'll send some pics next week.

Well, I spent the first half of the week in my beloved Vinogradar. Wednesday night we had a little going-away party at the church, and a lot of people came to say good-bye to me. It was really hard for me to leave, but then again, I just count my blessings that I was able to get to know so many amazing people during my time there. What a special ward and area there.

Thursday I packed my bags and headed to Odessa on a train (which we almost missed because we didn't know who was supposed to call the taxi to the train station... most stressful hour of my life). It just so happened that the only tickets available were first-class VIP, so it was a pretty pleasant ride down. :) We left at 4:20 p.m. then got to Odessa at 5:22 a.m. (it was a night train, which meant that we slept like normal on little cot things), then the Elders and our companions picked us up there and we took a taxi to our apartment. And since then I've just been living it up in Suvorovsky! As I just wrote President...

Well I made it to Odessa safely, and all is well. Literally... everything is awesome. Sister Cromwell and I are great together, the branch is really nice and has a great relationship with the missionaries, our district is united and fun and hardworking, the area is beautiful, people are kind and receptive for the most part, we have investigators that are headed toward baptism, and I'm spiritually in tune and thriving. What more could I ask for? I know that every area has it's "honeymoon stage," so maybe I'm just soaking that in right now, but whatever... I'm happy. :)

The branch is really small here. I went from 120 active members (Voskresensky) to 60 active members (Vinogradar) to 30 active members but only about 20 there yesterday (Suvorovsky). Maybe my last transfer they'll send me to a branch with only 15 active members. :P But it really is a great ward (err... branch, I'm gonna have to get used to that), and I'm enjoying getting to know people. We've got a lot of investigators, including a 16-year-old girl Dasha who wants to get baptized at the end of August. There's a LOT of potential in this area, and I'm just happy to be here. I seriously can't complain about anything right now. :) Oh wait, I can complain about something. It is SO HOT! Being right by the sea makes is ridiculously humid here. I don't think I've ever drank so much water in my life, and I'm pretty sure I just sweat it out all day long. But hey... small price to pay for a beautiful, awesome area.

Alright, time is almost up. This is a bit of a cheap spiritual thought, but you can check out the new Bible video if you have time. I don't know if you know this, but Paul is my favorite character in the New Testament (except for Jesus Christ of course... and I'm also a huge fan of John). Anyway, enjoy! People can change!

Love you!
Sister Montgomery

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fwd: Letter #68 - 7/21/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 7:21 AM
Subject: Letter #68 - 7/21/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family,

I've got some SUPER exciting news! I'm going to ODESSA! On Thursday! What a shock, seriously! I was not expecting to ever serve in Odessa considering how long I've been in Kiev, but looks like I'll be spending my last two transfers there -- for sure this next transfer, and I'm almost positive I'll end my mission there too. And I'm going to be with Sister Cromwell, who I trained! I am stoked, seriously. Apparently the area (Suvorovsky) is awesome (and there's part of the Black Sea in my area), and I'm excited to serve with Sister Cromwell again. Odessa is apparently a whole different place than Kiev (culture, missionary work, everything), and I'm excited to fill you in on the details in the coming weeks. I'm going to miss Vinogradar SO much (we're having a goodbye party on Wednesday night... that might just be a little hard), but it's definitely an exciting change. Crazy, huh?

I don't have a whole lot of time because I have to go stock up on Kiev souvenirs, but for what it's worth, this week was really good. No work with investigators, but lots of member lessons. We had a super spiritual lesson with one of the elderly woman in the ward who I've come to really love. She even cried a little when she heard I was leaving, and it made me cry too. There's a lot of babushki (elderly women) in the Church here in Ukraine (well, maybe everywhere... I just never noticed them before my mission) who live alone, and at the beginning of my mission I'm ashamed to admit that it wasn't my favorite thing to visit them. But as time has gone by, I've made it a habit to try to visit them often (every week if we can) to just lift their spirits, and that simple service has done so much the bring the Holy Ghost into my missionary work and into their lives. I've learned that there is literally no unimportant person in the eyes of God, and that He loves all His children regardless of their circumstances or abilities or appearance or anything else. Test it yourself -- this week, go find a lonely person and give them your time, love, and attention, and you'll discover the love of God in a way you've never known it before. :)

Well, I'll end with a spiritual thought: Back in Letter #60, I wrote about how I was thinking about how I've changed on my mission. This morning I found an entry in my journal about it and wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

In President's letter today, he posed and then discussed two questions: What has the Lord accomplished through me during my mission? Who have I become in the process? Thanks to my horrible memory, I can't answer either one off the top of my head. But no worries because there's journals and prayer and the Holy Ghost, and I hope that with those sources I'll find some cool answers. :) Right now I'm wracking my brain to find out how I changed in the last year, and I honestly have no idea. Who was I on March 27, 2013, or even May 29? So long ago! And it's not like I had a crazy pre-mission life and thus I'm afraid of returning to my old ways -- I honestly feel like before my mission, I lived up to my potential by doing the best I knew how with what I knew then. And it's the same on the mission, just that my potential has seemingly sky-rocketed and put my spirituality on steroids, and ironically one of the traits that has been most sharpened in me is humility and the knowledge that I'm nothing without Heavenly Father (this transfer especially has shown me that).

Gospel scholarship has definitely become a greater interest and strength in me -- I feel like I understand the gospel SO much better than before the mission. Patience and charity and leadership have been enhanced, especially in all my training roles and my million companions. I have a rock hard testimony of obedience. I feel incredibly close to my Heavenly Father pretty much always. I know Russian. I have developed an extremely deep love for service and teaching. My testimony is on fire and now I have the tools to share it. I'm in love with Ukraine. I've learned how to humble myself and learn. I've learned how many weaknesses I have and yet how willing God is to help with each and every one of them. I've learned that God answers prayers again and again. And lastly (for now), I continue to experience a very profound gratitude to my Father in Heaven for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve His beloved children here in Ukraine as an official representative of His Son, Jesus Christ. :) Words will never do justice to that fact!

Have a great week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fwd: Letter #67 - 7/14/14

Here's another great letter.  Her release date is Oct. 15!  I will miss these letters!


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 6:06 AM
Subject: Letter #67 - 7/14/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Hello world!

What a wonderful week! Hard in some ways, but SO good in other ways. For one, we went to the temple on Friday and I loved it. The temple is even more special here because (1) it's Kiev, let's be honest, and (2) we can only go three times a year so it's a real holiday when it happens. What a blessing that there's a temple in Kiev. But these Saints are totally worthy of it, seriously. I LOVE UKRAINE!

Okay, what else happened this week? We had another great lesson with Irina, but unfortunately she called the next day and said it's better if we stop meeting because "it's just not her thing." She said she's just not a religious person and doesn't like praying, going to church, etc. That was pretty hard to hear, especially because we have felt so much love toward her as we've met. But surprisingly I was able to handle it a lot better than during other times in my mission because the Spirit prepared me ahead of time by leading me to D&C 88:32-33 -- "They shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift."

I thought of a scenario of someone breaking into my house and giving me a brand new, completely free big-screen TV. But what if I didn't want a TV? In fact, what if I had just decided that I'm better off without a TV? No matter how nice the TV is, the fact is that you broke into my house (wrong) and gave me something that I didn't want (wrong), and I have no joy in either the TV or in you. Likewise, as glorious as salvation is, and as fulfilling as life is when a person lives according to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we can never force others to accept it, because that's just as wrong and unpleasant as the scenario with the TV (for both the giver and the receiver). However, we can (and must) tell and testify about how amazing the gospel is in our own lives and others', explain why it's absolutely necessary in the grand scheme of things, and invite them to try it for themselves, but then it's their choice what to do with that big, beautiful, free package waiting on their doorstep.

In other news, other investigators are using their agency to accept the gospel, little by little. :) We had an amazing lesson with Polya where she bore testimony (without even knowing what a testimony is yet) of how she's been praying every day and that God really does answer her prayers. We talked about what the Holy Ghost feels like, and in her prayer at the end of the lesson, she even thanked Heavenly Father for the Spirit that we felt in our lesson. SO COOL! Nothing is better than moments like that as a missionary. :)

I'll leave you with a spiritual thought I just sent President. Enjoy!

D&C 88:40-61 has been on my mind so lately ever since the Holy Ghost led me to it during personal study, and it applies so much to missionary work. "[We] give light to each other in [our] times and in [our] seasons, in [our] minutes, in [our] hours, in [our] days, in [our] weeks, in [our] months, in [our] years..." (v.44). To the woman on the metro, I may just be a star; to the less active I may be the moon; and to those who I teach and lead to baptism, I will be as their sun (v.45), knowing that the light that I have the privilege of sharing is completely from the Lord Himself (v.50). I have a responsibility to live every day so that I am full of light and truth, because THEN "light [will cleave] unto light" (v.40), and the elect and I will find each other. And literally no effort it wasted, because light always lands on SOMETHING, "every man in his own order" (v.60). "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isa. 55:11).

Love you all! Have a great week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fwd: Letter #66 - 7/7/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 5:26 AM
Subject: Letter #66 - 7/7/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Quick letter today because there's not a whole lot to say. Another slow week, but not as slow as last one. There were some happy coincidences / tender mercies, for example we had FHE at a member's house, and the daughter had invited her friend (who we taught the Restoration to a couple months ago), and we had a really great time together. We played and sang and talked about hymns, and the Spirit was super strong. Also, we had a lesson with a woman named Irina (50-something years old) who we met on the street awhile ago (who invited us over because she's met Elders before and really liked them), and the member we invited to the lesson happened to already know Irina since they've lived in the same area for a long time. They got along so great, and now Irina has a friend in the Church! Also, it was neat to see Irina's change of heart, even in the short span of a lesson -- she started off by saying she's not a very religious person and that she just likes being with us, and she ended by sincerely listening to our testimonies of prayer and even praying herself, thanking God for "what might be a new and good step in my life's journey."

We celebrated the 4th of July in the mission office at our first mission conference with President Packer and his family. If that conference was a "test" (which it wasn't, but if it was...) to see if the new mission president is "up to par," then President Packer passed with flying colors in my book. He is such a good man with a great heart, his wife is hilarious, and his children are adorable (two boys, 14 and 13, and two girls, 9 and 6). It was also amazing to see how he is perfect for this mission right now -- the little bit of counsel he gave us fit perfectly into the needs of the missionaries in this mission, and he probably doesn't even know it yet. Also, it's hilarious to me how much he and President Klebingat are polar opposites (controlling for Christlike attributes of course). It's really great though, and I wrote a little bit in my journal about why:

I've been reflecting on mission conference with President Packer and how different he is from President Klebingat and yet perfect for this mission right now. I realized that one thing I've learned on my mission is the value of differences and that there's not actually ONE best way of doing things, but the gospel allows for a variety of people to be governed by the same principles and yet still maintain their personality, talents, and experiences. More than that, God's love can still be whole and unchanging for ALL of His children, regardless of their differences.

As Moses 6:63 teaches, the Lord's creations themselves bear witness of this principle. For example, He created a greater variety of plants and animals than we can imagine, all with their different characteristics and purposes, in order to beautify and give variety to the earth. A bear isn't better then a monkey or vise versa, and yet they can both do things that the other one can't, and that's okay -- the bear just needs to become the best bear it can be, and the monkey needs to do the same, and neither must force or expect or even desire that the other one becomes more like himself. Also, snowflakes have always been a testimony to me of the uniqueness of God's creations, especially the human soul. That in itself leads me to be interested in, respect, and love all those that I come in contact with.

With that in mind, I hope we all pray and strive to have charity and see the beauty in everyone around us!

That's all I have time for. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Sister Montgomery

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fwd: Letter #65 - 6/30/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Christine Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 10:40 AM
Subject: Fwd: Letter #65 - 6/30/14
To: "" <>, "" <>, Kaye Williams <>, Auli Summerhays <>, "" <>, Tiffany Davis <>, Kelli Reed <>

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 5:45 AM
Subject: Letter #65 - 6/30/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear everyone,

Hey there! Before I forget, here's the funny story I wanted to write last week. So... there's this wonderful old woman in my ward whose name is Ludmilla. She's super cute and nice, but she's also pretty old and kind of has Alzheimers and so often forgets things (like she'll say the opening prayer... and the closing one) :) Anyway, I just love this lady, and a few months ago, I read and gave her a poem I once wrote for a woman whose husband passed away, because Ludmilla also lost her husband a long time ago. (See the end of this email for the poem, and like usual, know that it's at least 78 times better than what Google Translate is going to give you...)

Anyway, the other week we stopped by her, and she got to talking about her son, and she said, "My son is Orthodox, and when he came by recently, he gave me this Orthodox icon," and she showed us this little icon of Saint Ludmilla or something like that. And then she added, "And you know what else? There's this amazing little Orthodox prayer that goes along with this, and even though it's not from our Church, it helps me so much. I read it every day and find so much comfort in it. Here, I'll read it for you." She then pulled out a little sheet of paper and started reading it, choking up a little on the words. But here's the hilarious thing -- it was MY poem that I had given her with MY name written on it! Sister Parish and I were dying of silent laughter, and we didn't have the heart to tell her what it really was. When she finished reading it out loud, she added, "See! Every church has some truth!" Oh man... that has got to be the most hilarious thing that has ever happened to me -- being quoted as an Orthodox prayer. :)

So... this week was super rough in terms of plans falling through left and right. We had a grand total of 2 member lessons and 1 lesson with an investigator (Larisa), and even that was kind of rough. But hey, it happens sometimes, and we're hoping and praying and planning and working for a much better week this week.

Just a few minutes left for a spiritual thought. I've been thinking a lot about how the mission has changed me, and I think more than anything else, it has increased my passion for service so much that I just crave it. I've found similar feelings in the scriptures from a few of the prophets:

Jeremiah 20:9 --"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."

Alma 43:1 --"And now it came to pass that the sons of Alma did go forth among the people, to declare the word unto them. And Alma, also, himself, could not rest, and he also went forth."

Ether 12:2 --"And Ether was a prophet of the Lord; wherefore Ether came forth in the days of Coriantumr, and began to prophesy unto the people, for he could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him."

That is absolutely me right now, and that's who I'm going to be more than ever before when I get home. I've always enjoyed serving others before my mission, but I'd hardly seek out those opportunities, preferring instead to develop spiritually "on my own" (which, by the way, doesn't even begin to compare to the depth of developing spiritually within the context of others, especially considering how charity is the greatest of all the gifts of God, and how do you develop charity "on your own"? Food for thought.) But now... guess who's going to be the one going up to the Bishop and Relief Society president and missionaries asking how to help? Guess who's going to be the one seeking out lost sheep and new sheep and worn-down sheep? Guess who's going to waste and wear out her life in perfecting the Saints, proclaiming the gospel, redeeming the dead, and caring for the poor and the needy? The restored gospel of Jesus Christ has become a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I cannot rest or be restrained from building the Kingdom of God on the earth. If nothing else, my mission has kindled a spiritual fire that I pray will continue to grow and be with me until the day I die, and then some. :)

That's all for today. Have a wonderful week and 4th of July!

Sister Montgomery

PS -- Here's that great Orthodox prayer ;)

Послание с Небес
Написанное Сестрой Монтгомери

Дочка дорогая, для тебя пошёл сюда
Чтоб быть с тобой, нести твои тяжёлые бремена.
Хотел Я выражать тебе любовь твоего мужа;
Он отдыхает со Мной без бед, забот, греха.

Пока ты ждёшь туда вернуться снова быть с ним,
Не забудь, что буду рядом — Духом всем Своим
К тебе приду, Я исцелю, Я отдых дам тебе.
Такое обещание всем: придите ко Мне.

Дочка дорогая, мир да будет твоей душе —
Все твои невзгоды будут кратковременны.
И если устоишь в них, я тебя возвышу;
Тогда же ты узнаешь, всё тебе пошло на пользу.

Дочка дорогая, тебя Я так люблю
И благодарен Я за верность сильную твою.
Держись, Я говорю тебе, за вечную любовь;
Пребывай спокойно и знай, что Я ест Бог!

Letter #64 - 6/23/14


Dear family and friends,


I just wrote my very last letter to President Klebingat, and I feel like part of my heart just broke a little...


I guess while he's on my mind, I'll write first about the mission conference we had on Saturday. It was the last time our whole mission got together with the Klebingats -- they leave this Saturday, and President Packer and his family will take their place. The conference we had was absolutely amazing. Not only did I get to see SO many amazing missionaries who have become some of my best friends, but the Klebingats filled us from head to toe with post-mission life advice on all of the most important topics (and they were many). President gave us the homework to write a list of "things I will always do as a result of my mission" and "things I will no longer do as a result of my mission," and I can tell you right now that I will have a hefty list. My mission has changed me so deeply in so many ways, and I intend to have it completely change my life after the nametag comes off. In another letter, maybe toward the end, I'll share with you some of the greatest changes that I've noticed have happened within me; this last week especially I've been noticing so much. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am to serve a mission... what a blessing and honor to have this experience.


At the very end of the conference, President said that he wanted to say one-on-one goodbyes, and he asked permission to hug the Sisters (and Sister Klebingat to hug the Elders). And so we went through in a line, and he said some parting words to each of us. Sister Parish later said, "I don't think I've ever felt so much love and meaning in a single hug than I did then with President Klebingat," and I agreed 100%. I don't know what it's like in other missions, but I know that in this mission, President loves all his missionaries in such an unwavering and sincere way, and I will forever cherish the relationship I have with him. After his last words to me, I sat back down and realized that I was crying. I will miss him so much. In the letter I just wrote him, I ended with this:

Well, I won't say goodbye to you because it's not really a goodbye. And I won't say too many thank you's because they wouldn't really do justice to the gratitude I have for you. But I will say that I love you, and I thank our Heavenly Father for the opportunity I had to get to know you and learn from you. Thank you, President Klebingat, for everything! God be with you till we meet again!


Well enough on that (before I start crying again...) This last week was great. Investigators are doing a little better, members are still doing great (I have a hilarious story for you next week about one of them... stay tuned), and I had a wonderful birthday yesterday. So many people wished me the very best (and in Ukraine, that usually means that they come up to you, take you by the hand, look very sincerely at you, and then give you a whole long blessing in which they wish you all sorts of things like health, parents' health, a good future husband, his health, happiness, friends, their health and happiness, and so on and so forth... just a little different than the American "Hey, happy birthday! Have a great day!") :) I also got a lot of gifts, one of the greatest ones being two investigators at church! Yevgenia, the older lady from English, came for the first time, and it made me SO happy. Polya also came and loved it, which just added to my joy. Overall it was a wonderful day, and it feels good being 23!


Unfortunately, my time is up, so I'll have to end there. I hope you all have a wonderful week! Love you!



Sister Montgomery


PS -- The picture of me in my "mission conference outfit" came about because Sister Parish and I were talking all week about what we were going to wear to mission conference, and as a joke, I got dressed up like that to show her what outfit I picked out. (Yes, friends, I know it's hideous... I'm getting a little better at this whole fashion thing) ;) The other picture is me with my MTC district over a year after we came here together (with my real mission conference outfit). Time flies! :)