Monday, May 19, 2014

Fwd: Letter #59 - 5/19/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, May 19, 2014 at 6:08 AM
Subject: Letter #59 - 5/19/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear fam and friends,

What an amazing week! I'm so happy right now! Here, I'll copy you what I just wrote President:

Sister Parish and I had an amazing week. God is SO good for SO many reasons. One particular reason: the members in Ukraine are AMAZING. Every time I'm at church here in Vinogradar, there's been a moment when I just look around myself in awe and think, "What an honor to be among such incredible Saints!" Yesterday we had amazing sacrament meeting talks, Bishop led a perfect gospel principles class on baptism, Relief Society was full of testimonies and the Spirit, we had a great people-focused ward council (and they totally valued and implemented our ideas), and then afterward one member gave me a guitar to borrow, another member randomly invited us over for dinner, and after a lesson with another member, she walked us from her house to the bus stop in the pouring rain and then called us to make sure we were home okay. They're incredible!

Also, Igor, the investigator who has been living in Western Ukraine for the last four months but who has been taking the missionary discussions by telephone, finally was able to come back to Kiev! And despite a TEN HOUR train ride Saturday night to Sunday morning, and the fact that the Vinogradar ward is almost the very FURTHEST from where he lives in Kiev, he STILL came to church yesterday and loved it. That's how much he's been thirsting for the gospel... what an amazing example to any member of this church. He'll soon be in the hands of the Borshagovsky missionaries and you can expect a baptism just around the corner. :)

That's the Igor I wrote about first in Letter #41 and then mentioned again in Letter #53. We've been talking over the phone weekly for almost three months now, and when he told me he was finally coming back to Kiev, I was overjoyed. And when we went and met him at the metro to take him to church, it was like seeing an old friend that I haven't seen for so long. I wish he lived in our area so we could teach him, but the most important thing is that there ARE missionaries to teach him and that he will soon be in a ward of Saints that he has been aching for for so long. :)

Speaking of church, I found this cool section in an old training booklet about the blessings that come from church attendance. Investigators (and members) who attend church can...
  • Partake of the sacrament to renew baptismal covenants
  • Demonstrate their faith in God's commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy
  • Feel the Spirit of the Lord and receive revelation and answers to their questions and concerns
  • Strengthen their faith by receiving revealed truth from leaders, scripture study, and gospel instruction
  • Receive blessings from keeping the Sabbath day holy
  • Establish associations and friendships that will help renew their faith and strengthen their lives
I can totally testify to every single one of those with gusto. So, as that one Sister missionary from the District says (this will only be funny to those who have seen that DVD far too many times...), "Just come to church!" :)

What else to write in the time I have left?... We've been teaching these two men named Andrei and Yura. They're very intelligent, devoted Christians who hold to the Bible as the complete and perfect word of God, and our lessons have been heavily focused (naturally) on the Book of Mormon and the power of the Holy Ghost to teach truth. I won't give you the whole run-down on everything with them, but I will say that I feel like God has been using them as a way to teach, testify to, and even transform me -- more specifically, teach new ways of viewing and defending the Book of Mormon, testify powerfully of her (uhh... I mean "its"... darn Russian) power and truthfulness, and transform me from a contentious Bible-basher into a meek and calm teacher of truth. I really hope that their hearts will be changed in the process (because I've strongly felt God's love for them and want them to partake of the fulness of joy found only in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ), but even if that doesn't happen, I'm grateful for the work that God is doing on me as I seek to help Andrei and Yura.

And... that's a wrap. Thanks for all of your examples and support and prayers -- I really feel it over here! :)

Sister Montgomery

PS -- I also wanted to send you a poem that I wrote awhile ago about missionary work. It's amazing to me how much work we do (especially here in Ukraine) for the sake of even bringing ONE soul unto Christ through baptism. The poem as a whole is inspired by Matt. 13:45-46, with the last part is inspired by D&C 4:4.

The Kingdom of Heaven
By Sister Montgomery

The kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price
To a merchant man seeking such treasure,
Who, when he discovered its matchless beauty,
Went and sold all he had with pleasure.

From his home he collected his rubies;
From his shop, all his silver and gold;
From his yard, all the gems he had buried;
Now all with intent to be sold.

He went to his places of hiding
Where diamonds had laid for so long.
He remembered his favorite topaz --
So golden, translucent, and strong.

He gathered them all for the selling,
For he knew it would cost all he had.
Some who saw watched him with wonder
While other were sure he was mad.

Was it hard? Oh you can't imagine
The war that was waged in his soul!
But with every doubt he remembered
The image of one priceless pearl.

And when all was gathered and ready,
He went to the market to trade.
"All that you have in exchange for the pearl" --
With pleasure the bargain was made.


The kindgom of heaven is like the worth of a soul
To a missionary seeking to serve,
Who, when he discovered the grace of the Lord,
Put his life for two years on reserve.

At home he left friends and his family,
Took leave from employment and school.
He put away favorite hobbies,
All to become the Lord's tool.

While serving, he discovered his weakness,
Habits he'd held to for years,
Traits not entirely Christlike,
Like pride and doubt and fears.

He cast them off each one by one,
For he knew the Lord needed his all.
Many admired his service
While others thought he was a fool.

Was it hard? Oh how you can't imagine
The war that was waged in his soul!
But always the image he kept in his mind:
A child of God, saved and whole.

And when he had finished his mission,
He went to the Lord and heard,
"All of your might in exchange for your soul."
"But wait," he thought, "what was that word?

My OWN soul I never considered;
It was not for myself that I gave
My heart and my might, my mind and my strength,
So why is it I have been saved?"

And thus he discovered the secret,
The irony of this great labor:
You thrust in your sickle for others
Yet bring to yourself God's favor.

In teaching, you're filled with His knowledge;
In serving, you're filled with His love;
In daily fulfilling His work and His glory,
You're filled with His power from above.

Oh, the kingdom of heaven, what an honor to build
While the God of that kingdom builds you!
"All that I have in exchange for your will" --
Thus He blesses the faithful and true.