Monday, May 26, 2014

Fwd: Letter #60 - 5/26/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, May 26, 2014 at 6:10 AM
Subject: Letter #60 - 5/26/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear world,

So, Letter #60, eh? Well that sure makes me feel like a babushka (Russian word for grandma / old lady). I can hardly believe that I hit my year mark in Ukraine on Thursday! I've been thinking a lot about what I've done (/what the Lord has done through me) and how I've changed in the last year, and I can hardly come to a conclusion -- there's just too much! But it's been a ridiculously good year, I can say that much. :) If you happened to have noticed how I've changed through my letters since I've started my mission, shoot me an email and let me know; I'm curious to hear what you think.

This week was super good and went by super fast. The work is on fire here, and we're teaching and finding more than ever before. Here, I think you'll enjoy this recap I sent to President about how we found some new investigators:

It's so fun for me to think back about the process of finding. For example, with Larisa: (1) I was standing at a bus stop, (2) I looked around for people to talk to and saw a woman wearing a New York shirt, (3) I approached her before I could convince myself not to, (4) I asked about her shirt, completely choked on my Russian, and she didn't understand a word I was saying, (5) she eventually got the gist of it and ended up being super nice, (6) she invited us over, (7) we stopped by the next week to get to know her more, (8) God miraculously placed her in our path the next week and she invited us again, (9) we stopped by yesterday and told her about our message and gave her a Book of Mormon. And another instance with a girl named Olesa: (1) I got a feeling to go to Pusha-Voditsya (right outside of Kiev but in our area), (2) we headed over there on a Saturday and attempt to find a less active there, (3) we got horribly lost and a 75-year-old man tried to get us un-lost for like 45 minutes, (4) he eventually passed us off to a young woman on the street, (5) during our journey to find the house, we got to know her, gave her a Book of Mormon, and invited her to meet again, (6) after some time we went back and had a first lesson with her, and we'll soon return again! Missionary work is sometimes a long process, but it's a fun one! :)

Besides that, we've been teaching lots of people in pairs. Yura and Andrei/Artyom (Andrei was on one lesson, Artyom on the other) -- active (male) members of another church who are having a hard time accepting the Book of Mormon, yet Yura enjoys meeting and we think he's really starting to think/feel something. Valya and Polya -- super nice 15/16 year old girls we met doing service and who come to English, and we just had a good Plan of Salvation lesson with them. Lera and Sasha -- also super nice 15/16 year old girls who come to English, they have tons of questions about trials and the apparent unfairness of life. We'll also soon have lessons with Olesa from Pusha and a nice old woman who attends English and who I've become quite good friends with (Yevgenia). Not bad at all! We thank God every day for the people and the work that He's blessed us with. We had quite a dry patch our first transfer together, but God eventually blessed us with a flood. :)

This week I also had my last interview with President Klebingat. It was wonderful as always, but sad because it was our last. :( He leaves at the end of June, and I will miss him a ton. Great man. :)

What else to say?... I've realized something recently about myself: I've become weird. Actually, I was probably always weird but y'all kindly kept your mouths shut and let me continue in thinking that I'm normal (and I thank you for that :) ). Anyway, I've basically just lost almost all interest in worldly conversation. I get so bored! An important part of missionary work is building relationships of trust and normal friendships with those you're around, especially investigators, and I'm so glad that Sister Parish has that gift because I severely lack it. They'll be talking about music and movies and sports, and I'll be daydreaming about the conditions of the Three Kingdoms of Glory or creative new ways to explain the Apostasy. What am I supposed to do on my first date when I'm home? I'm sure I'll be "normalized" in time, but for now... the gospel is literally my life. But then the more you think about it, the more you realize that the gospel is life -- abundant life now and eternal life later. When we meet with people who want to chat about English or America or something trivial like that (or when I'm tempted to just talk about that in a contacting situation), I feel like I'm giving them an ice cream cone from McDonald's instead of a free entry to an all-you-can-eat Ukrainian buffet. There's nothing wrong with ice cream (and if you know me, you know I love McDonald's ice cream cones), but it's just... there's so much more, you know? It reminds me of a quote from President Ezra Taft Benson (one of my favorites):

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life to God will find he has eternal life."

Don't ever be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and don't wait to share it. I am convinced that it is the only thing in the entire world that will fully satisfy the deepest needs and desires of the souls of men. There are many counterfeits in the world, and also many good yet incomplete sources of truth, but nothing enlightens and heals and brings peace of conscience in such fullness as following the example of Jesus Christ and living according to the principles contained in His restored Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's all true, and it was given to us by an almighty, all-loving God whose only desire is for us to be happy. And for that, I am grateful beyond measure. :)

That's all for now. Have a wonderful week! I love you all!

Sister Montgomery