Monday, June 16, 2014

Fwd: Letter #63 - 6/16/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 5:41 AM
Subject: Letter #63 - 6/16/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Not much time to write today, but I'll do my best. Here's a couple highs and lows that I just sent President:

Highlight of this last week: our district finished writing a song for our bishop, and on Wednesday we stopped by and surprised him with it. It was to the tune of "The Piano Man" by Billy Joel and had lyrics like [this is translated], "Thank you for the business cards (that he printed for us) / and your willingness to always help us / We look to you as an example / While we look to you from below (because he's really tall)" and the chorus was, "Give us an assignment, Bishop / Give us an assignment right now / That's the reason why we're here / To lighten your load." He LOVED it, and it even made his wife cry as we played it (all six of us and a guitar crowded in his kitchen). It's incredible how much joy service can bring to all who are involved. Besides uplifting every single one of us, we're even more united now and I think it really increased Bishop's trust in us. That was so great!

On the other hand, it was a pretty rough week. In short, our investigators have been "blinded by the craftiness of men" (D&C 76:75). Yura, a very faithful member of another Christian church, has addressed the internet and his church's interpretation of the Bible far more intensely than he has addressed God in prayer in order to find out the truthfulness of our message (or NOT find out rather), and he doesn't want to meet with us anymore. Lera (a 16-year-old), after having what we considered a very spiritual lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ, straight up told us, "I honestly don't want anything to do with your church. It just seems so boring to me."

So yeah... that was pretty rough. But we also met with Polya, and though it because clear that we need to reteach our previous lessons (so that she understands better), her desire to know more and live according to the gospel is definitely there. And she said the prayer at the end of our lesson this week, and it was the first time she said a prayer with us in her own words (instead of "The Lord's Prayer" from the Bible), and it was so good. I almost cried I was so happy. Missionary work seriously brings you to the highest highs and the lowest lows, it's crazy. We also found some great new investigators, including a middle-aged woman Natalya who works at a hostel nearby our apartment and who is SUPER nice and open to our message. And so the work moves on.

My spiritual thought today is just going to be the words of a hymn that came into my mind during one of the hard moments of this past week. It's "Abide with Me," and you can even listen to a neat version of it here.

1. Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens. Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!

2. Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day.
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me!

3. I need thy presence ev'ry passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's pow'r?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Thru cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me!

My testimony of the comfort of the Lord grows every single day. As I wrote in my journal this week, "Being a missionary is hard, and sorrow for the sins of the world can be excruciating. But at least I'm not alone in this, and though the world may reject Him, at least the Lord is on my side." God has been faithful in buoying me up through all these recent trials, and I know that He will help each one of you too as you struggle with whatever it is you're struggling with.

K, that's all for today. I love you all! Have a great week, and I'll talk to you again when I'm 23! :)

Sister Montgomery

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fwd: Letter #62 - 6/9/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 5:38 AM
Subject: Letter #62 - 6/9/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family,

I forgot to write last week that we got transfo, and I'm staying in Vinograder with Sister Parish! That means 4.5 months with one companion, as opposed to my previous eight companions (6 weeks, 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 months, 6 weeks, 1 week...). It's great though; our area is making progress, our ward is still wonderful, and Sister Parish and I do great work together. :)

This last week we did some cute things to thank our ward leaders for their service. We bought some chocolate coins, wrote numbers on one side of the wrapper and a message from us on the other side (word by word), then we mixed them up and gave it to our ward mission leader. So he had to take all the coins, put them in order, then turn them over to see the message. It said, "Dear Brat Maltzev, Thank you for your love for missionary work, for your willingness to help us, for your strong testimony and incredible example, and for your wise counsel. We respect you! Love, The Missionaries." All six of us went over to his house Saturday night and surprised him with it, and though at first it scared him because he thought that we were leaving and it was a goodbye gift, he ended up really loving it. And then we all sang "Called to Serve" with the guitar. It was definitely a uniting experience, and it felt so good to do that kind little deed for him. One of the many things I've learned on my mission is how much joy service brings. There's nothing quite like it! We also wrote a cute little song for Bishop to the tune of "The Piano Man" by Billy Joel, and we're gonna stop by and sing it to him sometime this week. Hope he likes it! :)

We had a better week than last time in terms of investigator work. We taught Yura and Lera the Plan of Salvation, and Polya (15-year-old, Valya's friend) came to church yesterday and loved it! I was worrying the whole time that it was too boring/quirky/political, but she felt the Spirit, really enjoyed it, and totally clicked with the YW President who will soon be joining us on another lesson. I wrote in Letter #56, "Valya is super interested, her friend Polya a little less so," but they've ended up switching; Valya's busy and not super interested, and Polya can hardly wait to meet with us again. She's really a sweet girl, and things are looking great for her spiritual progress. :)

A little spiritual thought to end with: I've been thinking lately about how commitments can be compared to a two-part bridge. The first part is the bridge between people's current actions and their keeping of commitments (or commandments), and the second bridge is between the keeping of those commitments and receiving the associated blessings and testimony. If I had to image these two bridges, with a little island in the middle, the first bridge would be different lengths and qualities for every single person -- some are made of cement (easy for them to keep commitments) and some are barely hanging from a thread (no desire to make changes in their lives). But that second bridge... it's pretty much paved with gold. It is strong, it is sure, and it is unbreakable.

Obedience brings blessings; that's how it's always been and how it'll always be. For example, any person who reads and prays about the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in Christ (the first bridge) will find out that it's true (the second bridge). Sometimes I feel like missionary work is 99% trying to convince people to pass that first bridge and 1% watching the amazing results of the second bridge, but those results and so wonderful that in the end you don't even care how much effort you spent helping them get there. It reminds me of the scripture in D&C 123:17: "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power [getting them to cross the first bridge]; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed [as their testimony grows and God's blessings increase... if they choose to cross that bridge]."

That's all I've got time for today. I love and miss you all! Have an amazing week!

Sister Montgomery

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fwd: Letter #61 - 6/2/14

I love this picture! She looks great! 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 6:36 AM
Subject: Letter #61 - 6/2/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family,

I'm kind of at a loss about what to write this week... Things were a little slower this week, though we did have a couple first lessons with some people from English, which were good. Unfortunately, things didn't work out with meeting with our other investigators except for one lesson with Lera yesterday. It seems like all our investigators are moving as slow as turtles, and their concerns are real stumbling blocks that Sister Parish and I almost constantly are thinking about. At least I can take comfort in the gift of discernment, knowing that God can make known unto us missionaries the thoughts, needs, and desires of those who we teach (Alma 10:17Alma 12:7, and others). We just need to live worthy of that gift, ask for it, and act on it.

Funny story from the week: Monday night for FHE we stopped by a woman in the ward named Nina. She invited all six of us missionaries over and also one of her friends. When we got there, she asked us to wash our hands and help a little with the cooking, and she pointed us into the bathroom. Sister Parish asked me where to wash her hands, the sink or the tub, and I pointed to the tub because (1) I didn't actually see that there was a sink, and (2) in a lot of Ukrainian homes, you just wash your hands in the tub. Well, she turns on the tub water, and all the sudden Nina comes running in, screaming at us to turn the water off. Why? Because she had put a pot of "compote" (it's like homemade juice that you make over the stove) in the bath water to cool it down. She asked frantically, "Did any water get into there?" (because it was unfiltered, dirty water), and we were like, "No, no, it's fine!" She was relieved and took the compote to the kitchen, but then Sister Parish and I just looked at each other with a terrified look on our faces because we were both almost positive that the bath water actually did get into the juice. Then the other missionaries showed up and we had to explain why were acting so weird, and I'm pretty sure we all prayed that we wouldn't get poisoned from the contaminated juice. The good news is that the compote ended up being delicious, no one got sick, and we had some pretty great laughs from it. :)

Another great story, this one a bit more spiritual, was that I went to my first temple sealing! There's a couple in the ward, Yuri and Yana with their 4-year-old daughter, that got baptized a year ago, and on Saturday afternoon they got sealed for time and for all eternity in Kiev Ukraine temple. :) The Spirit was so strong, and you should've seen the way Yuri and Yana were looking at each other. And then when their little daughter came in and got sealed to them... she was so cute and reverent and angels could have been surrounding her for all I know. It was so beautiful, the whole thing. I don't think I'll ever forget that sealing. Today I wrote President:

I wanted to thank you for giving us permission to go to our ward members' sealing this past week. Not only did it help us strengthen our relationship with ward members, but it was a very spiritual experience for me that helped me remember my ultimate goal for the people that I meet and talk with -- not just becoming our investigators, and not even just getting baptized, but receiving all the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for them through making and keeping sacred covenants (from baptism to sealing). Sister Parish and I both had the thought during the sealing, "We've got to find more of these people." More of the elect, more Yana's and Yuri's, more of God's children who He has promised to reach out to through us.

And finally, a little spiritual thought. Lately I've been trying to really seek the will and mind of Heavenly Father instead of just my own thoughts or the opinions of others. There's a lot of questions that come up in our lives, and though sometimes we're quick to go to friends or family or church leaders for answers, sometimes I think we forgot that we can ask the Source of all truth and information: God. Well, lately I've been more open and specific in my questions to Heavenly Father as I pray, and He has given me such amazing and specific answers in return -- sometimes in the very moment, and sometimes later as I'm studying the scriptures or just walking. We shouldn't be shy in asking Him questions; if it's important to us, then it's important to Him, and He loves us and therefore wants to answer our questions. Of course there's conditions and other principles related to this principle that you can study on your own, but I just wanted to encourage you to be more open and specific in your prayers and seek the personal revelation that the Holy Ghost is just waiting to grant you. D&C 76:5-10 isn't just a pretty passage; it's an eternal promise, and I'm a witness to it's reality, if only to a small degree.

K, love you all! Have a great week! And for all who are wondering (or maybe just Mom): yes, I'm still safe. :)

Sister Montgomery

PS -- The pic is me in Pusha-Voditsya from last week. So beautiful!