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! :)