November 2, 2008

LESSONS LEARNED IN UKRAINE















Today was one of those days I found myself lacking. As I sat in church I so longed to be able to understand the words that were being shared by the sisters in Relief Society. As I listened to the beautiful hymns being sung I thought of what a great blessing it would be to be able to sing like an angel. There was a sister sitting somewhere behind me who had been given that gift. Oh how I wished it was me singing like that. As I watched the branch members get up to bear their testimonies I wished that I could tell the members in their language how much I love my Heavenly Father. I wished I could tell them why I am here and what my membership in this church means to me. I wish that I was a gifted writer so that I might express to you the lessons I learned today. As I sat in church I found myself thinking, "I want to remember this feeling". I want to take this back to America. I don't ever want to forget this lesson I am learning this very moment."

When I went to Relief Society I found myself wishing for talents I had not been given.
There was something different going on in Relief Society. The air was filled with emotion. Sisters were sharing something very sacred that came from their hearts. I turned to look over my shoulder as I heard the tender voice of one of the women speak and I could see my friend Sister Clark who too had the look of wonder in her eyes. I heard her lean over to Sister Fry and say, "I so desperately want to know what is being said.".
That is how I felt today, Desperate.
I desperately wanted to to know the words that went with the emotions that the sisters were sharing.
I desperately wanted to join in the singing with the voice of an angel.
I desperately wanted to tell the Sisters that I love them.
I desperately wanted to explain to Tanya while I was admiring her new baby that my new grandson Cash is getting blessed today.
I desperately wanted to say more to Yuraslav's mother than just "we love your son". I wanted to tell her what an amazing thing he had just done when he entered the waters of baptism yesterday.
I desperately wanted to explain to Yuraslav what an awesome gift he had received when the men who held the Priesthood today stood in a circle and placed their hands upon his head.
and as I walked home from church and was stopped by a young man who wanted to talk to us about our religion I so desperately wanted to tell him why I was in Ukraine. He wanted to know why we didn't speak his language. "Why are we here if we can't speak Russian". As we walked away we said to ourselves, "I would wonder that too if I were him." We so wished we could tell him all the things in our hearts. We wished we could tell him that we came knowing it would be hard not knowing the language. We wanted to tell him,"we would have liked to stay home and studied your language until we knew it well enough to speak for ourselves". We wanted to be able to explain that that would have taken too long. That we knew that Heavenly Father needed us now. We wished we could have explained to him all the ways the church has blessed his country with Humanitarian Aide in spite of us and other Humanitarian Missionaries not knowing the language. I wanted to explain to him why being here today to see Yuraslav and Sasha be given the gift of the Holy Ghost was so important to us.

Oh how I wished I could speak Russian today.


When I saw Yuraslav's mother walk in the chapel for the first time I wanted to be able to bear my testimony to her. When I heard Anya get up to bear her testimony about the church and how hard it is to be a youth among friends who are not members of the church I wanted to share with her how much I love her and am so proud of her. I wanted to tell her how much the Lord will bless her for her obedience.

Today I was reminded,


And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestation of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
Moroni 10:8


Heavenly Father has given us all gifts. To some is given one and to others is given another.


"and I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ."
Moroni 10:18


I know that we have all been given wonderful gifts from our Heavenly Father. I have been given gifts that are unique to me. I have the opportunity to use these gifts to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are days here in Ukraine that I feel like I am lacking. I am very much aware of the handicap I have of not being able to speak the same language of the people I come in contact with. Someday in the not too distant future I will be back in America where I will no longer have that handicap. The question will then be, will I use the gifts I have been given to share the gospel? Will I speak to the Sisters in my ward about how much I love my Heavenly Father? Will I approach the stranger who enters the chapel for the first time and welcome her with open arms? Will I tell the Sister in Relief Society how much I love her? Will I tell the newly baptized member what an amazing step he has just taken?

Will I pick up the hymnal that I can read and sing praises to the God who has given me everything.

Will I remember the lesson I learned in Ukraine today......................?????

6 messages from friends and family:

Robin said...

Melinda:
The language of the spirit is universal. You ARE speaking to those people in the Ukraine in a language that is understood with the heart. They FEEL your testimony, the FEEL the love you have for them. Your life, your spirit, your countenance speaks volumes, and I guarantee they understand. If your spirit can be felt by me through a blog all the way around the world just imagine what those sweet people in the Ukraine are feeling from you while in your presence. They are partaking of your talent.
Have a happy day.
Love,
robin

Heather said...

Wow, your post brought me to tears. I thought of Alma 29:1 "Oh that I were an angel, and could have the wish of my heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God..." I often felt the same way when I was on my mission in Ukraine.

On another note, are you living in Gorlovka? That was the last area I served in. But that was back in 1998.

dixiewhitehead said...

I think you WILL share you testimony, welcome the visitor with open arms and testify of the Savior and all that you learned on your mission when you return home. You can't help but be a different person, if that is different for you. What a great experience you are having, and I agree with Robin...the people in Ukraine, by looking in your eyes, and seeing the Christ-like countenance on your face can FEEL that you love them and why you are there...to serve the Lord.

It's not words we usually remember from great talks; it's the the feelings and emotions we felt as we listened. They are gleaning the most important part from you.

Thanks for sharing your experience today.

McEwens said...

The spirit speaks russian... So do hugs Melinda. You have been there a year (by my calculations) I am sure you picked up parts... love is universal, dont let this get you down.

Mother Goose said...

i love the lesson you learned and shared! I love the people from Russia. Working at the airport many Russians have migrated to NC and found a job working as attendants for the bathrooms. Some speak little to no English. There is this one woman, she has been here 5 years, and she must be 50ish or so. She is amazing. Her eyes welcome all who enter and her smile invites all to say hello. She has learned English in the 5 years she has been here and is in school! can you believe??

Anyway, I wanted to relate to her besides the warm greeting and the hug goodbye. I asked her how to say Hello, Good Bye, I love you in Russian. So, I can say small phrases. She writes them for me but I have to write them phonetically so I can say them correctly. They are such good people, and once you earn the trust of one the others warm up very quickly.

Mandy said...

You are such a gifted writer and from what it seems a very gifted missionary. In the end it is all about love. I can tell you love the people and love is universal. That was so beautifully written. Thank you.

Saints in Ukraine (put music on pause)

My music


click on the photo to see the captions

Armenia Trip

Our last Zone Conference

Some of the faces we will miss

Our trip to Mariupol

March Zone Conference in Donetsk(click on photo to view a larger version)

Missionaries helping the International Relief Development unload a container from America

Health Fair click on the photo to see what is coming up

To listen to this talk you will need to put the music on pause first

Sometimes we forget what divine gifts we have been given. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thanksgiving

Look at the fun equipment we got to deliver to this internat for Special Needs children

Europe East Area District Meeting

I LOVE THESE MISSIONARIES

OUR APARTMENT (this is not an average missionary apartment)

THIS IS WHAT MISSIONARY APARTMENTS LOOK LIKE ON INSPECTION DAY

CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO SEE A MORE COMPLETE VIEW

LEADERSHIP TRAINING IN THE KALINSKY BUILDING

Click on photo to see more photos of the Open House at the Kalininsky blg