August 30, 2008

APARTMENT INSPECTIONS



Today we finished our apartment inspections for this transfer and look what we found...........









more ties..........
a

and some interesting home decorating

WE WENT TO FINISH OUR APARTMENT INSPECTIONS TODAY AFTER THE BAPTISM
AND GUESS WHAT WE FOUND??????????

more ties .....................











"Lucy, you got some splaining to do!!!!!!!!"

I hear you all saying,

"what is up with this tie thing?"


I think I need to explain.
There is a great Reenik in Kharkov where the Elders buy ties. They are able to purchase these amazing ties for 20 griven, that's $4.00 friends,you can't beat that.
We were so impressed when we arrived at almost all of the apartments this transfer they had beautiful spiritual music playing, the dishes were done, the desk were neat and orderly, beds were made, clothes hung up, garbage emptied, and the walls were nicely decorated with pictures of Christ, the Apostles, or quotes from church leaders.This is one of the Elders study desk. Not too bad, a church magazine, hymn book. Russian Language Study Book, and Scriptures.

BAPTISM DAY


WHAT A WAY TO START A DAY. WE WERE SO EXCITED TO ATTEND THIS BAPTISM.
THIS SWEET GIRL, ANYA ATTENDED GIRLS CAMP WITH HER COUSIN AND CAME HOME AND SAID, "I WANT TO BE BAPTIZED". SHE HADN'T EVEN MET WITH THE MISSIONARIES YET. SO SISTER HOWARD AND SISTER CHIRAIC STARTED MEETING WITH HER SO THAT THEY COULD TEACH HER ABOUT THE GOSPEL. ELDER HUNT AND ELDER CROSSLEY MET WITH HER AS WELL. TODAY ELDER CROSSLEY BAPTIZED ANYA. WE HAD A TESTIMONY MEETING AFTER THE BAPTISM AND SHE JUST MARCHED RIGHT UP AND BORE SUCH A SWEET TENDER TESTIMONY. THEN OUR WONDERFUL PRESIDENT FRY BORE HIS TESTIMONY IN RUSSIAN. IT WAS VERY touching. IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE DAY. ALEXANDER WHO WAS BAPTIZED A FEW WEEKS AGO WAS A WITNESS DURING THE BAPTISM AND DEEMA WHO WAS BAPTIZED A FEW MONTHS AGO OFFERED THE PRAYER. SISTER VERA'S HUSBAND WHO IS NOT A MEMBER ATTENDED AND OLGA OUR INTERPRETER ATTENDED AS WELL.
The meeting ended with the congregation singing, "I am a child of god" and I couldn't help but remember the first time I heard that song over 22 years ago and how it spoke to my soul.

"I am a Child of God, And he has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, Guide me, Walk beside me, Help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday.

I am a Child of God, And so my needs are great, Help me to understand his words Before it grows too late. Lead me, Guide me, Walk beside me, Help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday.

I am a Child of God, Rich blessings are in store, If I but learn to do his will I'll live with him once more. Lead me, Guide me, Walk beside me, Help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday."

As members of the Church we sing this often. It is probably one of the first songs our children learn to sing. We sing the words but do we really listen to them and think about what they mean. I am a Child of God. Do you realize how awesome that is when you begin to understand what it means to have a Heavenly Father who can lead and guide us through this journey; a Father whose hand is always reaching out to us. and how incredible it is to know that rich blessings are in store for us as we learn to follow him. when you sit in a room of recent converts or people who have not been baptized and you really listen to the inspired words of this song you can't help but be moved.

I looked around the room and was overwhelmed with emotion as I thought about how powerful those words are to someone who is just beginning to comprehend what it means to be a Child of God. I am so grateful to have been able to participate in such a special day. I truly felt the angels rejoice as Anya entered the waters of Baptism.

AFTER APARTMENT INSPECTIONS WE WENT TO THE OBEDENYONI BRANCH FOR A PICNIC BUT ..........IT WAS RAINING SO WE HAD TO HAVE THE EVENT INSIDE

BRUCE AND I ARRIVED ABOUT AN HOUR EARLY SO BRUCE DECIDED TO SHOW ME HOW TO PLAY THE PIANO. WELL... WE DIDN'T REALLY PLAY... WE JUST KEPT PLAYING THE SAME NOTES OVER AND OVER AGAIN. WE DIDN'T EVER GET PAST THE FIRST LESSON. IT WAS REALLY KIND OF FUNNY AT ONE POINT BRUCE SAID...." you really need this".

I think he meant the BRAIN EXCERCISE. There seemed to be a bit of a disconnect between the brain, the eyes, and the fingers... he kept showing me how to do a very simple tune over and over again, I don't know what the problem was, his brain seemed to be able to manage the whole eye, hand coordination thing........well let's just say, it was best for me to just watch.

after about an hour the members started arriving

It is so interesting when they arrive to the church functions it is a little different than what we are use to in America there are no minivans or suv s the members either walk or ride the marshruka.

TODAY WAS A LITTLE DIFFERENT BECAUSE IT WAS A DISTRICT ACTIVITY 2 BUSLOADS OF MEMBERS WERE DROPPED OFF RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BRANCH BUILDING.
It was a fun activity. We were so impressed with how well planned it was. they divided us all into groups of about 10 or 12 people. Maybe 6 groups. We had to go around the building to about 6 locations and in each location meet a character that was from Church History. Each room had someone dressed in a costume and we had to ask them questions until we could guess who they were.We felt sorry for the people in our group because they were "stuck" with alot of Americans and most of the time we didn't really know what was going on. The other people in our group seemed to be doing great. We just kept following them from room to room trying to read the body language.

August 29, 2008

APARTMENT INSPECTIONS AGAIN



WE WENT TO INSPECT APARTMENTS
TODAY AND THIS IS WHAT WE SAW
TIES......TIES...AND........ MORE TIES
HAPPY ELDERS AND CLEAN APARTMENTS



AND THIS

AND OUR NEW CHURCH BUILDING
 
lots of potatoes for sale
These cute little children holding hands

and this darling little girl with her grandmother 

MORE GOODBYE'S


Last night was Elders Permenter and Elder Livingstons last night in Ukraine. Their last night as missionaries. This handsome picture is Elder Livingston and Elder Harris. We have some great memories of times we have had with Elder Livingston. One of them was when he and about 5 Elders all came to a SWAN LAKE performance in these matching brown pin striped suits.

We were invited to join the Elders, which included Elder Livingston for a p-day and go to a Soccer game we all went to Slavajorsk together. Elder Livingston and some of the other Elders helped us move to our new apartment and then we all celebrated his birthday at Mcdonalds. About 8 missionaries and Elder Kinghorn and I in the birthday party room with Elder Livingston sitting on the throne. Probably what I will remember most is his ability to have fun. The last 2 Zone Conferences he managed to be quite entertaining...

and I don't mean singing or playing the piano.



This is us having dinner with Elders Permenter and Andrus at "3 fat guys"
(I know it's weird but that is the name of the restaurant).

It wasn't easy saying goodbye to Elder Permenter. We have had so many fun experiences with him. He use to be in our District. Then he became AP. He has been the Assistant to the Mission President along with Elder Andrus. He has also been a very powerful influence in our Interpreter Olga's life. He is from Tennessee and is a convert to the church. He has been a good friend to Olga and he and Elder Andrus have been teaching her about the church. Elder Permenter was such a great example of working until the very end of your mission. He never let the fire burn out. He was so happy to be a missionary and the share the Gospel. We will miss him so much.

WE WILL MISS THESE TWO ELDERS LOOK OUT BYU HERE THEY COME!!

THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE


Some of the Nicest People we have met work in the Reenik

We buy melons from these two men. They don't speak English and we don't speak Russian but we seem to do just fine. I mean,

Look at the smile on this guy!

When he sees us coming his face lights up. A few days ago I left them a little church pamphlet hoping they would at least have a little understanding of who we are and what we are doing here. Yesterday when we approached they both came out from behind their booth to greet us. The older man came up to me and said in very broken English,

I............Love........You!

How sweet is that!! I asked if we could take their picture (again using a type of sign language) and they were like little kids so excited to pose with us.

When we left they asked if they could have their own photos (at least that is what I think they said) so we said "yes, we will bring them back to you".

We said goodbye and walked away. A few minutes later the younger man tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a bag with a beautiful melon in it and said,

"for you."

I don't think I need to say anymore. It was a touching moment when our hearts spoke. I don't know how that is possible but I know that I felt something heavenly.



August 27, 2008

NIE NIE'S PLANE CRASH

Ten days ago I went to one of my favorite blogs and discovered that a young LDS mother and father of 4 children had been involved in a serious plane crash. Instead of the usual post by Stephanie (Nie Nie) there was this.

On Saturday, August 16, 2008, Stephanie Nielson was in a plane crash with her husband, Christian Nielson, and his flight instructor, Doug Kinnear, near St. Johns, Arizona. Doug Kinnear passed away soon after arriving at the Maricopa County Hospital. Christian and Stephanie remain in critical condition at Maricopa Burn Center. Christian has sustained burns on over 30% of his body. His wife Stephanie’s body was burned over 80%.

I can't get them out of my mind. It has really made me think about how precious life is. Stephanie is a gifted writer and very devoted wife and mother. She is such a shining example of a daughter of God.

She uses her blog to express very eloquently the joys of motherhood and her love and respect for her dear husband. One minute she was getting her children prepared for their first day of school and the next she was lying in a bed in the Intensive Care Unit with 80%of her body burned and her sweet husband nearby fighting for his own life.

That is how fragile life is.

I have been writing so much lately about enjoying each precious day that we have been given. This is just one more reminder of how important it is to do it now.

Don't wait another day to mend a broken relationship, or tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Don't wait to do that ONE thing you have always wanted to do. Don't wait for a better time in your life to finally begin studying the scriptures, or praying on a daily basis, or to really work on your marriage.

We are not promised tomorrow. We need to live each day as if it may be our last.

Many people all over the world have asked the family how they can help and I just want to do my small part to try to support their family during this tragic time. If you go to her sister Courtney's blog you will be amazed at how many people have joined in to support this family. When you get to Jane's site go to the side bar and click on The Nie Recovery banner it says, "are you fundraising?" to see all about what amazing people are doing to help. Go to the top of that page and click on "benefit blog". It is a testimony to the idea that when people come together for a great cause they can do amazing things.

Tomorrow 8-27-08 is NIE NIE day. Women bloggers are holding silent auctions to try to raise funds for the family. Nie Nie is also a yoga instructor and a runner. There are fundraisers going on in both of those communities as well. Please join me tomorrow, Thursday August 28th to support this family. Many talented artist are donating items for the silent auction or hosting their own auctions. This would be a great time to do some early Christmas Shopping and support a wonderful cause at the same time.

If you want to learn more about Nie Nie and her family or how you can help go to her sister Courtney's blog or you can click on the fundraiser button in my sidebar.

August 26, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KARRISSA (MOUSE)

HaPpy

-twenty something-

KArRiSSA

dad and I spent the day remembering--

how much we love your laugh, and your smile

how much we loved to watch you sing and dance-- especially when you got your little brother in on the act.

how fun it was to watch you in all the school plays,"MONEY, mONEY, mONEY, mONEY"........ i Don't think Dad will ever forget that line.


and the time you tested for your black belt
AND 2 seconds after the match started you KICKED the LITTLE BOY you were sparring SO HARD HE FELL DOWN.

All the times we never felt prouder of you
the times you spoke up for someone that the other kids were teasing

the times we saw you reach out and include someone in your group that all the other kids were ignoring.
the times you defended your little brother
the times you choose to do what you knew was right even when the crowd was doing something different.

we LOVE that you Live Life to the Fullest

nothing has ever held you back- WE love that about you!

you are one determined girl!!!!!!!

HOORay FOR yOU!!!!!!! HAPPY DAY

WE LOVE YOU SO, MOUSE

August 24, 2008

LESSONS LEARNED IN UKRAINE

A few weeks ago we passed the half way mark for our mission. On September 5th it will have been 10 months since we arrived at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. The last few days I have been thinking alot about the things I have learned while serving my Heavenly Father.
I would have to say the most significant thing I have come to know for sure is, he knows what we need. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. We are on his timetable not ours.
We have this joke in our family from the movie "Willy Wonka". There is a spoiled little girl who is always demanding things. There is a line she says, " but I want it now, daddy." We will say that to each other when we want to tease the other person about not being patient.

I often feel like that little girl when I am excited about something. My family knows I don't like to wait. I don't know why. Bruce on the other hand likes to savor things. He always waits to open the good mail last. He patiently reads all the insignificant "junk" first while the really good mail just sits there. He will patiently strip a whole crab clean of every last piece of meat and make a nice little pile of crab before he will even take one bite. He saves his packages on Christmas morning slowly opening one at a time and folding the paper as he goes while the rest of us

dig in........ I mean rip and tear the paper,and the boxes if necessary,

toss the wrapping,
with bows still attached aside

until.........we get to the buried treasure. We come up for air and see Bruce sitting next to a pile of unopened packages and neatly folded paper stacked next to him with the opened boxes dismantled and stacked in a pile.

I simply can't relate to this. Why wait for the good stuff?
My sweet husband has learned not to tell me we May do something because I get so excited by the anticipation of the whole thing that I am so disappointed if it doesn't happen.

So it must have been challenging dealing with me as we prepared to go to the MTC.

By the time we finally arrived in Ukraine to begin our mission I was filled with excitement and anticipation. I could hardly wait to "be a Humanitarain Missionary". I mean listen, we went to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) where we had a crash course on the Russian Language, Humanitarian Work, Church Welfare Services, Leadership Training, Computers, and Preach My Gospel.

OK, so we were ready. We had our little check list.

1) Meet the Mission President, he would take us to our apartment.
2) find an interpretor
3) get home office set up, including SKYPE so I could call the kids, and internet so we could use our computer and fax at home.
4) meet with NGO's (non-governemental agencies)

Well, we did meet the Mission President but he didn't take us to our apartment, the plan was to go to their home for a few days so that we could become aclimated.

whoa, whoa, whoa, ................... this is where I started to get a little anxious...........
("but I want it now, daddy") remember, I was ready to be a missionary now. I didn't want to wait a few days to get aclimated, I had been waiting my whole life for this. I was prepared. I was ready to be turned loose.
Are you beginning to see a theme here? I know, it was so kind and thoughtful of President and Sister Andersen and well, it was a long plane ride and I should just try to sleep. So for the first night I go along with this plan. But...... The next morning I'm ready to be a missionary. Get out the check list let's start checking things off.

1) see my apartment. Now Sister Andersen is much smarter than me and has done this many times when new missionaries arrive so she tells me she will have another couple take us shopping because we need groceries and I need to buy a warm coat and boots.

This is where I see the difference between Bruce and myself. He is perfectly alright with this. While I am biting at the bit to see what my home for the next 18 months will look like. I don't care if I have a warm coat, or food to eat, "but I want it now daddy". Is going off in my head. So we go shopping and then we go back to the Andersen's
home for another "good nights sleep".

"What"? I say to myself.
"I am not going to sleep in my new apartment?"

I think you are beginning to see the picture here. "but I want it now daddy."

Number two on the list; Find an Interpretor did not happen on my timetable either. In fact, it took a few months. I usually say 3 or 4 but Bruce says it was only two. Getting the home office set up didn't go so quickly either. We needed to first locate the old computer and fax machine that the previous couple had been using and then have it delivered from the other mission. Once it arrived we determined it was a little outdated and all the previous records had been deleted from it so we had to order a new one, which took forever, and when it finally arrived nobody knew the password. Needless to say, we didn't have our office set up on my timetable either. We won't even talk about SKype. Let's just say, I finally had to go to the Andersen's one day to use their Skype because I couldn't go one more day without speaking to my children.
We eventually did meet with NGO's but it wasn't until after we found our interpretor.

In his book called Press On by Joseph B Wirthlin he says,

"Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is wait. (Psalms 37:7)
The Lord has HIS own timetable, and although it may frustrate us, HIS timing is always perfect. When we rest in the Lord we allow him to work HIS will for us in his own time and in HIS own way."
I love that..... "rest in the Lord".
I have never been good at napping either, I am always afraid I will miss something.

That is a long way of saying, I have learned to ...

"rest in the lord"

For me that means to trust that he knows what I need. I have learned that sometimes I just have to be patient. My daughter uses the term "simmer down".
That is what I have to do, "Be still" and simmer down. I can look back and see that so many times I missed something so incredibly wonderful because I was "waiting for the good stuff". I was impatiently waiting or plowing through what was placed before me so that I could get to something better.


Well folks.....this is


IT!!!!!


This is

the good stuff!!!

The good stuff is this wonderful man who the Lord has given me to be my companion to share my life with. This man who sees past all my flaws and imperfections and patiently waits for me to get on board. The good stuff is those sweet little grandchildren who melt my heart. The good stuff is this incredible woman, Olga who the lord sent to be our interpretor. The good stuff is sharing the gospel with Olga. The good stuff is the sweet missionaries who fill my heart with love. The good stuff is a walk in the park. The good stuff is the lady at the Reenik who saved my 200 griven bill for me for 2 weeks or the lady on the bus today who asked someone to give up their seat so that I could sit because my arms were full. The good stuff is all of our friends and family at home who love us and support us while we are away.

It's there everyday, there is joy and beauty all around but I was missing it because I was waiting for the good stuff.

This incredible lesson I have learned helps bring peace to my soul. There will always be things that I hope and pray for. Especially where my children are concerned but the Lord has shown me to trust in him. To be believing. Psalms 37:4 states, the Lord, "shall give thee the desires of (your) heart."

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to come to Ukraine. I am grateful to have been taught this wonderful lesson. Once again, I am learning to just

"BE STILL AND KNOW".

I know that he will give me the desires of my heart, I just have to learn to be more like my husband and slow down and enjoy the ride. Savor the little things and trust that his timetable will always be right.

Blessings and love to you all.

This is a beautiful park in Donetsk. We love to take walks here. There are these beautiful stone sculptures going down the center of it. The walk is about half a mile long. There are beautiful flower beds and water fountains all the way down the walk. There are also a few play areas for children. It is a fun place to come and just sit and watch the people. Everyone is so much more relaxed as they stroll through the park.






NEW CHURCH BUILDING



This is the new Church Building that will be opening soon. We haven't been told if we will be meeting in this building yet. It is two stories. There is a large cultural hall and a baptismal font. The second floor has classrooms. This building is located in a park. It is so wonderful that it is located in a place where people will see it and have the opportunity to learn more about the church. It is impossible to see this beautiful building and not in vision the future growth of the church in Ukraine. I am so happy for the people of Ukraine to be given the opportunity to come to know the Savior and feel his love for them. I know that the presence of the church here in Ukraine will bring a joy and happiness that so many are seeking. One of the sad things the missionaries encounter when they talk to people is a belief that life is just not meant to happy. Many people have given up on hoping life can ever be better. They have such a hard time believing that the Gospel can bring them peace. I am so grateful to be able to share the good news of the gospel with the people of Ukraine.

This was a beautiful floral arrangement shaped like a ribbon. The sign I am standing by looked like it had a breast cancer logo.

More stone scultures. Notice the rosebud at the top.
In the summer months the parks are filled with brides having their pictures taken.


These pictures are large photos hanging like billboards in a park. They have different scenes from Ukraine. I just posted a few. I think this is a picture of Government Officials because the man in the middle is the Mayor ( I think). The one below is a line of brides and grooms. I'm not sure what they are doing. The last picture is the new soccer stadium they are building.





I wanted you to see the beautiful transformation we have experienced in Donetsk before it gets too hot and the beautiful flowers begging to die. We have really enjoyed going for walks. There is a nice park that has beautiful stone sculptures in the center of the walkway. It is filled with beautiful flower gardens. It is fun to go and sit at night and just watch the people stroll by.On the weekends you can always find beautiful brides coming to have their pictures taken in the park.

The pictures below are Elder Kinghorn at a part of the park that has these nice posters that show scenes of Ukraine. For the first few months of summer they were pictures of Slavajorsk. Now there is a picture of the new soccer stadium that is being built, a photo of brides and grooms, and one that looks like government officials. I have only included a few. I also included one more picture of the Kalinsky building. It is the new church building where Sunday services will be held.

PARKS

 

August 22, 2008

KIEVE TEMLE

I wanted to post a few of the pictures we took while at the Kieve Temple. It was really exciting to stand on the temple grounds and imagine how beautiful it will be when the temple is completed. There is a Chapel that is located across from the Temple and a little way down the street you can see another building that is being built that is the Patrons Housing. This is a Hotel that will provide affordable short-term housing to out of town visitors.

The church members in Donetsk are currently going to Freiburg Germany when they want to attend the Temple. It is a long train or bus ride from Donetsk. The last group of members that left from our Branch were delayed at the border for over 48 hours in the bus. Needless to say, they were a little exhausted when they arrived back in Donetsk but so grateful. It is so amazing to see the planning and preparation that these members currently go through to attend the temple. It takes much sacrifice. When we first arrived in Ukraine I met a woman named Sister Vera who had been waiting for her husband to join the church so that they could attend the temple together. She finally decided that she didn't want to wait any longer and was able to go with the last group from our Branch. She had to really trust the Lord to help her make this trip possible. She has a brother who is very ill and she is his primary caretaker, as well as a young daughter with a baby that she helps care for. She was given the support the needed and was so grateful for the opportunity to go to the temple. A few weeks ago her husband started attending church with her. I am so happy for them. I recently met a woman who has been a member of the Church for a year. She is single and has many animals. She is planning to attend the temple soon and is just trusting that she will find someone to help her care for her animals while she is away. She is really looking forward to the trip. Considering the very low wages that the people of Donetsk earn I know that they make alot of personal sacrifices to take a trip to the temple many of them save for years. I hope I never take temple worship for granted again. We are so fortunate in the USA to have so many temples close by.

Once again, another lesson in gratitude.

If you want to learn more about the Kieve temple construction and see some more pictures go just click on KIEVE TEMPLE

August 21, 2008

INTERNET

Dear Friends,

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It is so amazing that we can be in instant contact with our friends and family. It is such an awesome way to stay connected. However, I have learned the hard way that we have to be extremely cautious about how we use it. I have accepted e-mails, and forwarded information to my friends and family that wasn't always accurate. I believe they call this ....................S C A M, oops I think I meant S P A M!

I want to apologize for this. Once again, a well meaning friend invited me to join a social networking site and when I did my address book was used to invite my friends to join. I did not intend to invite anyone to join. I just thought I was accepting an invitation to access my friends page. So my dear friends, please use caution when accepting and sending invitations to social networks on the Web. Please accept my sincere apology if you have received an invitation to join a network that said I had requested you to join. I DID NOT KNOWINGLY DO THIS.


I am sorry I am just a little slow and naive when it comes to this type of thing. That has always been one of my downfalls I am so trusting and have always wanted to see the best in people. It is hard for me to accept that there are people out there whose only motivation in doing something is for self gain.


I know, like I said, I am slow. However, I do have some really good friends who are alot more savvy when it comes to protecting themselves on the Internet and they are teaching me.
I do believe that the Internet can be used for so many great things. I have received some beautiful inspirational stories and videos from friends but I have also received some that did not contain facts that were true. We just have to be so careful while using the Internet. I read a really good article in our church magazine last month that I would like to share a few thoughts with you from.


This was written by Elder Russell M. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.


"How different the world is today. For many of you, if you read the newspapers, the chances are you read them on the Internet. Ours is the world of cyberspace, cell phones that capture video and music downloads, social networks, text messaging and blogs, handhelds and podcast. This is the world of the future, with inventions undreamed of that will come in your lifetime as they have in mine. How will you use these marvelous inventions" ? It goes on to later say, "Now some of these tools-like any tool in an unpraticed or undisciplined hand- can be dangerous. The intenet can be used to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and can just as easily be used to market filth and sleaze of pornography" He goes on to say, " Social networks on the Web can be used to expand healthy friendships as easily as they can be used by predators trying to trap the unwary".
One of our relatives recently had to make her blog invitation only because some strange man she didn't know was commenting on the pictures of her children. That is so creepy. We have to be so careful what we do and say while posting. I know some bloggers who have chosen to not post any family pictures on their blogs for this very reason.

Later he writes, "Satan is always quick to exploit the negative power of new inventions, to spoil or degrade, and to neutralize any effect for good. Make sure that the choices you make in the use of new media are choices that expand your mind, increase your opportunities, and feed your soul.

Elder Ballard invites us to "join the conversation". "Now, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration. Far too many people have a poor understanding of the Church because most of the information they hear about us is from news media reports that are often driven by controversies."

My intention in keeping this blog is to do just that. It began as a way to share with our friends and family the wonderful experiences we are having on our mission but has become so much more than that. I do want our friends and family to know about the Humanitarian Work we are doing here. I want to share the adventures of our life here in Ukraine. However, it would be impossible to share any of this without sharing the gospel.

The gospel is central to all that we are doing here. The whole reason we are serving a mission is because of the gospel in our lives. We have come to know the Savior while in his service. We have felt his deep love for us and for our family. We see his hand each day as we serve the people of Ukraine. We have had the opportunity to study the scriptures and to attend conferences and trainings where we have been spiritually fed by great leaders of our church. We have witnessed the Lord's hand in the lives of the young missionaries here as they struggle with the Language and with the challenges of living in a foreign country. So my blog has evolved into an opportunity for me to share the gospel in hopes that it will .....

expand your mind-increase your oppotunities-and-feed your soul

thanks for your love, support and prayers


August 15, 2008

FAMILY

We just got great news from our daughter Karrissa. Cash Oliver Bailey is almost 6 pounds. It looks like any of the previous concerns the doctors had have been resolved and they expect her to deliver a full term baby naturally. She is due in 4 weeks but is measuring more like 38 weeks so she could have him in the next few weeks. The doctors say that Cash looks great. Thank you to all our friends who have fasted and prayed for them. We love you.

TRIP TO KIEVE

I just wanted to post a quick note to let you all know that we have gone to visit the Lee's in Kieve. They are the Humanitarian Country Director's in Ukraine. We made a visit to the Kieve temple site yesterday. It was really wonderful to stand on the temple grounds and know that someday in the not too distant future the Saints in Ukraine will be able to enjoy the blessings of their very own temple. They are building a patrons home on the property for the members who have to travel long distances to have affordable housing while they are in Kieve. I will include pictures when I arrive back in Donetsk. We have had a nice time visiting and sharing Humanitarian mission stories with the Lee's. They have been working on local projects to get some relief to the recent flood victims in the Kieve area. It is so great to be able to see how quickly the Church responds to help during a natural disaster.

We will be taking a train home Sunday evening. We leave Kieve Sunday night around 7pm and arrive Monday morning around 7 am. We will have our first District meeting with our new Elders. Elder Williams just arrived from the US and Elder Crossley just transferred into our District. We are looking forward to spending time getting to know them. More later........

August 8, 2008

TRANSFER DAY

Some of you may be wondering what Transfer Day is. As you all probably know missionaries are given a companion that they serve with. They do not serve with this one companion their whole mission. They are assigned new companions throughout their mission. Transfers come every 6 weeks. This is a day when the missionaries may receive a transfer to a new area as well as be assigned a new companion. They don't all get transferred every 6 weeks they usually have a change every 3rd or 4th transfer. When we get together for transfer day the missionaries bring their luggage and when the meeting is over they either take a cab, a marshruka or a bus to their new location. If they are going to the Kharkov area, like Aleksevka, Sumy, or Kharkov they have a long bus ride. I think about 6 hours. Transfer Days are always fun because everyone is usually really excited about the new changes. This day is special as well because we usually get new missionaries who have just arrived a day or two before from the Missionary Training Center (MTC). So today was an exciting day. The missionaries met in the Chapel for a talk from our Assistant to the President, Elder Permenter. That was awesome. Then President Fry spoke briefly and introduced the New Missionaries who just got in last night. Then Sister Fry prepared a nice meal and they all boarded public transportation to their new homes.

NEW MISSIONARIES HAVE ARRIVED

This is all the new Elders that arrived last night. We are looking forward to getting to know them.

TRANSFER DAY GOOD-BYE'S

Today was transfer day again. This is me with all of the Sister Missionaries in our Mission.

August 4, 2008

GOING BACK TO AMERICA

Well Elders Gooch and Bassett are going back to America tomorrow. I can't imagine what is going through their minds as they spend their last night here in Ukraine. They each got to go back to the first area they served in this weekend to say goodbye to families there. I am sure they are looking forward to being with their own families again but I also know that they will miss the friends they have made here as well as miss being a representative of Jesus Christ here in Ukraine. We had District Meeting at our house today and they stopped by to say "good-bye". We will miss them. They are both wonderful young men.

WORDS FROM A PROPHET

When I was first learning about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I remember being taught about Modern Day Prophets. I was taught that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that there are Prophets on the earth today. They are inspired men called to speak for the Lord as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, and Mormon. I remember wondering what a Prophet today might tell his people. I discovered that twice a year the church holds a worldwide conference in Salt Lake City. It is during this conference that the Prophet speaks to the members of the church. Like Prophets of old, Prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach his gospel. Over the past 22 years I have been taught and inspired by the council of our Prophets. I know that our lives have been blessed for heading their advise as we strive to become better people and raise responsible children. The Prophet of our church today is Thomas S. Monson. I love President Monson. He has lived a life devoted to Service. He is truly a man of God. I would like to share a little of a recent message he gave.

Doing Something Today

"How fragile life, how certain death. We do not know when we will be required to leave this mortal existence. And so I ask, “What are we doing with today?” If we live only for tomorrow, we’ll eventually have a lot of empty yesterdays. Have we been guilty of declaring, “I’ve been thinking about making some course corrections in my life. I plan to take the first step—tomorrow”? With such thinking, tomorrow is forever. Such tomorrows rarely come unless we do something about them today. As the familiar hymn teaches:
There are chances for work all around just now, Opportunities right in our way. Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,” But go and do something today.

Let us ask ourselves the questions: “Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?” What a formula for happiness! What a prescription for contentment, for inner peace—to have inspired gratitude in another human being.
Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.

As we remember that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God,”
we will not find ourselves in the unenviable position of Jacob Marley’s ghost, who spoke to Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s immortal Christmas Carol. Marley spoke sadly of opportunities lost. Said he: “Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”
Marley added: “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”

Fortunately, as we know, Ebenezer Scrooge changed his life for the better. I love his line,

“I am not the man I was.”
Why is Dickens’s Christmas Carol so popular? Why is it ever new? I personally feel it is inspired of God. It brings out the best within human nature. It gives hope. It motivates change. We can turn from the paths which would lead us down and, with a song in our hearts, follow a star and walk toward the light. We can quicken our step, bolster our courage, and bask in the sunlight of truth. We can hear more clearly the laughter of little children. We can dry the tear of the weeping. We can comfort the dying by sharing the promise of eternal life. If we lift one weary hand which hangs down, if we bring peace to one struggling soul, if we give as did the Master, we can—by showing the way—become a guiding star for some lost mariner.

If I have learned anything on this mission it is to live in today. To make the very best of what we have been given. When we first arrived in Ukraine I was so homesick. I would have given almost anything to see my family one more time. I remember as we were preparing to leave for our mission how I cherished each day that we were together. I wrote letters to my children and grandchildren expressing how much I loved them and would miss them. I wrote and told them all the special things I loved about them and how much I valued my relationship with each one of them. As the day to leave the Country approached and we had parted with most of our worldly possessions I found myself clinging to my family. I wanted to spend as much time as I could doing all the things that had previously seemed so mundane to me like playing with my grandchildren, or watching my son wash his car, or having my daughter lay her head in my lap.
There is a poem about life that talks about putting our families first. It goes like this........

One hundred years from now
It will not matter what kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much money I had in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like.
But one hundred years from now
The world may be a little better
Because I was important
In the life of a child.
~Dr. Forest E. Witcraft


It became brilliantly clear to me as I was saying good bye to my children at the airport that their presence in my life had changed me. I remember standing at the bottom of the escalator. They had walked us as far as they were allowed to go. We couldn't put our good bye off any longer. At that moment time stopped. Nothing else seemed to matter. I wanted to remember everything about them. The way their eyes sparkled, the way my now grown sons hand felt in mine, the way my daughters smile radiated, and the sweet tender words my son-in-law spoke to us as we all embraced one last time.
It was at that moment that I realized what a gift I had been given to raise these two children. How blessed we were that our daughter found such a perfect match for a husband. What a blessing it is to be a mother and to have a loving, kind man as the father of my children. I could feel my heart ache as I grasped my husband's hand and walked away from all that was dear to me.
I know some of you may be thinking why would you do that? I wish I could eloquently put into words why. I will try by saying, because I love the Lord, I know that he has showered me with blessings. I know that by obeying his commandments I have had a peace in my life that surpasses anything I could have ever imagined. I have a Heavenly Father who has healed my broken heart, has shown me the light when I could only see darkness. The world is filled with people who suffer, people who have been wounded emotionally and physically by the pains of this world. I just found myself thinking "how can I not go". When there are so many people out there who need to know that there is a peace that awaits them. There is a light that can fill their soul with peace.
It has been 9 months since that day at the airport. When we left California to serve a Humanitarian Mission in Ukraine I thought of how rewarding it would be to be able to relieve the suffering of the poor and needy with badly needed "material things". What I could never have known was, how much more important the expressions of love we show here are to the people of Ukraine. They are amazed that we do this. They don't comprehend why our church would just "donate" the items we deliver and that we expect nothing in return. When I stop to help someone on the street and I look into the eyes of "one of the least of these", my heart fills with a love similar to the love I felt for my children as I stood in the airport. It is at that very moment that I am filled with gratitude to be able to be an instrument in the hands of my Heavenly Father.
I know that these moments must be cherished. In coming to Ukraine I have been given another gift that I need to fully appreciate. This moment in my life is but a small moment. Every missionary that goes home and writes to us says, "I miss everything about my mission." I want to enjoy everything about my mission while I am here in Ukraine. And when I go home I want to enjoy everything about my life as a wife, mother, and grandmother. I want to be happy in the moment. I want to be filled with joy and thanksgiving. I pray that we can all live our lives so that we don't end up with alot of empty yesterdays.

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