Thanks for your letters. Glad everyone is well. I included pictures that I promised from when Elder Harvey (my first companion) left until now.
It sounds like you had a way fun New Years! We....had to be inside, but were able to practice the Message of the Restoration some more. Elder Lugashuk is growing so much and its definitely not because of me. You asked me to share about how he joined the church and became my missionary companion. Well, he's so prepared. So here is his full conversion story briefly:
He met with an Elderly coulple in a store one day and because he knew a few words in English and was the store manager, he thought he would go talk to them. He was super busy, pretty much only said hi and then accepted an invitation/pamphlet they gave him, and then he forgot about their conversation soon after. On the bus ride home he thought about checking his pockets and saw the pamplet. When he saw it was about the Mormons, he laughed and thought "oh, another one." He had studied religion in his life, his mom being Russian Orthodox and his dad being raised Catholic. He couldn't find answers and became an Atheist. Religion became too confusing.
He decided that since he had heard a lot of horrible things about the LDS church (commonly referred to as Mormons because people have a hard time remembering the full name of our church which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and because people make up negative stories about Mormons he decided he would look into it himself since the pamphlet teachings looked interesting. He showed up that Monday morning at the church at 8 in the morning. Of course it was locked and closed. But he came back again and again everyday at random hours until finally he met someone. He attended sacrament meeting his first time and knew this was what he had wanted to be for the rest of his life. The missionaries taught him and then he was baptized 8 December 2012. That meant that from the time he had met with the missionaries to his baptism (November 13 to December 8) was very short, but he was very prepared. And after being a member for merely 2 weeks, he's now on a mission as my new companion. This is a trial mission for a few months. His family will not speak with him and his brother even told him he is not his brother anymore. He turns 26 years old in March and plans on continuing to serve a full-time (2 year) mission if allowed. He is happy. After me having only been physically in Ukraine for three months, I'm grateful for our mission president to give me such a wonderful opportunity and the gift of this language. My companion Elder Lugashuk Is seriously one that I can see us being friends forever, and our mission here is not going to be our only time togther I feel. I am amazed by his sincerity and example to me at such a young age in the Church and doctrine...I do want to pull my hair out at times because of my pride and magnification of my imperfections around him, but when I manage to humble myself enough to push all that past me (meaning my pride), I cannot help but laugh, pray, and thank my Heavenly Father for this opportunity.
There is much to learn from this but consider the following:
1. Nobody can say he or she doesn't know enough to serve a mission. Be worthy and serve. No excuses. (only a member for two weeks....sounds like the 1830s when new members were asked to go on missions and leave their farms and families).
2. God loves all His children, even ones that claim they don't know Him (atheist).
3. Simple missionary moments. That couple handed him a pamphlet. They planted a seed.
4. Once the seed was planted, his interest grew. He made a continued effort to Love the Savior. He didn't just try going to the church and claim he tried and nobody was there. He didn't quit.
5. Be prepared.
6. Come home. Come unto me as the Savior so eloquently and simply said.
As for the work this week, even-though this last week was seemingly just like any other of hard work and people not wanting to listen to us, I feel a little more changed and a little better too. I feel more torn down and worn down as the Lord continues to mold and shape me...and I feel at times like I have taken leaps and bounds backwards...and forwards...but I am starting to really understand things...I am starting to really be me. I know that when we diligently seek the will of the Father, and then seek to courageously fulfill it, we have nothing to worry about.
I love you all and really do testify that in prayer, fasting, and scripture study lies all the revelation you will ever need. Don't look somewhere else for an answer. Those answers will not be from God.
Until next week,