Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Greetings 12/27/2010

Branch in Vinnitsya

A Christmas Feast

Branch Christmas Party

A yummy Christmas meal... good food, good company

Alright so, the rest of this week went really well! Christmas was really fun. After I talked to you, we had some breakfast at the Ewarts and then spent the whole day cooking and preparing the meal for the Christmas party. Elder Munzer returned back to the Ewarts for his Christmas call. So I went on exchanges with Elder Hackett to make sure that both of our apartments didn't burn down because each apartment had like 3 chickens in the oven. After the chickens were finished, we went over to the church at 4 and prepared the rest of the food and set it out. The party started at 5 and there were soooo many people there. A lot of less actives came and some of our investigators came. Members and investigators even brought friends! We ended up getting like 4 new investigators from that party. Everyone was really impressed.  I hung out with the members and some of our investigators during the party.  Before it, while I was setting up Tanya and Zina approached me and told me that I should be sitting over at the little kids table. They told me it was the perfect size for me. They started laughing after that. I was like "You're not gonna be laughing when I beat you in Ping Pong on Monday". But I don't know if I can back that talk up. Our investigators had a really good time as well. One of our investigators, Olya, introduced me to her husband and his sister and her daughter that came. They became some of our new investigators. Our other investigator, Nastya, the ten year old girl that I told you about had a lot of fun and she was showing me some of the things that she got from the party. She got this tiny stuffed penguin and a couple of wristbands. Gena stole my camera and he started taking a few pictures with it. I'd show you, but I just realized I forgot my camera. I left it back at the apartment. I'll send you some next week and I'll have the Ewarts send you some this week because they took a lot. The Christmas party went as follows: it started at five. We had a skit, Elder Hackett was dressed up as Santa Claus, or as they call him: Grandfather Frost. Lena conducted the skit. The older woman sang some traditional Christmas songs, we read some riddles,  and then we ate. After dinner, we took a Branch Christmas photo. 
So even though we felt like we've been ditched a lot this week and we haven't been that successful.. I suppose numbers can't lie that we had some success this week. We got five new investigators and five investigators at Sacrament Meeting. We just had a lot of miracles happen this week. 
We did drop some investigators though. One of them, her name is Yana,  was engaged to one of our recent converts, Chidi. He was one of the Nigerian soccer players. But they had a misunderstanding and Yana realized that she wasn't ready for marriage quite yet. To make a long story short,  she broke it off. Since Chidi was the only reason she came to Vinnitsya, I doubt she will be coming back. She works and stays mostly in Kyiv. We went over to him on Christmas Eve and talked to him and read some scriptures. We read D&C 121:7-9 together which gave him a lot of encouragement. He said that he was confident that God would take care and he knows what's best for him.  Chidi definitely has a strong testimony and is one of our strongest recent converts. Our other recent Convert is Katya Solinko. She is starting to question the church a lot and she is starting to question the temple. She's getting really mad because we won't tell her all the details of what goes on in the temple. She apparantly read some anti-mormon literature on the internet about the temple and it scared her. We're trying to work with her, but things don't look so good for Katya at the moment. Elder Hackett and Elder Fudge told me that she mostly got baptized for Elder Gregoire, the missionary that taught her. Just cause she really likes Elder Gregoire and will do pretty much whatever he says. 
So yeah.. It ended up being a really good week.  As for today, we are going to eat out at our usual place after this, at El Paso, and then shop for our weekly groceries and then relax for the rest of the day. Oh, Gena called me this morning and told me that I am giving the lesson for FHE. I came up with a short lesson about enduring to the end during my studies this morning. 
Love you!
Elder Zach McEntire

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas from Vinnitsya! 12/20/2010

Inside of church building in Vinnitsya

Decorating for Christmas with Gena and Elder Munzer

Zach and Elder Munzer

Alright so, this week has been better than last week. We've had a lot of our lessons work and made some progress with investigators this week. Zone conference was also really cool. L'viv is a really nice city. Everyone says it is the most beautiful city in the mission, so hopefully I'll get to serve there someday soon. L'viv is for Ukrainian speakers only, so chances are that I'll get there someday. But for right now I'm really content here in Vinnitsya. L'viv is titled the City of Lions, I think it is because they have this running of the lions in L'viv, similar to the running of the bulls in Spain. I don't know if that's a rumor or if it's true, I suppose I'll have to ask around. Zone conference was on Friday and it was a lot of fun. President Steinagel got up and talked about the importance of being bold but simple. Simply teaching the basics, doctrines of Christ. It reminded me of when Elder Bednar came to the MTC.  President Steinagel said a lot of the same things. Then we had some contacting exercises about how to be bold but simple on the street. Elders Whiting and Larsen from Zhetomyr, who have been getting like 12 new investigators every week, got up and shared their success stories and some of their secrets. It didn't really apply to us  who were in Vinnitsya because we can't really contact here but it made Elder Munzer and I think of how we could try to talk about the gospel with people on the streets of Vinnitsya. The new missionaries, including myself, then got up and bared testimonies. Later that night we went caroling in the center L'viv.  Some of us were singing and others were contacting.  People in Ukraine love carolers. So we are going to be doing that in Vinnitsya soon. Probably this week.  And then till the next Christmas on January 7th. I contacted a few people as well. People in L'viv seem to be more open then in Vinnitsya. It made it seem easier. Then we got on the train and headed back to Vinnitsya. The train left at 8. The train ride consisted of the following: Telling scary stories with Elder Whiting and Elder Larsen, playing the harmonica with Elder Brink(who is also serving in Zhyetomyr), and quoting Harry Potter with Elder Lewis and Elder Morrisen(who are serving in Xmelninske). We got back to Vinnitsya at 3 in the morning. We were exhausted, but glad to be back and full of new ideas.
So here's a little bit about President Steinagel: He served a mission in the Caman Islands, I think he said, speaking Swahili. You might think how someone like him would be called to be a president in the Kyiv Ukraine Mission... well, he's a linguist. Not only does he know Swahili, but he also knows Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Ukrainian. He is a very optimistic and up beat person. He somehow makes everything sound exciting. He always has so much energy when he talks. He's very open to change and he's all about new ideas. He always saying, "Now, how can we make this more fun?" He also really enjoys numbers. He thinks that when you focus on numbers, you can better focus on individuals. Which didn't make sense to me at first, but now I think I get what he means. Now, I'm pretty sure Sister Steinagel was a nurse or a nutritionist because she is always giving advice on how to be healthy. Always telling us and reminding us to eat fruits and vegetables and always offering advice on how to recover from illnesses and to eat healthier. So either, she's a nurse... or she has a lot of free time on her hands.  President Steinagel told us that we are going to be having a mission doctor come in  February, and when he said that he joked about how Sister Steinagel won't know what to do with herself when that happens.
Anyways, exchanges went really well this week. We had Elder Lewis and Morrison come over from Xmelninske for another exchange. So we had two exchanges this week. We went out to what is called a celo. A celo is a small village that's located on the outskirts of the cities out in the countryside. The celo here outside of Vinnitsya is called Medvezhavyshka. We have a lot of members out there. So we go out every now and then and spend the whole day meeting members and investigators out there. We went out on Wednesday.  The people there always feed us soooo much food. I'm stuffed by the time we leave the village. I ate so much food on Wednesday that on Thursday I didn't really eat anything and I wasn't hungry at all that day. The women here always tell me to eat more and feed me so much. Even the youth. Tanya and Zina made me like a million sandwiches last Sunday and they kept feeding them to me and kept saying that I need to eat more.  Oh, also the youth here are really into Ping Pong. Who knew? Ukrainians love Ping Pong. So while I'm preaching the Gospel here, I'm also honing my Ping Pong skills. Tanya and Zina play it all the time. They are always at the church playing ping pong. And they crush me every time I try to play them. My goal is to beat them at least once before I leave Vinnitsya. The other elders say that that will never happen. We'll see.
So, what do I do for P-day? We sometimes go bowling. One of the youth here, Gena, he loves to go bowling and always asks us at church "hey are you going bowling tomorrow?". We do a little sight-seeing. Vinnitsya has some pretty sweet statues here. As for today, we are just going to go shopping. One of the members asked us to shovel the snow by the church so we are going to do that, and then just relax for the rest of the day. At 6:30 we have FHE with the youth. So we hang out with them, eat ice cream, have a spiritual thought, and play games for the rest of the night. Oh, and play ping pong. Oh, we also have lesson with a new investigator, Hastya. She is a grandaughter and lives with one of the members, Sister Chalix. We're going to teach the rest of the restoration and help Sister Chalix hold Family Home Evening at her house.

Love you,
Elder Zach McEntire

Monday, December 13, 2010

Week 3 in Vinnitsya 12/13/2010

Church in Vinnitsya

 We have a washer in the apartment, but we have to hang dry our clothes. That's how we do laundry in Ukraine. So there's two Christmas' and two New Years here in Ukraine. There is the December 25th Christmas, which usually members of the church celebrate it with us and other Christian denominations in Ukraine. And then there is the Pragoslavian (orthodox) Christmas which is Jan 6, which is what most people celebrate in Ukraine. Some people celebrate both, just as a way to give and get more gifts.  Then there's New Years Day(Jan 1) and then the old New Years Day which is like Jan 18.
This week has actually been pretty warm.  It's been like 5-9 degrees every day this week, so like 40-50 degrees this week. It's cooled off a little and we got some snow yesterday.
As far as this week goes it hasn't been too well. We set the record for most investigators at church and member present lessons last week, but this week didn't go so well. We got dogged on, ditched, so many times this week, probably like 10 or 11 times. We had planned for like 7 investigators coming to church, who told us they would be there, but only one showed up. Serhi was the only investigator to show up. Bummer.. But it just makes me want to work harder.
We still had a pretty interesting week. Here's what happened:
1. So we have these less active members, Natasha and Demitri, who are from Russia, and they speak English really well so we just teach them in English. They really love the church and the Book of Mormon but the only reason they don't come to church is that they are afraid to leave their house. Natasha is a very paranoid person.  I'm pretty sure it's something mental and Demitri kinda agrees with everything she says. She thinks that ex-members of the KGB are after her and Demitri and they are  part of a conspiracy to tear down the Kyiv Temple. They always feel like they are being watched and people are trying to kill them, so they never leave their house anymore. We went to visit them this week and they found this phone w/out a sim card. It was a pretty nice slider, even though it looked a little beat up. They said that they looked on the internet and found that you can still listen to people through a phone without a sim card and only a battery. And they were like " we have proof now that people are listening in to our conversations and that people are spying on us and that people are trying to kill us!" They have a tendency to make everything sound dramatic and to jump to these random conclusions. They also said that they found these stereos and they thought that they were tapped as well. Elder Munzor and I were like..."we gotta go" We shared a quick spiritual thought about the Book of Mormon and following the counsel in it. They gave us the phone when we left. President Steinagel's advice to us concerning Natasha and Demitri is just to be their friends and keep telling them that we'd love to see them at church. We do that and usually share a thought about faith and prayer, doing what God wants you to do even though it seems scary.We haven't really made much progress with them.
2. We've had a couple of drunk people walk into the church.. it happens sometimes. One of two things happens when drunk people come into the church building. They either swear at the missionaries or tell us how much they love us and this church and then grab all the pamphlets we give them and then they give us their number. The second option happened. His name was Roman and he seemed to be loving life. He said he would come to church the next day(This was on Saturday) but he didn't show, no surprise. We'll probably give him a ring soon.
3. We got this referral from Kyiv. Her name was Nadiya. She invited us over on Saturday to her house and said that she would be happy to meet with us. We got excited and thought "Yes! new investigator!" It took us like an hour to get to her address and when we finally got there she wasn't there.  Her roommate/friend was there and told us that she went back to Kyiv to visit her son and that she said that she didn't want us to call her anymore. If she wanted to meet with us she would give us a call. After wards... we kinda just stood there walked around for a little and then I turned to Elder Munzer and finally said "Well... this sucks" We took the hour journey back into Vinnitsya and tried to figure out what we could do for the rest of the day.
4. So on Sunday, Sister Prakobovich, the Branch chorister, wasn't there. She was in the hospital for a check up that day. So Elder Hackett, who was also the 2nd counselor in the Branch Presidency, approached me and said "Elder McEntire, do you know how to you lead?" I answered "Yeah kinda" He replied "Oh, good. You are like the only one out of us who can kinda sing. You're leading today." It was pretty much a train wreck. Elder Fudge played the piano with one hand because he only knows how to play with one hand. There's only one person in the Branch who knows how to play piano, Katya. Well actually Tanya and Zina(mini missionaries that came back with us from Kyiv) know how to play but they refuse. So Elder Fudge and I were in charge of the music that day. Even though there are people in the Branch who can sing, the people who can't sing try so hard and sing so loud that you can't hear the people you can actually sing. And all you hear is high-pitched squealing from those who can't sing. Sister Prakobovich  sings really loud and really well. So the music usually sounds good because you can only hear her. But it was me trying to lead and I don't sing that loud. All the youth had this grin on their faces as I was going up. They probably felt my pain.
So that was my week. Oh, we had a read the Book of Mormon day on Wednesday. Which was nice. This week we're  going on exchanges with some of the Russian speaking elders on Tuesday and Wednesday. So we'll see how that goes. Then we have zone conference in L'viv on Friday. Which I am definately excited for. Mostly cause it's an 8 hour train ride from here to L'viv and that gives me an opportunity to nap. I also hear zone conference is way fun.
So this week was more meeting with the members and less actives. All our investigators can be given baptismal dates. We just need to meet with them and none of them could meet this last week. We need to start handing out baptism dates like they're hot cakes. The youth are really cool. They joke around with me a lot. The call me Elder Macaroni for some reason. Well the girls do(Tany, Zina, and Lena). So, Tanya and Zina are the ex-mini missionaries from Kyiv. They're both like 17/18. Lena is a returned missionary. She served in Moscow. She is like 23. Then there is Gena. He served a mini mission too. But he is starting to work on his mission papers. He is 20. Then there was Sasha who just left for the MTC. He was a goof, he's 19. And that's pretty much the youth here. I need to start taking more pictures and videos to send you. I have a couple.
Love Elder Zach McEntire

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another week in Vinnitsya 12/6/2010

Kyiv Mission

So I've been here in Ukraine now for over a week, and it's been awesome. I'm really enjoying it here! Even thought it is pretty cold. Last week, we got the first Ukrainian blizzard of the season.  It was snowing hard.  Apparently there will be a lot more of those this winter. Last week it got to about -15 degree's C(Which is about 5 degrees F I think), but then it started warming up later in the week. Everyone in the branch keeps asking me if I'm cold, but I give them the same response.. only a little bit. My Trainer, Elder Munzer, said that no matter how layered you are you're never really warm, just less cold. Last winter it got about -33 C and they say it will be the same this winter if not colder. Right now its only -2 C, so not that cold, but the humidity and the wind make it seems a lot worse than it really is. 
So, the picture you got from the Senior couple, The Ewarts, was taken on my second day in Ukraine. We were in the train station on our way from Kyiv to Vinnitsya. In that picture is Elder Munzor and me, the Ewarts, Elder Fudge and Elder Hackett, and two mini missionaries who were from Vinnitsya, Tanya and Zina. They were serving a mini mission, a 6-12 week mission usually in Kyiv but sometimes in L'viv or Odessa. That's our District here in Vinnitsya. Elder Munzor and I(Ukrainian speaking elders) Elder Fudge and Hackett(Russian speaking elders) and the Ewarts(Senior couple). The Ewarts told me to tell you that you could e-mail them any time if you had questions because they have unlimited access to e-mail. The Ewarts are from DuschaneCounty in Utah, Elder Fudge is from Southern California, and Elder Hackett is from Arkansas. Our District here is really tight. We have District meeting/brunch at the Ewarts every Tuesday and a District lunch every Sunday after church.
So the building we meet is an actual LDS chapel. It's really nice. Oh and a funny fact about the church... it's right across from the Jehovah witness' chapel. Weird huh? I don't know who was there first or if that location for either church was coincidence or on purpose. 
So a couple things that happened this week. One of the youth from our branch, Sasha(by the way, Sasha is a very very popular name in Ukraine almost everyone has this name so when I can't remember someones name I just guess Sasha and I'm usually right) left for the MTC yesterday. He is going to Ekatarinburg, Russia. He gave his farewell talk last Sunday and asked for a Priesthood blessing from the Ewarts and we were invited to be there for his blessing. His farewell talk wasn't as big of a deal as it would be here in Utah. His family didn't show up to hear him talk, mainly cause they are inactive or nonmembers. It amazes me how much these people give up to be a part of this church. A lot of the members live on the other side of the city and they travel for quite a bit just to make it to church every Sunday. Most people take public transit. It's weird cause I see cars all the time but no one we teach have cars so I always ask myself "Where do all these cars come from?" 
We got a few new investigators this week. Thats the hardest part for us because of the proselyting rules here in Vinnitsya. Since we can't really contact, tract or handout English ads/flyers it's hard to find new investigators, but we find them nonetheless. The thing about contacting here is that we can't bring up the gospel. It can't be the first thing that comes out of our mouths. They have to ask us a question about it, then we can talk to them about the church. So we call it "natural conversations" here in Vinnitsya. It still is a skill that I have yet to perfect.  I still have to work at it. Some good ideas to start conversations here is to ask directions, or just any question in general. If you ask a Ukrainian a question about Ukraine or the language, they will drop everything and help you. I also catch people staring at my name tag, I don't know why but people's eyes are always attracted. So when I catch people staring at it I go up and start talking to them. "Natural conversations" isn't really the most effective way to find new investigators here. The best way is through members, referrals, and the area book. But having conversations with others is a skill that I need to develop as a missionary, so I just need to keep working at it.
Vinnitsya is the fourth largest city in our mission. First is Kyiv, Second is Odessa, third is L'viv, and then it's Vinnitsya. 
There's a few popular phrases here in Ukraine regarding religion. "God is one" is what most people say or "All paths lead to God". Most people here believe that all churches are true and it doesn't matter what church you attend as long you go to one. Most people also believe that being baptized a second time is a sin. The biggest religions here are Ukrainian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Baptist. Although the Orthodox churches are pretty cool looking here. Also Ukrainians are very family oriented, which is good and bad. Good because they believe a lot in the fact that family is central, but bad because most people don't make any kind of decision without consulting everyone in their family. And if one person disagrees then they don't make that decision.  This isn't always the case, but it happens often.
I've never seen so many stray dogs and cats in my life. In Ukraine you will see stray dogs chilling on the sidewalks all the time. You will also see herds of dogs traveling around a lot. You will also occasionally see a dog fight and people act like it's no big deal. 
As for the Christmas call, I can skype to you from the Ewarts' computer. You just tell me when on Christmas you want to talk. Like what time? 

Elder McEntire

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hello from Ukraine 12/4/2010

Good evening,

We are Elder and Sister Ewart. We are the senior missionary couple serving in Vinnitsya Ukraine with your son Elder McEntire. We thought you might like to see the picture I took at the Вокзал (train station) of Sister Ewart and our Elders along with our two returning Sister Mini-missionaries last week after transfers. You might recognize one of the Elders in the picture. The Elder to his left is his companion,  Elder Munzer. He had only been in the country a few days when he was assigned to our area. He was at our apartment today with all of our Elders. He assisted while I gave a blessing to a native Elder who leaves in the morning headed to the MTC in Provo. He will be serving a mission in Russia. We just wanted to let you know he is doing very well, and I'm sure you will be hearing soon about Vinnitsya and this great work. Thanks for sending us this great young Elder. Please keep all of us in your prayers.

Elder & Sister Ewart

Monday, November 29, 2010

First Week in Ukraine 11/29/2010

Elder McEntire

So I'm here in Ukraine, this is my first week and well... my legs hurt. A lot of walking and what not, but it's been good. So first off, the rest of my flight went really well. On the flight to Germany, I sat next to this nice man named Jim. He was from El Paco, Texas and he was headed to Saudia Arabia for work. We talked a whole lot during the flight.  He was really into our message, so Elder Saltmarsh and I gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and taught him the whole first lesson, the message of the restoration. He really liked it and said that he would get in contact with the missionaries when he got back to Texas. You can really find out a lot about a person when you're on an 8 hour flight with them. Anyways, we spent the first two days in Kyiv, did a little sight seeing and the Mission President, President Steinagel, explained a lot about the mission and about Ukraine. We did a little contacting in Kyiv and got a few numbers, but those were transferred over to some other missionaries. We had a welcome dinner that night at the mission home, which was really nice. We spent the night at the mission home. The next day we got up, packed our stuff back up, and headed to our transfer meeting which was at the mission office by the Kyiv Temple. I hope you got those photos that were sent, the ones with the mission president and my new trainer. We had a Thanksgiving meal and discussed goals for the mission and then we watched that news report, the one that was shown after conference, about the Kyiv Temple. 
Alright so, my first area is in a city called Vinnitsya(I know how to spell it in Ukrainian but I'm not sure how it is spelled in English so this is my best guess). We had to leave right after the meeting, because our train ride was at 6:30 and the meeting ended at 4. So I didn't get a chance to go into the Temple, but I'll be able to next time we're in Kyiv, which will probably be in 6 weeks at the next transfer meeting. So, yeah, as of right now I'm in an internet cafe in Vinnitsya. Vinnitsya is southwest of Kyiv.  The train ride was three hours. It's a pretty ghetto city, but I like it. It definitely has that old European feel to it, nothing like any of the cities in America. I would recomend that you E-mail me from now on because the" dear-elders" are sent to the mission office in Kyiv. And well, I love you but I'm not taking a three hour train ride every week  just to pick up some letters. 
Missionary work is done a little differently here in Vinnitsya because we are not allowed to tract, hand out books, nor contact here. It's against city law. So, how we find people is through the members, through referals. We meet with the members a lot, teach lessons and discuss if there is anyone that we could meet with. They are all willing to help. English lessons were a big help too.  A lot of people showed up to those but President Steinagel discontinued lessons for now. I think it's because he thinks we focus too much on teaching English instead of teaching the gospel. So that has made it a little harder to find people. But we still do, however. We have one investigator with a baptismal date. His name is Serhi, a super humble man. He has a date on the 9th of January, but we're trying to bring it closer to December 25 or 26. He invites a lot of his friends to hear from us. It's cool.  He's a missionary and he's not even baptized yet. We're teaching another person, Sasha, who's mom and sister are both members. He used to be really against it but he came to church for the first time yesterday and wants to meet with us again. He has already had the first lesson, restoration, so we think we are going to give him a baptismal date for the 25th as well. He has changed a lot. 
I'm struggling to understand a lot of people. My trainer helps me out though. His name is Elder Ben Munzer.  He is from York, England. I'm starting to understand people better, but it's gonna take some time. I do teach portions of the lessons, except when someone asks me a question, then I have no idea what to say. Most of the time, I do teach a few principles. We have these two soccer players from Nigeria, who were recent converts, but they don't speak Russian or Ukrainian. So I had to translate Sunday School for them yesterday. I was totally lost. I got the gist of what was going on.  I mostly just read scriptures with them. Elder Munzer helped me out a lot though. Oh, the youth in our ward can speak English really well, so they help me out a lot too.
All is good in Vinnitsya. The  food is really good. They eat a lot of pastas and grains in Ukraine. So that's what we eat too. Lunch is the big meal here, we eat a big lunch and then just grab a small snack for dinner. Oh, the chocolate here, is ten times better than the chocolate in America by the way. 
It's tiring here. I'm still suffering from the Jet lag, but I really like it here. I'll send some pictures soon.
Love, Elder Zach McEntire

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Zachary has arrived in Ukraine! 11/25/2010

In front of the Kyiv Temple

Zachary with Elder Munzer and President Steinagel

 A letter from Zach's Mission President:

Dear Brother and Sister McEntire,

Sister Steinagel and I were pleased to welcome your son, Elder Zachary McEntire, to the best mission in the world, the Ukraine Kyiv Mission. He is well and happy and we are impressed with his enthusiasm and preparation. After he arrived, we took the new missionaries for a brief visit to downtown Kyiv, including a visit to the Prince Volodymyr Statue along the Dnipro River, which is the site where Elder Boyd K. Packer dedicated the land of Ukraine to the preaching of the gospel on September 12, 1991. The missionaries were then taken to the mission home for dinner and a good night’s rest. Elder McEntire and I also interviewed together and then the assistants gave him a brief orientation to the mission.

This morning Elder McEntire attended a transfer meeting where he met his new companion, Elder Munzer. This afternoon they departed to their new area, which is in Vinnitsya. Trainers are chosen for their competence and dedication, and you can have confidence that your son is in good hands. We have enclosed a photograph of them from this morning.

Please know what a privilege it is to work with your son. They’ve now joined the family of missionaries serving here with us, all of whom are committed to build Zion here by helping as many souls as possible to come unto Christ through baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is my prayer that the Lord will sustain Elder McEntire in this new assignment.

You might be interested to know that our missionaries have preparation day on Mondays. On that day they have time to write home and will email you. Please keep in mind that we are nine hours ahead of Utah time.

Thank you again for sending us your precious missionary.


President Lane O. Steinagel and Sister Jennefer Steinagel

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last Week in the MTC!! 11/16/2010

Learning Ukrainian at the MTC

Studying at the MTC

More studying at the MTC
Ukraine, here I come!!!
Zach and Elder Kashiwasi  (light saber battle)  Hmm.....interesting!

 Last Week in the MTC!!  (Letter dated 11/16/2010)

Alright so... I got my flight plans!! I got them on last Thursday! Here it is: I leave on Tuesday the 23rd, early in the morning. I Have to report to the travel office at 5 A.M.... there I will get my passport and visa and other paperwork that I'll need for Ukraine. So I leave from the Salt Lake Airport at 8:10 a.m., flying Lufthansa, I arrive in Chicago O'hare Airport at 12:18, I'm there till 3:45(Chicago time). It should be from 11:18 to 2:45 Utah time. So expect a phone call from me during that time from Chicago. There aren't any rules regarding the phone call except don't miss my flight. So expect a call on Tuesday November 23rd between 11:18 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. I leave Chicago at 3:45(Chicago time) and I fly to Frankfurt Germany, arriving there at 6:55(In Utah it would be 11:55 p.m. roughly) I'm in the airport for another three hours, then I board another flight to Kyiv at 9:45 a.m.(2:45 a.m.) I arrive in Kyiv at 1:10 p.m.(4:10 a.m.). They have hooks here at the MTC where I can weigh my luggage. They encourage us to be packed by Thursday, so I'll be spending most of my day today packing. I haven't used any of my cash here at the MTC, I've saved it for the flight. I'll pick up a phone card so I can call you from Chicago.  So for the Tuesday night Devotional last week, David A. Bednar came and spoke to us! It was really cool and exciting.  He talked about the importance of teaching the doctrine and not just applications or opinions. He said to explain the doctrine and the why behind what we do. It was a really good devotional. That was the fourth apostle we've had here in a row, people at the administrative staff have said that this has never happened before( as far as they can remember). It would be cool if we got another one, but I don't think it will happen, but whoever it is I'm sure it will be inspiring. We got the privilege to host new missionaries here at the MTC last week. I kinda got to welcome Mikey Morales here. I didn't host him, but I did get to seem him the first day he was here. It was cool, I'm also hosting  again this week. it's fun.
 Elder Shurtleff and Iare also doing a demonstration for the new missionaries on Wednesday. They have a "how to begin teaching" seminar for the new missionaries and we're going to be the examples of how to begin teaching for the new missionaries. I don't know how I feel about but I'm sure it'll be fine.
Something cool that happened this week was that, last night, I received what is called the Brighton Journal. I got it from Elder Davis Espilin. It is a journal, that was started by the Sandy Institute in the beginning of this year, that has testimonies and recordings of all the missionaries that have attended Brighton High and were in the MTC this year. It was really cool reading through it, I knew almost everyone who wrote in the journal. It was definitely inspiring to see testimonies of good close friends. It made me feel grateful for the friends that I had in my life. Friendship is definitely one of the greatest blessings that comes from God. I am definitely grateful for my district, zone, and the all the friends I have made here at the MTC. Now it is my turn to add my testimony of serving a mission and the church to the journal. When the journal is full, the last person who writes in it is suppose to mail it back to the Sandy Institute building.
I feel ready for Ukraine.  Our Native teacher, Brother Shelyakin, assured us that we will be fine. He said to me "Elder McEntire, I can understand your Ukrainian just fine and if I can understand your Ukrainian than the people in Ukraine will understand your Ukrainian." It was comforting. He told us that he thought we were ready and that we'll do just fine.He gave us family names to do in the temple this morning for our last temple session here in Provo. It was really cool, the temple workers kinda had a hard time pronouncing the names because it was mostly written in  Ukrainian. It was funny. Well I hope all is well at home and I will talk to you more next week from Chicago 11:18 to 2:45. Make sure everyone knows this time. Love you and I will talk to you next week.
Elder Zach McEntire

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two Months at the MTC! 11/9/2010

Mikey, a friend from Utah State
Missionary life!

Missionary life?

Two Months at the MTC! (Letter dated 11/9/2010):
It's been a good week, just a lot of studying and language practice.
So, as i mentioned last week, Elder Nelson and Elder Scott came to speak to us. Elder Ballard came to speak to us as well this past Tuesday. All of their talks were really good! Elder Nelson's was pretty basic, he pretty much just stated our purpose as missionaries: To invite other to come unto Christ by helping them receive the message of the restored gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. He went into each topic with detail. He then talked about the importance of listening and maintaining eye contact while speaking, which was something I think I needed to hear. He compared us to these lions that him and his wife saw while traveling in Africa. He said that we need to be alert, ready and attentive at all times. Elder Scott's was really cool. It was about the importance of listening and following the Spirit. He gave us all a copy of his talk, which was just a compiled list of notes from his journals on how to follow the spirit. He also gave us a lot of "Apostolic blessings" which were: protection for the sisters, confidence in being guided by the spirit, to retain what we have learned in the mission and using it through our lives, and the gift of tounges if we study and have faith in it. As I thought about it, both Elder Nelson and Elder Ballard gave us apostolic blessings, but it was the ways Elder Scott worded it that made it stand out. It was a very spiritual talk. I review his hand out often. Elder Ballard's was on the importance of being a "Master Communicator". he said to keep the message of the restored gospel simple, and he talked about how to talk unrelated questions and tie them in. He talked about some of his experiences doing this and shared with us some of his, what he calls, "Ballardisms".  It was cool hearing from three apostles back-to-back. The all left us with big smiles and a wave. Elder Ballard gave us a thumbs up and yelled "You'll do Great!" as he was leaving.
So I should get my travel plans this week! We are all really excited to go to Ukraine. I just buy a phone card before I leave, from the book store, and I would use it to call you from a pay phone in the airport. I think the call would be about 30 minutes, depending on my flight schedule. So expect a call from Chicago, D.C., New York, or Atlanta. I'll let you know about my flights next week
The weather here as been kinda odd, it's been getting pretty cold pretty fast. It snowed a couple times too. My district all loves going outside and playing in the leaves, since we are stuck in the same room for about 10 hours everyday.
The language is coming along great. I already start to think in Ukrainian quite a bit. We starting doing 100 percent SYL. It's that way from now on, except for P-day and Sundays. We've had a couple SYL days(SYL is Speak Your Language) but now we are going 100 %. It's kinda hard but it's fun and the teachers are pretty understanding and help us out. These TRC task, we plan a day in Ukrainian and share our plans with a newly baptized member. It should be fun and then we go back and teach.
Everyone keeps asking me for family photos, I just tell them they are on the way... right? It's okay, Just make sure you send them before I leave for Ukraine. Tell more about Dad's thing as the FHE activity it sounds interesting.
So, our native Ukrainian teacher, brother Shelyakin says we'll probably run into his family, only his sister is LDS. So he gave us scenarios of what would happen teaching his various family members. It's fun but hard.
That's about it, that's all that is new. I'll let you know about my travel plans next week.
Love you all!
Elder Zach McEntire

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Still at the MTC 11/2/2010

Trick or Treating at the MTC
Provo Temple!

Zach and the ladies....or Sisters.

Still at the MTC (Letter dated 11/2/2010):
Happy Halloween! I hope your halloween was awesome! My Halloween experience went like this: So on Sunday there is a devotional at 7 and then after the devotional(at 8) you have the options of either going to see one of the films that are playing that night, or going back to your dorm/classroom to study. We chose to go back to our dorm to "study". I dressed up as a "ghost", which means I just put a white bed sheet on top of me. My Companion, Elder Shurtleff, was a Gypsy, we just tied a towel around his head, others in my district were a box, and a scary grandma(His mom sent him a mask). We went around our building, trick-r-treating to the few who chose to return to their dorms after the devotional. Surprising, it was pretty successful. We then took some pictures and just chilled until lights out(10:30). So.. it was a pretty good Halloween.
Mom and Dad, I'm glad you enjoyed the photos! I'll send some more home right before I leave for Ukraine. They'll probably just be of the younger districts, my teachers, and other shenanigans I've done here at the MTC. I'm actually really grateful for the time I've spent here. Although we are all really anxious to get to Ukraine, I've learned a lot of lessons here. Whether they be about the Gospel, Ukraine, or Myself. It's kinda bittersweet learning these lessons because, a lot of them, I wish I have found out earlier.But, such is life. Let me share with some lessons I have learned so far: So, we have had a few elders/sisters that have gone home from our branch. It's hard, frustrating, and heartbreaking for sure. Whether the reason may be because of unresolved transgression, physical illness or mental illness. I believe that's why it is important to make sure that, before going into the MTC, your are physically and mentally healthy and prepared as well as spiritually. It makes me grateful for the health, sound mind, and testimony that I have been blessed with. I'm sure you all know the importance of this, though. But I have confidence that these people will return to the field. I have wondered in the past that if people who fall away ever return... I found the answer in a promise in Proverbs 22:6. Another thought that came to my mind is that, people have told me that these two years will be the Lords time, but isn't our whole lives the Lord's time? Surely, since the Lord has blessed us with the life we have and the air we breathe he can take it away just as easy. So I contemplated on how we can best use our time and best serve the Lord. I found the answer in Mosiah chapter 2. I also thought that " How many times have I missed what is in front of me?" "Have I missed a message that the Lord has been trying to send me because I kept my gaze focused on what's far away/ in the future, instead of what's in front of me?" We all want to do good in the world, but how can we when we are too focused on where we are going instead of where are? President Utchdorf gave a great talk this last Conference on the need to slow down and simplify our lives. I thought of the summers in California, when we used to go see the Redwood forests/trees. I thought about how long it took for those to progress and grow into the majestic trees that they are today. Perhaps that is another way we can fully utilize our time here on earth, to fully grow and progress and take our time doing so, that we may reach our full potential. Mom and Dad, I hope you are feeling better from the respective procedures that you have both had. Another thing, so here at the MTC we have two devotionals. The Sunday devotional, where someone from the MTC staff talks to us, and the Tuesday Devotional, where a general authority talks to us whether it be someone from the seventy or the twelve, or the first presidency. Twoweeks ago we had Elder Russell M. Nelson speak to us, last week we had Elder Richard G. Scott. They were both amazing experiences. I have 30 seconds left. I love you all! 

Elder Zach McEntire

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Another week at the MTC 10/26/2010

Zach and Elder Roberts (Zone leader #2 and obsessed with bubbles)

Salsa Parties! (Our Zone's version of FHE)

Another week at the MTC  (Letter dated 10/26/2010):

To start off I'd like to give you a story about what happened today. So, my companion has physical therapy for his shoulder and we go every Monday and Wednesday. But we had to go today to the hospital to see the progress of his shoulder. It looks fine and now we only have to go once a week. Here's the cool part of the story: as we were waiting for the shuttle to come pick us up from the hospital, there was a lady  that started talking to us. Her name was Jillette and she asked us if we were really missionaries and what we were doing in the hospital. I told her that we are, but in theMTC waiting to go to Ukraine and that my companion had to get a checkup on his shoulder. She told us to sit down by her and that she wanted to tell us a story. So we did. She told us this story of how she got in this totaled car crash, almost died, the paramedics had to use the jaws of life to rip her from the car. She went into a coma for 17 days. She described the coma experience as being on a white road and walking along the road with her grandmother and aunt, who were deceased. She said she could see the veil, but then heard a voice saying "go back, you're not done." She awoke from the coma, obviously, and she also said that she was heavily addicted to drugs. This experience helped her get rid of this habit. She choked up a couple times. It was amazing experience. We both bore testimony, in a subtle way, about the healing power of the atonement and how God gives us second chances. She grew up in the church but then fell away. She said she is now coming back. I thought of a quote by President Eyring "Through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, our natures can be changed and our power to carry burdens can be increased." It was true with Jillette. She had seen the grace and hand of God heavily in this instance. And on our drive back, we picked up a couple more missionaries and I swear I must have seen 3 or 4 cars with a "just married" painted on the back. I then thought to myself "Yup, I must be in Provo..."
So about the questions, I think they give us cards or money so we can use the pay phones in the airport during the layovers. I'll give you more info when I get my flight plans, which should be in a couple weeks! Oh, and when I said I mailed the photos last Tuesday... I really meant yesterday. I mailed them yesterday, promise. You should receive them today or tomorrow. As for Halloween, I don't know. I doubt the MTC will celebrate it in anyway. But my district probably will. I think I might put on the bed sheets and go trick-r-treating as a "ghost". 
Sorry to hear about the Maxima, I hope everything turns out fine. But I'm glad Paxton is okay. Isn't his birthday today? or soon? Give him a hug and tell him happy birthday.(Speaking of birthdays, can you tell me when everyone's birthday is so i don't "accidently" forget one.
Tell Bishop Smith and Davis that I say hello and I wish them well. Say hello to Brother Fitt and Brother Hill for me.
As for language, I've learned to give directions and ask for directions in Ukraine. The TRC task for tomorrow is that we are giving directions to someone in Ukraine, the directions are to the church. We are also teaching the plan of salvation to them in Ukrainain. So we learned that as well. My brain hurts from all this language practice. 
So the new missionaries are here, it's a little weird being the senior district in our zone. But whatever, in only like a month I'll be in Ukraine!  It's weird but by the time I leave theMTC I'll be 1/8 done with my mission. That's definitely a weird thought.
Dad, I'm sorry that I never asked you about your mission. I realized this a little while ago. Were you in theMTC at all? Could you tell me a little about your experience? I think above all the rules and little things, what kinda gets me down and is hard to deal with here is missionaries acting like they're better than everyone else. It's not common, but I've seen people thinking that they were sent to judge this "Babylon". Acting like that since they have a call from God, they were automatically better than everyone else. We are not sent as missionaries to sit on a pedestal and condemn the world. We are not sent as judges, but as servants and friends.  To find the good, which is in all people, and bring them closer to Christ. Did you ever run into missionaries like these?
Anyways, sorry to bring down the mood. Better news would be that I have actually been making my bed and cleaning my room more! We have pop room inspections once a week and I'm like never prepared. But I've been doing better these past couple weeks. And I've been getting to class on time these past three weeks!
I hope you all have a great week.
Elder Zach McEntire