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