Monday, March 28, 2011

Transfer Week Again 3/28/2011

Zach loves apartment inspections!

What's for dinner?

Dream Town Mall

Models of the world found in Dream Town Mall

So, I was basically in Kyiv this whole week with the Zone Leaders. I took a whole bunch of pictures while I was there, so you'll be getting a lot of them this week. It was good. I was basically on two exchanges. One with Elder Polivka on P-day. We went into Kyiv and met up with some other missionaries and went to what is called "Dreamtown". It is this giant mall in Center Kyiv. We explored it, got some lunch at this grill pasta place and then got some ice cream.  And we went and checked out this other mall called "Sky Mall". It was pretty cool, but not as cool as Dreamtown, I think. We stayed the night with the Zone Leaders, Elder Morrison and Elder Cluff. Then Elder Morrison and Elder Polivka went back to Bila on Tuesday morning and I was with Elder Cluff all day Tuesday. It was cool. I got to sit in on their District Meeting, explore more of Kyiv, and we ended up finding this one kid who had a million questions about deep doctrine and other stuff that didn't really matter. We told him that we wanted to teach him the root of all this and get to the basics. He agreed and wanted to meet again. We then went and met with one of the ward missionaries, Lena. She was way cool. She made us tea and sandwiches and basically gave us a million referrals. We talked about all of her friends and her neighbors that she could introduce us to. I then gave the spiritual thought. I really liked meeting with the members of their ward. I think it it would be cool to be a zone leader, just so I could get to know these people better and work in that ward. But I really like the small branches I have worked in so far. I was with Elder Cluff for most of Wednesday too.  Then Elder Morrison and Elder Carnes came back  in the afternoon and we had lunch in center Kyiv. We didn't get back to Bila till Wednesday night.  Thursday was spent buying groceries and cleaning up the apartment, cause I had no food for the rest of the week and apartment inspections were this week. The inspections were alright. They were done by our district leader, Elder Hirt. He is more than a neat freak... He marked "needs work" on basically everything. I thought our apartment was a lot better after that cleaning session we had on Thursday.  This week wasn't the best missionary work wise, but I sure had fun this week. It was cool getting to see Kyiv and hanging out with the zone leaders. But since we weren't really in our areas much this week, it hurt our work a little. We'll just have to step it up  next week.

Speaking of this week, it's transfer week! For sure, Sister Movsisyan, Elder Hirt, and myself are staying. I'm pretty confident Sister Elelyan will be transferred because she has been here for four transfers(six months) and that is way too long to be stuck in one area. I'm pretty sure Elder Polivka will be transferred, too. He only has one transfer left and I don't think he will end his mission here in Bila Tserkva. I think Elder Carnes and I will stay together for another transfer. But Elder Carnes could be transferred. He wants to be transferred. He is done with Bila Tserkva and there are a lot of areas opening up this next transfer that he wants to go to. He could leave, but I don't think so. But we'll see. President likes surprises and he likes to surprise us. So we'll see what happens. I'll let you know next week what's new and what happened.

Oh, interesting side note... So a couple weeks ago all the sisters did a big exchange and one of the mini missionaries, Sister Hushul, came here for a couple days to be with Sister Movsisyan. She is from Chernivtsi. Anyways, while we were talking to her she said that Serjik is a lot like Belarussian. So one could say that they speak Belarussian here in Bila Tserkva. Weird.

Anyways, I hope you are having a good week! Love you!
Elder Zach McEntire

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mission Tour 3/21/2011

Statue of communist war hero in Bila Tserkva

Church in Kyiv

Statue of Bohdan Khmelnitsky--a war hero. The city of Khmelnitsky is named after him.

Zone Conference in Kyiv with Elder and Sister Lawrence

So, yeah. There is a mission tour going on right now in the mission. Elder and Sister Lawrence(from the Quorum of the Seventy) are here doing a two week mission tour of our mission. They were at Zone Conference this week. Oh, by the way.. we had Zone Conference on Tuesday! It was in Kyiv, since I am now part of the Kyiv West zone. Both Kyiv West and Kyiv East zones gathered in the center of  Kyiv in the chapel by the temple for the Zone Conference. The rest of the Zones had their conference a little bit later in L'viv. Elder and Sister Lawrence were there and gave some training and really cool presentations. Sister Lawrence talked about our purpose and who we are in a really unique way. She talked about the Tribes of Israel; about the characteristics and personality traits of each tribe. She gave a history lesson of the Tribes of Israel,and the Abrahamic Covenant. It was information overload. My head hurt a little. But it was all really fascinating. She talked about the concept of "gathering the Tribes of Israel" and she said when someone is baptized they are received by the Abrahamic Covenant and become a part of the house of Israel. She talked about the tribe of Ephraim and said that they were the last to receive the gospel, so now they are the first. I think that is what Jesus meant by "The first shall be last and the last shall be first". Because she went on to say that the tribe of Judah was the first to recieve the gospel and now they will be the last to recieve it. She asked all those who were from the tribe of Ephraim to stand up. Everyone stood up.... except for me. Well, me and two other people. The other two were Elder Saines, who is from Peru, and Sister Eleyan who is the sister from Armenia who is in our District. Elder Saines is from the tribe of Manassah and Sister Eleyan is from the tribe of Simeon. And of course I am from the tribe of Judah. Everyone was in shock when Sister Lawrence asked me to tell her what I was from and I told her I was from Judah. During lunch, all the missionaries came up to me and were like "I've never met anyone from the tribe of Judah! Elder McEntire, can I shake your hand?" Sister Lawrence talked about the tribe of Judah, saying that is was the "king Tribe" or the "tribe of nobility". That all the kings of Jerusalem were from that tribe and that Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith were both from the tribe. It was really cool hearing about it because I hardly knew anything about the tribe of Judah. Each tribe has their own symbol: Ephraim is the Ox, Manassah is the Vine, and Judah is the Lion. I forgot the rest.. But she said Judah is the symbol of the Lion because it is the king of all the other tribes. She talked about the lives of each of the people and said that Judah was a born leader, a leader among his brethren and he was a very charitable man. Although he was the one to suggest to sell Joesph into slavery, he was also the first to apologize. She said the Judah offered to lay down his life to Benjamin. Then we had lunch and then Elder Lawrence spoke. He talked about principles of being a successful missionary. I don't have my notes but I believe they were: 1. Study, learn, teach doctrine  2. Be led by the spirit  3. Maintain focus  4. Exercise faith  5. Be united.  He talked about faith a lot. The two he talked about the most were maintaing focus, and keeping an eye single to the glory of God and the work. He asked us to fast the following Sunday and to write down a list of the things that could or do distract us or keep us from being fully committed to missionary work. I only had two on my list that I thought of after fasting and praying. One was long showers, because it cuts into my personal study time and that is one of the most important hours of a missionary's day. And the other was e-mailing friends. I find when I e-mail other firends, I think about them a lot and I get distracted. The only person I thought would be hard to stop e-mailing was Mikey. Basically he is the only one I e-mail.  He e-mailed me today and told me he wanted to be more obedient and said he couldn't e-mail me anymore. So, I guess that's proof that the Lord really does help and provide a way to be obedient and follow his laws. So, I won't have a problem with that anymore. He talked a lot about faith and expecting the trials and expecting that the Lord would help you. He said "If you want it bad enough, you can have it. It can be." So, we returned back to Bila Tserkva later that night, spiritually edified.

So, on Sunday, Pasha, the first counselor in the Branch Presidency and the Branch Mission Leader, came up to me and said "Elder McEntire, none of our speakers came.... can you give a talk today? in... 20 minutes?" I reluctantly agreed. Elder Carnes and I both gave talks today. I basically just read a couple of verses that I thought were interesting that I read earlier that morning for personal study. My talk was about like 15 minutes or so. I just read a bunch of verses that were my favorites. One that I read from personal study was in the end of 3 Nephi about the Book of Mormon; that it was the way that God would reveal to his children that he hasn't forgotten the covenant he has made and that he still reveals the way back to him. I gave a example of how the Book of Mormon teaches that in Alma 7. That talks about the atonement and how through baptism, faith, and repentance we can be cleansed. Pasha thought it was a miracle that I have only been in Ukraine for three months and gave a talk like I did in Ukrainian. He said he understood me perfectly, but maybe that's just because he also knows English pretty well.  The sisters were pretty impressed as well. Sister Eleyan told me that I sounded like a true Ukrainian up there. People here are really nice, if that's what they think.  Elder Mayberry, the senior missionary/ mission doctor, also was impressed... so he had me translate for him all day during church.....bummer. But it wasn't as bad that day.We finally met with our baptismal date, Vadim. We talked about the word of wisdom and prayer. He said it would be hard, but with God all things are possible. We asked him to keep the law and without any argument, he simply said yes. I'm grateful for the help the Lord has given us and has given me with my mission for sure.

So this week, I will be in Kyiv with the zone leaders on an exchange. It is kinda weird that I am going to the zone leaders to do the exchange. They usually come to us. I am going up today with Elder Polivka and then Elder Carnes with come get me on Wednesday and we'll head back down.

I hope everything is  well at home and that it is warming up. It snowed a couple times this week, but it didn't stick and it is starting to warm back up this week!
Love you!
Elder Zach McEntire

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Time in Bila 3/14/2011

Pass Along Card

River in the middle of Bila Tserkva

Bila Tserkva
 So, yeah, I withdrew 75 dollars. which is 600 hryven. I saw some nice things in the rinok(market) that were super cheap that I wanted to buy. I got a few ties which were 25 hryven (3 dollars) a tie. I got three of them and then I got this really nice belt for 25 hryven as well(3 dollars). I then got a much needed side bag because the backpack I have is way to big, bulky, and obnoxious for everyday travel. It was originally 80 hryven, but I talked the lady down to 70 hryven(9 dollars). So yeah, I still have about 450 hryven stashed away and I will keep it safe until I see something else that catches my eye. I made a souvenir list, so I would only buy the things I actually want. 

  Oh, yeah, I just heard about the tsunami that hit Japan. Yesterday when we met up with Pasha, the first counselor in the Branch Presidency and Branch Mission Leader, to go visit less active members like we always do every Sunday, he showed us a clip of the tsunami from "You Tube".  It was crazy looking. I thought I was watching a movie at first. It's interesting that you compared it to the early chapters of 3rd Nephi because that's what I read yesterday for personal study before I heard about the tsunami. 
So anyways, this week has been really good for Elder Carnes and me. Other than finding really good deals for nice clothes on the markets, we hit all our goals this week, except for member present lessons. We fell one lesson short of hitting our goals. This is the best week we've had so far! Elder Carnes said that this is the best week he has ever had in Bila Tserkva. We found three new investigators this week! Which was definitely a miracle because we were starting to think that we wouldn't find any one new to teach this week. One was from tracting(knocking on doors).  We planned to do some stop bys but we couldn't find the guy's apartment that we planned to stop by, so we just decided to tract the apartment complex while we were in it and then go outside and continue our search for stop bys. The complex was about 50 apartments, maybe more, and everyone was slamming the door in our faces.  We got down to the second to last floor and a lady let us in.  She looked at us a little weird when Elder Carnes told her we had a book and a message about Jesus Christ. She was like "Yeah, that's cool, so...?"  We told her we wanted to share it with her and she was like "Oh! Of course! Come in!"  She made us a bunch of food and gave us jam and tomatoes to take home. She asked for a Book of Mormon and invited herself to church before we started teaching her anything! We only got about half way through the first lesson, but she gave us her phone number and was eager for us to return and tell her more. That was definitely a miracle. This transfer we have tracted upwards of 300 doors and have found nothing from it. And now we have finally found someone from tracting! And then the next day, we had a meeting planned with Sasha, recent convert, and he brought two more of his friends! They wanted to meet again and talk more about our message. I'm not sure what has been happening, cause my first week here was nothing but tracting and street contacting and we didn't get anything out of it, not even a phone number. We just kept working hard and our hard work is starting to pay off. I'm really grateful for opportunities like this when I really see the Lord's hand in this work.

I'm definitely grateful that I chose to go on a mission and to be here in Ukraine. I had a dream a couple of nights ago.  It was kinda like a "What would happen if I didn't go on a mission or if I came home early?" type dream. It was basically just me sitting in the office browsing facebook and listening to music like I would always do when I'm super bored. In my dream I saw the days go by. People changed, got married, and did things with their lives and I was still stuck on the computer watching it all happen and watching life pass me before my eyes. It was frustrating, but when I awoke to find that I was still in my apartment in Bila Tserkva, I was relieved. I really feel like I'm doing something with my life by being out here. The lady that we tracted into, Tanya, said that we were an inspiration and that there are tons of people that need this message. So I'm definitely glad I'm here, where I should be.  I do miss home, but I love love love it here. I hope everything is well at home cause everything is great here.
Love you!
Elder McEntire

Monday, March 7, 2011

The White Church 3/7/2011

Thai pineapple juice--Awesome!

Ukrainian money

The White Church in the center of town--Bila Tserkva is named after it.
Everything has been going well. I'm starting to like Bila Tserkva a lot. It was a surprise that I got transferred here because I never thought President would consider sending me here. Bila Tserkva doesn't have the best reputation among missionaries. When most missionaries think of Bila Tserkva, these are the words that come to mind: dead area, serjik-ville, small boony town. So it's not the most coveted city in the mission. I think the most coveted cities in the mission or areas are either center Kyiv, L'viv, Chernivtsi, or center Odessa. For Ukrainian missionaries it's usually L'viv or Chernivtsi and for Russian missionaries it's usually center Odessa. And center Kyiv is just an all round fun area to be in from what I hear. But despite the bad rep and rumors, I'm really growing to like Bila Tserkva. It's close enough to Kyiv that we can go on P-days, but we're not in Kyiv so we don't have to deal with the expensive... well everything. Everything in Kyiv is waaay expensive. Everything in western Ukraine is really cheap from what I hear. Bila Tserkva is not too bad money wise. It's a little bit more expensive than Vinnitsya, but not too bad. I think it's more expensive cause it's closer to Kyiv. The closer to Kyiv you get the more expensive things seem to be. As far as finding investigators, there are no restrictions on what we can do, which is great. But being a dead area, it is still really hard to find people. In my opinion it is harder to find people here than it is in Vinnitsya. But we did end up find a couple of new investigators last week.

So, our Baptismal candidate, Vadim, is doing good. He is a very polite man. Yes, smoking is more common here. Ukraine is trying harder to crack down on smoking.  We are starting to see more anti-smoking ads, but it will be a while before there's any real progress. Vadim did except a baptism date after only hearing the first lesson(message of the Restoration). Normally most people don't except a date after the first lesson, so we take that as a good sign.

Not a whole lot has been going on this week, just slaving away. We don't have very many investigators, like 4. So we are trying to find people. In Vinnitsya, we did a lot of teaching. Giving active members lessons and asking for referrals was basically the only way to find investigators. Now here in Bila Tserkva we are doing a lot of finding.... a lot of knocking on doors, street contacting, stop byes, phone calls, and so forth. It gives us a good opportunity to explore the town though. We just walk everywhere, throughout the town and talk to people as we go. That's basically our street contacting. A couple of strange responses I've gotten was that one guy yelled "Glory to Ukraine!" at me when I tried to offer him a pass-along card. I'm not sure what that was all about. I hear the phrase "Go away, Satan" quite a bit too. By Thursday, we had no numbers, only one lesson, and the week looked depressing. We worked and slaved away like mad men and got hardly any results. But on Saturday we ended up with like four phone numbers, and one of the recent converts, Sasha, brought one of his friends to a lesson we had scheduled with him, and was like "Hey, I was wondering if you could teach my friend?" We said "Of course!" He asked us what we thought about prophets and we tied it into how God has always worked in a pattern, restoring the Gospel through prophets, and he has done that again through Joseph Smith. He seemed interested so we scheduled a return appointment. Sasha then called us yesterday when we were visiting less-active members and said "Hey, I have another friend who wants to hear what you guys have to say. Can we meet tomorrow?" We told him we could. So the week ended really well, Elder Carnes said that this has probably been one of the best weeks Bila Tserkva has had in a long time. The week ended with some really good active member lessons and a good testimony meeting. Wherever I go and serve, I thank God for putting me there. I thank God for putting me here in Bila Tserkva and for the opportunity to serve here and for the people He has placed in my path.

Oh, so tomorrow is "Women's Day" in Ukraine.  Kinda like Mother's Day, but just for women in general.

Just to let you know, because of that trip last week, I am now a registered citizen of Ukraine. So everything worked out with my passport and registration. The trains in Vinnitsya always run at weird late hours. So trips to Kyiv and zone conference and such are always at late hours. I've lost a lot of sleep since I've been here.

Love you!
Elder Zach McEntire