|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!
Elder Zach McEntire