Monday, January 25, 2016

smile and testify

I am running out of time so I will send my notes from what I learned from Elder Klebingat in leadership counsel. IT was really cool!

This week was wonderful. We had to travel to Kyiv two times this week so it was a little bit crazy but we got trained from Apostles Thursday (it was a world wide training we watched) and also Saturday we got trained by Elder Klebingat of the 70 and the former mission President of my mission.

Well, just remind me when I come home to tell you about the story of when I truly learned what the meaning of 'Cold' means. It is cold in Ukraine and we have lots of ice. But it is fun we are kind of living in a giant ice castle this year.

We taught our wonderful investigators this week. Hazar and Alyona are little but they listen so well and they just love the gospel. It is a pleasure to be with them.

I see the members sacrificing more and more to help us, even inthe cold and on the dangerous ice. We felt the spirit so strong this week on all the lessons we taught and we talked to everyone we met and an old grandpa on the bus even kissed my hands and told me he would never wash them again. Cute and I just wanted him to come to church and get baptized. ;)

I felt the spirit really teach people this week and it was cool to sit there and watch him work. All we had to do was be there, with a great plan, then open up our mouths and let him speak. And he did. We had wonderful lessons with less actives and we really called them to repentance with love. We had lessons with investigators and we invited people to be baptized.

This week we gained two more investigators who already know they need God in their lives and have seen the difference. They want to read the Book of mormon and pray and come to know for themselves if it is true. We saw members bring their friends to church and even random people come and we are busy with the Lords work. He is pouring on the blessings really thick and teaching us how to work with his children. He needs us to be worthy and ready because he is always ready to help his children find him. The branch needs to also be worthy and ready and we are working better together.

We went to the hospital to leave our number and information if sick people need any uplifting or discussions and there we learned after we wandered around for an hour or so that there was a quarentin?? (I cant spell) and that there is swine flu everywhere. That was excited news. But we gained some telephone numbers and found some poeple who are interested. It is awesome! When we work with God and we are creative he really sends us people!

I am changing so much and I just want to repent, and keep working on being better and better so that I can be a good daughter of God and do as he wants. I am his servant. I want him to know that at all times, in all places, and in all things, that he can trust me. So I am really working on myself so that I can give me to him and to these people.

do me a favor and everyday ask yourself how you felt the spirit that day? If you didnt, change something so that you can! It is our gift as members of the church of jesus christ! We need to use it better! Give god more time and he will help us do all that we need to do!

I love you all and will send you my notes from conference! Have a wonderful week!

SMILE. Testify that Christ lives. He loves us. He is our Savior. I know it!


Cectpa Karren

I am not allowed to have favorites, but...;)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ukraine Mission Letter President Packer

 “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God..” Moroni 10:32

Dear Elders and Sister,
This morning as I was working out, I turned on my favorite song, “Be Still” by the Killers and for many reasons I was flooded with emotion and felt I needed to share this experience with you. I have shared with many of you that one year before we got called to serve here, President Packer finished his dissertation. I have also shared with you that it took 12 years for President to finish his schooling from start to finish. He always had to work full time, we didn't put off having kids, he always served in the church, we were always busy and schooling was part of that phase of our lives.
In President's last year of schooling it was very intense. He was working more than full time and doing at least 20 hours a week extra on his dissertation. In June, while at his brothers wedding a phone call came through from our Stake President asking if President could come in tonight with me and meet with him. Because we were at his brothers wedding the stake president made the appointment for the following night. In the interview President Packer was asked to be the bishop of our large ward that had a lot of people in great need. Of course we said yes and then cried the whole way home from the church wondering how we could ever do this call.
The following day, Ken called his grandpa Packer and asked if we could come and talk with him. They invited us up, which is where Ken shared of the call he had just been given. Grandpa understood Ken's concern and promised him because of the call, Ken would get his schooling done.
So for the last 6 months of the year Ken worked full time, was a bishop, did at least 20 hours a week in schooling and was a dad. It was a very stressful time for our whole family, we cried together, fasted together, and prayed together. When it was time for Ken to defend his dissertation the ward came together and had a fast for their bishop. We knew that his schooling time was up. To make a long story short Ken did not pass his dissertation. We were in shock. What do we do now? They told Ken he had one more year and wished him luck. We knew Ken's time was up. But when he went to his counselor the following Monday they also confirmed that Ken still had another year. We had to let the ward and everyone else know that Ken didn't pass, but that he had one more year to finish.
The following year was even harder Ken was giving at least 35 hours a week to his schooling still working full time and was a great bishop he never missed a meeting he needed to be to. We were worn out, we didn't go on a vacation, he missed a lot of the boys games and family events. It was a really hard year. In May his committee told Ken he needed to start over. As a family we were frustrated, we felt at a loss and truly felt like what do we do now. Ken always remained nice, he never lost his cool, he would take their advice come home and make the changes they asked him to make. Finally Ken drew up his dissertation in pictures and took it in and his board, they loved it. So he continued working with his board. It was hard, we were stressed the whole year, schooling was all we did. I remember in about October Ken came home very frustrated and made the statement "should I just quit? Do I really need a doctorate?" It was a very low day in our lives and we really had to decide if we even cared to finish this degree.
We did, we couldn't quit now no matter how bad we wanted to, we had to move forward, and when November came around and it was time to defend again, I went with him this time. It was four horrible hours of being torn down, ripped to shreds, questioned, and having to defend all he had. By the end I kind of hated his whole board. I wanted to cry, Ken wanted to cry. They asked us to go outside and wait, so we did, tears were shed and we both shared that we knew he didn't pass. The only thing we could do was pray. So we did we knelt in prayer and we asked for help and comfort. While we were praying they came out and asked us to come back in. They shared with us that Ken did pass, that it was one of the best dissertation they have ever seen. We just started crying. His head of chair told him that they only know of one person that had it harder than Ken and that was his grandfather. I know for a fact that because Ken took the calling of being a bishop and continued to serve even when it felt impossible ,that the Lord made it possible for Ken to graduate.
The reason why I felt inspired to share this story is because right now we have a lot of homesickness, we have a lot who think this is hard, we have a lot who are really struggling. The adversary is working very hard on our mission right now. Missionary life is hard. Right now you are dedicating your time to your Heavenly
Father, it will be your most treasured time. He will protect you, he will guide you. are a few phrases that I hung onto during that time,
In this song that I love there
be still,
rise up like the sun, and labor till the work is done,
don't break character,
one day you will leave with fearlessness on your sleeve,
and if they drag you through the mud, it doesn't change what's in your blood.
Dear missionaries life doesn't get any easier. But serving a mission you will learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of doing. You will find out you can do hard things, you can learn a language, and you will grow closer to your Heavenly Father. A mission isn't for the weak, it is for the elect. Lift up your heads and carry on. Let Him lead you, be obedient and enjoy the journey. Don't waste time, don't let little things turn into big things.
~ Sister Packer

Mission Goals:
Standards of Excellence
Baptism & Confirmation 1 / 3 months
Baptism Date 2 / month
Inv. at Sacrament Meeting 2 / week
Member p. lesson 3 / week
New Investigators 2 / week

What lack I yet?

Dearest Family and Friends,


This week we gained 2 new investigators Alyona and Nazar. They are happiness and sunshine and oh so dear to me.

We had interviews with President Packer and he asked me about a goal I had for the next upcoming 3 months (until we have another interview). My desire, my goal, is to find someone with that real sincere desire to come unto Christ and to be baptized. I have the faith it can happen. The only way it can? If I have the exact same desire. I have to GIVE ALL OF ME to God, and to do that I have to talk to every single person, give them of my love and my heart, leave their day happier than before, serve at any chance, really focus on others and trying to do as Christ would do so that they really can come unto Him through our invitation and our lessons and our smiles and love. It is my desire and I want to give it my all. I want to give the children of God all of me. I am his servant through and through and I so love it. I want him to have the chance to really work through me. So I needed to step it up even more. Get better at repenting and trying harder every day to be a better person for Him and for His children. I had this day when I just felt so discouraged with myself. We are doing good work but it was after I had been home the whole day the day before as my companion was really really sick. I took care of her, washed the whole house, tried to call people and talk to them on the phone about the gospel but it was Ukraine's "old new year's day" and so everyone was busy. I started to go nuts. I exercised and I read the scriptures for 3 hours. I read 40 pages in my Russian book of mormon out loud and then the next day my comp was better and all our lessons fell through. We waited at the church and no buddy came to our family home evening activity. Our Branch President does not have faith we can bring people back who are lost or that we will have baptisms and that was really hard!! So the next day at lunch time I took a notebook and I wrote out all the things I needed to repent for and how I can give more to the lord. I went to him in prayer, sincerely wanting to be better and to ask him "what lack I yet?" It was a very sweet experience as he helped to change my feelings of discouragement into a platform to spring off of. We are having sucess when we give all of us to these people, whether or not there are many baptisms, the people of God will know that He loves them and that to me is success. We found Nazar and Alyona and a few other older children in our branch who still have not been baptized and there is not work for them and so now we get to go for it. We took the branch presidents daughter out with a whole bunch of the "lost sheeps" address and went to go find them and give them our information and try to make contact, we visited less actives who just have it hard and need a little lifting, we contacted on every bus on every street and we smiled and we talked MORe and MORE and more until  I just felt my soul soaring. I love the oppurtunity I have to give it my all right now.

These two kids became two new investigators this week. Their desire to know more and to do good is so real. Life is not really simple here for a lot of people. There is a lot of hard things, but these wonderful kids are so happy then are right now living with their father for a time while their mom is in war. They came to church with us yesterday and it was the We sat in Primary with them and it was so fun. Their dad is a member but often has to work on Sunday so he was not there. We walked them home after church and the little girl fell on this little patch of ice. Not really hard but then she could not get up!!! it was sooooo funny. we all tried to help her and after about 5 mintues of her just laying on this little patch of ice, my books everywhere and us laughing uncontrollably and people staring from everywhere we realize that we are the luckiest peope in the world to know each other. We are working for baptism with them. they are INCREDIBLE and an answer to my prayers and goals. I love them with all my heart. Someday I hope to have kids like them. :) 

my friend

oh and this other girl came with us last night to go find the lost sheep from our branch it was an adventure. :) 

We laughed and we had fun and it is all an adventure. We are "Catchers of Men" (Luke 5:10)

We "hold up the Lord's standards, clearly and without apology." -Elder Eyring

We teach with love. We "LOVE LIFE." -Elder Hinckley

I have a testimony of the plan of our Heavenly Father. It is the only right way to him. We want to return to Him. To be with him forever. Someday, when that day comes, I know that if we did all we could to prepare to live righteously, to be joyful here on earth; by believing in Christ, repenting, getting baptized and remembering our covenants with God, always being worthy to listen to the Holy Ghost and using that gift wisely to endure to the end in all things, he will welcome us into his loving arms. He will smile and hug us tightly, proud to have us come home. Proud of the progression we made and all the good we did for Him. He knows us. He loves us. He takes care of us. And with Him, anything is possible. That I know. I want you to know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. He came here to make salvation and this plan possible. He is our perfect example and our perfect friend. He LOVES US. And we love Him. So let us serve him and remember him every single day of our lives.

I love you all. Have a wonderful great happy happy week!!

Cectpa Karren

Park Alexandrea

Last P Day

We live in a giant snow globe!

This crazy gorgeous place

Sister Young and me

Snow angel!

Our snowy adventures

We are snow angels ;)

Sister Young

My comp Sister Young got really sick

I took care of her because I love her

I really wanted to meet the sheep named Chester. He is a legend in our mission. You can even ride him. I probably needed to ask if we could but we just ran into his pen and we almost died because I thought he wanted us to pet him, but he just head butted us over and over and stomped on my feet. So then alyona (Stan's wife) showed us how to do it right later and she hit him in the head over and over with this really giant sharp stick and she just rode him. It was an amazing moment. And now I am afraid of sheep. 

Visiting Stan's family again

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mission Newsletter

“ Having a Sense of Peace and Purpose
Ukraine Kyiv Mission
18 January 2016
Quote: When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you.Preach My Gospel pg. 11
Dear Elders and Sister,
It was great to have everyone during interviews. You are all such amazing individuals and are doing so much
good. Thanks for serving the Lord and these people. There were a few themes that emerged from interviews and I want to address one in the letter
spirituality. I asked many of you to rate yourself, from zero (couldn’t be worse) to 10 (couldn’tbebetter)onhowyoufeltyouweredoingphysically,emotionally,andspiritually. Tomyamazementyourated yourselves lowest on spirituality.
Spirituality is a difficult thing to define, but I found a definition that I liked on the internet. “Religion is a specific set of organized beliefs and practices, usually shared by a community or group. Spirituality is more of an individual practice and has to do with having a sense of peace and purpose.”
There are many things that effect our sense of peace and purpose as missionaries, but below are four areas that may be opportunities for you to improve your spirituality:
Unity- “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20. Our missionary purpose is the thing that unites us. As our understanding of our purpose grows, we will become more unified as companionships, districts, zones, and as a mission. The Godhead is united in their purpose. When we are unified synergy happens. Synergy happens when the total out put is greater than the sum of the individual parts (1+1= 3). When we are unified, the Holy Ghost is our third companion. When we are not unified the Spirit withdraws and we cannot teach. "I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.." D&C 38:27. Forgiveness, patience, and communication are essential to becoming one. Forgive each other. Have patience with each other. Communicate often. Do not gossip. Gossip can destroy unity and has no place in the Lord’s work. Stop it when you hear it. Never be found guilty of sharing something that isn’t true about someone else. Don’t be distracted by sharing things about others that is true but doesn’t lift or is not part of your stewardship.
Discouragement- Your success as a missionary is measured primarily by your commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people and to help them become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost. Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs. Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice. Some may not accept your message even when they have received a spiritual witness that it is true. You will be saddened because you love them and desire their salvation. You should not, however, become discouraged; discouragement will weaken your faith. If you lower your expectations, your effectiveness will decrease, your desire will weaken, and you will have greater difficulty following the Spirit...When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you.Preach My Gospel pg. 10-11
Study Journals-I was surprised how few of you have and are using a daily study journal. “Preach My Gospel frequently asks that you use a study journal to help you understand, clarify, and remember what you are learning. Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. This practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light” (“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 86). Review your study journal to recall spiritual experiences, see new insights, and recognize your growth. Your study journal may be a bound journal, a notebook, or a binder. Record and organize your thoughts and impressions in a way that fits how you learn. Develop your own system to easily access key information in the future. Use it often to review, access, and apply what you have learned. Use your study journal to take notes and record impressions during your personal and companion study, district meetings, zone conferences, and interviews with the mission president.
Pride- Pride has so many faces. Pride deprives us of the Spirit. “That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” D&C 88:37. When we are preoccupied with how our efforts or position look to others then we have a problem with pride. Pride retards growth and robs us of our precious time and energy. Pride also shows itself when assignments are given and we worry about why someone else less capable was chosen, or feel we are failing because we didn’t receive the assignment, or worse yet, believing that we are some how better than others because of a particular assignment. Over the years I have learned to trust the Lord and leaders and to “lift where I stand”. Since this discovery, my service in the Lord’s kingdom has been more rewarding, more peaceful, and full of personal growth.
We love you and look forward to seeing all of you in the near future at the satellite broadcast and zone conferences. .
President and Sister Packer 

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Being a Sister Training Leader has been interesting. I think it has helped me learn and grow as a missionary more than i have nessicarily helped other missionaries.
"Selective Obedience brings selective blessings." -Elder Klebingat

Today I just wanted to write about some of the things I have noticed as an STL:
-Missionaries are amazing but have challenges.
-We are so lucky to be missionaries right now and to have the love and trust from God to help bring His children to Him. He literally takes us around to show us His world and help us find his lost children.
-God does the work. God prepares, God teaches and the holy Ghost testifies. I see it.
-100 % Obedience really is the key to true happiness and success.
-Missionary work should be joyful. God wants to show us miracles, but sometimes we do not give Him enough thought to really see His miracles. We sometimes focus too much on the bad, the hard, and we miss the magic happening right in front of our eyes.
-God loves his missionaries and He is proud of them, encourages them and tells us that "WE CAN!"
-God is good and only good comes from God. Even when it is correction it comes out of love for us, and we will recognize the good in it and realize that it is from God. Bad, harmful thoughts are from no one else but Satan. God does not want us to be discouraged. He lovingly corrects, lifts, and helps us to carry on with a smile.
-Our mission is young and a lot of the mssionaries new and old feel a lot of stress, home sickness, depression, and that missions are nothing but HARD. But we can do hard things. We do not give up, we do not quit. There is no need for it to be a soul crushing, terribly hard, unfun, without joy time.
If we are obedient, speak the language, follow the schedule, seek to plan with the Spirit everyday and seek to do what is right, to follow the still small voice we will realize that our trials, or homesickness and stress are not as hard as they seem.
When we are obedient we qualify for the companionship of the Spirit and we become closer to God and His Son Jesus Christ and they make the hard things a little less hard, a lot more bearable and oh so worth it. We can find true joy even through the tough, hard, faith trying times. I know it.
The hardest time on my mission happened to me this transfer. IT was heart breaking, devastating, confusing and down right hard. I am by no means perfect, but as I decided to give Christ all of me, to give him my broken heart, to be obedient, faithful, diligent and hardworking as much as I could be, God did something incredible! The heart ache I had I was sure would eat me up, was gone in just 2 weeks. It was so quick and I wholeheartedy believe that it was because I tried so hard to do all that I could for Him, to obey Him, trust Him, love him, that my realtionship with Christ increased and I was more ready to hear and willing to respond to the prompting form the Spirit and I just felt myself being lifted. My circumstances did not change. God did not take about my trial but he guided me through it by the hand and through it all I found true joy. We need to remember patience. We bear our trials with patience. Alma 26:27
I am so grateful to be a missionary.
WE CAN DO THIS! and it is a wonderful work.

I love you! This week was great. We travelled to Vinnistya by train and later we were in Kyiv for a leadership conference. I love President and Sister Packer! A lesson I learned this week is that we need to "mourn with those that mourn." It is our baptismal covenant and we need to all work on this. It is about other people and we came to earth with others, to love, to learn, to grow, to serve and to return to God together. I met this really wonderful lady, an inactive who really struggles financially and otherwise. She lives in a very small poor place and she opnened up to us not all the way in words but God was Good and really gave me the opportunity to feel how this woman feels in her daily life. He loves her, and she is really hurting. It is our job to help and love and support one another. It was a week of so many miracles and so many prayers of the people I know.
have a wonderful week and know i love you!

love cectpa karren
Hiking in the snow

Sister young

It is REALLY COLD in Ukraine

Birthday Parrtyy

Vova's first birthday with Americans!

This is Vova  He is not a member, but should be, and helps us with Russian

Still in Ukraine so still really cold! :)

Our exchange with our cute sisters in Vinnistsya

Snowball fight.  We waited for our bus after family home evening activity we had at the church.  We had to wait forever!

Later we found out the buses were not working so while we waited...snowball fight!

Elder Abernethy's first snowball fight.  He lived in California.

Still snowing

just a little bit of snow

So cold!

Scarves all day in Ukraine

We love Russian

Thursday, January 7, 2016


This week went by crazy fast. When we travel I feel weird because it is Monday, then suddenly Monday again! We had a meeting in Kyiv as a Zone and it was great but so much English! It made me sad because our natives do not understand English and we are called and then asked by President to only speak Russian. As STL's we gave our portion of the conference in Russian. A sweet Sister from Kazikstan was so incredibly thankful and told us that she felt the spirit so strong as we did some example role plays. She noticed that because we do not know the language perfect we really focus on the important things and the simple beuaitfulness of the gospel. She said it helped investigators more than we can imagine. It was very nice to hear.

This week we had another exchange and I was in Kyiv with Sister Vardanyan the sister from Kazikstan. She is new and she is wonderful. I really hope to serve with her at some point. We also got the oppurtunity to go to the temple and that was so wonderful!

I heard a cool anology I really loved and it reminded me of when I used to swim. "Sometimes it is morning time, you know the water in the pool is really cold, but you have to get in and swim. You can just look at it and slowly lower yourself in, but it is painful and long! Or you can just JUMP IN AND GET GOING." I LOVE IT!

One really sweet thing people do here is when they are grateful for you or love you, even if they have no food they try to give you everything they have and you are not allowed to say no. Then they wish you so many wonderful nice things and traits for your life. I just love these people. So sincere and so loving.

Also a wonderful man named Stan from America has a cute Ukrainian family here and they live out in the village with quite a bit of land and animals and stuff. He was so kind and invited us and the Elders to his home, he even killed a pig for us, cooked us a good ole American Mashed potatoes and gravy and candied yams and pig and it was so good I almost died. He told us he knows what it is like to be away from home for the holidays. He wanted us to have some American food and a piece of home. they also stayed up the whole night before to make these hazelnut coconut cookies and juice and just the whole thing. Homemade jerky and the whole thing. I could have cried it was so kind and he was so grateful we said yes. He hoped it would make you all so happy. I know it did. We are taken care of and there is love for missionaries and the work that we do!

We have this cute 12 year old girl in our branch who is the best missionary and wants to come with us everywehre on her break and just be a missionary. I love her. Also people are starting to bring people to church with them and we are going to teach them. We are also working on finding all the people who are lost or not coming to church and we will know each of them and try to reactivate. God works in mysterious ways and Christmas when we sang contacted we found a Recent Convert who had disappeared. We invited him to church and he came. He does not have support from the leaders or the faith or hope he can gain a testimony. But he is our work and he is the glory of the Father. We find the lost sheep and we do ALL WE CAN to help them return. They are so important. ALSO WHERE IS THE FAITH!? Always working on strengthining my faith. It is the first and most important principle of the gospel. With faith all is possible and then we have love for God and our fellow man.

I am loving teaching the more I know Russian. God is more fully able to tell me what to do and I love the feeling when he tells me what to say, helps me simplifiy my teaching and I love when the Holy Ghost testifies. It is the most wonderful thing in the world. I love this work. I CANT COME HOME this year. ;)

Happy New Year! I love you all.

Cectpa Karren

Oh! PS THE FIRST SNOW!!! IT IS REALLY COLD. Ukraine at last!

My exchange. The native closest to sister young is sister vardanyan and I was with her. I just adore her.

Some neighbors of Stans we go to visit and teach and serve. some of the cutest people I have ever met. 

Stans step daugther who wants to go on a mission. Tanya and she is 21. Love it all. 

The dinner Stan served us. happiness. 

Happy New Year. Bring on 2016.

I love my companion!

Sister young and me