Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Week 65

CRAZZY! here i go...diving into roughly five more weeks of all of this!!! i am a mixed drink of emotions...
this week we kept really busy. we met with our investigator who has a baptismal date in July, and she's moving right along. we taught her the word of wisdom, and she already knows smoking and coffee are bad, so its just that black and green tea we've got to get rid of...and the occasional vodka. we're working on it. its been neat to see her progress even from day one. if you've forgotten she's in her forties, a strong business woman and just feels in her heart that she needs to search for god and has found what she's looking for in our church- and is thus ready to change. our first meeting with her a couple weeks ago she contested from the beginning about how we pray, about how we say 'dear heavenly father'...she says she likes to say 'oh, bozhinka" when she starts her prays...which a say 'cutesy' form of saying god...i'd personally compare it to praying to baby Jesus in English but, the member that was there said it was okay. she began her pray with her cutesy voice, 'oh, bozhinka..." and continued to pray, she began to speak slower, softer, more sincere, and eventually reduced to tears. her prayers are so sincere. and now, she's gotten into the habit of saying 'dear heavenly father' which i think is more appropriate....
so my companion informed me a couple weeks ago that i'm notorious in the mission for 'getting myself and my companions into random situations" ...thinking back on it...i guess that's right. like the bbq last week. and this week was no different. some random lady called us on wed night asking if we could do service for her-she knew who missionaries were and knew we were hard workers. i tried to ask who she was / if she was a member or not/etc, she just said she'll explain it when we come. well we found time the next day to do service...we show up and with thirty seconds she explains what she wants us to do, gives us the buckets and a ladder, and turns around and leaves to do whatever she was doing before....she wanted us to climb all up in her cherry tree and pick the cherries before they all went bad...okay....except we look up at the tree we have to climb and start freaking out...its gotta be like 30 ft with all these branches and random 2x4s and metal pipes running in between the branches so we could climb from branch to branch easier. she said the wood pieces were probably strong enough to hold us... the most dangerous service i've ever done. and about fifteen minutes into it, a 1/4 bucket full of cherries and 15 ft off the ground...i bump my bucket and my bucket drops with all my cherries to the ground. dang it!! i didn't pick half as many cherries as my companion did because i was too distracted by looking around, up and down, and just taking in what the heck i was doing...and i was busy eating the cherries too. we came back the next day with two elders and they worked in the tree while we pulled weeds in her garden. the lifestyle here is SOOO different...i can't even begin to describe. she gave us fresh goat milk from their goat in exchange for our service and fresh dill and green onions. ...mmmm goat milk, not so much. we made pancakes with it. she's not a member but missionaries helped her last year about this time she just called us up...good/hard service. pretty cool
i can't believe its so close, but still far away right? the end?
next week we'll all be in Kiev for a mission conference with a couple general authorities. im excited to see everyone in the mission before i go home-this conference was pretty timely. we'll train up Sunday afternoon and come back Tuesday during the day...we'll see how that goes...i think overnight trains would have been i don't know when i'll email next week....
love you all!!!
sister little

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week 64

Dear family and friends,

can i just say again, i don't know how long its been since i said this, but i am so grateful that i understand Russian because of all the spiritual thoughts and uplifting lessons i can sit in on here in Ukraine and have my testimony strengthened even i a different language. when i stop and think about it and look really is sooo cool how i can sit here and listen to a Sunday school lesson where the teacher with all the other adults in the ward try to make sense of how there was another mosiah that was the father of Benjamin who was the father of mosiah or how there was a little lost group called the 'mulekites' hidden in the book of Mormon but we don't know much about them because of some reasons like them not taking records with them and therefore their language was corrupt...and all this happening in a random city on Ukraine-while i know that probably the same conversation and lesson is being had in my home ward all the way over in Vegas. i had a really neat experience last night studying about Noah which led me to the pearl of great price and then back a little bit to the prophet Enoch and his walk and talk with god and all the things he saw...and is just had the strong feeling that Enoch, that great prophet, really did see our day, our missionary work that i am fulfilling right now in order to prepare the world for the second coming and the millennium. it was a way neat experience and i love that i still have so much to 'learn' about the gospel, but more so that i still have so much more the the spirit needs to teach my heart to help me become more converted-and that is what a testimony is and its awesome that it can keep growing.
while im finding out more and more about my own religion, i feel like im finding out more and more about other religions here in Ukraine by having conversations in Russian-mostly about the Jehovah witnesses and the Adventists (?) is that the seventh day Adventists? i don't know it in English anymore-but the religion who also believes in a restoration and reads books from their one modern day prophet helen white...anyway. ive just had lots of conversations with people lately about what they believe..of course, probably because i AM a missionary about religious business that all this comes up. just funny i had to fly to Ukraine and speak Russian to find all this out.
This week we've been following up with a lot of referrals from members we've received lately which has been a huge blessing. yesterday we organized splits with two other young girls in the area so my companion could go to one branch way up north and i went to the branch in center Odessa to meet peoples' friends they were bringing to church and hopefully set up meetings with them. well, only one woman of all the potential came to church to the center branch...but she is SOO prepared to accept the gospel. she stayed all three hours and we had a first lesson with her after church. we started off by explaining pray and she offered the most simple, introspective prayer which even made her cry (YES!). she's a busy business woman in her forties-very put together. she said she feels she's on a spiritual journey and has been looking for 'her' church in other places but in other churches she just doesn't feel right about it, but yesterday at church and while reading the book of Mormon, she said she feels something 'right' about it all. the member who work with her gave her a book of Mormon this last week and invited her to church and when the member gave her the book of Mormon she bore a simple testimony about how this book has helped in her life and that it contains the 'fullness of the gospel' and this member told this coworker that this phrase with keep coming back to her mind as she thinks about religious things, "the fullness of the gospel"...and then when she came yesterday and we had our lesson after church with this member our investigator (svetlana) turned to the member and said, 'you were right, this phrase about the fullness of the gospel-it hasn't left my mind since you said it, and when i read the intro to the book of Mormon and when it talks about the 'fullness of the gospel' she said she got goose bumps. so cool :) we have a meeting again with her on Tuesday.

funny side note...after the meeting the member and her friend  stayed in the room where we met and were doing some kind of paperwork,some kind of forms to fill out, we thought to ourselves "sad, they are doing work here at church, probably trying to catch up on their business or whatever" and we started to doubt our investigators sincerity for being at church. we snuck by to listen to what they were talking about-something about not knowing middle names and birth places or something...weird. so when they come out the room i asked the member what they were doing in there. she said, "Genealogy! we've got to get them started on it early. we've got to do it while we're all still alive!" oh my gosh...amazing member. she had her filling out a pedigree chart like right then...thats what those forms were...i was sooo taken aback. that was so cool. and then i was thinking that would be a cool gift to give someone at their baptism...a simple 2  generation pedigree chart that they casually filled out earlier with an invitation to go to the temple as soon as possible to be baptized and experience all these great feelings again on behalf of her family...we'll see.
well, we're staying busy here in Odessa, its been kinda chilly but still sunny-no turning back from the sandals.
i hope you all have a great week and enjoy the beginning of all the summer adventures coming up!
sister little
Dear President,
we stayed pretty busy this week-we've been blessed with quite a few referrals from different people in different branches so we spent a lot of thought and energy trying to get everyone contacted and informed about church and meeting with them, etc...

2 points i want to tell you about...

1. we were early for the baptism on Saturday so we went upstairs to see what was going on up there...we walked in on the district relief society presidency's meeting training for all the branches and president trafimchyk was talking, it was great to hear his testimony (they invited us in to listen), then he started talking about how, "president klebingat is going to treat us like a little stake...he's given us a lot of direction on how we can get more members and strengthened the ones we have....he then went off on a few points from the letter you sent out last august/September with all the bullet points then he talked about our new 'plan' about having members with missionaries every night, having a phone list and having members open their apartments to missionary lessons. It felt so awesome to have been sitting in that meeting for those 15 minutes where he was passing along the right info to the right people-everything us missionaries talked about at zone conference. so, just know president trafimchyk is doing his best to pass everything you say on to the members while bearing strong testimony about it. it was way cool.

2. we went on splits yesterday to go to two different branches to meet referrals that were supposed to be there. i went to center and a woman came who works with a member of that branch. she stayed all three hours, is a strong, working woman in her forties, and we had a meeting with her after church and had a first lesson and it was awesome!! she ate up everything we said and testified that she's been in a lot of churches but has never felt like it was 'hers' but being there yesterday she said she felt something good and loves the phrase that keeps ringing in her head from the intro of the book of Mormon about the 'fullness of the gospel' pretty golden...
my only concern with her is that she has a very strong 'salesperson' like personality and she's another one of these Ukrainians who says she has the ability to 'heal people' i feel like this eastern-style medicine is becoming popular here with all the 'levels of energy' or i just want to make sure our lessons about the gospel stay separate conversation about 'healing spirits' or whatever she believes...
thank you for all your inspiring word as our mission president. ive gained so many small but growing testimonies from your letters and talks with us. yesterday i was reading in the pearl of great price about enoch's vision and talk with the lord and i really felt the power and truth of that event and how what i am doing this very moment-missionary work in a foreign land-is a fulfillment of that prophesy and that the events to come will definitely come with regards to the second coming and millennium. it was a really neat spiritual experience where i knew the holy ghost was bearing witness to me of the truthfulness of all this...its good to feel that.
have a great week.

Week 63

Dear Family and friends,

happy belated mothers day to all of the amazing woman i know! the women in my family- mothers, sister, grandparents, aunts, cousin, to all the women in the wards where ive lived-you all have been amazing examples of faith filled daughters of god, to all my 'girlfriends' who i love dearly and love being on the 'same team' with....thank you all for being strong, supportive and loving! no, 'mothers day' isn't big here...the bigger holiday is march 8 which is international women's day-that's when women get the day off, get flowers/chocolate, and that's when the priesthood pass out flowers to all the woman at church-it was cute. i was in Bulgaria with 6 other elders on women's day and it was fun....but here, among the members, 'mothers day' means 'hooray! missionaries are happy because they can talk to their families!' its cute. sorry, not the case for me, but im still super happy with my decision to wait til next month.
on Saturday we had zone conference with president. it was great...he talked a lot about the temple and covenants made there to the work we are doing now, the members who we are working with, and to the rest of our lives. i think the shock of being a mission president has kinda left him and he's realizing he's got to teach us to love what we are doing to establish life long habits and goals to continue 'on the path' after our missions. he's applying the whole "the mtc is training for your mission, the mission is training for the rest of your lives" thing.
so the past few weeks we've been on the look out for a facility to volunteer at/do service each week. ive heard missionaries volunteering at orphanages in other missions in other missions around here, so we've been looking for something lke that. we contacted a super cool woman a week or two ago who immediately recognized in us the light of Christ shining from our faces, she was blown away, speechless, literally. through subsequent phone calls, we couldn't get over to see/teach her, but she invited us to her work to see what she does. turns out she's a sort of 'social director' for a facility for children to come and rest/heal/recover after illnesses when the doctors want to get them out of the hospitals, but don't want to send them home yet. and its right on the beach :) sure!! we'll come and check it out! was soooooooo awesome! i remember hearing about places like this when i was studying about Germany, and i think they are pretty popular in Europe, not so much in America, but its these BEAUTIFUL facilities, gardened and spaced out like the garden of Eden in order to promote rest and healing from the stresses of the world to add to the chances of healing better. its kinda like a summer camp for these kids...we met kids from all over Ukraine. they have their treatments and doctors appt there throughout the week, as well as school lessons each day. and then on the weekend, they have 'group leaders' -which is what our friend works as-who come in and supervise activities and look after them. we met about 25 10-15 year olds there who were recovering from different viruses/illnesses and were there from anywhere from weeks to months. what our friend tries to do with these kids is teach them that it is worth it to do good in school/study/dream big. she said almost all of these kids come from really broken homes (probably why the doctors sent them to these facility) like really broken homes. so she likes to think she has a chance to inspire these kids for good. she kinda put an awkward spin on our visit, "look everyone at these Americans! girls, tell them that its important to go to school and study, tell them that in America no one drinks, that its clean everywhere, tell us about your happy families!!!" welll.....America's not perfect. and we didn't encourage them to immigrate or anything, but ...we talked a lot about fun hobbies we have, about families, about how important they are, about how bad alcohol and drugs are. pretty much taught them the first half of the first lesson and the word of wisdom, right? just kidding, not going to kid anyone by saying i was super 'missionary minded' while i was there, but it was an incredible experience and i think we'll go back again and do crafts with them or something ....because i absolutely felt and it practically brought tears to my eyes the positive influence/smiles/and real love that these kids were soaking up from us. we played a few games with them, they performed a few Ukrainian karaoke songs for us, and you could tell they felt a little bit of happiness from the attention we were giving them. the kids showed us around the grounds-were explaining about all the flowers there and the different ways they can be used in healing. was all on this hill overlooking the sea. it was so pretty/awesome/ and i am sooo grateful i had that experience.
oh ya, so missionary work...the work is going good...we have a lot to do to implement what we all all talked about at zone conference...apparently a new 'thing' is getting members with us from 6-9 every night on lessons, contacting/tracking with us.. ...fine exciting great, but in a branch with 15 members on a good Sunday at church, and we have three companionships in our branch doing work...we're going to have to adapt it a little. we'll see...
well, have an awesome week!!!!!!!! love you and miss you all tons!!
sister little

Week 62

Dear Family and friends....
May has started in Odessa! the flowers are blooming and it really is pretty green. pretty humid too. memories of last summers are coming back to me of the humid hot days when there is no point in wearing makeup and you have mosquito bites all over your body-fun times. ive been wearing repellant so ive been doing alright.
this week we had a lesson with a new investigator we found. and it was interesting teaching her. you might probably already know that in preach my gospel there are three main lessons to teach and the first one is about the restoration. the first few principles to teach go like this...god is our loving heavenly father... god created/blesses families... god calls prophets...and the whole deal down to Jesus Christ/apostasy restoration. so usually in preparing to teach this lesson and when teaching it, i usually skip over the first and second principles-or lets say i just give them thirty seconds of attention during the lesson and then move on to the good stuff. i figure who would disagree with god being our loving heavenly father and families (okay, a lot of people would maybe, but the majority of people we teach are already pretty Christian). so we begin teaching this woman-maybe late forties with two daughters- the first lesson. we are way excited to get to prophets/book of Mormon part of the lesson because we had already given her a book of Mormon, so to start off we kinda ask her in a leading way, "you know god loves you right?" (so she can agree and we can move on). she agrees but says, "ya, sure i know god loves me, he loves everyone, ...and i know he has punished me a lot too. he has punished me for this and this and that thing. and my first daughter has received a punishment with an invalid son even though she was also the more beautiful, skinnier, nicer one" (ps Ukrainians have no shame in admitting who their 'prettier/skinnier daughter' is). so we heard this comment, about how she maybe believes god is love, but also gives out punishments to everyone and i personally couldn't move the lesson on with her having that understanding of god because that is NOT the god that I KNOW god is. so we spent our whole lesson on that first principle-one that ive skipped over my whole mission practically because i figured everyone would just know that. but if god is our loving heavenly father, he loves us always and forever no matter what sins we commit or any of our follies/imperfections. sure he allows trials to enter our lives in hopes we learn from them, sure lives aren't perfect here on earth, but if someone is going to believe god sits up in heaven and throws down punishments at everyone, i really think they would have a hard time understanding and believing our message about god and Jesus Christ restoring truths so we can return to them. its been way interesting to reflect on this...that you cant believe god punishes us for little things we do wrong. again, there are consequences and trials in life, but i'd like to think god is there to help us pull ourselves up as opposed to the source of them. i know our mission president has been drilling this principle with us a lot-and its good, because on the mission its really hard to see what's from god and what kind of bad things just 'happen'. i think in one of his letters he said, "say good bye to your concept of a god who blesses and punishes us in 5 minute intervals based on obedience, etc.." in really life, i dont know if you guys out there can fully grasp what that means to us. a lot of missionaries here will say to themselves, "oh man, our lesson fell thru because i got up at 635 this morning and not 630" or "dang, that referral didn't want to meet with us because we had a poor companionship study this morning!" NOOOO! chill out! so as a missionary, its hard to remember what we have influence over and what we don't (ex-other people's agency). so, know that god loves ALL OF YOU ALL THE SAME, no matter what situation you are in or state of mind or whatever...and what he wants you to do is just turn to him, pray to him, find comfort when you can truly feel his love, and that's what we ended up talking with our investigator about the who lesson and i hope we helped her see who god really is.
haha, i just read presidents letter....he talks about the SECOND principle of the first lesson....hahaha. almost on the same page.
so life in Odessa is pretty good, we've got some work, we've shown enough love to the members so now they are coming up to US to invite US over...its good to be loved. ive shed down to a skirt, shirt and sandals each day and im not turning back. im so glad im going home in summer because ive been waiting all winter to throw my winter clothes out the window (trust me they are trashed). just kidding, i'll give them to our little 'd.i.' closet in our church.
we'll have zone conference on Saturday so that will be good, hopefully the aps don't forget the mail again (that wasn't a pretty sight last time that happened... :)
i love you all!!! miss you like crazy!! i hope you all are excited for summer vacation. the schools here usually get out in June too, but they are getting out earlier because of the euro cup starting some time soon. they make up days on Saturdays, doesn't that sound fun? actually, i think its pretty normal her to have school and university classes on Saturdays. grateful for what you have!
sister kylie little

Week 61

So, something interesting serving with a younger American companion is they know a whole lot more about what is going on in the world than i do. im usually out of the loop when it comes to pop culture, but i usually find out things eventually, first paragraph today is going to be titled "ive been on the mission too long" to show you how out of the loop a mission makes you...

when the heck did Amy Winehouse die???? like last year? no one told me!
and Whitney Houston died too?? what is the world coming too?
we killed bin laden?...okay, honestly, i found out about that one last summer. but still a little behind the rest of the world
Jimmers is in the NBA? not that i really care, i remember hearing a lot about BYU basketball last spring when i was in the MTC but...i guess im not too caught up in anymore...

why is everyone here walking around with T-shirts that say "angry birds"? is that a band? a brand? my companion had to fill me in on that too.
a member yesterday was explaining to me what a 'flashmob' is....and my companion knew all about it. apparently they are popular here too....i had NO idea what they were talking about, so she had to fill me in on that too.
and, it took me way to long this morning to remember the word to describe that style of people who shop at urban outfitters, wear the plastic black and pink raybans, and wear checkered scarves...what are they again...popsters? emo? swaggers? indie? no...whats the dang word???.......ten minutes later...HIPSTERS! got it.... yeah. ive been on the mission a long time. ...and is it a good thing or a bad thing that i finally have a companion who can fill me in on the latest...i don't know....
so this week was pretty good...nice and HOT...and dropped down to slip on shoes than lost the nylons all together's in one week...down to sandals now and its awesome.  this week we actually had to do a lot of legal stuff...its been a nightmare trying to get me registered with my new visa since i got back from Bulgaria. i have to do all kinds of new paperwork that the people at all the govt offices aren't even trained on yet. but...after a whole lot of time and running all over the place and paying some fines...i think, think, im legal. our mission people just usually call us an hour before we need to be somewhere and we have to drop everything and go. its rough and takes a toll on the work...but its just the difficulty we have right now with Ukraine. its awesome we got our missionaries in here finally 20 years ago, but now with the new pro-Russian president,...there are a lot more laws now about registration, even for Ukrainians. a step back toward communism, yeah, so continue to pray for missionaries everywhere in the world and for countries where there are no missionaries yet and for the countries where the missionaries are becoming less and less welcome. :) thanks
this passed week we had a few lessons, found a few new investigators off the street, and tried to fulfill our purpose. someday's it just hard to get rejected over and over and over...okay all days are hard when that happens, but we are continuing to try.
its been funny having an American companion who speaks pretty good Russian, so we can go back and forth between English and Russian pretty frequently, but some days my mouth muscles cannot take it and any words that come out of my mouth-Russian or English are just mush. i don't know if ive talked about his before but to speaking Russian requires using differently mouth muscles than English. you kinda have to talk from the back of your mouth while narrowing your cheeks-way weird which is why all us missionaries will most likes always have an accent speaking Russian-because it uses diff muscles than we are used to. Ukrainian on the other hand, while similar to Russian, to speak it you use the same muscles as in English...therefore the American missionaries who speak Ukrainian here even from the beginning can speak without an accent. members and native missionaries and even people on the street who we talk with say we have an accent in Russian-its so obvious we're not native, but then when we switch over and even say the five simple words we know in Ukrainian to them they say we don't have an accent at all.
so, basically, my mouth muscles get so tired and just stop working so even with speaking English with my companion, i, of course, know how to say what i want to say, but my mouth will just get lazy and not pronounce the first part or last part of words, so i just sound ridiculous. its embarrassing. i know its kinda a 'badge of honor' to come home from a mission with an accent in English, but i think its just going to be embarrassing and frustrating that i literally can't speak good English anymore.
sorry, nothing too exciting to report... im enjoying my companion and Odessa and the work...just plugging along :)
have a great week!
sister little

Week 60

So here we begin another transfer here in the world of a mission..same area down here in odessa...(did i ever tell you the names of our branches? try just try to say took me a couple week... Toirova and Cheriomushkey). so, same area, new companion! sister oneil! im so excited! shes american, has been out in the field 7/8 months and ive been on exchanges with her a while ago and she way motivated and way excited to be here, so it should be a good transfer. it would be naive to say it will be perfect with no bumps in the road, but...we've got a pretty good head start at getting along.

i went up to kiev wed night and came back on thurs. i guess im getting pretty bad/lazy with all this travel, but i probably looked more like a college kid backpacking europe who hasnt showered in days than a missionary, but...what to do? sleeping on trains, no time or place to shower/brush teeth. its a hassle to pack extra clothes becuase we already went up with suitcases of my leaving companio and came down with suitcases of my new companion plus all the mail/packages for our zone. pretty sure i looked like some sort of zombie when i saw president on thursday, but thats okay, he didn't say anything about that. we just had a quick comp interview with my new companion. he kinda just gave us a personaly invitation to go down and get some work done here in odessa. he reminded us of our work as the only 'sister' official representation of the church in this city-make sure we live up to that charge and calling. right now we kinda focus on 2 of the 5 branches down here, but after talking with sister oneil we decicded to branch out into the other branches and focus on getting referrals from the other members of odessa. like i said, im excited.

yesterday we got a call from an awesome member from a different branch (suvorivsky) to tell us that our miracle elena who showed up to general conference a couple weeks ago and then went mia came to church yesterday! and loved it! yeah! elena doesn't have a phone, so we cant quite keep in contact with her way down here in our area (an hour and half away, well, if you go by public transp-half hour witha a taxi) we decided we will go up to their branch next sudnay. we have 2 elders up in that area but they have kinda asked up to try to teach her. whatever, okay.
so here in ukraine, the cool/cheap/delicious food you can get out on the streets is called "sharma"..its like a middle eastern burito. once and i while i like them. we have a sharma stand by our house and a couple weeks ago we stopped and talked to the workers there. this one lady was SUPER nice. we talked with her and found out she is an armenian who grew up in georgia (quite an oxymoron/paradox, but whatever) who  moved to ukraine 10 years ago and has her family her. she really like us and we would wave to her once and awhile when we walked by. well, saturday night we were out contacting and we rean into her and her teenage daughter as they were out walking. once again...SUPER nice, and invited us over sometime on sunday to talk with her. she said whe always has sundays off (when a missionary hears that you can imagine the lightbulb that goes off in our heads). we invited her to church but she didn't come, but i think we can get her daughter out to activities. we have two fifteen year old girls in one of our it could be good. we ended up stopping by her last night...back up. we wanted to 'stop by' instead of call her ahead of time so she wouldn't have time to cook us food. when we talked to her on saturday she invited us over so we could try her homemade armenian coffee and some georgian food. so, we stopped by hopping we could dogde a 'dinner date' with them and give them a book of mormon (we even found 'selections from the book of mormon' in our appartment in armenian which we thought she would like). we were wrong (about the food).... from the time we rang their intercom to the time it took us to take the elevator up nine floors, they had the table cleared off and started to pull out ALL kinds of crazy food. it was actually way cool to see and taste a lot of things. i packed some herbal tea packets in my purse just in case she wanted to serve us coffee. and i was glad i had them. she wasn't TOO offended that we refused her coffee. the most unique thing we had was this 'walnut rope' or something. its called "choochhack" or something in georgian. they strung a string through a line of walnuts, then they did the rope of walnuts in a fresh grape juice/four/vanilla mix then hang them up to dry. it kinda tastes like rubber, but still interesting. the rest of the food was pretty ukriainian-lots of canned/preserved fruits/peppers. we talked about god a little bit, some religious traditions in georgia. even though she looks SO armenian, and she is armenian, she love the country georgia and the people and the traditions better there (again, i say that is quite the paradox given how much war is betw those two countries, but still..interesting). they actually have a whole family living there-her husband, a son and daughter, and the sixteen year old daughter is so sweet and awesome. i think our next step is to get the daught to our english/game night at the church so she can meet our other young women in the ward. she took the book of mormon and was way excited to start reading it. i'd say they aren't right away 'elect' ...we might have to 'love' them into the gospel...but, i don't think that is altogher a bad thing.
so, its finally pretty warm. well, it gets warm for a couple hours a day then the wind picks up and we've got to put our jackets on, so we're not quite to summer yet...but oh so close.
we got our first shipment of the new translation of the russian book of mormon last week. i guess its way better, but i haven't started reading it yet. i think im like a lot of the members..i already have my old translation that ive been reading and it has all my notes in it. its kinda hard to pick up a clean book of mormon. but my last companion (who is a native russian speaker in ukraine) was excited and said some verses shes come across are way more clearer in the new translation, but likes some verses in the old translation better. its kinda an interesting conversation to have that doesn't hold much ground here, "the book of mormon is the most true book because its only be translated once. well, once into english. about two or three times into russian..." but people are kinda used to that here since a lot of the movies they watch and books they read are just dubbed or translations. isn't it just interesting to imagine that?
well, im so glad im still "doing it" im still preaching, teaching, and working like missionaries do ...i think that a primary song?...
i lvoe you all, miss you like crazy! i hope finals are/did/will go well for everyone!!!
sister little

Week 59

Dear family,
well, we had a pretty good Easter week, with a few complications thrown in there, but everything worked out. when we went to Bulgaria we were talking about all the possible things that could go wrong (we didn't feel all that informed on what we were supposed to do when we get there) and one elder responded, "im not worried at all. things always work out for missionaries. we are like so taken care of by angels and under the lords care, that some kind of random solution will come up if we get stuck" so true. last Wednesday we got a call from someone who works for the mission to get missionaries 'registered' in Ukraine so that we are all legal. Ukraine has been changing their laws a lot lately and its made things a whole lot more complicated. so last Wednesday we get a call from this man that said we had to get ourselves to an office an hour and a half away to pick up a paper and get it back to our area to get it signed by our local government office before 6 pm or else i would have to leave the country TOMORROW. okay, except that he called to tell us that at 4:30pm. No possible way. but, way. we called up some crazy taxi drivers and got it all done with ten minutes to spare. i have NO IDEA how but..some angels were working overtime for us. again, things just 'work out' for missionaries. i guess some time this week was the '30 day' mark after i got my new visa from when i went to Bulgaria last month, and if i didn't get registered within thirty days, i would have to leave the country and wait for an invitation back in. crazy, but things just worked.
Sunday was Easter and it was way cool to meet all the members at church. this passed week was the Odessa district's scheduled week at the Kiev temple so a lot of members went up last Sunday/Monday night to serve there all week and came back to Odessa Saturday night and came straight to church. can you imagine having a 'temple experience' like that. its absurd to us Americans where temples are a half hour drive away and no 'temple housing' but here...that's normal. you wait for your assigned week, you go up with everyone from your area/mission/country and stay in temple housing for a week and do 4-5 sessions a day with baptisms and other ordinances thrown in there. again, can you even imagine the spiritual high these members come back on? one woman came up to us and said, "Does anyone want to touch temple oil? its still on my head from yesterday!" it must be so awesome-they work hard all year long to get that one week off and what do they do? spend it at the temple with their ward. i think such an experience would be way cool.
Easter Sunday we knew we wouldn't get a whole lot of good responses just contacting the people on the street-since Everyone was about their orthodox traditions, so we grabbed some elders, a table, some book of Mormons and liahona and hymn books and went to a park and sang hymns and passed out materials. we had some good conversations with people, but mostly about how THEY celebrate Easter and how THEY are different from us. but, that's okay. i think we did a good job of representing ourselves. some ladies asked if i had a husband/or looking (an extremely common question) and told me that have some cute "svyasheniky" (priests) at their orthodox church and that i should go check them out. haha. maybe some other time...
things are warming up here, i got my first tan lines (okay sunburn lines) this last week -my poor neck and chest hasn't seen the sun in six months-ive been wearing scarves and jackets that long, its depressing, so happy its over. today i also got some more good sun-for pday we went out to some castle ruins by the sea and climbed around on them for a couple hours. our whole zone went, it was a lot of fun.
this week is transfers, i'll go up to Kiev wed night and come back Thurs night with a new companion. it should be way good, im excited.
well, i send my love, thoughts and prayers from here in Odessa, Ukraine. i miss you all, but know that this is a privilege to be here-as hard as it is and as much as i complain, it was a choice to be here and it absolutely is a privilege.
love you!
sister kylie little