Friday, February 25, 2011

MTC Pictures!

I got a letter from Kylie today and she sent pictures!

Kylie's District

Kylie with the 3 elders from her district going to the Ukraine

Kylie's District--"District Misfit"
Apparently one of the natives convinced them to hold the flag upside down.

Kylie's first Name Tag. Her cyrillic name tag should be coming soon!

Kylie's Companions, Sister Erekson and Sister Djurich. They are both going to Russia.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week 6

Hello family and friends!

Opening statement of this email is the exciting news that I got to leave the MTC this week and enter into "Babylon" as it is called here. It really wasn't all that exciting, but I've earned bragging rights since not many people get to leave the MTC campus. I just accompanied my companion to her PT I said, not exciting, but kind of interesting. I just worked out at the PT place while she did her thing, but it was interesting to be out in the world wearing a nametag with the Lords name on it. It was like I couldn't be "kylie" and do what I wanted to do, I just felt it would be wasting the Lords time if I did...okay the only "Kylie" thing I wanted to do while I was out was like sit on the foyer couches and not talk to anyone, you know, mind my own business, but again...kind of a waste of time while I’m wearing the tag. It was like I felt this sacred duty to make conversation with each person I had an encounter with. To be honest, there wasn't much opportunity, I talked with an older sister about how her knees being shattered a few times, and she was of course Mormon, but I did talk with someone in the waiting room who seemed confused when I referred to my "companion" so I talked with him a little bit about our And quite a luxury to be doing it in English :)

So this past week as I mentioned last week, me and my companions taught our first lesson in Russian to a Russian speaking investigator. (Even though I just have one for now, I taught as a threesome last week since we had prepared a lesson together) Wanna guess how that went?? It was quite the perfect example of how not to teach....It was the most contentious lesson I've ever taught/been in on...It was pretty much a war of words. I didn't even think I knew enough Russian to argue with an investigator, but I did. Our investigator just seemed to disagree with everything we said. We first were describing how God blesses families and wants them to be happy; he disagreed because not everyone has a happy family. We finally got him to agree that the gospel of Jesus Christ can help families become happy...and then he just got super confused by us using the words 'doctrine' and 'truth' he kept asking "what is truth?!" "What is the doctrine of Christ." okay....if you would just listen to what we are teaching you, that is truth! It was frustrating. By the end of the lesson, though, I felt the spirit was pulled back into the room as I found the words to testify that truth is knowing that there is a prophet on the earth today, that God loves us as much today as he did in times of old to give us a prophet. I told him we could sit and teach all day, but the only way for him to know truth, the truth of what we speak of, is to read the Book of Mormon, which is evidence that Joseph Smith had the power of god and translated this scripture, and to pray to know truth for himself. He seemed satisfied with that answer, but probably only because we were out of time.

So this experience was definitely one to learn from. Our whole discussion was in Russian, so it was really a testimony to me that I have come a long way with Russian...I can explain things in more than one way and I can (kinda) understand people’s concerns and issues with what were are teaching. But preparing for this next lesson tomorrow, which I am teaching with my new companion who is quite seasoned in teaching in Russian, we are taking a different approach...we have scriptures picked out for each principle, we are going to preface them with explanation or an introspective question, then after they read it maybe ask another question and testify of the principle. I am feeling much better about this approach. Why didn't we teach this way in English? Looking back in those lessons we threw so much info at the investigator and didn't ask enough questions to help them apply the principles in their own lives.
I do know I love testifying in Russian. Yesterday we did a contacting activity where we were "shopping" and all the Russian teachers were the salesmen (kinda a flea market setting) and we had to practice buying something and talking about religion with them. I jumped right in and was so excited to contact with them..(I wish I could type this in Russian but imagine me speaking, actually that might be quite impossible, I barely believe what’s happening)."No, I don't want to buy this shirt, but I do have a question for you. Do you believe in God?" "Oh, yes I go to Russian orthodox church. I love it" "oh yeah? what do you like about church?" and go into testifying about feeling the holy ghost at church and when I read the Book of Mormon, and invite them to church. One of them seemed interested and took my book of Mormon, but then turned around and placed it on his shelf to be sold. "No! You have to read it. It is for you!!" kinda funny. But super fun in Russian, no reservations.

Another exciting thing that happened this week is that we ordered our Cyrillic nametags!! The fun of this is that we get to pick how we want our last names spelt with Cyrillic we spent so much time trying to fit in as many silent cool looking letters as we could in our names...but that didn't really fly with our teachers. I considered translating "little" which would mean I would be called "Sestra Malinkee" which I decided would be too weird. My teacher said the church doesn't let people do that anyways. But it will still be pronounced a little differently ...."Sestra Leatyell" I’m so excited!! We'll hopefully get those in the next to two weeks.

Okay, funny moment of the week happened this morning while I was running on the track....a "senior" sister missionary passed me twice!!! I was like "what the heck?" so I really got to step up my game.

I love you all, have a wonderful week!!
Cectra Little

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Week 5

Okay, I guess we are not really the older district, because there is no younger district to call us the older district yet (the new Russian speaking missionaries will come in next Wednesday-about 36, same amount as I came in with), but just about all of the older district left today or yesterday for their respective!! So crazy!!

Day in and day out everyone feels like the MTC is all they will know for the rest of their lives, but lo and behold something miraculous happens where your time is up and you actually get to go to Russia!!! (Some elders in my district are convinced this 'Russia' doesn't exist and we'll never get out of here) but! There’s hope!! I plan on there being 'mission reunions' but what about all the awesome people you serve in the MTC with?...I hope I'll get to see them again before the millennium, if not, that will suffice I guess....actually I’m sure face book will be a big help for when we all get back :)

So my Valentine’s day was spent signing flags, journals, and singing "God be with you til we meet again" for all those leaving. I'm so excited for them!!

Well, this week we've stepped up our SYL time or "speak your language" our district sets aside about four hours a day to only speak Russian to each other...and we're actually talking!! It’s actually a lot of fun because we've realized we know a lot more than we thought!! Tomorrow is the first time we'll have to teach a 35 min lesson (lesson 1-the restoration) to a Russian speaking investigator...I’m actually not too nervous. We've been preparing for this since day 1 and we've been working on about 100 phrases that could possibly be said during lesson 1...I know about 40 of them, so not too bad...and I can testify which is the perfect fallback even in English, so I should be okay. I plan on using lots of scriptures and testifying of what they say. The only thing that could go wrong is if they talk back to me :) I don't think I’m going to pause long enough during any of my statements so they can ask any questions :) It’s so hard to listen to and actually understand what the Russian investigator is saying. Horror stories from the other district include ones where the elders asked how the investigator was doing and they responded that they were really sad because their sister just died in a car accident...the elders who understood none of this said, "That’s excellent!" in Russian....but luckily the MTC is a safe environment where it’s okay if something like that happens. We'll see how it goes...but like I said, speaking Russian is becoming pretty fun. Any of our practice Russian lessons, I keep my notes under my desk and just pull together sentences from the words I know. Okay, well that doesn't always work out :) last week some of the native were practicing a lesson on the plan of salvation with me and asked me what I thought the purpose of life was....the only words I knew at that time that fit that context were the verbs "to die" and "to eat." it took a couple days to live that down :)

On the subject of the natives-who all left today for their missions, if some of you have seen the video of the Kiev temple dedication/cultural celebration, a few of them are in those videos, only one native is from Ukraine, the other two that are in them travelled there from Russia to see the temple dedication. I think it’s so cool I could be among those pioneers. One of the natives parting testimonies to us was "you all are so blessed with big wards and beautiful churches and so many temples! You must help Russia to receive temples!! We need them! My branch back home has 16 people in it and here your wards are so big! You must help Russia receive the truth and give the gospel to enough people so we can have a temple too!!" Let’s get to work!!! It was so sincere and sweet and I feel so honored to be helping this part of the world receive the joy of the gospel!

So tomorrow I will get a new companion. One sister from the older district had to have knee surgery a couple weeks ago and is still recovering. She was supposed to leave for Novosibeirs yesterday, but her departure has been postponed two it should be fun, she knows a lot more Russian than me and it'll be a fun change. Once she leaves I'll go back into my trio I’m in now. It will feel so crazy only having one companion. The other day I was on splits with just one other sister and I felt so alone...I was like "where are all my friends? Where’s my posse?" but two by two sufficeth for the Lord, so I should get used to it.

Okay, my MTC quote of the week...don't expect these every time, but when there's a good one I have to share :)
Since the beginning they've always stressed that you must be within "sight and sound" of your companions, so this week during class one elder stood up to walk across the room to get a tissue.. As he's about to blow his nose, his companion yells at him from across the room, "Elder!! Sight and sound!! Look at me when you blow your nose!!!" the elder just shook his head as we all left....okay… I’m getting pretty desperate for good comedy :)

Have a wonderful week everyone!! I love you all and am so grateful for your thoughts, letters and prayers!!
Cectpa Kylie Little

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Week 4

Dear everyone...
I have to start out this week by thanking everyone for their AMAZING letters/Dear Elder' whoa. The profound and uplifting messages you all write me are so needed and so appreciated. And I am so grateful you are all sharing in this experience with me...And a huge ginormous "thank you" with a million tons of love to Mrs. Valerie Foyston, from what I hear you are doing wonders connecting everyone, family and friends, to my mission. I so deeply appreciate what you're doing :) I have about an hour to write letters once a week, so it means a lot to me that my message can get out to everyone possible

This week has been full of a lot of Russian, and some Russian, oh, yeah, and then...some Russian. One of our district goals is to do a "language fast" once a day...umm and when they told me this a couple weeks ago I was not to thrilled to be skipping a meal once a day in order to learn Russian better...luckily I was informed before the day we started that a "language fast" means you speak your mission language during the whole meal. hmm. I actually would prefer the "real fast"..:) just kidding, but it has been quite hard to only speak Russian at dinner when there is so much to talk (gossip) about, but my Russian vocabulary is growing thanks to this...well, that is, my vocabulary of what typical 19 year old elders talk about...turtles and death. we mostly sit in silence with our dictionaries in front of our faces... but it's all good at least I'm learning.

I found out some more amazing things about Ukraine this another reason why Kiev is the best mission ever is because it has enough members to be an organized "stake" if that makes sense, so I guess it's easier trying to organize things logistically because the organization is similar to places like the US where there are wards and I guess it's the Kiev stake... with various wards throughout. I don't know about Russia, but the other two missions in Ukraine do not have enough people to have wards/stakes so they are organized by branches and the mission districts.

Also...we had a workshop yesterday on food in Russia/Ukraine.....and BEST NEWS's understood over there that Americans cannot/will not eat the fish!! alleluia!! (for those of you who don't know, I hate fish and have not been looking forward to explaining that to Ukrainian investigators trying to feed me) it's because the water is extremely contaminated so the natives G.I. systems have adjusted to it, but it would make any foreigner sick....also fun thought on food/water I said the water is contaminated so you cannot drink out of the tap (I think this is why bottled gas water is so popular), but in all the apartments as long as you have a filter on your tap, you can drink it. The elder who was telling us this said, "Yeah, the filter is a pretty big piece of equipment that sits in your sink. and it's a pain to clean out. But it has got three chambers, or filtration filters out twigs and rocks and sand, the next filters out the microbes and anything else creepy and crawling in it, and the third filters out radiation." ehem. what? yeah....
and they did say that 99% of the time we'll be cooking our own food as missionaries and not eating with investigators/members which works for me.

The older districts who arrived on Dec 1 received their official travel plans this week and they are sooo stoked. Most of them fly through JFK onto Germany or France then Russia, but there are a couple flying through Korea to get to that side of Russia...pretty cool. They leave Monday/Tuesday... I'm excited for them but definitely wouldn't be prepared to go with them...and we'll see if I feel any different after 7 more weeks (probably not)
I finally have a little bit of routine these days so I'll let you know the big events of each day:

Monday- mostly classroom instruction, but we do have "workshops" for an hour before dinner where we attend a small class about a spiritual topic related specifically to people of Russia/Ukraine like the importance of prayer (especially comparing recited prayers of orthodox religions) or going to church (like the difference of walking into a historical cathedral for mass vs. a grocery store where some LDS meetings are held) and then a cultural topic mixed in (like this week we talked about food)

Tuesday-Preparation day. We go to the temple at 8 am,
then we usually go window shopping at the bookstore, then lunch, then change to do laundry, email, then change back to go to dinner, have a fireside, and then our district has a review of the fireside afterward

Wednesday-lots of class then our TRC task in the evening where we do a task in Russian and teach a lesson (tomorrow is our last time we'll teach in English...ah!)

Thursday-we do service for two hours in the morning (me and my comps usually are assigned to clean showers in another building) then lots of class

Friday-lots of class, but we have zone activities, like a scavenger hunt around the MTC or something (we have to find 2 converts, a sister wearing a blue skirt, find someone who's homesick and share a scripture with them, bear 6 testimonies, etc)

Saturday-class all day, but we do play some games

Sunday-busy..Relief Society, Sunday School with our district, lunch, Sacrament Meeting, walk up to the temple for a bit, come back, go to the devotional

Okay, and I have to share the funniest quote I overheard this week:
On the track among some new missionaries, "Dude, no way! I dated her too!"

I love you all!!!
Cectra Little

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Week 3

So, for those of you who may be too busy to read this whole email here are the two most important take-aways about last Wednesday:

1. I had an epiphany about language learning!!! and instead of being discouraged, I am so excited!

2. I got to teach a real investigator!!! Here at the MTC we have many opportunities to teach 'investigators' or, really, teachers posing as investigators with different issues, but me and my companions were able to teach a real one!! yay!! Most important thing I learned from that experience is that you had better, if nothing else, have a true testimony about the things you're teaching. That's the only way the spirit can enter the room and teach what the investigator needs to here.

Some of you keen ones out there may have been able to pick up on my frustrated undertones of my past couple emails. The first week I had a really hard time adjusting to the social atmosphere of the MTC...I've never been surrounded by so many Mormons in my life. and being with companions all the time is hard. And not being able to listen to an IPod as you fold laundry is the worst....but I have adjusted quite a bit and understand I can live my life the way I want, when I get home, but for now I must submit to this higher law of the Lord in order to have his spirit poured out unto me (and I need it).

And then the second week I was extremely frustrated with Russian and the language teaching strategies here at the MTC....I've heard it over and over again, "we are here to teach you how to teach yourselves" this translates into our teachers not telling us everything we want to know right away, but reminding us of the resources we have in order to find the the computer based program, our phrasebooks, our workbook, etc....NO! if I'm supposed to learn Russian in three months I need you to tell me the answer!!! I know, awful attitude.....but like I said, last Wednesday the Lord opened my eyes to a greater understanding of my purpose and calmed my fears and washed away my frustrations....and here's my best summary of my stream of consciousness....

"Hhhmmmm, wait a minute....there's no way I can learn everything about everything Russian in two months, so my teachers are right, I have to learn how to teach myself because I am going to be teaching myself probably the next year to year and a half...I am not going to have the amazing resources I have now, so I had better appreciate them while I have them. Also, I am probably going to pick up on the grammar principles/case/adjective endings when I get there, so I maybe don't need to focus to heavily on those now....What do I need to focus on?....What do I want to be able to say the moment I walk off that plane in Ukraine?....How about my testimony? How about phrases from the lessons so I can contribute when we teach, how about how to contact on the street?....YES! that is what I'll focus on!! and that matches perfectly with what has been said about the gift of will come when we are focused on accomplishing the Lords work with the language"

The 50 ton load I was carrying on my back about having to learn Russian has disappeared. and I'm sooo excited!!! I am so motivated to learn the phrases to express things I know are the past week with much diligence, I have been able to memorize vocabulary and put together phrases in Russian to where I can teach the first half of the first lesson without notes! and testify about families!! and extend commitments!! and I have the first half of Joseph Smiths account of the First Vision!!(I can't help but brag...but it's really not me, it's the Holy Ghost working with me in order to do the work of the Lord) amazing! how exciting!!! My new found motivation is so exhilarating!!

part each wed night we have "TRC" or the teaching resource center...which is the goal we work toward each week where we have to perform a task in Russian and then teach a lesson in English (in two weeks I think the task and the lesson will be in Russian). And volunteer investigators come who are either natives who speak Russian (from BYU or something) or they are RM's who speak Russian...for example, this week we had to contact someone by approaching them, asking about their families, testifying about God, extending a commitment, and setting up an appt in Russian, then we come back ten minutes later for a lesson in a room alone with the investigator and our teacher can watch and listen to our lessons via a camera in the room.

Like less than 1% of the time there is a real investigator, or at least a nonmember, who volunteers. And we were able to teach a real investigator!!!! It was amazing!! He was soo golden!. I am so grateful for my experiences I had with the missionaries before I came out because they really set a great example of how to teach with love. We even all knelt for the closing prayer! And even though it was supposed to be 'acting,' our investigator in all seriousness asked if he could keep the Book of Mormon we handed him and actually read the chapter we talked about!!

It was such a perfect experience to revamp how we prepare our lessons and really having a testimony about what we teach.
Thank you all for your love and prayers...I absolutely feel their power. I wish all of you could be here not just because I'm homesick, but to share in these amazing experiences.

much much love!
Cectra Little