Friday, May 27, 2011

Week 19

Dearest family and friends,
I am SOOOO excited to be emailing you this week! i was ready to email you all last tuesday with some exciting news, but then the week just got better and better and better! and now i am just bursting to tell you all the things that have happened this week! i was told there is a point in missionary letters home where the focus is less on the missionary and more about the missionary work as the missionary becomes more and more engulfed and enjoying the work...and its happening this week! I can't promise i will be talking less about myself and my personal feelings about this whole experience, but i im so excited to tell you about all the work and blessings and success the Lord has just handed to us this week...Transfer 2...i feel its going to be good.

This past week me and my companion really focused on seeking out and finding service opportunities. like real service. we've been doing our fair share of "visiting teaching" service like baking people treats and telling people we will pray for them, but we know that everyone here could use and extra two pairs of hands to get done what they need to, so thats what we sought out and it is just really cool to have a goal like that for the week to unite us as a companionship. its like whenever we feel an awekward or weird moment about to come up in a street contact or a lesson we both know we could bring up service and know where we are going with that, "we want to serve you. or your neighbors..we know when we serve others we serve god..." the week before our unifying theme of the week was the book of mormon-the introduction and its power and teachings. we talked to EVERYONE about it-street contacts and members alike. i like the idea of these unifying goals, it is something we've just developed for our companionship to help us be on the same page and work toward the same goal. i'll tell you this week's unity goal in a bit...

i just want to tell you the amazing stories and experiences of this week person by here it goes...let me introduce you to the people of the xarkovsky and nova darneetsky areas...

1. Okcana...we met okcana two fridays ago street contacting and she said she would be really interested to meet with us. right there she had a lot of questions about praying in tongues and if that was necessary. we set up an appointment for last tuesday and in that first lesson the spirit was so strong as she confessed her sincere desires to repent. she wanted to know who she needed to talkd to if she has committed serious sins and wanted to know the right way to repent, like so she never feels the weight of sins anymore....thank goodness we have the true gosple to offer with the priesthood power to bind things on earth and in heaven and loose the bands of sins here on earth so that they are loosed in heaven...It was our first lesson and we invited her to be baptized on June 5. she accepted and we think she will really prepare herself...AMAZING! this experience has definitely helped break the barrier for me in talking about baptism EARLY and INVITING people to change their life and habits as soon as possible.

2.On Wednesday we went to a members dacha to do *service* yay! and did we. let me just give you a little insight on how most people live here. they have their very small appartment in the city then they have their dacha in the selo...usually a 20 to 60 min bus ride out of town (we went out to the selo a few weeks ago) anyway, at their dacha is really their life which is their garden. we went to pull weeds for her. so it was really excited to get dirt under my nails and really feel like i was helping someone. but, i just want to share my admiration for the people here. their life is their garden and what food they can grow for themsevles. as i pulled weeds i thought about the experiences i have had before with pulling weeds, and in america "pulling weeds" is usually for the aesthetic appeal-so your front yard looks good, or so the rose bushes look pretty. Here, no, you pull weeds so your fruit and vegetables can grow so you can have food to survive. and you work this garden all day everyday free day you can to protect your food supply. (for the most part the 40-60s year olds will work in the city monday thru friday then go to their dacha and work their garden on sat and sun, and then the 60 plus who are retired will live at their dacha and work all day everyday in their garden-so you can see when we caught on to this trend me and my companion really wanted to offer our young abled bodies to help poeple with their gardens-it was actually kinda hard to convince people that we could work hard and sweat and that we had other clothes to work in besides our skirts)...anyway, point of this bullet point is to say we were able to serve, work hard, and gain a huge appreciation for the lifestyle here.

3. Katya- this is the less active who hadn't been to church in nine years that came a two sundays ago. when I first met with here the week before that she confided in us that her life was getting to difficult and she had been contemplating a long time about bailing and getting a divorce. she has three adorable kids. i testified to her that we as missionaries couldn't empathize with how hard her life may be but through prayer her Heavenly Father could help her know the best thing to do. we can think and think and think about something, but when we pray, we can recieve and answer in our hearts and then we know that THAT is exactly what we should do-because that is inspiritation from our Heavenly Father who wants whats best for us. Anyway, we met with her again this week and she was SOOO excited to report to us that she starting praying againa and was sad she hadn't thought to do that earlier and she said she can see how the load on her back is feeling lighter even if nothing substantial has changed. wow, wow, wow. we are really helping people :)

4. Galena-Galena is Katya's mom who also hasn't been in 9 years. we had an accidental lesson with her when we wento over to talk with katya and she wasn't home but galena was babysitting the kids. what do you think we offered her? a spiritual thought and some *service* we went to her dacha on sat morning and she has a HUGE garden she tends to herself (her husband died awhile ago) she absolutely loved our company and again, it took some convincing to the the point of arguing that we could handle working the garden in the sun and getting dirty...but we did and it was so fun and it was so great to start to build a relationship with her. she said she would come to church again.

5.Olga- olga was baptized a little over a year ago and we'll meet with her once in a while to read from the book of mormon in engish with her-she's in her 40s and she has two goals over the next year-be able to play all the hymns in the hymn book and improve her english- a super motiated woman. anyway, while we were meeting with her a couple weeks ago she told us the commandment she struggles most with is tithing. it just doesn't make sense to her if god wants her to support her son and survive to pay money to the church...we bore our testimonies about tithing (it was good to find this out because we've beein thinking about helping her prepare for the temple-need to pay tithing to get there), anyway she kinda shook her head as we talked about it and said, "i know, I've heard it all before, but i just can't" we felt pretty useless and sad for her...well last week we had another lesosn with her and she was so happy to report to us that that previous week for some reason she had 1000 extra grieven (ukrainian dollars) so she decided to pay her tithing and felt the most satisfied, comfortable, good feelings about it :) yay! baby steps.

6. Igor and Olga- we were street contacting on saturday night on our way back to our appt for the night and we started talking to this sweet couple-igor and olga who have a ten year old son. they were surprisingly interested in our message. like want to listen to us? because for the past hour we've heard "no" "no, im in a hurry" "im provaslavnian, no thank you" so it was exciting to actually get past a first sentence with someone on the street that night. they said they didn't know when they could meet, but that they wanted to so that we should call them sometime. we went home and were pretty exctied about this potential, then during planning we get a phone call...and it was igor..."hi, we just met 15 minutes ago on the street and we really want to meet with you very soon, can you meet tomorrow at 8?" after we set up the meeting we couldn't hang up the phone fast enough to scream with excitement!!!!! we have been praying for a family to teach and they just called US to set us an appt!! so cool!! we had a potiential lesson with them last night and taught them about the book of mormon and joseph smith. they will need tomake a few changes in their lives, but i know that if they sincerely pray about the book of mormon they will reveice an answer and at that point the changes will be so much easier because when we gain a testimony and eternal perspective on life, wow, does our life and desires change or what? i know thats what happened for me.

so yes....lots of work and excitement this week. we got six new investigators this week...the most for a companionship in the mission this cool. but yay. to mention our companionship unity goal for the week-be bold and weed out those who aren't ready for the gospel and move on to the people that are. they are out there, and we can just as many next week as we did this week....

to end on a sad note, NONE of the people mentioned above were at church this week :( wow, how sad. If i had time i would tell you all why it is sooooo important to go to church each week...but i'll let you all ponder that for yourselves and we'll see if i have time next time to tell you why...

out of time :(
I love you all and am so happy and excited for the work this week!
i pray for you all and hope the lord will bless you with what you need!
sister kylie little

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Week 18

hello all of my lovely friends and family!!

i am grateful to be writing you from the new perspective of transfer number 2....i think the spinning in my head has slowed down and i can focus a little better on my calling here, my purpose, and how i, sister little, can touch the lives of people. Some advice i recieved in the mtc is to really look people in the eye when you talk to them. which is hard enough to do among people you know in your own language, and talking in russian i am always looking around in the air when i talk thinking that the grammar chart is going to appear out of nowhere to help me when i speak or that the word i am looking for is written on the building over there or something...anyway this past week and a goal for this tranfer is to really look people in the eye when i speak. i tried to do it last week and i really saw a difference in the way people responded to my message and testimony. its like the honest and the holy ghost can move pupil to pupil and you can tell they feel something. i still struggled to speak, but at least this way they can tell i am serious about what i am talking about. still get rejected a lot this way, but i can see that people are more sincere and almost sorry they are rejecting us, like they know what we have to say is important. i hope to develop some kind of way to 'rebuttle' their rejections and give them a better opportunity to hear our message....anyway. transfer 2...i was able to actually set goals and know how to set smaller goals to help us get there. its maybe even getting exciting and i hear it only gets better from here as i get more adjusted and familiar with the work. My companion did not get tranferred, and i am super grateful for that. our area is so big and i still don't quite know my way around yet.

This week i received my letters from the bermuda ward :D!! thank you all soooooo much! i loved them and your encouraging messages, and really just seeing everyones names again and remembering this is where i came from and all the great families and youth that are in the bermuda ward. you guys are awesome! i do have to mention something that makes me laugh a little bit....MULTIPLE people said in their letters that they coudln't write anymore because Madison was distracting them with stories from prom apparantly...funny because that is my way of knowing that, yep, madison is still so good at being madison, and secondly it means that madison was at that activity and letter from her in the package :) thanks. j/k i know you love me and i don't need a letter to prove it :) plus i got an email from you today so you redeemed yourself :)

i wish all of you could take a field trip to the ukraine and see just what life is like here...bermuda ward field you think the ward could budget that in next year? If you could all come, i think the first lesson you would learn would be to keep things SIMPLE. One of our wards had a ward picnic on saturday and it was so simple and so fun. We just found a spot in this beautiful park, threw down a blanket on which the food was put and everyone sat around this big blanket on the ground and ate together. there were no barbeque chips, no casseroles, all there was to eat was fruits and vegetables. they just bought a bunch of tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, bananas, and a couple other veggies, washed them in a bowl of water right there, sliced everything in half and it was ready to serve. One thing that doesnt change i guess is the priesthood gathered around the grill. we did have hot dogs and it just made me laugh as i watched the men of the ward try to cook this hot dogs in their 'secret recipe' way and then drop a few in the dirt and laugh about it and pick them up and throw them back on the grill then check to see that no one funny . and keptchup, keptchup doesnt change. gotta have keptchup here too. there were about 40 people there and this activity was dedicated to mothers given that mothers day was just here. each auxillary did a short performance dedicated to the women, the priesthood sang a ukrainian song accompanied by a sort of ukrainian accordian, the young women read a poem, it was so cute, simple and fun. my time was spent playing frisbee with the five year olds because you don't have to have a lot of language skill to do that :) luckily i know how to throw a frisbee or else i would have really been out of luck.

As far as a report on the work....while we always trying to find new investigators and teach the gospel, our biggest success this week was that two different inactive sisters came to church. YAY! one hasn't been in nine years and the other hasn't been in a few years and yet has a super strong testimony and actually two of our active members in the ward now found the gospel through her. part of missionary work is working with the inactive members about a fourth of our lessons each week are with different inactives. we have been meeting with these two since i got here and it was just so cool to see them come back. and they aren't strangers, everyone from the ward recognized them and welcomed them with open arms. it was awesome.

We have had a couple "unity days" as a mission to help reignite our efforts as a mission. one of them was our "selo day" a couple weeks ago. another one this past week was in one day we set a goal to contact 1000 people on the street. this should be happening everyday, but we've been slacking. we did get 1200 on that day though, so we can do it, it is just a matter of making a habit of it each day. yesterday our unity day goal was to try to get as many referrals at church as possible. we have a weekly goal as a mission to receive a certain number of referrals each week (i am sure this is a goal for all the missions around the world-so please help us out and give the missionaries names of people who you think could be interested! the most prepared investigators always come from member referrals! okay..done with my plug...) we did get four from sat to sun which was way more than expected and quite a blessing..we are working on contacting them now.

i am doing pretty well...what makes me most happy is the weather. i love that it is getting warm. i can get rejected a hundred times on the street and still be happy because i don't have to wear a jacket and scarf and boots, and i get to wear short sleeves and feel the warmth of the sun...i don't know how i am going to make it through a winter...but my thoughts about it are that by the time winter comes around i will know and understand a lot more of the languages here and therefore not need only the weather to make me a happy missionary. don't let that sound bad..i am a happy missionary, especially yesterday how two members in particular were genuinely excited to see me and report to me on how their families were, etc...a good feeling of being accepted into the ward and swimming through the language barrier.

one funny thought about swimming...this is me tuting my own horn and just sharing something i said that i think was a 'good one'...but this morning we were doing some investigative work in the area book and found out that two other less actives we are trying to work with are actually related and the family drama they have expressed to us are actually about eachother...anyway...we really want to help both sides come back to church and know with the lords help, we can influence them for good, but its a pretty sticky situation to attempt even in a native language, so i told my companion, "wow, i feel like we are about to jump into a pool with this one, and we don't know how to swim in this language" smile. be proud that i came up with that one, and don't worry, we'll have the ward members help us out with this one :)
i love you all!!! thanks again for the letters and support and i hope to see the whole ward here in ukraine some time soon!!! :)

Sister little

PS: AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING is being organized into a stake in the beginnning of june. rumors have been around a long time appartently, but its for sure happening! :) how amazing!! you know what comes after a stake? a temple!! who could have ever thought! i am so excited for the members there and the missionaries i know there :) so amazing!

PSS: happy birthday Kate :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Week 17

Today is ANOTHER holiday here...I feel the past few weeks here have been jammed packed with holidays and days off from work, which is great for everyone here but has hurt our work a little bit with trying to set up meetings with investigators and members. but that's okay...I'm sure that will be our fate the next couple months with summer coming up. but today is a great day for all those who were once part of the soviet union.
It was so amazing to talk to you all yesterday!!! I feel just like I was sitting on the bed with you giving you my 'kylie' insights on life and missionary work here. you all look and sound great too....I can't believe all the exciting changes coming up in the family !Ben in New York, Madison in Az, Morgan rocking High School , but I wish you all great happiness with all these fun things best advice which is still advice I need to tell myself is that CHANGE IS HARD, but stick to it, give it a month or two and you will find you like it. once you master the feelings of being uncomfortable and new and kinda get the hang of it, you'll thrive!
I have been looking forward to going through the Kiev Temple the whole time I have been here and we finally got to go on Thursday!!! it was so amazing to be inside the building. it is sooo beautiful and I love that they stuck with some Ukrainian decorations on the was so rejuvenating for the work I am doing on the outside and help people get there...its is the very first baby step to meet with missionaries, feel the holy ghost, get baptized, and then one day go through the temple. but I am part of those first few steps. in both wards yesterday the Relief Society lesson was on missionary work and many, almost all the sisters stood up and told how they were introduced to the church...missionaries. missionaries on the street, missionaries introduced through their friends, and now they are the rock of the church here in Ukraine. its is just sooo cool that almost everyone here is a convert to the church (yes we all are, but I mean with interaction with missionaries.) its just so cool that there are so many. its kinda like how there are very few WWII veterans/survivors left now just because more time is passing as compared to like the 50s, 60s, 70s, but here that time has not passed and we are still graced with the presence of so many brave souls and pioneers. they are awesome :)
we just have a short time to write today, but I love you all and am so glad I got to see you! I look forward to the changes that will happen before I see you again! lots of trials and triumphs I hope!!
transfers are this week, but I don't anticipate any changes for me, even though my companion has been in this area for 6 transfers maybe, we'll see, we'll find out Tues night.
I love you all!!!!!!!!
sister kylie little

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week 16


its good news, i know. about 10 days ago my companion reminded me how soon we would be getting to talk with our families and my first concern was "wow, i am going to have to fake it. i am going to have to fake that im actually happy here, that im not drowning in my struggles with the language and the expectations" i think anyone who has been on a mission and has spent only four weeks in country can sympathize....however, like i say, i am actually happy. something changed this week. i felt my heart getting lighter. like from Thursday to Sunday the start of a transformation took place and i am honestly feeling pretty good. not perfect or in complete control, but closer to it than i have been. the past four weeks have been quite the struggle of trying to speak Russian, being surrounded by Ukrainian, trying not to sound like the most generic salesman in the world when we're contacting/tracting, and feeling like these investigators we were teaching were really "my" investigators because they were investigators before i got here. i don't know if anyone can relate to these things, but these are just a few of my personal trials and really the tar i have been trying to swim through the past month. i always had the faith that with time i would adjust and enjoy things here, just like it took time to really adjust and like the mtc, but i didn't know when it would come. but its coming. and im am happy.

thank you all for your prayers, thoughts, and letters. I think what helped a lot was on Friday we had weekly planning as usually which is when me and my companion sit and talk and plan for all our investigators/less actives we are working with and set goals for the upcoming week...anyway, my companion let me 'conduct' the planning session, which really gave me the opportunity to organize everyone we are working with and meeting with in my own way and create my own system for using our planners and see the goals we are setting and really help direct them. i guess since she handed me a little control of my situation, i was able to thrive and get maybe even excited about the work :) about time right? i know i am awful, but im sure that Heavenly Father knew it would take time as im sure it does with everyone. i just pray for patience each day and make sure i audibly recognize my own unworthiness and need for help each day to my Heavenly Father in prayer.

Yesterday at church, i was much more motivated to talk to members and set up appointments for the week with members without feeling like i need my companion at my side the whole time. this is something ive really been working toward because i know that's what i would expect of missionaries in my home ward, i felt like i wasn't fulfilling my purpose the past few weeks when ive just sat quietly in the back of the chapel because i couldn't communicate with anyone. But like i said, things are getting better, lighter. yesterday i bore my testimony in sacrament meeting, i didn't have anything prepared to say or memorized, just faith to get up and tell everyone that i have a testimony. i was scared, but i did it. a lot of people came up to me and said they couldn't believe i had only been studying Russian for as long as i have,..."how did you master Russian so quickly?!" uhhhhh. no. there must have been a lot of angels in the room translating my words before they entered the hearts of those that heard them (thats supposed to be a joke/scripture reference-2 nephi 33:1)

anyway...i would say the most interesting day this week was Thursday because of how polar our activities were. on Tuesday the president announced that Thursday would be "selo day" in which every missionary in the mission was expected to leave the area and go to a 'selo' to do missionary work for 3 to 4 hours. I had no idea what a selo was but soon found out....the most general definition could be the 'village' which is outside the city. so we were supposed to pick a selo no more than 45 minutes outside the city and try to find people to teach. 45 minutes is the limit because that the max that is reasonable to expect someone to make a trip into the city for church-so needless to say there are no churches/no missionary work in the selos right now...but the idea of the selo day was to find the elect who live outside the city. so my companion and i got onto a marshruka (bus) and headed out of town in the morning. and the terrain and scenery changed very quickly. i didn't think that even 15 minutes outside the city could be so different. we rode the bus 45 minutes out, got off the bus and i could have sworn i stepped onto the set of "fiddler on the roof" okay, honestly, i have never seen that movie but im told it takes place in Ukraine and it takes place in a farmland or something...anyway, sorry if im way off, but thats the best i can do. Like we stepped off the bus into REAL Ukraine. the selo is where all the babyshky grow all their crops that they take into the city each day and sell on the sidewalks. there were some nice houses then some old shacks and each had a few acres of farmland surrounding them. and it was a beautiful day (i got a tan-but thats not important) so everyone was out working on their crops. i just wish you all could have been there to see it with your own eyes-some had whole families helping them plant, but for the most part, 70, 80 year old women were outside in the dirt on their hands and knees planting their potatoes-thats just their ways of life, no rest for the weary or the aged, it was time to harvest so thats what they were doing. and they were all still clothed like it was winter while im like sweating....just completely different lifestyle/way to sustain life for the people here. we were able to talk to a few people about the church, but most people couldn't get passed the odd site of two cute girls wanting to talk to them about Jesus Christ when they were 80 years old, knee deep in dirt planting their potatoes, with the backdrop of a provoslavian church that is already built there. this is probably the worst thing in the world to rationalize and say about our experience, but we decided that we should just try to teach them as much as they would let us and leave them with 'the living Christ' and 'the family proclamation' and then just leave them be and hope that they are more prepared to accept the gospel when in the spirit world. but it was really neat to be among such pure people and i pray that the missionary force will grow enough so thats these people can have a better opportunity to hear accept and live the gospel.

we then came back into Kiev and attended an opera that night at the opera house in center Kiev (quite a polar opposite way to end the day huh?)...we saw "Aida" which was sung in Italian with Ukrainian subtitles. it was so neat. so cool to have that experience. Our mission president lets us attend one "cultural experience" like that once a transfer...i want to see a ballet next time. we'll see :)

i love you all!!!

just so you know, i can receive emails from anyone, but only write to my family, so i thank you all for your emails this week and don't feel bad if i don't respond, its just not allowed :)

Love, sister little

Week 15

Dearest family and friends!!

the main events of this week were Easter, of course, which was also stake conference, and then also we had exchanges this past week so I spent Tues to Fri in 'center' which downtown, like real, Kiev. So interesting I absolutely loved it, but the whole time it was so hard to have my missionary eyes on instead of "party, carefree college student in a big city" mentality. every other minute i was thinking how i want to put on my party dress and stilettos and hang out with all the young hip people there. its very NYC-fast paced, university students, etc. I think this is my biggest distraction/struggle being a missionary-being missionary minded all the time and just accept that those stilettos are in the closet at home and i can think about them in another 15 yes i loved serving in center Kiev but im grateful not to be assigned there at this time as i try to adjust to the life and expectations of a good missionary. i was happy to come back to my area- and it actually felt like 'coming home' when i came back to our area which was an unexpected feeling, but yes back to our area where life is a little more calm, and hm...suburban...i guess is a way to say it. to give you an idea, if you were to google a map of the Kiev metro/subway our area is between the xarkovskii metro stop and the darneetvii stops. so a little off of the busiest part of Kiev.

and yesterday was stake conference...let me brag for just a minute...i got to go to stake conference of the only stake in eastern Europe. i got to sustain president Thomas S. monsoon as a prophet of God and his twelve apostles in Russian. The area seventy and temple president both gave their talks in Russian even though they are not native speakers. It was just a cool feeling to be surrounded by all these members. strong members. pioneers, really. and they are just the beginning of the stakes and temples that will begin to pop up and flood through this part of the world. Our whole conference was in Russian, which is apparently unusual, but lucky for me because i actually had a chance of understanding it. and i did a pretty good job...i think the quote that i will remember for a long time learning from that conference (you know, one of those moments where the spirit teaches your heart something and there's no chance you'll forget it...) is that for us, every Sunday is Easter! how amazing is the sacrament and the miracle it not only represents but can work in our life each week. yes! lets tell everyone about it!

Our dream plans for Easter didn't work out as far as meeting with our hard core Ukrainian investigator with a very traditional pretty sure she was offended this past week by a member so we'll have to do some damage repair this week, but thats okay. Sister Beisinger and i went to Larissa's and had some paska, the traditional Easter bread they eat here, and had a good resurrection/atonement lesson, then we cooked ourselves a very traditional dinner...hamburgers and homemade french fries. its was a treat for us because we never eat out but the elders will probably think thats not special at all since a lot of them eat at the McDonalds here. oh well. we also made a cinnamon cake and made some deliveries to less actives last night. The coolest thing of yesterday was the socially accepted/expected greeting of the day is "christos voskres" then you respond with "vaeestinu voskres"-so you can say to a stranger on the street, "Christ is resurrected" and they will say "indeed, resurrected! my companion loved saying that all day to people because she felt that it was a way to trick people into bearing their testimony and feeling the spirit. It is just way cool that that is part of the culture here.

I did get mail this week, thank you all for the letters-

i got Morgan's, dads, one from the Benson's, and one from Gnome! thank you, i love you all!!

Have a wonderful week!!

Sister little