Tuesday, May 3, 2011
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
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 months....so 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 dinner...im 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!!