Thursday, June 16, 2011

Week 21

Ooooh man,

i am slowly climbing out the hole i have fallen into slowly, but i think surely. This week i have had a few unique opportunities to recieve guidance and councel, and while i didn't recieve exact answers to prayers or anything, i should be grateful for the things i was taught and the my inspired thoughts that followed. our mission conference ended on Tuesday with a meeting with President Lawrence(a member of the area presidency=member of the seventy) and President Clayton (a member of a presidency of the quorom of the seventy, his first time to ukraine). while previous meetings with these types of general authorities are usually very instructional and motivating i hear, this one was opened up from the beginning for us to ask questions and receive answers from these men of God. we talked from everything from receiving spiritual gifts to the new guidelines for the finances of senior missionaries-apparantly they are setting a max budget that seniors would have to pay as well as letting them be more flexible with how long they serve (this topic was the first one brought up which i just thought was funny, because when the young missionaries weren't ready with their questions, the senior jump right in with theirs. cute.) but what i learned from this meeting is so simple and i have heard it a hundred times, but something i need to change. that Faith is a principle of Action.

My heart this past week has been stripped of all its pride and confidence and as i build up from the ruins of it, i need to realize that the knowledge of this language is not just going to come by just studying or by listening to others speak it and picking out their grammatical mistakes. I have to speak it. the words have to physical come out of my mouth for me to speak russian. i guess its like the principle of the growing your testimony-if you're not sharing it and saying it out loud it will dwindle. that even happens when you are really 'studying the scriptures' and trying to be learned of them. i am studying russian and really digging deep into the grammer. but whats it worth if i don't speak it. but i need my Heavenly Fathers help to speak it. like really. i am so humbled that i cannot do this work alone. a few more breakdowns occured last week, but i have concluded that I really feel alone here but i know that my Heavenly Father is there and He hears my prayers. and how many times have i prayed "please bless Thy spirit to here in ukraine, to be here with us" but now i pray several times a day, "Heavenly Father, I need your spirit HERE WITH ME, IN MY HEART, i need to feel your presence in my soul so i know that i am not alone" because there is no one else to turn to that can give me the peace i can feel throught the holy ghost. and i need to put for action with that faith. i need to open my mouth and speak even if i am uncomfortable, even if it would be easier to just let my companion talk. i need to show my heavenly father taht i am willing to open my mouth and through time, it will get easier.

i also had a personal interview this week with our departing mission president. and i so appreciated his councel. i think since it was kind of parting councel for my life, he was a little more casual and compassionate with what i needed to here. so i am slowly climbing....but if you think about it literally , climbing slowly uphill is really hard. and exhausting, but thats what i am doing as i pray each day for some more strength and comfort.

thank you for all your prayers and thougths, its a hard time, but humbling, and i am learning so much more to rely on my Heavenly Father, which is probably the greatest lesson i could learn and will help me throughout my life. i challenge all of you to develop a stronger relationship with our Heavenly Father. He is there and He can help. in fact, He is the only one who can help. and also share your testimonies! do not let them become weak. My testimony has been what has saved me though this experience, because i knew heavenly father would be there when i prayed for help.
i love you all!

sister kylie little

this is serge and anya. they are a couple that was baptized last november. He is a professional singer and we went to see his group perfom last week----sooo ukrainian. they are one of a kind. the group- a group of about 50 men all singing ukrainian poems to ukrainian folk music and playing ukrainian instruments. so fun! Anya is an amazing concert pianist. they are so elect and will do great things for the church here.
ill try to snap some pictures actually of ukraine, but enjoy these for now :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Week 20

Sorry not to warn you that my email would come late this week, we are have had/are having a pretty special series of events for yesterday and today...but lets start with last week...
it was time for exchanges again! we do exchanges as sisters every third week of the transfer. the big surprise was that i was leaving the area again-i kinda expected(but was not excited to) stay in the area and have to 'man' the area by myself since i would be the sister in the companionship who knew how to get around, who the members are, etc. like i said, im just not ready for that...and luckily didn't have to. I went to the voscresentsky area which is even more suburban than our area i think. my first exchange was in center Kiev-about 45 minutes away on the metro, and this one in voscresentsky was about 45 minutes away on a bus, kinda north of my area. it was fun. i just like these experiences to get out of my area and our habits and observe how other missionaries do the work. I am all about making the work my own (with the lords help of course) but i am still just observing all the possible ways to get everything done-who focuses on what over other things, who kneels when they pray vs not, how do other sisters do companionship study-im still collecting my data and then try to draw up a conclusion on what's best...its probably not the best thing that i think that there is a science to all of this and its all out figuring it out...i should probably just follow the spirit in everything i do while im out here....but then again i just thought of that scripture that it is not requisite to ask for every little piece of direction. so i gotta find a balance. i will say my observations, something i am SO glad my companion did not start doing with me is that it is quite the tradition among sisters (maybe elders too, i don't know) but every time you are about to leave the appt, you say a pray and then give each other a hug. hm. i won't go any further with my comments about that, don't want to drive away the spirit, so i'll just say im glad my companion doesn't make me hug her 3 times a day....
so this is the week the mission has been building up to for awhile. today we will go to a meeting with president Lawrence (i think he is in a quorum of 70 pres for this area). he had a meeting with the mission a little before i got here and now is coming back. every once still talks about the amazing things he said last time about finding the 'believing blood of Israel.' in conjunction with this, this will be the last time the mission will all be together with pres steinagle, our mission president, as our new one arrives in a bout three weeks. so all the missionaries in our mission came into Kiev a day early (yesterday for p day) to spend a day in Kiev, have a mission dinner and then have family home evening "with the steinagles." so that was last night. we took a mission photo, i got to meet a lot of people (it was the first time i have seen all the missionaries from our mission together-about 90 young ones and about 14 senior missionaries). missionaries from odeca and leviv- (southern and western Ukraine) have to take a night train to get here and then they stay with other missionaries in Kiev. last night was fun. i think. i definitely had a spout of social anxiety. tooo many missionaries who were all best friends and i didn't want to get in anyone's way...but i survived, and appreciated the counsel we received and i really look forward to our meeting today. i really need some encouragement...
I had a huge breakdown on Sunday. huge. honestly, after a few weeks in the mtc and up to this point i really haven't been "intimidated" by Russian. i can kinda understand most things, and than i just respond with whatever sassy thing i can think to say within the vocabulary that i know (or spiritual thing, depending on the situation)...i really have been pretty fearless. but starting about Friday and then leading into Sunday, i just lost that ability to speak fearlessly. i think it is a john ritter song that goes, "i traded all the innocence i ever had for hesitation" and that what has happened. i used to not care if i said something grammatical wrong, but now that i know better, and really learning the grammar, i am realizing how awful i am. i am riding on some pretty low self confidence with this language right now, to the point where i can barely talk myself up to do street contacting-the easy stuff! i don't know, try not to be upset with me for being weak, i think i am going to be learning a huge lesson on faith in the next couple weeks as i try to talk myself up to speaking Russian again and having faith that the spirit will help me.

I will say i am understanding a lot a lot of what people say, but then with that comes my desire to give a more clear, honest answer which is at this point way outside my vocabulary, so i get frustrated, and then in the case of Sunday...i just gave up and starting crying. so what was this situation? it wasn't even that bad. the young women leaders invited us in on a planning meeting with them to share with them some of our favorite activities from young women's and then help them plan out how the young women can to missionary work. I had a lot to say. i wanted to tell them about my experience with the young women's program, a few activities i remember, etc. that's pretty hard vocab that i definitely haven't studied, but i figured i could get by. well before we even started talking about that stuff they had everyone in the room bare their testimonies of Jesus Christ. it came to my turn. and i have done it before. i testify daily, but halfway through i completely forgot a word that was going to pull my whole testimony together. and i just sat there trying to think of this word that was going to make everything understandable to them and i just couldn't. and i could feel all of their stares burning on my skin as they waited in silence for like 45 seconds for me to finish my thought and i couldn't...and my eyes began to fill with tears as i felt the anxiety in the room and i lost it. tears just started rushing down my face (i thought maybe if i pulled it together fast enough they would think that the reason i was crying was the spirit...but it didn't work out.) and i sat the rest of the meeting sobbing quietly until we could leave and go home and i cried for the rest of the night. the past couple days had been leading up to this breakdown. i really feel like i butchered every single thing i said in Russian since Friday. i feel so bad that i can't communicate what i want in the way i want to. so yeah, i have fasted and prayed that i can start building again that which was lost and refined my purpose here and what i can start doing now to invite others to come to Christ with the little Russian i do know.
thank you all for your thoughts and prayers, it has been the most most comforting thought when i am reminded to think of all the people at home praying for me :) thank you
have a wonderful week, good luck with finals and the start of summer vacation! I love you all!
sister kylie little

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

First LDS Russian Stake Organized

Published: Sunday, June 5, 2011 2:35 p.m. MDT
By Scott Taylor, Deseret News
MOSCOW — The LDS Church's first stake in Russia — its second in the former Soviet Union — was created Sunday.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve Apostles organized the Moscow Russia Stake in a meeting attended by more than 1,100 in the Moscow's Amber Plaza auditorium.
A Mormon stake is a geographic organizational and administrative unit comprised of local congregations called wards and branches. With a stake similar to what other faiths call a diocese, the LDS Church has 2,926 stakes worldwide.
The LDS Church counts more than 21,000 members in Russia spread throughout 116 congregations in the country.
The Moscow Russia Stake contains six wards and three branches. The new stake presidency includes Yakov Mikhaylovich Boyko as president, Vladimir Nikolaivich Astashov as first counselor and Viktor Mikhaylovich Kremenchuk as second counselor, with Vyacheslav Viktorovich Protopopov as stake patriarch.

The first stake in the former Soviet Union was created in Ukraine almost exactly seven years previously, with Elder Nelson organizing the Kyiv Ukraine Stake on May 30, 2004.

The Kyiv Ukraine Temple — the first Mormon temple in the former Soviet Union — was dedicated in August 2010 by LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson.

Early LDS Church leaders were mindful of Russia. In 1843, Joseph Smith appointed Orson Hyde and George J. Adams to prepare for a never-fulfilled mission to the "vast empire" of Russia, to which "is attached some of the most important things concerning the advancement and building up of the kingdom of God in the last days."

Russia's first Mormon converts were Johan and Alma Lindelof, baptized in St. Petersburg's Neva River in June 1895, many years after Lindelof heard the gospel in his native Finland, married, moved to Russia, worked as a goldsmith and petitioned the church's Scandinavian Mission.

Other missionaries occasionally visited the Lindelofs over the years, with Elder Francis M. Lyman of the church's Quorum of the Twelve offering dedicatory prayers in 1903 in both St. Petersburg and Moscow. Following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the wealthy Lindelofs were persecuted and exiled to labor camps or deported to Finland.
Some Soviet-era Russians converted to the Mormon faith outside their homeland. It wasn't until the late 1980s that Elder Nelson of the Twelve and Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Quorums of the Seventy made historic visits to Soviet Union leaders, with the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Branch created in 1990 and the church afforded initial recognition in 1991.

In May 1998, the LDS Church was formally recognized by the Russian Federation's Ministry of Justice as a centralized religious organization.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Week 20

Dear family and friends!!

Happy memorial day!!! i only remembered because our recent convert who works at the american embassy here has the day off because it is an american holiday...oh yeah! memorial day weekend!! i remember what that used to be like...usually a swim meet, a ward barbeque, and that feeling that i can barely remember of school being soooo close to over and all the end of the year banquets and awards ceremonies. that is such a distant life from where i am now. obviously geographically, but mentally too. Ive realized this week that while thinking this way may be interesting, it is pretty much detrimental, so im going to try to avoid doing this:

on saturday morning we had a service project for one of our wards (more pulling weeds! and making kiev more beautiful) anyway, we were walking there around 7:30 in the morning, after exercise and breakfast, ready to get a move on our day we had planned...then I let my mind its 7:30 on a saturday morning. what the heck am i doing? im pretty sure in my life before this one, I would never find myself walking to a ward activity at 7:30 in the morning, and i probably still would not have gone if it was inthe afternoon on a saturday. what would i be doing on a saturday morning? maybe it was rowing practice...yeah, thats what i used to do on saturday mornings. then i would relax and do my homework and study in my pajamas the rest of the day. maybe order a pizza. yeah. thats saturday. mmmhmmm. NOTHING from life's saturday morning resembles what i am doing now...on my way to help with a ward service project, then onto the other ward's picnic for the young men and women (how many times did i avoid those in high school), then after that we would be cutting it close to get showered and onto the two other lessons we had planned for the day with investigators (we ended us not getting a chance to shower-just wash our feet and threw on a skirt). wow. yeah. like i was saying....its interesting but i can't really even think about what used to be normal for me, because the lifestyle of a missionary is definitely not normal. but thats okay. the lord needs somebody to do his work 24/7 and that is what ive signed up to do, and i know this is exactly where i am supposed to be, the Lord has called me to work in Ukraine, and i cannot deny all the spiritual promptings that led me to serve a mission. Not only did my life need it, my life in so many ways will never be the same (for instance, i am blonde now). but really, spiritaully too. I am preparing to be a better wife, mother, and member of this church by what i am observing and doing here.

Are you ready for part 2 of my rant from last week? WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO GO TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY? before i answer, i want you all to know that i am not perfect (just have the potential to be :) like us all) and if i heard this advice even two years ago i wouldn't believe it was me talking....but i want to just share my thoughts on what i have learned so far being here in the field and seeing what going to church has done for those who go. and what i wish i could just tell everyone....this is a "keeping the sabbath day holy" according to kylie:

why go to church?
1. Lets start with the fact that taking the sacrament each week is a commandment from Jesus Christ, check out 3 nephi

2. Now let me just say that taking the sacrament each week is one of the biggest BLESSINGS God and Jesus Christ have given us. We can become clean each week by the atonement of jesus christ. wowo talk about living your religion. each week taking that opportunity sincerely.

3. Some people have told us its hard to get to church. it is a sacrifice-sacrifice time, money, hours at work, pride even. Yeah. and you know what, if going to church is a sacrifice for you, all the better!!!!! we know that we will be blessed for any sacrifice we make in the name of the Lord D&C130:20-21, so good. if its hard to get up out of bed, bring it on. bring on the blessings.

4. What i wish i could tell all the less actives who have told us that church is simply boring. they already know everything, they know how it all goes down... This is where a modern day prophet and revelation comes into play. The sunday school classes and young men/women/relief society organizations did not always exist. Jesus christ did not set those up when he came to earth (he did set up the sacrament-thats why that hour is so important), so those programs did not always exist, but they were develpoed as modern day prophets and apostles reveived revations thoughrout the past 180 years. Through a modern prophet we KNOW what church is supposed to be like. Heavenly Father has given us these programs and their weekly meetings becuase he knows that for now, that this is the most effective way to teach His children and teenagers His gospel and how to live the standards in this day and age. and He has all the power to change these programs or get rid of them if He didn't think they were working. So the fact that we get updated manuals and the scheduling of them may change every few decaedes is just greater evidence that God is real and looking out for His children on earth and trying to supply them with the best tools to wade through this life. A scripture i found this week that i like alot - Helamen 3:28-30. we all are here in this gulf of misery, but if we cling to the word of god, it will get us through this mist of darkness with the swiftest most direct route. we need to cling to the scriptures and programs and callings given to us by al loving Heavenly Father to get us to where we want to be the fastest and without any more misery than necessary....

im done. thank you.

i know, who was that? i haven't always had the strongest testimony of going to church, but hey, i guess a mission just does that to you. i working on translating all the above into russian :) so i can share my testimony and thoughts with the people in my same country and not just you all at home :)

Love you lots!!
sister kylie little