Friday, August 26, 2011

Week 30

Wow another week, I'm just going to get started,
We had another "heavy" week as a companionship as Russians would say...just more and more weight of finding out more and more drama and situations between less actives as we try to coordinate efforts to visit these less actives, and more issues with a couple recent converts in the ward, trying to get them to stay active, BUT i am going to choose to learn from these interesting interactions with these people. My companion and I are re motivated to just do the basics of missionary work and finding those who are ready to change their lives. i think in my last email i accused the wards of not being ready to accept new people into the ward and be able to take care of them because they are all so focused on their own lives and problems. but maybe, just maybe, investigators and new converts are what they need to help pull them out of whatever swamp they are sitting in. So I'm back to the mentality of the ward needing us instead of us needing the ward.

My companion and i decided to couple our new motivation of finding the new elect with a trip to the temple. And unfortunately we realized this on Friday, then realized the temple was going to be closed for the next two weeks....dang it! we really wanted and NEEDED the strength that comes from the temple just with a lot of things that have been going on in our ward/district/mission...just life. We were bummed because while we still had Saturday to go before the temple closed, missionaries arent allowed to go on Saturdays because the temple gets so busy with groups coming in from other parts of eastern Europe for the weekend to go through the temple. Well, we decided we could maybe call president klebingat and get some special permission. He answered and we just briefly explained our little desperate need to go to the temple without too many details, and his answer was more inspiring and still inspiring to me, "Well, if you feel like you need to go the temple, then go. I know you are going to have many baptisms. and you are going to help people come unto Christ so if going to the temple is going to help you with that, then go." Okay, yes, we got permission to go, but more i was shocked by his blunt encouragement (?) and belief in us. in me. wow, he knows i am going to have baptisms on my mission.

The past few weeks i have been focusing on learning to love and serve the members and building them up and i was kinda thinkin, "wow, okay i can survive a mission if this is all i have to do" just because we've tried to help lots of people get baptized and make those covenants with God to receive those blessings, but so many have fallen through. So ive been discouraged and been kinda thinkin that i am not here to really help people get baptized, just build up these struggling wards. But, look, president has confidence in me that i will see more baptisms. its like that positive reinforcement of Morgan's vball coach. so its had a good effect on me, and like i said earlier, maybe that's what the wards need to help themselves. And from these experiences with less actives and recent converts with offended hearts and weak testimonies, you had better believe i am not letting anyone get baptized until they understand and live these commandments and really know that this gospel and these commitments are eternal. so yes, i haven't had tons of success numbers wise this first few transfers, but i am going to choose to believe that heavenly father is giving me these interesting situations and people to work with so that i know how i can be a more effective missionary, a better teacher and representative of him, and bring in strong members into the wards here. Well, i said we went to the temple to get strength to start up our new life and motivation to do missionary work and talk with as many people as we can about the gospel, and we didn't even get out the temple doors after our session before we had our first opportunity to share the gospel. A young man, obviously not a member, had walked into the temple and we saw him sitting in the lobby reading a plan of salvation pamphlet on our way out. So we went over to talk with him and we had another temple worker with us who was from one of wards as we explained to him about the restoration and the book of Mormon. we gave him a book of Mormon, invited him to church the next day and got his number to pass to the elders in his area. Who knows what will happen, but it was a neat experience of God definitely being aware of our new intentions and putting someone in our path.

in other news, the temple is closed for cleaning, etc, which equals out to it being open for a year now. Wow. so cool. Lots of groups from eastern Europe travel through, on Saturday we were with a lot of members from the donetsk mission. Member from all over Russia cycle through a lot, and the Armenia members come pretty frequently too. So cool.

Last night we went to a fireside with Larissa, our awesome recent convert from back in April, she's so awesome, and we've already set up that i'm going to come back and be here roommate after my mission, but anyway, we made the effort to go this fireside with her not only for the spirit but also because one of our favorite members from one of our wards was speaking...he happens to be the stake patriarch. His wife is so awesome too. We won't get into how famous or what a big deal that he is a member of the church, but just know he's awesome. He speaks very clean Ukrainian (you asked how may Ukrainian is coming, so here's an example)...i say clean because a lot of people speak 'sergic' where they just kinda mix up Ukrainian words with Russian grammar or vice versa, or just a complete mosiac of the two languages, you don't really know what they are speaking, but he is very Ukrainian and his talk was in Ukrainian, of course, but I understood mostly all of it (probably that gift of the spirit of interpretation of tongues, because there is no way i can speak it yet), but it also helped that he spoke a lot with his hands. So ive decided that i can generally understand Ukrainian if the person speaks with their hands (cheating, i know). he talked about patriarchal blessings, of course, so it was good for Larissa to be there, and about the twelve tribes of Israel (you can try to imagine what a topic that is when everyone in the room is not the tribe of Ephriam like we are all used to), and just expressed his love and appreciation for the gospel.

i haven't focused really on learning Ukrainian yet, but it is screwing up my Russian anyway because we read lots of things in Ukrainian, so i am used to pronouncing all the letters the Ukrainian way and not the Russian way, so its takes a lot of effort to pronounce words the right way, and sometimes the effort in my mind doesn't make it to my mouth in time, but its okay, i just fit in with all the people speaking sergic. I don't have a grammar book or anything for Ukrainian, so when i do start to study it it will just be with the missionary phrase book. but i plan on trying to get it down.

I am glad to be serving, i do recognize that my time is short here, really, to live this life for the lord and i do try 100% of the time to be accountable to my Heavenly Father.
i love you all,
i hope you have a wonderful week :)
sister kylie little

Friday, August 19, 2011

Week 29

Wow, what a hectic week for you all!! im glad Madison and ben are moved into Arizona. im glad they'll have each other there. it will hopefully keep our family a little closer than if she was at a different school. now its morgans time to reign, right? i just can't believe its finally that time.

well my week was hectic too. Definitely the deepest of lows and highest of highs all in one week with just unusual situations. My companion and i made a goal to actually get into a routine this week because we are just so thrown off. We were in a threesome still this week covering four wards and my companion went to Bulgaria Mon night-Thurs to renew her visa. Monday night we had to drop her off at a senior couples apt and then we kinda invited ourselves over for dinner :) we had a taco casserole and it was so awesome to feel (and taste) a little piece of America in the company of some amazing senior couples here. they really do so much for the mission. We met with the Parks who are the office couple for the mission office so he takes care of all the finances, visa trips, people coming and leaving, pretty much everything down to reminding us to change our water filters and check that our carbon monoxide detectors are working. Sister Park does a lot of coordination with the temple-we have to go through her to get clothes for the temple, and she handles our mail and any drama associated with that (for example she's the one who informed us a couple weeks ago that the post office workers were on strike so we probably wouldn't be getting mail for awhile), and she does so much more on top of being a ray of sunshine every time we go the office. It was so sweet to see them at home in their cozy Ukrainian apartment living their cute senior couple life together. We also met the Gregories who are a senior couple serving in Odessa, i think CES missionaries. And they are just hilarious-the funniest American comments about Ukrainian culture but you can tell they love being here. In our presidents letter today he shared with us a lot of the counsel he is giving the branch and district presidents and one of his pieces of counsel was that the senior couples are absolutely underappreicated and they have the most experience in the way the church is 'supposed' to be run, so he advised them that if they ever have a senior couple in their branch, let them observe how things are being run and seek their advice on what can be done better. Pretty cool. and true. So if youre reading this and thinking about serving a mission as a senior couple-DO IT! and just so you know, the couples here don't speak Russian or Ukrainian (thou they attempt), they are just the cutest couples from lowly Idaho and Utah. and they are here in Ukraine building the kingdom of God. They are just awesome for their sacrifice and pure desire and willingness to serve.

So what made my week a roller coaster? Well we paid a surprise visit to one of our investigators this week who has a baptismal date for next weekend....and she was....a little more than tipsy to say the least. Just a flood of frustrated emotions came to me right away, but im obviously so grateful we decided to go see her that night to find out what was really going on. then Saturday night we met with a couple recent converts from the center wards and one in particular expressed her lack of faith and belief in god because she hasn't seen her life change since her baptism in October. it was again, so sad and frustrating to see and hear her negative thoughts about god and the church. I sat there thinking, "wow, i don't want ANY baptisms if this is what's going to happen to them" so why did this happen to her? of course she has her own free agency to decide to read and pray every day or not, but is it bad to observe that maybe all the recent converts in these wards stick out like sore thumbs? i am just so grateful for our mission presidents new drive to get the members working with less actives/inactives. His philosophy that he keeps repeating is that 'why would the lord bless us with more baptisms and converts if we are not taking care of the ones we have?' and its so true. To go back to our investigator that obviously wasn't ready to make covenants with God, also, honestly, our ward is not ready to have any new recent converts. She didn't have any friends in the ward, so it we would have just thrown her into the sea alone if she were to get baptized. Recent converts absolutely need friends in the ward and need to feel like they are part of the ward. The missionaries can't and shouldn't be their only friends.

anyway, so these meeting were sad and caused a lot of introspection and reflection on how (1) important it is to teach clearly and simply so our investigators know the commandments (2) these investigators need friends in the ward before their baptism so that they have support after their baptism and (3) this one is a little abstract....but ive been thinking about my desire to work with homeless people with my nursing and why i have this undying desire to help them. i really feel like there is always hope, and i think i need to apply that to working with less actives and recent converts, they may be the outcasts of the ward (like the homeless are the outcasts of society) but i shouldn't lose hope in them and i, before i expect anyone else to be, i should be their friend. We are also starting to ask a lot out visiting teachers with the sisters because we are realizing how much the ward suffers when this isn't getting done. my high for the week. was yesterday at church. i just talked with everyone. and everyone had something to tell me and i understood them, and i replied and i showed my love and support for lots of different members. it takes such little effort to say hi and then it takes just a little more effort to ask how their family is doing and then it takes a little more to ask what they think about all of it, but i really feel like i strengthened my personal relationship with the members in our wards this week. And i took lots of notes because i know the big test will come next week to follow up with certain people on how they are doing. I think that will really show that i care and really am praying for them. I think what helped me have a better Sunday is that i have decided to get up early to have some personal study before the day starts. On Sundays, we don't have time for any study and i think it takes a toll, especially on the day when we should be most spiritually fed and prepared.

Okay, well, there's another week!
I hope all is well and warm in Vegas and the AZ!!
Sister kylie little

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Week 29

Fourth Transfer in the field!! say what?! That's right. And Sister Zanger and i are staying together in this area-kharkovsky and nova darnitsia and we're so excited. A few days before we got transfer info on Tuesday (we get info on Tues night then transfer mtg is Thurs morning) i realized that wow, i love sister zanger and i REALLY need to stay her companion as long as possible. She has seen me go through a lot and she has helped me get through a lot just by her sincere love and desire to be my friend, teach, and share spiritual experiences together. So we were pretty excited to be staying together. I am so happy to still be in these wards as well. the members are so awesome and loving and i am just beginning to feel like i know enough about the area to be effective.

This week has been a little unusual. A mini missionary didn't show up to transfer meeting, so one of our sisters was left without a companion so she has been staying with us. (a note on mini missionaries-our mission wouldn't survive without them, they are young single natives who volunteer their time, usually a full 6 weeks to live and be a missionary so that we can have more areas open. each transfer we have about 4 mini missionaries serving, and usually they are sisters) anyway, so we have has sister pleaha with us, she is one transfer younger than me and is from *Latvia* i call her "sister frolova" all the time on accident. Sister Frolova was my Latvian companion in the mtc (and we still write to each other:) So the surprise of her coming to stay with us for an indefinite amount of time on Thursday was interesting. But i think it has been a blessing in disguise for everyone. She is in the position i was last transfer of being left by her trainer to take over the area, so we've been able to give her some advice and let her just observe how we work in our area to give her some peace of mind that there are a lot of ways to do missionary work and you don't fail if you don't do it the exact way your trainer did. And you can imagine, i can totally relate to her feelings and really see the growth in myself over the past transfer in that we did get missionary work done and it wasn't a complete failure because i was in charge of the area. it took about four weeks of stress and frustration and just making appointments to stay busy before i lifted my head up two weeks ago to see that i was doing it. i was doing missionary work. So the assistants found her a new mini missionary to be her companion so we are going to meet her tonight, but then my companion is going on her visa trip to Bulgaria tonight, so i will be staying with sister pleaha and her companion in center Kiev for a few days anyway until sister zanger gets back. (we have to take a trip to Bulgaria at our year mark in country to renew our visa. My companion said you really look forward to this trip from the day you get here, but now that it is here for her, she doesn't want to go- i can see that. I remember when i first got here i looked forward to anything that would through off our missionary routine like a zone conference or exchanges or if we had to take an emergency trip to the embassy or something. now, for example when i found out sister pleaha would have to stay with us i was a little frustrated that something was throwing off our schedule, messing up our groove, but i still say it has been a blessing she has been with us). so ya, I'll be in center Kiev till Thursday.

One of the blessings of having sister pleaha with us is that someone in her ward was getting sealed on Saturday and we got permission to go to the sealing session. It was so beautiful :) Saturday was just a day of coincidences. On the bus to the temple we got off and realized the stake president was on the same bus, so we walked to the temple with president konchenko (it was just so cool-first stake pres of this miraculous stake), then the temple session was amazing, then when they were taking pictures outside the temple afterward we saw a group of "unidentified" missionaries (weren't wearing their tags) and it was a group of missionaries from the Moscow mission i knew from the mtc-one transfer younger than me. they were here on their visa trip (Russian missionaries have to leave Russia once every three months) so it was so neat to see them and talk with them on how their life is is Moscow. Then we ran to the grocery store to get a bite to eat and head back to the temple for the reception (we were kinda planning on not liking the food) and while we were walking back to the temple, a cute family is walking towards us and waving...who is that?....oh that would be president klebingat and his family...uuuuhhhh. hi president! we're not distracted or anything, we're just on our way to the chapel for a wedding reception. he. he. It was kinda funny. but a fun day.

So here starts transfer 4...what are my goals? what am i focused on? Sister zanger and i have decided to make this transfer as "Ukrainian" as possible. we're going to actually make all those Ukrainian dishes we said we want to try, we are going to talk with as many people as we can about Ukrainian culture. we are NOT going to bake American sweets. We are going to put up some Ukrainian decorations in our apartments and we are going to try to learn some Ukrainian. Good month to focus on Ukrainian culture-their independence day is aug 24 (i feel like they have already celebrated like 7 independence days since i have been here, but that's Ukraine for you. every week there is some kind of holiday)

Personally, i am glad to start a new transfer, especially with the feelings i have, or better said, the feelings of frustration, guilt, and weight that i DON'T have. We are just going to do work. the work that we have started, we are going to continue it. I have been trying to understand how i can be Christ's hands in this area, definitely by showing love, happiness and a smiling face as much as i can. I am grateful that time moves forward and never back. i may have already shared this thought, but 20+ years from now when my mission is just a dream, the only real evidence of a mission will be how my character and life changed because of it-what permanent changes took place in my personality to make me more Christ-like the rest of my life. and i think that is what it will be like when we stand judgement at the last day- there may not be any physical evidence of the life we had on earth, but how our characteristics and habits changed as a result of it will be what Jesus Christ will be looking for.

Family, Friends, I love you all, pray for you, think and hope all is well and happy. I miss you, of course, but i can't believe the experience i am having right now. simply precious and so necessary.

sister kylie little

Letter to the President

Hey hey,

sorry i couldn't bust out another letter to you guys-out of time. but here is a piece from my letter to the president.

Dear President Klebingat,
Something happened this week. And I know we talked about not expecting anything to happen this week as far as me all the sudden being happy, so I won't call it anything big or monumental or life changing, but something happened this week. It really wasn't an event, i just woke up Thursday morning and as i was reflecting for a minute before i started morning study, i stopped for a minute to try to describe this weird feeling i had. My heart...its just still. My heart is still. I haven't felt that since ive been here. I think its was just finally a culmination of all my realizations/revaluations from the past few months topped with your phone call Tuesday night and a great talk with one of our ward mission leaders on Wednesday night, so by Thursday i could feel this. My heart is simply still. the whole plea of the hymn "be still my soul" happened. and my heart can rest from the fury and storm it has been feeling. My actions aren't monumentally different right now, but my mentality is a little clearer. I have hope. I am here to see miracle, so that is what i will work for. The results probably won't be visible by the end of a transfer or maybe the end of the mission, but Heavenly Father knows where i need to be, who i need to talk to and he can see the end from where im at. So i just need to keep walking forward with my head up.
We also had an interesting experience with one of our investigators a couple days ago that i think will change me as a missionary. We made this woman on the street a month or two ago and she recognized us as missionaries right away, she said she met with missionaries a long time ago, knew all about us, and invited us to come over again. We did and found out she has her book of Mormon, all marked up with notes, she has the book 'teachings of the prophet Spencer w Kimball" all highlighted and noted, and she has a huge stack of liahonas. wow, we were blown away. after a lesson on baptism and especially baptisms for the dead, we committed her to being baptized. Sweet! talk about prepared, right? well after a few more visits we started to see her intelligence taking over the simplicity of the spirit. She's kinda been trained by the Jehovah witnesses and how to read the bible, so she was throwing a lot of scriptures at us throughout our lessons that kinda disrupted what we wanted to teach her. It was my fault, i now realize, that i assumed since she was so educated and had been taught before, she knew about all the commitments-Sabbath day, word of wisdom, etc, so we just did one lesson where we committed her to live them without much detail. Well, we noticed she really wasn't living the word of wisdom, saying, 'if i want to have a drink once in a while with my friends, that's fine" and she was shocked when we told her we don't buy things on Sunday. LIke i said, my bad for assuming she knew it all from before. So we had a lesson with her on Saturday and i was compelled by the spirit to lay it down for her,"anya, you are not going to get baptized in a week. You are not ready to get baptized. Yes you are very smart, and you know the scriptures, but you don't live what you say you believe. You say you know about the word of wisdom and you can probably quote many scriptures in the bible about how sacred our body is, but you need to do something about that belief, 100% of the time you don't drink. You need to show God your faith through actions. He gave us a body so that we can LIVE according to the commandments, not just learn about them. anya, i love you, i love that you are smart, and i know you have a desire to get baptized and to help do baptisms for the dead, but as a representative of Jesus Christ, i am telling you you need to live the commandments, not just study them and brush them off and say you know them. We are here to help you prepare for baptism, and we want to, so please, we want to continue meeting with you and help you show your faith through your works" wow. i know. but she needed to hear that and more importantly, i needed to say it. i needed to see what happens when i don't take teaching our investigators the letter of the law, every aspect of commandments seriously. I am more dedicated and see where i need to be soooo thorough in my teaching of the commandments especially in preparing for baptism. And to relate to the feeling of my heart being still -i feel like i needed to say what i needed to say to her, so i have no regrets or uncertainty about working with her. we committed her to read the book of Mormon again, from 1nephi1, and we are going to start from scratch with her, re teaching everything thoroughly so that she knows and i know that we taught her right. And then we can watch to see if she keeps commitments and see if she really understands. I know my "uncertainty" about the work is one of the many things that has been troubling my soul, but now i have a little better grasp now that i have had to pull someone's baptism date away from them because they weren't ready and they couldn't see it (i promise she really isn't ready-she bought something on the way to church yesterday and didn't think anything of it and she was supposed to be baptized at the end of this week).
so yes, that's my confession but lesson ive learned about being a missionary and being sister little.

Week 28

Incase i run out of time and can't write a real email, im starting with this one adventure from this week because it was amazing! This transfer our "cultural event" was to visit "paragova" which up to this point i just heard it to be like a selo (those little village where people grow their gardens/crops) outside of Kiev that has really old dachas (houses). So we rounded up a few members, a less active, and a recent convert and boarded a bus to paragova. Well, to my surprise, paragova, while yes, is a selo, is also a national museum which displays REAL OLD houses from different parts of Ukraine all in one area. We show up, just 30 minutes outside of Kiev, and the feeling and air is so different, blasphemous to say, but both my companion and i were like, this is the Adam ondi amon of Ukraine....just luscious green open space with just a pristine feeling. So the way this "museum" is set up is that different "oblasts" or states, of Ukraine are represented by houses that actually still standing after 250 years or whatever and they picked them up and moved them to this area, paragova, so that we can tour all through these old houses of old, real Ukraine. Its kinda like we look at a few homes and they all kinda look the same, then 100 meters later they said, "okay, now you are in the oblast of chernigsee" and the set of houses and churches look a little different, made out of different materials, based on the natural resources of that area. and they are real homes and churches from about 250+ years ago. Oh my goodness, it was amazing! If there is any place worth traveling to in Ukraine to really see what Ukraine is, it would be this parabova.
I live in the city, but real Ukraine is wheat fields, and windmills! and houses made out of straw, stones, wood, whatever they could find. and then each house was decorated and had "artifacts" from their lives. i say "artifacts" because a lot of these things they still use here in Ukraine-for example i saw a man cutting the grass with a sickle the other day at the school where we run every funny, but why change your tool if it gets the job done?
i promise i took a hundred more pictures but here are a few to suffice for now. and just google it:paragova ukraine. so cool.
the houses in the selos now are barely a little more modern than this-made out of wood with just open space inside or maybe one bedroom and a kitchen.
so hopefully you can see a more distinct "Ukrainian" culture from this.

I love you all so much :)
Sister Little