Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Week 35

Dear Family and friends,
this week was just packed full of new ideas and events, but i'll try to condense them all down into one email...

new area, new companion, still not adjusted...and we had combined zone conference on Thursday, so all the missionaries in greater Kiev (about half the mission) all gathered in the chapel by the temple to hear from our mission president and the temple president (a Russian professor who also served as a mission president in novosibirsk Russia and was instrumental in our mission president getting into studying Russian in the first place if you remember that story)....its funny, as i have become a missionary i have realized that wow, missionary work is the most important work we can do in this life. then after hearing the temple president talk to us i thought, wow, making and keeping temple covenants is the most important work we can do in this life....probably every person can say that about their calling/work even down to nursery leaders, but i think maybe temple covenants takes the jackpot. anyway...it was way beyond inspiring and definitely a needed spiritual lift. President has raised the standards and is calling us to pick up the pace. shouldn't expect anything else.

well, Irena's baptism was yesterday and i know i said i didn't mind that i was in a different area and was going to miss it....but i did care, enough to create a way and means to get myself to that baptism. and after seeing it, i can't believe i thought once about not wanting to be there....

so from my previous experiences here and different people i have met, i have gained a pretty heavy understanding of what needs to happen in order to help someone come into the church. i didn t want to let anyone get baptized that was just going to go inactive after a month. and i wanted to make sure that if i ever helped anyone get baptized, the ward and members were going to be ready and willing to help and support them on their journey afterwards. i wanted to make sure anyone that is baptized knows at their baptism what an amazing event it is to the point that they can share their own testimony of the restoration at their baptism.............and all of those happened for Irena. it was honestly a little piece of heaven sitting at her baptism. just a little taste of what the kingdom of God will really be like. For starters, about 60 were there. it probably helped that her baptism was after church yesterday, but still, 60 ward members were there to support her. i got to see two of our investigators who we were meeting with before i left were there. so it was great to see them again. one even held my hand during the baptism and had that look in her eye that that is what she wants. two members who helped us on lessons with her gave the talks, and one of them said so dearly that she loved Irena, was so proud of her and looks forward to seeing the blessings that follow in her life. the amazing thing to me was that i was there when that member came up to us at church a couple months ago and asked how she could help us...i said, "well, you could say hi to our investigator right here, Irena" and she said 'hi' super awkwardly...but hey look at them now. what else?...she got up after the baptism and interrupted everyone packing up to leave to say thank you to everyone, that she had never come across so many nice, genuine people who knew the truth, and she was grateful for this step in her spiritual journey. it was amazing. there were some people there i didn't recognize so i started talking with them and it turns out they are Irena's friends from a long time ago that Irena called this passed week to invite them to the baptism. the friend said, "you're getting baptized into OUR church? are you sure, OUR church?" she didn't think she even remembered that she was Mormon. but she did and they were able to come and really marvel at the work of the Lord. we all did. it was so beautiful. I've been to a few baptisms since ive been here, but none like this. this, i count as a real 'Ukrainian' baptism where everyone from the ward is there and played a part in helping their friend come into the church. And it was such a great opportunity for me to go back and see all of my friends again (i just left a week and a half ago, i know, but i miss them...) anyway, awesome.

so this new area. it isn't like my last one, and its like starting over again. but seeing what relationships i built after four transfers in that area and the solid investigators we began teaching, i have faith we can do it in this area too. i just need time, some faith, and a whole lot of love and patience.
i love you all! do your missionary work! and keep learning about what covenants you made in the temple and if you are really living them...

Sister Kylie Little

me and Irena, then her with some of the friends that did all the missionary work for us and who will be there to support her when we are all gone, and then one of the Kiev temple at night. don't ask why we were there that late and two hours away from our area at that time :)...now that im in center im just one hour from the temple (on public Trans...about 25 minutes otherwise)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Week 34

New area!!!! Center Kiev!!!!

i was so excited to hear that my next area would be center Kiev! more than wanting to serve in Odessa (the California of the mission), i wanted to serve here. it is where i stayed my first exchange here and i don't know if you remember me talking about it at all, but it is definitely full of distractions for me, but i know that with greater distraction we have to develop a stronger will and concentration on the work (why there are so many awesome members of the church in sin city ;)

Since there was no transfer meeting i just woke up and packed Thursday morning, we took a twenty minute taxi ride across the river to my new apt, we switched companions and from that moment on i was sister Pliha's companion. sister Zanger and sister Plihas old companion took the taxi to the mission office to pick up sister Zange'sr greenie. it was really weird to just switch off and on into a new area like that. Something about a big transfer meeting or a train ride to a new area helps to mentally prepare to serve in a new area, so its been kind of hard to adjust. Sister Pliha is from Latvia (again-another Latvian companion! maybe somewhere down the road we'll find out why), she is just one transfer younger than me, and she speaks Russian, Latvian, German, and English...and she is a missionary called to the Kiev mission to learn and speak Ukrainian. her Ukrainian is not coming along very well because its hard to learn it when her Russian serves her fine. But she's going to help me a lot with the language. I'm excited. but i feel like i did my first transfer again when she runs her mouth in her fluent Russian with the members and i don't get much of it...i thought i was doing pretty good but being with her has already opened my eyes to the fact i still have a long ways to go...it'll be good.

So, center Kiev....what to say about it...i am so excited but i have quickly learned that this move has been an upgrade in some ways and a downgrade in others. examples: I don't know how hyped America is getting about this,but the Euro cup 2012 for soccer will be here in Ukraine and Poland. i live maybe 3 blocks from where they are building the new stadium for it....awesome...but with that the country is preparing itself for all the limelight/tourism and tearing all the sidewalks and streets and re paving everything...so there is tons of obstructive construction walking up and down the street. upgrade example. our church building in my old area was four flours we rented out of a warehouse building right next to a reanok (were the bobushky sell their veggies and meat on the streets), here in center, our church building (the stake center) is RIGHT NEXT DOOR to a Ferrari showroom. downgrade example....my companion informed me that because of all the construction in the neighborhood and the fact that all the buildings are old, not only have they not had hot water ALL summer in their apartment, the sewers are really bad so we can't flush toilet paper down the toilet. I cant flush toilet paper down the toilet. ehem. we can't flush toilet paper down the toilet. yea. it gets complicated, especially when i forget... when she told me this i was already thinking how i could possibly plan my meals so that i would only have to go to the bathroom when we are at the church. but then we went to the church and same thing there too...you can't flush anything down the toilet. hm. its interesting....

walking the streets of Kiev is like walking the miracle mile shops or the forum shops. today we passed a store showcasing Versage china. and then above all the stores are the European style apartment buildings-very Boston/San Fran like. ...like i said though, i am going to need to be strong, stronger than usual to stop window shopping and start talking to people on the street.

yesterday was my first Sunday in the new wards... very interesting to have to move wards and see the similarities but also differences between the wards that are in the same stake. i have been praying to know how we can help the people in these wards and this morning i was prompted to start to read the book of alma in the book of Mormon...maybe because that's where alma gets his second wind and picks up the missionary work, but i came across a few verses that i think are definitely going to mold how i and my companion approach this area ---alma 4:3-4,19...we are going to bring these people to a remembrance of their duty and how? by bearing pure testimony. and loving them of course. we had some good times in my old wards but i see some good times ahead too.

I think it is such a great blessing to be serving in this area, i am soooo excited. i may be spending some of my pdays looking for a new apartment to move into though....good news is that the warm water was turned back on my second day here, so that was a huge blessing. actually in Ukraine, its kinda normal to have the hot water shut off for a few weeks at a time through out the year. earlier this summer even in my nice apt in my old area, the hot water was shut off for two weeks. we survived but it was hard. my companion said that when the hot water gets shut off in winter is when its bad.

i am a little sick with a head cold, i think its my body just reacting to the changes.

I love you all, have a wonderful week :)
sister little

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week 33

This is the last week of the transfer, and with a new mission president he is switching up the procedure a bit. i found out on Saturday night that i was being transferred and to where and he's gotten away from transfer meeting. just some time this next week I've got to find myself over to my new area. i knew it was coming, its funny how you can feel it. i won't tell you where im being transferred to yet (not like you'd have the slightest idea where it is) because my mind is still in this area as i have a few final meetings and get Irena ready for her baptism. Its interesting, before hand we found out transfer info the Tues before-then you had to leave your area on Thurs. and i think the old president changed it to this so that there wasn't a huge farewell and whooped dee-do about leaving the area with the members on Sunday. but even though i found out i'd be leaving before Sunday's meetings, i just knew it still was the best thing to not tell anyone or make a big deal of taking last pictures or anything...its just better that way. but there are still the members who can read the signs and just figure it out. Its an awesome feeling to know i will be missed in this area. I've really made a huge effort (okay, maybe it didn't take too much effort because it was a natural desire) to meet and get to know the members and serve them. And that has really happened the past two transfers. its the blonde hair.

If i won't be remembered for my good works, at least they'll remember me as the blonde missionary :) its an interesting feeling to leave. i know i will see these members again. and its not because i have faith that i will come back to visit, but that we will meet again in the next life and continue the work of the lord together there too. Just a cool feeling.
This week was just too big an adventure to handle. It was fun. We met with members who said to make sure we tell our parents thank you for letting us come out here to serve them. we met with less actives and helped them wipe the dust off their book of Mormons and read with them. We went to the 'lavra' for our cultural experience which is the big provaslavnian monastery here and maybe went at just the wrong time so we found ourselves stuck in their temple during one of their services. talk about cultural experience, we just wanted a quick tour of the grounds and peak inside. We also helped set up for a wedding reception (we counted it as our service hours for the week). We set irina's baptismal date for this Sunday after church, and if we can't pull everything together before then, it will be the next week. I don't think i'll be able to go since i'll be in my new area, but we'll see. I'm not too worried about it. I know the work just keeps going forward and forward and it is the lords plan that new missionaries come in to switch things up a bit and get things done that others couldn't.

I know my emails are usually probably show how depressed i am, so i am sorry if this one disappoints :) its hard. time heals things. then there are bigger mountains. i know a lot of you are struggling at home with your own trials and tribulations, but let me remind you that the best thing to do is apply the principles of the three missionary lessons-the miracle and gifts of the restoration, the plan of salvation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
i love you,
sister kylie little

ps...funny story. so everyone remembers the dialogue from the sandlot about 's'mores' right? "...how can i have so more if i haven't had anything to eat yet..." or something like that. well me and my companion had a moment like that, but in Russian, recently. We were in a candy shop and the lady behind the counter was waiting for us to choose what kind of cookies we wanted to buy (they are all behind the counter) and she has her bag open ready to grab whatever kind we say. as we're deciding we hear her say "pobolshe?" we're like "shto?" (what) she said again "pobolshe" we were so confused..."pobolshe" means 'a little more' so in Russian we were like " pobolshe chevo?" (a little more of what?) because we still hadn't said what kind of cookies we wanted...and she says, "net, vie polshe?" OOHHHH.....(no, are you polish?) no. we're not. Me and my companion get mistaken for polish people all the time. for the blonde hair, not the accent. i still sound like an American. oh well.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Week 32

Dearest family,

I missed you all a lot this week but definitely don't miss the atmosphere of starting up a new semester....so kudos for surviving that.

This week was really hard and discouraging but in my frustration i took some time to clean a little bit and i found a letter mom sent me to open when i first got to the country. i remember reading it on the plane over and (sorry for my honesty...) i remember just glazing over it thinking "oh okay, here goes mom with trying to be all philosophical and give me all this spiritual advice about a mission" i kinda glazed over it and put it away. Well, i reread it a couple days ago when i found it and every point of advice she gave to me pierced my heart and was exactly what i needed to hear. I talked with my companion a little bit about it and she agreed that while mothers may suffer or miss us the most they are the ones who keep us out on missions. Satan has been working on me hard this week and, unfortunately, the option was very clear in my mind that if i am wasting my time here or feeling like im not really benefiting anyone, i can just go home. i dealt with a lot of humiliation and awkward situations in preparing to serve a mission, that i could go home and just deal with them all again and just tell people it wasn't what i wanted to do anymore or i wasn't being as effective as i could be back in Boston studying and working or something. wow. i know bad. So i went through my call packet and and my letter to the prophet about how i have been called to serve for 18 (what i thought were short) months. but its hard. but, what a blessing i found that letter. every sentence which when i first read it five months ago seemed dishoveled and all over the place, was the advice i really needed for this time. Especially this, "..how God honors your commitment may not be readily apparent and it may be years before you fully appreciate and see His hand in all that you are doing now." So thank you mom, really, that letter has helped me so much this week and will be close to my heart the rest of my mission. Thank you all for your support and prayers while i am on this adventure. and i am still on it. yes giving up is an option, Satan has made me very aware of that, but im choosing to not listen to him. i have to think the harder he works to not have me out here, the more he and heavenly father knows the great blessings that will come to me and those i serve while i am here. and it may be years before i can see any of it. but as long as i keep the faith that they will come, i am going to continue serving.

This week we actually had a fun/interesting/very kylie opportunity. One of the less actives that the elders are working with works at a facility for alcoholics to come and stay and try to get clean. He invited the missionaries to come and give a presentation about our general beliefs in god and the atonement in our lives. The missionaries im serving with now have heard a little bit about my enthusiasm to serve and work with vulnerable populations and homeless people so they were excited to invite me to come with them and tour the facility and give our spiel. This facility reminds me exactly like the respite facility i worked at in Boston which gives the disadvantage a place to stay to clean up and get some medical attention. We gave an hour and a half 'presentation'/testimony about what we believe. It was pretty much an hour and a half of good old fashion "soap-boxing" just telling them like it is. Above everything, it was great language practice for each of us to just talk for half our straight about what we believe. And our audience was, unfortunately, a lot of "perma-fried" people who don't have a whole lot of potential to become investigators, but it was a really neat experience. (perma-fried meaning that after so many years of alcohol and drug abuse, there isn't a whole lot going on up there). it was a neat blessing/opportunity for me because during this hard week, heavenly father let me have a little taste of what i want to pursue after the mission. But i decided that my best service to these people is still my future medical service, but it was fun to be a pastor for a day.

Another great blessing of the week was that one of investigators, Irena, who we haven't had much contact with came to church. we didn't meet with her for about a month because she was going on a trip to Greece. She is in her thirties and still pretty good looking, so we weren't quite sure if she'd try to live the standards while she was there or even have interest in meeting with us again when she got back. but she did come back and came to church. and we found out that she did not go on this trip alone but with a friend....who just so happens to be a member of the church. She said on their 36 hour bus ride there they read the book of Mormon together and watched a movie about Moses and the children of Israel...(i was thinking prince of Egypt or something so i asked her if it was a kids movie, "no, no it was super spiritual. you should watch it.") SO Irena was in good hands and the lord was definitely aware of her during this time when we couldn't watch out for her. earlier in the summer we talked with her about baptism and she said SHE'D tell us US when she was ready, which is right but a little discouraging as a missionary, and yesterday she leaned over to me during relief society and said, "i think i'll be ready to be baptized in about a week, i'll let you know" ....WOW. thank you heavenly father for just doing your work while we dangled in wavering faith about her. This is the Lords work and we merely get to be a part of it. barely (another piece of advice from moms letter)

So i knoow, i really did have a good week but the battle inside is the hardest to fight. i guess that's why im supposed to forget myself. My presidents advice to me about that is that the time i spend thinking about myself is the time Satan spends filling me with doubts. so i shouldn't focus on myself so Satan doesn't have the time/opportunity to do that. ugh. life lessons. but i know that at the end of this mission the greatest evidence that i will have that i served a mission will not be the journals or the pictures or souvenirs, but it will be how my character changed. Same principle of life too. When we die the only evidence we will have to present our heavenly father that we lived on this earth and made the most of it is how our character and personality changed and moved in the right direction. its just another way to explain that the purpose of life is not to "do" but to 'become"
I love you all, thanks again for your love and support <3
sister kylie little

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Week 31

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was yet another holiday, on August 24 Ukraine celebrated its independence day-20 years. and it was a big 'personal holiday' for me to...i may have tried sushi for the first time in my life...more on the effects of that later....

August 24 we had another picnic for one of our wards and it was held at our new building (the one we were supposed to move in in may, then July, now October...still waiting on documents to be approved) but the building was beautiful and twice as many people came to this picnic than the one we had at the beginning of the summer which is such a big improvement for that ward because they struggle with...unity? you could say. but sister zenger and i were determined to show this members our love and excitement for them, so we went all out for the picnic-we bought blue and yellow shirts to represent Ukraine, blue bows for our hair, prepared a few games to play and even decided to share with the wonderful people of Ukraine the wonder of the American treat of s'mores. Its was so much fun EXCEPT that we were the only ones in all of Ukraine i am convinced that day, their independence day, that were wearing anything of Ukrainian proud....what the heck?!!! imagine fourth of July and no one wearing red/white/blue. just interesting. We talked with some people about it who said that Ukraine is still to young to have national pride. i don't believe that because they are so proud of their culture and deep rooted traditions, but i guess when it comes to modern ways of showing it...there is nothing. but whatever, we won some major brownie points for rocking the blue and yellow.

then later that day we were invited to a family's dacha for homemade sushi. i love this family sooooo much, i couldn't admit to them my disgust or complete rejection of it my whole life.....so you could say that is what it took for me to try sushi....not family, not friends or boyfriends, but the love that develops for those i am serving on a mission (come to think of it, that's exactly why so many of us eat what we do for these amazing Ukrainian people). She said that i could just try the ones without fish, but then i told her, no., if i am going to try sushi, i am not going to only go half way, that i'd try it all. BIG MISTAKE. when i said that i may have forgotten the, oh yeah, mission wide rule (and even my own personal integrity) of NEVER EAT RAW FISH. it was disgusting. i think it was sushi with salted salmon (i can't figure out what that means-they says its not raw but not cooked, just salted. okay, even translated into English, i don't know what that means). and i tried one with caviar (I KNOW, DISGUSTING!) the little red egg things with little nemos inside. Oh my gosh. ive been sick since Wednesday. i think there is a porcupine living in my stomach now. The family definitely knew that that night was a big deal for me and supported me through it. but i'll never ever do that again. The food is still just sitting in my stomach because my little enzymes have no idea how to digest it. blah. i don't blame my sickness all on the sushi though-my fever actually started the night before i tried it. it was just a bad week for food-we were fed a lot of sketch things by members last week. But we do it because we love them.

yesterday was Sunday, and Sundays this transfer have turned from the worst day of the week to the best. 6 hours of church with hard-shelled Ukrainian members with judgmental eyes can be really hard. but i think sister zenger and i have won their hearts (i think it was the colors and pigtails at the picnic...) and they just love it. Ukrainians are very hard on the outside, but once you gain their trust they are so soft and loving on the inside. And finally the members can see that the we are here to serve and love them. We love talking with all the members on Sunday and hearing about their lives and just being the little social directors of the wards (i know-----so not me. but these wards need some example of how to care and ask how everyone is doing, to give hugs and support, so again, i do this because i have learned to love these people). yesterday half an hour before church i was asked to give a 10 minute testimony about missionary work in sacrament meeting. scary, but fair enough. it was my turn all the other missionaries have given talks recently. as part of my testimony, i talked about Doc and Cov 4 and how this section is the instructions for missionary work, how to begin. and then i recited it. yes be proud. I always struggled in our little mission prep class each week with reciting it in English, but now i know it in Russian. we recite it each morning as a companionship (i actually refused to memorize it my first transfer out of spite or something, not important, but when i decided to actually try, i got it down in a week-kinda like the first vision, when i stopped fighting it, it came so quickly.) anyway. I recited Doc and Cov 4 in Russian from the pulpit to these members, and wish you all could have been there to feel the power and testimony that was burning through my heart as i said it and the choir of angels i could feel reciting it with me behind me. There is such power in that section and the members could feel it too. So cool.

Good luck with school everyone!!! school here starts on Thursday and we're looking forward to all of our members getting into a new routine and setting some new goals. keep up the great work!!
sister little