Thursday, October 27, 2011

Week 39

Dear family and friends,

this week was full of just plain work and then some good times at the end of it. We helped out with a ward party on Saturday night, about 30 people came (sad, but its a good start...they want to have another one in two weeks because the ones that were there had so much fun)...we helped organized a couple games. the best was where you have a partner and one person is the arms for the other person. our theme was kinda 'unity' in a companionship, so you had to the morning tasks of a missionary-eat breakfast, brush teeth, hair/tie/put on a nametag, and then go around the room and contact (the arms just flip open the book of Mormon to a random page and the person has to make up a spiritual thought about something there) it was really fun. then Sunday we made a good mark in the wards-just getting the members to notice and appreciate us. we did a lesson in relief society in one ward and the next ward us four missionaries talked in sacrament meeting. i had no idea what to say, let alone in Russian, but i just let the spirit guide and even i was blown away but what i said...i'll just share a few things that i said that really are true and dear to me.

so i was talking with a recent convert, and she asked me what i thought "salvation" was...well, living with god again, he's perfect, we're not, so there is no way we can live with him, so somehow the atonement can make up the difference so that we can. okay, she said, but for me, she asked, what is the first step to salvation. hmm. For me it is and it was really realizing who God is, who i am, and where i fit in this plan. I am His daughter. he loves me. That's the first thing to realize. I can tell you that when you really feel that love, you know. and everything else just follows. The desire to study more comes. the desire to actually keep the commandments comes. the energy to endure to the 'end' comes....but there really is no end. we find the eternal happiness here and now and enjoy it for eternity. That's what happened to me, and i am so grateful for my knowledge and testimony of that.

secondly, this passed week my companion and i were contacting people on the street to find some new people. One woman i approached, asked her if she ever heard of the book of Mormon...she responded, in English. Usually when this happens, i get pretty frustrated, especially because after i approach someone in Russian and they respond "no, thank you" in English and walk away, kinda insulting. but this time when this woman responded in English, i didn't feel frustrated, i saw it as a great opportunity to testify in English. wow testify in English!! i can say whatever i want!!! finally! but as i talked with her about the gospel, i found myself taking the words i would have said in Russian and translating them back into English. so my testimony was very simple, i even struggled a little bit to find the words. interesting. I told the members i share this experience with them so they know that as missionaries here, we our testimonies and opportunities to feel the spirit are happening in their language-Russian and Ukrainian. so my growing testimony here is in Russian. We are here growing with them. its very interesting. but so neat. i told them i am so grateful that i do understand some of their language so that their testimonies can help build mine. really neat.

side note...i can barely pray now in English. i almost laugh with embarrassment during the prayer because i have no idea how to pray in English. its easier at this point to talk spiritual in Russian. but, i guess that's a good sign :)

i love you all, continue with faith, patience, love and joy!
Sister little

pics from our activity....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Week 38

Wow, i just opened the newsletter from president this week and each week he includes the pictures of the baptisms that occurred this week....just one this week. i scroll down to see the picture and wait...I KNOW HER!!! another one of my lovelies from my old area was baptized wonderful!!! Alyona, who was invited to church maybe two months ago by her dentist, she came to church, we had no idea who she was so i mustered up the courage to talk to her (she had her Ukrainian/Russian shell on for sure that day--Ukrainians and Russians are super stern and closed on the outside, but if you can get and get their trust they are the sweetest people ever...well i can say that for Ukrainians. i don't know about Russians...) anyway. i started to talk to her and immediately she opened up to me. we talked about how she already had a book of Mormon, i challenged her to read it, pray about it and she WOULD feel the happiness and love of God through the holy ghost. She lives in an area pretty far away, so there was no real opportunity to meet with her, but i grabbed her phone number anyway and then she left. About a week or two later she hadn't come to church so i decided i should call her. There was probably a space of thirty minutes between the time i decided i should call her and check in with her and when i actually mustered up the courage to do it....speaking in Russian, on the phone, just to check in, talk casual, not try to set up an apt. just scared me. but i could feel i needed to do it. She seemed like the type of person who needs a phone call or some kind of support and love. So i mustered up the courage, dialed the numbered and prayed while it rang....she answered, 'hello' 'hi, this is sister little, the blonde missionary' (i promise it sounds more professional translated into Russian...) "sister little!!! my sunshine!!!" and she started giggling because she was so happy to hear from me. the phone call was maybe 45 seconds, but her mood jumped from a 2 to a 10 instantly, you could tell. I just told her i wanted to see how she was doing, how reading was going, etc. nothing big, invited her to church....then when i moved areas i called her again one night because i was thinking about her....she said it was perfect timing, she needed to hear from me, her 'sunshine', she had just finished praying about the book of Mormon, and was feeling a little lost. i gave her some more support and a few loving words, and that was it. hm.. and i guess she decided to get baptized!!! wonderful!!! i haven't called her in a couple weeks but i guess that's what beautiful and awesome. actually, if you remember from when i was at irina's baptism she's the one that held my hand as irina was more guest at the party in the celestial kingdom that i know :) She is about 40, has a son, and if you ask me, her and this dentist could have something :) i'll have to call and congratulate her tonight. yay.

Don't get the wrong idea, this area is great too, and i love it...the members here and so awesome too. If you do any research, you'll see that Kiev is one of the busiest temples and something i found out a while ago is that members here love doing' indexing' on line. and a member showed me once what she does, then i realized, wow, you think reading old English cursive is hard in order to type the names, try reading Russian cursive. agh. but the members are so enthusiastic about it. one of my first nights in this area we were at a member's apt- parents and two daughters, we got there and they fed us, but they just left us alone in the kitchen with the two daughters, so we were just kinda chatting with them. i was starting to think, "wow, how rude, the parents don't even care that we are here, we're just here chatting it up" but after we finished eating we finally went to the living room to have the lesson, and i realized what the mom and dad had been doing this whole time....they were both very engaged looking at the computer screen helping each other read the Russian and Ukrainian cursive on the church indexing web site. how cute. sorry i judged them. they were busy doing family indexing together. we had a lesson, and learned very quickly that this family is so awesome, so good at sharing and talking about the gospel.
life is pretty good. sister pliha and i are just keeping our heads down and plowing through the rough and tough of missionary work-trying to talk with everyone on the streets, tracting, etc....
Michael Mc lean is coming to Kiev this week for a fireside, we probably won't go, but that's pretty cool.

it is getting colder, but i remembered back when it started warming up i as glad, and the only reason i wanted winter to come was because i figured by that time i would actually understand this crazy language. i guess its kinda true. im doing pretty good, a good indicator is that i feel like i could talk myself out any situation i might find myself in, which is a good, safe feeling :)

have a wonderful week!!!
sister little, the blonde missionary

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week 37

So, as light hearted as it was, i hope you read last week's email so you can appreciate what i am going to tell you today....

to fill in some minor details about our experience with vera nickolaevna, after we helped her find her way home to dome shyseva10a, and after her son came home and i had the most awkward moment of my mission looking up at him while cleaning his bathroom floor when he came home from work, he said he would show us where dome shyseva 8A was, the dome we had been looking for from the beginning. Seriously, this dome is impossible to find by oneself, hidden way far back and sideways, so anyway, we were glad for the help, stopped by the less active who was not to excited to hear from us, and went home.

A few days later we received a referral that had been passed through a few people to finally get to us- to go see a lubov and maria who live in no other dome than shyseva 8A. Wow. that sounds familiar and we now exactly where it, of all the domes in center Kiev they live in that one. If you don't have time to read the rest of this email, long story short....we finally met with these two woman have become our new investigators and where a referral from their sister who lives in a city outside of Kiev and was baptized a year ago and just went through the temple for the first time (she gave the name and address of her family living her to someone at the temple and it finally got to us) to pull it all back around, we had to have that crazy experience with vera in her bathroom so we could be shown where this dome shyseva 8A is so that we could easily find it to contact this referral. yay.

this week was the third week of the transfer which means sisters exchanges...i was supposed to go to another area but my companion needed a break from the area so i let her go and i stayed in center. i was with a sister who just got here three weeks ago from Russia. She was originally called to the Chezk Republic but couldn't get a visa there nor to America to go to the mtc so she was reassigned to our mission and just showed up and started working. She is really awesome. But while i was with her i realized i am the most boring companion, but that's okay, we got a lot of work done. and one thing we did was stop by sheseva 8a, and they were miraculously home and miraculously let us in...just to give you an idea of 'how' we did that, ill tell you. Each dome has anywhere from 60-500 apts in it, so you stand outside the building, and can call up to the apt you want and they talk to you through the intercom and then they can buzz you in. So we just rang her apt, "Hi! is this lubov? Hi, we are missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ, your friend, larissa, (we didn't know it was her sister at the time) wanted us to stop by and share with you what we believe. can we come up and meet with you?" She said, 'uh, okay' buzzzzz....i just looked at my companion and said, wow. that never happens. (for example on another occasion on our exchange we walked around this neighborhood to find the dome of a less active to stop by and when we found it the man yelled through the intercom..."don't bother us! go home!"...) so we went us, met this wonderful family, the mother and bobyshka sat in our lesson, and we gave a first lesson. it was awesome because she actually had questions for us about what her sister had told her. We kinda just said the greatest blessing of this gospel is the knowledge and peace you can find. and your sister wants to share with you that what she has found. She said it was a miracle that she was even home that night and was so grateful she was.

General conference-yes, awesome. watched everything on sat and sun in Russian. here they had one room showing it in Ukrainian, another in Russian. on Saturday we had the option to go watch it in English, but we had a potential lesson set up and i flat out told my companion (who prefers watching it in English) that if i watched it in English i would probably cry the whole time because it would make me homesick. I still cried listening in Russian when the choir would sing because they don't translate over the hymns.

So, i have to think about this...its october...10ish. wow. everyone, have a wonderful week...i hope you all know that prayers are answered and heavenly father does bless us for that which we have done in His name.
i love you all!
sister little

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Week 36

Another week in the big city. time moves fast here. we have exchanges this upcoming week and i told my companion that they cant do exchanges the first week of the transfer....and she said sister little, we are going into week three. oh. wow.

So I'm not ashamed to say that humor has helped me survive a lot of difficult times so far on the mission and there's a lot to laugh at here in center Kiev to, so i though i'd share with you one of my experiences this week that helped put a smile on my face.

on Thursday evening....we had a list of less actives we were going to stop by that kinda live in the same area. it was a new area to me around a metro stop. my companion hasn't been to very often so we were having a hard time finding the right 'dome' (this is like a super tall apt building that this area is full of). we could find all its neighboring domes but not the right address - dome 8A. as we are wondering around the neighborhood we come across an old babushka who asks us to help her find dome 12A. we kinda look around and point her in the right direction and continue our journey to find our own dome. After wondering around in a few more circles we run into this babushka again, still looking for this dome 12a. this babushka was pretty well dressed, pretty classy and she was wearing a name tag, so after the first time we briefly met her we thought that maybe she was a 'missionary' too trying to find an inactive from her congregation too or something. the second time we see her she is asking a different woman to help her find this dome 12a. the women calls to us and says, 'hey, if you are missionaries you should be serving god. we all know when you serve other people you serve god' and she left us to help this babushka as she ran on her merry way. So we decided to give up our hunt for a little bit to help this babushka.

She tells us that she doesn't need dome 12a but 10. okay. why? we ask her. after a little more thorough investigation and after reading her name badge more clearly, her name tag is actually has her name and her address written on it-dome 10, apt 15. OOOHHHhhhh. it clicked. this woman has Alzheimer or something and she can't find her own dome. alright. got it. so we helped her find her dome and we took her up to her apt to make sure she got there okay. She was kinda giggly and embarrassed but didn't really understand that we were helping her, but it was fine. As she opened the door (her key worked that she was surprised to find in her jacket pocket) she invited us in for tea. We wanted to get back to our own hunt, but as you could probably guess, she wouldn't let us turn her down, so we went into her little apartment. nothing scary, pretty normal with lots of old pictures, small, it was fine. She offered her toilet to us, which to anyone who has served a mission knows is a blessing. i didn't have to go, but my companion went. So this babushka, Vera Nickolivena, is in the kitchen making a whole lot of noise, I'm in the other room looking at all the pictures when my companion comes out of the bathroom saying "i think there is something wrong with your toilet" i go to look....its is flooding this little bathroom like crazy and within 30 seconds there is 4 inches of water in the bathroom.

now, remember i told you about the old sewers her in Kiev, this is just another experience with it. So Vera Nickoliven comes to see what is going on, laughs a little and says, 'don't worry about it, ill take care of it.' i don't think she realizes how much water is the bathroom and just trots right into the bathroom with a towel and bends down and starts wiping the floor. my companion and i just watch her for a minute to see how she handles the situation. Fully dressed, high heels and all, she is soaking the towel with the water that is on the floor then wringing it out over the bathtub then bends down to do it again. She is standing in 5 inches of water and has no idea that water just keeps coming out of the toilet.
Well, we couldn't convince her that what she was doing was ineffective and really....i couldn't stop laughing at this situation we were in. in a strange bobyshky's apt with a flooded bathroom, she's sloshing around in there with all this water there and none of have any idea how to make it stop.

i finally find the water valve behind the toilet by laying on the ground outside the bathroom (so i don't get wet), i miraculously reach it to turn off the water. we end up spending half an hour using a bowl and a dust pan to get all the still water off the bathroom floor. this whole time our bobyshky thinks she is helping by wiping the towel on the floor and ringing it out over the bathtub. We just about clean up all the water when we hear a key in the door turn. Oh my gosh. someone's here. this bobyshky talked about a son, so i knew it was probably him. but...what on earth do i say when he opens the door and sees his mother with these two young girls in the bathroom (\we had cleaned up all the water by this time, so no evidence that we had helped her in this mini disaster....) So he swings the door open and i am the only one visible. 'hi'. "we found this lovely woman on the street and helped her find her way home." "and then something happened. and we helped her" His face of blank shock and 'who the heck are you"...just priceless. He half believed our story but was overall really nice. He said he had just made that name tag for his mom the day before in case she gets the idea to go out again. He said if we hadn't helped her he would have spent the night running around the streets looking for her. which had happened before. we left him a Liahona and our contact information and said we'd stop by sometimes to make sure she's okay. He was pretty nice given the situation.

this is just one of the moments on my mission that i can't wait to re watch with you all in funny. My companion said that that morning she prayed that something fun would happen.....i am keeping a close eye on her and what she prays for now.

fun times. look....well you can't see it, but i'm smiling. i am finding joy in the work. i'm excited for general conference next week. still don't know if ill watch it in english or Russian.

i love you all,
sister little