Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Week 42

This passed week we did celebrate thanksgiving too-we gathered almost as a full district-6 of us. we each contributed some kind of food-in all we had rice, chicken, ham (more like bologna), rolls, salad, and mashed potatoes. then each companionship had to make a dessert they had never made before-we had apple pie, a banana cream pie, and brownies. and some one made root beer but forgot to tell me to add the extract back to the sparking it didn't really gain my favor. turkeys are really unheard of here, so we knew we wouldn't be so lucky to have one. then each person or companionship had to share a talent. my companion and i did a cute skit making fun of the elders in our district then i taught everyone how to make duct tape flowers-they don't really have duct tape here, i just found a huge roll of it in our apt a couple weeks ago so decided to use it.
yesterday we had two women come to church -one is a friend of a member and another just found the church online and came by herself. they were good blessings and maybe some potential is there to teach them.
tomorrow is zone conference-a long awaited one, and then this week we have sisters exchanges.

i can definitely see how we really learn and grow on missions. many instances lately my patience has been tried beyond a level i can cope with. and i can feel my heart stretching in my chest as i endure these moments-like the grinch when his heart grows in charity. its kinda painful. but i guess a physical sign that i am stretching my limits and growing. i try to pray to have my heavenly father close, but most of the times the angels of the devil are more visible than the light of the gospel. but i know there is a light somewhere. just need to keep serving.

i love you all, i hope you have a great week!! on into December!!!
sister little

heres pics from my bday district meeting-when i got, yes, a bag of mashed potatoes and watermelon gum. there are a few extra elders in there who aren't in our district but still way awesome. the short one is our favorite georgian. and the other dark elder is from peru-called russian speaking but now speaking ukrainian and serving as a branch president here in western ukraine. they all are awesome. the other pic is from thanksgiving-us and our duct tape roses.

Week 41

Hey, i don't have much time this week, but i wanted to make sure i write to tell you all thank you for the cards, warm wishes, and beautiful thoughts!!! Having a birthday on a mission is really tough, but you helped make it so much better :) i hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving with friends and family...and really count your blessings. here and im sure there, a lot of lessons have been on "preparing for the second coming" "the second coming" "preparing for the millennium" and the "millennium" and talk about how repetition really makes you think about all of this, the whole purpose of life and the gospel. i am so grateful i have the knowledge that i have about my heavenly father, about my role and purpose on this earth and the importance of families and service. I know Heavenly Father lives. I know He loves us. And i know He will always be there for me.

i love you all ! miss you like crazy!!!
sister little

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dear family and friends...

yep, its the time of year where it is just plain cold and dark, haven't seen the sun for awhile. but, the Lord's work still moves forward!!

last Monday night i got a phone call from the elders in the next district over-"hey, sister little! do you remember a 'valery' you met at the temple awhile ago, you and sister zanger sat him down and had a lesson with him and gave him a book of Mormon right there in the waiting room at the temple?" yes. "well, he is getting baptized! tomorrow! and he still remembers that meeting and what it meant for him and he want you to be at the baptism and say the closing prayer!" Okay! no problem. wow. that's so cool to see the result of such a small coincidence. I think i wrote a little bit about it, but about three months ago when i was with sister zanger we were having weekly planning on a Friday and realized the temple would be closed for two weeks, so we called president to get permission to go the next day, Saturday morning (missionaries aren't really allowed in the temple on Saturdays because its a big day for people of other countries to come in)...anyway, he said, "sure, go. if you think it will help you get more baptisms" ha. i could sense a slight bit of sarcasm in his voice when he said that, but we went anyway...and look. Ha! a baptism!! We met valery as we were about to leave the temple, had a lesson with him right there with a temple worker with us, all in white. it was way cool. normally i wouldn't give a copy of the book of Mormon to someone right when i first meet a person, but in that moment i felt inspired to give him one, but with my small doubt i told him, "im not going to give you this book if you're not going to read it. Are you going to read it? Promise?"...and we passed his name and phone number to the elders in his area and went on our way. Surprise! baptism! very cool.

And the wedding...
so its really cool ive been noticing how the work and needs of the wards change just slightly with transfers, different missionaries etc. The work has been slow in these wards, but we were blessed to have a girl move into the ward boundaries who i really saw as someone who needed our attention. The story starts with paul who got baptized in Odessa almost a year ago. he met yulia on line, moved to donetsk to help her find the church, she also got baptized, and the next day moved here to Kiev. When i heard this a couple weeks ago and met here, i really had a feeling of duty to make sure she gets situated in the ward, has the lessons again, and most importantly has friends at church. Agree? how precious she is not to get lost at this moment. Well we finally had a meeting with her on last Sunday to just answer any questions in general she had about the church. Her biggest question: When and where can i get a temple recommend? Yes!!! she gets it too!! her boyfriend, Paul, has done a great job in helping her understand the gospel. She also slightly mentioned that they are officially getting married. on Thursday. this Thursday? yes. its not going to be a big deal she said, because they don't have any money and no family or friends really here. UUUMMM. that's no excuse. Can someone say cultural event? time to use my party girl talents and help our little yulia have the best day ever. So here in Ukraine, in order to be officially married you have to sign "zaks" which everyone has to do even if they are having a marriage ceremony. So we called yulia the night before, got ourselves invited to zaks, rounded up some elders from district who knew paul from Odessa and went to zaks on Thursday. we decoupage a picture frame for her, made her brownies, and bought her flowers. And i am so grateful we did. besides missionaries, only her brother and his wife came to support her on this beautiful day, oh and one of pauls friends from Odessa. She was so happy, so beautiful, so grateful that we were there to help her celebrate. I promise we didn't take up too much proselyting time by doing this. but i think it was definitely a good use of time-to support this recent convert and show her that missionaries and members of the church can be a big support. Its was a neat experience, funny though. there is the huge hall, they walk down the aisle, and sign the paper, kiss and then they are married. interesting. Yulia already knows the exact date next year when they can be sealed, so we are going to work with her to keep her strong and motivated and enveloped in the ward and in the gospel. We can be a blessing to her and she is a blessing to us-someone to serve and pray for. this yesterday me and my companion fasted to help the sisters in our ward be more open with us so that we can know how we can serve them better.

another miracle in these cold times is that a young girl-late twenties found her way back to church after being inactive for about 5 years. i never would have known if i didn't open my mouth and talk with her. its neat because we have been working a lot to follow up with a list of less actives to try to meet with them to no avail...but look. a blessing. She is also someone we can work with and pray for while we are serving in this area. She said she just felt like it was time to come back to church. probably marry someone in the church. good idea. We have talked with our priesthood leaders a little more lately about our work, especially information we have found on the less actives, and while they are ever appreciative of our contribution, one bishop told us nothing big will change until the members of these wards shows this much interest and do this work themselves. fair enough. so he asked that we also helped the members get excited about visiting their less actives and doing visiting teaching.

I am trying to realized each day the blessings and little miracles in our work-that a bus came right away while we were waiting, or that we were at the right place at the right time in order to talk to someone who needed help. I need to stop seeing everything as a coincidence and realize and recognize the lords hand in everything.

yes! my birthday is in two days!! the office sister was in our ward yesterday and said, "sister little, you have a birthday coming up!" how do you know? i asked, "because your mailbox is overflowing with mail!!" she said she is going to try to see if she can get my mail to me by Wednesday, but if not, ill just get it a little late. we'll see..Thank you in advance for the love and support....its a necessary pick me up as I work through these middle months of my mission and just the beginning to get to know the definition of cold :)
love you,
sister little yeah so we show up to the baptism..and who is going to baptize him? oh president klebingat. hah. so cool, he's been working with him a lot-has been on a lot of lessons with him, so cool.
next-the 'wedding'-more like the big whooped di doo about signing the official paper.
next-we did the armor of god lesson with a less active family and dressed up their little boy-so cute!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Week 40

wow, a lot to report this week. We had our two ward activities, and it was stake conference-the broadcasted kind, so i guess 'regional conference' for all of eastern Europe. i'll talk about our activities first:

first, our cultural night for shevchenkivsky ward. a pretty good show-15 people-actually pretty bad, but like ive said, we're working on reminding the members that coming to church for three hours on Sunday and forgetting about everything else is not living the gospel....anyway. it was great-utah, vegas, latvia and georgia. So cool. i talked about Vegas and still, everyone even this far away from America thinks "casino' when they hear Vegas and most people have seen or heard of the movie oceans eleven. so i figured a lot of people had a good idea of what Vegas is about. so as i talked about Vegas i casually talked about some of the temptations there-like"advertisements for girls and every kind of gambling game to steal your money" but that members still live and thrive there because we focus our sights on the temple- i showed a picture of the temple all lit up in the foreground with the strip in the background. my spiritual thought attached to it was about how living in Vegas is a very real type of Lehi's dream. i showed the picture from the liahona and compared it to the picture of Vegas i showed. Really good thought i thought....but as i was talking i saw on everyone's faces how casually i talked about "advertisements for girls and gambling away money"...they were shocked. all the sudden it wasn't cool to be from Vegas. i sat and thought about it afterwards...maybe i over exaggerated. maybe Vegas isn't that bad, let me think about it....No, yep, its definitely that bad. maybe even worse. wow, i thought. Vegas is a disgusting place. what a reality check of what the world is coming to. but anyway, the rest of the activity was great...sister pliha showed off Latvia and the Georgian missionary did some knife dancing for us-if i learned anything its that everyone in Georgia does everything with a knife. (Georgia the country)

okay, Thursday night, our fireside with the president. we were all a little nervous, but excited. we announced it big time on Sunday, made flyers, was supposed to start at o'clock and at 10 minutes before 7 there were...ehem. 3 people there. and then president walks in. yep three people from our entire ward to listen to the mission president. I was listening to him greet the people there. one Ukrainian women said, "oh, we're just Ukrainian! no big deal! more people will come know its just our culture! when we say we start at 7 it means we really start at 7:30" president didn't think that was very funny and replied, "well, that may be Ukrainian culture, but im from Germany and when we say we start at 7, we start at 7"....oh my. not looking good. sister pliha and i ran upstairs to grab some people from institute to ditch class and come to our fireside so it wouldn't look as bad-we got another 4 people (there were only 5 up there)...but oh well, time to start. 10 people in the audience. (ill just quickly say by the end there were a total of about 20 that came.) each of us missionaries gave a short talk and testimony about different aspects of missionary work-i closed with my miracle story of irina when we thought she wouldn't call up back after her trip to Greece, but did AND wanted to get baptized-we later found out because she had been in Greece with a member of the church...blah blah blah, you remember, so that members are the best missionaries, best influence on people. then us four missionaries had to the musical number because our girl who we wanted to do it fell through. we had practiced a few times-we'll bring the world his truth-acapella in ukrainian. not to bad. We get up to sing it and at the start of the second line one as we're singing of the elders just loses it and cannot stop laughing. we sounded that bad. then the other elder loses it. then i lose it. and luckily my companion, who actually has some singing talent, keeps the song going and at most of the times in the song is the only one singing because the three of us can't keep it together....we can't stop laughing. so embarrassing. I look back once to see what president klibingat is doing...He has his iphone out and video recording us, laughing too. Oh my gosh. awful. then president was the concluding speaking after that. luckily he had a sense of humor about it all...said he was going to send this out in a video to everyone after the meeting and that it is written in the scriptures that where there is two or three people that is enough for the spirit to be there, so we have enough people in our meeting to feel the spirit. He talked about the joy we should have in the gospel and the success we are having in the mission. the stake president was even there the last little bit (i count that as success if you can get the stk pres there...) anyway. good meeting. after the meeting the stk president asked our mission president for special permission to have us at the adult session of stk conference to meet some of his 'friends'-referrals. he said we could. Awesome! i didn't realize what this would really mean for me....
Saturday night was the adult session for the whole stake. since the Sunday session was going to be a broadcast, all the wards were meeting at their own buildings so i wouldn't be able (like i thought) to see everyone from my old wards....but the Saturday night session....yep that was for all the adults in the stake. in one place. OH MY GOSH! it was like being in the receiving line of a wedding reception watching all these people from my old wards come in! i even had to resist a few hugs from people. BUT the best....IN walks in my Aliona!!! who got baptized a few weeks ago and i didn't go to the baptism because i didn't know...."Leeetel!!!!! my sunshine!!!!" oh my gosh!! i couldn't believe i got to see her again!!! i asked her how things were going.."SO wonderful!! i went to the temple for the first time today to do baptism for vladim's grandparents" (vladim is the dentist/boyfriend)....she said she's working on her own family history to get it their work done...OH my Gosh! She gets it!! she gets it! she went to the temple!! oh may gosh, it was an amazing experience...amazing feelings of reunion. Wow. i just sat in that meeting overwhelmed with happiness and love for these people. its come. love for the Ukrainian people. and a glimpse of what the kingdom of heaven is supposed to feel like. so much more of the eternal perspective is being opened to me. This is the kind of joy we are to have with our families. i can't wait.

Sunday's broadcast was great. in Ukrainian, but it was okay for me. heard from elder Clayton (area 70 for this area), elder Oaks, sister Barbara Thompson, and Pres Uchtdorf. all mentioned tithing. a lot about getting the youth out on missions. getting married. living the gospel. activating and still loving the less actives. its was great.

So. joy is service. im sure more to come. i love you all and miss you so much!!!
sister little

here are pictures-my Halloween costume and then us four missionaries who put together the fireside and can't sing for the life of us. we made this collage to put with referral cards to put in our church foyer.