Dear Family and friends....
May has started in Odessa! the flowers are blooming and it really is pretty green. pretty humid too. memories of last summers are coming back to me of the humid hot days when there is no point in wearing makeup and you have mosquito bites all over your body-fun times. ive been wearing repellant so ive been doing alright.
this week we had a lesson with a new investigator we found. and it was interesting teaching her. you might probably already know that in preach my gospel there are three main lessons to teach and the first one is about the restoration. the first few principles to teach go like this...god is our loving heavenly father... god created/blesses families... god calls prophets...and the whole deal down to Jesus Christ/apostasy restoration. so usually in preparing to teach this lesson and when teaching it, i usually skip over the first and second principles-or lets say i just give them thirty seconds of attention during the lesson and then move on to the good stuff. i figure who would disagree with god being our loving heavenly father and families (okay, a lot of people would maybe, but the majority of people we teach are already pretty Christian). so we begin teaching this woman-maybe late forties with two daughters- the first lesson. we are way excited to get to prophets/book of Mormon part of the lesson because we had already given her a book of Mormon, so to start off we kinda ask her in a leading way, "you know god loves you right?" (so she can agree and we can move on). she agrees but says, "ya, sure i know god loves me, he loves everyone, ...and i know he has punished me a lot too. he has punished me for this and this and that thing. and my first daughter has received a punishment with an invalid son even though she was also the more beautiful, skinnier, nicer one" (ps Ukrainians have no shame in admitting who their 'prettier/skinnier daughter' is). so we heard this comment, about how she maybe believes god is love, but also gives out punishments to everyone and i personally couldn't move the lesson on with her having that understanding of god because that is NOT the god that I KNOW god is. so we spent our whole lesson on that first principle-one that ive skipped over my whole mission practically because i figured everyone would just know that. but if god is our loving heavenly father, he loves us always and forever no matter what sins we commit or any of our follies/imperfections. sure he allows trials to enter our lives in hopes we learn from them, sure lives aren't perfect here on earth, but if someone is going to believe god sits up in heaven and throws down punishments at everyone, i really think they would have a hard time understanding and believing our message about god and Jesus Christ restoring truths so we can return to them. its been way interesting to reflect on this...that you cant believe god punishes us for little things we do wrong. again, there are consequences and trials in life, but i'd like to think god is there to help us pull ourselves up as opposed to the source of them. i know our mission president has been drilling this principle with us a lot-and its good, because on the mission its really hard to see what's from god and what kind of bad things just 'happen'. i think in one of his letters he said, "say good bye to your concept of a god who blesses and punishes us in 5 minute intervals based on obedience, etc.." in really life, i dont know if you guys out there can fully grasp what that means to us. a lot of missionaries here will say to themselves, "oh man, our lesson fell thru because i got up at 635 this morning and not 630" or "dang, that referral didn't want to meet with us because we had a poor companionship study this morning!" NOOOO! chill out! so as a missionary, its hard to remember what we have influence over and what we don't (ex-other people's agency). so, know that god loves ALL OF YOU ALL THE SAME, no matter what situation you are in or state of mind or whatever...and what he wants you to do is just turn to him, pray to him, find comfort when you can truly feel his love, and that's what we ended up talking with our investigator about the who lesson and i hope we helped her see who god really is.
haha, i just read presidents letter....he talks about the SECOND principle of the first lesson....hahaha. almost on the same page.
so life in Odessa is pretty good, we've got some work, we've shown enough love to the members so now they are coming up to US to invite US over...its good to be loved. ive shed down to a skirt, shirt and sandals each day and im not turning back. im so glad im going home in summer because ive been waiting all winter to throw my winter clothes out the window (trust me they are trashed). just kidding, i'll give them to our little 'd.i.' closet in our church.
we'll have zone conference on Saturday so that will be good, hopefully the aps don't forget the mail again (that wasn't a pretty sight last time that happened... :)
i love you all!!! miss you like crazy!! i hope you all are excited for summer vacation. the schools here usually get out in June too, but they are getting out earlier because of the euro cup starting some time soon. they make up days on Saturdays, doesn't that sound fun? actually, i think its pretty normal her to have school and university classes on Saturdays. so...be grateful for what you have!
sister kylie little