Dear Family and friends,
happy belated mothers day to all of the amazing woman i know! the women in my family- mothers, sister, grandparents, aunts, cousin, to all the women in the wards where ive lived-you all have been amazing examples of faith filled daughters of god, to all my 'girlfriends' who i love dearly and love being on the 'same team' with....thank you all for being strong, supportive and loving! no, 'mothers day' isn't big here...the bigger holiday is march 8 which is international women's day-that's when women get the day off, get flowers/chocolate, and that's when the priesthood pass out flowers to all the woman at church-it was cute. i was in Bulgaria with 6 other elders on women's day and it was fun....but here, among the members, 'mothers day' means 'hooray! missionaries are happy because they can talk to their families!' its cute. sorry, not the case for me, but im still super happy with my decision to wait til next month.
on Saturday we had zone conference with president. it was great...he talked a lot about the temple and covenants made there to the work we are doing now, the members who we are working with, and to the rest of our lives. i think the shock of being a mission president has kinda left him and he's realizing he's got to teach us to love what we are doing to establish life long habits and goals to continue 'on the path' after our missions. he's applying the whole "the mtc is training for your mission, the mission is training for the rest of your lives" thing.
so the past few weeks we've been on the look out for a facility to volunteer at/do service each week. ive heard missionaries volunteering at orphanages in other missions in other missions around here, so we've been looking for something lke that. we contacted a super cool woman a week or two ago who immediately recognized in us the light of Christ shining from our faces, she was blown away, speechless, literally. through subsequent phone calls, we couldn't get over to see/teach her, but she invited us to her work to see what she does. turns out she's a sort of 'social director' for a facility for children to come and rest/heal/recover after illnesses when the doctors want to get them out of the hospitals, but don't want to send them home yet. and its right on the beach :) sure!! we'll come and check it out!......it was soooooooo awesome! i remember hearing about places like this when i was studying about Germany, and i think they are pretty popular in Europe, not so much in America, but its these BEAUTIFUL facilities, gardened and spaced out like the garden of Eden in order to promote rest and healing from the stresses of the world to add to the chances of healing better. its kinda like a summer camp for these kids...we met kids from all over Ukraine. they have their treatments and doctors appt there throughout the week, as well as school lessons each day. and then on the weekend, they have 'group leaders' -which is what our friend works as-who come in and supervise activities and look after them. we met about 25 10-15 year olds there who were recovering from different viruses/illnesses and were there from anywhere from weeks to months. what our friend tries to do with these kids is teach them that it is worth it to do good in school/study/dream big. she said almost all of these kids come from really broken homes (probably why the doctors sent them to these facility) like really broken homes. so she likes to think she has a chance to inspire these kids for good. she kinda put an awkward spin on our visit, "look everyone at these Americans! girls, tell them that its important to go to school and study, tell them that in America no one drinks, that its clean everywhere, tell us about your happy families!!!" welll.....America's not perfect. and we didn't encourage them to immigrate or anything, but ...we talked a lot about fun hobbies we have, about families, about how important they are, about how bad alcohol and drugs are. ...so pretty much taught them the first half of the first lesson and the word of wisdom, right? just kidding,.....im not going to kid anyone by saying i was super 'missionary minded' while i was there, but it was an incredible experience and i think we'll go back again and do crafts with them or something ....because i absolutely felt and it practically brought tears to my eyes the positive influence/smiles/and real love that these kids were soaking up from us. we played a few games with them, they performed a few Ukrainian karaoke songs for us, and you could tell they felt a little bit of happiness from the attention we were giving them. the kids showed us around the grounds-were explaining about all the flowers there and the different ways they can be used in healing. and..it was all on this hill overlooking the sea. it was so pretty/awesome/ and i am sooo grateful i had that experience.
oh ya, so missionary work...the work is going good...we have a lot to do to implement what we all all talked about at zone conference...apparently a new 'thing' is getting members with us from 6-9 every night on lessons, contacting/tracking with us.. ...fine exciting great, but in a branch with 15 members on a good Sunday at church, and we have three companionships in our branch doing work...we're going to have to adapt it a little. we'll see...
well, have an awesome week!!!!!!!! love you and miss you all tons!!