Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas from Ukraine

I hope that you are all having a very Merry Christmas!! It has been so long since I have been able to write, we have had so much happen it will be hard to keep it all straight! Things are going wonderfully here in good old Lutsk. This past week we were able to go into L'viv for Zone Conference and it was such a great experience and I had an absolute blast. Our District Leader Elder Jolstead and Elder Lippert were in Armenia for a visa trip, so it was just Sister Edwards and I, Elder Peterson and Elder Mollinet going into L'viv. We take a four hour bus ride into the city and stay with the Sisters in L'viv.
So Tuesday morning we get ready to go into L'viv and I personally like to make banana bread for some of the Elders that I have previously served with and so I woke up to put some banana bread in the oven while we were getting ready. I hope in the shower and when I come out I hear Sister Edwards say "Um.... hey, like our stove is on fire." So I go into the kitchen and sure enough, she had gone to light to stove top to make some eggs for breakfast and we then had open flames in our kitchen. Don't worry, they were not too big, we put them out with a couple of cups of water.
I called the assistants, because we don't have a District Leader here, and his biggest concern was if the banana bread was still okay, not really but he did have to ask to tease a little bit. So, long story short, we don't really have an oven at the moment and only 3 loaves of banana bread got done, but it is all good. Normal things just don't happen to Sister Shaughnessy. We was actually pretty funny, we were laughing as we had to call to make people aware of it, and try explaining that one in Ukrianian to your landlord.
Wehen we got into L'viv we went to the church and I got to see Olya!!! I was so happy to see her, she didn't know I was coming and she happened to be at the church on a lesson with the Elders. The sisters went and grabbed her for me, we cried! She is so awesome! We talked until Elder Ward yelled and me saying they needed to finish the lesson with her. But once they were done we got to meet and she didn't leave my side until we had to go back home. AH! I love that girl so very much and miss her too! It was kind of fun at the church though because I was there, Olya was there, Elder Millard, Elder Terry and Elder Ward are all serving in L'viv, so it was like a little Uzhgorod reunion, all those Elders were in my first district in Uzh, I should have gotten a picture! It was so great! 
Zone Conference!!! Oh my goodness, we have the absolute most amazing missionaries on the planet serving here in Ukriane, hands down. Everything was just so amazing and uplifting and perfect, I really enjoyed everything that was said and was able to take things from every message discussed, it was wonderful. 
Zone Conference ended at 3 and we were given a challenge to be at the mission home, so President Lattin and his wife's house by 3:35 and to have talked to some people, having really good conversations. Which is a little more of a challenge because in L'viv we are still not allowed to be wearing nametags or openly proselyte. Sister Edwards and I decided to steal from our idea of the flowers the week previous and bought two roses to hand out to people along the way, and we were able to have some wonderful conversations with the people here in L'viv.
At the mission home we got to celebrate Christmas, and celebrate we did. It was SO MUCH FUN!!!! I absolutely loved every second of it and it is for sure a Christmas that I will never forget. After that night I feel as though Christmas has already happened. We gathered together as a mission family, we shared the experiences we had just barely talking to the people on the street, and then we sang the Christmas hymns in the Ukrainian hymn book. It was so amazing and the Spirit was just so strong! Then we each had a minute to bear testimony, literally just a minute or two a piece and it was incredible. Missions are hard, they test you mentally like you will never believe. I have never felt more inadequate in my life, and yet I can do; all of us missionaries can do it, but only through Jesus Christ. It is only with His help that we are able to do any of this. It was such a sacred and amazing testimony meeting, one that I will always hold dear to my heart.
After testimony meeting we had dinner, hawaiian haystacks(?) and some delicious Ukrainian bread that is way to good for words. Then we had some time to just enjoy each others company. 
I am more like my mother and grandmother and all my aunts than I would like to admit, and while everyone was socializing a bit I was talking with Tanya, she a member in L'viv that works for the Lattins and helps with the mission home. She and I did all the dishes in the kitchen and got all the food cleaned up, I kicked Sister Lattin and Sister Bodell, the senior sister missionary, out of the kitchen to go have fun with everyone. There was no way they were going to cook all day for 30 missionaries and clean it up too!
After dinner was cleaned up we got Christmas!!!
The Lattins had kept all of our Christmas packages at the mission office for this event. President, Sister Lattin and Brother and Sister Bodell put on Christmas hats, had us all close our eyes and sing christmas songs like, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer while they brought our packages out then we all got to open them all at once. It was so fun, I felt like I was at home with everyone again as we opened our packages... Which P.S. MOM!!!! That package was ridiculous, it was the heaviest and biggest out of everyone and a christmas tree?! WOW!!! And enough goodies to feed all of Ukraine?! Literally, the only thing that I don't have this Christmas that I normally would have is my family and even with that I have my mission family, whom I love SO MUCH!!!! Thank you so much! Grandma too for the pajamas and everything! (I opened it all that night because I was with everyone and it felt like Christmas) You are the BEST!!!! Thank you so much! It couldn't have been better.
The Elders that had to help me carry it all back to the apartments and then back to Lutsk probably didn't appreciate it, but I did. :)
Thursday we left early in the morning and had an adventure on the bus ride home. Thankfully Elder Mollinet and Elder Peterson are wonderful Elders that don't like it when drunk men try to get to friendly with their sisters. It was an adventure, but we survived.
When we got home life all went back to normal with missionary work. Elder Lippert and Elder Jolstead were still gone and barely got back Sunday night from Armenia. Visa trips are crazy! Our investigator pool is still small to nonexistant which is kind of frustrating. We have met some wonderful people though that have potential.
On Sunday we were walking home from church when I saw this little old lady, she is 87 I later found out, carrying a bunch of cardboard boxes along the road. She had a pile that she was trying to get to the paper factory where they give you 7 hrivnya for every so many boxes you bring. We crossed the street to go and helped her. We spent the next hour or more helping her carry all these boxes to the factory with her. She was so nice and just a sweet lady. Her husband and son passed away 21 years ago, she has one other son that lives here in Lutsk with his children and grandchildren. After helping her she agreed to meet with us this week. She is just the sweetest! I can't wait for her meeting.
Transfers are also happening this week, so we got all the information for that. Sister Garrett, my first little trainey is getting moved! She is not in Uzh anymore, but will be in L'viv! I can't believe it! Other than that, things are staying the same here in Lutsk, which I am grateful for! I absolutely love the Memebers here, the kids (cutest kids in Ukaine), and the Elders which we serve with.
Yesterday we had District meeting and it was wonderful, great things are about to happen in Lutsk. We also got to celebrate Christmas Eve a little with our english class, it was so fun! We did "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and all sorts of fun games and singing songs. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
Last night Sister Edwards and I wrapped little cheesy gifts for one another and put it under the tree in our room.. but neither one of us could wait, we were still awake waiting to see who would break first. Finally we both hopped out of bed and opened the gifts by the light of our Christmas tree. It was so fun!
Studies this morning we both focused on Christ, seeing as we had already kind of did the celebrating of the holiday in L'viv and a little bit last night. We are so blessed to have this knowledge that Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. That He knows us SO personally; He knows it all every heart ache and joy in our lives and he can help us overcome everything, comforting us along the way, He can make our happiness even happier. The Savior is the reason for this season and time of year, He is also the reason why I am here in Ukraine. I miss you all, but I know that there is no other place in the world that I would rather be than where I am right now, in Ukriane with these amazing people and bringing them to this knowledge.
I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas!

Oh, and here is a little poem that Sister Edwards and I (mostly Sister Edwards) came up with to try and explain the wonderful experience that we had this morning.. The grinch literally stole our christmas!

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a missionary was stirring, EXCEPT for the MOUSE
The bread loaves were placed on the table with care,
In hopes that Christmas morning soon would be there.
The missionaries were nestled all cozy in bed,
While visions of peanut butter and bread danced in their heads.
When in the midst of the kitchen there arose such a clatter...
They stayed in their beds not wanting to see what was the matter.
The alarm clock buzzed loudly, and on with the day
When a sudden gasp from Sister Shaughnessy hinted something wasn't okay
I ran to the kitchen still half asleep
"WHERE IS THE BREAD" she yelled, much louder than a peep.
We searched on the table, and then below
The nice loaf of wheat bread- Where did it GO!? 
We checked in the fridge and then in the cabinet
We discussed the possibility of our furry nosed bandit
The search continued until evidence was found:
little pieces of plastic, stuck to the ground.
Our rat friend had feasted, caring not one bit
Of the dreams of bright peanut butter, now dimly lit. 
The grinch literally stole Christmas, bread wrapper and all
Eggs it is.... Eggs for all.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Flowers for everyone

I don't even know what to tell you about this week. It was actually quite fun, yet a rough one at the same time. Pretty much all of our meetings we planned on having fell through this week, which was quite unfortunate because we have a great message, but what can you do? Keep trying and find people who will be interested, they are out there. One day in particular my companion was really struggling with the fact that our plans had fallen through again, it was pretty awful weather outside and we had had a back up plan to find the apartment of a lady that was interested in our message that Sister Edwards found on exchanges. We went to find the apartment and it does not exist, at all. We searched and searched and could not find it at all. Asking people if they knew where it was and they said it was not an actual building.Yay! It was kind of the last straw and we still had a lot of time be out talking to people, so I decided that I hated being disappointed and I needed to do something happy to make people smile. I pretty much decided that my problem was that I had not smiled enough that day.
SO..... We happened to be down by a flower shop and I just decided to go and buy 20 pink roses to hand out to people to make them smile. Oh, my gosh! It was so fun! I handed them all out that day or the next talking to a bunch of people. I would just ask if I could give them a flower and then it just naturally goes right into the "Girl, why are you so young and here all the way from America." and that just leads us all the way into "Well, I am here as a missionary for my church, have you heard of our church?" It was so much fun! I met some of the nicest people ever and had great conversations with all of them. I loved it! Pretty sure the Elders just teased me for my idea and "cheeseyness." I didn't care, I got to talk to so many wonderful people, it was great!
We were able to find a new investigator out of the area book as well. She has met with us twice and still wants to meet, we just need to get some simple doctorine issues worked out and all will be great! Larissa, the lost earring lady, she met with us as well, in a strange twist of events. She called me this morning to tell me that she was wearing the earrings that I had given her. She is the sweetest!
Sunday was a huge miracle, we had 2 less actives we have been working with come to church and stay for all 3 hours! It was so great! One of them is Olena, she is Vika's (the 10year old) older sister. She is absolutely wonderful! This is the first time that I have ever met her face to face and I love her! Oh my goodness! She gave the closing prayer in Sunday School, after making rock solid comments the entire time, gives the opening prayer in Relief Society, participates fully the entire time. Olena also brings Bika with her and her non-member boyfriend. I love her! She is awesome, I really hope that this is a  permenant change in her life for the better. The ward members were just so great with her as well, so happy to see her, hugging her and just so awesome! AAHH! I just love the Lutsk Branch! People here are the greatest! The members are really just so willing to help with Missionary work, and the blessings and miracles are coming!
Plus, I am pretty sure that we have Ukraine's cutest children ever in our branch as well!
This upcoming week we get to head into L'viv for some Zone Conference\Christmas fun! Next Monday there will not be a letter because they have moved P-Day to Christmas. So, I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas and remember our Savior, Jesus Christ.

З любов'ю
    Сестра Шанесі

Monday, December 9, 2013

Three days of the flu

Where to even begin! I can't even tell you all that has happened since the last time that I emailed, but at the same time a whole lot of nothing has happened! I will just start at the begining with our miracle of all miracles!
So last Monday Sister Edwards and I were just ready to go, so excited to start this new month, we had made plans and set goals, it was all good. Our mission president was in town and his wife called to see if we had a lesson that night because she wanted to come on it with us. Sadly, our lesson with a less active fell through, and we had to tell her "No," our back up plan was tracting and I was pretty sure that she did not want to do that, it is getting pretty chilly here.
Well, then our LandLord called and wanted to meet, I told him yeah of course such and such time. We changed our plans to tract a building that was closer, but then was like no, we need to stick with the plan, so I called the LandLord back to have him meet at a later time, he was totally okay with it.
So, at 6 we head out. It is getting pretty chilly here at this point, but nothing too bad, and I kind of only knew the street where we were going, but not really. We get on a bus that will take us to that street and I am just following where we are going on a map with my finger, pretty pathetic, but if you know my sense of direction (or complete lack there of) it is pretty impressive. We ride the bus, and I totally get us lost, I thought. I was thinking that this was not where we needed to be, what are we doing, we can't get much farther, we have to find these people, ect. So, I signal to Sister Edwards to get off at the next stop.
Get off, no idea where we are. We start walking trying to figure it out and can't, and all the people we were passing that could help were either men, which it was dark and I wasn't going to ask them for help, or women on their cell phones. Why not just stop and pray then? Because we were lost. So we did! And the next person that we pass, I try to talk to her, she was a young girl 20-30's, and she just says "What do you want, I speak english and I can help you." Can we say blessing?! Her name is Katya or Katie as she likes to be called in english. She is super believing and just loves to help people and was praying to find some people to help. (You think that God had a plan for this to happen or something?) She helped us, called her grandmother to find the exact building that we needed to get to.
She walks us right there, just chit chatting her little heart out about her belief in God and all about her life. It was great, at the end she says "So, can I meet with you to find out what you believe?" Well, yes actually you can, that would be why I am here. She showed us the building, we took down her number and told her that we would call her and if she is interested we have a free english class every Tuesday and Thursday, to please come.
We left her, and both Sister Edwards and I were like, dang we should have asked her to meet right then, both of us had the thought but didn't say anything. Unfortunate. We go tract this building and try to talk to as many people as possible and I think that we found the only Russian speaking building in all of Lutsk. Oh, my no one understood me and I didn't understand a soul. I was so frustrated by the time we left. We got to the bottom floor and said a prayer before we knocked on these doors, we wanted to find someone ready to hear the Gospel. Knocked on the doors and....... NOTHING! We left kind of disappointed, but we were still going to talk to people. We went to bus stop and right next to it was this little shop and the lady in there was on the phone. Sister Edwards says, "Ok, we are going to go in and talk to this lady soon as she gets off the phone." We waited, two buses that would have taken us home pass, we wait. She finally is off the phone, get ready to go in and.. it is locked. It was closed. AH! So close. We were so sad, but nothing to do about it. We were just going to go home and hopefully do some area book calls.
We get on the bus, sitting seprately so that we can talk to more people and this lady gets on, stressing out. She had lost her earring and wanted to find it. The driver was not very nice to her, but she searched and searched. She was so upset and sobbing by the time the driver kicked her off of the bus and she was unable to find her earring.
Poor lady, losing an earring is a rough thing. I think Heavenly Father used my earring obsession for something good, because of course I was trying to help her find it and when the driver kicked her off we got off with her. I asked if there was anything we could do to help, she said no, she just wanted her earring. I asked if we could pray with her, she agreed. I prayed that she would be comforted and find her earring. Then, I took off my gloves and gave her the pair that I was wearing and told her that I had a lot at home and to keep them. She wouldn't take them, but I insisted, she said that she had to give me something in return, so she gave me her coffee mug (so sweet) and we asked if we could wait with her until the next bus comes. She agreed. 
Her name is Larissa, ironically. We talked about our families and naturally she wanted to know why we are such young, cute girls, not married and living in Ukraine, so I tell her. We talked with her for a while and we could not get any bus to stop for us and it was getting close to the time that we needed to meet our land lord and be home for the night. He had called looking for us and we told him that we would be there as soon as we could. We finally got a bus to stop and Larissa paid for us to get on, pretty much the nicest lady ever! We got her number and told her that we would love to come over and talk with her about what we believe and why we are here. She willingly agreed. She hopped off the bus and I still had no idea where we were, turns out we were outside of Lutsk, in a village. So I got to call the District Leader and tell him that we would be home soon, but didn't know where we were. No worries, we made it home on time and our land lord was not upset that we were like an hour late meeting him.
Miracle moment. We got home that night and didn't even know what had happened. The hand of the Lord was so prevalant in those 3 hours that we didn't do a thing, we just happened to be watching all these miracles come to pass. It was just amazing! Katie came to english the next night, on Tuesday and told us that she had been praying to find people to bring her closer to God, then she found us! It was really amazing to have met her, she is the best!
Tuesday we had President in town and enjoyed our meetings with him, Wednesday and Thursday we had the L'viv Sisters in town for exchanges. Yay!
Exchanges were rough for me this time, but I can't really pin point why. They were kind of just thrown on us and we didn't have much time to plan what we could do, so the poor sisters got to hit the streets hard with us. We got to visit the Zhuk family and they were just wonderful as always.
Thursday night we had english, all 4 of us sisters where there. We were standing in the hallway welcoming people to english and Elder Peterson looks over at me and says, "You do not look so good, you feeling all right?" Nope, no I was not. About 5 minutes later I handed Elder Mollinet my books and ran to the bathroom to throw up.
YAY! I love the flu! I woke up the next morning long enough to say good bye to the L'viv Sisters as they left and to say that I hurt. My body ached, my head, my throat was sore and all I wanted to do was sleep. We calculated that I slept for 18 hours that day. It was awful! At one point I was sick of being in bed, so I went in the kitchen to talk to Sister Edwards, I laid on a rug on the kitchen floor and slept there for an hour. Then went back to sleep in bed. The Elders came and gave me a blessing and brought sprite, I love Elder Jolstead and Elder Mollinet, seriously, so nice of them! Later Elder Lippert and Elder Peterson brought us some food and sprite. I slept. My poor companion got to do area book and clean and make a lot of food.
Saturday, I woke up long enough to make a few area book phone calls in Ukrainian, my companion has only been in the country 3 weeks a phone call on your own is a little freaky. I slept only 16 hours that day. I went back to sleep, woke up to do a few more, slept, pretty much the whole day. The Elders again brought us some food and sprite. I love them! Oh my goodness, they saved my life. I also had to call Sister Lattin and the Mission Doctor. I had the flu, go figure. So, I got banned from leaving the apartment until Monday.
Sunday, I woke up, slept. Made some calls and was actually up for most of the day. Still couldn't leave the house though, sitting up was a challenge without getting nauesous. We left once to go throw the trash out and that was it. I am so impressed that Sister Edwards didn't kill me or wasn't sick of me by that time. She just plugged away at the area book. She was the greatest and she makes the best home made chicken soup on this side of the world. We also had people calling to meet with us and I couldn't get out of bed. It was crazy, this upcoming week will be great though, a lot to do before we are in L'viv next week for Zone Conference.
A week full of miracles and sleep! It is wonderful to be here, we finally had our first snow fall and it is beautiful and cold. I love my huge puffy coat, (don't tell anyone because I curse it all the time), but it keeps me nice and warm. We are going to have to hit up the market for some warmer socks and to get my boots fixed, because literally as I am sitting here typing this email the zipper broke. 
I hope that all of you are having a wonderful time preparing for christmas! We truely are so blessed to be here and to have this Gospel in our lives. The Lord has a plan for each one of us, better than we can even imagine. Love you all so much!
Picture of Sis. Shaughnessy and Her companion
out on the streets of Ukraine.

Monday, December 2, 2013

House Cleaning

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday, mine was definately one that I will never forget, and super anticlamatic so don't get all hyped up! It has been a crazy awesome week here in the lovely land of Ukraine.
Where to begin... We now have a new investigator, kind of, well let me just tell you the back story, because it seriously was a blessing from the Lord that the lesson even survived! SO... Elder Jolstead and Elder Mollinet have an investigator who is just a rock star! Literally the most incredible person, and they have been working with him for a while because he has been athiest, and he is older, late 40's. Anyway he speaks english perfectly and they have been teaching him for a while and trying to make progress with him but because of the Soviet background he doesn't trust organizations and all this stuff.
Anyway, so we go to teach a girl who has been coming to english, her name is Nina, and she is awesome, 21 years old, been to the states twice, interested in what we believe, get a lesson with her after english, and somehow the elders investigator ends up on the lesson too and this random kid, named Alex, literally have no idea where he came from, plus 3 missionaries (we were still in our threesome at that point) and Lucy a member here, she has served a full time mission and speaks english perfectly, better than me at this point. That is a lot of people for a first time lesson. It was insane, but somehow it worked and the church is true, because the spirit was there and it saved the lesson that we had.
During the lesson though the Elders investigator had so many questions and was really just asking everything that he could and we were able to explain it to him. He kept using words like "persuade," we are here as missionaries to persuade people to believe in God and all this stuff, it was so weird and kind of bugging me. He also was saying the our church was no different, that services and everything were not any different. He also the complimented the Elders, he said that he felt that they were picked from thousands to be here in Lutsk. So, what happens next is exactly why I was called to speak Ukrainian on my mission and not english, because when you teach in english I have a little more freedom of speech.
First, I addressed the persuading thing. I told him that I could have people listen to me talk all day and not ask them to believe what I say. I am here to simply invite people to come to Christ, I can teach them how to become closer with their Savior, but it is up to them to ask God if it is all true. I don't want him to believe me, I am not here for that, I am here to help him develop a relationship with his Savior.
Second, I asked if he knew how we are called as missionaries. He didn't. I explained the process and told him that he was right! The Elders were called at this time to this place, by God. I think that took him back a little bit. I explained that he was right, they are called by God to be here at this time, doing what they are doing, they are amazing and they were sent to teach him about his Savior at this time.
Lastly, we invited each one to church. They were all busy and according to the Elders investigator it is all the same, our church isn't unique. He said that, then I asked, "How do you know? You have never attended church with us." He replied that he just knew, I again told him that he didn't and he can't say anything unless he comes and sees first before making opinion.
This sounds so bad, but right after I said that to him, Nina, who the whole lesson was for anyway, said that if it will only take a few times of coming to church to know if this is all true than she will come! OH MY GOSH! I was not waiting for that to happen. Sadly she still couldn't make it to church yesterday, but it will happen next week. It was awesome! I was so excited!
I almost felt bad for what I had said to the Elders investigator, until they called me last night and said that they talked with him about church again and he agreed to come next week. Guilt gone! He is just so close, all he needs to do is awknowledge God and pray! It was awesome!
This week we also had the opportunity to go visit the Zhuk family again, the one that I looked like the girl that they had helped raise. It was so great! I love them so much and I think that it was really great for Sister Rudolphi, she wanted to see them before she left. They are the sweetest and his wife was doing really well that day. She was smiling and talking, it was really great!
That pretty much brings us to THANKSGIVING!!!!
We got to be on a bus for 8 hours, wahooo!!!! That was the day that we had to take Sister Rudolphi into L'viv to meet her new companion. We got up in the morning and the Elders took her bags and met us at the bus station. The first 4 hours were not bad, I was so excited to get into L'viv! It is always fun to get to see other missionaries and it was Thanksgiving. (Trust me, I knew that it was Thankgiving, I had to bake A LOT! Elder Ward and Elder Robinett wanted 4 loaves of banana bread.) We got there and went to the church. Elder Robinett and his companion met us there to let us in and take the banana bread while we waited for the sisters. They also gave me a little thank you note, it was awesome, just a trace of their hand with feathers drawn on it like a turkey, silly little Elders! Sister Olds and Sister Webber came and picked up Sister Rudolphi, Sister Edwards and I only had time to really eat, run to the mission office and go. We decided to all have lunch together. We went to McDonalds. Then there were no seats at McDonalds, so we ate it outside on a park bench, surrounded by pigeons because they kept throwing their fries to the pigeons, and it was -5 degrees celcius. IT WAS SO GREAT! I was just laughing the entire time, thinking to myself "My family is going to read my email and laugh! Next year too, they will be like "Hey, Sister Shaughnessy, what was your Thanksgiving like that one time in Ukraine" and I will say "You know, just ate McDonalds in freezing weather on a park bench surrounded by disgusting pigeons that were fluttering and I was freaking out and laughing."" Pretty much the best thing ever!
We then had to say goodbye, run to the office, to pick up mail. I got to see Elder Millard and Elder Terry. I told them that they had banana bread left with Elder Ward and they had better get it from him before he eats it. Elder Ward also called to thank me, I told him no big deal and he can call me a taxi to the mission office as a thanks because I don't like to speak Ukrainian on the phone and I don't know the address.
We had another 4 hour trip back home to Lutsk. It was great, we made it just at the end of english, we got to say hi to everyone as they were leaving and talk to the Elders investigator again, with Nina. We showed family pictures. The most popular one that I have is the one of grandma and grandpa with all 23 of us grandkids, it gets them everytime. They cannot believe that we have so many, it blows their minds. The Elders investigator (same one from the other night)... wow! He loved looking at my pictures and he loved seeing our family. He asked how well I knew everyone, I told him I could tell him all the names and birthdates, that floured him. He wanted to know how we were so happy. I told him. I bore my testimony to him, and he was in shock. Asking me why I would leave all of that to come here. I simply said, I know all this is true. It is the secret to my happy family. He also was shocked that I was so happy here being away from all of you, there was a light in my eyes, he said. I told him that I love my family, I know that this is all true and that is why I am here. I want the families here in Ukraine to experience that same joy that I know can come from this Gospel, from the knowledge of the plan of salvation, eternal families and all of it. It was really cool.
Also, so on Saturday, this will make my mama so proud of me! On Saturday our mission President said that we all need to clean our apartments from head to toe, he is going to make it a 2-3 times a year thing and it should take all day. Oh, it did! It was so fun! We got up and did studies that I got to tear our bedroom apart and wipe down walls, moved furniture, rearranged, mopped floors, vaccuumed, took apart the lights and wipe down all of that... spring cleaning, in short. We did it throughout our entire apartment all day, other than the 2 hours for sports night. Wiped out the fridge, the whole time we were listening to MoTab or Christmas music, cleaned the bathroom, got all the hardwater stuff off because of Malibu miracle. It was awesome! Then, as we were cleaning we found a small christmas tree from previous missionaries! SO... I got to clean everything, then put up a christmas tree. Pretty much feels like home! I was so excited! Our bedroom looks so cozy now with our tree and rugs on the ground. Pretty awesome! Cleaning should not have been that fun, but I loved it!
That is pretty much it for the week! We had church yesterday and that was great, Brat Voytook is now the official MCL and Elder Lippert in first counselor in the branch! Crazy things are happening!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, because I did. I love you all and am grateful for each one of you! I am grateful to be here, this is where I need to be right now!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

What a week! I never know where to begin these emails because so much has happened that it is just too hard to start...
First off, my favorite thing to do in the mission, okay not favorite, however I really actually enjoy tracting. I think that it is so fun! Don't ask me why, but I truely LOVE it, and this week we have met some of the greatest people while taking on that adventure.
Just so you know, most Ukrainians live in apartment buildings, and if you have ever seen a Ukrainian elevator... Let me just say, I prefer to walk up to the top of a 10 floor building before I take one of those things. So we did some tracting this week, our investigator pool is running a little low at the moment, and we met some of the greatest people ever! At first we went to this building to stop by a lady that we had found in the area book and had been taught a while ago, but only had an address. So, we wanted to stop by her and see how she was doing and if there was interest again, however we had time, so we decided to tract the whole building as well. We ended up talking to this one old man and for the life of me I could not hear what his name was, I didn't understand what he was saying to me when he said it, but I love him. He was just the sweetest, old, Ukrainian man I had ever talked to in my life! He had just had 3 surgeries and just begged us to pray for him everyday, and we said we could pray with him right then, he didn't want that, but we have been praying for him everyday, and just happened to write down his address and give it to the Elders as well. We went by later in the week to see how he was feeling and bring him brownies, the Elders offered him a blessing as well. He was literally the cutest thing ever and he loved us. He kept saying that he didn't have talk time or strength to talk to us, however he talked with us for a good half hour outside his apartement door.
While tracting as well we found Nina. A very believing older lady. She let us in and gave her some brownies, we had extra and when you say american treat everyone wants some. We talked with her for almost an hour, she cried as she talked about Christ. Also, found out that she had met with missionaries before, but is not interested at this time. She allowed us to come in and share a message though, so we read from the Book of Mormon about Christ coming to the America's and how he blessed the children. She loved it, but sady still wouldn't agree to meet again. Apparently she can't believe in the church because Joseph Smith didn't keep the 4th commandment? I really enjoyed meeting with her, and we will try to keep in contact. She was wonderful!
We also teach english two nights a week, and this week we decided to teach them tongue twisters, because we were teaching the advanced class. That was really funny! However, they all laughed at me because I couldn't say them at all! I would trip over my words quite badly every time, they could say them better than I could. Then they decided to then teach me Ukrainian tongue twisters, those were even worse! It was so funny though!
Also, we got a stellar new MCL, or Missionary Coordinating Leader. Brat Voytook! I am so excited we had our first meeting with him and it was so amazing! He is just the best and it will be awesome to start working with him to get things going here in Lutsk. We are on the brink of something great happening here, I know it.
I also got to speak in church on Sunday. It had been a while. I spoke for 20 minutes even, that was a miracle and proof that the gift of tongues really is legitamit. I spoke on gratitude (that was challenge remembering that word in english) if you would like to know what it is in Ukrainian vdyachneest or вдячність.
Also, sad news. My companion, Sister Rudolphi is being transferred down to Chernivsti this week. We found out this week from our landlord, then called the Assistants to figure out what was going on. A sister needs to finish her mission in the states and because we are a threesome they decided to send Sister Rudolphi down there. It has been really hard on her, she is leaving her first area and we were not waiting for this to happen. So we will be going into L'viv on Thursday to take her there and then Sister Edwards and I will be returning to Lutsk that night. We won't be in L'viv for very long... just long enough to take her to the mission office and Elder Ward and Elder Robinett heard I was coming into L'viv so they called to see "how things were going" AKA, asking for banana bread. Silly little Elders.
AND, just so you know, our sink broke in our kitchen. We were just baking some brownies, Sister Edwards was getting excess water off of the sink area and all the sudden half of the sink like falls! So we try to fix it and counter weight it to get it to stay up (pictures to come) and trying to get pictures as well. Right at that moment, Elder Peterson and Elder Lippert decide to call to ask a question, so they get volunteered to come fix it for us. Apparently, it was being held up by tape before, so now that they have fixed it it is being help up by tape and a jar sitting on the back part under the counter.
OH, the joys of mission life! I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, I know that I will. Ukraine is the best! Love you all!

Crazy Week

What a crazy week this has been! Let me just tell you all, I feel like I have lived a lifetime since last P-day with everything that has happened, and I don't even really know what has actually transpired since last P-day!
On Tuesday we did our last District Meeting with Elder Robinett, so sad that he has left us! Afterward we did our District Picture... Let me tell you about District pictures. So, obviously with every District you have you want to do a picture just to remember that time you had together, well we were trying to come up with a goofey something to do for it and the Elders asked what defined our District, Elder Peterson says, "Baked good from Sister Shaughnessy." So! They decide to do a District photo of them with plates infront of them and Sister Rudolphi and I pretending to serve them food, no joke. It was ridiculous, I felt so dumb, but it is a great picture!
Wednesday we went into L'viv. Poor Elder Peterson and Elder Robinett get car sick, our two big football playing Elders looked SO sick, the poor things. I felt so bad for them both. It is a four hour bus ride from Lutsk to L'viv, so great, it is on the worst road known to man! It truely is just aweful! Elder Peterson and Sister Rudolphi slept, I sat and talked to Elder Robinett, he is a funny kid! I don't know how they slept on that road, it is horrid.
L'viv was so great! Just the usual stuff, we had fun with the Sisters in L'viv. I was so happy to see them all. I had to help Sister Wallace pack, she got transferred out to Kmelnitsky. So this is her first time leaving an area, so that was crazy to help her with all of that fun stuff!
AND.... I got my new little trainey! Her name is Sister Edwards. She is 19 and from America, kind of. She has lived in Thailand and Equador for a lot of years, which is so cool! So the foreign thing is not that odd to her at all, thankfully! She is so cute and fun, it is definately different to have a threesome though, we will see how it all works out!
When we went to leave after the training meeting I decided to be brave and get us to the bus station, buy the tickets and all without Elders. That was a crazy decision on my part! We got on the bus, the driver was not too happy about all the luggage, then they kept asking where we were going, but I was on the phone with Elder Jolstead, our district leader, he is speaking Ukrainian to me, asking when we will be home, my two little trainees are like "Sister Shaughnessy, I don't know what the driver is saying" and the driver is yelling at us in Ukrainian. I finally got it figured out, but poor Elder Jolstead, he is probably thinking that I am just crazy or that I am loosing my mind! It is normal!
We made it home though!
On Saturday we had a BAPTISM! Illya Voytook, a young boy in our little branch got baptized! It was SO great! He was SO happy and his dad got to baptize him. It was awesome! The baptism was just great! We had members and one of the Elders investigator's there and he was so interested in it all. It was awesome! Illya was SO EXCITED! He bore his testimony at the end and I cried, it was just the sweetest thing ever! He is such a good little boy! I love that kid so much!
Sunday he was confirmed in church. The Branch President confirmed him and it was great! All the Elders got to participate, it was so special and just really amazing! It was something that this branch really just needed. Some big things are about to happen here in Lutsk, I can feel it!
Sunday was also so great, I now have all the children in the branch come and try to sit next to me. I bring coloring books and it has won all there little hearts. There were 6 of us crammed on 3 seats, it was so great! I got up after the meeting was over and got complimented on being the best mom, good think I am a missionary, that was awkward. These kids are the cutest things you have ever seen though, so I will claim them.
We only stayed for Sacrement, because we had a request to go out and see Sister Matsoha in the celo a couple of ours away. It was her birthday and she was SO excited that we came out to her, she cried. She fed us SO much food again and sang for us, this time we came prepared as well and brought hymns to sing for her. Luckily, Sister Edwards can sing, because I can't and Sister Rudolphi is not much of a singer as well. She cried, she loved it and was just so happy! She wants us to come out as much as we can, and I just want to be out there with her all the time, she is so wonderful! Her grandson, his wife and their daughter were there as well, eating and talking with us, that was really fun! They were not members, but stayed for the spiritual thought and loved our singing as well. It was really a great experience to be with them.
And today, earlier, because all who know me are going to die when I tell them..... BUT I got my hair cut today. By a Ukrainian, yeah, I know, big deal. Just thought I would throw that out there!

Monday, November 11, 2013

I was needed in Lutsk

Oh my crazy week! It was just wonderful! I don't even know where to begin... Let us start with Tuesday. I cannot believe how amazing that day was, it was just perfectly crazy and wonderful, such a blessing in disguise. So during language we get a call from District Leader, Elder Robinett, he informed me that if we didn't have our winter stuff we needed to get it this week because next week it is supposed to be in the negatives. Well, I hadn't bought my coat yet, I didn't want to, but if it is going to get that cold that soon, it was needed. So, we had to adjust plans to go to the reenok, is what it is in Ukrainian, I guess you could call it a Farmers Market type thing in english, I don't know. Got what we needed from there; I now own the craziest coat you have ever seen in your life. I look like an eskemo when I wear it, pictures will come.
After then we had to run to the church to drop off the Elders pans that we washed for them from Halloween, they happened to be there, and were elated to find that they got the pans back, or maybe it was because I baked them brownies in their pan to return it? Don't know. Talked with them for a minute before heading out.
We wanted to do a stop by to a couple in our Branch. The wife is ill and has been bedridden for many years and her husband is ill as well, this has left them unable to attend church and the wife unable to accept baptism because of their health.
We decided to bring them brownies and just do a simple stop by to see how they were doing. We got to their building and the door was not opened and no one would let us up. I turned to my companion and said "We are sitting on this bench for 5 minutes, someone is going to let us in." It happened. We get to the door and the husband let us in, he was so sweet and so happy that we had come. His wife was in the main room, laying on a hospital bed, she can't even sit up. Her eyes told the story of someone who had had a lot of trials and was ill. She whispered a word, I didn't understand her, but then her husband started talking to us.
He had us sit at the table in the center of the room. He was so happy when he had found that I had served in Uzh, he had lived there several years before. We got to talk about the town and how much we both loved it, wonderful. He has a Book of Mormon he wrote our names in and several other little things we were able to help him out with. The whole time his wife laid in bed, staring at me. I thought it was weird, she is sick, I didn't know what to do, I would talk to her, but she never replied.
At the close we shared a scripture about how the Lord is always with us, and we need to remember that no matter our trial he will be there. We prayed, but before we left he said that he needed to show us a photo. The husband found the picture then pulled out a mirror. He asked me to look in the mirror and tell him who I saw; myself. He then showed the photograph to me. It was black and white, well worn and loved. He asked me if I knew this woman, I said no I didn't know who she was, I am sorry. She was around my age, and beautiful, but I didn't know her, never had I seen her before. He again asked me to look in the mirror and then again at the photo. I asked the name of the girl; Alla. He explained they could never have any children because of his wife's health condition, it is a sensitive subject for them. However, they did have the opportunity to have a friend's daughter live with them for several years after her mother had passed away; they had finished raising her, I am sure a great blessing to them. The picture he showed me was of her, Alla.
Then the wife started speaking, crying as well. She said that I looked just like her. My eyes, hair color, smile, voice, everything was just like her. When I had walked in the room she had said her name, "Alla" thinking that it was her that had come to visit. I saw the love that she had for that young girl in her eyes as she looked at me, she was so happy that I had come, that I had reminded her of "Her Alla." She said that she was just thinking of the missionaries, wondering when we would come again, we always brighten her day she said, and then we came, but even better Alla had come.
After leaving the home, we walked out the door and found an investigator of the elders walking his dog. He showed us where he lived and we talked for a minute on the street; the elders have been trying to find where he lives for a long time. We narrowed down the the apartment in 3 minutes. We left him, needing to be on our way to english.
I had to stop and have a good cry first. It was all just too perfect. I am supposed to be in Lutsk.
That was just the begining to a great week! I don't know how it could have gotten better, but it did!
Sister Kelley from my MTC District is Sister Training leader, therefore she got to come this week with her companion and do Exchanges! Best 2 days of my life! It was SO much fun getting to serve with her again, actually in the field this time. Her companion, Sister Makey was actually trained by Sister Echols, so that was great being with her for a day and talk about Sister Echols and how wonderful she is!
Sister Kelley and I got to teach a lesson together, that was amazing! Pretty sure we have both grown since the MTC, it was great to just see that happen and really witness it! We had a mini freak out over our halfway mark being this upcoming transfer. I want to cry, Ukraine is just to wonderful and I don't know anything! There is no way! NO WAY!
It is just crazy wonderful! We also got transfo this week, I will be staying in my beloved Lutsk, training again, with Sister Rudolphi and a newby! We are going to have a tri-panionship, that will be interesting, I don't know where she will fit in our apartment, but we will make it work. Our beloved District Leader, Elder Robinett is being transferred out, sadly. I am devastated! He is just the best, I love him so much! He will be in L'viv. We are getting my new little trainey and Elder Lippert, I don't know him, but he will be Elder Peterson's new companion, they served together in his last area. It will be different, but I am excited!
Also, on Saturday we got invited to go to the castle here in Lutsk with the Elders investigator. (Awkard moment when just I was invited and given the number specifically and my companion and a set of Elders comes with us.) It was SO MUCH FUN! Oh my goodness, so much cooler than the one in Mikachevo! Wow, Igor, the investigator took us and he knows so much about history, he is studying it at University. It is awesome! He told us all these random facts, like that they made the cement by putting cows blood into it to make it stronger. It was so awesome!
Then Elders also got to have arrows shot at them by this archer guy, that was quite intense. It was so great though! I have SO many pictures to send.
On Sunday we had a lesson with our 10 year old investigator, Vika, that was a blast. We painted prayer rocks and talked about prayer. She is the cutest thing ever, especially when we get to skip down the hall to show the Elders our painting, and when we loose her because she decides to play hide and seek from the missionaries. The kids in this branch are wonderful! Our branch Presidents daughter came right in and sat right next to me at church and walked around the church with me, holding my hand. AH! I am loving it all!
What a wonderful week!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Halloween!!!

Oh my goodness, Sister Rudolphi and I are both kind of dying over the fact that it is P-day again! I don't know what happens to our weeks, but this week we get to find out transfer info because the transfer has already flown by!
Let us just start with this week! First off, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! This week was so great! I have just had the most fun ever. So, we went to this less active members house this week, she is the sweetest thing in the whole entire world! She lives about 2 hours out of Lutsk, so Sister Rudolphi and I have to buy bus tickets to get out there, get lost trying to find our bus, call the Elders, find it. Don't worry, we got on the bus and all was good. We get to Sister Matsioha's house and it is beautiful, I love her house. Her son has built it for them and it is just amazing! Her husband is an invalid and can't really do much but smile toothlessly and laugh at everything we say.
She is just the friendliest little soul I don't think she cared that I can barely speak the language, she just wanted someone to talk too! I don't think I said all but 3 words to her the entire time, but I know about her grandkids, (she wants me to marry her grandson), sons, all sorts of people, it was so great! She fed us the most food I have ever eaten in my life! She made all the goodies, but, oh how much food it was! We had soup, holopsey, vereniki, salad, bread, salo (fried pig fat) and all sorts of fruits and veggies. I love her, she is just the best!
Then, as we are eating she sits down and pulls out this book. The book is taped on the spiral, the pages have been well worn. It was a very loved book, you could tell. She opened to one of her favorite pages, you could tell by the way it was creased. It was a song book of the bible. Here in Ukraine they sing in their church sermons, this was her book that she would sing bible stories out of. She sang for us! I have never felt the spirit so strongly as I did at that moment as she was singing to us. I was entranced. The combination of her love of singing and the spirit as she sang the bible verses from Christ's baptism. It was magical. I loved it and never wanted it to end. I was sitting in some obscure village on the edge of Poland and Ukraine, in this little house and it was perfect. I loved it so much!
We tried to give a spiritual thought, but I thinking her singing taught me more than my spiritual thought taught her. It was wonderful! I love that lady so much, I really hope that we can get permission to visit her again.
Now, this week, as you know was Halloween. They don't have Halloween in Ukraine, but they know of it. So of course, we need an activity! The actual day of Halloween we just had english and didn't do too much with it because the party was on Saturday. However, keeping with my family tradition I did make home made chili on Halloween for Saturday Elder Robinett made donuts. So don't worry, I am on the other side of the world but I just can't break tradition, and just like my family, I made WAY too much and the Elders ended up getting chili as well.
So Halloween was on Thursday, it was a normal day. Friday.... We spent all day in our kitchen making cookies for the Halloween Party and decorating fish for the fishing thing we were going to do. 55 huge sugar cookies later, only being able to cook 4 at a time, we finally got it all finished. My poor kitchen just was a mess!
Saturday, day of activity! We had to have Elder Jolstead and Elder Mollinet come over and take some of our stuff to the church for us just because we had so much stuff to bring. We were at the church about 3 hours before the activity started to set everything up. We had a typical ward activity because that is just how you do it when you are all LDS. So we had the fishing game set up in the corner, Sister Rudolphi was behind it with candy and stickers to give the kids. I made bean bags from one of Elder Robinett's old t-shirts and Elder Robinett and Elder Peterson made Jack-o-lantern bean bag toss out of boxes. They also spent all day making 70 donuts, home made, to play donut on a string, when you eat it without your hands. Then the other Elders set up Mad Scientist, and had all sorts of gross things that you could touch and try to guess what it was, then they are genius' and took it one step further. They had this one that was a black hole, so they put it on the sheet between the two tables, but a hole in the bowl and in the sheet so they would put their hand "through" the table, then Elder Mollinet was hiding under there with a gloved hand and would grab them. It was AWESOME!
I also did face painting. To bring everyone together we also had a mummy wrap and then to finish it off in another room we had cookie decorating. Elder Peterson spent so long putting up streamers and balloons, Sister Rudolphi had colored so many fish, all of it was just so amazing! A lot of people came, I would say around 50-60, including the missionaries. It was so great!
Vika, our ten year old little investigator came, she brought her 3 friends. She came running in and gave me the biggest hug ever! AH, I just love the kids here so much! It was so much fun! People were having so much fun, Elder Robinett ate so many donuts an a string, it was so funny! The kids loved to fish! The Voytook family came, their son Elijah was the best he just ran from activity to activity! Brat Voytook got scared by Elder Mollinet on the Mad Scientist thing so bad, it was great! All of it was just SO MUCH FUN!!!
The mummy wrapping was awesome! I wrapped one of Vika's little friends, Anya, and we just laughed, everyone was having such a great time! Then we took them all into the other room and did some cookie decorating. P.S. They do not have food coloring in Ukraine, so the fact that we accomplished getting different colored frosting is quite the big deal. We had candies that they could use and just all sorts of great things! It was just so fun, kids and adults a like were just having so much fun! So many people from english came, it was just the greatest! The Elders have 2 boys that they are teaching, they brought their mom and sister. All of it was just the best! I LOVE THE KIDS HERE!!!!
After the party we cleaned up and then headed home. Sunday was good, Vika came to church and even brought one of her cute little friends, Anya, the Voytooks came with their 3 kids, our branch president came with his 3 girls and they blessed his little son, Petro. Also, another family from Rivne came with their 4 kids. It was just awesome! We talked about family a lot during the testimony meeting. Sister Krokovska, the Branch Presidents wife, got up and bore her testimony on families, behind her on the stand her husband was holding their 3 week old little son just beaming. She was crying, I started crying, as she talked about her kids and her family. It all was just such a great and beautiful day!
I am so grateful to know that families can be together forever! What a blessing that truely is!
 Sister Shaughnessy

Monday, October 28, 2013

I thought I was going to die

Hello family, what another crazy wonderful week it has been here in good old Lutsk. We have had the craziest time ever, but enjoyed it all! Last Monday night we had the wonderful opportunity to have family night with a family in our branch. It was the greatest! The Vfamily have 3 kids, Elijah turned 8 on Monday, Leah is 5 and Mark is 2, I think. It was so much fun! They are just the best people ever!
We decided to teach the Plan of Salvation with sugar cookies in the shapes of all the stages in the Plan. They got to decorate the cookies and have fun as we taught. I really enjoyed it! The kids had fun as well and hopefully learned something. Brother V and his wife are just amazing! He is the counselor in the Branch Presidency, has been Branch President before, they are sealed, just really great people! It was so fun to get to be in their home. We also got to celebrate Elijah's birthday with him, that was a blast! He is now 8 and will be getting baptized sometime soon, I am excited for that, he is just the cutest!
After we left the V Sister Rudolphi and I took what you could call the scenic route home, aka, we got totally lost! We had to go down the scariest Legend of Sleepy Hollow type street I have ever been on in my life, but we survived! We found a bus stop and took one home, it took us all the way to the other side of town and around before we got home, but we made it home, and all was well. It was just so funny, I was laughing the entire time. It would be my luck!
On Thursday we had english and it was Elder Robinett's birthday, so of course we have to do something! We made him a card and over 68 cream puffs (because I may or may not have quadroupled the recipe on accident when reading measurement conversions) it was insane! There was SO much food! We hid it from him until English, then had everyone sing him "Happy Birthday" at the end, it was so great! He was so happy, and everyone ate all the cream puffs, thank goodness.
This week we didn't have many appointments unfortunately, everyone was too busy to meet with us. Our little branch has 6 missionaries that try to meet with them, that is quite a few. Our two 16 year old investigators, Sasha and Anya are kind of not very interested and Oksana our other told us the other day that she just has no desire to even know if this is all true. So we hit the streets a lot this week.
Miraculously we met Ala on the street and talked with her. We pretty much gave her the first lesson, by the time we had walked her to the store she was going to, and she already has a Book of Mormon. It was so great, she was the nicest and really loves her grandaughter, but wasn't interested in meeting with us further, sadly.
OH! By the way, the Elders are teaching a hairdresser, his name is Sergy and I love him! Oh my goodness, he noticed that I colored my hair and asked me what I used, I gave him what I had done. He didn't know that I did hair, so when he asked who applied it I told him I had done it myself because I do hair. He was beaming when I told him! We had this good long conversation in half ukrainian, half english about hair. Let me tell you, it was a tender mercy of the Lord! He spoke my native language of hair, it was the best thing ever! Sergy asked if I could meet with him from now on instead of the Elders, that would be great, but I don't think we would talk too much about the gospel.
On Sunday we had another great miracle, when this lady just showed up for church. She wanted a Book of Mormon, she was contacted by some Elders 3 or so months ago and was curious. We talked with her, the Voytooks were SO great at friendshipping her, but she doesn't want to meet until after she comes to church next week.
Patience. We just need to hit the streets and talk to people, which we have been doing a lot of lately. It has been crazy, just walking and talking to people. Hopefully soon we will find some elect and ready to hear the message.
And here is the funny story of the week, I thought that I was going to die. This was Monday night to Tuesday morning. We go to bed Monday night at 10:30, normal. I fall asleep fine, no big deal. At about midnight we hear gunshots going off outside of our window. We can see the light flashing and hear the sound, I thought I was going to die. I rolled over to get the phone to call the elders and I see fireworks. We live in an area surrounded by concrete buildings, and come to find out, when you set off fireworks near there it sounds like gunshots, and you think that you are going to die. Then we hear these very drunk men singing Happy Birthday. It was absolutely crazy! I still laugh about it! That was our miracle for the week at District Meeting, that we didn't die and that the elders didn't have to come and save us! It was wonderful! My life is never normal!
I played the piano at church, again. I am getting just so good at it! Maybe one day I will enjoy it and laugh at myself when I mess up!
Well, it has been another wonderful week here in Ukraine. The people are wonderful and the Lord is truely looking out for his children here! LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Love having kids at church

Well, I don't know where this week went! All I can say is that I love kids! Yesterday we had Sacrement meeting this 10 year old girl we have been trying to meet with, her older brother, who raises her, is inactive and she has a less active sister, came to church! It was so awesome! She is the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life! She sat next to us, we had 2 kids sitting in front of us and the V family with their 7 year old son were sitting behind us. It was crazy! We had kids going in between all three benches and coloring and all sorts of things, it was really fun! I am sure that people were just thinking "What is going on in that corner?!" But hey, we had kids to entertain! 
B is the sweetest, at one point I grabbed my journal and started writing in Ukrainian, she would correct my grammar and spelling, then make me practice it. I am doing language study with children from now on, they are ruthless! She even started grading my "papers" or the assignments she gave me. It was tough, college finals all over again by the means of a 10 year old. It was so fun to have her there with us! Her brother is letting us teach her on weekends now, so hopefully this continues. I, the V family son, who is 7 is really good at taking her to primary. So she stayed through second hour before she got called home. It was really good.... and tonight we have family home even ing with the V family, I am so excited for that! It is I birthday, but he still wants us to come over.
Yesterday, Sunday, as well Sister Rudolphi and I set out on a endeavor to make home made vereneki(?) for dinner. That was an adventure! It tasted pretty good for our first time. Don't worry when I get home I will be making you some. It is kind of like a ravioli, but not. That is the best way that I can explain it. I was quite impressed with our skills, I will be Ukrainian yet!
We are still running pretty low on investigators right now, so we did a lot of contacting activities. There is one lady  who we have a meeting with, she was really nice and took a Book of Mormon on the street. Hopefully we will begin teaching her soon. Lutsk is also really full of history, I have found this week. We got lost several, several, several, several times walking around the city talking to people. A couple of times we ended up in areas that had monuments or plaques on the buildings, especially in the older part of Lutsk, by the castle and such. I have a picture of one that I will send. It is memory of the people who were killed during a Hitler bombing on the city in 1944.
Sister Rudolphi and I both enjoy history, so as we saw the plaques we would walk up and read them if no one was around. It made me very reflective and gave me a better understanding of just how real that was for these people. The effects of the war are something that are still being felt today in this country. It wasn't just a war fought on the other side of the world for these people, it was in their backyard. They saw it, they felt it. It was very real.
We also met or tried to meet with a few less acitives this week, we stopped by this older couple in the Branch, they didn't answer the door, but luckily the baboosya who was helping us get into the building, well find the building, then get into it happened to be their neighbor/friend. She was able to pass the cookies and note over to them. The husband was out of the house and the wife is bedridden. They called later that night, and they were the sweetest things ever! I LOVE THEM! I haven't even met them, but I hung up afterward and I just love them, they were so nice and they felt so bad that they didn't open the door for us.
A few of the other less actives we tried to meet with didn't want anyting to do with us, sadly. Don't worry, we are having a Halloween Party so I have to hand deliver all the invitations, of course, so I will see them again. Luckily the weather here has not been too bad, just getting colder. I have become an avid fruit tea drinker here and have really just loved every second!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvesting beets

Oh my goodness what a week! I don't know how this works but somehow whatever you have all been sick with I just got hit with today and I am half way around the world. Way to go for family unity!
It has been a really good week though, we have had so much fun! We have been doing some contacting and things because we still are short on investigators, we got some names of less actives to start working with so I am excited to start doing that. The families that we were given all have younger children, I love kids! So it will be fun to start working with them, if we can get in.
This week we did some service out in the village. It was my first time out in the village, it was really fun. Just imagine what you think that Ukraine looks like, what you thought it looked like before you saw pictures of the cities and things, and that is what a village or "selo" looks like in Ukraine. We went out with the 4 Elders to help the family of the old branch president harvest beets. Seriously, it was so fun!
We took an hour bus ride out there, got off on it was so cool! We had so much fun!
 It is actually relatively simple to harvest beets, they are sticking out of the ground, you just grab them and pull, then throw them on the trailer on the back of the tractor. It took us about 3 hours and two loads of the trailer to get all the beets out of their field. After filling the second load of beats in the trailer we, of course, hop on top of all the beets in the trailor and ride through the village in the trailor being pulled by this old Soviet tractor to their house. It was so cool! How many people can say you have done that in their life... subtracting maybe missionaries who served in Ukraine and Ukrainians.  When we got back to the house we dumped the beats out in a pile. Then you take a knife and you have to cut the tops off of all the beats. That was cool, so we would cut the tops off then throw them into this other pile, literally throw them because their were 10 of us working on the pile that was the size of a shed. The Polyshooks, the family that we were helping, were so nice and they had even brought a non member friend to help, kind of a nice way to get him introduced to the missionaries.
He definately won't forget the missionaries either. I can't remember his name, but he was so nice. He has read the Book of Mormon twice and doesn't believe it. Elder Robinett was trying to get him to come to church and was trying to address his concerns. Sister Rudolphi took the more abrupt approach, by knocking some sense into him! Literally! She threw a beet right into the side of his head, hard enough that it hit him and broke in half. It was so funny! She did it on accident, but it was the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life! You should have seen these beets too, some of them were bigger than my head, so it is not like they were little things that we were throwing around. It was so great! He was such a good sport about it, but I am sure that he had a headache after that, just saying the missionaries we make lasting impressions on people's lives!
P.S. There were all sorts of animals on their farm and the elders caught a baby duck! I got to hold it!
We were in the village all day on Friday. Sister Polyshook made us borsch for lunch, so good! And sandwiches with Ukrianian salad, potatoes and the staple of bread. It was really good! All 6 of us missionaries, the Polyshooks, their friend squished on this little table. Pretty sure I got the awkward spot where I was sitting almost in Elder Peterson's lap we were so squished! It was really fun though, in Ukraine you always need to eat all the food on your plate as well or it is offensive. THEY GIVE YOU SO MUCH FOOD!!!!!! I seriously make myself sick trying to finish it! We had a bowl of borsch, a bowl of potatoes, a sandwich, salad, and you have to have bread. It is a lot of food and they keep piling it on your plate, especially when you sit next to Elder Peterson who piles more food on my plate when I am not looking because he thinks it is funny! The food here is SO good though, I don't know how you are living on that American stuff.
Saturday and Sunday we had conference! That was so great! We watched it in Ukrainian of course, and I was able to understand most of what was being said. I really enjoyed Elder Holland's talk and one other, I can't remember who it was that spoke. We downloaded it onto my iPod in english to listen to this week, so that way I can better understand what was being said exactly. Conference was good, we didn't have the best of turn out from the members and no investigator's came, sadly.
In between sessions we had lunch, borsch, naturally, and we baked some treats as well. It was really good, I had made conference bingo for the kids, but no kids came, sadly. Don't worry, during the last session on Sunday the missionaries played it, and the members thought it was a good idea to keep us awake. 
Saturday night we had sports night again, believe it or not that is the highlight of my week AND I am good at ultimate frisbee. Just so you all know, it is way fun and I am good at it, I am not the last one to be picked for teams! Kind of a big deal if you know anything about my severe lack in coordination. It was a really fun time! And afterward Yeva called me, so I talked with her on the phone for a bit.
The weather here is normal, my rain coat is just fine for the moment, I am buying a bigger coat today. I have gone to the second hand here and bought some more sweaters for super cheap and I have been fine. I will need to buy boots in about a month though, when it starts to snow.
Things have just been plugging along. The Elders found a new investigator who is a hairdresser... seriously considering to have him cut my hair, I still have not colored it. There just has not been the time, maybe today though. We haven't had any snow here.
Yeva has called me 3 times this week, missing me. She is the greatest, I love talking to her. I told her all about the harvesting of the beets, she was just in an uproar laughing at me. It was really such a fun experience, next year mom, when you come to get me, we will come help the Polyshooks again, because you would have loved the experience.
Sister Echols emailed me today, she said that she will try to call you this week or next. She has some gifts for you and just wants to meet you. She is the best! I love her, it will be so fun for you both to just talk all about me!
My Ukrainian has gotten better, Elder Peterson insists that I am better than him, he is crazy becuase that is not true. I was able to understand conference though, that was cool. I didn't understand every word, but I got the overall gist and key things, phrases out of it, that was cool! I got to talk to Elder Tribett on the phone, that was fun! MIss that missionary, he is such a good missionary. I had to call him to find out where to find the game Apples to Apples online. It is such a big hit at english to play, everyone loves it. We played it in Uzh, so I suggested it here, it was great! So many people come to english here! They all loved the game too!
Oh, p.s. I am now a tea drinker! They have fruit teas over here that EVERYONE gives you, and we can drink it as long as it is not black or green. I LOVE IT! I literally drink a couple of glasses a day becuase it is getting colder here.
I think that is about it, nothing to amazing!
(Elder Peterson is from American Fork.  His family comes into the salon all the time)