Friday, April 26, 2013
Oh wow! It has been a month! I cannot believe how fast the time has flown bye! All of the cectrи were saying how that there is no way that it is P-Day again! I swear the time just flies bye, we have been here for 4 weeks! I have officially completed one month of my mission, only 17 more to go!
This week has been great as well, all of them have just been amazing. Everything is so up and down, but with the Spirit the ups completely out way the downs. Yesterday we had our first complete day of SYL, it means speak your language. We talked 100% in Ukrainian all day! It was so hard, and what we said was not grammatically correct, but we all did it. I was terrified to have to speak all day only in my language, but once I got over the initial fear in the morning I loved it! It was kind of fun trying to act out or say what we could and try to get our points across. I know more than I thought I did! We are starting to do SYL 3 days a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and the last week that we are here it is SYL all the time! I can't believe that we are at our half way point on Sunday! I don't know where time has gone, but I can say that I enjoyed every second of it!
I am trying to think of what has happened in the past week since I wrote last... On Sunday we had church again, and we all have to prepare a 2 minute talk in our language and they just call you randomly from the stand to come up and give your talk. This Sunday it was my turn, but... We sat in sacrament meeting, right after lunch, and like 2 seconds before the meeting started I looked at Cectpa Wallace and was like we need to leave, I am going to throw up. So we book it out of our meeting room into a bathroom. It was lovely. So after I had finished we went back to the room to grab some oils and we decided that we should probably tell people where we went. So we go back to the meeting room and our branch president's wife walks out and tells me that I had just dodged a bullet. I was like okay? Thanks...? They had called my name to come up and speak but I was not there, I was in the bathroom. Throwing up. Don't worry, I feel fine now, I think that it was just something I ate. I went and laid down for the rest of sacrament meeting, but was able to go on the temple walk and just avoided eating at dinner. I have felt great ever since! .....I think it is safe to say that I will probably be speaking this Sunday though.
On Friday we got to go out into the real world again. Cectpa Wallace had an appointment with a dentist. It is always a weird experience leaving the MTC! It makes me really feel like I am a missionary, people look at you with your tag and immediatly know who you are, it really is a neat experience. The appointment wasn't major or long, so I think we were really only gone about an hour.
Our investigators, to answer your questions, are real, but not...? Does that make any sense? Svetlana is in reality our teacher Cectpa Garret, who also happened to be Tamara, our first investigator. Cectpa Garrett is however portraying herself. Her name was Svetlana when she lived in Ukraine until she was adopted at the age of 16. She is playing the role of herself at 15 years old when she first encountered the missionaries that her sister's adoptive parents had sent to the orphanage/boarding school where she was living. When Cectpa Garrett was playing the part of Tamapa, our first investigatory, she was playing the role of a sister she had become very close to when she taught her on her mission to Washington State. Does that make sense? Aptem is played by our teacher Brother Adams, and I don't where he got his role from, never really asked him.
This week we also go three new investigators. They are all roommates, Kevin is 19 years old, Baptist, has 2 sisters and one who has passed away. Michaelo is 20, going to school, his family is religious, but he is not. Kosta is 20 years old, Baptist as well and going to school. These three investigators are better known to us as Elders Peterson, Wilkinson, and Vandermark, the elders in our district. So we ourselfs get to practice being investigators as well. This is really actually a fun experience because all of us are on about the same level with Ukrainian, but we do our best to speak it to each other. Kevin was totally into everything that we were telling him and had even started the Book of Mormon already, Kosta was interested, but quiet. Michaelo was the real challenge, he did not show any interest and was just studying for school the whole time. It was frustrating, but we have 5 weeks before we leave to work with him. Hopefully he will come around.
Have I mentioned TRC before? Training Resource Center, we have it on Wednesday nights. People who have served in Ukraine or are Ukrainian come and have us teach them. They portray themselves, college students usually who are RM's have mostly been what we have had. It really is the funnest experience because we will teach in our broken Ukrainian and they do their best to understand, but they know exactly what it is like to be where we are. It really is the greatest to have them talk to us afterward and be able to relate with what we are feeling. Two weeks ago Cectpa Wallace started crying during TRC because she was frustrated with the language, but the person we were teaching was just so sweet and let her just talk it out, then we bore testimony and left. All of us really enjoy TRC.
There are moments when all of us break down from the stress and doubts and frustrations, but it is all okay. We just have our "human moments" as we have dubbed them, cry it all out, then pick up and move on, even stronger than we were before. I feel like through this whole experience I have experienced every kind of emotion, and have been humbled, learned to rely on my Savior and to trust in my own ability as well. I feel like I really have changed for the better in just a month, I can't imagine how much 17 more of these months will do for me or my testimony.
Every Saturday night Brother Adams lets us have a "party," and for the rest of you out there it will sound super lame, but it is the highlight of our weeks here. We each randomly pick a day during the time that he served his mission and he reads that journal entry. All of us love it, and the Elders say it has helped motivate them to write in their journals. There is not a thing that I want to forget. This experience truly has been the best thing that has happened to me, and I haven't even left Utah. I can't wait until I get to Ukraine and can share the knowledge and experiences that I have had. To let them know just how amazing this gospel really is and the peace, hope, and light that this can bring into their lives. It will change them, just as it has changed me.
Oh, and let me tell you just how amazing the Lord really is! Last week, we were leaving the temple, and as always we offer the take family pictures for the missionaries that were coming in that day. This one cute mom came up to us and started talking to us, so we were telling her where we are all going and everything, then she asked us if we needed a mother's hug. So she hugged all of us sisters and told us each individually how much our mother's love and miss us! It was the best thing ever! Then this week, this morning actually, we were planning on going to the temple at 8:30. Well, Elder Peterson lost his wallet. So the Elders went around trying to find it, so as sisters we went and printed off our emails that we get, ran to the bookstore and just did some odd and end errands. They still couldn't find the wallet, so they headed back to their room to double check everything. Us sisters said a prayer and continued with our errands. He found the wallet like 10 minutes later, power of prayer! That is not the best part though. As we were leaving the temple we met up out front and were just getting ready to start asking people if they needed pictures taken this sweet sister comes up to the Elders and asked if he remembered his mom's cell number. They were all like yes, but is there a reason why... She pulled out her phone and took pictures of all of us individually for the Elders and as companions for the sister and then asked for our mother's numbers. She sent our pictures to our mom's to let them know that we are all doing well. It truly was the sweetest thing ever! She had two missionaries out and said that some people have been sending her pictures of her boys as they are serving and she has just loved it! So, she is paying it forward by letting our mother's know that we are all doing well.
All of us were just so grateful for her and her willingness to help our mother's feel at peace. After the sister had left to do her session in the temple I turned to Elder Peterson and thanked him for loosing his wallet. If it hadn't been lost we might have missed that opportunity.
Last night we had even had a fire side with David F. Evan, of the Seventy, come and speak to us, and in his talk he mentioned how we are on the Lord's time, he will protect us and guide us. We all mentioned that as we walked back from the temple. He truly is just so mindful of every last one of us. I started a gratitude journal this week, everyday I am going to look for those tender mercies of the Lord. I challenge you to all do the same.
I love you all SO much! Thank you for the cookies and the treats! They are always greatly appreciated, we all share what our families send and between the 5 of us that live in Utah we stay pretty full all the time! I feel your prayers daily, and pray for you as well! Keep the letters coming!
I was waiting this day for the letter to come and I did receive a text from a unknown number and when I checked it nothing was there. I did not think much about it until I got her email and read that is was suppose to be a picture of her. It was sad to know it was suppose to be a picture of her and her companion.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
This letter made mom cry. I have been missing her so much, so I thought for sure being the third week she would be missing home like crazy, but no. She still sounds like she is doing awesome and I can tell she is jut loving what she is doing. This mom is so proud of her, even though she doesn't seem to be missing home. I have no doubt she will come home with quite a few journals filled.
I am so glad to hear she had a birthday that she will always remember.....
I am so glad to hear she had a birthday that she will always remember.....
Friday, April 12, 2013
I survived another week! I can't believe that it has already been 2 weeks, one more week and I have completed 1/3 of my stay here at the MTC. I swear that the MTC is in a time warp, the days can go by so slow, but the weeks just fly bye! This week was even better than the last! We have some random lady who keeps sending Cectpa Lewis some temple names in Ukrainian asking us to do their endowments for them since we can actually pronounce the names. It makes going to the temple that much better. We luck out because our P Day is Wednesday so we try to time the temple sometime in the morning and that way when we are walking back to campus we can take pictures for the families that have missionaries coming in and are just waiting for their time to drop them off. I think the Elders laugh at us sisters as we walk from family to family asking if we could take their pictures for them. It is really fun to meet some of the new ones that are coming in, and secretly the Elders love it, I know that they do!
The language has gotten crazy hard recently and our teacher Cectpa Garrett is really good at pushing us with our abilities. (She was also our investigator Tampara), it is so frustrating sometimes, but we all help each other out. Looking back it really is just astounding at what we do know already and that we have come so far to fast. We try to speak our language as much as we can around campus, and it confuses the missionaries speaking Russian because they can tell what we are saying we just sound strange to them. Our other teacher, Brother Feil, his wife had their baby on Sunday so all of us sisters have been gushing over the pictures every time he comes in! His name is Noah and he is such a chunky baby, we absolutely adore his pictures and are trying to convince Brother Feil to bring him in at some point so we can see him!
How was conference on the outside? I didn't get to wear my pajamas this year or sit on a comfy couch, but I absolutely love everything! I got so much out of almost every talk, my notes are just ridiculous! I think that I may need 18 more journals just for the MTC! It was really great listening to them talk about missionary work as well and knowing that I am part of that! During the priesthood session the sisters got to watch the YW Broadcast and that was just great as well! We pulled up some of the video for the Elders to watch during District Review because we loved so many key points. Uchtdorf's talk was amazing! Both in Conference and in the YW broadcast! The elders said they loved him in priesthood session as well. In the YW General broadcast though his talk really hit home! If you get a chance I highly suggest reading it! If you don't love it you are crazy, or just not a missionary trying to communicate the gospel in a different language. :) Oh and the girl who says the prayer at the beginning? We all just adored it! She was just so cute!
I am trying to think of anything else that has gone on this week, I cannot tell when one week ends and another begins! My companion and I had have gotten a new investigator and that was a trial and a challenge. Her name in Svetlana, she is 15 and lives in an orphanage in Ukraine. She doen't speak english, is only meeting with us because the parents of her sister, who was adopted and living in America, wants us to meet with her. She believes in God, but doesn't believe that He loves her or answers her prayers, she thinks that He has favorite children. It was a really tough lesson because we did not get across what we wanted. We wanted her to know that God is her Heavenly Father, but she refused to pray, read the scriptures or listen to us. We both left exhausted and frustrated, us and Svetlana. We teach her again tomorrow and we are just planning on trying to get to know her. It really is sad that she believes that God has favorite children. I want her to be able to feel the love that I do on a daily basis!
Svetlana is actually our teacher, Cectpa Garrett and this is really her story. Obviously she is a member now, but didn't get adopted until she was 16 from Ukraine and was converted when she was 18, after living 2 years with her adopted family, who are all members of the Church. She was telling us all about her story when we officially met her as "Cetpa Garrett." Oh, and she just told us she is pregnant, so yet again, the elders got to laugh at us as we all gushed and asked questions.
I hope that all is going well at home! Make sure to send me lots of things for my birthday! I can't believe that I will be 21, and celebrating at the MTC, muchless! I am the second oldest in my district, Cectpa Kelley is almost 22. Please make sure to write! It is easier for me to get a handwritten letter than an Email, but either works!
LOVE YOU ALL!
You can send a letter through mail or you can go to dearelder.com and she will get it the same day you write it. I am sure she would love to hear from anybody.
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Saturday, April 6, 2013
Sounds like Sister Shaughnessy is doing great. Here is her first letter from the first Week in the MTC.
I survived the first week, and I have absolutely LOVED it! I think that Uncle Ryan and Uncle Colby just had a bad attitude or something about the MTC, because I have really enjoyed being here! Time is so different here as well, I hardly feel as if a couple of days have gone by and now I have been here a week! The days go by so fast, they all seen like one. The schedule is hard, but we have all been keeping up really well.
My companion is Sister Wallace, she is from Cottonwood Heights and super outgoing and way cute! We really enjoy each other, I think we balance each other out a little bit! The two other sisters in our district are Sister Kelley and Sister Lewis, the are our roommates as well and I adore them! Sister Lewis is from Farmington and is more quiet and timid, but SO smart and sweet! Sister Kelley is from Arkansas originally but has been at BYU and is almost done with her Elementary Ed. Degree. She has the most amazing voice I have ever heard and is really sweet, she wants to be a kindergarten teacher, and I can totally see that in her.
Our district is super small, there are a lot of missionaries going to Ukraine, even more going to Russia, but there are only 7 of us learning the Ukrainian language, and it is just us 7 in our district. The Elders are in a trio, and that is an interesting dynamic. Elder Vandermark is from California, and the nicest person ever! I think he is the one that keeps the other Elders in line when it comes to manners; always taking our trays for us, opening the doors, ect. Elder Wilkinson is my favorite! I mean, I don't have a favorite, but really... He is from St. George and is so awesome! He is a tech junkie and can take the most amazing pictures you have ever seen! Every time he bears his testimony I cry, he is just so sweet and amazing! Kind of awkward, but I love it! Oh, and he is 6'8"!! Elder Peterson is our district leader and has definately taken charge! He is actually Kassi's friend from American Fork, and I have cut his hair on several occasions. He said he felt bad he didn't remember me. I also, as we have talked, found out that I played volleyball with his sister Hannah. It is kind of odd... but he is really good at keeping us focused, but having fun! Today they all dressed up the same, I have the picture so I will be sure to send it to you.
We pretty much are in class all day, but it is really fun! The time flies, and I am almost disappointed when we get a break because the spirit of learning here is just so strong that I want to keep going and learning more. It is also kind of fun speaking our language around campus, everyone looks at us funny, especially the Russian speakers because it is kind of close, but not really. We go to church and everything with the Russian speakers, so we will learn some of it, but we have been labled as the "Ukrainians" in our Zone. It is fun though, because it has kept us really close.
They also just throw you right into everything! We taught our first "investigator" Tamapa, and that is spelled correctly, p makes the r sound in Ukrainian, and it was quite the experience! We have taught her 3 times since, and we finally got her to pray with us, which is great! She didn't understand the concept that God wants us to talk to Him. Tomorrow is our last lesson with her and we are kind of sad! We finally feel as though we can someone communicate with her on some level using broken Ukrainian and hand gestures! Thankfully Cectpa Wallace is really good at acting things out! When talking about prayer we had to act our talking on the phone and relate it to praying to God. It was quite commical, and she laughed at us quite a bit, but she prayed! We will see what she says on Saturday when she becomes our actual teacher.
When we first got here all the girls just told us to wait until Sunday and after Sunday everything will be good. We didn't understand why they would say that because we have really enjoyed our time here, but once Sunday came around we understood why! We were lucky enough to have Easter be our first Sunday, so we had a devotional first thing in the morning, and it was AMAZING! Bishop Causse came and talked to us, and so did his wife. They are french and so when his wife got up to speak she apologized about her language because she is not very good at english. It was such a great and simple talk, everyone felt the Spirit, and you really could feel her love for us! It just made all of us foreign speaking missionaries so greatful! You really don't need to speak the language to convey your message!
Bishop Causse's talk was also just so good! I took a bunch of notes but there was one quote that I wrote that has kind of become the motto for me and my companion, and I feel like the whole MTC/mission experience can be summed up by it as well. He said; "We think we can't do it, but with the Lord's help we know we can do it, and we are happy about it!" That really is how I have felt the whole time I have been here at the MTC! The amount of Ukrainian that I have learned in such a short time is really amazing! The fact that we can teach a lesson, albeit roughly, in Ukrainian and have 3 times is such a miracle! It is all through the Lord that we can do it!
The rest of Sunday was testimony meeting, personal study (in our classroom of course!) and the temple walk! Which, by the way, the temple walk is the best thing ever! My district just walked up there and sat on the grass and enjoyed the sun and not being in a classroom.
Last night was probably the best day so far though, we had a devotional and it seriously changed by life! Elder Ringwood came to speak to us, and it was really so good! Cetpa Kelley likes to sing, as I have said and so we all joined choir! Yeah, no kidding! You all are laughing about now! But the bright side of choir is that we get great seats to Devotionals! We listened to his talk on enduring to the end and afterward had a district review, in them we just share thoughts, feelings and impressions from the fireside that we had. It really was just astounding how strong the spirit was in that meeting! All 4 of us sisters were crying and really, it was just so great to discuss and get the insights of others. Everyone put their input in and we had the greatest discussion and really learned a lot about each other.
I need to go now, but I love you all! I will try to send some pictures soon!
P.S. Email is nice, but letters really are even better! We can only check email once a week, but letters and DearElder is checked twice a day! So please write!
Love you all!