Monday, October 7, 2013

First week in Lutsk

Well, I would first like to start out by publicly thanking my wonderful mother for paying for 10 years of piano lessons. I never appreciated them until now, so, just so you know it was all worth it and there is a small branch in Lutsk Ukraine that is very grateful for that money spent. If you haven't gathered it by now, I am now the official ward pianist. It was a rough Sunday not having played for about 5 years, but you know, I have permission from President to practice an hour a day, just like I was supposed to be doing all along when I was having lessons, now, I can promise I will be utilizing that hour a day because that is a lot of hymns needing to be played!
This week has been a roller coaster for sure. We spent my last days in Uzh doing deregistration and packing. Yeva had all the missionaries over for a night for dinner on Tuesday, that was fun! She sure does love her missionaries.
Wednesday we hopped on a train to L'viv. It was Sister Garret, Elder Terry, Elder Tribett and I, that was a fun train ride. We got SO much language help and Sister Garrett and I picked their brains for everything missionary related before they are taken from us. We had a few laughs as well, 6 hours on a train... that is a long time! We laughed a lot, and I tried not to think about not coming back to Uzh.
I wasn't in L'viv too long, just over night, I spent the night on a air matteress in the middle of the kitchen with Sister Lewis, that was fun! We woke up the next morning, I got Sister Garrett to the church and said good bye. She will do amazing! I will miss her though, we had SO much fun together in 6 weeks, a lot of laughs.
Sister Rudolphi and I went back to the church about 10 to meet Elder Robinett and Elder Peterson. The Lutsk missionaries take a bus to and from L'viv. That has to be the bumpiest road I have ever been on in my life! I did get my package, by the way! Thank you, the peanut butter is almost gone! You have no idea how good an apple with peanut butter tasted.. good enough to eat a whole jar in like 3 days, not sharing with my dear companion either. The cook book has also been put to use, just not for baking.
We got to Lutsk and it is definately different. It is SO big!!!! Oh my goodness I get so lost all the time! We also have our own church building, which is cool, I have never had that in Ukraine before. I almost don't know how to be a missionary here, we don't have to run the branch/group like we did in Uzh, it is missionary work. We have members to work with, a lot of them, and all kinds of different things. The first few days have felt like my first transfer, but I can understand people when they talk with me. It has been fun though!
Our apartment definately is not as nice, I was living the high life in Uzh. Here the soviet influence is a little heavier. It is still a very beautiful city with a lot of parks, I just get lost whenever we go somewhere. I am excited for this week, to get into the groove of things and start working here. We have two investigators, Sasha and Anya, they are both in school, 11th class and very busy. We meet with them after english and on sports night. Every Saturday here the missionaries have sports night, they invite member and investigators and people from english to come and play sports, like american football and ultimate frisbee, and other sports that require coordination. It was fun on Saturday to play though and meet some of the peole the missionaries have been working with.
On Sunday we had church, President and his wife were here, so that was fun! We also have a primary here! I am so excited for that! I have missed kids, church was great with little kids running around again, I didn't realize how much I missed it! This upcoming week we are having conference. We are a week behind because we need to wait for the translations to come through. So Saturday and Sunday we will be at the church watching conference, in Ukrainian. I am so excited though, I told Sister Rudolphi that we are making conference bingo for the kids in Ukrainian, and I am playing with them!
Sister Rudolphi is awesome! She is very shy, but cool. She has great humor and come into the country with Sister Garrett, so this is only her second transfer. Poor thing, she is the missionary in the area, but she still doesn't really know the huge area that well and I have no idea what I am doing. We rely on the Lord and laugh at all the ridiculous things we do. She is 19 and from Colorado Springs, CO and had studied at BYU for a bit before coming on her mission.
We are going to have a blast tearing up this town!
OH, and they best part of my week, not really, but something really cool! The other Elders in our District, Elder Joelsted and Elder Molinet... Elder Molinet, this is his first area and first transfer, fresh off the plane a couple of days ago. He talks to EVERYONE! It is so great! ... He just doesn't know what is being said to him, it is great to watch him try. You have to admire his zeal and energy talking to everyone.

Hope things are great on the homefront!

This is a personal letter she sent me and I thought it was awesome to see how much she has grown.

Ugh, I just have to tell you that leaving my first area was the absolute hardest thing that has ever had to happen, ever! I loved those people SO much and I just didn't want to leave them! I would have served there forever!
Miracle moment...
 On Wednesday Sister Garrett and I went and walked around the river for our last spin around the town before we left. When we got back I saw that Yeva had called. I called her back, she wasn't going to be able to make it to the train that day to say good bye. I talked to her for a while, she told me to take care of myself, that she loved me, reminded me to eat because I am just wasting away. She told me how much she loved me, calling me her little Princess Snow White, I love her so much! She told me that I need to always remember this place and what I learned here and that I will always have a place with my Ukrainian mother, with her in Uzhorod. I was crying by the end of the phone call. I love her so much, she is amazing and has been such a blessing to me.
I told her I would call her when I got settled into my new area, and that I loved her. I was crying by the end of the phone call. After ending the phone call I sat on the couch and cried, I remembered first getting to the area, I was so frustrated because I couldn't say what I wanted to, I didn't understand anything that was being said to me and I wanted to SO badly. I wanted to be able to tell the people that I loved and served how much I loved them. I remember praying and telling Heavenly Father that I couldn't leave Uzzhorod until I could have a conversation with the people that I loved here and be able to tell them how much I loved them, my prayer was answered. I realized after that phone call that my prayer had been answered. That I could leave, it was time to leave. I loved the people, and I had just had a conversation with Yeva and I understood every word, I talked to her. I told her that I loved her and I would always remember her.
It was such an amazing moment to have. It had come full circle. My heart will always be in Uzhhorod with those people, I hope that on my mission I will be able to serve there one day again, but if not it is ok. I will go back someday, and I have now told them how much I love them. My language came along far enough for that, and that was all worth it.
Every mistake I made, or how dumb I felt it was all worth it. That moment made up for all of that insecurity. Mom, I love it here. I love these people so much, they are so amazing! Heavenly Father is just so amazing, this Gospel is so amazing! Heavenly Father hears our prayers, He listens and is so aware of us and our needs and desires of our hearts. He will give us what we seek if they are worthy causes. I am a witness to that.

Doesn't she just look amazing and so happy.

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