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!

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