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.

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