Thursday, January 30, 2014

Concrete floors, Concussion and another trip to hospital

It isn't until after the trial of your faith that the blessings come. I am a true believer in that, especially after these past few weeks with all that has happened. I was as low as I think I ever could have been.
This week started out so much better, I was feeling great and there were no more doctor appointments or breathing problems. Look out, Sister Shaughnessy was back! I was feeling so much better, so Tuesday night we planned to go running the next morning. I wanted to do something that would get my body really moving again, but because I live in Ukraine there is about a good foot of snow on the ground right now, and I really didn't want to go running out in that and neither did my companion. Therefore, we decided to run stairs in our apartment building. There are 4 floors and we wanted to start out at the bottom and run up and down them for our half hour work out in the morning. If you don't know, in Ukraine the apartment buildings are completely made out of cement, stairs and all.
We both got up at 6:30 when the alarm went off, prayed, put on an extra layer and headed out. Ran up and down a couple of times, then I finally stopped at our door, on the second floor and said that I was too tired to do it anymore, but told my companion to go ahead, and I would just wait. I leaned against the door.... that is all that I remember. The next thing that I knew I was waking up at the bottom of the stairs asking Sister Edwards what had happened.
So, in the past 10 days I can say that I have received 10 shots, 3 X-rays and 1 MRI. The Elders took me to the hospital, again. I had an MRI and everything was found just fine. I just have a HUGE bruise covering most of my body and a nice size bump on my head. I also almost became a resident of a Ukrainian hospital because of it, but thankfully that didn't happen. I can't really tell you if I for sure had a concussion or not either. Each doctor kind of told a different story, but now worries. I am all good now.

The blessing that came out of all of this, Irena. A nurse that helped us, who just happened to speak english, so she translated for me, giving Elder Jolstead a break. We invited her to english and church. WHICH, she came to church on Sunday! It was so amazing!
I am happy to say, other than the one day in the hospital, the rest of the week has just been amazing! We were able to visit most of the strongest members in the branch and share some cookies and an uplifting spiritual thought to thank them for all that they do for the branch. Our branch president's family is just the best thing ever. They are so strong and to hear their conversion story from them just brought a special spirit. Our branch president, when he was first investigating the church, had a baptismal date, the service was planned and he just didn't show up to the service because he didn't want to. He never said anything to the missionaries, just didn't come. 5 months later he was baptized, but still..... I can't imagine he is such a spiritual giant now! His wife told us that we need to never give up and be diligent with all. Amazing example.
On Thursday we had an english miracle happen! For this round of english we have really been wanting to do a little extra to get people to have more interest in the church. So, last week we had a church tour after english and all who wanted to stay could take part, this week we decided to watch the Restoration movie after english with all who wanted to stay. Dima, the elders new found hairdresser (their haircuts... don't get me started on them, missionary work is about sacrifice) came to english with his 2 friends, Andre and Julia. They also stayed for the movie. Dima thinks that I am the best thing that has ever happened because I speak english and I am "in the industry of his passion." Direct quote. He just wants to talk hair with me and CHI, he really loves CHI. Andre, however took a Book of Mormon and Julia is a blessing.
She stayed for the movie, but didn't seem too interested in the church, however, she wanted to hand out some english cards for us. We called her yesterday to see how that went, she told us that we can expect 10 new people at english, which she said that she is going to call and remind them on Tuesday for us, and that 4 of them would be interested in meeting with us to discuss the gospel because they are interested in knowing why we are here. Oh, and she thinks that she would like to sit down and have gospel discussions about that guy in the movie, she said that it seems interesting to her, so if we have time she would love to do that with us..... Um... let me look at my busy schedule; tracting, contacting, tracting, english, tracting... maybe we can pencil you and your friends in!
Julia is such a blessing to have! We are excited to see how english will be now. Things are happening here in Lutsk!
 Sister Edwards and I had a lesson with a lady, Zhenya, with whom we had met on the street when we did a book table. She has come to church once, but because of the holidays, she got sick, then I got sick we just have not had the chance to meet with her, however.... We had a lesson with her and she accepted a hard baptismal date on the first lesson! Sister Danko, a member, was with us and she bore powerful testimony and the lesson was just perfect! The Spirit was so strong and she was sitting at the edge of her seat just in awe as we told the first vision! She said that she will pray and read, and do everything to be prepared to be baptized! Such a blessing for the branch here in Lutsk, she is wonderful and this area has not had a baptism for over a year.I am so excited for her and for this branch! Missionary work, it is happening again!!!!
These past few weeks I have really been studying trials and why they happen. Sister Edwards and I could just kept saying that it is after the trial of our faith that we receive the blessings. However, trials are hard. They really are just plain hard sometimes. We are tried and tested to our limit, but we are not alone, only when we walk away from God are we ever alone. He will test us though and try us, more than we could ever imagine. He will stretch us more than we would ever stretch ourselves, but He will never leave us alone. Ever.
I found this verse in Peter, I am now trying to read through the New Testament, and it has really been a verse that has touched me:

Peter 1:7-9 
  7 That the atrial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the bappearing of Jesus Christ:
 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet abelieving, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
 Receiving the aend of your bfaith, even the csalvation of your souls.

Our trials are growing experiences. They test and try us, but they really are a blessing. They are of more value than gold. They help refine us to become more like Him. Remember that!

Monday, January 20, 2014


Oh. MY. GOODNESS! So much has happened, and yet not really anything has happened at the same time. I am just going to lay it all out on the table and my mother can edit it as she pleases so that not everyone knows how horrible of a person I truely am.
First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KABRIE, ALLOA AND HAYLEE!!!! Sorry, I really did remember the birthdays, but some crazy things have been happening around here. I hope that you girls had a great birthday, and that Haylee will have a great birthday this week!
Okay, so I will just update you on the current situation... I have now been in the hospital 3 more times? I think. I have gone to a specialist and it is an allergic reaction. I am not in hysterics (at least not all the time). My bum is black and blue from shots and it has just been crazy and a half! I pretty much have slept all week because they put me on a steroid (from the mission doctor) and it has kind of made me go a little crazy! I would not suggest going to Ukraine if you want the world's classiest medical care. Everything is under control now though.
I read through the email that I sent last week and yeah, pretty much it all just kind of repeated itself over and over again and I slept a lot. I have been trying to think of what to say all week, because it has been a week....
I think it would be easier to just do it day by day at this point...
Monday-Left internet and went with Elder Jolstead and Elder Mollinet to the doctor, a specialist recommended by the most amazing couple in our branch. I have pretty much deemed Elder Jolstead as my "dad," Sister Edwards I call "mom" and Elder Mollinet is either a little brother or the puppy because he is just always making me laugh and smiling, even when I am half dead and not thinking clearly. They gave me another shot and told me that it is an allergy and that what I was doing was normal and just to keep sleeping and moving on.
Tuesday-Pretty much slept all day. We left for District Meeting, the Elders teased me, but all was well. Pretty much slept all day.
Wednesday- Had a lesson, thought I was going to die, slept pretty much the rest of the day.
Thursday- Still sick, still can't breath, coughing up a lung and a half because I was having mucus breaking up in my lungs (apparently that is what the mission doctor told me when I called him and asked why I was coughing now) They wanted to put me on some MORE medications.
Friday-Let us just talk about Friday... I am pretty sure that when I came on my mission to Ukriane I didn't picture myself at 9:00 at night, barely breathing washing my clothes in my bathtub because our washer broke. But, not only washing clothes in a bathtub, but having to heat the water on our stove because all the heat in our apartment went out. Yeah, this happened right after we tried to light the oven and my companion literally almost died and I got to cut 2 inches of her hair off because it was singed by the fire that exploded out of our oven. I am not even kidding you. We cried. Both Sister Edwards and I sat down on the ground and just cried. Usually I could just laugh at these things, but it was just too much! We hadn't done missionary work in days, we were freezing in the apartment, had no clean clothing, I still couldn't breath, her hair had just been singed by gas explosion of our oven and it was just.... it was hard. There is no other word for it. Elder Peterson and Elder Mollinet (they were on exchanges) brought some heaters from that apartment for us to have for the night.
Not that we needed them, because we had another midnight hospital run. Again. Elder Lippert and Elder Jolstead came with us. It is getting a little too routine around here. We have seen them a lot lately and I never knew that they could do stand up comedy.
So, Saturday morning; another doctor appointment. After that I was done. I called my mission president and just said "President, listen, I need to have a conversation with you..." and I just told him that I wasn't going to take another pill and that I was done with everything. I needed to get my head back.
Bottom line, I just realized as I was going through this week of everything that happened... I am just grateful for the atonement. I can tell you that I think all of this started from an allergic reaction, (I also colored my hair, which is what the Elders think that started all of this). However, I have learned such a bigger lesson from all of this and it all just came together. My companion is so amazing and she has had to go through some rough things just in the 1 and 1/2 transfers that she has been here, but I couldn't have done it without her. I know that there is no way, no how, I could have made it without the help of the great Elders that we have here (Not kidding, Elder Jolstead and Elder Mollinet deserve the best of the best masions is heaven) and I could not have done this first and foremost without God, His son Jesus Christ, or the Atonement. Everything is back to normal though. I have one more doctor appointment today and then I am free, my head is now clear, no more meds and it is looking bright.
I agree with my District Leader when he said if we could just find Sister Edwards and I a new apartment and I can breath regularly again we will deem it a successful transfer.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Ok, so the last couple weeks we have been off on our P-Day schedule because of the holidays the last couple of weeks, this week it is back to normal and all is well, I see no reason to change it again in the coming weeks. I cannot even remember all that has happened!
Sister Edwards and I have a new investigator!!!! YAY!!! Sister Edwards was sitting next to her on a marshrootka and she helped us find our way to where we needed to go. She is 15 and her name is Maria. We had a meeting with her on Friday and she accepted a soft baptismal commitment. It was amazing! The spirit was so strong on lesson it was so great! She said that she just wanted to learn all we had to tell at once. She is the greatest! Unfortunatly she couldn't go to church on Sunday because her family was going out to the village, but we have meetings set up with her for this next week.
Friday night, that is when all the crazy stuff happened! So, remember that one time when I drank juice and ended up in a Ukrainian hospital because I could not breath?! So, funny story.... I don't think that it is juice that I am allergic to. So, I have had hives and I don't know why the last week or so, then Friday night I go to bed and at about 11:00 can't breath and I get to call Elder Jolstead, my district leader, telling him that I cannot breath and away to the hospital I go again! YAY! I hate Ukrainian hospitals, they are freaky! Because all four of the Elders are in the same apartment Elder Jolstead and Elder Lippert, the two "oldest" missionaries came, they can translate for me a lot easier than my companion who has only been in the country a month. They met us at the hospital. Elder Lippert got to be my translator, I got two huge shots and then was fine. They gave me a blessing afterward and all was well.
The next morning we all slept in a bit, we didn't get home until 1 in the morning. It was crazy, I just like to be the problem child. I called the mission doctor and I am now sporting the latest in nerdy fashion by now having an inhaler. It is quite great! I feel just so awesome carrying that thing around. 
Sunday was Elder Mollinet and Elder Peterson's birthday, so we made them lunch and brownies. We brought it to the church for them to take home. It was a "Happy Birthday" slash "Sorry for being such problematic children" gift for four of them.
During sacrement however, I wasn't able to breath again! I used the inhaler and Elder Mollinet had some benadryl and therefore, I survived. After church I went home and slept until 8 at night. It is just taking a lot out of me. My poor companion gets to be my mother. I have told her to stop praying for patients and for the Elders to stop praying for service opportunities because my health just cannot handle it anymore. When I woke up last night though, I couldn't breath again and the inhaler didn't work. Back to the hospital again.
I hate Ukrainian hospitals. It is aweful! This time Elder Jolstead and Elder Mollinet came, that was an adventure. We went to a different one, because we wanted to find out the solution to the problem rather than just getting another shot and calling it good. However, this hospital was pretty much a joke and the scariest experience of my life. We just left it was so ridiculous, they said that I just had a headache and told me to take a tylenol or something. Pretty sure that I didn't just have a headache unless your breathing is affected by pain in your head...? I have a really cool print out of my heart rate though, that is kind of cool and will definately be put in my journal.
The second hospital that we went to was the one we had gone to earlier. The doctors there were mean! Elder Jolstead almost left becuase he was getting so frustrated with one of them, it was kind of funny. I probably would have laughed had I not been trying to breath. Elder Jolstead doesn't say a whole lot and is super just calm and sweet, so to see him get upset with something it was saying how bad it really was. They made me go to all these different rooms and this one doctor was just being so ridiculous, I finally just ended up in tears because I was just so frustrated with everyone and everything.
I hate not being able to tell them what I need done and they have no idea what they are doing. The doctor prescribed camomile tea and told me that I wasn't having problems breathing I was just stressing out....? Pretty sure that I don't just go to hospitals for fun or when I am stressed. Instead of trying to find the solution to the problem I just got the shot and went home. It was already midnight at this point and just getting more ridiculous by the minute. At one point I called Elder Terry and Elder Millard, the assistants to the president and also they happened to be with me when I had to go to the hospital the first time, I got the Uzh doctor's number from them. He speaks english and so we were able to tell him what was going on and he told the doctors at this hospital over the phone. Still didn't solve much. I just took the shot and wanted to go home.
So, now I am on a strict diet, I have to record everything I eat and if it happens again, who knows. I have my district leader living on pins and needles, every 10 minutes checking on my breathing and I am sure he just cringes everytime the phone goes off. Oh, the joys of foreign country living!
So, yeah in about 4 days all of that happened. But now, all is good and we are just living it day by day. Hopefully soon we will be able to get to the bottom of whatever this is! I hope that your week has been great!
Love you!
  Sister Shaughnessy

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy New Year

  Ok, so first I need to apologize for not being able to email last week. We kind of had this weird event that made us have to move out of our apartment super quickly, taking up most of our P-day. It was quite the adventure, but we are now living in the Elders apartment and both sets of elders are doubled up in the other apartment until we get a new one. My poor district leader is probably ready to be done with us sisters here, but hey, we just have to laugh. It is just a sign that great things are happening here in Lutsk, we just decided.
Last Monday we were able to meet with Yana, a lady who has 2 children and came to english, it was a wonderful meeting. We met just to help her with english as service and of course share a spiritual thought at the end. For the spiritual thought we decided to just ask her about the role that God had played in her life. She has had friends and family members pass away, she explained as she told her view on God. Sister Edwards then asked if she believed that she could see them again, she was unsure and said she would just have to wait until the next life to see. As she was speaking I pulled the picture I have of Janna, Bridger and KennaDee out of my bag. I showed her the picture and explained what had happened. I told her how hard it was for everyone after they had passed away, then explained as hard as it was the comfort in knowing the plan of salvation helped. I know that I can and will see them again.
  By the time it was all over the spirit was incredibly strong and I was crying, she was crying, Sister Edwards was crying. It was amazing! She agreed to meet with us again and talk about the gospel. It was so powerful and so perfect! Sister Edwards and I were to grateful and overwhelmed after she left. Great things are happening in Lutsk!
We also hav gotten to celebrate New Years and Ukrainian Christmas since I have last written. New Years is CRAZY!!!!!! They don't even begin to celebrate until midnight and it is tradition to stay up all night and party! We had fireworks going off at midnight, three in the morning, seven in the morning, 9 in the morning even. They like to party hard. We got up on New Years morning and at 11 in the morning when we first went out the streets were still dead, everyone was still sleeping. It was crazy!
  Because of the way that some people also choose to celebrate the holidays we had to be in by 5 on New Years Eve and New Years Day. We spent New Years Eve at a book table during the day, until we had to go inside, just outside of the farmers market. It was so awesome! My toes had literally frozen solid, but we were talking to so many people and just having so much fun! The people that stopped were just amazing and MIRACLE one of the ladies that we talked to came to church on Sunday! She stayed for all 3 hours, loved it and she wanted to set up a meeting after Christmas. It was so great!
New Years day, we spent moving...
  On Saturday we had the best activity for the branch! We got to go to Rivne, another city about 2 hours away by bus. Members from Riven, Khmelnitsky and Lutsk were all there and we had just a blast. Food, each ward did a skit and musical number ( I have sang more in front of people on my mission than I have in my life before), and even Santa came or Deedum Rose in Ukrainian. It is tradition in Ukraine that children have to recite a poem or song, do a dance or something for Santa before they can recieve a gift. And if the child is too young or shy, the parents have to do it for them. It was so great! A fun ukrainian tradition. Also, in Ukriane, New Years is a bigger holiday than Christmas.
  On our way to Rivne Sister Edwards and I had this amazing opportunity to have a guy approach us about the Gospel. He was asking all the right questions and was just awesome. He tested my Ukrainian when he was asking about priesthood authority, I have always just taugh women, haven't really had to go into great detail about how you receive the priesthood before. We got his number, he is from Lutsk. We gave it to Elder Lippert and Elder Peterson to work with him. It is just amazing how loving our Heavenly Father is to us!
  Also, this week President and Sister Lattin were in town. That always makes for a fun time! We had a meeting with them on Monday and it was great! They came to church on Sunday and took part in Sacrement meeting, it was great! Always so fun to see them.
  Yesterday was Ukrainian Christmas, not a huge holdiday here actually. New Years is so much bigger! We had district meeting, which P.S. I love my district, they are the best! Then Sister Edwards and I went with Elder Peterson and Elder Lippert and a member, Lucy, (Lucy is pretty much the most amazing person ever! She speaks english like an american. No accent, gets the humor, sarcasm, just everything, she has served a full time misison in Ukraine and several mini missions as well; rockstar pretty much!). We went with them to deliver some candy gifts to the less actives that have children and sing them a little christmas song. It was so much fun! She knew all of them, so even the people that we, as missionaries, could never get to answer the phone or the door easily let us in with her. It was so great! And, she knows her way to their houses so we didn't have to get lost while trying to use a map. We did have to go through this park in the dark and cross this freaky brindge that I almost died on, but other than that it was so much fun!
  It has been the best time these past couple of weeks, celebrating the holidays from a different perspective and everything that has happened has just made me rely on the Lord even more. He is a real, literal Father in Heaven. There are so many little tender mercies that I notice throughout the day that just make me so aware of Him, and probably several more that I don't even realize or pay attention to. For example, yesterday I was having a little more of a rough day, said a prayer to just ask for support, I needed something to know that someone was aware of me, and then I was doing my hair getting ready to go to district meeting and President Lattin calls, just to say that he appreciates the work that I am doing and that I am great, then ends the phone call. It was truely just a tender mercy of the Lord. So many little things every day. God is there. He knows us. He loves us.
Sister Shaughnessy