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

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