Monday, April 28, 2014

Miracles Everywhere

What a wonderful and miracle filled week we have had this week here in K-town. I literally sat through sacrament meeting in tears of pure happiness, it was all just too perfect! I will just start at the begining and work my way through them, and I am sure that there were so many more that we are not even aware of!
Last week we were supposed to have had a shashlik but that didn't happen because of the rain and I have now come to realize that that was such a HUGE blessing and it needed to happen this way!
To start out, Tuesday was a rough day, we had district meeting and I was just not in the mood. I was just not wanting to do anything and kind of frustrated with my life and all this stuff. Whatever, so I had like this 5 minute cry, Sister Shaughnessy hates the world moment and then just picked up, took what I have learned from life and moved on type thing. I have developed this habit on my mission, let myself feel it, learn from it, pick up and move on, so I did that. And afterward, Sister Snyder and I wanted ice cream to take a break and start the day over, so to speak.
On our way to ice cream we were talking in english and we get stopped by this guy who is a translator. We talked to him for a bit, and he had once met with the missionaries and was interested again in doing so. WHAT?! Are you for real?! Yes, we have Elders that can meet with you, it was perfect! That was really just the beginning for a great week!
On Thursday Sister Snyder and I were sitting in personal study that morning and we got a phone call from the other sisters telling us that a inactive family had just called our branch president asking to meet with some of the Sister missionaries if we had time.... Um... yes we have time! We called the family and set up an appointment for that night!
The family has been inactive for 3 years and have two young girls, one is 7 and the other 2. We had such a blast with them! It was the best time EVER! There girls were so cute and we just went over and talked with them and got to know them. We shared a very little spiritual thought at the end. The "Because of Him" video in Ukrainian. It was wonderful and the husband offered a prayer at the end. It truely was so amazing!
The next day we had english practice! It was really quite fun! We really had quite a few people that came and it was great! We played the "what if" game, and I pretty sure that they think we are just crazy, or at least I am, but it was fun, everyone was laughing. The man we had met on the street that was a translator he came as well. And Nastya, the 7 year old in the inactive family we visited came with her dad as well! It was such a great class! AH! Things are coming together here!
Then we had Saturday and Sunday! Saturday was just a blast! We had a shashlik with so many members, but I think that members may have even been outnumbered by the investigators that were there. It was such a miracle to see the inactive family came as well! Nadiya, Alecksi and Nastya all came! I couldn't believe it! Our branch president's kids came as well and they are not members, it was just truely a blessing to have everyone there and it was so fun!
The sun was shining, there were so many kids running around, everyone was laughing, we had volleyball going, Elder Asay had his american football he was teaching people how to throw, there was food and we had a little spiritual thought. It truely was wonderful! Shashlik had to happen this weekend so that Alecksi and his family could be there with the members. It was just too perfect!
Saturday as well we got transfer information, I am will still be here in K-town, however, my two FAVORITE people in the entire world are going to leaving and I am devastated! I will still be with Sister Snyder, which is great, she is so awesome! Elder Asay, my newly adopted little brother, well, BIG little brother, and my long lost best friend forever, Sister Petersen are leaving! I am so sad! Literally, the three of us are like siblings, kind of ridiculous how much we love each other and how well we get along. It will be hard to see them go, but I am so excited for both of them. They both started here, so this is their first time leaving a city and they are having a rough go, I am having a rough go of it for them! I don't want to see them leave! It will be great though, Elder Terry is coming here, which will be fun, I started my mission with him in Uzh, so it will be great to serve with him again. Elder Asay is going into Ivanofransivsk, which will be weird. He is in another zone, probably won't see him again on my mission. Literal tears have been shed over this fact! Sister Petersen is going into L'viv, that will be an adventure for her. Good thing we will be friends forever so I can whip her back into shape after her stunt in L'viv.
Sunday was THE biggest miracle EVER!!!!!!!!!! There were 22 people at Sacrament meeting, including three children! K-Town had children here. At church. On Sunday. Can you believe it! I was so happy I was crying. There were children in this branch, we are growing. All of this hard work we have been putting in, we got a miracle. A HUGE miracle. it was truely was so amazing to have them there. It was perfect, Elder Asay was so happy, he has been here for 7 months and he got to see that miracle. It was such a great day, I was crying out of pure joy! It truely was so great to see how many people that were there, Alecksi came with Masha, his 2 year old (the family that we met with) and the sisters investigator came as well with her two children. It was just too perfect!
When things like this happen it makes me realize again and again how little I really do for this work. This is God's work and I am just blessed enough to be part of it!
I love you all and I hope that you have a great week!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Birthday and Easter Week

Христос Воскрес!
First things first, HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAYDEN!!!! I hope that someone gave you the 12 kisses for your birthday since I couldn't be there. I haven't forgotten! And now.....
I hope that you all had such a wonderful Easter in America, it was quite wonderful here in Ukraine. We have the week of events here in K-town this week. It has been so much fun and I don't even know where to begin...
It was my birthday this week, that you all for the birthday wishes. I had a blast celebrating it with all three of the sister here in K-town. On Tuesday I was on exchanges with Sister Petersen and we decided that we need to be companions one day because we pretty much are the same person. I have NEVER had SO much fun in my life, it really was a party. We had district meeting, went to lunch, made coffee cake for my birthday cake. We cried as we got to listen to my country church music that I haven't been able to listen to because my companions have not enjoyed country music. We literally cried and talked about country music all through dinner.
I think that it is funny that we all have things that are in our lives that are just "home" to us, and I have now decided that I just love my country music and small towns and trucks and camping (yes, I know. I miss it A LOT though). I miss my boots too. Oh, and for my uncles to know, Sister Petersen is from Alaska. I already have talked to her, don't worry, she has a cabin that I can come stay in and go fishing as well if I wanted to. We have a plan, I am so doing it. I just thought I would let you know. I have hook ups in Alaska now! :)
We had a lot of fun and got to visit a few of the less active members here. It was really fun, one of the ladies that we visited was quite the interesting character. We had a lot of fun with that, then leaving her, taking the wrong bus and getting lost in the city for a good hour. It was a great day!
Then Wednesday, my actualy birthday! I got to spend that day with Sister Wallace, my MTC companion. We had a lot of fun. Her idea of contacting is shopping and talking to the people in the stores. She got a lot of clothes and I did pick up a pair of orange flats for myself. I couldn't resist. I am debating whether I want to wear them here or just save them for when I get home. We also went out to lunch and enjoyed talking to a lot of people. Sister Wallace had a great time.
That night was family night, and only in Ukraine is it ok be sitting above a bar, which happens to be your church, drinking tea and throwing dice. Sounds pretty funny, right?! Let me explain now, we played farkle for family night and it was a big hit, we had a lot of fun with it. And Ukrainians just drink tea all the time, especially when it is cold. It is just herbal tea and I must admit, we need to get a tea pot for when I come home because I am an avid tea drinker now. Farkle is a huge hit in this small town amoung the members now.
Thursday I got to spend the day with my companion, Sister Snyder. Our exchange was over, it was a really great exchange, but I was happy to be back with my companion! We went out for lunch and then we decided because my district leader who, (he needs to just admit it), is super protective of his sister, which is great. I know that nothing will happen to me, however, I like pushing his buttons, so I decided that we would go to the selo, or village, to visit a non-active member out there. It drove him crazy that we literally had no idea where we were going or how we were getting there and he was in a different city (on exchanges in another city), so had we really gotten in trouble we would have had no one to save us. Whoops.... I like living on the edge a bit.
The selo was a really fun experience though, we didn't know how to get there. We bought tickets that I couldn't read, so we asked people, thankfully they were on the same bus as us, so we got on and headed out to this village. When we got there we had no map of the village and we had to find this lady's address. We had tried calling, but she wasn't picking up, so we just decided to do a stop by since we were in the village. We asked a million people how to find the street and no one really knew. So, then we said a prayer.
We found a taxi guy and hopped in the taxi with him. Still, I had no idea if he really was a taxi guy, but he was really nice and we got where we needed, so I say that he was a taxi person. I paid him, so it worked.
When we got to the house he had taken us to, knocked and the lady had no idea who we were, knew nothing of the church. We talked with her and she told us at the end of our conversation that it was the wrong street. Dang it! Okay, so we left and ran into this really nice old man that invited us in for tea, I told him no thank you, but I would appreciate direction. He gave us the directions and we headed that way.
Finally, we found the house. She had a gate. A huge dog, and ankle biter dog and so I called my district leader and was like, how brave do I want to be? He told me to walk away. I told him that I would call him back once I had made my decision. So here I am gearing myself up, deciding whether I want to go face this huge dog and knock on her door or just leave..... my companion and I went back and forth deciding, I mean we had come all the way out there and this and that... we got brave and.............................................. the gate was locked. Heavenly Father decided for me.
The member's neighbor happened to be out, we asked her if she knew if the lady was home and all things like that. We talked with her through the phone of her neighbor, and it sad to say, but after that conversation, I got the feeling that she is just not interested right now. It was really sad, but a day full of adventure.
On the way back I got to see chickens, cows and goats on the side of the road. I love the selo!!!
On Friday we had the Zone Leaders here, Elder Jolstead was here!! My district leader from when I was really sick, he is now zone leader, I was so happy to see him. We had such a great meeting with them. They talked a lot about goals for ourselves, companionships, mission and eternal ones as well. It was really amazing to have them talk about that. I feel like my prayers were answered in so many ways.
Right after the meeting with them about goals Sister Snyder and I went and volunteered as native speakers on an english lesson. They were talking about goals as well. It was really interesting to me to just hear the difference in our goals and the goals of those in attendence. We talked about it for a long time afterward of just how different and how grateful we are for what we know about the gospel and who we are and what really matters. I am so grateful everyday for this gospel and the opportunity I have to share it with people.
Ukraine loves Easter, just so you all know! Easter, as all other holidays are celebrated 3 days before the actual holiday and 3 days after as well. On Saturday we were supposed to go and have shashlik, ukrainian shishkabob's, I guess you could call them. However, it rained. We through together a change of plans quickly, and decided to just have a game day at the church and watch "Finding Faith in Christ." It was really fun! We had quite a few people show up, we played pingpong, crazy uno and farkle of course. It was such a blast! All of us were laughing and enjoying our time together.
On Sunday, they have a greeting here in Ukraine where you say "Христос Воскрес" and reply with "Воістину воскрес." You can say this to anyone, and every greets you with it all day everyday. In case you can't read that it says "Christ has risen" and the reply is "Surely he has risen." It is really cool, we said it to everyone! They also have special bread that they eat, Paska bread, which Paska is Easter in Ukrainian.
Like I said they celebrate three days before and three days after, Thursday was cleaning day, where they just clean, Friday was baking day and Saturday was eggs day, when they decorate the eggs.They decorate eggs with wax that is melted onto to the egg. Saturday and Sunday was just a ghost town, everyone is out in the selo. Yeva called me yesterday to say that Christ has risen. I talked with her for a while. I miss her. She did warn me as well for today... apparently today they have a tradition where men throw water on women randomly on the street. I am not kidding. Yeva wanted to make sure that I was warned so that if I get water thrown on me it will all be okay. You have to love that tradition. So far I am safe, we can see if I make it through the full day.
As you can see... this week was full of adventure and was perfectly enchanting and wonderful! I am so grateful everyday that I have to be here in Ukraine and to LOVE these people. They love the Lord and want to serve him, it is so evident, they need this gospel. This is just a wonderful country full of rich tradition, family and love.
I hope that you all had a wonderful easter!
Sister Shaughnessy

Monday, April 14, 2014

April General Conference

It was General Conference weekend here in Ukraine and it was lovely! I enjoyed all of it, this time I watched conference all in English. I was kind of sad, but at the same time really happy that I could get all I wanted out of conference, if not more. Conference was absolutely amazing and it was just what I needed to hear so many times over and over.
This week has been crazy and kind of hard. Sister Snyder and I are running low on investigators and it has been taking its tole trying to find some new people who are ready to hear this message. We keep trying though and are doing our best to meet with members as well. We decided to take an adventure out to a sello (Ukrainian village) and tried to find some lost or less active members. IT WAS SO FUN!! We picked a nice, happy, drizzly, gray day to make our way out there. It was actually not far from the city, so it didn't take us too long to get there.
What you picture Ukraine to be like, that is exactly what these little sello's look like. I love going out there, they are always so beautiful and it has been so rainy here lately that everywhere you look it is all just so green! Sadly we found that the member we wanted to find was indeed lost. Talking to her neighbors we learned that she had moved years ago and she didn't know to where. She told us to head up the hill and see if some other people knew her. So why not?!
We hiked up this hill and got to watch these two baby goats play with these 2 little 4 year olds. It was so cute! The goats kept jumping on the kids and they would run and play... the cutest thing that I have EVER SEEN! I was in tears because I thought it was just the cutest! We talked to their grandmother for a minute and we asked her if she had heard of the lady we were searching for; she hadn't. I still enjoyed talking with her and watching her grandkids. Pretty much they were the cutest things ever all bundled up and trying to waddle/run away from the baby goats jumping on them. Yup, I was in love!
This week we also had this wonderful opportunity to have a young womens activity. I love my calling as young women's president, it really is so fun! We decided, with the urging of a member here, that the girls need to learn how to cook. With General  Conference coming up we thought it would be great if we made borsht and serve it for lunch during conference. Sadly, only one of the young women came, but we still had a great time. One of our members came and helped. We got schooled in Ukrainian cooking. I can now say that I know how to make a mean borscht. 
On Saturday and Sunday was General Conference!!!! The members watched in with Elder Obuikh in Ukrainian in the sacrament room. The rest of us and a member that speaks english watched it in english in president's office. It was so much fun! We had a little camp out going in the office as we listened to the words of the prophets. It was wonderful! I took so many notes and just can't wait to read and study the talks. (It is almost like I have turned into a missionary or something.)
My companion and I were talking the other day about technology, we came to the conclusion that we are so happy to get iPhones so that we can have the settings in Ukrainian and also so that we can download all the LDS aps and listen to church podcasts and talks while we worked out and are driving.... That is what happens when you are a missionary. :)
I hope that all of you have a wonderful week! I know that I will, thank you for all the Birthday Wishes! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kinda a Big Deal

What is up family?! I hope that you had a wonderful week this week, I know that I did and it has just flown by! I still have one more general conference here in Ukraine. That seems like so much time, but I remember last general conference like it was yesterday. I can't believe it! So crazy! Just so you know, the new member of the Seventy, Klebingat? He was my mission president in the Kiev Mission. That is kind of a big deal! When I heard that he had been called I like died, he wants me to cut his hair when I get back... I don't know if I am up for that anymore! That is a little intense.
This week has been really great though, we have had a great time here in K-town. President and Sister Lattin came down for a few days and we got to the "Helping Hands" Project. We went down to a local riverbank and picked up trash for a couple hours. It was such a wonderful experience. We had so much fun! Not many members showed up, but we had so many of the investigators come and help out to help. 
Our really solid and strong members and youth were at the temple, our branch president decided to take them all on a temple trip in his car. It was so wonderful, they were so happy to go! Yesterday all the youth that went got up and bore their testimonies about what they experienced. The temple is just such a special place and it really is the biggest blessing to have a temple in this country for its members. 
I was talking to Olya and she was telling me that she wants to go to BYU now, I was like wow, that would be great! Pray about it, she asked me if I went to BYU, I told her no, but I live really close! So, if she went we could see each other. She said that would be great, then asked if there was as temple that we could go to if she came to attend school or just to visit... I told her that she would have a few to pick from and named all the ones that we could get to withing about an hour. She was in shock. I never really realized what a blessing it is to have the temple SO close to us all the time where we live. It truely is amazing!
I have been thinking a lot about the temple this week, after talking with Olya, our youth being at the temple, one of the girls, it was her first time. She was baptized just a few weeks ago and told us that she cried as she had to leave. Also, I had the opportunity to translate for President Lattin as he had some temple recommend interviews with the members. It was such a wonderful experience as I got to translate and explain the wonderful blessings and strength that comes from the temple. It was so wonderful!
My translating skills were pushed to the limits this week with President and Sister Lattin. All I can say is, that the gift of tongues is real!
Our branch also had its first Young Womens program! That was such a miracle for this branch, the youth is the future of this branch and we are trying to get them on track with the Personal Progress Program and as I have been trying to study it for them, I have really seen how this program is just inspired by the Lord. As is everything else in the gospel.
Things are coming to life here, the work is moving forward and all these miracles just keep happening! I love it all and I love this work. I can't wait to watch conference next weekend and see what inspired counsel we get! We have to wait for translations to come. I hope that all of you have a great week! I know that I will!