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

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