Monday, October 28, 2013

Hocus Pocus

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Goats in the background
First of all, did the sisters move in yet? or did they not come yet because you were out of town? i've been telling everyone that sister missionaries are living in my room and i don't want to be a liar! oh also my snow prediction is December 24th. Not because it's christmas eve, because it's sister welch's lucky number. so if i win you have to write katie and sister welch on the trophy :)
Okay so we all know Abby is the persuasive one in the family, but some of it must have rubbed off on me because guess who got permission to watch the DCOM Halloween Classic Hocus Pocus at their ward Halloween Party? This guy. Yep we had planned a big party with bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving, making carmel apples, etc. but then we were talking with two members who were like, let's just do dinner and a movie, that sounds easier. So of course we were happy with that because we would have been the ones to actually put all of that together. So Sasha one of the members found hocus pocus online in Russian (with english subtitles for the missionaries' benefit) and we called the Lochheads and asked permission and they said yeah, of course, as long as we have investigators there. So we called all of our investigators and begged them to come and luckily one actually showed up so we got to say and watch! and then we had to decide what we wanted to make for dinner and the members were like, lets just have everyone who comes bring treats, that sounds easier. so we did that and it was great! man i love ukrainians.
we had our helping hands service project this week which involved 4 missionaries, the branch president and his parents, and the ward mission leader raking leaves for two hours. it was actually way fun. the branch president's parents are total stereotypcial ukrainian grandparents who are crazy but awesome. so we were raking leaves off the grass, but they wanted to get leaves off of the sidewalk too, so they left for a little while and came back with a homemade broom out of branches they just ripped off a tree haha it was hilarious. sister welch got a picture but i can't find it right now.
Last night we had the FUNNIEST lesson of my life. Okay so we met this short little man while walking on the street and i thought he was a total creeper but sister welch was like, no he's way nice you are just being paranoid. so we set up a lesson with him and luckily we had the branch president come with us. we met outside so we could show him how to get to the church but he said no, he wanted us to come over to his house for tea. by this point we couldn't say no, so we walked to his house which I kid you not is a hobbit house! This man Ivan, is literally my height and i think he built this house for himself. Our branch president is 6'4'' and it was the funniest thing i've ever seen watching him try and walk around in that house. So Ivan made us herbal tea which actually wasn't terrible (i hate tea but everyone gives it to you so i just get over it) and some chocolate with alcohol in it, so yeah we shouldn't have eaten that but we didn't know! every missionary in eastern europe breaks the word of wisdom at least once by accident...whoops. then he showed us some music videos that he made himself. they are just like scenic shots of random cities (i think he stole the clips from online) and he is 'singing' (if you can call it that) in the background. it was hilarious. this whole time sister welch and i and president are just trying so hard not to laugh. then he got out a book of songs that he wrote, there were probably hundreds of them. of course they are in russian so we have no idea what they said, but president translated a couple of them for us and they were so hilarious. i wish i could remember them for you. he asked sister welch and i if we have any spare time and i just said "no." sister welch was like, you can't just say no and i said oh yes i can! anyways, sister welch said we have a little time, what do you need? and he said, i want to make a music video with you so you can always remember me and i can always remember you. hahaha i was like yeah...we're not gonna do that. haha we are definitely passing him to the elders. he's just a really nice, really lonely guy, but also slightly creepy so i don't think we're gonna go back there.

this week sister welch and i went to a ukrainian doctor and were told to go on a strict diet in order to keep our bowels in order (don't worry, i'm not sick, but if sister welch is on a diet then so am i because we are companions). now the ukrainian definition of eating healthy is extremely different than the american version of eating healthy, so our diet is hilarous. they gave this pamphlet which lists everything that we are and are not allowed to eat. Basically we are only supposed to eat pumpkin, beets, dried fruit, cabbage, sour cream, twice boiled chicken and kefir which is basically sour milk. so yeah....basically we are just eating a lot of salads.

but we have to at least give it a chance and see if it works. i had an epiphany the other night when i was trying to fall asleep. our doctor Alexander is from another country than us so we don't really understand him that well, we don't know how qualified he is but he seems to know what he's talking about, he very clearly cares about us and thinks that this is the best thing for us, and we can easily tell that he believes in what he is telling us. the only way that we can know for sure if his advice is good is to try it ourselves. sound familiar??? Alexander our doctor is exactly like us. most people don't understand us well because we are american and we think differently. they don't know why or how we are qualified to teach about religion when we are just 21 year old girls who have no degree or anything. we clearly care about religion because we chose to dedicate a year and a half of our lives to talk about it with complete strangers, and we obviously think that our message can help everyone otherwise we wouldn't be here. the only way that people can know if our message is true is by doing what we ask them to do: to read about the Book of Mormon and pray about it!
also I was just telling Sister Welch 2 weeks ago that if anyone gave me any real motivation to eat healthy and exercise i would do it, but I just don't care enough right now to do it. Then Elder Nelson said in conference that we will account to Jesus Christ for how we treated our bodies, so that's definitely enough motivation for me. So I was thinking about our 'new lifestyle' and I wondered if we would see any effects of it in our missionary work. I had a feeling that somehow it would. The very next day when we went back to the doctor we met a woman who speaks perfect english and is just super golden. We talked to her for probably ten minutes, gave her a Book of Mormon and she said "I want you to teach me and my 22 year old daughter you lessons. Is that what they're called? Lessons?" haha we were like YES that is exactly what they are called. we would be happy to! also this week we were able to work with 2 less actives who haven't had any desire to talk to us before. one couple just showed up to our halloween party out of nowhere, they haven't been to church in years. the wife talked to sister welch for almost the whole party and told her that a close friend had died that day and it made her think a lot and she wants her 2 year old daughter to be raised in the church. we went over to her house and visited with her yesterday and she opened up a lot. she wants to come back to church, but is scared to bring it up to her husband. so the elders are working with her husband and we are working with her and hopefully they will talk to each other and i am pretty confident that they will come back soon.
random things from this week:
-i head the song skyfall in the grocery store last week and it took everything i had to not belt it out and sing as loud as i could
-our less active mark who we have been working with (the one who we fasted for and he got a new job) was asking me about what music is popular in america right now. sister welch said Justin Bieber and mark said "I don't know any justin bieber. i know justin timberlake!" I almost cried i was so happy.
-you know how awhile ago I said I saw Thor on the bus? well Mr. Bean also lives in ukraine. This crazy guy came to our halloween party and i swear he is mr bean. he picked up a piece of candy, wiggled his eyebrows, made a weird sound and skipped out of the room. it was pretty great.
-oh i was reading a random Liahona this week (august 2012) and i saw that the article was written by sister mahaffey! random
-if anyone gets a mission call to eastern europe and wants to know how to prepare i have some advice: pracitce ping-pong. i'm not kidding, it's actually a really important skill to have here. every branch has a ping pong table and every single activity people play. if you play well people like you. i wish adam would have played with me more! i'm not good at all.
Okay that's all for this week! Wish me luck on my dang ukrainian diet....cabbage and beets yay! next week i'm gonna type up a recipie for you so you can try it and see what i'm going through over here. just kidding it's really not that bad. just eat some meat for me this week. also anything with an expiration date. okay love you and miss you! have a great week!

p.s. tell my siblings that skippy won sibling of the week this week because he is the only one with a good excuse for not writing me!

Ready For the Circus, October 21




Finally went to McDonald's! First beef in five months!

Well the good news is if BYU doesn't work out I can always join the circus. So let me explain something to you about Ukraine. When it rains, it floods. Every time. So there are 3 options: 1.walk on the walkways which are completely submerged in water, 2. walk on the grass which is absolutely 100% mud, or 3: develop the skill of walking on a 2 inch wide curb that separates the walkway from the grass/mud. I can now say that i can confidently run across a 2 inch wide surface while holding an umbrella in one hand and a Book of Mormon in the other. If that isn't good training for the tightrope, I don't know what is.
Our taxi driver the other day was this super nice guy with 2 young daughters and he was asking all sorts of awesome questions like "what does it mean in the bible when it says baptism by fire?" and "how can i feel the holy ghost" so we gave him a Book of Mormon and hopefully we can meet with him this week. oh Angelika, the girl who came with us was explaining about the Priesthood and how the elders were able to give Sister W. a priesthood blessing, and he said, "Wow that's cool. I bless you too." See this is the thing about Ukrainians, they are all under the impression that they have the power to bless people by simply saying it. Whenever Ukrainians are saying a significant goodbye (like when I left lugansk) they bless you with health, a good husband, lots of money, etc etc. this is why blasphemy is kind of a problem with the saints in Ukraine, they think they can just bless people by simply saying the words haha.
Okay so I thought i would be smart and introduce myself as sister shrek to everyone in Mariupol because schrecengost is way too hard for Ukrainians. The problem is whenever I introduce myself and say "hi i'm, sister shrek" people always look around and are like "wait, do you know that's a movie? that's like a big green guy, that's not a name" and every single time i have to explain, yes i know it's a movie, but you can call me that, really i promise. luckily you sent me that picture of you and sarah with shrek at universal studies so i have that taped to the inside of my planner and i show it to people and say "look that's my family, we like shrek" haha. it has turned out to be a bigger hassle than just teaching people how to say schrecengost. oh fun fact, the g in ukrainian is pronounced like an h, so people who speak ukrainian (there's not that many here) call me schrecenhost which sounds hilarious. also a couple of members have started calling me sister fiona because shrek is a boy name. whatevs.
Since Sister W. was sick most of the week I got to spend a lot of time re-reading my conference notes and picking my favorite parts. Here's my favorite part from each talk (I'm not sure if they actually said these things, but it is what i learned from them)
Elder Hales:studying conference will protect my family
Elder Soares (I met him! He came to Donetsk in June): only the humble recognize answers to prayer
Sister Stephens: I need to think about my divine nature and destiny more often
Elder Dube: the Lord cares less about what we have done or where we have been than where we are willing to go
Elder Bednar: pray for assurance, peace, faith, and hope of deliverance, rather than deliverance itself
President Uchtdorf: doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith, stay yet a little longer
Presdient Packer: never give up, righteousness is more powerful than wickedness
Elder Christofferson: cultivate the innate moral power within me
Elder Nielson: work with the members!!
Elder Valenzuela: only the humble can invite others to Christ (He and elder Soares were on the same page)
Elder Dyches: it is not our forgiveness, but His.
Elder Holland: trust in Heavenly Father's love, it never changes it is always there. FAVORITE: If the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be STRONG.
Elder Ballard: Today my voice is His voice. If I want to teach more I need to talk to more people every day.
President Eyring: I knew you could and would love him no matter what he did.
Elder Oaks: What is my ultimate priority??
Sister Oscarson: I need to exercise faith in something before I can receive a testimony of it.
Elder Maynes: to endure in righteousness i need dedication, perserverence, and self-discipline
Elder Scott: the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion (thank goodness!), He knows what it takes to become like Him
President Monson: "I will not fail thee or forsake thee" We truly need Him every hour.
Elder Cook: we must improve the moral cultures around us\
Elder Andersen: the Priesthood prepares us for eternity
Elder McConkie: stand as an independent witness of what i teach
Elder Hamilton: very small decisions can take us off the path
Elder Ochoa: don't forget to look up!
Elder Vinson: the Lord will answer a simple girl like me
Elder Nelson: I will account to Jesus Christ for how I treated my body, developed spiritual attributes, and followed God's pattern for marriage and family.
Wow okay that was a lot! The very first one struck me a lot. If studying conference is going to protect our family then there's not even a question, of course i am going to do it. i hope you will do it too! 

To answer your question, as of right now we do not have any investigators that are progressing, but that is going to change this week! we decided to pass the 3 young guys to the elders because the elders can relate to them much better, and also we just wanted to be positive that they were meeting with us for the right reasons. the members here help out so much!!! we are very lucky and have several members with almost perfect english which is such a great help. there is a girl Tanya who is 23 and leaving on her mission next month to Ekateringburg Russia, so she's way helpful too. 

As far as your Chicago ladies girls night, i don't really have any deep or profound thing to say to them, just that I love them all and am so grateful for their influence and example in my life. I think every single one of them has taught me either in primary, young women's or sunday school. but more than just teaching me lessons, they taught me by example the kind of woman and mother i hope to be someday. Although I was usually goofing around with Shannon and probably didn't seem that invested in lessons, I was probably impacted more than they know. And now their influence is being felt in Ukraine. Unfortunately most church members here don't understand how to teach lessons, so one thing we do as missionaries is try to explain how sunday school and relief society lessons should be taught. so basically i am taking everything that these ladies have taught me and passing in on to Ukraine. I am so grateful to have grown up in BG2 with such a solid ward surrounded by many examples of faithful women. thank you all!!
okay that's it for this week! i love you and miss you all!!! have a great week!!!
p.s. mom this week several people have told me that you look russian. and adam too. the first few weeks in a new area all you do is show members your pictures and listen to their conversion stories, it's great.
p.p.s. i don't want to overexaggerate or anything, but last night i was laying on the floor with my feet up on the bed and my head on a chair (it was really weird, i don't know why i did it) but my back cracked in approximately 42 different spots and it was probably the single most satisfying moment of my mortal life. so if you ever need your back cracked and your chiropractor sister isn't anywhere nearby, just try laying on the floor with your feet on a bed and your head on a chair. it works.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fasting Miracle #2, General Conference, Contacting on P-Day

The door to our apartment


Nastia and her mom. She leaves on her mission to Russia soon.

Twinner shoes we bought on P-day

I'm teaching myself how to french braid.

Saying goodbye to Candy

Sea of Azov
From Katie's Mom: Please do not forward photos or text from this blog via email or social media. 

This week i got Emily and Jason's baby announcement, a really nice letter from Sister Holloway (i figured out the secret to getting lots of mail on your mission. have lots of friends on missions and then their moms will write you!) and the missionary mom letter you sent on Sep. 27 (i got it on oct 10th so that's pretty quick). Also a bunch of dear elders from sister eyre as usual, and now my whole mission thinks i have 6 boyfriends writing me because sister welch announced that while they were handing out mail during zone conference, so thank you sister eyre, my street cred just went up 100 points.

this week has warmed back up a lot so don't worry i'm not freezing to death...yet! the people here are so funny about it though. i thought it was just the crazy old ladies who yell at you for not wearing a jacket or tights but it's literally everyone. we were all leaving the church from game night and at least 10 different people of all ages asked my why i didn't have a coat on. i told them because it is warm out and i don't need one (i was wearing a sweater!), but that logic did not work for them. they all told me that i am going to catch a cold and it is my own fault! one time sister welch didn't have tights on but i did, so this old lady was so proud of me and yelling at sister welch but then she noticed that my hair was slightly wet from showering that morning so she started yelling at me too! i swear there is no way to please a babushka. there's always something i'm doing wrong. oh this crazy lady gave sister welch and i each a skirt this week at church and we have to wear it next week or she'll be super offended so i'll make sure to get a picture of that. they're pretty great. also sister welch has a bright teal sweater that simply says "girls" that someone else gave her, so we figure we might as well just wear all the ugly clothes at once and get that out of the way. so next week we're gonna be looking pretty fine.

so this week seemed SO long because we had 2 days in donetsk for zone conference and we still managed to do a ton of stuff here in mariupol. we found 6 new investigators which was awesome!!! Or probably more likely is the Lord sent 6 new investigators to us. Last week right after i emailed we went to go see the sea and we met a cute old couple named Anatoli and Ludmila. they yelled at us to come over and tell us about the books we were holding (this happens more than you would think. in ukraine more often than not people contact you.) anyways we then proceeded to spend the rest of our p-day talking to these crazy old people which was not necessarily what i had hoped to do on my p-day, but it was really good.  We had a lesson with them on Wedensday and they came to General Conference on Sunday! During our lesson they asked about how we pray, and I told them that we pray with our own words. Then we had the member who was helping us do an example prayer for them. As soon as the prayer was over we asked ludmila what she was thinking/feeling and she said "we need to come to your church on sunday" we were like...okay! that's a great idea!

This week I had my second miracle from fasting on my mission. We are wokring with a less active man named Mark. He is 30ish and was baptized with a buddy when he was a teenager but hasn't been active since. We had a lesson with him last week and he told us that he had an important job interview coming up this week. He told us that he mainly wanted this job so that he could provide for his future family. We told him that because it was a righteous desire, the Lord would help him get that job if it was Heavenly Father's will. We offered to fast for him on the day of his interview and he was very grateful because he cannot fast himself for health reasons. We fasted for him and he called us that day and told us that he got the job! He was so grateful and recognized that fasting really works. He came to General Conference on Saturday and Sunday, and we saw him take a tithing slip to pay tithing this week. He also told us that he read the Liahona article we assigned him and he asked for a recommendation for another good article! Every once in a while i have to step back for a second and realize, wow this actually missionary work. I am actually making a difference in someone's life. It is both daunting and humbling at the same time.

The most exciting part of this week was getting to watch general conference! Yes we got to watch it in english, thank goodness! so we had the 6 of us missionaries in one room watching in english, and everyone else in the chapel watching it in russian. by everyone else i mean the branch president and his parents on saturday, there was a much better turnout on sunday. Some favorites were President Monson, Elder Scott, President Uchtdorf, Elder Christofferson of course, and Elder Holland. I can't wait to get the Liahona so I can read them all again.  We are currently teaching three 17 year old boys, they are total punks but deep down good kids. anyways 2 of them came to conference and we asked them what they liked and they were embarrassed and said that they slept through most of it haha. i couldn't blame them because i used to fall asleep in conference too! we were debating if we should tell them that it's normal for conference to be boring to 17 year old boys or if we should tell that them that this is literally a prophet of God speaking to you! You need to take this seriously! in the end we were just happy that they came.

Okay that's it for this week. I love you and miss you all! i hope you have a great week and i can't wait to skype you in 73 short days!!!!!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mariupol

Reminder: Please do not copy and paste information or photos on this blog to any public internet site. We need to comply with this request from the Europe East area presidency in order to comply with government regulations. We don't want to do anything that would risk the status of the church or its missionaries in eastern Europe. Thank you, Claire

I'm in Mariupol!!!!!!!! Mariupol is great for a numbers of reasons, but mostly because it is ON THE SEA!!!! We are going to see the sea today and I cannot wait. It is literally a 10 minute walk from the church building. I'm so excited! It's no pacific ocean, but it will have to do. So now I have officially been to every city in the mission except for Sumy which is way way up in the north far away from everybody. Maybe I'll go there next. Anyways everybody says that the best two areas in the mission are Lugansk and Mariupol, so my whole mission is just gonna be downhill from here hahaha. No i'm hoping to stay in Mariupol for 3 transfers and then go back to Lugansk for 4 more haha. That's right I only have 7 more transfers! crazy town!!! Mariupol is known for it's awesome members which I am so excited for. Also Mariupol is known throughout Ukraine for having a 'special sense of humor' AKA everyone is literally insane. which is great. insane people love to talk to missionaries!

Anyways this week was crazy saying goodbye to everyone in Lugansk and then trying to meet everyone here in Mariupol. By far the funniest thing was when I went to say goodbye to Candy. She had organized this goodbye party for me with all of her African friends and they all wanted to sing songs for me. It was so hilarious. I have a bunch of videos but the files are too big to send. Candy cannot sing or dance to save her life, but she loves to anyways so she sang me this song "seasons in the sun." Look it up, it is hilarous. i'm pretty sure it's a guy who is about to die singing to the love of his life or something like that. anyways it was pretty special. then her friends made up a rap about me which is just the coolest. I haven't seen any Africans here in Mariupol and I already miss Candy and her friends like crazy. I will try and send a picture but I don't know how to do it on these computers here in Mariupol.

Oh so you know how I said on September 1st it magically became Fall? Well on October 1st it became winter. On transfer day it snowed!!! Like even by Schrecengost standards (an inch on the grass) it legit snowed! Everyone was freaking out haha. We got texts from 3 different leaders in the mission saying we need to drop whatever plans we have and go shopping to get winter stuff haha. So we go permission to go shopping this week and I got a hat and mittens and fuzzy Ukrainian boots. I still need to find a big fur shopka (hat) but other than that I'm set for the winter, which is good because it is predicted to be the coldest winter in Mariupol in 50 YEARS! That's right, that means this is the coldest winter that missionaries have ever seen in Mariupol, and it is the coldest winter since Ukraine has been Ukraine. Nbd. That's why out of our district of 6 missionaries 3 of us are from the Midwest. That's right me, Elder Wilson from Wisconsin, and wait for it......Elder Tyler Saunders!!!!!! Would you believe it? Oh I guess I should tell you about my new companion. Her name is Sister Welch, she's from Las Vegas (shout out to the Cardalls) she is 21 and she is awesome. She loves food and sleep as much as I do which is a big deal. She is one transfer younger than me and is absolutely fearless. She talks to and is friendly to everyone which is such a good example to me! I still don't love talking to strangers, but I'm working on it.

Side note: it was my half birthday this past week and nobody remembered. I'm trying really hard not to be upset about it. 21.5 is a huge deal in Ukraine. I can't believe no one remembered.

Also something I can't believe I haven't told you about yet. My stomach is insane here. That sounds weird, let me explain. You know how Sarah and I would play that game where we would listen to each other's stomachs and mimic the weird noises that they make? Well that game is definitely unneccessary here. My stomach is SO LOUD all the time!!!! I think it's the worms talking to each other. Yeah all of the missionaries have worms here, it's fine. You just take this pill called 'the bomb' when you get home and they all get flushed out. Nbd. Anyways, until then my stomach is constantly gurlging and growling and occasionally squeaking and it's pretty funny except in sacrament meeting when it's just plain irreverent. My worms need a lesson on reverence or something. Anyways if Sarah were here I know she would die laughing hearing my stomach. maybe you'll be able to hear it on skype in, oh i don't know, 80 days!!!!!!!!!!!

Alright here comes your favorite part: What I Learned in My Third Transfer:

-The Lord gives miracles to those who need them the most
-Happiness is a choice. Just make it.
-Happiness comes from becoming like Christ, Joy is being in the presence of God.
-In a district meeting Elder Butterworth asked us if we could be praying for something grander. He encouraged us to raise our expectations and expect success. I realized that I had been praying to just "get by" rather than to succeed and see miracles. As a missionary asking for blessings isn't selfish because our work is selfless by nature.
-Being exactly obedient doesn't mean being perfect because that's impossible, it means quick course correction AKA repentance.
-Satan wants me to feel bad about myself and question my abilities as a missionary. Heavenly Father has full confidence in me. I need to trust Him AKA have faith in Him and myself.
-I studied confidence and realize that there are two kinds of confidence talked about in the scriptures. There is confidence in the Lord and confidence in front of the Lord. Faith and Hope help us have cofidence in the Lord and Virtue and Charity help us have confidence in front of the Lord.
-Pride is always the cause of apostasy. To avoid personal apostasy we need to stay humble, always repent, and stick with the church!
-How to conquer pride: love God more than man.
-The Lord qualifies those whom He calls.
-The Lord blesses me because it is not for me, it is so that I can bless others.
-Blessings/miracles come when you least expect them, if you are not looking you won't even notice them.
-I realized that the Spirit isn't constantly speaking to me because if I am on the right path doing what I am supposed to be doing, I don't need a prompting. The Spirit warns me when I am about to make a mistake or helps me when I'm really stuck, but most of the time Heavenly Father trusts me enough to make the right choices.
-Relying on the Lord doesn't mean sitting back and letting Him do all the work. It means doing absolutely everything that I can, and then having a firm belief that He will take care of the rest.
-I realized that one main reason our family is so close is because we kept the Sabbath Day holy. Think about it, every sunday we spent time together eating and playing games and I am so grateful for that. I went through Preach My Gospel chapter 3 lesson 4 and tried to write down every blessing in my life that i can remember that has resulted from me keeping those commandments. you should try it for family night or something. for almost every single one i wrote that our family is closer and i am temple worthy which are the two greatest blessings to me.

Alright, that's all I had written down but I know that there's so much more I learned in this past transfer! It was really hard at the time, but looking back I am so grateful because it taught me so much. I am excited to find out what the Lord has in store for me here in Mariupol. Okay that's all I've got for this week! No we haven't been able to watch conference yet, we will watch it this weekend in Russian but I'm not sure when we get to watch it in English because we're going to Donetsk this week for Zone Conference. I'm super excited though! love you! have a great week!!!