Monday, November 18, 2013

Christmas Came Early!

Already decorated for Christmas!

Don't worry, Mom. I haven't peeked.

First of all, Happy Anniversary Adam and Stevie!!!!!!! I can't believe a year ago I got my mission call, went through the temple and went to  their wedding all in 3 days. that was kind of insane but also awesome, just like every day here in Ukraine: insane and awesome. ALso I got the christmas package!!!! thank you!!!!!! i was so excited to open it because i knew it would smell like home and christmas, but it actually smelled like chicken bouillon and beef jerky, but hey that's still better than what the vast majority of ukraine smells like, so i'm not complaining. i am using all of the stuff that wasn't wrapped, and i haven't even peeked into my stocking yet! i am quite proud of myself. of course i already decorated the christmas tree! who do you think i am? dad/mr scrooge?
The biggest news of the week is I got my new companion!!!!!! Sister Kopta is from Dallas, Texas (shout out to dad) and she is 19. She studied out at BYU Hawaii (shout out to me) for a year before she came on her mission. She is studying physics (shout out to albert einstein) but doesn't exactly know what to do with it yet (shout out to every college freshman). she is super smart and knows german, japanese, and latin! what? yeah she's teaching me a thing or two about russian, it's fine. so we have 2 grammar books that they give us in the mtc, the beginners one is called penguin and the advanced one is called modern russian. our first day i asked sister kopta if she has read penguin at all and she was like "yeah, i started but it was mostly just review for me, so i'm working on modern russian right now..." and i was like "hmmmm well i'm still on penguin so.........yeah" haha awkward. You asked me how I'm feeling with my fluency, hm. well some of the time i can understand most of what's going on, and most of the time i can say some of what i want to say. basically i'm still working on it and i will probably still be working on it when i come home, but I have a firm testimony that every missionary's language is where Heavenly Father needs it to be, as long as they are giving their best effort of course.

This week was crazy, we went around saying goodbye to everyone with Sister Welch and then made the rounds again introducing Sister Kopta to everyone. I have felt like a chicken running around with my head chopped off all week, but this week should calm down a lot. Poor Sister Kopta had the craziest first day ever. First we had two packages for the elders and they have been sick with the flu all week, so we decided to be nice and walk them over to their apartment. Well, they live further away than i remembered and the packages were heavier than we initially thought, so we got on a bus which ended up taking us the wrong way, so basically we walked halfway across mariupol to deliver these packages and literally the minute we get to the elders to drop them off, the other elders call and say, hey do you mind dropping your plans today to go do service at the hospital? last time we did service at the hospital it was literally washing two windows and took 10 minutes, so of course we said yes. Well this time we weren't washing windows. We were removing leaves Ukrainian style, which involves raking huge piles of leaves onto blankets, then tying the blankets so that you have a huge bundle, and carry the massive heavy bundle of leaves to a bigger pile of leaves about 15 minutes away, and then repeat about 20 times. I wish I had a picture because we looked absolutely ridiculous, but don't fear, we're going back tomorrow to do it again! Poor Sister Kopta was freezing during this whole process because she didn't have any winter clothes yet! don't worry we went shopping the next day and got her all the good stuff, including the thick lumpy ukrainian babushka tights that just make you feel real good about yourself.
oh this week before sister welch left everyone wanted to make her favorite food for her, so we ended up having 2 pizzas in 24 hours which in america is fine, no problem, but ukrainian pizza is a little different and not so easy on the stomach, so sister welch and i had a touch of food poisoning when we went to transfer meeting, we were mostly just hot and sweaty and our stomachs had weird jabby pains, but i think everyone thought we were just a couple of sweaty weirdos, so yeah. welcome to my life.
other funny/awkward story of my life. we called our 'investigator' denis, he has had one lesson with us only because we told him he had to have a lesson with us if he wanted to play ping pong with us haha. anyways, i called and asked if he wanted to meet with us friday at 6:00. then i realized institute is on fridays at 6 and i thought, maybe that wasn't a coincidence. maybe he should come to institute and that would be interesting to him. so he shows up, and institute starts and about 5 minutes into it he gets up and walks out. tanya a member told me later, he asked "wait this isn't english conversation group?" nope. "okay, i'm out" haha whoops.
oh our taxi driver to donetsk for transfer meeting is the cooletst guy ever. he is HUGE and has a ponytail and he played britney spears and sang along and danced the whole way there. it was so great. he showed me his tattooo on his forearm that is supposedly french, now i am no linguist but i am 99% sure that that was definitely not french haha.
also we went back to visit our doctor one last time before sister welch left and he read the Book of Mormon! He explained to us how he read it, he said something about reading the first few words and last few words, i didn't really get it, but i'm pretty sure he skimmed the whole thing. anyways, he said he liked it and it's a lot like the Bible but he didn't know what else to say about it. The bad news is he's out of town for a whole week, so hopefully when he gets back we can meet with him again. who would have thought that extreme constipation could bring someone to Christ?
okay it's that time again: What I Learned My 4th Transfer:
-when I left Lugansk I got a glimpse of what it will be like to finish my mission. It was so hard to say goodbye to the people and town that I love so much, but at the same time I knew that the Lord had more in store for me somewhere else. I was able to leave with confidence in knowing that I did all I could do in Lugansk and gave my best effort every single day. I am so grateful to not have any regrets or doubts about my first 3 transfers.
-The Lord hides blessings in trials (see constipation story)
-Always, always keep inviting people to things. Don't give up on them. Make people feel loved and eventually they will come, or come back. Never give up on people even when others have. Of course you have to balance spending your time on those who are willing and ready to progress now, but you can't quit on people because the Savior never would.
-This transfer I studied authority because there were a few talks about moral authority in conference and I never really thought about that before. I learned that authority comes from obedience and worthiness. I also studied leadership and decided what kind of a trainer I want to be this time around. Last time i was basically an infant just struggling to survive. now i feel more like a toddler, and I think I am at least a little more equipped to lead someone at this point of my mission. 
-I also thought about how I want to feel when I go home. I obviously want to feel sad, because that means I loved my mission and don't want it to end, but I also want to be happy with my efforts. In the church we talk about 'know, do, and become.' Before my 18 months are up, I want to make sure that I learn, do and become all that I need to be, and all that the Lord knows I can be. 
-This transfer I taught a district meeting lesson about comfort zones, and realized that our comfort zones only grow when we are outside of them. the more minutes per day that i spend outside that comfort zone, the faster it will grow. and there is always room for it to grow. even the most experienced, confident missionary still has aspects of missionary work that aren't totally comfortable for them. 
-i also thought about the connection between miracles and faith. the Lord doesn't just throw miracles at us all the time, i mean sometimes i feel like i get miracles that i didn't necessarily earn or wait for, but most of the time miracles come after trials. this is because in that waiting period is when we grow. by the time the miracle comes we have already learned our lesson and our faith has grown because of it. if miracles happened all day every day, we wouldn't need faith.

okay i know that i learned more, but i can't think of any more right now. i hope you know how much i love you and miss you!!!! i can't wait to skype you in just over a month!!! start writing your questions down because i am ready to answer them! i hope you have a great week and don't get blown away by a tornado! love you!!!

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