Monday, January 27, 2014

Power Surge, Investigator Drop-off, Hymn Singing

okay this might be a rough one considering my space bar is broken, but here we go!

i mean it's no polar vortex or anything, but it has been pretty dang cold this week. it's not so much the temperature that gets you but the wind. good thing i have lived through 11 chicago winters already. 

so we figured out what happened with our apartment finally. turns out we weren't cursed by a witch, but there was some sort of power surge and everything that was plugged in when it happened broke instantaneously, namely the washer, microwave, cell phone charger, and DVD player charger. so this week we had our fair share of repairmen coming in and out of our apartment with varying degrees of competency and success. finally yesterday we got the washer fixed and my clothes no longer smell like vomit, so that's a plus.

in addition to our apartment self destructing, our investigator Vadim dropped us this week which was so upsetting. he was on date and had already quit drinking and smoking!! i am mostly upset at myself because i think if we had taught him better, he would have understood how important this gospel is. when we first met him, he wanted to find a job and he wanted to quit smoking. we prayed for him and he got those things, and now he no longer wants to meet with us. so frustrating. he promised to keep reading the Book of Mormon, but he says that he just has no time to meet with us anymore. ugh. 

okay now on to the positive. we met with Anna and first we watched the talk from conference from Elder Christofferson about the moral force of women which of course just makes us all feel good and important and stuff. then i gave her the letter you wrote and she LOVED it!!! she was so surprised that i would think to ask you about it and that you would take the time to write something for her. she said "wow, it's just so....touching!" (she had to think of the word in english). she called me yesterday after she had read it and said that she loves how it was written and she is going to read it often to try and remember all the 'rules' haha. she told me that she already loves you even though she has never met you, and that based off of the things i have shared about you she thinks you are strong, fun, and kind. i agree.

we also baked cookies and went to just go drop them off at some less actives, but ukrainians don't really get the concept of 'dropping things off' so they invited us in and made us a meal and asked us to share a lesson, so i mean that was good. i'm getting pretty good at making up lessons by this point. well babushki are pretty chatty, so all you really have to do is share 1 verse and ask one question and then they're off for the next 45 minutes unless you take control of the situation. 

one of the less active families we went to was this older couple, they are probably 60 but it's pretty hard to guess here. anyways i asked them what their favorite hymns are and we sang with them and it was so great. singing hymns always brings the spirit so powerfully. i asked if we could sing one of my favorites, how great thou art and it was just incredible. sister kopta didn't know the words in russian so she was just listening and she said it was one of the coolest moments of her mission so far. the Spirit definitely works because there were 3 people singing in 3 very different keys, but somehow it was beautiful. sitting there in that tiny ukrainian kitchen with some very weird food digesting poorly in my stomach, i was reminded of singing that same song in a different language several years ago at girls camp. i remember Bishop Eyre teaching us that we can all have our own Sacred Groves, and girls camp was absolutely my sacred grove. i will always remember sitting around that campfire singing sacred songs and sharing sacred testimonies. i am SO grateful that the Spirit can be felt just as powerfully no matter where in the world I am and no matter what language i am trying to speak. on a mission sometimes you get used to feeling the spirit so often that you start to take spiritual experiences for granted. i am grateful that sister kopta pointed out to me how cool that moment was, because i probably would have thought nothing of it. i think we would all do well to try and notice and write down our experiences with the spirit, because i am confident that they are meant to teach us something, but if we don't even recognize them we probably aren't going to learn from them. 

okay funny moment of the week came during english conversation group. one guy sasha (yep it's a guy name here, whatevs) who actually has WAY good english asked sister kopta where her incestors are from hahahaha. we had to teach him that that means something way different. also there's this crazy guy Michael who comes every week and his main life goal is to learn how to say merry christmas in every language, anyways he asks the WEIRDEST questions every week and it's great. this week he asked us how to spell albequerque (is that right? i don't even know) and what the tallest moutain in america is. embarrassingly enough, out of us 4 missionaries, none of us could even name a single moutain in america, let alone the tallest! my excuse is that we are all from the center of america (illinois, texas, and wisconsin) and the mountains are all on the edges of america. the ukrainians all think we have terrible school systems now, oh well. in my defense i have literally never taken a geography class, so maybe that's my own fault.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Electrocution, Laundry Mishaps and Praying for Sarah's Pen

okay so we're not supposed to write anything negative about our apartments, which is the main reason why you haven't heard much about my current apartment. but this is a story that i have to share, so i'm going to start off with this: I AM NOT COMPLAINING, THIS IS JUST A FUNNY STORY. okay so our shower eletrocutes us. i mean it's not a big deal, it just kind of gives your fingers a little ZING when you change the temperature. anyways, i just mentioned it to the senior couple when they came to do cleaning checks because i thought it was funny not because i thought it was a problem. but they called our landlord and he had these electricians come over to check it out and i SWEAR they were the ukrainian dumb and dumber. it was the funniest thing of my life. they just kept turning on random things like the shower, then the sink, then the washing machine, and they were poking everything and saying, NOPE it doesn't shock me. nope, everything's fine! then they were positive that it was our boiler that was the problem, until they searched the apartment up and down and realized that we don't HAVE a boiler. so then they concluded that it was our neighbor's boiler and there's nothing we can do about it. but they told us to call them exactly when it happens so that they can come back and check it out again. interestingly enough, it hasn't happened since they came. but while they were there they messed with the washing machine and re-washed sister kopta's clothes on some crazy settings and shrunk her favorite sweater! it will literally fit the 4 year old in our branch, so we're giving it to him on sunday haha. don't worry we already bought her a new sweater. 

then, this week, on friday our lights were flickering for a solid two hours. i'm talking super bright for two seconds, and then super dim for 2 seconds. it was during language study and i almost died. so we left the apartment and when we came back the lights were back to normal but the washing machine and microwave were both COMPLETELY dead! and guess what is stuck inside the washing machine? literally all of my garments except the ones that i'm wearing. yep. the bad news is yesterday was a holiday, which means no one is working 3 days before or 3 days after, so my clothes are still trapped and probably moldy by now! as if that wasn't enough, our phone broke and won't charge so we have to go buy a new one today, AND the power is out in our entire neighborhood today! i think mariupol was hit by a curse or something. actually a crazy creepy lady did call me last week and i think she was a witch because she was saying words that i'm pretty sure aren't any language, and it sounded like she was pretty angry so maybe we are cursed. who knows?

oh last week in church was the funniest thing ever. it was during the sacrament hymn so i wasn't allowed to laugh otherwise i would have totally lost it. so there's two youth in our branch, two 15 year old boys and they are best friends and well, you know 15 year old boys. so they were sitting on the front row because they pass the sacrament and i guess they were goofing off or something during the hymn, and one of the boy's mom is the chorister, and she saw them and during the middle of the song she walks down off the stage over to the son, closes her hymn book and SMACKS him over the head! it was so hard the whole congregation heard it and we were all trying not to laugh. it was great and terrible all at the same time. 

yesterday i saw a bassett hound and almost cried. it was way fat and not nearly as cute as skippy, but still.

i realized this week that i'm going to be so weird when i come home. i mean most missionaries are weird when they come home, but i think i am going to be worse than normal for a few reasons. first, i was extremely prone to awkward situations before i left and i can't say that has gotten any better. second, most missionaries are socially awkward around people their age of the opposite gender when they get home because they don't contact or teach that demographic. well in this mission we do not contact men of any age (for good reason. imagine yourself being a ukrainian man and seeing two beautiful american girls walk up to you and ask if you want to meet sometime to talk. yeah. it's taken the wrong way 99% of the time) so i have pretty ingrained into my soul now that i completely ignore men and walk away quickly if they try to talk to me. so i'm sorry dad when i first see you i might try to run away haha. also we are only supposed to speak in russian, so whenever i say anything in english i feel super guilty so that could be a problem considering that is my MAJOR. also i am now afraid of sideways hallways, so that's a weird issue. we might have to talk to a counselor or something about that one. haha almost everyone lives in apartment buildings here and they just have vertical hallways, you know staircases with 3 or 4 apartments on each landing. well there is this one creepy building here in mariupol that has sideways hallways and i didn't realize till after we left that the hallways were the thing that was creeping me out. sister kopta didn't even notice it because she hasn't been here that long. so yeah, it's probably a good thing that i have a few months at home to readjust to society before i go back to BYU. 

Okay so i guess i should talk about missionary work and stuff. so Vadim is still doing good. He officially quit smoking this week. He told us that he did last week, but he meant that he was 'in the process of quitting.' anyways, we still have a long way to go with him because when i asked him why he wanted to quit he said because it is expensive. i said "and....." and he said, oh yeah, and because it's good for my health. and i was like "and, because God wants you to right" and he was like yeah.....right.....  also when sister kopta asked how the Atonement could help him quit smoking he was like 'I don't need help, i already quit." and i asked him to define the atonement and he said when someone does something for their relatives............yeah. we're trying, we really are! he is just slightly crazy. also he calls me Sister Kat and i can't get him to stop. so adam will probably be happy about that one. anyways, he is keeping all of his commitments and doing the right things, he just doesn't actually understand why yet. i guess that's better than the other way around? 

oh if you want to do a cool scripture study look up Walking with God in the topical guide. I wrote down Moses 6: 34 and 39 in my planner but i don't know why. so look them up, they're probs good.

Also this week I decided that I want to be like Paul (the apostle, not my cousin. sorry paul you're cool too). Read 2 Cor. 10:10. if i remember my seminary days correctly, paul was just a little guy like me. but he was an incredible missionary and he made a much bigger impact on people through his letters than his actual proselyting (i mean people are still reading them today). i am not comparing my letters to the BIBLE don't get me wrong, but i was thinking that way more people read my letters each week than talk to me here in Ukraine. I was thinking and realistically there are about 4 people in Lugansk who will remember me and the impact that I had on their lives, and maybe a few more than that in mariupol. I have no doubt that my mission is making a difference in ukraine, and that it is absolutely worth the effort, but i also feel like i kind of have a 'second mission' in my letters home. that being said, what advice or suggestions do you have for my letters? i try to keep them pretty funny with just a little bit of spiritual stuff at the end so that people will keep reading them. do you think they are good how they are, or is there something i could do better? any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!

okay sorry that's all i've got time for this week. how is sarah's pinky?!?! i was trying to pray for her this week but i realized the other day that i've been praying for her pen instead of her finger. whoops. russian is hard. well her pen is probably extra blessed this week, so i guess that's good. 

i love you and miss you!!! have a great week!

p.s. joelle is serving 1 mile away from the portillo's in arizona. oh how unfair this life is.

Monday, January 13, 2014

All Bones Intact, Best Compliment Ever, Testimony

Reminder Notice from Katie's Mom:
Please do not forward anything from this blog via email or to a public site, like Facebook. If you want to share any of Katie's stories or thoughts, please do it in person or via snail mail. This policy is coming down from the area authority in Eastern Europe. Not complying with this request may damage relations between the Church and and government in Ukraine.

January 13, 2014

hahaha i can't believe they called it a polar vortex. that is the funniest thing i've ever heard! did they have a reason for it besides this is the end of the world? all of the babushki here love to talk about the end of the world. it's great. 

as far as picking me up goes I need to ask someone. I know that if I was going home by myself I would fly out on Tuesday, October 14th. I'm not sure how it works with parents, but I think you would come in on Monday, because there's a farewell dinner that monday night with the Lochheads for all the missionaries going home. I'll ask someone this week and let you know for sure next week. But yes, you should definitely fly into Donetsk and OF COURSE i want you to come! 

This week I was asked my favorite question that I've ever gotten on my whole mission. A lady I was talking to on the bus said, "how many years have you been studying russian?" MADE MY DAY. i told her 9 months and she was shocked. I told her that God is helping me and I don't know if she appreciated that, but it's true! 

I have a conspiracy theory going that the members here are having a secret competition of who can feed us the NASTIEST food! this week we had this 'special christmas dessert' that may or may not have been dog food mixed with sugar. i almost died, but i finished my plate as always! i have yet to encounter a plate that i cannot finish, although there have been several close calls. 

there is some good news on the food front, and that is that one of the senior couples came down to do apartment checks and they took us out to a nice restaurant and I had real pizza!!! i mean it wasn't american pizza, but it definitely wasn't ukrainian pizza, so it was fantastic. it did have grapes on it, but i took those off and ate them separately as a fruit salad haha. also you will be happy to note that we passed our cleaning check with flying colors.

this week we had an adventure on the bus, which is always a fun time. we were riding a bus just as a way to contact people and about 20 minutes into it these two crazy people with HUGE bags full of metal stuff (i don't know i think it was pots and pans or something) got on and tried to shove their bags behind the door. well at the next stop when the door opened it got jammed and totally BROKE! well, we don't have a polar vortex or anything, but it IS winter in ukraine, so the bus was pretty freezing the rest of the way. also the door was stuck open and the bus was packed, so the lady who takes your money stood in the open doorway so that no one would fall out when the driver went around corners crazy fast haha. it was great.

i FINALLY got my boot zipper fixed this week! it's been like a month and i am so glad to have it back. luckily our friend angelica is armenian and the shoe fixer guy (what is that called in english? i know there's a word) was armenian and just happened to know her uncle so he gave us a way good deal. in all reality it was probably a difference of 5 dollars, but angelica was way proud of herself for getting us a deal. 

On saturday we had a branch activity of playing soccer in this awesome old soviet gym in the middle of nowhere. i think there were a grand total of 8 people there, and only 2 of them had any previous soccer experience. it was pretty hilarious. i kept repeating to myself "i will NOT break a bone today. don't break a bone. don't break a bone." because in this mission they just send people home rather than bother with ukrainian doctors. but no worries, i didn't even twist an ankle or anything. maybe in the shrek family there had to be one broken bone this week and because i selfishly prayed not to have a broken bone that is why sarah broke her pinky. whoops. sorry sarah i stole all the good bone karma this week! 

this week we met an awesome lady on the street named luda. she told us that she knows she has sins and she wants to learn how to get rid of them, and also that all she wants is to find a way to bless her family. UM HELLO! unfortunately she hasn't answered her phone since we met, BUT we'll keep calling. 

our two miracles of the week: first there is a member named Dasha, she is 23 and super sweet but she has a speech impediment and i think some sort of learning disability because she definietly doesn't comprehend everything that we teach her. anyways she was dating a guy who goes to a different church and she was distraught about what to do, whether to go to his church or hers. we had a lesson with her and told her that joseph smith also wanted to know what church is true and the way he got his answer was by reading the scriptures and praying. she commited to read the Book of Mormon and pray every day for  a week. when we met with her again she told us that her boyfriend broke up with her and now she knows the church is true! definitely not the way i thought she would get the answer, but i guess that was the way that she could understand it best. now she wants to share the gospel with her parents too! 

miracle number 2: our investigator on date Vadim. we taught him the plan of salvation and the word of wisdom. we were nervous because in our first lesson he left like 3 times to go smoke. but the good news is now he doesn't have a job so he can't afford cigarettes or alcohol. so we taught him the word of wisdom and he said, yeah I already started to quit drinking and smoking. i asked him if he would start right then to live the word of wisdom and he said yes! that was on thursday and he still hasn't had a drink or smoked since. (at church yesterday he smelled like smoke, but we're hoping that his clothes just smell like that permanently. some ukrainians don't know that you are allowed to wash clothing). also funny story, he asked if in our church we get baptized naked hahaha. luckily we had a member with us who could explain the bapstimal jumpers because that would have been fun to try and describe in russian haha. 

Okay I have a few extra minutes of internet time today so I want to share my testimony because I don't do that enough. 

First of all, I know that God lives. He lives and He loves. So many people don't understand or accept that fact. I know that God is my Heavenly Father and everything that He does is to help me return to Him. I am grateful for a loving Earthly Father who has helped me understand by example how my Heavenly Father feels about me. I know that He would never leave me or forsake me, and that His love for me never changes. I can feel His love everyday as I search for it. 

Second, I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. It is this knowledge that keeps me going every day. I know that through the Atonement, I can overcome all challenges and obstacles that come my way, and also that I never have to be alone. I know that Christ chose to suffer for me, so that He would know how to comfort me. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ I can literally change my nature and become more like Him. I know that become more like Jesus Christ is the way to find true happiness. I know that the Plan of Salvation is only possible because of Jesus Christ's infinite and eternal sacrifice.

Third, I know that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. In this book I have found many answers to prayer. I feel comfort and peace when I read this book. I know that it is true, because studying it and living by its teaching has made me a better, happier person. I know that it is true because it testifies of my Savior, whom I know and love. I know that it is true, because I have prayed and asked God specifically if it is true, and I have received specific answers that yes, it is true.

Fourth, I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that through him, the true church has been restored on the earth again. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church on the earth, and that it is the same church that Jesus Christ established when He lived on the earth. I know that the Priesthood has been restored and that it is only through sacred ordinances performed under proper authority that we can be saved, and live as families eternally.

Fifth, I know that Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet. He speaks to us on behalf of our Heavenly Father and provides us with guidance and direction. I know that following his counsel will bless our lives and allow us to find peace and happiness in this life, no matter what trials or opposition we might face.

I know that these things are true with all my heart. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

new rule, EFY music is allowed!!!!! send me every efy cd ever in my next package please!!!!!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Last Minute Miracles

So like, miracles are things that happen.

So I am developing this theory about miracles, and I'm still working on it, but it's something along the lines of miracles happen at the very last second, right when you are about to give up and throw in the towel and probably cry, it is at that specific moment when you choose to keep going even though you don't want to, THAT is when miracles happen. I still haven't gotten the words quite right, but you know what I mean. President Lochhead always says that God is a Fourth Watch God, meaning that when times are the toughest when it's the last 5 minutes before you go in that night, that's when He is paying the most attention and looking for opportunities to bless you the most if you do what you know is right. He also always says that the last 20% of effort brings 80% of blessings.
So this week was hard. Really hard. And I almost wanted to give up, but I didn't. I thought to myself, did Harry Potter give up? Did Frodo give up? Did Abinadi give up? Did Job give up? (yes, i am putting those people in the same category, get over it). And I thought to myself, I have been praying to become the person that I need to become. Obviously I need to become someone strong because the refiner's fire is extra hot right now. I thought about my future and I thought about my family and I kept going. And guess what happened? Right at the very last moment, we got our miracle. We were teaching our investigator Vadim, who I thought probably just wanted money from the church. Well this was our second lesson and it was a completely different experience. He wasn't distracted, he didn't have to leave to go smoke every 15 minutes, and the Spirit was there. After we watched the Restoration video he asked when he could be baptized!!!! That doesn't happen here. At least I didn't think that it did. He asked when baptisms usually happen, and we said on Saturdays and he asked if there was going to be one in January or February that he could be a part of!!!! We told him to pick any day and we would be there! He picked February 8th. Of course we still have a lot to teach him and he has a long way to go to be ready, but I am so excited. I think I forgot what it feels like to be this excited. It is incredible. So yes, miracles happen and right when you need them most.
Other than that we were in Donetsk most of the week for New Years! The Nutcracker was awesome!!!! It was pretty much exactly like the american one, except for sequins and straight faces. we had to be inside at 6 pm on new years eve and new years day and since we couldn't do anything we were given permisison to party!!! it was awesome, there were 6 of us sisters staying together (4 of us from the same MTC group) and we did tons of dumb girl stuff like play MASH and make cookie dough and eat it and have a massage train and it was like a mini vacation. it was literally heaven. i love missionary work and i am happy to be here, but it felt so good to just hang out and relax for a couple of days. also the best news is that they re-instated visa trips so sometime this year, probably in june I get to go with my whole MTC group (10 crazy sisters, we call ourselves the big 10 and i am self nominated president) to Armenia to hang out for a few days! we are not allowed to proselyte, so we just sit in a room for several days! you have no idea how excited i am. i just hope they don't have the good sense to split us up because things will probs get crazy.

Also yes I got my package just in time to wear my Christmas jammies for new years! Thank you!!!! So it got here in about 2 weeks I think! That's pretty good. I would really appreciate the under armour, i wear my thermals every day and I bet they will start to wear out soon.
okay that's it from me, but I have a question for you. all the time i bear testimony to people that my mission is blessing my family. but sometimes they ask how, specifically. so i was wondering if you maybe for family night or something could think of the blessings you have receieved in the last nine months that could be a result of my mission. i know that my life has been blessed in a million ways, but i am curious to hear about yours! 

okay thanks i love you and miss you tons! don't freeze to death this week! find opportunites to serve people and i promise you will be happier, i feel it every day! love you!!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

wow a lot actually happened since I talked to you on wednesday, so that's good. first off, sorry about the abrupt goodbye on skype. there's only a few computers with webcams in this internet club, and so the elders were waiting to use my computer to talk to their families and i felt bad. also i didn't say thank you enough for the presents!!!! my favorites are definitely the clothes (i haven't worn any of my old clothes since christmas....whoops) and the water filters! my water doesn't taste like garbage anymore and i am in heaven. thank you! oh and the CTR ring. thanks!!!
okay so this week we decided to go crazy and make cookies and deliver them to every member in our area. that includes 26 less actives and 9 active members. of course not everyone was home and not everyone would open the door, but we tried and actually were pretty successful. anyways, i remembered that the main problem with visiting so many members in one week is that my poor little stomach can't handle it. i think i jinxed myself when i told you on skype that i haven't had to eat anything nasty since my first transfer. well this week i had some  NASTY meat pies that were so greasy i literally gagged a couple times. also i'm not sure if the 'meat' could legally be defined as meat. i'm not an experience chef or anything, but i'm pretty sure that meat has never been that color. the good news is in Ukraine when someone feeds you the bring you the food and then they go into another room while you eat. i'm not sure why. maybe they think we americans have terrible manners and they don't like to watch us eat or something? anyways, it's a life saver because if something is completely not edible you can sneak it into your bag while the member is out of the room. i, however, have a personal policy to eat whatever is put in front of me, because i'm only a missionary once and i can't tell the stories if i don't actually eat it. so i managed to eat the 2 meat pies and drink the nasty juice. so in ukraine people make their own juice and it's called compote and it's usually pretty good. you just boil water, fruit, and sugar for a few minutes and it's pretty fool proof. well the compote to go along with our meat pies was missing the sugar i'm pretty sure, so it was pretty terrible. anyways, that was one day. then on another day we visited this lady affectionately called crazy ludmila. i am sorry, but there's like 10 ludmila's in our branch, and this one is legitimately crazy. she is the one who gives us the awesome ugly clothes every sunday. so we went over to her house and she gave us this drink. do you happen to know what chicory is? apparently it's a thing because it was written on there in english. anyways, what ever it is I hope it's not against the word of wisdom because i definitely drank it and it was NAST. but never fear, to go along with it she gave us each a slice of stale bread with like half a stick of butter on it. so that was great. we managed to eat it and survived, but if anyone ever offers you a chicory drink please say no.
this week we got a new investigator, and surprise surprise, he's totally crazy. i'm starting to worry about myself because i think i attract crazies more than most missionaries. anyways, his name is Vadim and he's about 50 years old and i think he has the attention span of a 2 year old. in the middle of our lesson he left to go smoke twice, good sign (it was only a 30 minute lesson) and he stood up and started playing the piano (very poorly) and got up to look at the pictures on the wall. needless to say we didn't even get through the lesson, but he invited himself to church and actually came for the whole 3 hours! that's more than we can say for any of our other investigators.... He also stayed for our christmas program which was hilarous. I didn't know exactly what it was going to be, and apparently neither did the people who were in charge because they were literally planning it 5 minutes before it started. i thought it would be like an hour long or something, but it was literally 10 minutes and the highlight was the missionaries singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (in english). it was so awkward hahaha they wanted us to do the hand signals, but what they don't understand is that there aren't hand signals for rudolph. so we just snapped and swayed and somehow for some reason they loved it. also we sang with the 3 musically talented members Carol of the Bells. So carol of the bells is a decently difficult song in english, mostly just because it's pretty fast. well we sang it in UKRAINIAN. the letters aren't even all the same as russian. it was crazy. we only practiced once for like 5 minutes and it was pretty funny. remember how in my violin recitals i always played way faster because i was nervous? i guess ukrainians do the same thing because that was the fastest carol of the bells i've ever heard. it was insane! we mostly just mumbled a lot and hoped for the best. once again, somehow they loved it. after the 'program' we had food, which i'm assuming is the main reason people came. well the food consisted of ukrainian sandwiches (which means a piece of stale, white bread with a slice of bologne on top), bananas, oranges, and cookies. sister kopta and i made brownies and they were gone within like 30 seconds. if you ever want to feel good about your cooking skills, move to ukraine.
this week we visited babushka from our branch and her less active middle aged son. he told us that 15 years ago he got a cassette tape of the MoTab singing Ave Maria but with the words Heavenly Father and he has been searching online for that song for years and couldn't find it. he asked me to try and i found it within like 10 seconds (thank you sir google) and he literally started to cry when i played it for him. he is either a really emotionally sensitive man or was slightly drunk.....i'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt and go with the first one, but who knows. (p.s. the man next to me is watching les mis and i am crying)
okay lots of weird things have happened to me on my mission because ukraine is a weird place. but this week was actually a crazy one. so when we're walking outside sometimes there's random little explosions and they usually sound pretty far away and at first i used to wonder what they were, but by now i am just kind of used to it and don't even react to them any more. well the other day there was literally an explosion a foot away from us!!!! i don't know what it was, maybe like a fire cracker or something, but it was SO LOUD and there were scorch marks in the grass seriously right next to us. anyways we were slightly deaf for a few seconds and we just kept walking. well like 2 hours later sister kopta realized that she lost her nametag. we figured it fell off in a member's house and we were going to call them to check, but we happened to walk right past the spot of the explosion and her nametag was right there on the ground! somehow the explosion blew off her nametag! it was so weird and random. luckily it blew off her nametag and not her leg or arm or something! i would probably get in trouble for that.
oh, by the way, it's that time again! What I learned my 5th transfer:
-patience is a thing that requires patience to learn. whoa. think about it.
-i have gotten a lot of pratice this transfer of putting others' needs before my own. it's hard but worth it.
-I realized this transfer how little i knew when i first got here and how i still don't really know very much
-this transfer I have been studying the Lord's commandments and promises to missionaries in the Doctrine and Covenants. what i've noticed is the blessings ALWAYS far outweigh the sacrifices.
-when we act in faith, somehow everything works out
-i read this quote that summed up something that i've been trying to put into words for a long time. It's from a conference talk by elder walter f. gonzalez: "Truly loving Christ provides the required stregnth to follow Him."
-love is what draws people into the church more than anything else.
-The Book of Mormon changes hearts and the Spirit of Elijah turns hearts. Together they are the most effective way to do missionary work.
-when you work your very hardest and do what you know is right, that is when the blessings come. sister kopta had to pass all of our investigators to the elders because they were all guys, and it was hard because we literally had no one, but in time the elders passed us Nadia who is absolutely golden.
-i'm sure there's more but that's all i can think of right now....

okay so that's all for this week. tonight we are going to donetsk because tomorrow is the NUTCRACKER!!!!! i'm so excited!!!! i hope you have a good new years and actually stay up until midnight this year, but let's be real, probs not going to happen. i remember my new years resolutions last year were:
1. Learn Russian
2. Don't Die.
well i've definitely accomplished #2. I am 100% alive. Number 1 I am still working on and probably will be for awhile, but i definitely know more russian than i did a year ago! I think I will continue my resolutions this year and add a third:
1. Keep Learning Russian
2. Keep Not Dying
3. Come Home, but not until I'm supposed to.

I think I should be able to manage it. Let me know what your new years resolutions are! Love you and miss you! Have a great week!