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! 

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