Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On Date, New Companion, Sister's Conference, DON'T WORRY, MOM!

okay, well in the words of president lochhead: "I am gonna have SUCH good stories to tell my grandkids." let's just say, stuff is getting real over here. i don't know what i'm allowed to say and not, but we don't wear name tags anymore, and we can't leave our apartment after dark. it's so weird. we get SO bored!!! we are programmed to be out and working from 6-9 because that's 'prime proselyting time' and now we are cooped up inside and have nothing to do!!! poor sister nash was pacing around looking for something to do, so we made doughnuts haha. actually way easy and delicious! who knew? basically we are just waiting for something to happen. hopefully it gets better and we can go back to work as normal, but if i were you i would hold off on booking your flights to come pick me up, because who knows what will happen. i don't want to freak you out, but it's pretty freaky, not gonna lie. 
okay let's focus on the positive!!! first off, this week we put someone on date!!!!!!!! we have this awesome investigator vladimir, who is 42 years old, has no family of his own, but has a super good relationship with both of his parents (which is rare here). he is just so humble and sincere, he just wants to find truth. he has been taught all the lessons and is reading from the Book of Mormon, and right now he is at the point where he hopes that it is all true, he just doesn't know yet. we had the lesson at the Lochheads (game over) and both president and sister lochhead helped us on the lesson. we talked a lot about the holy ghost and how he can recognize his answer that the Book of Mormon is true, and how he can have the companionship of the holy ghost after he is baptized. he recognized that he always feels peaceful and good when he meets with us, and he really wants to be able to feel that way all the time. we told him that we had been talking about it together that morning and we felt that he will be ready to be baptized on March 15th. He agreed!!!! The best part what his closing prayer. He said, "I am so grateful to be with these religious people and talk about religious things, and I hope that someday i can be among them." it was so precious!!!! then after our lessons, he ran into some elders on the street and told them, 'yeah i just met with nash and shrek and i think i'm gonna get baptized!" MIRACLES ARE REAL. i can't say it enough.
the other highlight of the week was sisters' conference!!!!!!!! basically girls camp but only 24 hours and more crying haha. the elders were kind of complaining that they don't get elders' conference and asking why we get sister's conference and then i said, 'misisons are emotionally challenging for sisters.' that shut them up real quick because it's so true. it was so good just to be around so many awesome sisters. of course there were back massages and hair tips and lots of feelings, but my favorite part was definitely the spiritual aspect of it. sister lochhead taught us about Eve and the Fall and BLEW OUR MINDS. she is a genius. seriously.
oh also this week we got a new companion!!! her name is sister beaudin and she is from texas! she is one transfer younger than us (sister campbell and welch's age) and she is a whopping 4'11'' haha! people literally point and talk to each other about how small we are....whatevs. we are having so much fun. i love troikas!!!
funny ukraine moment of the week. i looked around during sunday school and realized that our class was, a less-active with a broken hand teaching the class, an old blind man, and a crazy lady wearing a high school musical scarf. that sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it's my life. the funny thing is it didn't even phase me. 

Baking with Sister Nash

alright, that's it for this week. don't freak out momz, i know you are worried about me. missionaries are literally the safest people on the planet, Heavenly Father is looking out for us. pray for us and everything will be fine. i love you and worry about you too! i miss you every day, but i am happy to be here. even right now. be good, be safe, and be grateful to live in america this week. love you!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hibernation, Flower Delivery, Valentine's Day

happy president's day to all you americans!!! i hope you celebrate by sleeping in and watching movies and eating junk food. that's what i would do. i'm glad you and the mission president are tight, but i hope not too tight because i don't want him to make me speak to the missionaries or anything when i get home. although the other night i couldn't sleep so i came up with this super inspirational speech for sister missionaries. i hope i never have to use it, but it's there. can you send me shannon's post? i would love to read it. i haven't heard from her or maddy my entire mission!!!! punks. yes, joelle and i email back and forth, she is doing great. don't worry i'm definitely bringing the under armor home, it will be perfect for skiing! i actually have been wearing the leggings all week just because they're so dang comfortable. also, i'm not sure if this is in the family budget, but instead of a birthday package do you think you could just send Uzma over here real quick? by a series of unfortunate events sister rohrbaugh had a splinter and somehow my tweezers ended up in kharkov with sister campbell, so things are starting to get pretty scary over here haha. seriously, just like an hour with uzma and i think we'll be back to mostly normal.
okay, so life in Donetsk: it actually is not nearly as different as i thought it would be. i imagined busy, bustling streets with tons of traffic and people everywhere, but apparently not. since it's winter and ukrainians know what's up, they hibernate all winter and literally only leave their houses to run to the grocery store and back. so yes, the city itself is definitely bigger and there are more cool looking buildings and yes there a lots of more restaurants which we never eat at because we hate spending money, but there are actually not that many people. i have heard that it will be completely different in the summer because in the summer everyone's houses are way too hot so everyone is walking around outside. hopefully i'll still be here then so i can see the real city. honestly the biggest difference is in the number of missionaries. my whole mission my districts have been either 5 or 6 missionaries and the next closest ones are 2 hours away. now we have 12 missionaries in our district (including 2 other sisters!!!! it's the best.) and that's just in our branch. the best news is we have  senior couple in our district so we get to have district meeting in their apartment and Sister McFarland cooks us lunch! i had pumpkin pie last week and i finally felt like my thanksgiving was complete....3 months late haha.
also the branch here is bigger than lugansk and mariupol, but not by a ton. the good news is the singing is just like in lugansk, absolutely terrible. it is so funny and it makes me feel right at home. (in mariupol there are a few professional singers and the acoustics are real good for some reason, so it actually sounds like the branch can sing). 

this week we had the misfortune to be served some nasty milk bought from a sketchy source, and sister nash and i were out of commission for a solid 24 hours. it was pretty rough, but also kind of funny. it's always more fun to be sick with someone, because you can complain about it together.

the best news of the week is we found a family! by that I mean a member called us on Sunday and asked us to come with her after church to visit a less active. Of course we went and we met 25 year old Zhenya, who is less active and just had her baby boy Mark 5 months ago, and her non-member husband Timothy. Zhenya became less active when she started dating Timothy because he is not religious at all, but he is not against having us come over. They were so sweet and just literally the cutest young couple ever. They were so kind and happy to have us come over, and we are so excited to start working with them! i feel like less actives must be kind of my thing, in lugansk i helped candy come back, in mariupol i helped anna come back, and hopefully Zhenya will be my person in dontesk. she is just so sweet and her baby is literally the cutest thing on the planet. i will try to get pictures this week. i just know that the gospel can help them be so much happier!
Also this week we were stopping by less actives when Sister Nash felt like we needed to buy flowers for some reason but she didn't know why. We decided that we would give them to the next less active that we visited, but the problem was the whole rest of the evening no one answered their door. When we were at the last door for the night we decided to just stick the flowers in the door handle and leave a note saying that they were a gift from the missionaries. We were kind of disappointed that we weren't able to hand deliver them to anyone, but we got a call that night at 10:30 from Vera, the less active saying she had just got home from work and she saw the flowers and she loved them! the best news is now we actually have her phone number and can call her some time!
oh for valentine's day, sister nash and i decided to be each other's valentines and we bought ourselves chocloate ice cream and watched legacy before going to bed haha. actually one of my better valentine's days.
also if you want a good family night idea, read or listen to the talk Help Them Aim High by President Eyring. so good! then think of what spiritual gifts each member of our family has. i would love to know what you think my spiritual gifts are. i will try to think about yours this week, the only problem is i don't have a whole lot of spare time, but i will try!

okay that's it for this week, i love you all and miss you every day! have a great week! eat something american for me!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Reunited with Sis. C. for a day

Anna and her baby

Frozen Sea

Look closely and you can see cold-induced tears!

I'm In Donetsk With Sister Nash!

okay i know i say this every week, but this one is actually gonna be super short. first off, i am in center donetsk with sister nash!!!! we were in the mtc together and i am so excited to be with her. we have so much fun together and we are gonna get so much done. it's so awesome to be with someone my own age for the first time. it's cool because our russian is about the same level, but we have different strengths so we are gonna learn so much from each other. the best perk about living in center donetsk is that president and sister lochhead live in our area, and they said that we can have lessons in their home anytime! how could you not want to join the church after smelling sister lochhead's homemade bread? game, set, and match.
okay so i feel really stupid for complaining about the weather last week because WINTER IS OVER! february is supposed to be super mild, and yesterday it started raining and the snow is all melting! now there's the joy of trudging through slush everywhere, but that's better than having frozen body parts, so i'm not complaining. i was looking forward to having awesome stories of frostbite and revolutions to tell my grandchildren, but seriously it was all just hype. donetsk is not cold, and there haven't been any more protests or anything, so don't worry mom, it's all fine.
first off, i got mail for the first time since 2013 and i have some big thank yous! first, thank you mom, the under armour was a bit late and i probably won't need it this winter, but it's the thought that counts. thanks to the Lex's for the candy and letter! thanks to the ericsons, holloways, jacobsons, dials, branhams, walkers, johnsons, oakleys, and russells for the christmas cards! thanks to anna smiley for the letter! i can't believe you're going on a mission! you'll be awesome. and a big thank you to cub scout troop 952 (aka Sister Allan) for the drawing! thank you thank you thank you!
so this week was spent saying goodbye to everyone in mariupol and then meeting everyone here in donetsk. my favorite part about my last sunday in mariupol was that our favorite crazy babushka ludmila got up and bore her testimony about how drinking green tea is fine as long as it's not strong. all the members were just like, come on ludmila, sit down, you're crazy and she was like, no guys i promise, i prayed about it! hahaha oh, mariupol. i miss you already. the good news is there's an old man in donetsk branch who shakes everyone's hand and gives them a piece of chocolate, so i feel right at home.
okay i actually don't have any time, so we're just going to have to go right into this: What i Learned my Sixth Transfer:
-Just keep swimming. When life is hard and it is super cold and you have no investigators, etc etc your only option is to just keep working and things will eventually get better.
-I learned how to take correction. I learned that you don't beat yourself up and don't use it as an excuse to blame others or become bitter, but you just humble yourself and make whatever changes you need to.
-Don't dwell on the past. Look to the future with hope.
-Sometimes you literally do all you can and it doesn't work out and it is devastating but you have to move on.
-I am grateful to be from a country where women are respected.
-You can show others your love through simple, frequent acts of service.
-You have to make the choice to be a "good" aka obedient missionary every day.
-sometimes you quite literally fall down and have to pick yourself back up again (that darn ukrainian ice)
-missionary work and raising a family are the same work (think about it): helping people develop a relationship with Heavenly Father and prepare to live with Him again.
-Developing Christlike Attributes will help you develop Teaching Skills (compare chapter 6 and 9 in PMG)
-being sick is DUMB.
-when life is hard, find someone to serve.
-being obedient IS Walking with God.
-Ask for help when you need it!!!!
-Heavenly Father protects His missionaries, we are so important to Him.
-I love Ukraine. I am meant to be here.

okay reading through that it is somehow slightly depressing. yes i think this past transfer was definitely my hardest, but I toughed it out and i learned so much from it. I am so looking forward to this next transfer with sister nash! we are already such good friends and i am so so happy already. i will fill you in next week all about the area and our investigators, because i don't really know myself yet. i want you to know how much i love you! of course i miss you every day, but I am so glad that i am here. i can honestly say that i love ukraine and wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now. i hope you have a great week and watch the olympics for me!!!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

FROZEN Is Not a Movie, It Is My Life!

okay this might be a short one because i just spend forever writing dad the best birthday email ever. i hope he cries reading it because i cried writing it! i'm going to have to start working on yours now if i want to top it.

okay so about the thing that's happening here that i'm not allowed to talk about....i'm just going to say that i feel like i'm living in a kind of weird combination of Les Mis and Dark Knight Rises. i'll let you use your imagination on that one. and mom, i know you haven't seen dark knight rises, and i certainly wouldn't recommend you seeing it now. but don't worry literally nothing is happening in mariupol.

the big news of the week is that i'm leaving mariupol! well i am supposed to, but there was a crazy blizzard (more on that later) and the roads between donestk have been closed for over a week and probably still will be on thursday when we're supposed to leave, so i guess Mariupol really doesn't want me to leave or something. anyways, the bad news is that mariupol is the warmest and safest part of the mission, so no matter where I go things are about to get a lot more interesting! 

okay real winter hit this week. i first just want to take my hat off to all the other eastern european missionaries. donestk is the warmest mission in eastern europe and i nearly died this week. let's just say i was never cut out to be a pioneer. now i know that we technically are modern day pioneers, starting the church in this country blah blah blah but i'm talking handcarts and wagons, buffalos and frostbite pioneers. no way jose, no thank you. 

things that i thought i knew before this week:
-what it means to be cold. NOPE.
-once it gets below zero, cold is just cold. there's not a difference between -1 and -20. HA! wrong.
-surely there's no such thing as a snow day in ukraine. WRONG.
-falling in the snow cannot give you a bruise. FALSE.
-ukrainians never fall when walking on the ice. thankfully incorrect. maybe i'm a terrible person but whenever a ukrainian man falls over my heart warms up a little knowing i'm not the only one.
-ice is just ice, it is all equally slippery. OH SO WRONG.

there was a day this week when i literally lost feeling in every part of me. you know when you come back from the dentist and part of your face is numb for a few hours and you feel and look weird for a while? imagine that but it's your whole body. awkward. 

there was one point when we were walking to a lesson and it was literally just a sheet of ice, the super slick kind and we were walking straight into the wind. i bent over and was literally mustering all my strength to walk forward, but the wind was pushing me backwards and i was going nowhere. i call it nature's treadmill of death.

also whenever we go outside now my eyes and nose just instantly start leaking. sometimes i can't even feel it because my face is numb but we get inside and it's so gross. i don't really know what to do about it. 

probably the funniest part of the week was when the elders called us frantically and said that a door to the church building was left open and the alarm was going off, so we had to run to the church to turn off the alarm. we were at a member's house and had to run through this park through knee-high snow and i nearly died. we got to the church and i knew which door it was but there were huge snow drifts in front of it, and i tried to climb over the drifts without sinking down, but it didn't work and i fell down and couldn't get up, so i literally rolled to the door. i wish i could say it was like a james bond style roll, but it was probably closer to a beached whale type situation. anyways as i was trying to lock that door, the alarm tripped again so i had to RUN around to the other side of the building because if you don't disable the alarm in a certain amount of time the cops will show up and that's not a thing that anyone wants to happen. so i think i ran faster than probably any schrecengost has ever run and i turned it off and felt like a superhero. miracles do happen. sometimes schrecengosts can run if the Lord really needs them to i guess.

the best part of this week was when we went to go visit Anna. we had planned to talk to her about the Atonement and as soon as we started talking she was like "thank you so much for picking this topic. i have never really understood how the Atonement can help me." My heart almost broke right then and there. I am SO grateful that we were able to teach her about the Atonement and how it can help us in every aspect of our lives. I used myself as an example and said that sometimes I don't feel like a good enough missionary, but I know that as long as I am doing my very best, Christ can make up the difference. She stopped me and said, "if you think you aren't a good enough missionary, you're wrong. You always say exactly what I need to hear and I think that's a gift. Missionaries in the past have tried to teach me, but they haven't said what I needed to hear." that made me feel SO good! one of the hardest things in my opinion about being a missionary is that you don't get told very often that you are doing a good job. of course you should go to the Lord for approval, but sometimes you just need to hear it in words from someone you really care about. That experience didn't just make me feel good about myself, but it gave me motivation to push myself even harder and become even better.

funny russian mistake of the week, i accidentally told someone that we drink in sacrament meeting instead of sing. whoops. that sing verb has been getting me in trouble since the mtc. remember that incident? (anatoli, we want to sleep with you...)haha

alrighty that's it from me in mariupol! next week i'll be writing you from somewhere colder, unless the roads are blocked and i have to stay in mariupol forever...i wouldn't complain! oh ps a while ago i got a christmas card from the shim's and i don't know if i remembered to say thank you. please tell them thanks for me! i haven't gotten mail in over a month, but hopefully next week i'll have some more thank yous to send out! anyways, love you and miss you and have a great week!!!