Sunday, March 30, 2014

One Year Mark!

Babysitting! (with special permission, of course!)
i think i have found the only thing in the world that is better than taking a nap: holding a snuggly baby. now before you judge me for being a terrible, disobedient missionary, let me explain myself. the lochhead's youngest daughter and her family came to visit and we got special permission to play with the lochhead grandbabies! they are the cutest things in the world!!!! Esther is 3 and is a total fireball. out of control. but adorable. and Sam is 1 and the cutest, smiliest, snuggliest little thing you've ever seen. i didn't realize how much i loved playing with kids until i had to go a year with out being able to touch them! (oh yeah, ps i was set apart 1 year ago today. nbd.)
okay so this week was crazy town!!! first we got 3 native sisters and 3 native elders from russia!!! they are all ukrainian and because of visa problems ukrainians are no longer allowed to serve in russia which is bad news for them but good news for us because we just got 6 natives! we have only had one native elder the whole time i have been here, so it's way exciting. so the native sisters flew in on wednesday and the elders asked if the sisters could stay wiith us since we have the biggest apartment. of course we said yes! we were kinda scared because everyone hears stories about crazy natives, but we were way wrong. they are all so cool! also they all have real good english so that helps a lot. so anyways, we were 'babysitting' the natives before transfer meeting and they had orientation at the lochheads, so sister nash and beaudin went to teach a couple lessons and i stayed with the natives. i realized that i didn't need to be in the orientation meeting, so the lochheads handed me the grandbabies and i got to go play with them in the other room for the next hour. it was so much fun. then yesterday the lochheads did a fireside about raising families and Sam was just crawling around getting into stuff so I picked him up and he sat in my lap for almost the whole time. i was in heaven. man i miss kids.

anyways, other good things about this week
-the weather is AMAZING! it got up to 64 yesterday. little flower buds are starting to come up an everything just feels happier. i went out with just a cardigan and not a coat yesterday and it felt so so weird. i have been wearing a coat and boots for 6 months. my shins didn't know what to do with themselves. i feel kind of awkward knowing that people can see my skin haha.
-sergei and tanya are on date to get baptized this saturday!!!!!!! there was a baptism in another branch this saturday and they went to it, and sergei typed on his iPad "can i get baptized today?" haha the elders told him that he could in a week and he got way excited! we can't wait.
-transfers were this week, sister beaudin went back to kharkov (as was expected) and sister nash and i are staying together in center!!! we are so happy.
-i got to go on a split with sister campbell!!!!! she was down in donetsk for a meeting and we got to go out together for the evening. it was so much fun. we were just out walking around in the rain looking for less actives and getting lost and it felt just like good old times in lugansk except we can actually speak russian now! haha who knew?
so today is my one year mark of being a set apart missionary. it feels weird. the thing about being a representative of Jesus Christ is that you still also feel like you. i don't know how to explain it, but it's true. i realized last week that i have finally gotten to the point where missionary work is comfortable. maybe it still isn't natural, it's still not in my nature to walk up to a stranger and start speaking to them (in russian), but it doesn't terrify me anymore. i know that i can do it with God's help, and I want to do it. last week i also realized that praying is way more natural for me in russian than in english. i have said all of my prayers in russian for almost a year now, and it just feels super awkward in english now.

if i had to end my mission today (knock on wood) i think my two biggest take aways would be this:
1. On my mission I learned how to use the Atonement. I mean like really use it. Not just to repent of sins, but to become better. To be more than I am and to do more than I could do on my own. Here we are literally asked to do the impossible, and we do it, but only with God's help. I can testify that there is NO way I would still be here doing what I am doing if I had to do it alone. There's just no way.
2. My life is not about me anymore. I realized this a few transfers ago. Everyone knows that when you lose yourself in service you find yourself blah blah whatever. It's one thing to say it, but I believe no one can really understand it until they have done it. I don't know at what point it happened, but i realized that true, real, lasting happiness comes from helping others. That is what I want to do every day of my mission, and in all reality every day of my life. I guess this is pretty dramatic, but i want to spend the rest of my life serving others and forgetting about myself, and I am so grateful for my mission helping me to realize that.

okay i am so out of time. sorry it's short this week, i spent all my time on your awesome birthday email. i just want you to know that i love you and and i miss you all and i don't hate you even though you're on a cruise without me! i would take babushki and borsh over the bahamas any day. i love you!!!!!!!!!!!!1

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