Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Week 1: Mormon Nuns

Hello All!
It's your favorite Sister Pugh here! (Just kidding, please still call me Hannah, I'm having a hard time with losing my name). So first, quote of the week comes from one of our "investegators" a group of us taught on day 2 - "You guys are like Mormon nuns, right? You give your life to Jesus then you take it back." Yep, that's us.
I love being a missionary. SO MUCH. I'm so attatched to my name tag. I don't even know where to start. Let's start with Russian, да?
RUSSIAN IS SO HARD. Seriously after like 24 hours it was very clear to me that I was not going to be able to learn Russian on my own. Which freaked me out quite a bit. But was also good in that it immediately made me rely on Heavenly Father. My prayers have like quadrupled in length and depth since getting to the MTC. At my farewell someone said to me, "I think you're learning Russian so you'll have to rely on the Lord." And I was like "yeah.... whatever. I can learn Russian." False. I cannot learn Russian on my own. But even though it's only been six days, I've learned so much about relying on the Lord. It's amazing to me how much I've been able to learn with His help. I can teach a (very simple) lesson and say (very simple) prayers and bear a (very simple) testimony. Although when I was first learning to say "I know" to bear my testimony, I confused it with "I don't know" so I ended up bearing the testimony that "I don't know the Book of Mormon is true. I don't know God loves me. I don't know that Jesus is my Savior." But at least it was only to my companion, not in the lesson, eh? My favorite sentence that I know is "наш дети бога" and my favorite word is "искупление" which means Atonement, and has the prettiest sounds of any word I've learned. Anyway, our district figured out that we've got somewhere betwen 300-400 hours to learn Russian before we go to the Ukraine, so just wait and see all the Russian I know! Our teacher says she thinks it's possible to become fluent in 9 weeks, but I'm still skeptical. Speaking of our teacher, she's wonderful. She got back from the Kiev mission 7 months ago, so she knows all about the mission and our mission president.Any questions that we have she's so good to answer. It's been really helpful and reassuring for me to have all my random questions answered. She's very bright and a good teacher and I adore her.
On the topic of teaching, we've already taught 3 lessons! Our "investigator" (actually an MTC Russian teacher) is named Edik (Russian Erik). Even though we don't actually speak Russian and say things like "God desire you repentence and baptism. God forgiveness sins." the spirit has been really strong in our lessons. In our first lesson we challenged him to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon, and he was like "Sure, but I don't have one." At which point we realized we'd also forgoten to bring one. So we ran upstairs and got one. Oops. Anyway, I'm growing to LOVE teaching. I often wish I could speak English and just be teaching all the time, but I know I need to learn Russian. It'll be okay.
I think the MTC is preparing us for the Russian/Ukrainian climate because it is FREEZING everywhere. I'm wearing my thin little down coat in the classroom and my cardigans every day. I was worried about being too hot in the MTC because I don't have many summer clothes, but it is not a problem!
So... people! First, can I tell you about my little чудо when I got dropped off? We pulled up to the curb and there was Sydney Horne as one of the escort missionaries for new missionaries! I've been friends with Sydney since 2nd grade, and it was so much easier to say goodbye to my family and walk into the MTC with someone who's always been part of my life. She got me all set up and I didn't see her for the rest of the time she was in the MTC (she left for Japan 2 days ago). It was a major miracle for me that I got to see her that one time when it was so important. Anyway, my companion, Sister Gomm, is darling. She's so smart. Actually, all the Russian missionaries are so smart. I haven't met a dumb Russian missionary yet. But my companion's wonderful. We get along really well, because we're both kinda low key and just want to learn. She's going to be a wonderful missionary and I'm so glad I get to be with her for 8 weeks. One thing I love about her is how obedient she is. I really want to be an obedient missionary, but it's not really part of my nature/attitude. When I hear a rule I sort of  instantly feel "well, I don't really have to follow that." But Sister Gomm is so obedient it really helps me to remember that perfect obedience brings blessings. I need a companion like her as I get used to being a missionary.
(I do have some conflicting feelings about obedience. I feel like "be perfectly obedient" is something they taught in Nazi Germany. Obviously it's different, but I'm still somewhat uncomfortable with all the emphasis on the value of obedience. I haven't yet figured out the relationship between obedience and agency. People say "you use your agency to be obedient," but that's not totally cutting it for me. I'm going to study that this week.)
We have two other sisters living in our room, Sister Kirkby and Sister Frandson, and they're also awesome. They're going to Russia but the four of us have such a good time together. They're a great little family for me. My district is me and my companion plus 5 other elders. We're all going to Kiev, which doesn't happen very often in districts, but is realy neat. The elders are really good and I've had a lot of fun learning with them. But my very favorite thing is the sisters on my hall. We get together every night for чудо, where everyone says their miracle of the day. Then one of the sisters gives some sort of spiritual though. Probably the best ideas and advice I've gotten during my short MTC time has been during those small get togethers. I feel very blessed to get to be part of such a loving and spiritual group of sisters.
Personal study time is also great. I've been doing a combination of PMG, Book of Mormon, journal writing and talking to God. Having that time to work on my own testimony has been beautiful. It's funny, I didn't have a real "reason" for coming on a mission; I had an intense confirmation that it was right, but I didn't know "why". A quote this week helped me to realize why I came. "If the only person you convert on your mission is yourself, you did a pretty darn good job." I think I'm here to convert myself. Truly convert. Personal study time is a big part of that, and having that time has already been a blessing in my life.
Anyway, email time is running out. Expect letters in the mail! (I get 60 minutes on pday for email, but no limits for how long I can write letter, except that I can only write on Pday). Thanks for all the letters and Dear Elders! I get to read mail every night and it's so nice to hear from you all.
All the love,
PS. Sorry I can't spell. It's always been true, but now there's no spellcheck and it's even more clear.

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