Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Week 4: "She's an alcoholic!"

Hi Everyone,

So first order of business: I have officially moved campuses! Moving was actually really easy and now we live in a super nice apartment. SUPER NICE. So I'm pretty cool with the fact that we've moved. There are some inconveniences, but all and all, it's good. Part of the move is that I have a different address. It is:
Sister Hannah Grace Pugh
OCT01 UKR-KYV
2023 N 900 E Unit 906
Provo, UT 84606

Anyway, let's continue on with the Russian update (because it's always the most exciting.) I can no longer say the word "evangelical" like a real american. In Russian "Evanglia" (but written in Cyrillic) is how you say gospel, so it is obviously a word I use a lot. But it starts with a ye sound, not a eh sound. So I keep reading the word yevangelical in English. If that makes sense. Anyway. We had a super awesome moment in our lesson with our "investigator" this week. We were teaching a lesson about Joseph Smith and all of a sudden our teacher/investigator said something which we were not able to understand in any way. So she started explaining it. Finally, after several minutes, we understood "I cannot live without drinking." So I yell to my companion "Oh! She's an alcoholic!" Not uncommon for Russians, after all, and a fair assumption based on the sentence. Anyway, we continued assuming she was an alcoholic for a good week. Then, when we were leaning how to say need this week, our teacher had explained what actually happened. She was thirsty and said "I need a drink." We didn't understand the word need. So she tried to explain it need by saying sentences like "I cannot live without food. I cannot live without drinking." But we only understood the last one. So she's not an alcoholic! 

I'm really good at Russian.

Actually, I'm really grateful I get to stay here for 9 weeks and learn Russian. Not just because I love Russian (Russian grammar is actually super awesome and I love it a whole lot), but because it's kinda amazing to get to spend all this time figuring out what kind of missionary I get to be. Training time is good. It's a major blessing to have all this time to learn and figure things out before I'm thrown into real life as a missionary. You know?

This week is funny because it's time for school to start. And for the first time in 16 years, I'm not going back. 

So last night we had a devotional at the Marriott center. Elder Andersen of the 12 came and spoke and it was awesome. He talked about love and sacrifice. Basically what he said is that 1) What and who you love is one of the most important decisions you make in this life 2) "We sacrifice for the things we love and we love the things for which we sacrifice." It was a simple and beautiful message. After the devotional, however, it was raining HARD. Like they had us hang out for 10 minutes until the lightening stopped. Anyway, once it did we walked back to west campus (about a 15 minute walk in the rain). It was cold, but was also super fun. It was just one of those things where you had to say "well, this is going to have to be fun otherwise I quit." If that makes sense. At any rate, I'm just grateful for a companion who I can have fun walking back in the rain with. 

Elder Holland still hasn't come to speak yet. I'm waiting for it. IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

Other funny moment of the week involves the protesters at the temple. On Sundays, main MTC campus missionaries walk up to the temple so they aren't stuck inside all day. Evangelical anti-Mormon protesters have figured that out and hang out by the temple on Sunday to preach about our imminent destruction. It's sort of whatever. Freedom of speech is important and I love it and, let's be honest, I love all protesters for utilizing that right and saying what they think. Anyway, the protesters don't bother me that much. But this week, right as we walk by the one guy yells at us "You ladies are in bondage to men!" And it was just like "come on, of all the things to say to me, you picked the ONE THING you might say that I could identify with." It was just funny, because I do have issues with the gender representations in the church. I don't feel like I'm in bondage, but things are complicated for me. Anyway.

As I thought about it, however, I realized that one of the things I love most about this church is that it is a church of questions. Like I can be a missionary and I can identify with the protester. It's okay to be both. There's a line in a song from Book of Mormon the Musical that says "I'm a Mormon, and a Mormon just believes." (Yeah, I did just quote BOM the Musical in my missionary email. They won't send me home for that, right?). Anyway, I used to think that was a Mormon mentality. But it's not. The Mormon church encourages us to ask questions. The premise of the church is that Joseph Smith asked a question. And yes, the issue is more complicated, because sometimes it feels like "it's okay to ask questions" means "it's okay to ask questions as long as you get the right answers," but I don't think that's the real spirit of it either. I think it's okay to ask questions because faith is complex and difficult and a journey and if we don't ask all the questions and find our own answers (whether or not they're the "right" ones) along the way it will never become personal or strong or real. 

That's all I've got for this week. Thanks for the emails and the letters and the packages and the prayers. This week my WHOLE FAMILY emailed me, and that was awesome. I even got a picture of Whimzy. She's still dumb. 

All the love,

Hannah



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