Monday, October 14, 2013

Elevator Rides and Fall Leaves

Hello There,

So my spellcheck on this computer is in Russian. Which means that we're going to find out just how terrible I spell in this email. Please forgive me. And don't tell Swarthmore. I really do still plan on majoring in English, but without spellcheck I might seem illiterate. (Ironically, I'm not even sure how to spell illiterate.)

The most momentous event of the week was my first ride in an elevator. (Okay, technically it was my second because my first one was the way up). Anyway, we were at a member's house with the elders and it was a little late so we hurried out and got in the elevator. It went down for about half a second then there was a very loud noise, a jolt, a moment when we all thought we were going to fall 9 stories to our deaths, and the elevator was broken. (See photo). We spent a good half hour in there while the members tried to get someone to fix it. There was lots of yelling in Russian and a few moments when we were worried the "fix it" guy was going to cut the wrong cord. But eventually they pried the doors open and we climbed out. Like literally climbed out, because the elevator was still half-way descended. Luckily we were in jeans not skirts, since we were there doing something that required pants.

Fall here is just gorgous. Since we're outside of Kyiv, there are huge trees all around in every color of yellow and orange and red. We spent Saturday doing service at a member's "dacha" (basically like a small cabin outside of town that everyone here has) and it was incredible. Afterwards we walked along the river with her and it was some of the most amazing autumn I've ever seen. If I had the space, I'd attatch tons of photos of it, but the one here will have to suffice.

This week I also had my first experience of the "Ukranian direction phenomenon." What is that, you ask? When you ask a Ukranian for directions, they'll more than likely go way out of their way to walk you wherever it is you need to go. I'd been told about it, but this week I was kinda shocked when we asked someone for directions and it actually happened. At first I was super suspicious that she was actually just going to walk us to the hospital. But she did. And then I felt really guilty for coming from a culture when I'm suspicious of too much kindness. Ukranians are awesome.

In other news, Russian is really hard and I'm sort of over not being able to communicate with anyone. But I'm learning! Sigh. My mini-goal of the week is to not say um when I speak Russian (it would be nice to be able to do that in English, but I've only ever met one person who could). Right now, when I teach there are long moments of "ummmmm" while I conjugate and decline words in my head. But one member told me that totally doesn't make sense in Russian, which itself makes since because they don't really have that sound in their language, so anyway I'm working on that. Basically I'm working on everything in Russian right now. Sigh.

The good news is that the work is working. Things for us to do (good, worthwhile things) are continually coming up just when we get to the point of "wellllll, what now?" I love working here, on my unconventional "secret mission" (as President calls it). This week totally flew by! I feel like I was emailing yesterday.

WHICH REMINDS ME. I am putting out a plea for baked goods recipies. We end up baking a fair amount to take to members (since that's mostly what we do) and our single cookie recipe is getting old. So pretty pretty please everyone who reads this send me some recipies. Preferably simple ones (we have no Kitchen-aids in Ukraine) but really anything. Thank you already times a thousand.

On a different note, we had zone conference this week and it included a really good discussion of repentance, but the thing that's really been on my mind all week is a Hugh Nibley quote that someone brought up: the only 2 things worth being good at in this life are repenting and forgiving. I love it because really, they both, at least in part, come down to believing in the goodness of the human heart. Both of them come down to believing that we fundamentally want to be good and in believing it's possible to become better. Isn't that lovely?

Thanks everyone for emails and letters. I'm sorry that every email I send out is a paragraph long and ends with "I'm sorry but I'm out of email time." I really am thoroughly terrible at budgeting it out. Eventually I'll get it down. In the mean time, I really do appreciate hearing from you and love you.

All the love,
Hannah

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