Monday, October 21, 2013

Hitchhiking and Chicken Liver

Our theme this week was "Hannah continues on in her adaptation to life in Ukraine."

Have we talked about the Ukranian language? Because there's this thing here where people speak Ukranian. And when I say people, I mean that 3 of the 5 people we are teaching right now only speak Ukranian. They understand Russian/us most of the time, but it is so hard to understand them! Like Cec. Clark has a hard time, and she's been out 6 months/ is really good at Russian. So that's a thing. We also do church in Ukranian. We use the Ukranian hymn books, which is fine, because "Come Thou Fount" is inexplicably in there, so I'm a pretty happy camper. But yeah, there's a lot of Ukranian in my life, right now. 

Sometimes, life in Ukraine gets a little bit sketchy. For example, I was fed chicken liver this week. Now I realize that as someone who is not serving in South America, I really have no right to make any comments on the meat I am fed. But as a former vegetarian of 2 years, I feel fine saying that that was a struggle. I may or may not have made the elders eat it when the members weren't looking. But I'm not owning up to anything. (Sidenote: one my favorite things about the Romans is that they believed the liver was the center of emotions, like how we say the heart is. Isn't that sort of wierd and awesome?). 

Another sketchy thing was that we sort of hitchhiked this week. Us, the elders, and the branch president went to this little село about 90 minutes outside of the city to visit a less-active with Parkinsons. We had a nice little visit, did some service, and then went to catch our 2:15 bus back. But the bus didn't come. And didn't come. Finally we asked someone and it turned out that for whatever reason the bus wasn't coming until 4:30 that day. But we needed to get back sooner because the branch was watching conference (in Ukranian, of course) and the branch president had the DVD! So we hitchhiked. As in stood on a curb and tried to pay someone to take us back. Apparently that's a thing people do here. Anyway, we waited for about an hour before Sister Clark and I got a ride (we got to take the first car to stop because the driver seemed nice enough, and they didn't want to leave us stranded in the село). And the driver was super nice, didn't murder us, and didn't even make us pay when we got back to the city! So that was my fun adventure of the week hitchhiking. I'm pretty sure it was safe because the branch president was there and in charge of it.

In related sketchy news, remember the sketchy hospital lab I talked about in my first email? Two of the people we're teaching work there but live in селоs, so we taught 3 lessons this week in the hospital lab. As in, we were sitting in a room with viles and petrie dishes filled with gelatin-ized (not a word) blood and urine while teaching about the Restoration. It's sort of hilarious and I'm like 90% sure it's safe enough that I won't contract some terrible disease. 

Sometimes, life isn't sketchy, it's just super Ukranian. Like when we were in the село this week and saw like 6 horse-drawn carts. Or, because it's apple season, the way that every time we visit anyone they give us a giant bag for of mostly rotten apples that they just picked up off the ground from under their apple tree (we usually leave them in ambiguous places throughout town where people pick them up). Or there's the giant statue of Lenin in the middle of town. That makes me smile every time. Speaking of Lenin and failed governments, does the US still exist? Because the last thing I heard was that we were supposed to go bankrupt on the 17th. Where's that whole thing at?

Also super Ukranian is the fact that no one here can sing. It's adorable how completely terrible our hymns are every Sunday. It is actually possible that every Ukranian is tone deaf. I think it's because in the US 1) people grow up singing these hymns 2) the hymns haven't been translated so they flow better and 3) we have some element of music in all K-12 education, so people learn the basics. Anyway, the missionaries did a musical number last week and it was a total hit. When I get back, we can talk about how funny it is that I sang in sacrament meeting because I'm a fairly thoroughly terrible singer. But we even got applause from the members (in the middle of sacrament meeting), so that was encouraging (sort of). 

Anyway, life's an adventure right now and I'm loving it. The members are so kind and loving, we're teaching some awesome women, I love my companion, I have hope that someday I'll learn Russian, and things are good. This week, someone posed the question "how are you different since coming on your mission?" I've only been gone 3 months and I'm not sure I have a good answer or that I'm really all that different. I think I have more peace in myself; I'm settling into myself. I'm not all that I want to be yet, not by a long shot, but I'm plugging away and I might get there eventually. 

Until then, all the love,

Hannah

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