So this week we had a girl from our branch, Marina, with us Monday - Saturday. It was awesome. Marina is probably my favorite Ukranian. I mean, if I had to pick one and stuff. She's incredible. It was a great experience to work with her and learn from her and teach her a little bit about life as a missionary.
One of the things about Marina being Ukranian is that she only speaks Russian (well, she speaks Ukranian too, but that doesn't help me much, now does it?) So this week, it was Russian all day every day. When the alarm went off at 6:15, I got to roll out of bed and speak Russian to Marina. It was so hard. Every night Sister Clark and I were just slaughtered we were so exhaused. It takes a lot of energy to speak entierly in a foreign language all day. But, it was also incredibly rewarding. I realized how much I am able to do in Russian. Marina and I have a real relationship. Like I will definitely stay in touch with her. And it's entierly in Russian. The fact that I have a sincere, Russian-only friendship is amazing to me. WE HAD GIRL TALK IN RUSSIAN. One night we stayed up until 11:30, talking about the likelihood of she and our branch president getting married after her real mission (papers go in today!). It was so much fun, but Sister Clark and I were both like "wow, it's amazing that we did real girl talk that late in Russian."
The first night, it 10:25, so we were like "c'mon Marina, time for bed" and she was like "wait, what about dinner?" Because she had been living in the real world, and wasn't used to early dinner, early bed, etc. So we fed her a bit and stuff. But really the whole week, she really was not a fan of our American/corrupted Ukranian food. It was kinda adorable, but also a little bit sad because I think she was hungry the whole time she was with us. One night we made tacos, and they were awesome, but she was like "wait these are way too spicy." There was literally nothing spicy on them, just taco seasoning. It was adorable because Ukranians just hate all things with spice. They like sour/vinegar. Someone needs to bring sriracha to Ukraine.
One thing I love about Marina is that she takes charge. She pretty much runs our branch. Like her gender is the only reason she isn't the branch president. She does more work than the branch presidency councelor + the elders quorum president + the RS president. This girl is a fireball. And she totally came into our companionship and pulled her own weight. She made all the phone calls! And planned our way out to a little village to visit a less active member with a new baby (sidenote: the baby was darling and I loved it)! And did the dishes! She was the foce of positivity and energy and goodness in our companioship this week. We were sort of on a post baptism "so what do we do now?" streak. Like ther really wasn't anything planned, no one to meet with, etc. Not because we're lazy, but because we can't proselyte and there just aren't a lot of folks in our lives right now. That combined with the fact that we were sort of exhaused from speaking so much Russian/not getting enough sleep meant that Sister Clark and I were a teensy bit grumpy all week. But Marina was always like "no, lots happened today! I learned a lot today!" Not in an annoying way, but in a sincere way. I actually don't know if we'd have made it though this week without her.
So Marina talked in church yesterday about her mini mission and it was so sweet to hear how much she learned. She said that Sunday morning (first morning back), she woke up on her own to do studies, but then got her week-old-convert father to do them with her. Isn't that touching? I love being a missionary because I get to be part of things like that. Having Marina around, made me realize how much I've become a missionary. I know, duh, right? But it really did stand out. The things that were new to her, that she learned the most from were things like studies and prayers and missionary life things that have become so commonplace to me. It was actually really neat to be like "oh my goodness, I'm a missionary!"
Anyway, hope things are good in those States across the ocean. Isn't it Thanksgiving or something soon? Eat something spicy for me!
All the love,