Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Birthday Shopping Ukranian Style

Hello World,

The strangest part of this week was when we taught a lesson in English. We found this woman who speaks literally flawless English and she wanted to meet and figure out what two Americans in Ukraine were all about. Anyway, we ended up teaching her in English, because I will never speak Russian as well as she speaks English. The funny thing was how incredibly difficult it was to teach in English. I was significantly more self-conscious of what words were coming out of my mouth and I did not like it at all. In a strange way, teaching in English made me significantly more grateful to be a Russian-speaking missionary. 

Arguably the highlight of my week was going birthday present shopping with Masha, my 7-year-old Ukrainian best friend (I'm allowed to have those). It was her mom's birthday and she wanted to go buy her something, but didn't have anyone to go with, so we went with here. It was the sweetest thing I've ever seen. We got to the street and asked "well Masha, where are we going?" she said we were going to the grocery store so we were a little confused but went along with it. When we got there we asked what we were buying and Masha was like, "oranges, tomatoes, black bread, apples, and tea." That was her list of things she wanted to buy for her mom's birthday. So we of course bought it all and a card and Masha was so thrilled. I just love that that was her list of things to buy for a birthday. People don't necessarily have much here (have we talked about how every single Ukrainian I know is perpetually broke?) but it doesn't seem to actually matter in the least - you can always buy oranges, tomatoes, black bread, apples, and tea for a birthday present.

I spoke in church on Sunday. But not my usual 5ish minute discussion on a vague church-related subject. I gave a real, big kid, 12 minute talk. IN RUSSIAN. (You know how people add "in bed" to the end of fortune cookies to make them funny? I feel the need to add "in Russian" to everything I do, because it makes me feel so much more accomplished. Example: I got a library card IN RUSSIAN. I ordered a taxi IN RUSSIAN. etc). Anyway, it was a good little talk and even though I made about 10,000 grammar errors, it was fun to give a real talk. I really do have this weird soft spot for public speaking. Like I don't necessarily even enjoy giving the talk, but I really enjoy writing it. Maybe I'll bail on law school and become a speech writer.

We had a super wonderful mission conference yesterday with President Lawrence, the area 70/area president/he's the general authority in charge of Eastern Europe. Anyway, the best part was that this morning our mission president had a conference call with all the sisters and said, "I just want you to know that driving home in the car last night, President Lawrence said that in all his years in the church and as a general authority he has never seen such an impressive and strong group of sisters." So it's kinda awesome to be on the receiving end of that compliment. #feminism

Finally, by way of announcement, I've sort of decided to shut down my email. Hear me out here. Right now, I kinda feel like this: 6 days a week I live in Ukraine and on Monday mornings I'm back in Utah. It's a bit like I'm maintaining two lives, and it's turned out to be super hard on me. It's like I get settled into my life here every week and then get thrown for a loop on Monday mornings and then have to spend the rest of the week trying to refocus, only repeat the cycle the following Monday. The frequency and accessibility of the email makes it like I'm maybe just a little bit too much in the loop about that life I used to live in those States across the sea. It's really only even a problem because I have way too many people whom I love dearly and who faithfully write me, so way to go guys. I don't know if that made sense, because sometimes I struggle to take things that I feel and turn them concretely into language, but I hope you get the point. ANYWAY, the take-home message is that I'm turning into an old-school missionary again. Starting next Monday, I'm not going to be using my email account to write or read individual emails. I'll still send out this big "Hi, I am alive and this is what I did this week" email, but that's going to be it. Aside from that, expect mountains of personal letters from me in your mailboxes. And if you can forgive me for this, and still care to write me, you can do so VIA snail mail and I will be so thrilled to read your letters (instructions for that in the PS). Thanks for your patience and love and support and for indulging me in this. I have the best cheering section of all the missionaries in the world. 

All the love,

PS. How to write:

Pouch mail is really fast. Any letters sent from home through the Church Pouch must be a single sheet of copy paper (lined notebook paper is too flimsy) folded in thirds with the open section up where the stamp is. You can only use one sheet of paper. Tape the open end at the top with one or two small pieces of tape. (I attached a nice little visual representation of this). Stamp and address as follows:  
Hannah Pugh
Ukraine Kyiv Mission,  
P.O. Box 30150, Salt Lake City, UT  84130-0150

Or the real address, to send it straight here:
Hannah Pugh
vul. Yabluneva 1
s. Sofiivska Borshahivka
Kyevo-Svyatoshinskiy rayon
Kyivska oblast  08131

Or if you don't want to deal with the post office, of if the US government shuts down again, dearelder.com is a good little option, too.

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