Well, it is officially really really cold in Ukraine. I'm feeling unbelievably fortunate that it stayed away for so long, because I am constantly reminded that I am just not tough enough to live in temperatures this cold for too many months of the year. Good time it's a one time thing. There are actually lots of amusing things about Ukrainian winter. For example, the windows on all the buses have sheets of ice on them. Also, buses can't stop at their stops, because there's quite a bit of ice on the road (they don't plow here) so you get to watch the buses break and slide for a few more feet until they come to a halt somewhere around the official stop. Also, my eyelashes freeze sometimes when I go outside. Really, everything freezes when it's outside. But the absolute best part of winter in Ukraine is the people have stopped using strollers. It's impossible to use them since the sidewalks all have several inches of snow-turned-ice on them, since they really don't plow anything in this country. As an alternative to strollers, people literally use sleds. As in, I constantly see people walking down the street pulling their kid on a sled behind them. It is the funniest thing you've ever seen and I just love it.
I fell under a bus this week? I was going to step onto it and there was just a whole lot of ice hanging out there. Anyway, I lost my balance and all of a sudden I was not standing up any more. But I slid in such a way that I ended up with half of me under the bus. It was slightly terrifying to see the doors start to close, but my trusty companion was like "no, no wait!" So the bus waited while I gathered myself and managed to stand up (not without some trouble) and successfully step onto the bus. I'm glad to report I was not run over.
Also, I hear there's a revolution going on in Ukraine! Since I can't actually read the news, I've gathered from various people I've talked to that there's all kinds of riots and parties in Kyiv right now. We had a little moment in our city on Friday where everyone gathered in the center of town and stormed our government buildings, but it quickly and peacefully dispersed so that was that. Anyway, besides that the revolution really hasn't affected me all that much. Most of the people I talk to just want it to be over, because they don't like violence and/or their fellow Ukrainians getting murdered. It's really quite sweet. I'm completely safe and life continues on as normal (aside from the fact that every time I pass a newsstand I desperately strain my eyes to catch a glimpse of the headlines).
There isn't much else new here. My 7-year-old best friend Masha has taken to sitting with me in church. She spent the service yesterday braiding my hair. And then afterwards she taught me a fun handshake Russian game. I casually completely adore that girl. I'm constantly very grateful I get to live and work here in Житомир because I have myself a little Ukrainian family and I love them dearly. And it's not the general "I just love the people here" that you hear from every missionary ever (though I do feel it). I have real relationships and friends and people who I'll slap if I never hear from them and they drop off the face of the earth once I'm home from my mission. Basically, it's a gluttonously abundant amount of the most wonderful people, and I couldn't ask for more.
All the love,