Monday, February 3, 2014

Changes are coming

Hello World,

Well, the news of the week is that transfers are happening. Don't worry, I still get to stay in the best city in Ukraine, but Sister Clark is headed out and I'm getting myself a new companion. I don't know anything about her really, so I'll keep you posted. After 4.5 months together literally 24 hours a day, I'm definitely sad to be saying goodbye to my dearly beloved companion, but I think there are good things to come. 

With transfers, we're getting another set of sisters here, so we went apartment hunting this week! Now, I've never been apartment hunting, but compared to this week, I'm pretty sure I will never ever complain about going apartment hunting in America. Trying to get an apartment in language you don't speak naively is almost impossible. We literally spent 2 days straight doing nothing but trying to find an apartment. There are all sorts of things you take being able to say for granted - heating, hot water, washing machine, utilities included, fixed rate, etc. Was there occasionally some pointing and gesturing? Yes, there was. It was a party. Finally, our Ukrainian best friend Marina helped us. She is seriously amazing. How many people do you know who are willing to spend an entire day apartment hunting with the silly missionaries who aren't capable of doing it on their own? I only know one. 

I walked into some one's house this week and my skirt was all kinds of funky because I'd had my big coat on and like 3 pairs of tights and I'd walked for like 30 minutes and static was just doing weird things to it. Anyway, the result of this was I took off my coat and she saw my skirt and was like "well that won't do." So she grabbed her can of anti-static spray and lifted up my skirt and just started spraying. I haven't had my personal space invaded in a while, but that was definitely not in my comfort zone. But what are you going to do?

It was all snowy again this week. Ukraine inexplicably has completely gorgeous snowflakes. I mean, it's actually probably explicable, and has to do with science and chemicals and stuff, but to me it is inexplicable. They are tiny and you can see all the intricacies of their patterns. When I wait for buses, my favorite thing to do is look at the snowflakes that are stuck on the fur on my hood and admire how completely beautiful each one of them is. It's my silver lining to winter. 

Marina and I had a snowball fight this week. She hit me in the face. We both died laughing. You know you have a good friendship with someone when they hit you in the face with a snowball and instead of getting mad/slightly vengeful you just laugh together. 

One of the things that I think I've figured out a bit more on my mission is what this church is and what it is not. As I look at what I have seen as "the church" throughout various stages in my life, I've realized that most of the time, I've missed the point. It's really easy to equate the church to things that aren't the church but play a part in it - RS politics, callings, home teaching, the Patriarchal power structure (polygamy), race issues, "every one's judging me," modesty standards, that whole Word of Wisdom thing, etc. We all know I'm no stranger to the apostate side of the chapel and sometimes it's hard to get past all that stuff to what the church really is. But, I've been very fortunate to be in a place where I can learn that all that stuff really is just stuff and is not the church. I work in a branch where we fail at most of those things people consider "the church," and yet, we still have the church. When I think about the reasons I've most frequently heard (and experienced) for leaving the church, none of them hold ground here, because we're not functional enough for the Utah politics to even have a shadow on the way the branch runs. The absence of those things have allowed me to get a greater sense of what the church really is. The church is a place to learn how to practice the simplest "love others" Christianity. It is a place to learn how not to be selfish. It is a place to grow a personal relationship with God. The church is a place to find peace and happiness. To me, at the end of the day, all those other things that people leave the church over are accessories, and maybe I'm not always the biggest fan of them, maybe I struggle with them every day, but I am not willing to give up the beautiful things I've found in the church. I love it here.

All the love,
Hannah

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