Well, the way I speak English has officially changed. I had a moment this week when I realized "I would never have said that before I learned Russian" and since then I've had them constantly. In Russian, you use adverbs a lot. Like a whole freaking lot. And those adverbs and other grammar things I say 20,000 times a day have worked their way into the English side of my brain. Here are things that I now say in every conversation: honestly, to say in short, understandable, that is difficult, simply, so that, in order to, and whom. It's okay, I don't need to speak perfect English to go back to college or anything. I'm switching my major to math.
Anyway, since I was a little melodramatic last week about the whole new companion situation, I thought you'd all like an update. I actually love Sister Cromwell! We're complete opposites (she told me yesterday she was homeschooled from 4th grade until she got her GED and went to BYU-Idaho to study horticulture), but it's good. I have discovered that I have a great deal of respect for her. As I've been with her, I have realized just how difficult being a missionary is for her. She isn't neccisarily naturally suited for this work. I'm pretty sure that every day of her mission is harder for her than the hardest day of my mission will be for me (unless I get stabbed or something). She goes out every day and fights a literal battle where I engage in thumb wars. She might struggle with lots of the basics of missionary work, and may not be a missionary people look at and say "she's one of the best" judging by external achievements, but she puts forth enormous effort daily and in that regard is one of the most successful missionaries I have ever met. I feel very priviledged to have the chance to work with her,
Have we ever talked about how everyone in Ukraine is broke? Probably not because it makes me terribly uncomfortable. I have never spent time around people who literally don't have the money for hot water or public transportation or dentistry or food or basic healthcare. "Oh, you don't have any teeth because you've never had money in your life to go to the dentist?" is not something I ever had to say or think when I lived in the US. But that's just how things are here. Among other things, it has made me a much more grateful missionary. When people give me food out of there want, what is there to do but be gracious? And how can I ever complain about anything when my apartment rent is the same as their 4 months income? At the end of the day, it may be cold, but we have a warm apartment where my Ukrainian friends don't even have hot water. In a somewhat twisted way, it's made me a happier missionary, because I can't spend but a moment complaining before my brain reminds me the average income of the people who fed me dinner. I love what I'm doing here and I love there people and I am so grateful to be here.
All the love,