Well, I'm being transferred out of Житомир and onto Майдан. Not really, but I am being transferred to Kyiv! My new area is воскресенский or Voskresensky, which means resurrection in Russian, but it's ironically named because it's actually just a concrete jungle. Or so I've heard, I've never actually been there, but I've talked to various missionaries who have and they've described it as such. So it'll definitely be a change, but I'm happy about it. The ward is apparently actually a large, functioning, fabulous, America-esque ward (no more improv RS lessons or 15 people sacrament meetings), which will be really different, but I'm excited. Anyway, my life is getting shaken up, but I think it'll be alright. We'll find out Thursday!
That being said, my heart is only a little bit completely shattered to be leaving Житомир. I've been here 6 months and actually feel totally good about leaving in terms of "yeah, I did all I can do here," but the people I will miss dearly. Since we heard about transfers, the end of one of my favorite poems just keeps coming to mind. I'm not sure I can quote it perfectly, since I don't have the poem with me, but it's pretty close (my apologies to Mary Oliver if I butcher it): "To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and when the time comes to let it go; to let it go."
I think that applies perfectly to a mission. You come into an area and you know you won't be there forever; you know that at some undisclosed time in the future you'll have you leave; you know that this place will not be your home for all that long, that your existence there is mortal. And yet, you love the place and the people will your entire heart. Their lives become your life; their family becomes your family; their home becomes your home. I don't think I've ever loved a group of people as much as I love this little band of battered believers here in Житомир. But, the time comes, as it comes for every missionary, when you have to say goodbye and let it go. It's terrible and it's okay. I feel like a dying parent - I know they'll be alright and I know there will be other people to love them, but I just love these people so deeply and can't ever really believe anyone will love them like I do. To live in this world, you have to learn to deal with transfers.
So I've spent a good part of the past week saying goodbyes and packing and other such activities that involve leaving. (Sidenote: I brought way too much stuff on my mission. Why do I always just have too much stuff? I want to burn all my stuff. Then buy new stuff). I cried at church yesterday. But so did some of the members, so it made it a little less pathetic. The problem was they made me talk yesterday. Which means, I got a call at 9:30 Saturday night to prepare a 15 minute talk in Russian for the next morning. Anyway, I pulled off writing a decent talk in my second language from scratch in 2 hours, which I consider a fairly big accomplishment. But I stood at the pulpit and looked at the branch and how could I not start crying?
Clearly the highlight of this week was that Sister Clark (remember her, my trainer, dearly beloved and trusted companion?) came to Житомир. So I got to spend the whole day with her and it was so awesome. I love that girl. Also, I was in a little marshutka bus the other day that ran into a taxi, so we had to evacuate and get on a new bus. It brought back good times of me driving. I'm pretty sure enough time has elapsed that I now have a clean record at the DMV, so that's definitely one of the perks of going on a mission. There are other, more significant ones, but that's one not to be discounted.
All the love,