Monday, August 25, 2014

Independence Day

I HAVE A MASSIVE CAVITY. It is terrifying. I do not like the dentist, not one bit. When I first discovered the cavity I was like "I can wait six months! I'll just stop eating sugar." Which I did successfully. But then every time someone offered me sugar and I was like "I can't I have a massive cavity." They were like, "you fool, if you wait six months you'll lose your tooth." So finally I cowboyed up and called the doctor, who promised they do in fact have great dentists here in Kyiv. Which means I have a visit to the dentist in my near future. So there's that.

It finally cooled off! Including our not-heated water. Is it possible to get hypothermia from a shower? What are the symptoms of hypothermia? Will someone send that to me?

Remember my cutest little 9-year-old Eva? She got baptized Saturday. Tons of people came and it was a way cute little baptismal service. Eva spoke at the end about how excited she was that she was able to get baptized and that she didn't have to wait. I love that little girl with all my heart. 

Yesterday was Ukrainian Independence day! Which felt a little funny to be celebrating considering the war and what not. Anyway, everyone (including us, obviously) wore vyshyvankas to church and it was just darling. I learned how to say "happy independence day" in Ukrainian, so that made me a pretty popular little missionary. We had a HUGE ward lunch and ate Ukrainian food until we couldn't walk. Plus some American pancakes made by the missionaries. I think we literally made 85+ chocolate chip pancakes. They were pretty darn good if I do say so myself. I did all the dishes afterward. Is it weird that I'm pretty sure doing the dishes is how I relieve stress as a missionary? #haven'tseenadishwasherinoverayear

All the love,

Monday, August 18, 2014

Okroska and soap

I COME HOME SIX MONTHS FROM TODAY, AUGUST 18. Not sure how to feel about it. Part of me's like "wow, I'm going to be home in a flash" and the other part's like "I am going to die in Ukraine." Mostly it's just super weird. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do once I come home, but we'll just let that work itself out. If anyone wants to find me some awesome job for a few months, I'd be awfully grateful. 

This week at district meeting we sang hymns accompanied by one of our elders on the ukulele. Best church meeting I've ever been to. 

I was fed okroska this week. Okroska is a cold soup. Here are the ingredients of okroska: raw cucumbers, radishes, spring onions, boiled potatoes, eggs, and lunch meat with kvass, the fake beer made from fermented rye bread, and sour cream. Think about it. Just think about it.

But it's okay because we had some lovely things in our life, too! We spent pretty much all day Saturday making soap with our investigator Ira. It was SO MUCH FUN. We got to pick the color and the scent and the shape. It wasn't even that hard just lots and lots of fun. Maybe I'll be a soap maker when I grow up. Most of mine turned out just kinda alright, because arts and crafts haven't ever been my forte, but I made one big flower one that turned out pretty nice. Not sure why, but I was just kinda in a pink mood that day. Anyway, this is my soap:

It smells better than it looks, I promise.

Oh remember my cute Eva girl from last week (two weeks ago?)? She's getting baptized on Saturday! We had a sit down with her mom and were like "listen, she's 12,000 times ready. We're gonna hold a baptismal service on the 23rd. Can she get baptized?" Her mom was like, "пусть она крестится," which really doesn't translate the way I want to, but kinda means "let her be baptized" (but let means let as in "let them eat cake") ANYWAY, it was just a very cool moment and Eva started jumping around and screaming and kissed her mom like 18 times on the cheek. It was adorable. Watching and getting to take part in a kid's dreams come true definitely qualifies as the fun part of missionary work. 

This week we went to visit a member at her work in center Kyiv, which is across the river from us. But then we ended up staying to late and would have gotten home WAY too late if we'd taken the metro and a bus. So we called a taxi. And sang along to the radio playing American music. And felt a little bit spoiled for an evening. How I miss driving.

Last but not least, we went to the little town of Chernigov this week for exchanges. It was a dream. Seriously, that town is so pretty. I love it there. It was a seriously seriously unholy temperature (I think it was pushing 40 degrees with like 800% humidity), but it was still so wonderful. We went on a picnic for lunch with their investigator! We hiked up this little hill overlooking a lake and ate PB&J and ate watermelon and it was so perfect. I love picnics. I saw one of the elders from my MTC district and we had a conversation for pretty much the first time in a year. Before I left he was like "Sister Pugh, don't take this the wrong way, but it's funny how docile you've become." I still haven't decided if I like that or not, or if it's true or not, but I'm definitely different. Maybe we can use the word gentle instead. Or pleasant. I like to think I've still got some fight in me. 

All the love,

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Is there going to be a fight?"

Well, I got new Nikes this week. Fun fact, in Russian (or Ukrainian, maybe?) Nike rhymes with bike. As in, they don't know how to say Nike correct, so they just start the word bike with the letter n. I guess it makes sense. Anyway, there's a nike outlet around here, so I got them super cheap and I am so very pleased with myself. We run a couple miles every morning and it's now just so much better. 

We went on a eating really healthy kick last week (we refused to call it a diet). Anyway, basically all we ate was vegetables and fruit for like 10 days. I very quickly got very grumpy, but it took me over a week to put two and two together. I was like "maybe I just miss Sister Welling?" or "maybe I need to go to bed earlier" or "maybe I need to speak English more" because we pretty much never speak English these days. FINALLY, I was like "oh, I've been hungry for a week! That's what's wrong!" So we bought some bread and my mood instantly improved 1000%. And that was the end of eating like a rabbit. 

On the topic of food, it is watermelon season in Ukraine! Literally every block or less there is a giant watermelon stand. Watermelon kinda makes me miss Whimzy. She's so darn cute when she eats watermelon! For FHE last week, dessert was watermelon with brown bread (the really good kind that's like almost black and is pretty much entirely made up of every kind of grain). It was surprisingly good. I brought babushka Valentina watermelon this week and she pretty much died. She was like "I keep wanting to buy watermelon, but I can't carry it!" So that was funny and adorable. Poor babushkas are suffering in the heat. We visited one this week and she was like "it's so hot I walk like a drunk and we have no hot water so I'm afraid to shower." So sad. I promise not to complain about anything for the next 50 years. 

We had a water balloon volleyball activity and it was so much fun! Somehow, it turned out to be the one day in the past 2 weeks that wasn't blazing hot, and we actually had to end early because of rain, but it was still super awesome. Eva (remember her from last week) came and had way too much fun pelting water balloons at her older brother and the elders. Sometimes, it's just a lot of fun to play on a Saturday afternoon. 

We had kinda a treat this week. Do you remember Zoya from my first few weeks here - recap: Judy's age, speaks English perfectly, translated all the scriptures into Ukrainian, AWESOME. Anyway, we had some stuff we needed to translate from Ukrainian and so we went over to their house. We ate chocolate ice cream and they told us ALL THE NEWS. But they told us in ENGLISH. So we understood PERFECTLY. It was ligit like watching the news for a while. Unfortunately, the news wasn't too good. I think I like it better when I don't really know what's going on in Ukraine and when I don't know what Putin's up to. Because then it's just kinda funny and absurd that there's a "war". The more I know the more serious and real it gets and I'm not sure I like it. Before long I'm going to turn into a "give peace a chance" hippie hanging out in the East. Anyway, Putin scares me. Pray for Ukraine. I'm pretty sure the only reason any of us are still here is that the Kyiv stake's been fasting for 7 months. 

Yesterday our awesome investigator Ira came to church. Relief Society was all in Ukrainian, and it must have been a gift of tongues moment, because unfortunately I understood all of it. Turned out to be a very heated discussion on the doctrine of the necessity of temple marriage for a place in the celestial kingdom. Lots of single women in our ward didn't like that and the married ones were being kinda bratty. Not awesome. Ira was so funny about it though. At one absurd point she smiled and whispered to me ""how do you say борьба in English?' "Fight" "Is there going to be one?" and then at the end stood up and laughed and said, "well, I'm going to go home and tell my husband our marriage isn't a real marriage." She's funny and quirky and I adore her. She's set to be baptized in September, and is doing beautifully. 

I went on an exchange with the one and only Sister Ford this week. We had so much fun! I love Sister Ford! Except we stayed up way too late talking, so the next day I had to sleep through lunch so I could keep going. Anyway, we did English class and talked about similes and metaphors, which was obviously a highlight of my week. We talked to a man who really liked us and invited us to his infant son's baptism on the 21st. So that was cool. "President, we set a date but it's an infant and he's not getting baptized in our church!" (Don't worry, we didn't actually make that phone call). Lots of people we talked to on the street gave us free food. In the course of 2 hours we got: 6 tomatoes, 4 pears, and two loaves of bread. It was awesome. Everything is awesome.

All the love,

Monday, August 4, 2014

Year mark что??

Just another ordinary week on my mission. OH WAIT. This week I passed my year mark! July 31, 2013 I put on my very first tag. Isn't it crazy that it's already been a year? I'm pretty sure it's closer to 4 maybe 5 months. Maybe. A year sounds so long, but in reality it feels so short. I pulled out my old journal and read what I wrote on day 1. The entry ended I'm pretty sure being sister pugh is going to be the best thing that's ever happened to me. So darn true. The past year really had just been the best. I could write a love letter to my mission. I pretty much do every night in my journal. Where would I be if not on the mission? I don't know, but it wouldn't be nearly as good in any way. A mission is just the best. I literally haven't the words for it. I'm just happy and I'm growing and I'm learning and it's so good.

Now that I've established how much I love it here, let me just say IT IS AN UNHOLY TEMPERATURE OUTSIDE. Luckily, we have lots of awesome people we're meeting with and we're not on the street all that often. Also lucky, I found sandals this week with closed toe and heel that don't look like something you'd find in the free box at a retirement center! Hurrah! (I started saying hurrah in Russian (ура!) and it's apparently made its way into my English vocabulary too). Anyway, I'm drinking between 3-4 liters of water a day and it's just great. Remember when I got called to Ukraine and everyone was like "you're going to be so cold!"? The heat is like 1000 times worse than the cold. (Someone remind me I said that when it's January, okay?)

Also, I know everyone's super interested in the hot water situation, which continues to develop. As of this past week, there will be no hot water anywhere in Kyiv until at least October 15. Death. It comes as a result of the war with Russia. (Sidenote: is it known as "the war" in American newsmedia? Like do people call it the war in Ukraine? If so, is it seen as being between Ukraine and Russia or Ukraine and rebel groups? I never know, because everyone here just calls it "the war".) ANYWAY, apparently Russia's been jacking up prices on our oil and gas and cutting it off immensely, so Kyiv government was like "well, we all have boilers in our houses, so let's just let the commoners suffer for a few months." Not sure that's a verbatim quote, but you get the jist. Hurrah. 

We had testimony meeting at church yesterday, but it kinda turned into a political rally. Basically all our testimony meetings turn into political rallies. We've got a few die-hard patriots in this ward, and an open mic is a chance to proclaim their politics, regardless of the situation. The patriots refuse to speak Russian (even to us) and only speak Ukrainian, so I never really understand what's being said (I've learned Ukrainian enough to get like 45-50% of it), but I did understand yesterday the call for us all to put our Christian words to the test by collectively buying support kits for the troops in the East. Pretty ligit use of sacrament meeting. (Not.)

After that, one 18-year old kid (my favorite one, actually) stood up and read in the bible dictionary what a testimony is. Such a punk. But kinda a rock star one.

We had a fun excursion in center this week. We had an investigator who wanted to go visit a cool spot and we were like "okay!" so we went to this way awesome terrace area in center Kyiv. Kyiv is so interesting because in the very center of the city you can find beautiful places that are super quite and peaceful. Anyway, the area had  a beautiful view of the city, some fairly decent street musicians (I love when they play American music because the accent is so funny and fabulous) and a ton of way cool contemporary statues and tiles. It was just magnificent. After that, we went to this Lviv chocolate place where they don't give you hot chocolate, they literally give you a cup with straight melted chocolate in it. And it is way good chocolate. So that was kinda super awesome. I like center Kyiv. Someday, I'm going to come back and be a tourist here. 

We're teaching my new favorite little girl in this entire country. Her name is Eva and she's 9. She's from Lugansk (where the war is) so she and her family came here to be safe. Her parents aren't members but her older brother and aunt are and she's been going to church with them for a few years. Anyway, her mom gave her permission to meet with missionaries so we've been teaching her and she is the sunshine of my world. She's so bright and just good. She's like the most loving little girl I've ever met, and we have so much fun playing and talking with her. She's amazing and I adore her. 

Anyway, that's about all for me. Things are good, aside from the absurdity of living in a country kinda at war. Whatever, I love Ukraine.

All the love,

PS. We work hard.