Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall is Beautiful

It was such a good week here in lovely Chernigov! It is fall and that is wonderful. To celebrate it being fall I have a new addiction to making sugar-free applesauce with lots of cinnamon and all good things fall spice. Did we talk about how I quit eating sugar a while ago? That happened. Here it's sunny if not a little bit chilly, see picture of me standing in leaves and trees. I'm definitely not in the Kyiv concrete jungle anymore.

I also made the best pot of borscht of my life this past week. Hurrah! Oh, and in other food news, this is a picture of me and Sister McInnes and several kilograms of salo, commonly known as raw pig fat that people eat for appetizers. I can't wait to be a vegetarian again.

I love living in this small town again because I feel like I'm right back in Zhytomyr! We spent some time with some babushkas this week, and they were having a sergic (mix of Ukrainian and Russian) conversations and I felt like I was right back in old times. Except I understand a whole lot better than I did last time, so that's fun. 

One of the babushkas, Vera, told us the cutest story. She's 70-something and told us about her childhood in a little village. She said that she has always believed in God, because as soon as she learned to read, her illiterate grandmother (born 1890) would have her read the Bible to her aloud, so that she could hear it. Isn't that darling? 

Yesterday as we were walking into Sunday school the teacher turned to us and was like "so, who's got the lesson?" Uhhhhhh... not you? So this week it was my turn to on-the-spot throw together a Sunday school lesson in Russian. Mission calls should come with a subtitle. Serving a mission: doing a vast variety of things in your second language on the fly. Anyway, the lesson was alright. Better than when I improv taught in Zhytomyr, so that was cool.

I learned how to sew a button this week! There are some way cute members here who are designers/seamstresses. I asked if they'd sew a button back onto my coat for me. I was told, "why give a man a fish if you can teach him how to fish." So we had a "master class" on button sewing and now I am capable of sewing buttons with nobs, two holes, and four holes. #domesticity

Daylight savings time was yesterday which is the best thing ever as a missionary because it's the only time you get an extra hour of sleep without breaking the rules!

Also, yesterday was the election! We went with the branch president and his family to vote  (the word for vote in Russian is literally to voice, isn't that neat?) before we had dinner at his house. The best part was that there was a star wars party, with Darth Vader running for Parliment. I would have voted for them. It was cool to see the elections, with real paper ballots! Yay for democracy. I hope things work out well and good people get put in charge of this little country of ours. We're all praying for Ukraine.

Oh. The most exciting moment of the week was when we woke up at 5AM to get to a girl in the branch's house by 6 to surprise her for her birthday. (I know, when they first told me we were doing that I was like "are you nuts? I would hate getting woken up at 6 on my birthday.") Anyway, she LOVED it and was so thrilled that we came to suprirse her and had a great birthday. So that was fun.

Okay, that is all I can write because the place where we are emailing is FREEZING and my hands are numb.

All the love,

Monday, October 20, 2014

Polka Dot Chameleon

We're sitting at the bishop's house for FHE. The 12-year old daughter is having me fill out one of those kids year book things where you tell everything about yourself. She's like tell me a secret. I point at one of the elders who was there with us about to say, "his first name is..." when she changes the quetion to "who do you love?" I was still pointing. And that is how I spent one of the most awkward FHE of my life getting teased by the entire family for liking the elder. 

In order to wrap up our companionship the right way, we impulsively dyed Sister Grandy's hair last week! I've never dyed anyone's hair. It turned out nice. 

Tuesday we went to the temple with one of Sister Grandy's best friends while she got her endownment and then was sealed. The whole temple ceremony was in Russian and for the first time I did it without earphones and totally understood it! It was awesome. Like I said last week, I love the Kyiv temple. 

Let's see.... Wednesday was one of the most terrible, odd days of my mission. I basically just visited all my favorite people and then stayed up until slightly after midnight packing. First stop was Katya, my favorite Relief Society president. How I love that woman. As I left she gave me a hug and was like "dress warm when it gets cold, okay?" And that's why I love her. Next we went to Ira's, who's one of my best friends in Ukraine. We had a good time with her then she gave the best letter anyone's sent me since I came on my mission. Then we went to Eva and her family's. Eva cried and I died a little bit inside, because she's basically family. We went to Tiam and her family, and I was kinda just distraught that I'll not get to see them, because they're some of the most incredible people I've met. And then we met with Angela, who I am so, so proud of. She told me she wants to serve a mini-mission once school's not going! So I basically said goodbye to all my favorite people in Ukraine in an 8 hour period. I'm pretty sure I couldn't even process it. 

And now I'm in Chernigov! I'm having funny deja vu with Zhytomyr. It's the same time of the year, the same weather, I don't know where anything is, and I'm in a beautiful, quiet litttle city with fall leaves all over the place. It's a little chilly, but life is good. The people are all characters and I love them already. Small branch life is so funny. Yesterday, during Sacrament Meeting someone refused to give their talk from the audience, the Sunday school teacher didn't show so my companion improv taught and RS was a full hour of argument intermingled with reading from the manual. There's something wonderful about baby branches. You've just gotta love them. They're just full of good, honest, striving people. Our branch president is a recent convert of March and he and his family are incredible. More about that next week.

Anyway, it's a time of adjustment for this little missionary. You know how you see funny cartoons of a polka dot chameleon against a striped background? I feel a little bit like that right now. But I'm adjusting and I'll be just fine in a little while. I always seem to end up in good places with good people. 

All the love,

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hot water and transfers

OUR HOT WATER CAME BACK ON THIS WEEK. The 3 month nightmare has ended. Ira leaned over to me yesterday in church and whispered "you endured to the end of not having hot water. Congrats." Okay, so I probably whined tons more than the whole situation merited to everyone who would listen, but, well, we all know I'm fairly high-maintenance. 

Not that it matters that much that we have hot water because on Thursday I'm shipping out for my transfer to Chernigov, and that apartment has a boiler! Anyway, while I'm super bummed to be leaving, I'm so excited to Chernigov. It's this tiny little pretty city. Basically, it's like Zhytomyr round two and I'm so excited about it. It's close to Russia and Chernobyl, too! Hahaha not that that actually matters. Anyway, it'll be great.

We had mission conference this week and Sister Welling came back and stayed with me the night before. best.thing.ever. I missed that fool and it was so good to see her. And at conference I saw my awesome trainer Sister Clark. She's going home in T-48 hours. Craziness. I will miss her. I've been so lucky to have incredible companions who I love so much. Lucky lucky lucky. 

After conference we went to the temple with Ira and Angela and Natasha (Eva's aunt). It was just awesome. I love the Kyiv temple! It was great to be there with them, because I just love them so much. They were so happy to be there and enjoyed it and want to go back. But who doesn't want to go back to the temple?

My favorite Relief Society President has agreed to adopt me. Just thought that was good news to pass on. 

We had the police called on us this week! The elders came to bring us a heater (because there's not a whole lot of heat due to the gas shortage) and brought one of the young men with them. While we were assembling it, he was playing with things in the hallway, including the electricity box. We were like "hey, don't do that!" but because we always joke with him, he kinda ignored us. Next thing I know our neighbors are out yelling at him. Turned out he'd flipped some switch he wasn't supposed to and they were not pleased with it. Anyway, the one neighbor overreacted and called the police over it. They showed up, slightly inebriated, and calmed everyone down and escorted the elders out after checking all our documents. Our neighbors asked us to please not invite such guests over any more. So that happened. 

I acquired the best souvenir ever this week. It's a Russian house wife manual from the 60s. "The book for every home for every day." So now I'll know how to be a Soviet house wife.

Anyway, church yesterday was so sad. Saying goodbye is just the worst thing ever. How about we never say goodbye?  KK. I've really loved my time in this ward and made some wonderful friends. How grateful I am for facebook and skype and email so that it's not a goodbye forever. I really do love these people and will miss them terribly. Transfers bite.

All the love,

Monday, October 6, 2014

72 hour kids

Well, like every other Kyiv missionary, I have to start my email by geeking out about the fact that our mission president spoke in General Conference on Saturday. If you missed it, click this. It was funny to watch because a HUGE majority of the things he said were verbatim things he told us in conferences and weekly letters. We were all like "well, good to know President hasn't changed." 

I passed my YEAR MARK in country on Thursday. Is that insane or what? It's nuts. I can't even believe I've been here this long. Especially because a handful of times we thought we were going to get sent home with the war and what not. 

At leadership council this week, President showed the Dustland Fairytale music video by the Killers and it was awesome. You know your mission president is kinda young when you're listening to rock music with him. That also happens to be my favorite Killers song, so it made me awfully happy. 

My branch president from Житомир has gone on a few dates with a girl in my ward and I played a good little joke on him. He gave us a present he bought on his vacation in Bulgaria so we could give it to her. I had the genius idea to buy a fake wedding ring and put it in the bag. But then I was like "no, that's too much." But I told her about it when I gave her the present. She started dying and was like "let's do it!" So she called him and was like "thanks for the present. I like the candy and the lotion, but I can't figure out, what's with the ring?" "......What ring?" "There's a really nice big ring here." ".....I didn't put a ring in there" "well, there's definitely a ring here. Usually when a boy gives a girl a ring he does it a little bit nicer." "I didn't give you a ring. Only Sister Pugh could have done this" "I doubt it, but I'll give you the ring tomorrow and we'll figure it out." She told him about it the next day and he pretty promptly called me, "I was up all night worrying about where the ring come from! I'm going to kill you!" But really he was way amused. 

I feel like that was not a very good recounting of the story, but just trust me that it was hilarious. I love them.

I was sick again this week. Ukraine is not agreeing with me this time of year.

There's a way cute little boy in our ward named Roham. His family is from Iran, and his parents don't speak Russian, so he learns it exclusively from his older sister (who incredibly has learned fluent Russian in 3 years.) Consequently, he always messes up the genders of words. Yesterday, we were teasing him that we were going to take his sister home with us and he grabbed her leg and yelled, "no, leave him!" We all died. Sometimes making tons of Russian mistakes is adorable. 

We just got a text that they're doing flu shots at zone conference this week. I HATE SHOTS. I didn't get one last year and was fine... probably fine this year, too? I hate being an adult and having the pressure to make responsible decisions. Can't I just not?

Also, remember how my apartment was inhabited exclusively by elders for over a year? We found this lovely pile of odd preservatives on a windowsill...

All the love,