Maybe you noticed that it was Halloween this week. We certainly did here in Chernigov and celebrated by having ourselves a big Halloween Party! At first all the babushkas in the branch were way offended because "Halloween is a dark holiday of devil worship and it has no place in our church," but we explained a little bit more about our plans and they accepted it. I'm pretty sure that during the Soviet times part of Anti-American propaganda was our devil-worshipping on Halloween, but I haven't actually had that confirmed. Anyway, the party was awesome because we had over 40 people show up, the majority of which weren't members! We played all kind of fun games: pumpkin painting (because not really an incredible idea to give tons of knives out), bobbing for apples, stick pull, eating the donut on the string, and the one where you put M&Ms in a pie tin, fill the tin with whipped cream and find the M&Ms without the use of hands. Also I made like 60 pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and that was obviously a hit. In short, it was a great party, and not just because all the missionaries dressed up like super heroes (I was Thor).
Remember my wedding ring prank? I got pranked back. They called me on Tuesday and were like "when do you leave?" "February" "So you'll come to our wedding in December?" Then I freaked out for about 15 seconds until I was like "No! You're joking. Not even funny." And then we had a good laugh.
I got an awesome package from Judy this week with The Best Two Years soundtrack (I'm so lucky to be in a mission where "any spiritually uplifting music" is kosher). Is it weird that that is my favorite CD in the world right now? I think that's when you know you've been on a mission for a long time. I literally had the sentence come out of my mouth this week "I don't care so much about hearing the new Coldplay CD because this one is probably better."
I learned this week why Ukraine isn't quite as pretty and doesn't have the old historical centers of Western Europe. The answer is two-fold. First, Hitler, Stalin, and WWII. Second, because of the abundances of forests here, they built most of their buildings out of wood for centuries. Hence, they didn't last.
Anyway, I'm really happy here in Chernigov, because the people are wonderful. We met with the cutest recent convert this week, and talked about what she's been reading in the Book of Mormon. I got to show her how to use footnotes and the guide to the scriptures (It's in the back of the Russian BoM and is kinda like Bible Dictionary + Topical Guide). She was so excited about it and it was adorable. We also had a lesson with a babushka investigator yesterday. She said she wants to get baptized by the end of this month, and she knows she had to give up coffee until them to get baptized, but she can't make any promises after baptism. So we're working on that haha. She's a good one.
Definitely the highlight of the week was that we went to Kyiv for conference and I got to have lunch with Ira! I miss her a lot and it was awesome to see her. And then we had mission conference with Tad R. Callister. That was incredibly cool. I was way excited because his book, The Infinite Atonement is one of the best things I read before my mission. My favorite thing that he said was "what good is the gospel of Jesus Christ if it doesn't bring us joy?" Lovely. I feel like something I've definitely seen on my mission is that you can tell how deeply someone is converted by how much joy they find in the gospel - it's true for investigators, members, and even missionaries. Anyway, we got home from Kyiv about 12:30AM (with permission from President, obviously) so that was an adventure. Turns out that at that hour on Halloween night, the only people on the street are not sober and the only cars are taxis driving them home. But what else is new. I love Ukraine.
All the love,