I have vague memories of my great grandma (Judy's mom) complaining in her old age that all her friends had died and there was no one to talk to or play bridge with any more. I never appreciated how sad that must feel until last Wednesday when the remainder of my mission friends died (went home). We had Thanksgiving mission conference the next day and it was like the saddest thing. All my friends had died. I miss them. The conference was good though. The senior couples went above and beyond putting together a real American Thanksgiving for everyone, and that was awesome. Some of them even used their precious American ingredients, which we were all very grateful for. Brown sugar becomes a very dear commodity when you live in Ukraine.
On the way back from conference, I sat by a babushka on the bus. We got to talking, and she told me about how she's already been traveling 12 hours from Western Ukraine, returning home after burying her 31-year-old son. She talked and cried and it was so sad. I love being a missionary, because you get to talk to strangers about real life.
We did family history like crazy this week, because we have lots of recent converts who've never done it before. It's pretty neat and daunting to start a family tree from scratch. I showed them my family tree and they couldn't believe it. One line we traced back to King Arthur and Uther Pendragon, so that was cool. Haha I'm so lucky that all my relatives did my family history work for me.
Yesterday, the branch president showed me his photo album from his years in the Soviet army. It was epic. I also spoke in church yesterday. It was less epic. I kinda just wrote up a few points and a few scriptures and hoped it'd be fine. It turned out pretty well, so that was lovely, because I was pretty nervous. I still get nervous sometimes and my Russian is not so pretty then. Or ever, really. Russian is probably not my strong suit as a missionary.
Oh, and the first snow fell this week! It's definitely getting colder, but don't worry, my bed is right next to the heater so I snuggle up warm at night. The snow really is lovely. I love walking down the street at night when it's dark and the snow is quietly falling. It's just so peaceful.
Since it's December today, I'd say the Christmas season is officially kicked off! Something fun we did this week was buy tea for some recent converts/less actives who struggle to read the scriptures regularly. Everyone here drinks tea in the morning, we we wrote a different Book of Mormon scripture that talked about Christ on each tea bag and gave them out yesterday. 25 tea bags and 25 days until Christmas makes for a nice way to start every day in December. Sometimes, I can be creative.
All the love,