Monday, January 26, 2015

A little bit of blaspheme and a monkey on the metro

This week just FLEW by. I come home in 3 weeks? What? Yesterday it struck me how much I am going to miss going to church in this country. 

During Sacrament meeting, a woman who is a photographer talked about how 5 years ago, she did a photo session for a girl and told her a little bit about the church. This past week, she ran into the girl who sense then has been baptized and whose husband is getting ready for baptism. Yep, that girl was Ira! How cool is that?

Second hour was about John the Baptist. The teacher decided to use some film clips to help illustrate the story. But she decided to use some film that was 20-30 years old and decidedly not produced by the church. John looked a lot like the Geico caveman and just went around screaming at everyone. And he baptized by pouring a hand full of water on people's heads. So that was how he baptized Jesus. I'm not sure if that constitutes blaspheme, but it was pretty entertaining at any rate.

Third hour, one of the RS announcements was the following: in case of bombing, the only safe places in Kyiv are the metro and the temple. 

Speaking of the metro, yesterday there was a monkey on the metro and it was awesome. Some guy put his pet monkey in a warm coat and put a leash on it and just brought it on the metro. The monkey ran around on the handrails.  I greatly enjoyed it.

I went on an exchange this week with Sister Steinacker, who is awesome and AMERICAN. I don't think I stopped talking the entire 24 hours we were together. Being able to communicate fluidly in English with no cultural or language miscommunication was so liberating. Which is not to say I don't love Sister Pugachova, because I adore here. We do have our fair share of miscommunication though.  

Our washing machine finally got fixed this week! Did I tell you it was broken? For the first 2+ weeks here, our washing machine didn't work. So that was not convenient at all. I can now say I've gone without electricity, hot water, and a washing machine in Ukraine. Does that count as roughing it yet?

Saturday night some of my FAVORITE members from Chernigov called me and were like "hey, what are you doing tonight? We're at the temple and have a few free hours." So we spent our dinner hour getting dinner with them. It was AWESOME. I think the hardest part of the mission is not getting to see all my friends often enough. I missed them.

Speaking of seeing my friends, I had a total miracle moment this week. Kyiv is a fairly large city, with lots of transport. At one point this week, I was sitting on a marshrutka when I saw this familiar red scarf and black hair get on. NATASHA. (Eva's aunt from Voskresensky, if you don't remember her. She's definitely on my list of top 5 favorite people in Ukraine). So I ran up and sat with her and got to talk for like 20 minutes. It was so incredible to see her, and just such a wonderful little miracle. She doesn't even live in my area. The chances of us being on the same bus are like 0. But things like that just seem to somehow happen all the time. And it is wonderful.

All the love,

PS. Metro ad word of the day - lagniappe: a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase

Monday, January 19, 2015

Meat Jello

Well, I finally had my run in with the worst of Ukrainian food. It's called holodets. It is meat jello. Literally. I've been fed it from time to time, but always on the table with masses of other food, so I've been able to get away with "I'll just try it." But yesterday, we visited this rockstar babuska. She's 77 and super bright and funny and awesome. We finished our lesson and she was like "and now I want to feed you really, really well." This was followed by two ENORMOUS plates of meat jello. I ate it all (mostly without chewing, obviously) and I'm pretty sure I get extra missionary points for that.

My companion talks in her sleep in Russian. Not the normal mumbling sleep talk, but genuine conversational tone, clearly formed words and sentences sleep talking. It is adorable and I love her for it. 

We met with a member this week who was just telling us about herself and such. (We've been doing that a lot since we're both new to the area and we know no one and no one knows us). She told us how she got baptized 20 years ago. Her husband was a sailor so she waited a few months for him to come back so they could be baptized together. She talked about how nerve-wracking those few months were for her, because she was very worried she wouldn't have time to get baptized before the Second Coming. I find that completely endearing and adorable. 

I spent an entire language study this week reading old letters people have sent me (yes, I know that is not actually langauge study). It made my day. Thank you all for the many letters and such. I also finished Jesus the Christ for the second time this year. I love that book. There's just so much good there. 

We were on the metro this week and it was like 4 and so we were understandably kinda sleepy... we both fell asleep. We weren't sitting next to each other, because on the metro there are never seats next to one another. I woke up one stop after our official stop and ran off at the next one to get back. Sister Pugachova woke up two stops later. Luckily, since we are leadership we both have our own phones (that could be another paragraph in and of itself; having my own phone is SO WEIRD and kinda like pseudo preparation for coming home), so we called each other and met up and all was well. But it was a weird 20 minutes sitting alone in the metro station. So weird. 

I was at the office this week and I saw Mama Gorbach from Chernigov! She gave me a huge literally-lifted-me-off-the-ground hug and it was adorable. I adore that woman. I know way too many good people.

There's an English school who has a subway advertisement campaign where they but a big English word, a picture, and a Ukrainian translation on the little add. I know what like a sixth of the English words mean and it makes me feel dumb. But my English vocabulary is growing, so that's a positive!

As everyone has taken to reminding me, I come home in slightly less than a month. But I had a wonderful moment this week when I realized that's okay. I was standing by the window, eating an apple, staring out at the rainy streets of Kyiv and I realized it's all going to be okay. We have so much good stuff going on here, and we're seeing miracles up the wazoo, and it's alright that I'm coming home soon. I feel peaceful about it. It was just a moment where I felt "it's good that I am where I am" in like all aspects of everything. It was sweet.

All the love,

Monday, January 12, 2015

Center Kyiv is good

New years is hard. It took me until the 7th to write the correct year in my journal. 

Leaving Chernigov was hard. We dealt with our feelings by eating. Everyone fed us so much. I had no complaints.

I was really worried about coming here. President gave me a pep talk at transfers. I needed it.

My companion is adorable and I love her. She's from a little city in central Ukraine. She's been a member for 4 years, and is the only member in her family. She's an incredible missionary. Our first day together, she put a ton of sriracha on her food thinking it was ketchup. Ukrainians hate spicy food. It was both pathetic and endearing. 

We spent a lot of time on the streets the past few days. It's pretty cold, but there still isn't really snow, so that is a blessing. We're working hard though. I am happy.

This ward is incredible. The first person baptized in Ukraine is in my ward. The oldest living member is in my ward. An area 70 is in my ward. This ward is full of the people who really built the church in this country from the beginning and they are simply stunning. I am so lucky to be here.

All the love,

Fwd: The Twelth Transfer

This morning was kinda traumatic. I found out I'm coming home on the 17th instead of the 18th. You wouldn't think it would be a big deal, but it just is somehow. So, since I'm dealing with a minor case of PTSD, this email will be short.

I was sad to see 2014 die. 2014 was my "tunnel year" aka the entire year I spent on a mission. Probably the best year ever. (I seem to have a lot of superlatives lately, don't I). I don't have the words, nor am I going to try to summarize all it means to me. 

In news world, my last transfer starts this week. 6 weeks from tomorrow I will be wheels down in SLC. Crazy. Incidentally, I am being transferred. Definitely did not expect that at all. I'm going to center Kyiv, Pechersky, it's called. I'm white-washing it (my companion is also brand new to the area). It's the biggest area in the mission, so that won't be hard at all (HA HA HA). It's going to be hard but it'll be an adventure. The prettiest parts of Kyiv are now my area, so that makes me happy. If I have to have many long, cold hours on the streets, at least it'll be pretty. The good news is that I'm back in leadership which means I'll get to go back to Chernigov AND to Vockresensky on exchanges, so that is a lovely little blessing. My new companion is awesome and from Ukraine! 

Chernigov has been great. I wore my vyshivanka to church yesterday and ever single member told me I was beautiful. Vyshivankas are magic. I've loved this place because I have just seen so many people change a lot, especially considering I was only here 3 months. It's been great.

All the love,