December 9, 2007

LIVING IN UKRAINE

It's been a few weeks and I think I can safely say we are adjusting. We are learning many lessons. The first lesson we have learned is patience. It took 2 weeks to get our computer hooked up. I don't know what we were thinking but we haven't found an assistant/interpreter yet. We were told this would be our first priority and I think we assumed we would find someone within a few days. We have to be very thoughtful about who we hire. It is a great job, but we have to be careful about our decision. We will be spending a lot of time with this person and we will need to trust that they will be good representatives of the Church as well as a competent employee. In the past returned missionaries are often used for this position but we haven't found one yet. We have a few names we have given to the Mission President for him to consider and give us some insights about the person but we haven't made any decisions yet. We have started to venture out on our own. We walk to the bus stop, ride the bus to the mission office and then walk a short distance to the office. We have even gone to the grocery store on our own. We can even ask for "2 BAGS" IN RUSSIAN when we get to the checkout stand. It's funny sometimes people will ask you for directions in the store because we have name tags on I guess we look like we work there. I think we stick out a bit on the streets. We are both dressed in our Sunday clothes, which for me is a skirt and sweater or blouse and vest and for Bruce is a suit or slacks and a tie. He bought a nice thick Leather coat and I have a down parka that I wear. You don't often see women in dresses unless they are pretty short skirts and knee high boots. My boots look like after ski boots compared to the women in their high heel boots. They have told us that it is good for the local people to see us together because the divorce rate is very high here. You very seldom see a couple walking hand in hand unless they are young and courting. Even at church there are a lot of single women with their children. Some of the Branches here (congregations) only have 30 or so active members, mostly woman and children. So, I think we stick out for several reasons, not just the way we are dressed, but that we are a couple, walking hand in hand, we are American, speaking English and we are happy. It was cute today at church I went to a class with 14 year old girls and the Sister Missionary was translating for me. When one of the girls was called on she said, "Oh sorry I was listening to the English". They are fascinated by us, as I am with them. I only wish I could speak to them without an interpreter. I will work on this. I am proud of Bruce I have a cold and we had to go to a Pharmacy alone. He used our dictionary and figured out how to ask for the cold medicine on his own, she even understood what he wanted. Russian Language studies are coming slow for us. We have been so busy getting our home office set up and trying to find our way around we haven't studied the Language much. We are going to start attending a English as a second language class that the sister Missionaries teach on Tuesday evenings. They also invited me to go with them once a week when they go spend time at a School for Special Needs children. We are starting to get project request from institutions that need assistance however, we can't make visits until we get our interpreter. So I may go with the Sisters until we get busier. I was invited to join them on a visit to a members home Saturday night. It was a wonderful experience. They were a sweet family and told us a beautiful story of how the husband and wife met, and how they came to be members of the church. The mother and her two daughters are members but not the husband. However, he joined us for our entire visit and is a very nice man. The oldest daughter served a mission in Russia. I love the members of the Church here. They are so happy to see us when we enter the building the women kiss our cheek and hug us. We sometimes have a missionary sit behind us in Church and interpret so we know what is being said. It helps so much. We have attended a few different branches and each time we visit a new place we are asked to bear our testimonies. We have met so many wonderful young missionaries here. They interpret for us whenever we are at church.This is a very difficult mission for them. It is very cold out. It gets dark very early and people get mad at them when they knock on the doors in the evening. There is a large anti-Mormon push here in the Provoslavic Church. The Mission President said the missionaries will find people to teach who make a decision to be baptized and then are influenced by family or friends to not do it. It can be discouraging, but these young missionaries are so strong in their faith and have such positive attitudes. I am so grateful to be here and see their examples. Yesterday we attended a Baptism of a woman whose son is leaving on a mission in a few days. It was a beautiful experience he got to Baptize his mother 3 days before going into the mission field. She shared her conversion story with me it was very powerful. Some of the missionaries here gathered money to buy him a suit and shirts and a few ties for his mission because his family is very poor. They are taking him shopping tomorrow, it's a surprise, but they are so excited to do this for him. Some of the missionaries are going home soon. It's fun to hear how excited they are to go home and "sleep in their own beds". The beds they sleep in are twin beds and they are very narrow and short. Some boys are so tall they have to put their mattresses on the floor because their legs hit the foot board. When packages arrive from home it's not just exciting to get a package but they are so excited about the food that comes from America that we don't have here. The Russian ties are very thick and all our young missionaries wear these very thick ties. It's quite funny looking. Well, I better go for now. Next time I'll write more about the projects we are working on. I almost forgot we did a service project last weekend in a Branch with the ladies. We had 18 quilts from a Stake ****(several congregations) in America. Several woman had gotten together to do a service project and made quilts. Then they sent them here. We all got together, missionaries, and the ladies in the Branch,a few husbands as well and tied the quilts. We are going to take them to an orphanage. ****I am realizing for our friends who aren't members of our Church that sometimes we use terms not everyone understands. We almost need a glossary. Just so you know, when we attend church in America our congregation is called a Ward. People attend wards that are in their neighborhood. many Wards make up a Stake. In Ukraine there are not enough members for a ward or a Stake so members attend a Branch. Which means they come along way to the Church building. In Utah there are so many wards that your building that you attend church is usually a block or so from your house and there are several buildings in a neighborhood. More Mormon definitions later. WE HOPE THIS LETTER FINDS YOU ALL WELL AND HAPPY.WE MISS YOU BUT ARE BEGINNING TO SEE THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR PRESENCE HERE.

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Saints in Ukraine (put music on pause)

My music


click on the photo to see the captions

Armenia Trip

Our last Zone Conference

Some of the faces we will miss

Our trip to Mariupol

March Zone Conference in Donetsk(click on photo to view a larger version)

Missionaries helping the International Relief Development unload a container from America

Health Fair click on the photo to see what is coming up

To listen to this talk you will need to put the music on pause first

Sometimes we forget what divine gifts we have been given. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thanksgiving

Look at the fun equipment we got to deliver to this internat for Special Needs children

Europe East Area District Meeting

I LOVE THESE MISSIONARIES

OUR APARTMENT (this is not an average missionary apartment)

THIS IS WHAT MISSIONARY APARTMENTS LOOK LIKE ON INSPECTION DAY

CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO SEE A MORE COMPLETE VIEW

LEADERSHIP TRAINING IN THE KALINSKY BUILDING

Click on photo to see more photos of the Open House at the Kalininsky blg