November 27, 2007

WE HAVE ARRIVED

This is going to be fun wearing all these clothes every time we go somewhere
At least the snow is pretty!
This is what the sidewalks look like
This is the alley that leads to our apartment just past the car on the right.
We have arrived. We feel like we are on another planet. We still don't have our computer hooked up yet and who knows how the phones work. We have been so lucky to have another couple here who have taken us out to shop and get our apt set up. It is nice but very small. The first order of business was finding warm coats and boots. Then getting supplies and groceries for the apt. We are very lucky to have the Ray's to take us out because we still don't have an interpreter and it seems like no one speaks English here. I have no idea how to do the money yet either. We are suppose to learn how to navigate public transportation but i have to tell you it seems very overwhelming at this point. The Ray's have had the office car so we have been very lucky to be able to stock up on supplies. Our mission President and his wife are great very very nice and helpful. The office missionaries who are young elders invited us to dinner the other night it was so nice. We woke up to snow today it is beautiful. I have to say though Donetsk is a very dark, and dreary city. The people seem so sad. I haven't seen much laughter or joy since we arrived. I told Bruce I miss the sound of laughter, seeing children play and music. The challenge here will be to see the positive side of things because there is much poverty and general apathy here. We went to church last week and the members of the church are so grateful for the presence of the missionaries in their country. There is a 9 hour time difference here. t took a few days for us to catch up on our sleep but we are feeling much better today. 3 things I am grateful for are:
WE HAVE OUR OWN HOT WATER HEATER IN OUR APT
WE HAVE A HEATER THAT KEEPS US WARM AND TOASTY
WE HAVE ALREADY MADE WONDERFUL FRIENDS AND LOVE THE PEOPLE WE WORK WITH. We love you all and miss you very much. Thanks for keeping in touch.

November 16, 2007

Last day of training we were wiped out!
Tode and Brad Hafen who went to AfricaElder Kinghorn at Welfare Square pointing to Ukraine on the map
Welfare Square all these bundles of clothes get distributed all over the world on the containers along with Hygiene Kits, School Kits, Newborn kits, Medical Modules, Health Modules, and Orphanage Modules

Hello friends, Well, it's Friday night. We finished our training yesterday. It has been such an awesome experience. I wanted to share with you some things we have learned about the Humanitarian Aide that the church provides. Some of you members may already know this but I'd like to share some interesting things I learned this week. First, the money that is used is from fast offerings of the members of the church. For our non LDS friends, once a month we fast and skip 2 meals. We take the money that we would usually use for those two meals and donate it to the church. This money is used for several purposes. First when there is a natural disaster the church is a first responder and tries to provide immediate aide. We were involved in helping with a large boat building project during the Tsunami. The volunteers during the disasters are usually local missionaries and church members. Second, the church will go into countries and organize larger projects. Some of these projects are; Clean Water Projects, where we go in and help build wells, a Vision program, where volunteer Ophthalmologist go in and provide their services, they are short term missionaries, and a Neonatal Resuscitation Program, which involves training to medical personnel in Countries that have a high morbidity rate in newborns. The church also distributes wheelchairs to the needy. They have started a new Career Development Program as a follow-up to the Vision program and the wheelchair program so that these people who finally have mobility can have assistance finding work. The other type of projects are smaller scale and we will probably be more involved in these types of projects. Some of the above projects can take quite a long time from start to finish. There is a Health Fair program that is taken into the schools by the missionaries that teaches about drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, as well as eating well. We may also try to find a way to bring the church's 12 step Addiction Recovery Program to Ukraine if it isn't already there. I'm sure we will be involved in both Orphanages, and schools. We are meeting with a couple Sunday afternoon and Monday and Tuesday who came home from Ukraine a month ago after completing an 18 month mission and are taking a 4 month break and then returning for a 12 month mission. They will let us know more details of what projects they have been involved in. They lived in Kieve. They said there is quite a need for assistance in Ukraine. We were told that the help is not meant to be a handout. It is based on the theory " If you give a man a fish he is fed for a day, if you teach a man to fish he is fed for a lifetime." So these projects are designed to involve the locals and hopefully train them to continue to maintain the projects that are designed to help their village, community, or organization prosper. I think it will take more work and certainly more creativity to come up with ways to help that are more than a hand out. It's easy to give clothing, or supplies but those are just temporary helps. I can finally say "I am excited about my mission". For a long time we were so anxious that we couldn't say we were exactly excited. It will be interesting to see what we get involved in. I'm beginning to see how Bruce's background and mine will be a great match for the type of work we will be doing. Wednesday 700 young men and women came to the Missionary Training Center to prepare for their missions. It was so fun to see them in the dining room that night they were so excited. There were still about 2300 missionaries here. I almost forgot to mention last Tuesday we had a devotional and the speaker was Russel M. Nelson from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was so special to be in his presence. It took place in the large auditorium with all the missionaries, which was about 3,000. The music was so beautiful. My heart swells when I hear the sounds echo through the room of all of these young missionaries as they sing the hymns. We have had so many wonderful experiences that have brought us closer together. We have met so many nice people. Almost all the couples we started with have left for destinations all over the world. We plan on keeping in touch with most of them. I want you all to know that I wish I had time to write you personally, but it is just impossible. I do appreciate your notes back to us it gives us something to look forward to at the end of a long day. Well, I may not have time to write before we leave this Wednesday, so I will say,
"Happy Thanksgiving"

November 11, 2007

Some of the other Humanitarian Missionaries
we went through the training with

Just wanted to send a quick note. It is Sunday and we have been at the MTC for a week now. We have been so blessed to have this experience. I have had so many experiences this week that have reminded me of Who I am, Why I am here and where I am going, and I don't mean Ukraine. I'm talking about being a Child of God, and living worthily to return to him as an eternal family. I know that Bruce and I are going to Ukraine to serve our Heavenly Fathers Children. One of the first things we were promised when we got here was that our children will be blessed as we are serving Heavenly Fathers Children. I believe this with all my heart. We have already experienced wonderful friends and family reaching out to support our children while we are away. Last e-mail I mentioned there are about 35 couples here this week, and more will be arriving today and tomorrow. Many of our group will depart tomorrow for their missions. We attended Sacrament Meeting here at the MTC and all the Missionaries were out going from classroom to classroom and it was the first time we were aware of just how many missionaries are here. I made a mistake last note about the number of young missionaries Bruce corrected me and said there are about 2,600 currently but they have accommodations for 3,200. It's amazing we met a young man from Russia who will be serving in Donetsk, Ukraine so that was fun to speak with him. We have met a couple from North Dakota who have a farm, they come from such a small area that there is no ward so they have Branch meetings in their home with their married daughter and her family. They will be Humanitarian missionaries in Moscow. We met another couple that we really like who are going to Durban, South Africa. They are leaving tomorrow. It's scary to think of leaving here where we have so much support and have felt so much love. Here we are surrounded by others who know what we are feeling, who have taken a giant leap of faith to serve the Lord. One couple here has been on 6 missions, a few others 2-3 missions.
I know this is the Lord's work and am so grateful to have this opportunity to serve him.

November 9, 2007

THE MISSIONARY TRAINING CENTER

We are here and doing great. We have had so much fun.
On Wednesday a whole new group of missionaries arrived and this is what it looked like
boxes of Kleenex everywhereand rows and rows of suitcases There were suitcases everywhere
The first family I saw walk in with their son on their arms, (mom, dad, and brothers and sisters) I understood why there were so many boxes of Kleenex everywhere


Bruce and I arrived at the Missionary Training Center last Sunday evening 11/4/07. It is now Friday night and this is the first chance I've had to write. I'm not sure how many of you want to be included in my group e-mails. If you are not interested in receiving periodic updates from us please let me know. Unfortunately, because we will be so busy it may be the only way I can write most of you. We have had a wonderful week filled with many spiritual experiences. We are in a group of about 35 couples who are going all over the world. I will name a few of the places I can remember, Guam, Africa, Easter Island, Egypt, Moscow, Several couples are going to Mexico, Costa Rica, The Caribbean, Australia, one couple is going to San Diego. They will be serving all different kinds of missions from, working in Temples, and visitors centers, to preaching the gospel, providing Humanitarian Aide, and working in church offices. I have heard some amazing stories about how people decided to go on missions and how they feel about where they will serve. This Wednesday about 400 young men and women arrived to begin their training. Our language teacher said that there are currently about 700-800 young missionaries serving in Eastern Europe. Most of our instructors here are returned missionaries between 21-27 years old. All of them have said how much they loved the Senior Missionaries that they served with. It is reassuring to know that we will have an opportunity to work with them. I know I will miss my own children and the missionaries excitement and enthusiasm for Heavenly Father's work is contagious. We started our week off with a very spiritual devotional that began with about 500 young missionaries and 75 Senior Missionaries singing "called to serve", which for those of you that aren't members of the church is a very powerful song about missionary work. I found myself feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of representing Heavenly Father in Ukraine. I found myself questioning, who am I, and what can I do? What if I can't do what the Lord has asked me to do.By the time the meeting was over I had a very strong feeling in my heart that told me I am right where Heavenly Father wants me to be. I have a testimony of Jesus Christ that burns in my soul and I need to share it. It's as simple as that. I have had many more spiritual experiences all week that have reminded me of my purpose on earth and Heavenly Father's plan of Happiness for all of us. We spent most of the week, studying the scriptures and the Missionary discussions. We had an opportunity to practice teaching missionary lessons to members of the church who came to the MTC so that we could role play with them. Bruce has been such a great companion. He is a wonderful teacher and is able to share personal experiences that we have had that have helped us be happier as a family. Bruce and I won't be going out knocking on doors like the young Elders do but we may be asked to join them on a visit with a less active member or to teach in church so this week's training will be helpful. Next week we will be learning more about the church's Welfare Program and Humanitarian Efforts worldwide. Some of the couples will leave for their missions next week. We don't leave here until 11/21. We are attending Language training but it is very hard to learn Russian. Praying for divine intervention.

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