Bruce and I were talking today about all the lessons we have learned here in Ukraine. We arrived here in November when the trees were barren and it seemed like everywhere you looked everything was brown. Brown buildings, brown sidewalks, and dark skies. It was so depressing. There were so many days when we never saw the sun. Even when it wasn't raining it was dark and gloomy. It was completely dark by 3:30 in the afternoon. It took nearly 3 months to find our interpreter, Olga so we didn't have a lot to do to keep us busy. We had waited so long to begin our mission and here we were wondering, what are we doing here? We had an idea but couldn't actually do much until we found Olga. Everyone told us that Donetsk would be pretty in the Spring. As we looked around at the dirty streets, barren trees, and ugly buildings we just didn't believe it. People rushed by avoiding eye contact, crowding into the Marshookas speaking a language completely foreign to us. As the days slowly passed we thought 18 months seemed like an eternity. We prayed for patience, we prayed for a positive attitude, we prayed to know how to serve the people here in Donetsk, we prayed to be able to be able to learn how to use the public transportation without Olga by our side. We prayed that the longing for home would go away. We prayed for the day when Donetsk and all it's peculiarities wouldn't feel so unfamiliar to us. We went for a walk yesterday and guess what?
Spring is here!!!! They were right it is pretty. There are leaves on the trees and tulips everywhere. The brown has turned to green. Green trees, green grass, green buds. Little Babooshka's(old ladies) on the streets selling flowers, children playing in the parks. We even got new playground equipment in front of our dome. Yesterday when we walked through the park we saw beautiful bronze sculptures lining the path. They were there all winter but we didn't notice how pretty they were. People were out walking hand in hand. Little children were riding bicycles. People seem to be happier. They aren't in such a hurry to get in out of the cold. There are small groups of people out in front of their apartment buildings visiting, and people out walking dogs.
I told Bruce, there is a lesson here. Sometimes just when you think the rain is never going to stop, or these long dark days will never end the buds begin to appear with the promise of new life. What started as small little green buds pushing thru the ugly brown dirt has turned into beautiful bright red tulips everywhere. When we first arrived all we could see was the darkness. It was hard to trust the people who told us that spring would come and bring such rich promises.
As we look back on the past 6 months we can't believe how our lives have changed. The lord has blessed us with so much. We absolutely love Olga. She is such a blessing. She has helped us learn how to get around on public transportation, she is an excellent interpreter, she takes all of our telephone calls from organizations we work with and arranges our appointments. When we have a slow week she miraculously finds a way to fill our days. I could go on and on about her. I love her so much. I can't think about how I will ever say good-bye to her. We love the missionaries. We have had so many wonderful experiences packed into these 6 months. Some of them very spiritual and some of them just plain fun. We have a District meeting with them once a week at our house. I usually try to fix them lunch while they are here. We have tried to be a small refuge from the storm for them. Bruce is great offering words of advise or encouragement. I try to provide some of the comforts of home like a home cooked meal. Last week Elder Harris came into the kitchen and saw the lunch prepared and said' "Sister Kinghorn you are too good to us, you are like our mom." I know I will never replace any ones mom but for a few hours I hope they can feel our love for them. We are so proud of them. I am becoming quite the hostess. I have learned how to bake bread, I make a pretty good chicken soup, and am making some pretty good desserts as well. We have laughed with the missionaries and cried with them. I don't think any of us will ever forget Elder Permenters dancing after one district conference at our house or the fun branch parties we have attended. We participate in zone conferences every 6 weeks with the missionaries. The zone leaders give talks as well as the mission President and Sister Andersen. I am always moved by the spirit when the missionaries teach. Last zone conference when they all stood up to sing I thought about how much I will miss what a powerful experience it is to be in a room full of missionaries singing. I will never forget what it felt like to sit in the chapel with all the missionaries during President Hinckley's funeral or to sit with them as we sustained our new Prophet.
We are finally doing what we came here to do. We have formed some wonderful relationships with the missionaries, we are getting involved in our branch. We are having a Family Home Evening group with the office couple, the Clarks and now will be having branch members join us. We will soon be teaching "Strengthening Families" classes for the Branch. Our days are filled with Humanitarian work. We are doing what the Prophet Joseph Smith said we are to do when he said, "we are to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of an orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church or any other or no church at all."
So I want you to know that I know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers. He blessed us with patience, he filled our empty hearts with love for these wonderful missionaries, he sent us this incredible girl Olga, he has blessed us with the friendships we have formed with the Clark's and the Lee's in Kieve. He has sent us out to "go about doing good" on his errand. We have felt his hand in our lives here as he has reminded us of the love he has for his children.
SPRINGTIME REALLY DID COME AND OUR HEARTS ARE FILLED WITH GRATITUDE