May 20, 2008

TO THE PARENTS OF MISSIONARIES

I just wanted to say thank-you to all of you who have been commenting on this blog. It is fun to see that some of you returned missionaries and even your parents are reading. I am so filled with gratitude each day to be here having this experience. When we were at the MTC they told us that we should have the missionaries in our home. That we would become very close to some of them. They said, that we should be a refuge for them. They told us to just be there for them. It wasn't long after we got here that I realized what they were doing for me. Their powerful testimonies have strengthened me. Their willingness to "go and do" whatever the Lord has asked has motivated me to do better. Their love and service for the people in Ukraine has inspired me. We have had many opportunities to have the missionaries in our home and to participate in zone conferences with them. I just have to say, "I had no idea." When people use to say, " the best two years of your life" I really didn't have any concept of what that meant. I can't believe how many opportunities they have to stretch and grow. I am always touched by their powerful testimonies. When we sit in Zone conferences I will try to imagine the 19 year old boys at home that I saw go off on their missions and I just can't believe these boys are the same age. They seem so much older and more mature. I keep thinking about you parents at home who are worrying about the little things like are they sleeping? are they eating well? Are they happy? I just want you to know that some of them do lose weight here. Some of them are sleeping on lumpy beds and maybe even drag their mattresses on to the floor to sleep, but there is no question in my mind that they are happy. These young men and women are committed to do the Lord's work and as one of them told me when we discovered that he and his companion were drinking out of a recycled jar and one glass, " I just thought that was part of being on a mission." They don't complain. Even when there is no hot water, or their facets leak, or they have had 10 doors slammed in their faces in one day. They get up everyday and put on a white shirt and tie, and do what the Lord has asked them to do. We had two missionaries over for dinner the other night who are going home soon and they are already thinking about what they can do for Ukraine when they get home. I love these missionaries. I know I have said it before and I will say it again, you should be so proud of them. I now know why they say, "it was the best two years of my life." Thank-you for sharing it with me.

May 19, 2008

It's always hard to say good-bye


Elders Pearson, Harris, Livingston, Andrus, and Crossley
It's transfer day which means these missionaries are being transferred out of our area
We'll miss them.

May 14, 2008

ANOTHER TRANSFER DAY

This is Elder Crawford and Elder Pearson

This week we said good-bye to Elder Crawford. He went back to America. Elder Harris leaves for Kharkov. We have known Elder Harris since last December when we all went Christmas Caroling. Both of these young men have been such great examples. Both of them translated for me on Sunday's so that I could know what was going on during Sacrament Meeting and Sunday school. They were in our district so they were in our home once a week for District meeting. I just want to say, their mothers should be proud of them. Bruce gave Elder Crawford a big hug for me. It's hard to say good-bye. We talked about all the interesting experiences we have shared and how hard it will be to go home and try to tell people about it. It's amazing to think of where they are in their lives. When they get home they have so many decisions to make. Decisions that will affect their entire future. As the day approaches for them to board the plane for America you can see the reality of it setting in. I had a moment to sit and talk with two Elders this week after District meeting about their feelings about their missions and how they feel about going home. It was one of those moments that I was filled with gratitude to have been blessed to be a part of their journey. The most amazing thing is that they will always know that Heavenly Father will be there guiding them as they make these important decisions in their lives. I have been so impressed by the strength of their testimonies. These young men have taught me so much, and been such great examples to me. I am so thankful to be serving with them.

VISITING THE HOMES OF MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH
















BRUCE FOLLOWING SISTER CLARK ON THE ROAD TO THE GRITSKI HOME







Yesterday we had a long bus ride and I found myself talking to Olga about what our life has been like as missionaries. One of the Elders told me that his parents are getting ready to serve a mission and his mother would like to come to Ukraine. He said, he didn't think he wanted his parents to serve their mission here. I was trying to explain to Olga that some of the experiences we have had here we were not really prepared for. I have always thought of myself as being quite adventurous. I am usually open to trying anything at least once. Needless to say, the more I talked the more I stumbled to find the right words. The truth is, each mission is unique. We have faced some challenges and had to deal with things that we weren't prepared for but when I think of the blessings we have received I wouldn't trade it for anything. We had the opportunity to go back to Masha Gretski's house the last two weeks for Family Home Evening and it reminded me of so many things. You may remember Masha and her family. Sister Clark and I went with the Sister Missionaries to visit their family the first month we were here. If you remember we had to ride public transport to get there. First we took a bus and then a marshooka. Then we got out and crossed the main road to a small alley type road that wasn't paved, crossed some railroad tracks and followed a very narrow path around some houses and eventually reached a little road that lead to Masha's house. It had been raining and it was dark and very unsettling. Sister Clark and I commented on how completely different it was this time. The place had been transformed. There were gorgeous gardens lining the road and beautiful rows of vegetables in rich dark earth. Flowers were blooming everywhere. When we finally reached the Gretski's house we found a darling little cottage surrounded by flowers and gardens. As we sat in their home and visited with their family we discussed once again the blessings of serving a mission with your husband. I remember Sister Clark had previously commented how close you get because you rely on each other for everything. I remember that feeling when we first arrived here. I didn't want to let Bruce out of my sight because I felt so insecure. It seems like it was at least 2 months before I crossed a street without holding his hand. I know that sounds so strange knowing how independent I am but that is just one of the strange things you experience when you are "transplanted" in such an unfamiliar environment.

Well, I found myself telling Olga that I feel different now. I am capable of going places by myself now. I know how to ride the public transportation and I could find my way around alone. The difference is I don't want to go off by myself. I have come to really appreciate having Bruce as my companion. I love sharing this experience with him. We really like being together. We are a good team. It is not so much that I need him to feel safe now, I can even cross the street without holding his hand. It is just that I like sharing this amazing journey with him. I know that when we get home we will go back to our life the way it was and I will miss these days of walking through the park holding hands.

May 1, 2008

SPRING HAS ARRIVED!

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

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