October 31, 2008

COUPLE MISSIONARIES









My friend Robin asked me what we do as Couple Missionaries so I thought I would write a little about that. Couples who go on missions with the LDS church need to be able to pay for their own expenses. So usually people do not serve missions as a couple until they are retired and are no longer supporting children. There are 12 month missions which are only in the United States and 18 and 24 month missions which can be in the States or out of the Country. The church post a list of mission opportunities here. There are so many opportunities throughout the world to serve missions as Senior Couples. We are serving a Humanitarian Mission. There are other 3 other couples in our mission who work as 1) the office couple, coordinating the affairs of the mission, 2)Proselyting missionaries, they visit members who are less active, they hold Family Home Evenings at their home, they teach English Classes at the Branch and they also teach Strengthening Families classes at the Branch, and teach piano lessons, the third couple is the CES couple. CES is the Church Educational System. They work with the Young Adults who are members of the Church. Sister Fry has a much more detailed description in her blog of what each of the couples in our mission do. You can go here to read more about that.
As Humanitarian Missionaries we meet with organizations who are supporting the poor and needy in this country. Organizations like orphanages, schools, hospitals. boarding schools, homes for special needs children, and shelters. We have a Country Budget that allows us to use a small amount of money to try to assist the organization in their efforts to support the poor and needy. This money comes from members of the church who donate to the Humanitarian Fund.
One of the things we were told when we first arrived here was....

"you will make your own mission"

We didn't really understand what that meant until we were here a few months. There are certain things that we do each week as part of our Humanitarian Work but there are additional things we do for other reasons. We have chosen to be involved with the younger missionaries because we love to be in their presence. They are so inspiring. I have learned so much from their examples. We meet with the missionaries (4 Elders and 2 Sisters) in our home once a week as part of their District for District meetings. This is just something we chose to do because we wanted to be more involved with the missionaries. We attend their Zone Conferences and Transfer Days for the same reason. During these meetings we usually help prepare or serve the food for the missionaries. We are involved with other mission events like Baptisms and sometimes we have the younger missionaries to our home to teach someone who is investigating the church. We attend a Branch on Sunday for Church Services and we also try to attend all of the Branch Social Functions. We are now teaching classes for the Branch on "Strengthening Marriage." We may start teaching English Classes to young children on Saturday mornings. So you see, when people say, "you will make your mission" that is what they mean. We have really decided how we would like to spend our time. We have many opportunities to serve in so many different ways and have found it to be so rewarding.

Our mission is a little different then the younger missionaries in that we make our own schedule.

We have a little more flexibility then they do. They are told what time to rise, and how their day should be structured. Unlike the younger missionaries we don't go out looking for people to teach the Gospel to although there have been days that I have had the opportunity to teach someone about our beliefs. We work as missionaries 6 days a week and take one day off. So most of the time when we leave our apartment we are representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We wear our missionary clothing and our name tags and carry church literature so that we will be prepared if we are asked about what we are doing here in Ukraine. We do not report to the Mission President we report to the Humanitarian Department of the Church. The Humanitarian Couple who is the Country Directors live in Kiev. We speak to them on the phone or use e-mail to correspond.
Each week we decide which organizations we will visit and when. Some weeks we go to two or three organizations and some weeks only one. We have an office in our home and some days we just work at home because we have to do a considerable amount of paperwork in order to get the projects submitted and approved. Once a project is approved and the items have been delivered to an organization we get to go and visit the organization again to see that everything has arrived and is being used as was agreed on. It is definitely true we really have made our mission to fit our interest. Bruce an I both love to teach so we have enjoyed teaching the "Strengthening Families Classes". We love children and have so enjoyed our visits to the children's organizations and we will soon be taking a Health Fair (puppet show) into the schools which we are looking forward to. If we teach English to children that will be another great opportunity to teach and to work with children. We love young people. All of the great opportunities we have to be around the younger missionaries is so fun for us. And most of all ...........
we love service. This mission has provided so many opportunities to serve our Heavenly Father. We are so grateful for the wonderful blessings we have received as we have served as missionaries here in Ukraine.

I am so grateful for the people who have commented on the blog that they are now considering serving a mission. I hope you will. The mission field needs you.
"Along with the need for young elders and sisters, there is a growing need for couples in the mission field. Older married couples are doing a wonderful work in the missions. Many more are needed. . . . With an increasing number of people retiring while they are still possessed of health and vitality, there are many who can fill a tremendous need in the work of the Lord."
—President Gordon
B. Hinckley


If you know anyone who is ready to serve now and would like to come to Ukraine please contact the Fry's here







TRANSFER DAY GOOD-BYE'S







Every six weeks some of the missionaries get reassigned to new areas with new companions. A few days before Transfer day they are told they if they will be transferred or not. If they are being transferred they pack their bags and show up at the meeting with their suitcases. If they are staying in the Donetsk Area they take a bus or marshruka to their new apartment with their new companion. If they are going to the Kharkov area they all take a rented Marshruka all the way to Kharkov which is about a 4 hour drive. We usually meet for a short talk by the Mission President and one of his Assistants and then the transfers are announced. Today was President Fry's birthday so Sister Fry presented him with a tool belt and talked about the "tools" they use from the Preach My Gospel Book to share the Gospel. Each tool that he placed in his belt represented a tool the missionaries will need to preach the gospel. It was really a good analogy. President Fry loves tools and has used the analogy of "putting tools in your tool belt" with the missionaries many times. It is always fun to see the missionaries together. They really do get close to one another. There were alot of hugs as people had to say good-bye to old companions and go to new areas. We even had a couple of visitors in the back of the room who looked a little "spooky" but I don't think I got a picture of them. Maybe if you go here Sister Fry might have caught them on her camera.

TRANSFER DAY GOOD-BYE'S








NEW MISSIONARIES HAVE ARRIVED

These are the new missionaries who arrived from the Missionary Training Center this week. Elders Rosen,Jones, Duffy, and Howard
(not necessarily in that order) I'm sorry but I only remember which one is Elder Rosen because his mom had commented on the blog a few weeks ago, so I have been waiting to meet him. I will have a chance to get to know them better in the next few months, however, none of them are in our District.

Elder Crossley was replaced by Elder Johnson who came here from Makeyevka. We will also have Sister Jadamba in our District serving with Sister Chiriac.

October 30, 2008

FALL HAS ARRIVED





These are some beautiful pictures our friend (interpretor) Olga took. She has been doing some traveling on the weekends and has shared some of her pictures. I think they are absolutely beautiful.

I almost forgot to say, the new missionaries have arrived. Elders Duffy, Howard, Jones, and Rosen are here. We went to the office today and found four eager new missionaries and all of their luggage. They were visiting and sending e-mails home to tell their families they arrived safely. Then Elder Andrus (one of the assistants to te President) was helping them find some coats to wear because they were on their way to the Reenik and it is cold outside. Our daughter says it is still very warm in California however, it has been cold enough for hats, gloves, scarves and coats here. Sister Fry will probably be posting pictures and profiles about the new missionaries here. I just didn't think to take a picture. I will take some tomorrow at transfer day.

TRANSFER DAY

sorry this isn't a very good picture and for some reason some of the missionaries think they should make really strange faces for the pictures
I love these guys.


another transfer day!!!

I don't know how the time goes by so fast
This week was our last District meeting with Elder Crossley and Sister Helelyan. Transfers aren't officially announced until tomorrow at transfer meeting so I don't know where they are going. I just know they won't be with us next week and I am sad about that. I love Elder Crossley, he makes me laugh and Sister La La La, as Elder Crossley calls her is wonderful. She is from Armenia where she is an attorney and she doesn't take nothin from nobody. I love her too and will really miss her.
the other sad thing is......

a few days before transfer day missionaries go home. So this week Elders Karren, Burrup, Callister, and Andersen left Ukraine
and
in a few weeks Elders Carlson, Crossley, Harris, and Williams will be leaving. I was talking to Sister Fry (the Mission Presidents wife) who has been here for about 3 months now and she said, "these departures are getting harder and harder because now I know the missionaries and it is hard to see them go". It is so true, the longer we are here the closer we get to the missionaries and we really like them. When they leave I make them promise to write me ...........
at least the ones who have been in our District.
We have had such good times together here in Ukraine and I want to stay in touch. Some of them have written and I am so grateful for that. There are a few that I haven't heard from and would love to know how things are going. I keep thinking about Elder Basset, Elder Crawford, and Elder Permenter. I hope you are happy. We miss you and hope life is good to you.
Which brings me to this.................
I don't get much e-mail. My blog is how I correspond with my friends and family. The only thing is the blog is one-way. You get to hear all about what Bruce and I are up to but I don't know what is going on in your lives. I keep saying, I love being a missionary. We are so happy having so many awesome experiences and meeting so many wonderful new friends, however, we miss you all. I want to know how you are and what you are doing. I have some very loyal friends who are writing regular e-mails and I am so grateful for that.
I really want to ask a favor of the rest of you blog stalkers. (That's the term used for people who just read your blog and don't leave a comment)
Please leave a comment.
That means you moms and dads too!!!
I know you are reading .......your missionaries tell me. I would love to hear from you. Don't be intimidated. It is very easy. You don't have to say much. I took off the word scrambler so it would be easier to comment. my blogging friend Lisa in Poland says, "you may have to click "anonymous" if you don't have a google account or a blog and then sign your name at the end of your post. So try that and let me know if it works. I will also leave my email address in my profile if you feel too intimidated to publicly comment. So to all the parents of missionaries coming home.....
thanks for preparing your sons and daughters to be servants of the Lord, it really is an awesome experience and they grow so much during the time they are on their missions.

October 27, 2008

NIE NIE UPDATE

A few months back I mentioned a young Arizona couple who had been involved in a terrible plane crash. Click here to read a beautiful article about the family and how the world has responded to this tragic accident. It is a very heartwarming story about the love of a family.

EUROPE EAST AREA DISTRICT MEETING

We met at the Kalininsky building this weekend for a District meeting. On Sunday the building was so full that we had to put extra chairs on the stand and all the missionaries who didn't have a guest with them (investigators) had to go upstairs to an overflow room. This slideshow is the missionaries in the overflow room. We listened to talks that were specific about the growth of the church in Eastern Europe. President Pieper said that the foundation has been laid for the growth of the Church in Eastern Europe. He then said, the theme for the new stage of growth will be, "Preach My Gospel". There are currently 34,000 members of the Church in Eastern Europe. We were told that the numbers of full time missionaries sent to this area will decrease and the missionary efforts on the part of the members will need to increase. He then taught some basic principles to the members of the church about how to be member missionaries. He concluded with "I have a strong testimony that the elect are waiting". President Monson was the concluding speaker. He spoke about preparing our homes. Prepare a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of Glory, and a house of order. It was a wonderful day. When we came downstairs to join the members they were so happy. People stayed for quite some time and just fellowshipped one another. There were buses and marshrukas waiting to return members and missionaries to Gorlovka, Lugansk, Mariupol, and Petrovsky. Everyone was so busy visiting and enjoying one anothers company that they couldn't get the busses loaded. It was quite a day.
OUR VISIT TO THE INTERNAT
We took the Mission Presidents wife, Sister Fry with us to deliver some Therapy Equipment to an Internat (home for special needs children ages 4-18). When we arrived the equipment hadn't been assembled yet so we asked them if they could set some of it up so that we could take some pictures of the children playing. The staff quickly unpacked everything and went to select some children to come play. You should have seen the children's faces when they came in. It looked like our children looked on Christmas morning. Do you remember that kind of stunned look as a child tries to figure out how this got in his living room, and is it really his. It didn't take long for them to jump right in. I think the teachers were so cute as they showed the children how each piece of equipment worked. They really seemed to be enjoying themselves. One little boy kept yelling to his teacher, "Luda, Luda" as he was trying to get her to look at what he was doing. It is always hard to leave these places. I asked if we could take Sister Fry on a tour of the facility. They took us to the laying down room again where the children who are bedridden live. This was the hard part. The children are so hungry for stimulation. As we approached they reached out their hands to us and as we put our hands in theirs they gently caressed our forearm and kissed and smelled our hands and arms. They did not want to let go. I was happy to see that Sister Fry and Elder Kinghorn had joined me as we made our way down the rows of beds with little hands and arms reaching out. It was hard to leave. We joined the children playing again for a few minutes and I hated to leave because I knew playtime would be over for the children and they would go back to their beds. As we walked out the teachers followed us with toddlers in tow. One little boy with a broken heart buried his face in his hands on his little bed. Sister Fry followed him to offer a gentle hug and goodbye. The teacher who was nearby quickly told Sister Fry his full name and practically begged her to adopt him. She told her he was a good boy. When I asked the Director how many of the over 150 children have been adopted he said one.
Some of you may remember I wrote about this facility before and mentioned that these children do not get adopted. They are the forgotten. These sweet little children have been born with some kind of disability and they have been sent here to live out their lives. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well that night as I kept seeing the little faces looking up at me from their tiny little beds. I will never forget them.
Blessings and thanks to all of you who have adopted. To any of you who have ever considered adoption please remember the children in Ukraine.

October 25, 2008

FRIDAY WAS A GREAT DAY!

WE GOT TO SEE SOME OF OUR FAVORITE MISSIONARIES IN GORLOVKA
Elder Harris

Sister Howard
( A SIX YEAR-OLD WAS TAKING THIS PICTURE SO WE WERE TRYING TO GET OURSELVES IN THE CAMERA LENS)
The Gorlovka missionaries and the two Gorlovka branches put on a great Hawaiian themed evening complete with dinner and entertainment. It was so fun and there was a great turn out. We have such talented missionaries.

Our daughter sent us this fun Halloween package. Have I mentioned missionaries love packages. Even us old folks love to get mail and packages. Thanks Karrissa we love you so much.

AND
I got a haircut

Oh I almost forgot. I got a letter from Elder Sorenson (Jeff) too. We miss you Elder Sorenson.

I also got a very nice letter from Sister Whitehead. She is the mother of Elder Whitehead who is currently serving in Kharkiv. I love it when the parents write me. So for all those parents who have been reading the blog but too intimidated to leave a comment you can e-mail me anytime. melinda_kinghorn@hotmail.com I love to hear from you.

October 23, 2008

I love it when the seasons change. The leaves are turning beautiful shades of orange, yellow and reds. I grew up in California and one of the things I have always loved about California is that we have four seasons. Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. We arrived here in the winter. I am definitely not a big fan of winter. I hate being cold. I don't like that you have to put so many layers of clothing on to go outside. I hate that when you get all bundled up and then go inside again for a minute you either have to roast or you end up with an armful of coats, hats, scarfs and gloves. I don't like not seeing the sun for days at a time and I especially dislike being stuck inside. I'm a California girl. I want to be out in the sunshine. I want my skin to feel warm from the sun when I go outside. I like going barefoot. I like the beautiful colors that springtime brings. We arrived in Ukraine the end of November. The second week we were here it snowed. It was a beautiful snow the first day then it turned to slush and the roads and sidewalks were covered in slushy mud with little streams of muddy water running down them. There were no leaves on the trees and the sky was grey for months. I remember one day when we were in the car with the Ray's and the Andersen's Sister Ray and Sister Andersen were excited about seeing the sun. They were so excited that they wanted to stop and take a picture. That made me really nervous. I really worried about why it was so significant that they wanted a picture. I soon learned that the sun goes down by 4pm in the winter in Ukraine and the sun makes very infrequent visits in the winter months. Needless to say, it was a long winter. It took us awhile to see past the dark dreary skies, the barren trees, and the slushy muddy streets to the beauty of Ukraine.
It seemed like one day we woke up and everything had changed. The sky was blue, the grass was green, flowers were blooming everywhere and the streets were filled with happy people. The parks had children playing in the playgrounds. We noticed beautiful sculptures in the parks.

Suddenly Donetsk was transformed. And so were we. It seems like just as quickly as the first flower bloomed our attitudes changed. Suddenly we were happier. We thought less about all the things we missed and focused more on the work we came here to do.

I learned something last winter. I learned that sometimes we can't see what lies ahead of us. Sometimes we just have to trust that life won't always be like it is right now. I know there have been times in my life when I have been in despair and I have wondered, "will this pain ever go away, will I ever feel happy again". Last winter taught me that on the other side of the pain is something more beautiful than we can imagine. I had no idea how beautiful springtime in Ukraine would be. Sometimes we just have to hang on and wait. We can't always see what lies ahead so we just have to be patient.

I learned another really valuable lesson last winter. Some days we woke up to a fresh coat of snow on the ground. It really was beautiful. I learned that if I started the day longing for home, I would miss the beauty of that day. I learned that winter brought wonderful gifts too just as spring and summer did. I learned that if I changed my attitude I would find joy in each day even if I didn't see the sun. I learned to stop longing for what I didn't have and to appreciate what I did have. I learned to count my blessings. I learned to start and end each day in gratitude.

So today I just wanted to say,

HELLO FALL, I am enjoying your beautiful leaves that gently blow in the breeze. I am enjoying your cool crisp air. I know that you will only stay awhile and then winter will come. So when I wake up tomorrow I will be full of gratitude for the gifts you have showered us with.

GOOD BYE SUMMER
HELLO FALL


October 22, 2008

MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH IN UKRAINE



This is Marina and Anya. Marina is 17 and Anya is 15. They came over after church on Sunday with Elder Oldroyd and Elder Williams. I invited them to come over and use the Internet to write to the Young Women from Las Vegas who gave them the bracelets. It was so fun. I showed Anya the picture of her and Elder Crossley when she got Baptized and she was so surprised to see herself on my blog. She was even more surprised when I showed her the site map and she could see that people from all over the world read the blog. I love these girls they are so happy all the time and always leave me feeling happy as well.

October 19, 2008

DEDICATION OF THE KALININSKY BUILDING



Today was the dedication of the Kalininsky Building. President Mikulin of the Area Authority Seventy came to do the dedication.
It was so incredible. We arrived to find the whole building was packed. I mean there was standing room only for most of the missionaries. There were so many people it felt just like home. I saw children sitting on laps, heard babies crying. We had a few rows of Deacons in the front ready to pass the Sacrament. The music was beautiful. It was so moving to see that the Sacrament was being blessed by Alexander and Deema who are both recent converts. It is the first time I have seen so many Deacons pass the Sacrament they even had to go back because their trays were empty. There was a beautiful full choir that sang the most heavenly music. They asked the women to stand and sing "the errand of angels". I stood, but I couldn't stop the tears so I ended up sitting down. The spirit was so strong. President Tehemera (our District President) spoke as well as President Fry, who read his talk completely in Russian. The dedication was done by President Mikulin. When it was all over my friend Tanya who is not a member came over to me and said that she really enjoyed it and she was going home to tell her family what she felt today. When I asked her to tell me what she felt she explained that she felt the Holy Ghost. She said, she always knew about the Holy Ghost but could never imagine what it felt like. She said when the dedicatory prayer was given she really really felt the spirit. It must have been very moving because her parents live a 4 hour train ride away and she has to be back for school tomorrow. She is 19 years old. Once again, I am so grateful to see the work move forward here in Ukraine and to be a part of it. We were so blessed to be there today.

October 18, 2008

BAPTISMS

WE HAD TWO BAPTISMS TODAY
Anya and Vulvo
This is Anya she just turned 8 years old This is another Anya and her cousin Marina Anya was baptized a few months ago.

This is Vulvo in the middle with Elder Carlson and Elder Andrus
Elder Carlson and Vulvo
Vulvo and Vladimir (a returned missionary)
Elder Misiurenko, Vulvo, and Yuraslav

Vulvo was baptized first. Look at this face. He was absolutely glowing. Then little Anya was baptized. After the talks they had a few moments for people to bear their testimonies and the first one up was Anya (she was baptized a few months ago). She just about jumped out of her seat to get up there. She was so happy. She said that it felt like her Baptism all over again. I looked around the room and saw Alexander who was also baptized a few months ago and Deema who also was recently baptized, and Yuraslov. Vulvo is Yuraslov's friend. Yuraslov has been meeting with the missionaries for some time now. He was going to get baptized about a month ago but decided he wasn't ready. Today he got up to bear his testimony and said, "I am not a member yet, but I know the church is true." Then he said, "I think it is time for me to get baptized,". The spirit was so strong in the room. The Sister Missionaries had a young woman with them and my friend Tanya who Elder Andrus invited was there as well. There were several members there to welcome Vulvo into the church.
Then Tanya and I attended a Women's Conference. We listened to talks on family. Tanya, who we met in English classes last fall (she took us on the City Tour) said to me, "It seems like the talks are always about families." I thought that was an interesting observation. She hasn't attended Sacrament meeting yet. She likes to come to Relief Society and interpret for me and Sister Clark so I told her maybe that is because she always comes to the classes that are taught to the Women and we do put a big focus on families and our roles as wives and mothers.
Tomorrow is Sunday. We invited Anya, Nastia and Marina to come over after church for dinner along with Elder Oldroyd and Elder Williams. A few weeks ago the girls were given bracelets from young women who live in Las Vegas. The girls made the bracelets while they were at Girls Camp and while they were there they watched a slideshow of Ukraine. The girls attached a picture and e-mail address along with the bracelets in hopes they could correspond with girls who are members of the Church here in Ukraine. So the girls are going to come over tomorrow to use our computer and e-mail their new American friends. I have included a photo of me with Anya and Marina. I love them so much. They are amazing. Nastia and Marina are sisters they introduced Deema and Anya to the church.

October 17, 2008

I spent some time today trying to organize all of the writing I have been doing since we started our mission.
When we first arrived here I didn't have a blog and I would just send group letters home.
I realized today as I was reading them that there are some pretty interesting experiences that may be of interest to some of my readers. We have been getting alot of visits from returned missionaries, missionaries parents, and some new blogging friends who might like to read what it was like for us when we first started this incredible journey.
The first few months I wrote alot about our first impressions. I know that we definitely experienced culture shock when we arrived in Ukraine. I have to admit at first I had a hard time adjusting to being so far away from my family. I tried to stay focused on the mission but it was definitely hard. I'm just being honest. I really loved being with my husband. I loved that my Heavenly Father had provided this awesome experience for us. I could see that this mission was going to really change us. I knew from the start that Heavenly Father was definitely going to take weak things and make them stronger.
 I WAS UP FOR THAT. I WAS READY TO DO SOME GROWING.
BUT .........
I really really really missed my grandchildren and my children. In fact I missed having a child on my lap, reading books to little ones, playing with play dough, teaching someone to cut with scissors, or just having a house full of family Come to think of it for as long as I can remember I have been nurturing someone. I was the oldest daughter in my family and had a sister who is 8 years younger than me. For the longest time, I think she thought I was her mom, well....... at least I acted like I was. Then when I was 14 I became a volunteer in the hospital and a Nursing Home and my first real job was in a Nursery School (that's what they use to call them). It was no surprise to anyone when I chose Early Childhood Education as my profession and later studied Nursing. I am a real mother hen. So when I got here it took some time to adjust. Talk about an empty nest. There wasn't even a nest to be found. So it took some time to find my way.
It took some time to get use to how different things are here. It took some time to find some sweet people to love on. If you have been reading our blog for awhile you know that we have found some wonderful people to grow attached to. Someone asked me the other day about our Interpreter Olga, she is definitely someone I have come to love. However, I think she does most of the nurturing with us. Sometimes I feel like she feels so responsible for us. Someday I will write about Olga. I love her so much and can't imagine the pain of saying goodbye to her. So we just won't talk about that right now. If you have been following our blog you know I feel so blessed. I can see Heavenly Fathers hands in our lives. I have so much to be grateful for. I love being a missionary. I love putting my black name tag on every day. I love being able to sit in a room full of missionaries. Which reminds me we have a Baptism in the morning. So I better stop right there. I just want to say that I am hoping I can find a way to add those early letters home to my blog.

October 16, 2008

ORPHANAGE VISIT


These two sisters were celebrating a birthday when we entered their classroom .

Have I mentioned I love kids?????
Today we went to an Internat (that is what they call the Orphanages) only this was more of a boarding school. The children were between the ages of 6-16. Most of them still have families of some kind. Some of them come from single parent homes, some from families with many children, and others from homes where parents have addiction problems. I asked if any of them are adopted and the director said, last year one child went to a foster home. She explained that many of the parents still have parental rights they just can't afford to take care of their children. When I asked if they get to see their families she said, "yes they can go home on Sundays if they want." Once again, we peered into the rooms that the children sleep in and there was absolutely nothing personal in the rooms. The picture above is one of about 8 sleeping rooms we saw. I am not going to say anymore about that. Except it is very sad to see. I mean look at these faces. They were so cute. We wandered into this classroom and they were having a birthday party for the twins in braids. I talked to the children in English while Olga translated and asked them if they could tell me their names in English. So one by one they eagerly raised their hands and said,
My name is Natasha
My name is Andre
My name is Julia
My name is Volva
My name is Nastia
Then I asked them to tell me how old they were and we went around the room again. They were so eager to stand a recite
I am six years old
and
I am seven years old
some of them would laugh or giggle afterward they spoke.
They loved it when we took a group picture and they could see themselves in the camera.
I had so much fun as usual I found myself wanting to ask, "can I come back and play tomorrow?"

TALENTS








We have some very talented missionaries in our district.
Hey, sometimes ya just gotta have a little fun!!!!!!

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

We celebrated Elder Harris's birthday this week. Well he isn't actually in our District but he use to be and he is going home in a few weeks so we invited him to join us for dinner. We will miss him when he goes home. His family has moved to Hawaii since he left for his mission so I guess he will be spending some time in Hawaii when he gets home. Poor guy. Happy Birthday Friend.

October 14, 2008

I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY

THIS IS WHAT WE SAW ON OUR WAY TO KHARKOV

My mind is racing with so many things I want to share with you.
I love these missionaries..........one minute they have me laughing, and the next minute I can't seem to stop the tears.
I had no idea I would come to love them so deeply.

We just attended Zone Conference in Kharkov with President and Sister Fry. We spent almost all day listening to talks and presentations by the missionaries and President Fry. Once again, as I sat in the Chapel and listened to them sing beautiful hymns in Russian my spirit was so moved that I couldn't hold back the tears. I found myself filled with gratitude that my Heavenly Father has blessed me with these sweet tender moments when I feel my Savior's love for me and for all of his servants. We finished the conference with a testimony meeting. The missionaries who are finishing their missions and going home soon bore their testimonies first. As Elder Burrop stood to speak I couldn't hold back the tears. I can not tell you what it has been like to be a part of their mission experience. My mind was flooded with memories of Elder Burrop. He was an office Elder when we arrived and he was such a support to us. He was always just a phone call away. I got a treasured Dear Elder Letter today from one of the Missionaries moms, Sister Hulet. She wanted to tell me how much she has enjoyed reading our blog and learning about Ukraine. She concluded with,

" Your blog has made me think that maybe I could leave home, kids, job, and serve the Lord."

Oh Sister Hulet, you can't even imagine how the Lord will bless you.
Some days I do miss my children a lot but last week during General Conference I got to sit in a room filled with young men and women who have dedicated two years of their lives to serve their Heavenly Father as they were taught by a Prophet of God. The moment we all stood to sing and their voices joined together in perfect Russian I felt my heart swell. I was filled with gratitude for this wonderful opportunity. A few days later I found myself sitting in our little Ukrainian apartment celebrating Elder Crossley's birthday with a birthday cake and balloons. This week when we were in Kharkov we were sitting in a little classroom of the church building watching missionaries get haircuts by Sister Fry. As we sat and visited with the missionaries one of the Elders began to share a tender story of the many miracles that are happening for his family as he is serving a mission. We hadn't had a chance to get to know this young man before this day and here he was sharing a very personal story with us. I am so honored to be here. Later the next day as he bore his testimony he mentioned the previous days experience of sharing that moment with us. I think it was definitely a special moment for all of us.

While we were in Kharkov we were reunited with missionaries that we haven't seen for awhile like Elder Hammond who we spent our first Ukrainian Christmas with. We have cherished memories of Christmas Caroling and decorating sugar cookies. He tells us every time we see him that he misses us and loves us. We got to see Elder Woodhead, and Elder Whitehead. I told them both I would send pictures to their moms who have become my blogging friends. We got to see Elder Summerhays and Sister Ellison who use to be in our District.
I am so grateful for all of these wonderful blessings in addition to being able to do Humanitarian Work here. I was thinking as we taught the Missionaries about how to teach Family Home Evening how grateful I am to be a part of this great work. The missionaries are going to use a new Family Enrichment manual to teach families how to have Family Home Evening and to then invite a non-member family over for Family Home Evening. We have been able to participate in training government employees, like Social Workers, Educators, Psychologist and Foster Care Workers who work with families how to have stronger families. This has been such a rewarding experience. I had previously been so discouraged about the numbers of children that are being raised in institutions and with these trainings there is some hope. I can see that if the government continues to focus on "Strengthening Families" there really is a possibility for change. We have found so much joy in the Humanitarian Aide that we are able to offer here in Ukraine. There are not words to express the feelings I have about being able to be in this Country when the Church so new. We have been to branches with as few as 15 members and as many as 60 members in attendance. The branches are so small that some days there aren't any children at all. We have come to know the sacrifices the members here make to get to church on Sundays. I have so much respect for them. So many times as I sit in Sacrament meetings I am overwhelmed with the strength of the testimonies of the Saints here in Ukraine. I know that the Lord knows his sheep. These are some of his choicest servants. I love them so much. Last week it was so sweet one of the older ladies came up to kiss me as she does every week and she ended up kissing me right on the mouth. It was so sweet. Then she touched her heart and said the word "love" in Russian. There are 3 young women, Nastia, Marina, and Anya who come up to say hello every Sunday and they are so sweet they always tell me in broken English, "you are very beautiful". Now when you are a 50 year old woman that is quite a compliment. I love these girls. We can't speak the same language but there is definitely a special feeling that we have for one another. I am amazed that the Language of Love is universal.
My dear friends at home who are considering serving a mission. Please do not put it off. Our mission has been filled with wonderful moments like these. I had no idea ................
It is so true, your family can live without you. The Lord really will bless you and your family if you are willing to serve him. The mission field really does need you.

I love being a missionary.........

October 7, 2008

TRIP TO KHARKIV



Bruce and I are off to Kharkov tomorrow morning. We are going with President and Sister Fry to join the missionaries for their Zone Conference. Bruce and I will be introducing the new Family Home Evening Manual and talk about how they can use it as a missionary tool. We are also going to deliver the Health Fair that the Humanitarian Funds purchased for the missionaries to use. It is a Puppet Show that has 3 modules that teach about, health and nutrition, hygiene, and avoiding cigarettes, and alcohol. They will be able to use this program with school aged children in the schools and orphanages. We will be gone until next Monday so I won't be posting until we return. Thanks for stopping by. Be back soon.

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