March 17, 2014
To say it short and simply, this last week has not been bad.
Russia recently passed a new law making it so that Ukrainian citizens living in the country need to spend ninety days living in Ukraine for every ninety days living in Russia. As such, the church reassigned all of the Ukrainians serving in Russia to other missions. Our mission is receiving six new natives and one of them, Sister L, has been assigned to our district in Billa Tserkva. To help everyone become acquainted with her, we held a district potluck lunch at the church last Monday. It was nice to have everyone gathered around together. We talked for the most part, and afterward played a little bit of ping pong. The lunch was scheduled for four o’clock which gave us about two hours before p-day officially ended.
Having eaten lunch so late in the day proved to be a problem for Elder D and myself. We were scheduled to visit one of the grandmas in the branch, and then walk over to her son’s house for family home evening. We had talked about sitting down with her and drinking some tea while we waited for her family to get to their house. When we showed up however, she had made enough food to feed six people and there were only four of us there. So, with having eaten only an hour before, and a big meal at that, it became a huge challenge to force down what she made. A big problem was that the food she prepared was mostly flour, so filling up on it came fast in the first place. We, however, toughed through it and were able to put down half, though it was no easy task. We told her that we were full, to which she replied that we should keep eating. As this point I was planning how I was going to go to the bathroom in order to throw up everything that was barely fitting in my stomach. Fortunately though, Elder D was able to convince her otherwise and she stopped pushing.
It reminded me of a story of a missionary serving in our mission. After making a large meal on p-day, he received a phone call from a member who thought that they were coming over that night, and promptly prepared a feast for them. This missionary and his companion went to the member’s house and ate as much as they could, the whole time planning on throwing up as soon as they left the house. However, in their case, the member insisted on walking them home, so throwing up was not an option. After walking outside for ten to fifteen minutes, he couldn’t hold it in anymore and threw up on the street right in front of the member. Fortunately, my experience did not end up as bad as his.
After zone conference being canceled due to the revolution in Kiev, President K finally set a date for it on Wednesday of this last week. On Monday night we received a phone call saying that Elder D needed to be in Kiev Tuesday morning, which meant we had to cancel all of our plans. This left us with two options. We could go do his registration and then travel back to Billa, only to get back on a bus a couple hours later to head back to Kiev. Or we could just stay in Kiev all day and contact around Perchersky, which is the center of the city. Our choice ultimately ended up being the latter of the two.
The center of Kiev is the most pretty part of Ukraine. It has a very European style, which is a nice change from the domes found in most other areas. Both Elder D and I have absolutely no experience in the Perchersky, so we walked around aimlessly trying to use up time. At one point, we saw a large spire in the distance and agreed to walk toward whatever it was. With some time, we navigated through some neighborhoods and then came to the large area where the tower was. It took us only a second to realize where in the city we were, Maidon. At this point, the area is completely calm and people have made it into more of a memorial to recognize those who died there. So, it was not immediately dangerous to be in the area. However, we were not going to let our opportunity to take a photo or two to pass on by. After a couple of minutes, we made our way to the metro and were out of the area.
On Thursday, we drove out to the village in order to do service for Stan the American. He has had a large problem with moles on his property over the course of the winter, all resulting in several hundred large mounds over his field. As such, Elder D and I set out with rakes to level them all. I don’t know how such a tiny creature could do it, but some of these piles of dirt were a foot tall and two feet wide. It was a lot for such a small animal to move. Once the mounds were taken care of, we set out to finish chopping the pile of wood.
Having a native in our district has proven to be extremely valuable. She has been able to click well with the younger people we associate with, and even set up activities with some of them, which none of us have been able to do. One of these was to go feed horses at a farm owned and operated by the local university. The funding is not great, so we brought our own food to keep the horses healthy. Our entire district came along with some members. It was a great time, which everyone present enjoyed quite a lot.
As stated in the first sentence of this letter, this really was a great week. We managed to stay very busy and the activities which we did were enjoyed by all. Hopefully, the good times will keep on coming.