Monday, August 25, 2014

Olympus would be that way

I am now serving in the Olympus stake (Covering 7 wards this time) with Sister Bentley! She is an angel, and I am her first companion after her trainer!! So she's still got that greenie fire, and I love working with her. Also she's from Wisconsin!! My first Midwestern companion!! And it's about time! We even talk the same too :) Best ever.

Really though, I love working in this stake. They are on fire, and still have so much potential!! There was a lot of pressure coming in because the sister here before me served here almost 8 months and baptized a million people, and everyone keeps asking us where she's at, or telling us they don't want to meet if she's gone... ha. But somehow I will win their hearts! Reading 1 Corin 9:20-22 I am grateful that I am the chameleon, and I know that I'm probably here to become whomever it is that I need to become. I'm excited to see who that is.

This week I met a Russian woman and got to talk to her -  на русском!! It was awesome. ha ha who knew that I'd actually end up loving the language so much? I guess all it takes is to leave...

Also, did anyone know that people in Utah call everywhere outside of Utah the mission field? ha ha! I was so confused when people would say "I used to live in the mission field for a while..." I realized that it just means anywhere else in the world. "Because everyone in Utah is a Mormon." Well, that's not a good enough excuse for me, because it's FALSE. The world is the mission field. все.

Also, we've been planning in Miracles at random times every night for the next day. We'll just pick a random time and expect something to happen. As we expect and look for those miracles, it's amazing the things that you realize are such great blessings.

3 different people tried paying for our dinner the other night. We met the sweetest old man and now we're teaching him. The High Councilman over missionary work in our stake opened up my mission. A million tiny little things that mean so much. It's true what they say - expect miracles! But I also think just looking for the good and constantly seeking opportunities to be grateful can change everything.

I love you all. This weeks goal = win some hearts!! Pray for me!!

Love always
Sister Willerth

Monday, June 23, 2014

Don't cry for me!

Last week I mentioned the success we've been seeing in this area as of late. I guess new of this spread. This week, we heard rumors that they were looking for an area for Sisters to live in within Stake boundaries. We didn't really fully grasp what that meant until someone asked us, "So we're getting another set of Sisters??"

Turns out with everything that's been going on - they will be splitting our area! Sister Orellana and I will both still be serving in the stake, but we will each take half of it now, covering 4 wards instead of 8. So, I'm moving again. I guess you just can never get too settled in one place. At this rate, I'd be surprised if I spent more than one transfer anywhere for the rest of my mission! But it's a good indicator that the work here is going forwards, and I have no doubt we'll see many miracles in the coming months. We were really sad at first to have to leave each other, but when things pick up it'll be good for the area. Pray for my new companion!!

I went in this week to get driving privileges and drove for the first time in over a year! so that was pretty strange. What was even weirder was that it just happened to be raining that day - and it rained all day long. That's unheard of in Utah. Plus it was FREEZING. So we broke back out the winter coats. In June. I've learned to stop expecting anything to go typically.

On Wednesday I got to go out to lunch with Sister Thomson (my Kiev companion)'s mom! With her was one of Sister Thomson's former companion from Kazakhstan. So I got to speak some Russian with her for the first time in a while :) it was pretty fun.
Went out to Eat 6 times this week

Met Sister Thomson's family!!

Got sick this week! This is the first time I've thrown up since high school (I was beginning to think I wasn't physically capable anymore) Too much information?

Chameleon face of the week: Another new one! Someone told me that I looked like Ursula in human form, after she had stolen and used Ariel's voice. Well, I have always wanted to look like a Disney princess... cough.

Yesterday we got to hear the homecoming talk of a girl who just got back from her mission in Argentina. It was really touching, and helped me kind of take inventory of where I'm at. As she spoke, I was kind of surprised by how much she talked abut Argentina. She talked about the people, the country, and in general what it was like. That took up about half of her talk. I wondered, even if I had stayed in Ukraine, would I have ended up talking that much about it? I guess maybe that's what people want to hear - but that's not what my mission was. I had a moment then when I realized - my mission is not where I served. It's okay that I'm here, and it's going to be okay no matter where I end up. Maybe I haven't been the direct answer to any one's prayers, or seen any extreme miracles of someone letting us into a door and telling us they'd been waiting. But when I end my mission, those experiences won't be my mission either. My mission is a peace that has developed in my heart as I work my hardest every day, and do everything I'm supposed to. Its the simple joy that I'm able to feel as I realize that this isn't about me at all - it's about doing what God wants me to do. And I do it. And that's what my mission will be when it's all over. Maybe I wont have any really remarkable "miracle" or "success" stories - but that'll be good enough for me I think.

I love you all.

Sister Willerth

Monday, June 16, 2014

17,000 miracles

"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." Thus we fast. We sacrifice something in order to prove that we want something else, and are willing to do whatever it takes to receive those (righteous) desires. It's a really powerful experience. So you can imagine the experience it is when an entire congregation of people participates in a fast for the same purpose, and kneels to pray for that thing afterward. We got to participate in 8 of those. And I don't think anyone else could see or appreciate the effects as much as we have this last week.

The week started off kind of weird. Because we had been participating in many ward activities and doing lots of service, we hadn't actually had any real lessons. We had gotten to know lots of people and had lots of fun, but as far as success or numbers, when we made a tally Thursday night we had had only 3 lessons. Here, that's nothing for the week. In order to reach our goal of lessons this week, we had to have 6 Friday, and several more Saturday and Sunday. That's unheard of in this area. So we would need a miracle. In the Christlike Attributes Assessment of PMG (Preach My Gospel), a question it asks to rate yourself on is " I have enough faith in Christ to accomplish anything He wants me to do—even miracles if necessary." I've never really understood this before, or known how to rate myself - what does faith actually have to do with miracles like this? If it's not Christ Himself here doing something, why would I need faith in Him to make these things happen? But as I went through the day, I realized that even doing everything we could - our efforts weren't enough. There are certain things we just can't control.  But we kept trying and working our hardest, knowing that if we did everything we could, we would teach 6 lessons - because it was a righteous desire and a strong goal.Sure enough at the last minute, we somehow got in an extra 2 lessons that just appeared out of nowhere. It was a miracle, and the 2nd busiest/most exhausting day of my mission. But so rewarding. That's what faith unto miracles is all about.

We got to go to the temple this week!! Salt Lake City - officially made it.It was beautiful and of course, very spiritual. I feel like I've been distracted by so many things lately, but I was able to realize (once again) that consecration isn't just about giving things up - but about using all that you have to be the most effective tool you can be in God's hands. The things that have been distracting me can be strengths as well, if I use them correctly. That was comforting.

We had a zone conference - once again, a very humbling experience. As I've been out on my mission over the last 14 months or so, something terrible has happened that I didn't fully realize until this week. I have become proud. Really proud. Because of the experiences that I've had and the things that I've learned and the people that I've met - I've developed this mentality of "No one gets me" and "No one can teach me anything." (I can't believe I'm admitting this, but i guess it's part of my repentance, ha ha). Anyway I sat there and let my thoughts fester, and the time came around for random talks to be selected for us to speak in front of the other missionaries. Guess who was selected. SO all of a sudden all eyes and condescending looks were focused on the one who had been giving them out just before that - and I realized they all felt the same about me. So I learned a great lesson and I'm repenting of that attitude.

We got to teach a group of young women this week for mutual. well, we didn't really teach so much as relay our experiences and explains why we decided to serve, what we've seen as a result, etc. Being there and talking about me before my mission, at the beginning of my mission, and now - I realized how much i really have changed.  Sometimes I forget that I've lived in another country and learned a foreign language and gained a great understanding of the gospel and met tons of people and learned how to be independent - and I feel like I'm going to wake up and be Diana again - the naive 19 year old who hasn't experienced any of this. I encouraged all of them to serve. It doesn't matter what else you want to do with your life or who you think you are or want to become - you can't lose anything through this. The mission will change you and help you with ANYTHING that could possibly be in your future. There is no substitute for these experiences.

I love you all. Choose the right and live the truth! It's what brings happiness.
Sister Willerth

Monday, June 9, 2014

Loaves and fishes

One of the greatest things about being a Sister Missionary in SLC is the way everyone stares at your tag to try to see where you're from - it doesn't matter where they see you, to them you are a temple square missionary. When we went to temple square last week on P day, we got out out foreign tags (My Russian one, and Sister Oellana's Spanish one.) That was a pretty fun afternoon :) Also, a lady from one of our wards got me a Russian dictionary, and found a Russian Liahona at the church distribution center! Language study materials! :)

We had a great lesson with a returning member this week. I think I might have mentioned her before - she has made some very poor life choices, and is turning her life around so she can go back to her family. At first it seemed like she didn't really have a desire to be good - she just wanted to get back into her house. But, as she's been going to church, reading, and praying - something amazing happened - this week when we saw her, she was different. She looked different, she acted different - she didn't seem manipulative or false as she sometimes does. She was just doing better. So much better. And that's the way that obedience (and the spirit that comes from it) changes lives.

Another great thing about serving in SLC is that every day, I come face to face with the person I could have been, had I not come on a mission. Wont say much more about that - but I am glad I came.

We got to do lots of service this week - we ended up just changing our clothes and going around asking people what they needed that we could do right then and there. Weeding, more cleaning out pantries (more food) some cleaning/organizing. It was really fun, and really rewarding - who knew I was actually such an organized person ;)

This week we had a dinner appointment cancel, and as we were about to head home a member texted us telling us they had something for us. When we showed up, they gave us a bunch of groceries! (They had gone to Costco, and knew we can't go because it's our of our mission so they just picked a bunch of stuff up for us.) Since then, people have been giving us food every day. all of our supplies have literally been multiplying. See pictures so see what I'm talking about, ha ha.

All of the wards are doing their fasts this week, and since we cant do them all together and all in a row, we are giving up music. It's been really hard, but we have seen so many miracles in the last week coming of this fast. We found 4 new people that we'll start teaching next week (4 new people in one week, when we haven't found 1 in the 4 weeks I've been here) and this coming week is going to be the busiest week of my mission - we already have every day BOOKED. So many blessings! It really is the week of miracles. Be excited for next week's report!

Last night we got to visit a family who is sending their daughter on her mission to Russia next week. They had lots of questions (of course) and answering them and trying to give them some comfort put me back to the time before I left - my doubts thoughts, fears, and feelings. I can't believe how far I've come. Being nostalgic about that, being grateful for my experiences, and being an answer to someones prayers - days like that are the missionary dream.

Love you all.
Sister Willerth

Monday, June 2, 2014

Out of my Shell

This week was kicked off to a great start with some memorial day festivities!! We got to go to a REAL barbecue!! Here's the sad part though - apparently I can over-eat now. EVERY night we have a huge dinner (I was used to something small we would cook ourselves, and maybe a big lunch instead) and I always wake up the next morning sick, because I still have food in my stomach. I'm realizing now that Americans really do have strange eating habits... It was a really good barbecue though :)

I think I mentioned how people don't really take us seriously when we ask them what we can do for them, because we wear skirts. We explain that we can change into pants to do yard work and that surprises them. I was confused by this, until this Tuesday. A woman in one of our wards just had a baby, and needed a lot of help folding laundry last week. We asked if we could help her again the next week. When we came back, we wore our regular proselyting clothes. When we walked in, she looked at us horrified and said, "I only have weeding today." Of course, we didn't care - we just did it in our skirts. But I'm not sure whether she'll take us up on it the next time we offer help. haha

There's a recent convert living in this area who's still working on changing some old habits. One of those is swearing, so I got to teach her "блин" ("bleen"). It's basically a crepe - totally harmless, but very satisfying to say when you're mad.

We got to visit a lady with Alzheimer's this week. Her husband cares for her now, because she can't really even speak anymore - her condition has gotten that bad. But she was the sweetest lady, and still loved to hum tunes though she couldn't sing words. The coolest part though of the visit though was that she thought she recognized me. She was staring at me and smiling at me the whole time. And then she told me she loved me. Chameleon face always pays off :)

It's been a really great week because I feel like I'm coming out of my shell. In Ukraine, I learned how to be more confident than I had ever been. Coming here I had to start all over again. These people know a lot more than me about the things I'm teaching. They speak my language, and understand me perfectly - and worse, I understand them. All implications of speech and cultural nuances - it's terrifying!! Plus, the sister that was here before me was probably the most beloved of all Sister Missionaries - so that's hard to live up to. BUT this week I feel like I've began to come out of my shell again. I've definitely been humbled, and am taking it as a chance to start completely over - to rely completely on God, since once again, I am in a situation where my own abilities or knowledge won't get me anywhere. All people are humbled, but only the truly proud need to be humbled 3 times. It's good though, because I feel like the things I learn here will be the things I carry with me back into real life. That is the blessing. And the love I feel from the people here every day makes it so worth it. Nowhere do missionaries get treated the way they do in Utah - just saying. :)

I love you and hope to hear from you all soon!
Sister Willerth

Monday, May 26, 2014

Time Flies

It's amazing how much faster the weeks fly by when you're busy every day!

This week I got to go to new missionary training. It was pretty interesting once again to see all the brand new missionaries gathered with the missionaries who came from Ukraine. The mission really must change people because not only the experience of the older missionaries was different, but just the entire way they carried themselves and spoke, and just everything was different. It's so amazing to see what these experiences do to people.

Being trained again was kind of humbling, but also cool - we learned a lot about how to do the work differently in these different circumstances. And we didn't have to go to all the workshops they had. (There was one on the "Adjusting to missionary life" stress guide. They pulled us out and said "you adjusted in Ukraine so we're pretty sure you'll be just fine here. haha well... I did happen to become VERY familiar with that book during my time there.. ahem.)

Working with Sister Orellana has been AWESOME. I think I mentioned this last week, but she's originally from Guatemala. She has so much to teach me, not the least of these things is Spanish! We just got permission from our mission president to do language study so I can keep up with my Russian. The only Russian study material I have right now is a copy of the Book of Mormon in Russian. So I'm hoping to pull a move like "the other side of heaven" guy, and maybe if I read through it I'll all of a sudden be completely fluent. We'll see.

 Sister Orellana and I
This week we got to meet tons of really awesome members. One of their houses is one of my favorite houses in the world! It reminds me a lot of ours, because there's tons of "junk', or excess stuff - but everything has a story. The lady who lives there is a professional clown, and will be representing Utah in "Senior Miss America' pageant. If you get the chance to tune in to that, I would do it. I think it'll be quite interesting this year. Also, her husband told me I looked like 
Gina Lollobrigida, whoever that is. Chameleon face, still going strong.

As service this week we got to plant almost an entire garden! The people even gave us pots and seeds to take home, and in a few weeks we should have our own salads growing on our front porch. That's pretty cool :) Have I mentioned yet that missionaries gain 25 pounds on average in this mission?? AHHH!

Sister Walkers family
And highlight of the week: Sister Walker's Family tracked me down and came to see me in church! I just happened to be speaking in that meeting and they were probably the only people who stayed awake through it all! It was so awesome to see them. Little connections like that help me feel like my experiences in Ukraine were actually real.

Things that only happen in Utah:

We went to get burgers this week (I missed burgers!!) and when we asked for the check, it had already been paid for. Seriously, how these people treat missionaries...

We went to the doctor because Sister Orellana had been feeling sick. The doctor talked to her in Spanish, just because he liked the practice I'm sure, and then as we were walking out told us he had felt the spirit when he walked into the room. So sweet - and so Utah.

I love this place :)

Hope you all have an awesome week!
с любовью
Sister Willerth

Monday, May 19, 2014


These are the dinner questions we are presented with here:

What is your name? Where are you from? How did you feel when you opened your call and is said you'd be serving in Salt Lake City?

Of course, my answer for that last one always turns the conversation a bit.

I am now serving in the Avenues (just east of Salt Lake) and it is AWESOME. My companion is Sister Orellana, she's from Guatemala (I call her Гватемаленькая. Those who have ears, let them hear.) and she's teaching me Spanish! Well kind of. She's a little more passionate for learning Russian than she is for teaching Spanish. But we're working on it. Anyway, she's awesome, and I love working with her :)

Here our companionship covers a stake. Yes you read that right - 8 wards. Oy. ha ha I didn't even know this many members existed! But it's been really awesome getting to know everyone and being treated like a celebrity as they hear my story. Plus, it turns out there are Russian/Ukrainian connections everywhere. So I'm looking forward to getting in  contact with some of those :)

This week we spend a lot of time driving around (yes, you read right again - DRIVING) and getting to know all the leaders. They schedule most of our appointments and we just get to teach. That's been probably the best part. Once again - as opposite as could possibly be from Ukraine.

It's been really awesome though, because I found one of the reasons that I'm here. We'll call them David and Michal, after my favorite bible character and his (first) wife. Eh, don't look too much into that story to know about them. Anyway, they have been less active for many many years and have recently decided that it's time for them to come back. They aren't married, so they got separate apartments, and started meeting with us. Now we're working on helping them quit smoking and just in general develop some good habits and get re-activated. Their pasts and thoughts on all of this are SO interesting, and I just love them both so much. The other day David told me we were kindred spirits. Sister Orellana told me, "I feel like people have missionaries that they call THEIR missionaries - and we are THEIR missionaries." And I feel like that too. It's been the best coming here, and falling right into a place where I feel like I belong and am needed.

Things that only happen in Utah:
We get fed by members EVERY night. One lady who took us out had just been called as relief society president and told us "I'm new and I forgot to pass around the sheet... so pick your favorite place to eat, and I'm taking you out tomorrow too!" We told her to choose a place, and she wanted to go to cheesecake factory. We were SO excited! We talked about it all the next day until we realized... It was just out of our area by ONE block!! #saltlakeboundaries #sixmissionsonecity #exactobediencebringstheblessings. So we had to call her and tell her we couldn't go. :( ha ha. #timesaretoughfordreamers #beengoneawhilebutstillknowhowtohashtag

We were at a stake conference and the speaker was talking about this video which gave a program she had developed for strengthening families and improving communication. While she was talking about it, someone in the audience of the stake conference raised their hand and asked what the film would be rated....... hahahahaha, TELL ME that would happen anywhere else. Is it bad that I think that's so funny??

I'm sure this list will build in the coming weeks. I love you all. Keep the faith - this is the right way, and the gospel changes lives and hearts.

Love always
Sister Willerth