Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Last week at the MTC

Being my last week in the MTC, I would like to preface this email by saying:
"AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" Freakin out. We got our travel plans/ Russian tags this week (pictures attatched) and it's all starting to get so real!! But I could not be more excited! I love the MTC, and I've had an awesome time here, but I feel like I need to get out there if I'm going to learn anymore now. As for where I'm at on the Russian.... Let's just say, I'm not really planning on understanding anyone for the first year or so. It's cool. I'm sure I'll get by :)
I would like to say THANK YOU to all of those who sent me so much love this week, through letters and packages. Mom as always :) (you're the best) and the Moodies! Grandma Moody and Sister Moody, those were a great surprise, thank you! ;) And I'm especially grateful to have all these new treats right before I'm leaving because it'll help me prioritize when packing (PACKING, YES!!) Here's a sad fact about me - if I'm looking at a box of girl scout cookies, and a skirt/dress that won't fit if I bring them, which do you think I'll choose? Samoas all the way. It's probably a problem, but at the same time I need to cut down my stuff anyway and this seems to be a method that works for me haha. Sugar addicts all the way.

Seriously though, I am just dying to get to Ukraine. It's so scary knowing I probably won't understand these people, but I can't help but love them. Sister Riley has been sending updates from many missionaries in Donetsk, and the work is just exploding over there! Not just because of the amazing missionaries they've got already serving there, and the wonderful President Campero (who I've heard unfortunately will be going home just a few months into out mission. I already know I'll be sad to see him go, but I'm excited to see a new chapter open in the mission, and what can be done with the groundwork he's laying down.) but the work is moving forward so rapidly because of the AMAZING people. I wasn't expecting to talk about this yet lest I discredit myself because I havent met them, and wouldn't techincally know them, but I feel like I just know - they are the most special people in the world. Similar to Russians, they have this shell that makes them seem cold or mean or sad, but they aren't. They're just real! Which means when you get through to them and help them see why something is important, they know it! And can't just fall away. When they say they are going to do something, they do it! Because they will just flat out tell you when they don't want to. And when they say they love you, they really, really, love you. And you should be honored because it really means a lot.
I feel so blessed to be called to this mission. People always say the Russian speaking missions are the hardest because it's a hard language AND a hard people. Maybe that's true, I guess I'll find out. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Hearing about Elder Moody's work lately (Connor is doing well by the way for those of you that have asked about him :) ) I know that there are places in the world that people are SO sweet and nice that they can't say no, but they never really commit. Unfortunately this is a big frustration for him right now. Missions are hard anywhere in the world, but they definitely come with their different frustrations. We've decided we get both sides of the spectrum.
Woah, after all this heavy stuff I feel like I don't even want to talk about what happened this week! Which reminds me, I'm just terrible at remembering and accurately portraying all the crazy things that happen here. For what is probably a more accurate account of all the things that have  happened to me here in the MTC, you should go to Sister Shrek's blog. Though almost everything that happens to her happens to me (she IS my companion) her stories are infinitely more entertaining than mine. I'm pretty sure the link is This week's entry should include the story of how all our attempts to set up our teachers finally payed off. So much drama that's been going on here that you didn't even know about. Well, I promise, you are in for a treat. Sister Shrek is so great.

Also, I spoke in Sacrament meeting this Sunday. That was fun (a word that I'm beginning to find a completely new definition for). It was SOOO scary and I couldn't really breathe at all for those few minutes, but I got through it and by some miracle hardly anyone could tell that I was nervous. Something surprising that I've gotten a lot here is that so many people think that I'm really confident. hahaha..... well, alright. I can run with that. I guess it's a good trait to have as I pretend to not be shy for the next 16 months. But really, I was so grateful that I had one last opportunity to bear my testimony to my zone. I might not see these people ever again, and I couldn't leave without telling them what I believed.
Other than that just little things - I've been going to choir and rediscovering my love for singing, even though I've pretty much lost my voice. I've (supposedly) been speaking Russian in my sleep every night so that's supposed to be a good sign. We gave our first 40 minute lesson, which was AWESOME. I love teaching and it's starting to get a little easier. Also, we've made up this really great game where we stand in the bathroom and try to trick the sisters into singing certain hymns. Sometimes you have to all out sing, but with really good ones like Come Thou Fount, all you have to do is hum a line and all the sisters start singing it. Other favorites are How Great Thou Art, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and the Start Spangled Banner for some reason... hahaha the sisters are so funny.

Hopefully my next email won't talk so much about me. I'm kind of sick of talking about myself haha. I do have one question though. Mary Edmunds (funniest lady alive) spoke to us the other day and she said to think about someone close to us and whether they would say we were an optimist or a pessimist. I know what your answer would be a few years ago. (Mom and siblings, we've talked plenty about this haha.) Just curious as to what your answers would be now. I'm trying to be better every day.
Okay well I love you all and I appreciate the prayers!! Please, keep em coming, and you will be hearing all about Ukraine very soon!!
Love Always,
Sister Willerth

Thursday, May 16, 2013

MTC: Week 7

Sister Shreck always says that the MTC is a taste of heaven because time just doesn't make sense here. So true - it becomes a freakish time warp and though so much probably happens, I always sit down on P-day and feel like I have nothing to say.
I feel like I've learned a lot and nothing at the same time. We have begun to do 100% SYL (we will for the last 2 weeks here) and it's crazy! I definitely don't know all the words I usually use in a day, and I pretty much can only speak when absolutely necessary, but it has really helped me to grow and learn how to maneuver to say the things I need to say. That will be a huge blessing when I get there (if I can understand what I need to say in the first place - eesh!)

Ooh, something cool. Guess who spoke to us at relief society this Mother's Day? None other than Janice Kapp Perry! For those of you who don't know (because I didn't) She wrote like a BAZILLION songs that we use in the church, including my very favorite, a child's prayer :) But also army of Helaman, I'm trying to be like Jesus, As sisters in Zion, all that... AND, in honor of the new Sister missionary movement, she wrote new words to As Sisters in Zion just for the new wave of Sister Missionaries, and we got to sing it for its very first time this Sunday. I am so grateful, and still can't really believe I am a part of this movement. This is history in the making! And we are all blessed to see it.
Also, let me just say that technology is totally changing missionary work. At least training, if not in the field. This last Saturday we got to Skype with real Russian people, in Russia! It was SOOO scary, but an awesome experience and opportunity. They were all church members and so sweet (The kind that would stay up until midnight to talk to the missionaries in America) and I really learned a lot from this - not necessarily language wise, but I know that all of the things I learn here will make me a better teacher, and that's the most important because it affects EVERYTHING.

One thing I've been worried about lately, is that though I know there will be some way to speak or say what is absolutely needful, I still don't understand Russian very well. At all. I know it will come, but I'm worried that if I can't understand people i won't be able to form the relationship I will need to in order to understand their needs and be effective. It's hard for me too, because I'm more of a listener than a talker usually anyway because I love just listening to people. I love to hear what other people think and feel about everything, and then I read between the lines to really know them. The way they say things, the things that they linger on and are passionate about. I wouldn't say that I'm a people person, because I'm still shy and would never go out of my way to talk to everyone - but the people I do get to know, I really care about. How can I do this, if I can't understand them? These were my concerns. But after and interview with one of my teachers, I realized that I've been prepared for this - by being the chameleon face, by being #7 who got lost at the space needle, by being in the background and by being a listener. I know that if I have faith, and work like I've never worked before that the spirit will help me understand what I need to. Not because I understand their words necessarily (the gift of tongues is real, but for Russian it takes longer to kick in, and doesn't exactly have biblical effects haha) but because HOPEFULLY I will be able to understand their heart. And while I'm at it, I might as well extend an invitation to everyone to try and do the same. If you feel like there's been some sort of conflict or misunderstanding with someone close to you, next time you talk to them, try to not listen so much to their words and find their needs. I don't get to use this theory for another 2 weeks still so I want to know how it goes!
Okay and one last thing - I have a prayer request for my trainer. Because there are so many sisters going out and not that many there, some sisters will become trainers almost immediately after finishing only 6 weeks of training. They probably will not feel ready (because I know I wouldn't). PLEASE PRAY for them. That they'll learn what they need to know and more, and be prepared to take us on and teach us what we need to know. This is very important, I've heard the
trainer creates the setting of an entire mission. PLEASE pray for mine.

Well I think that's all - sorry I don't have too many interesting things to say quite yet, but I know that'll all change in a couple weeks. Thank you everyone for the prayers - I need them here, and I am definitely able to feel them. I love you all!
Sister Willerth
PS.  I almost forgot! The district just older than us left yesterday. It was really hard to say goodbye - I've made some amazing friends here! But the world needs these missionaries - they will be the best Russia has ever seen!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Week 6

Sorry I messed up the weeks last week.  Diana shouldn't leave important stuff like this to me  :)

Hello Everyone!!
Thanks again for all the birthday love - it was the best day ever! Because of our new schedule we didn't have any responsibilities, so we pretty much got to lay out in the sun all day, and get this - I got a tan! (props to my tanning coach, Sister Shreck.) Yup that's right, volleyball AND a tan - I'm practically an entirely new person now.
It's been a really good week, but so strange - BOTH our teachers were out of town so we had subs all week long. It was weird, but awesome getting a range of tons of different teaching styles. I think we learned more this week than ever before. Also, one was a Native Ukrainian and acted like it too. She was kind of scary and made fun of us a lot because of our horrible Russian, but it all ended up okay. And like I said, we learned SO much this week. Still we were so happy to get our teachers back.
We had the first of our "crying interviews" this week. Our teachers have interviews with us to see how we were doing and they always just end up being this crazy out pour of emotions - even if you think you're totally fine, you cry! Anyway, the тройка (finally got the Russian characters kind of working) had an interview this week and we were a mess hahaha. But on our way back these sweet missionaries stopped us on the sidewalk and asked how we were doing. They explained that they were stuck here because they hadn't gotten their Visas to Uganda (что??!!!) and were just trying to learn all they could from the missionaries that were still here. They were just so sweet! it reminded me of a story I heard of a little Bolivian girl who said at her baptism: "My mom always told me there were angels on earth. We just didn't know they wore white shirts and ties, and had backpacks instead of wings" Awwww!! All these young men around me really are such angels. And the sisters too.
Can anyone believe I've been here for 6 weeks?! It's scary to think how little I know, and how I only have 3 weeks until I get out into the field and am surrounded by people I can't understand. Hopefully it'll come faster though when I'm surrounded by the people. For some reason words just don't stick here. Let me give you an example of why this is a problem. Yesterday we had this great lesson with our investigator, Anatoli. Everything was so awesome and then at the end we asked if he would sing with us. He smiled really big, and we pulled out our hymnbooks, and started to sing. He seemed so excited! We got back and talked about how great the lesson went, how much Anatoli loves to sing, yadda yadda... Then брать Okoren walks in (he had been playing the Role of Anatoli) And says, "старейшини [That's the word for elders - so intense!!] и  Sisters [can't get that word to work] there's something we need to get straight right now." He then proceeds to write on the board:
cпеть- to sing
спать- to sleep
He looks at us, and we realize... In our lesson, what we had ACTUALLY said was, "Anatoli, we want to sleep with you!" Ummm, неловкa!!!!! haha those mistakes were bound to happen eventually though, and needless to say we all got a good laugh out of it.  
Well I can't think of anything else really... I hope everything's going well at home! I'm loving it here, and can't wait to get to Ukraine and love it there!
Much love to all,
сестра Willerth

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Week 4 Happy Birthday!!

Lots of changes lately, the first of which being a completely new scedule, with P-day now on Tuesdays. Which means.... P-day on my birthday!! (I can't believe I'm doing laundry on my birthday!) So I don't have much to report yet on how it went, but I have  very high hopes. I get to go to the temple, nap outside, and then spend the whole day writibng people I love. And then, tonight (P-day ends at 6 technically) I get to go to devotional! Can you imagine a better birthday?? I can't :) Also - quick crisis moment. Can you believe I'm 20?? I feel more like a kid than I ever have!! I feel like I'm in middle school all over again, so immature and naive. But I'm not even a teenager anymore. I guess I wasn't then either though. Maybe the teen-ages were my prime years!! Is it all downhill from here??? Just kidding, I know the best is to come. Especially with the work I'm doing here :)
I'm so glad to hear that the weather back home is improving! It's been BEAUTIFUL here, for weeks now which means great things!! There are soooo many flowers everywhere (I'll send some pictures of the magnolias mom), and we have started having class outside every day. It's so beautiful and it totally changes the mood of everything, and makes it much easier to be productive. Still feeling good about the Russian - I know that's usually a thing people want to know about haha. It's coming! I will probably leave the MTC knowing close to nothing (it seems most of the Russian speaking missionaries do) but I know I'll be taken care of, and I'll be able to tread and learn so much while I'm there.
With the wearther being so nice too, the field has opened. Which means - frisbee and volleyball during gym time! Yes, even for me!! We aren't allowed to keep score here, so no ones wins or looses and it makes the game so much for fun! We don't exactly play by the rules, we just do whatever it takes to get a volley going. It's a miracle, but some of the sisters that play here are worse than me!! The elders get frustrated sometimes, but the whole not keeping score thing really helps. Our district has tons of fun playing. Especially with the new schedule - gym doesn't interrupt classes anymore, it's only in the morning or at night so we just completely let loose. You should see our district in action, we are all crazy. But we've decided, you just need to have a few screws loose to be called to "Donuts". (An ongoing joke about the confusion that continues about our "Russian" mission. Don't ask - - -  see what I did there?? ;) )
So obviously I love the new schedule, except for one thing - We wake up at 6:30 and don't get to eat until almost 9. Anyone who knows me knows why this is a problem. I really think I might starve to death haha. And I was doing so good at gaining weight mom, I promise! We'll just see what happens. That's my only complaint! (We just made up a rule here - you are limited only 3 complaints a day. Some girls really need to use them. Luckily I have few things to complain about anymore.)
Also I've been taken care of so well this week!! Mom, Deana, and Dillan I got your packages!! Thank you all so much!!! And my district has been taking good care of me too. Last night we had a "birthday party" (I just opened some presents and we ate lots of candy). Also, there are many of you who wondered how I'd live without it, so I'd like to put your concerns to rest - the ever faithful Sister Walker has been willing to snuggle me on many an occcasion. Told you I'd find a way :)
Alright quickly, I've been thinking a lot lately about something I want to share. It's hard to be here without a good reason why, and I've been trying to nail down a good reason for me. Something to think about if times get tough. Just a purpose. Since conference I've been thinking about Jeffrey R. Holland's talk.  He talked about the man who came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his son. He talked about the toll the boys sickness must have taken on his family. He talked about how desperate he was when he finally heard of Christ, and carried his son to Him, and pleaded with Christ to heal him. Christ's earthly ministry is over, but HE STILL HEALS. Today we have modern medicine. We see miracles every day - the blind recieve new eyes. There are devices that make the deaf hear. We don't need the same miracles that we did then. But there are sicknesses that are not of this world. There are things that only faith can heal. There are people, like that man, whose families are burdened with terrible trials. Some of them have never even heard of the Savior. That's why I'm here. I want to be the person who passes on the word to people like that man. They might not believe right away, but they can still go to him with their burdens and take that little bit of faith they have, and begin to be healed. That's all it takes. Go to Him, tell Him you know that he can help, admit you might not have the strongest faith, but then plead - "Help Thou mine unbelief." Then will the blessings of heaven and healing be opened to you.
I've had the opportunity to act as an investigator a lot lately. It's interesting thinking as someone who hasn't been raised in the church. I realized - lots of this stuff doesn't really make much sense when you hear it! I've been coming up with questions in this mindset that I had never thought of before. My teacher, after acting as a missionary and teaching me one of the "discussions" says to me - "You are the girl with doubts!" I've been thinking about that  lot since. As I said in my farewell talk, I've struggled with many points of doctrine. But I am so grateful with my doubts and struggles, because God always answers my questions and quiets my fears. And then those doubts turn to a testimony, and my testimony becomes knowledge. I know that this is the True Gospel of Christ. I have come to know Him, and my Father. I know that they love us. The Creators of the world, the most supreme beings in the Universe LOVE US. God did not create the world and then take away His hand. He still touches our lives, daily. Everything He does is for the saving of His people! That is a question I am still struggling with, is WHY someone so perfect could possibly care about things like us. But I know He does, and for that I am so grateful.
Thank you to everyone - all my friends and family - for your love and support. I haven't always been clear about what I'm doing or why I'm here, but now you know - this is the thing I love the most! I know I am where I need to be, but more than that, I am where I WANT to be.
I love you all so much.
Sister Willerth