Tuesday, August 27, 2013

With the Holiday!

We lost sister Helsten this Friday. Well, sort of. We were actually on the way to drop her off at her new place when we FINALLY got a hold of someone who would do something about our bug problem. Turns out that the chemicals they use to get rid of them meant that we couldn't stay at our apartment for 2 days. So guess who we stayed with instead. Sister Helsten! SO if you were waiting for an update on how it is being alone - we just haven't been able to let go of our trainer yet. Although Sunday we went to or own branch and it gave us an idea of how it's going to be.

This is how it went down - we got horribly lost on the way, and were almost late to church. While we were there, people kept coming up and asking questions. We'd make them repeat it 4 or 5 times until we understood, and then in the end we wouldn't know the answer anyway. Then they'd say "Where's your third one?!?!" We'd keep trying to explain that she's not coming back and that it'll only be us, but I think they really just can't fathom that we're living alone. They always either just laugh or say "I'll call sister Helsten." "Sister Helsten isn't coming back." "Okay, then I'll call her, and she'll just tell you what's going on." Well okay, fine by me. ha ha
It wasn't so bad though - and after church Sister Locchead invited us over for dinner. President was at a meeting so it was just us girls. We had amazing tea and sang together and then ate some chocolate peanut butter cookies. Best day ever? Probably. Then because of Coal Miner's day, we had to be in by 7 o'clock to avoid mischief on the streets. Happy Shackters day!
I swear, these people have a holiday for everything. Last Monday was the day of honey and apples. It was forbidden to eat apples, and in front of all the temples, there were giant honey markets set up. Everyone came to town with heir honey and their stands, and there were bees everywhere, and we sampled so much honey and ended up buying a ton. But it is SO CHEAP and actual real honey. My favorite is the kind where they just leave a bunch of smashed honey comb in the bottom :) While I'm at it I just want to put a rumor to rest - whoever said eastern European food is bland or boring or bad has never eaten in Ukraine. These people pride themselves on their food, and for good reason.
I think that's all the news. Except one last thing - I'm an aunt again! WOOOO another niece! (it's about time, ha ha) Not sure if I actually saw her picture, or if it was just a duplicate from one of the last two kids (they look exactly alike ha ha) but I love the name and I'm so glad everything went well. Prayers payed off! Can't wait to see the little one.
I love you all and I'm glad that everything seems to be going well. Know that I'm thinking of you, and I'm so grateful for all the support as always. Keep me in your prayers!

Love always,
Sister Willerth
P.S. My name is literally impossible to remember. Even the people we've been working with for months just avoid calling me by name because they are embarrassed, but they just don't know it ha ha. POINT BEING. I'm looking for suggestions of a new name to put on a tag. I'm debating on maybe the Russian word for "will" or "Earth". What does Willerth literally mean anyway??

Thursday, August 22, 2013

And Then There Were Two

Hello home! Going to keep this short because I really want to try and get some pictures sent. The only really big news is that transfers are being extended because the next set of missionaries are having visa problems. We were so excited to be together for another 4 weeks, until BAM. President called and let us know that he's moving Sister Helsten to Center Donetsk THIS FRIDAY. So Sister Reece and I will be alone - always! This is not just a usual exchange, where she is away but we can call her every 5 minutes and have her set up appointments for us. NO. We are just going to have to take on Ukraine alone. The members heard this at church yesterday and began to mock a bit. Well, so persecuted they the prophets before us. As for me, I know that the last 2 transfers have prepared me for this incredible responsibility. It'll be humbling for sure, but I've been told and I have a feeling, that transfers like this are when you find something in yourself that makes your whole mission. Already this week, I've seen some of the blessings that come from totally losing yourself in the work. Plus I'm SO excited to be staying with Sister Reece. She is becoming one of my best friends - I can't imagine anyone else being my first single companion.

I'll keep you posted on all of the stories that I'm sure are bound to come. (Quick one - this week I accidentally asked someone if they had cancer instead of asking if they were a doctor.) Keep the prayers coming, and know that I'm sending them your way too. Also, fingers are crossed for baby news soon! WOO!
Much love,
Sister Willerth
P.S. I admit that there are some things I regret being lazy about being here now, but I have to say, writing home on a computer where half the letters have worn off makes me grateful for all the time I spent on the computer during high school and college, "memorizing the keyboard" ;) Had to throw that in, just the mental image of mom rolling her eyes at it was way too satisfying. Have a great week everyone!

We went on a tour of the huge "famous" soccer stadium in Donetsk and this is where the announcers sit. Pretty big deal.

We had a Ukrainian picnic with traditional Ukrainian food and songs (my personal favorite part. These people don't sing with much gusto in church, but you should hear them when they sing their classics!) and a member lent me this shirt. Cross stitching and patterns like this are very traditional here.

Igor is one of my very favorite people in the world. I think he is exactly who Wojtek will be in 30-40 years.

Skusha is a tiny little model who we met randomly in the park one day and after that she just started calling us up all the time to give us these random little things she paints. So sweet.

My very favorite picture of my companions (Just after we smashed coins on the train tracks.) How I love them and will miss them

Also - guess how old the coin is. Bet you can't - IT'S FROM 500 BC!!! Ancient Greece. 500 years before Christ walked the earth. coolest thing ever.

Coal mine/war museum in Donetsk

The A-team, in full (on our Friday morning Tamara excursion)

Sunday, August 18, 2013


привет мормоны! (My favorite thing to hear walking around town.)
Language update:
I include this because people keep asking me about it. I will use the immortal catch phrase of Sister Helsten here (which happens to be one of my new favorite things to say): It's fine! I'm not fluent, and I probably will never be. I hardly understand when people are talking to me, but I'm about to pull out the main idea enough to respond. I'm struggling at it more than some, and less than others, and all together I really have no idea how to better describe my progress. I know everyone is curious and that's why you ask, but it's funny how it becomes one of the less important things after actually living here for a little bit. So if I don't talk about it much,that's why. It's fine.

Tamara got her calling! She is playing the piano for the branch, and my very favorite part of the week is our Friday mornings when we go over to her house and sing so she can practice playing. She also has been teaching me some classic Russian "romances", and she started calling me her little bird. (Reminders of home everywhere :) ) Then we always go home with several bags full of apples. Yes, apples. Lets go into that. Remember Cherry season? Apple season is even crazier. People give us HUNDREDS of apples in a week, and I swear we have enough to live off of for months, if they lasted that long. Anyone have any creative ideas of what to do with some apples? Tamara is going to teach us how to make some sort of sweet rice thing with them. Her apples are the best I've seen or had here. It's like walking outside and pulling an apple off you tree that they could sell at Costco in America. Her garden is one of the most magical places, I swear.

This has also been a super cool week, because the Patriarch was in town! He travels for the whole East Europe area, but this week he was in the Donetsk mission and so many of our members here were able to get blessings after being members for 16 years and OVER. Such a cool experience for them. And it really helps me gain a greater appreciation of how well developed the church is in America and how many resources we have so close and available to us. USE THEM, PEOPLE!

Now let me tell you about the featured word of the week. We were talking to this lady outside and a man came up, getting defensive because we're Americans and why are we in their country and the usual, and the lady  kept pointing at our shoes and saying something. Later I asked, " Sister Helsten, what does бедные mean?" "Oh, she was saying we were poor." ha ha well, people don't appreciate our style here I guess. That's one piece of advice I have for sisters - if you're serving anywhere but America, the style is different! There's no point in getting trendy clothes, because after a few months, or weeks, even you will be sick of them and then no one will think you're "cute." Only poor. So get over it while you're ahead. It's fine :) I kind of like being considered poor though. The mentality here is so much different than America - people don't really like wealthy people, or those who have earned more money and put themselves ahead of everyone else. The more signs of poverty you display, the nicer people are to you (in my experience so far). It's been kind of cool.
Oh, and I was proposed to this week! The guy was hardly even drunk. I don't think he took rejection too well though, because a few days later, he and a friend of his found out where we lived and came knocking on our door. Luckily I've broken my bad habit of never locking the door. But I am still grateful I was raised not to be scared of really anyone. I think experience like this tend to freak some of the sisters out, but I'm lucky - I can walk away unfazed. I ain't never scur'd!

Well I hope everything is going great and that you are living up your last few weeks of summer. Try a new food this week! Also, write a missionary ;)
I love you!
Sister Willerth

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Quick updates!

Monday I got a package from home! WOOOOOO!! I'm making peanut butter cookies!! Brown sugar is like gold here, and while some other sisters were staying the night, I think they teared up a little when they saw our stash. I think I'm the richest girl in Ukraine. 

Sister Helsten had another meeting this week, leaving sister Reece and I alone to reap some havoc on Makeevka. We went on a wilderness adventure to check on our recent convert (she wasn't at church and we had reason to worry) we got lost, naturally, and sang pioneer songs (Sister Reece is a big Utah girl - she would not let pioneer day go uncelebrated) until we finally found her house. No one answered when we knocked, but knowing she had a back fence we went around and tried climbing over all this dead brush (which apparently was meant to act as some sort of fence. How was I to know??) when her neighbor's dogs went crazy. Next thing we know, we've got a Babushka yelling at us and chasing us out of the neighborhood. Probably should have come more prepared to explain ourselves, but as it was we just looked like sketchy robbers. Not one of our finer moments haha. #greenieprobs

We also had another meeting with Viktor. I think I said something about a coin from 1927? well, let me outdo myself - this week I touched a coin from the 1600s! What! It's like a small round rock with some sort of Arabic-looking characters on it. SO COOL. Also he had dimes and quarters from as far back as 1902! It was like being in national treasure.

This week we met the nicest lady in the world, named Allah. She loved our family picture and I mention her specifically because she wanted me to say: "Tell everyone that Allah from Makeevka in Ukraine says hi and you are all beautiful! Hello my puppets!!" The ladies here love to call us "Puppet". I guess it's pretty endearing haha.

We did an exchange this week with one of the newer sisters that came in a transfer after us, and it was really cool to a) see progress that I had made since I've been in country and b) feel like a trainer! I've got a feeling like I'll be training soon. It's scary being this young into the mission and thinking of that responsibility, but I think I would love it. Teaching people outside is great, but I think it's almost more fulfilling the work we do within our own companionships. At least, that's where I've learned the most these last  couple months.

Months!! Just passed the 4 month mark on the mission! Who else can't believe it? I can't!

Also the weather has been amazing this week! Nice and cool, around 20 degrees C all week long. I'm worried for when things get hot again but for now it feels like fall and we are loving it!

Also shout out to Kiki who is ENGAGED!! WHAAAA. Bummed that I'm missing it but so happy for her!

Okay I'm russian (rushin hehe. Picking up Sister Reece's humor) as always to finish this but know that I'm thinking of you and that I love you all! Take care and keep up the good work!