Monday, August 25, 2014

Olympus would be that way

Transfers!!
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.
Love
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

нельзя

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

Monday, May 12, 2014

это место!!

Not a direct translation, I know... But this is the place!!

It was so good to talk to you all yesterday on mothers day. I think I've mostly got you all up to date on everything that's happened, but for those who don't know I've been transferred to the Salt Lake City East mission. It feels like MY mission already... I'm so excited to see what's in store for me here.

I love you all SO much and thanks for all your support and love always.

- Sister Willard

P.S. People still can't say my name. Some things never change :)


All the Missionaries in SLC East From the Donetsk Mission (and our new Mission President:)
At Sister Beck's home

Blended Sisters

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Heroes' Welcome

(Diana and all the missionaries who were in the Donetsk, Ukraine mission were sent back to the states to finish their missions because of the unrest and safety issues.  This is what we heard from her after her arrival in the States.  Her blog will continue from the Salt Lake City East Mission where she will be serving until her return home in the fall.)

We're here.
Flying into the states was kind of both exactly what I expected, and not at all - it wasn't as foreign as I thought. Everything was pretty familiar - but not in a shocking or even extreme way at all. Just normal. The real shock was the people - so nice, friendly, helpful, and perfectly easy to understand! (Not the most pleasant thing when they are rude to you at customs - hmph. haha) As soon as we got to the gate in Denver for our flight to Salt Lake, people were flocking to us wanting to hear our story. In Salt Lake, EVERYONE recognized us. It was quite the experience, coming from where we were coming from and going to the polar opposite. We're lucky that we get to be here.

Not sure about Skype yet still. I'll see when I find out about my companions what'll happen - but I will be talking to you tomorrow no matter what. :)
Love you all!
Sister Willerth

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Highlights

Highlights of last week:

Birthday! Everyone was so nice and I ate lots of food :)  woohoo :D

Transfers: Staying in Cherkassy My favorite area. EVER. And serving with Sister Thomson is the best!! We are best friends already and I'm SO excited to work with her!!

The world God created through the eyes of a child: We put on this "creative finding" activity in the park this week on a holiday and invited children to come draw and paint and we hung up all their pictures for everyone to see. Literally HUNDREDS of kids participated - it was really incredible.

Mission conference: President Bennet of the 70 came. With President Kleibengat, that added to 2 general authorities at one conference! It was a really cool experience - very spiritually strengthening and I learned a lot.

TEMPLE!!!!! I got to go after we were in Kiev for the conference. BEST TIMES!!!! It's so beautiful and such an amazing experience after not having gone for a year. I LOVE IT :D

I don't have any way to send pictures right now but I'll send some next week! For now I'll keep this short so that I can hopefully have a little extra time to talk to you all on Saturday. I love you all so much - thank you for the birthday wishes and love always!!

Love
Sister Willerth


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Freckles

I know it is SO unfair that I have been sending such short/non detailed emails. I'll try to make up for it all with more pictures, I guess. 

This week has been SO COOL! I think I mentioned last week that we're working on opening a new city about 3 hours away from here - so we take a trip there every week. We travel there 3 hours in the morning, have an afternoon of finding, and then ride the bus 3 hours back. It is SUCH a cool experience - all of the people are kind of isolated from the outside world/cities and have never heard this message or anything about us. It's awesome :) Also, didn't think it was possible - but I think it might even be prettier there than in Cherkassy. There are SO MANY TREES BLOOMING (I was also pleasantly surprised when I realized that the blossoms would be fruit soon. I forgot what it's like in the early summer, but soon I'll be eating more cherries than I could have imagined in a past life :) 

Also, some of our good friends in Kirovograd have a tiny little farm (they keep animals in their yard) and their goat just had babies! So we got to hold this baby goat that had just been born the day before. BEST DAY :D



We also got to play Frisbee this week with some investigators and lots of people we didn't know caught word and showed up. One of them was from England! He came to Ukraine on a mission trip i guess 5 years ago and loved it and decided to stay. Or come back. or something. Anyway the point is that being in the west you meet a lot more European people I guess... 

The weather here is amazing, and I have been getting lots of sun. I already have a toms tan line!!

And we got transfer calls this week - I'll be serving with Sister Thomson starting this Thursday! She's one of the sisters we've been living with, and we already went on 2 exchanges in the last week and are already best buds. I'm SO excited to work with her!!

Other matters of business, this is my new address:

Ukraine Kyiv Mission
Vul. Yabluneva 1
S. Sofiivska Borshahivka
Kyevo-Svyatoshinsky Rayon
Kyiv Oblast 08131
Ukraine

In case anyone had anything they need to send along ;)
I love you all so much! Have an amazing week!
Love
Sister Willerth

P.S. I'm not freaking out or anything... but I'm really old. Reeeeeeally really old. Eesh.

Happy Birthday Sister Willerth (She's 21 April 30)

Monday, April 21, 2014

только за

Happy Easter! We celebrated by eating a lot for every single meal. Living the American dream.

We got to go on an exchange with Sisters Shreck and Nash this week! That was quite the reunion! We had KFC AND Cinnabon. And have I mentioned yet that we found peanut butter? I will probably never want for anything ever again.

Other than that, a pretty uneventful week. Just still adjusting and enjoying the most beautiful city in Ukraine! It hasn't stopped raining since we've got here pretty much, so everything is green (and white, for the flowers that are already blooming). Simple joys...

I hope everything is having a great week. Congratulations to those graduating! and my love to everyone at home :)

Love
Sister Willerth

We saw the temple again :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

No unhallowed hand

Where do I begin?
This week feels like an eternity.
I'm sure that most, if not all of you, have heard - on Wednesday we got a call that things had escalated rapidly within the last few days, and that as a precaution all of the missionaries in our mission were being emergency transferred to the Kiev, Ukraine mission. We would be leaving the next day.
We spent a lot of our last time making preparations and packing. It's a funny feeling seeing your entire life packed in 2 suitcases.
On Thursday we had a final meeting with half our mission, all those in the Donbass. The other half would be leaving directly from Kharkiv. I have never felt such a strong sense of love and unity to a group of people. President and Sister Lochhead told us what the situation was, gave us some advice, and shared their testimonies. There was not a dry eye in the room. All the other missionaries blew me away. We have the greatest group of young people here that ever existed - I'm convinced of it. One of the missionaries just relocated from their mission in Russia to ours because of new visa laws coined a great phrase that's been the resounding theme of our mission through all of this: It doesn't matter where you're serving. It matters who you're serving.
The train to Kiev was 14 hours overnight. It was actually a really cool experience - think of Anastasia, and you can pretty much picture it. It looked just like that! And getting the chance to hang out with the missionaries on the way there was really fun. It was a good way to say goodbye.

When we got here, we went straight to the mission home - which is on temple grounds!! I ran off the bus and gave the temple a big ol' hug. We didn't get to go in, but being on hallowed ground was enough for me for then :)
Another awesome moment - We got to see Elders Grochmal and Boyce from the MTC district!! There hasn't been a happier reunion since Alma met the sons of Mosiah on the path back to Zarahemla :) And we're serving together now! 
After a brief meeting with everyone, we headed to our new area - another 3 hours out of Kiev. Now I'm serving in Cherkassy, one of the most charming little cities I've ever seen. It's been warmer here apparently because all the trees are already in bloom and green and it's so pretty! Not to mention clean... It all looks so different than Donetsk!
Since then we've just been finding mostly. Which is interesting.... because people here speak Ukrainian. Yup. New language - again. ha ha I really feel like I'm starting completely over again... but I guess that's what happens when you get too comfortable/confident somewhere! The good news is though, that the people here are so nice! Anyone will talk to us, or listen to us, and no one even ever yells at us or anything! So that makes it pretty fun just to go out and talk to people.
And of course, we got to watch general conference!! Adjusting was hard of course, especially at first - but as I listened to conference, the prophets spoke peace to my soul. I watched every single session. All of them. And I loved every minute of it :) In a place where the church is so obscure and small, it's good to know that we really are great in numbers and that the work moves forward. I never appreciated conference enough in the past, but I vowed this weekend that every conference from now on, I will think of what conference means - how significant it is - to an uprooted missionary in Ukraine. If you can picture it, try to. And then watch conference again! :) haha. It's really powerful.
So the next few weeks will be interesting... We don't really have any idea of what's going to happen. It looks like, at least for the next 3 weeks, Sister Rohrbaugh and I will be sleeping on a couch and living out of a suitcase. But I really feel like we were prepared for this. Everything I have done, especially in the last month, has consecrated me for this.

Last Monday we had a lesson with a man who asked - was the mission of Joseph Smith more successful than that of Jesus Christ, since He apparently failed to organize His church the first time. Of course we had to explain that Joseph Smith himself didn't come up with any mission - he was actually on Christ's mission. It's all one mission. That's something that I've been thinking of, being here. I miss the people we're teaching. I worry about the work - about the branches and people and everything. But we've been promised that no unhallowed hand can stop this work from moving forward. This isn't a mission that started when I came, or when they opened up Ukraine to missionaries, or even when Joseph Smith restored the gospel. it all began before the world was even created, when God created a plan of happiness for each of His children, and then because of the fall and the veil, they forgot. That's the message we're bringing to people - and now I'm just doing it in a new place. It's all going to be alright.


“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” - Joseph Smith


Thank you everyone for your support and love. Please keep praying for Ukraine.
I love you!!!!
Sister Willerth

Monday, April 7, 2014

Of a pitchfork.

There's something about this place....

The feel of the Donbass is work, diligence, and obedience. I'm really grateful to be back. It's amazing how these things that sound scary and hard turn into huge blessings, and help you love the work even more.

On Monday Sister Rohrbaugh left for an exchange in Lugangsk, leaving Sister Finlinson and I together for a few days again! I feel like she's my second companion! We had some really good chats and she's got some great stories/advice. She's young on the mission, but one of the oldest sisters here (23 years) so there's a really interesting feel to serving with her... I love it!

Monday night we had a lesson with a less active woman who has 3 ADORABLE sons! Seriously, I haven't felt so loved by a child in a very long time. We played rock paper scissors and read from the children's bible together, and the littlest one gave us both the biggest hugs when we left. He has some sort of mental disorder, so he couldn't talk at all, but it was fine, because honestly neither could we :)

Tuesday we had a lesson with a less active. She had moved soon after baptism, and had just kind of gotten lost, which is why she had stopped going to church. When we found her, she has pretty much forgotten everything. Teaching her is so interesting, because it's like teaching someone who's never heard it before (she really hears it all as if for the first time) and then understands it and accepts it just like that! She reminds me of Tinkerbell, too. So that's a plus. After we went to her house, we went home over these really awesome train tracks in the middle of nowhere. I like being out of the city and more in the countryside again - it's so beautiful!
Above the tracks

Wednesday we went out to start out food storage! The church most be making it a policy now for even the missionaries, because they gave us a ton of money and told us to spend it ALL on storage. We went to this store kind of nearby that's basically Costco - it sells everything in bulk (which you NEVER find here) and then we went wild! We had to call a taxi to take us home and he thought we were stocking up for the apocalypse, given all that's been happening. It was so funny.
So Much Chocolate!

Thursday we had an awesome zone meeting. I am convinced that we have the best missionaries in the world serving here.

Friday we had a really fun game night, where I found out that once again, no one can say or remember my name. I'm thinking of cutting it in half - that's what lots of missionaries do. The only thing is that "вил" ("vil") translates into Russian literally as "of a pitchfork". Which, you know, could be kind of funny I guess... But I'm still trying to decide if it's just too weird ha ha. We'll see....

Sunday was a day of miracles!! (I love fast Sundays.....) A few weeks ago, we had invited a member to help us on a lesson (President is really emphasizing ALWAYS teaching with members) and the investigator never showed up... we felt really bad, but on the member's way home, she met someone who she had known on HER mission, who wanted to meet with the missionaries again! Pretty cool :) So we went over there together, tracked into the middle of nowhere, and met this tiny little Baba with no teeth and a million wrinkles. She was SO sweet, and the day was so beautiful (we sat outside, and I got sunburned! Spring is here!!)  Because she's old, its hard for her so understand, but as soon as we started talking about Christ she immediately said "That's right! I want to come worship there." That's what the spirit can do.

I love you all and hope you all enjoyed conference!! I CAN'T WAIT TO WATCH IT THIS WEEK! I hope everyone has a wonderful week and don't forget to pray for your missionaries!! You are in my prayers always.

Love
сестра вил

Monday, March 31, 2014

напарничка

Back in the Donbass and if feels so good!

Really though, there's just a whole different feel to everything here - the work, the homes, the people. And it's familiar to me. It's so weird, because I was only here 4ish months. But I know this place and it's my home! I love love love it :)

This week we celebrated a year on our missions together!! We went to New York Street Pizza... It's funny, the fanciest/best food places here are non-fancy American foods. But, what to do? It was really fun going, just sister Rohrbaugh and I, and getting to reflect on all the experiences we've had so far, and the people we've become. So sentimental!

The day before, we celebrated by teaching like crazy! (here, that means we got 3 lessons!) It was so cool, every time something fell through, something else would happen and things would work out. For example, we asked a member to help on a lesson, and not being able to make it she called someone else and set up for someone else to help us instead - without even telling us that she couldn't. I LOVE the members here, they're so willing to help and self-sacrificing. The man we taught was the sweetest, most Ukrainian Dedushka you've ever met. Another example - we could not get a member to help us on a lesson, and just prayed and prayed that the person who  "probably couldn't make it" would show up. He didn't - but the branch presidency finished their meeting early and asked if they could come teach with us. OF COURSE! So with 3 of the strongest priesthood holders in our branch there, it was a pretty awesome lesson :) Little things that make a missionary's day.

Sister Rohrbaugh is the Sister Training Leader for Donetsk, along with another Sister in our district, so I'm back to splits every week! Most of the time, this means being with Sister Finlinson. She's in her second transfer, still technically training, but her Russian is AWESOME and she is so bold so we just talk to everyone! And it's a good time. We were approached by this guy who apparently writes books of poetry on religion, and he was just rattling it off like crazy. That was interesting... AND we found a really awesome family this week so hopefully we can start teaching them soon too!

Also, this week as a district, we did шашлык (shashlik is basically shishcabob barbecue over a campfire. It's a pretty big deal here.) I loved it! I'm kind of torn about the food - I can't say I love everything, but there are a few gems in the Ukrainian diet, and this is one of them.

Sorry this is so scattered. I feel like not that much has happened, or what has would be boring unless you were here to see it. It's all just finding and teaching and finding some more... I feel like I've been on a long vacation in Kharkov, and now I'm back to work here again. I do love this place though. - and I love this work.And I have every intention of making these last 6 months count!!

I love you everyone! Have an amazing week!
Love
Sister Willerth


P.S. If anyone knows any good synonyms/substitutes for the words "cool" or "also", a list would be appreciated. As you can see, I'm struggling.... ha ha

Monday, March 24, 2014

смысл?

So this week was kind of an emotional roller coaster. Transfers were crazy and got changed probably a million times. That meant them calling me, telling me that I'm staying in Kharkov, me telling everyone else I was staying, and then getting another call that I'm leaving again. AHH! It went back and forth for a while, but when transfer morning came the last news was that I was coming down to Donetsk - so down I went. When we got to transfer meeting, we had to start late because President was STILL changing the boards! haha. But I guess everything worked out, because he came up, transfers were announced, and now I'm serving in (whitewashing into) Petrovski with Sister Rohrbaugh!! So things have come full circle - this week we'll be celebrating one year on the mission (WEEEEEIRD) and we'll be doing it together - just like how we started! I'm so excited to be back with her, it's been so interesting to see already how much we've changed since being companions in the MTC. Stay tuned on some of the mischief we'll surely get into!

Thew first half of the week consisted mostly of packing and cleaning. I didn't know I had so much stuff, but I guess that's what happens when you live somewhere for 6 months... you forget what you have, and acquire more somehow. Eesh. But, after packing and re-packing probably a million times, my entire life was once again sucked into 2 suitcases. It's still weird to me that that's how we live... But I kind of love it.

Goodbyes were hard - I didn't expect them to be so hard. I've made so many friends here that I know I will be friends with forever.

Since transfers things have been CRAZY! I don't think I've been so exhausted/sore in my life! (Why sore, I'm not sure - but probably from all the power walking. We walk so much more here than we did in Kharkov, and we always seem to be running late... ha....) But it's been really good to be home again, and to be busy and have so much going on!

On Thursday night we went to English practice and met some ward members and a new Elder who is a native Ukrainian! He's really cool and I'm hoping he can help improve my Russian... Also after we met, he said I look like a goth so that's cool I guess... If anyone was wondering how I've changed in the last year - there you have it! :) 

On Saturday we got to do a service project for an investigator of ours who is building a castle in the middle of nowhere. In principle, the castle is built - and right now he's digging out a pool in his basement.So we spent the day hauling dirt out of what was pretty much a castle dungeon. It was so cool!!

On Sunday, meeting the new branch was SO cool! I've never seen so many kids in one branch! It was so loud - I felt like I was back in America! :D really though, I love the branch so much already. They are already so helpful.

Favorite experience of the entire week:
A Vietnamese man walked into church yesterday, who didn't speak English OR Russian, or really anything. He just sat in the back and listened. He had come last week and stayed all 3 hours too. So we tried teaching him a little, or at least just finding out more about him. We had a member with us that spoke Russian Sign language (which is SO cool!! She's teaching us a little too :) ) and so she tried communicating with him like that, but mostly it was all gestures. Most interesting experience ever. Though we couldn't really explain anything with words - I could ell that he was feeling the feelings that he needed to feel. It just served as proof that you really can teach with no language at all. So cool.

Afterward, a member was trying to talk to him by translating things on his Ipad and told us "He's a member - I know him from somewhere." After translating back and forth, he said "You were baptized, weren't you? With me. I was really little then though." Turns out that 20 years ago, the man had been baptized on the same day as this member. He was only 8 then, and the man had never come back until now, but he still remembered him. Power of the spirit!! Sometimes I can't believe the long lasting, life-changing effect that the gospel has on people - but it just does! I've seen it in me especially throughout the last year. I could never express my gratitude for this experience...

So needless to say, I'm loving my new area,loving my companion, and loving the work as much as ever. I love you all and hope you all have an amazing week!!

Love
Sister Willerth

Monday, March 17, 2014

Frieeeeends NEVER say goodbye!!

Well, it finally happened. I got the transfer call this Thursday. I'm leaving Kharkov! I'm SO excited to go back down to the Donetsk area but still - it's going to be hard to leave that Sister Walker. And all my other friends here. I can't believe I've been serving in this area for almost 6 months now! I've learned so much, and grown even more, and I cant wait to see what my new area/companion have in store for me :)

This week, as always, has been great! (I really need to find some synonyms for the words I always use now.) We took some time off our P day on Monday so that we could go to the Renoks on Tuesday with the other sisters! It was really fun to see all the art at the art renok,the medals and old coins at the junk renok, and I even got a couple books. It was a good opportunity since I'm going to be leaving soon... Sigh. After that though, we went to a restaurant that sells traditional Ukrainian food and the entire inside was decorated like an old-fashioned Ukrainian kitchen! I know these things shouldn't be that exciting to me anymore, but the sad thing about Ukraine is that they have this really rich culture - but you almost never see it. Still there are certain places that preserve it, so whenever we get to experience the culture here its always so fun :)

Wednesday we went to game night at the Senior couple's house with a couple of our investigators. We met these two miniature humans that reminded me of anime characters, one from Persia and one from Azer Baijan. One of them, Sadik, didn't speak English so I got to translate for him there! That was cool. Who knew I'd be meeting all these different people from all these different places? Then on the way home, we were walking back to the metro and trying to get Davis to show us some dance moves. Wale was so appalled by how "daft" we looked, that he FINALLY agreed to dance for us. He turned some music on his phone, and not paying attention to the police and other military forces everywhere, started dancing down the road. While we were all doing these Nigerian dances, some missionaries caught up to us an joined in. It ended up a couple of Africans and a bunch of missionaries just dancing down the street, despite lines and lines of forces lining the path. That's the feeling of freedom. One of the greatest memories of my mission for sure :)

On Saturday we got to attend the baptism of the newest member of our branch, Ilia! He is SO cool, just a 22 year old kid who decided one day to change his life. His conversion went like this: He met with the elders, felt really good afterward, then got in a fight with his mom and felt angry again. So he met with the missionaries again, and started noticing this pattern. One day he asked why the missionaries are always happy, and why he always felt so happy after their meetings. They explained that it was the Spirit that he felt every time he learned truth, and that whenever he sinned he lost that spirit and the peace it carried. So he decided to start following all the commandments and be baptized - just to be happy. Boom. That simple. ha ha I wish we could help everyone understand these things. Its something I've been thinking a lot lately - just how much joy we actually gain by putting ourselves aside and following God. It sounds so cliche, and I even thought it was before I experienced it for myself. You just can't know until you do it. I had an interview with President Lochhead this week, and he asked me what I want for the last 7 months of my mission. I told him that I wanted them to be like the first 7 months. I've learned SO much
throughout my time here. I've experienced things Ive always heard about and never understood. I've become a person I never thought I would be, and in a good way. I just hope that in this last time I have left I can solidify those things, so that I'll ALWAYS be this person - and not lose it when I get back to the real world.

Speaking of President Lochhead, his daughter was visiting and they attended our branch yesterday. Guess who got to translate for their family. Yup. And guess who wasn't even scared! ha ha its been a long time coming, but I know that a divine hand has been preparing me for everything I need to do here. I'm a little nervous about next transfers - anything could happen! But I'm not scared. I know I'll be okay no matter what. (Still prayers are always appreciated ;) )

Well I will close this by wishing everyone a Happy St. Patty's day! It's been really warm here lately and we thought spring had come for sure, and we woke up to snow this morning - typical. So in that sense, I will be celebrating a traditional St. Patrick's day. Also, I will be introducing Sister Walker to scones today so that will be fun :) I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their holiday and just their lived in general. If you're not happy... be more righteous. That's our motto ;)

I love you all!
Sister Willerth

Monday, March 10, 2014

Womens day!!

What an eventful week it has been :) Things are picking up more and more and Sister Walker and I have begun the sprint to the finish line of this transfer. I can't believe I probably have less than 2 weeks left in this area... But we're on fire right now so I'm just living it up :)

This week we celebrated Sister Walker's birthday! I haven't been sleeping too well lately (The sun comes up at 5 in the morning now.. Eastern Europe probs.) but this worked to my advantage as I took the time and a suggestion from Richard G Scott to paint a watercolor on our fridge. No better way to start a day :) Basically it was a pretty regular day with generally regular things other than that, but there are certain little things that made it special - making french toast for Breakfast, eating Pizza with our district, baking cake, having lessons with our favorite investigators, etc. Why am I talking so much about this? The beautiful things about your companion having a birthday is that you do literally EVERYTHING they do. I was singing the Beatles to her all day. "nununununanahhh, It's my birthday too, yeah!" ... She loved that....
Sister Walkers Birthday Orchid
It was the birthday that never ended, because the next day some members invited us over and we had by FAR the best Borscht I've eaten in country. Also we made brownies and they said they were "mindblowingly" good. American food - takes the prize every time. I've said it before and will say it again - Appreciate your food, people!

That night we went with Davis to a game night the senior couple does in center now instead of FHE. There, we found out that Africans can't say the word "curly" or do the Spock sign. Also they've been teaching us lots of different African dialects so that's cool :)

On Thursday it got up to 20 degrees outside! C!!!! So what you didn't all know was, that I'm actually serving in the Bahamas. We were out walking around contacting and it felt like springtime! We were both wearing light coats, but it even got hot in those. Springtime's coming :) :) :)
It's almost Spring!
On Friday we had a Zone conference where we got to talk about what's going on right now. That was cool because to be honest, between having access to the Internet and getting updates all the time from the mission president, you probably all know WAY more than I do. But here's what it came down to: we're safe so far, and doing everything we can to keep missionaries here. It would have devastating effects on the church here if all the missionaries were pulled out - so we wont go without a fight! (which really just means laying low and trying to stay safe as possible.) But we will stay in this country - and everything will be fine. I know it.

Saturday was Women's day! It's my new favorite holiday - especially as a missionary. People are so nice to us! We even went tracting, and the people you could tell really really wanted to be rude just couldn't be! It was the best! Talking to people was so easy because all you had to do was congratulate them with the holiday and they'd stop you to wish you health, happiness, the love of your life, a beautiful husband, and so on... So funny. Also I've never seen so many flowers in my life! They were on sale EVERYWHERE, and balloons and candy and all kinds of stuff. And every man you see just wishes you a good holiday and everyone was so happy. I loved it!

Freakiest part of my week - at a members house, I felt something on my arm, looked down, and saw a TICK! AHHH! I think it was in the top hardest things I've ever done in my life to not freak out, casually brush it off, and continue with the lesson, holding it together until we left. THEN we freaked out ha ha. (As you can see, I've toughened up quite a bit)

I think I'll wrap it up here. Thank you again everyone always for your support and prayers, especially now. I am feeling so blessed, loving the work, and living it up. I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Love
SIster Willerth

Monday, March 3, 2014

Check !

Based off the emails I've received this week, I guess I don't need to give an update about how things are going here. I would just like to say that I have yet to personally see any violence, we were only stuck inside one day, and now we're back out doing missionary work. So in the missionary sense - all is well! (Especially with everything going on - people are way more open to listening to the message. It's actually really cool to be able to teach that God has a plan for the people here and that this is all happening for a reason - and then see that it really is true. Never thought I'd say this, but thank goodness for the war chapters! ha ha)

On Monday we did FHE with Wale and another investigator and Wale made us this really spicy Chicken with real Nigerian spices. Also, he taught us some Yoruba (the language he speaks in Nigeria). Basically we're Africans now. Plus, he said I could pull off corn rows so that's pretty much the greatest compliment I could get from him. 

We met with another African this week who kept calling us "The Christian ladies!" - "Is that your bible? It's very christian!... Its not often here in Ukraine you meet such nice Christian ladies." At least he definitely understands that we believe in Christ - so that was pretty cool :)

We also had a lesson this week with a Ukrainian who really wants us to write scientific articles with him so that we can win Nobel prizes. Now he calls us every day.....

Also we met with this kid who is like a Ukrainian version of Andrew Garfield. Not sure if I mentioned this at the time, but we contacted him a few weeks ago. We saw him on the train, chased him up a hill and actually stalked him through a store to tell him that he looked like Peter Parker (Sister Walker really really loves Andrew Garfield....) He was so awesome though when we met with him, and extremely intelligent, sincere, and mature for an 18 year old kid. I'm way excited to see where that goes :)

Like I said we were caught inside for a day this week, so we did yoga, ate lots of snacks, listened to some general conference, and I taught Sister Walker how to play chess. We played SO much chess! ha ha now we're hooked. The other day, for language study I looked up all chess-related words and we just played Chess. We love Chess!!!

My favorite part of the week was probably fast and testimony meeting. The Sisters have an investigator that's an African Evangelist preacher, and he decided to go out and testify. Lets just say that the Ukrainians are not used to pulpit Pounders, ha ha. It was quite the experience.

Other than that this week we've been contacting like crazy and like I said it's been so awesome to see the change that happens in people as they are humbled. They really want to hear the message, and it's proof to me that what everyone really needs is God. As the preacher says "Jesus is the solution to every problem!" :)

I love you all and thank you so much for your prayers on behalf of me and of Ukraine. Thank you so much for your support and love always!!!

Sincerely
Sister Willerth