Monday, March 31, 2014


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!
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


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!!

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!

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!!!

Sister Willerth