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

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