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


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 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!!

Sister Willerth