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.
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