Hello my amazing wonderful family!!
I don't know if you have heard this lately but you are all amazing! Thank you so much for the emails and the love! You guys are so good to me!
Dad, I have to say I am pretty sad that the Reminisci is taking sail. As I read your letter I thought of a lot of great memories that we have made on that boat and on our little chaser1. I hope that we can continue to make memories down there but just in a different way. Thank you for helping create all of those memories. I really treasure our time down there and I tell people all the time about Lake Powell.
I am sorry to tell you, but my packages haven't gotten to me yet. A lot of people are going up to Kiev this week so hopefully they will be there. If not, don't worry about it. It may be a little unbelievable but I am not really worried about my birthday this year, it kinda doesn't even feel like it is March here either. The work goes on haha. Although it would be great to see you go after that package company! I wish I could get that on tape haha. But thank you for sending me stuff. It is great just to know that you are thinking about me!
Pen, Thank you for your millions of emails! I was surprised when I opened my mailbox today and I had like 9 letters! Every time I think about you I just smile haha. I am way proud of you and everything that you are doing! I was just thinking that you might need a sip of soda for sustenance.
Mase and Ash, I can't even imagine how it would feel to wrap things up with school. When you translate the phrase "Enduring to the end" into Russian and then back into English it actually means "suffering to the end" I think that I would feel more like it were suffering to the end, I hope you choose to look at it more then an opportunity to get that last little bit of knowledge rather then the way I look at it. I am proud of both of you for going strong till the end and I hope that everything goes well with tests and stuff! I can't believe there are only 4 weeks left!
We have another 6 weeks in Odessa together! Transfers are this week but nothing will really change for us. We will continue to work in this amazing city! So this week has been really good. Just 4 weeks ago we only had 4 lessons total to report to our leaders and this week we have seen a serious amount of growth. We have really seen the Lord bless us, especially with finding new people that He has prepared. We set a date for a woman that lives in Illichovsk to get baptized in the beginning of April. We set up a lesson to tell her that we couldn't work with her because we needed to work with those who wanted to get baptized and we walked out with a date! I was in shock most of the lesson because we just brought up baptism and she said I want to get baptized, what do I need to do. We told her we would help her understand everything and explained to her what it meant. She was really excited about it. We still have a lot to teach her but hopefully she will get baptized the week after conference! Her name is Svetlana and she is a really interesting person.
Illichovsk is a really interesting place and we always come out with funny stories. After we left Svetlana's we had planned to meet with a less active, which didn't happen. So we went to the beach and did some contacting. I started talking with an older couple and it turned into an interesting conversation and we were all kinda laughing and just talking. The man was joking with us about our accents and he turned and petted my head (I don't know what it is with people and my hair here). Then as we turned to leave he grabbed Sister Ethington's head with both hands and planted a big kiss on her forehead!!! I tried to stop him by grabbing his arm but he had a target set and he wasn't going to give it up. We turned and walked away laughing and I spent the rest of the day apologizing for letting her get kissed. It has been the big joke all week in our district.
On Saturday, our branches here in the city had an open house. They are getting ready for the temple open house so about once a transfer they have these smaller ones so the members can practice. Only 6 people came, but the members were really excited about talking with them about the church. Also everyone that came felt the spirit pretty strong except for a guy that we starting talking to on the street, he had started a little early in the day with the strong drinks ha. We spent most of Saturday talking to people on the streets and inviting them to the open house. We have seen some of the effects of it already, 2 women came to church yesterday that couldn't come on Saturday. They have invited us over to their apartments this week to talk to them a little more. It was fun to see the members get involved and I think they trust us a little more after seeing us really trying to help them be successful! It was also really fun to work with them a little more.
To answer some of your questions, The work is great, hard but great! The only thing I don't really like is being rejected by those that you have already come to really love. I mean no one really likes being rejected but if it is at a door or just on the street it is not really a big deal. It is the times when you have really put your heart into lessons and shared everything that you love and then they don't except the gospel, that is the only part that I don't really like about this work. But I have just had to remember that they have their agency and pray that they will have a change of heart at some point in their lives. Other wise I really love the work. I have started to feel really comfortable just starting really random conversations on buses and on the street. Saturday there was a man standing on the street looking at an apartment building. I crossed the street and stood next to him and tried to see what he was looking at. He glanced down, smiled and continued to look. I asked him what was so interesting and we just started talking, it was really natural to switch things over to the gospel and just talk. I don't think I changed his life but I have just started to love talking to random people. I have also felt my love and interest for the the people here grow. I am feeling great! A little tired at times but I think every missionary feels tired all of the time. My spirits are lifting as the mornings come earlier and earlier. I love waking up to the sun shining on my bed rather than waking up and feeling like it is the middle of the night.
And to answer the question that you are all waiting for.... Honestly I don't think we are going to do anything special for my birthday. We might make breakfast but we have a pretty full day planned, I just hope all of our lessons work out. We might talk about birthdays in English on Thursday as well but that is it. I know not very exciting, but hey that is life ha.
So, I don't know if I have told you lately, but I really really love you! And that just made me think of a worldly song.. oops haha. But really I do love you! So since I have been on my mission I haven't cried very many times, I know it is pretty hard to believe, but this last week my heart has been very "tender" (as mom would say) and I have had some really amazing thoughts about each of you! I want you all to know how much I love you and how grateful I am for your support, AND say sorry for all of the dumb things I have put you through... like the guilt trip for missing the first few hours of my 10th birthday haha. I have used that story a few times this week, trying to show how we can get stuck on the little things that don't matter and it just makes our life ten times harder. We need to look on the gifts that God has given us, like the amazing people that surround us every day. We went to the ballet this week as a zone and it hit me that I am going to be 22 and there are so many things that I have not done yet that I dreamed of doing. I was a little disappointed in myself but then when I got home and laid in bed, I thought of all of the amazing things we have all done together and I just smiled because it is impossible to do everything that we want, but it is possible to do everything that matters most and I think that is what we have done as a family. Thank you again for everything and for helping me remember what is important! I hope that you all have an amazing week and that all goes well! I love you all so so so much and I miss you even more!
(The Birthday Girl ;) )