Monday, October 11, 2010

"Last Will and Testament"

I always knew I wanted to serve a mission. It took me longer than I had anticipated to raise enough money and do all the paperwork that needed to be done so I could serve. By the time I finally got my call letter I was so very excited. I was ready and willing to go serve anywhere in the whole world! But if anyone asked me to name just one place that I did not want to go, I would respond, Ukraine. So when I opened my letter and read that I had been called to serve in the Ukraine Kyiv Mission, I thought it was a joke. Had there not been twenty plus people there, I would have broken down into tears. I thought that a mistake had been made, and I seriously considered saying "No" to the First Presidency. It took much prayer and pondering to realize that the Lord was testing my willingness to serve. Like Nephi, who was commanded to go and get the brass plates, a seemingly impossible task, but he knew that the Lord would prepare a way. So I did as he did and took a blind leap of faith, trusting that the Lord would help me.
Now that I am at the end of my mission and look back on all that has happened, I can't imagine serving anywhere else. My companions, my mission president and his wife, the members, and people I've met on the street have greatly enriched and strengthened my life as I am sure no other group of people could have. True, it has been extremely hard and I have felt more weak and worthless than ever before. But, as I have learned, that is a natural result of coming unto Christ. And it is ok, because now I know better how to improve myself.
The greatest lesson I have learned is that God lives and that He loves me. He wants to be involved in every step of my life and it is up to me to invite Him. I know that it is His greatest desire for us to be happy. He helps us know how to be happy through personal revelation from scripture study, prayer, and temple service. He blesses us when we follow His commandments. I know that He loves us so much that He suffered and died and was resurrected so that we may be clean and receive eternal life. I know that He appeared to the prophet, Joseph Smith and restored His church through him. I know that He leads and guides our church today through His living prophet Thomas S. Monson. I know that the Book of Mormon contains His words and we can feel His Spirit and come closer to Him as we study it.
I am so grateful that I put my trust in Him and served where He called me.

-Sister Howell

Last Week of the Mission

Who knew that the last week of my mission would be the best week? I didn't, so I was pleasantly surprised to have it be that way. Last Tuesday we went to say goodbye to Sister Larisa. She is such a sweetheart, I will never forget her. Then we went into Kiev for a zone meeting. It was great; President Steinagel spoke a lot about what he did after his mission, which really helped me a lot. Afterward I went to the Temple for my last time here. I was so happy there and I got a strong feeling that the Lord is going to help me with whatever comes next in life. Thursday we were trapped inside all day due to some crazy remount in the kitchen, but I was able to fully go over Billa Tserkva with Sister Helelyan, so she knows more about what to do when she goes back. Friday we met with Anya, a sweet girl who has a desire to get baptized. Saturday we watched General Conference, then afterward went to Halina and Andre's wedding. It was so much fun! Never a dull moment! I was so glad I could be there. She was so happy. Sunday we watched General Conference and I sat by Halina during the Relief Society session. Yes, Halina and Andre were at church the day after their wedding! I have no fear of them falling away. Afterward we met with three of my favorite families in Ukraine. All of which included either an in-active member there, or an investigator. Why couldn't this have happened more often? It was very bittersweet to say goodbye to all of them, and to Ukraine as well. I hope to see everyone again and know that we will, if we all stay firm in the faith. I am still in denial that I am actually leaving, I think it will settle in somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.

-Sister Howell

Monday, October 4, 2010

How many companions does it take to kill Sister Howell?

Excuse the missionary slang. Because this is my last transfer I am "dying" as a missionary. I started out the transfer with Sister Clark in Odessa, then I came back to Billa with Sister Kovelenko. Last Saturday Sister Kovelenko went down to Odessa and Sister Helelyan and Sister Movesardian are with me now. On Wednesday, we will go Voskresinsky in Kiev (my first area) and on Saturday something else will happen. I don't know yet. The assistants like secrets. All I know is that I will be on a plane next Tuesday and I am trying not to think about that, while everyone else keeps reminding me.

Last week we were visiting Bobushka Anya. She is paralyzed on one half of her body and because of that, when she speaks, it is in hardly understandable Russian. Since I'm Ukrainian speaking I can only understand about 10% of what she says. So, she was in a very talkative mood that day and went on and on telling her life story. Occasionally she would stop and pause for understanding. I didn't want her to repeat herself ten times, so I said, "pravelno," which means: correct. Then she would keep on talking. Later, as Sister Kovelenko and I were walking to our next meeting I had her recap on what Anya said. She said that in her life she has had three major concussions and once, her son-in-law tried to inject her with something in order to kill her, so that he could sell her apartment. After her last close call with death, her daughter said that even the dead world will not accept her. What a horrible thing to say to a person! After a few seconds I said in shock, "I hope that was not one of the times when I said "pravelno"!" Sister Kovelenko was laughing so hard that I thought she would fall to the ground. But she told me that no, I had said pravelno after Anya said that the Lord must have an important purpose for her to keep her alive so many times. Wooah, I need to be more careful!

-Sister Howell

Monday, September 27, 2010


Last Monday it was super cold outside, so I went and bought a new coat. I had to buy a new coat, because the ones I had I already donated to the mission. I already donated them thinking that it wouldn't get that cold until I leave. So I bought it and felt warm and cozy the rest of the day. Then I woke up on Tuesday and the weather was just fine! Then it kept getting warmer and warmer until I was back to wearing short sleeves. Well, I'm not hoping for colder weather again. So I'll just say that I bought the coat to wear when I am back home. I hope at least it will be cool enough to wear on the plane.

We had a really great lesson last Wednesday with a member and her friend that came to the open house and cultural event. She loved all of it and wants her family (who have mostly passed away) to be together forever. She knows that she has to change some things in her life, she just needs to make the decision to do it and follow through. That is always the hard part. I just wish I could show her how much more happier she will be if she does follow God's plan.

Last night I made some spaghetti and then right after we were done eating we went to visit a partially active family. We had a good spiritual thought where 4 of the 6 kids were present, then afterward they invited us to eat with them. At first I tried to refuse, saying that we just ate, but then, I didn't want to sound rude, so we gave in. It was Ukrainian pizza, complete with potatoes, tomatoes, onions and heaping wads of mayonnaise. I wasn't sure I could finish my slice, even though it did taste pretty good. Then they took my plate away and I was relieved that I had finished. And they came back with another slice. I tried to do the kind thing and hand it to the mother who still hadn't eaten, but she wouldn't have it and gave it back and told me to EAT! When my companion and I left the house I told her she would have to roll me home. I don't get fed very often on my mission, but when I do- it makes up for all the other times I haven't been fed!

-Sister Howell

Monday, September 20, 2010

Last transfer

I don't think I knew what "trunkie" really was until my last transfer. Instead of listing all the things that have made me want to scream, "are you kidding me?" I will just mention what happened last Friday. Sister Clark and I were going to the mission office to pick up our new mini missionaries. When we were walking past the temple, we found them there. Lena, Sister Clark's mini, Natasha, my mini, and Natasha's boyfriend. We all hugged and took pictures in front of the temple. Then Sister Clark and Lena went off to the mission office. Natasha's boyfriend came up to me and asked me if he could borrow her for a moment before we go. So they walked a little ways away and he proposed to her! Of course, she is super happy, but she is being very good about it. I think she might think it is forbidden to talk about guys and I'm letting her keep that opinion.
A miracle happened last Monday. Sister Clark and I were in Kiev, and I wanted to do some souvenir shopping for the last time. Even though I've been to the street that has tons of souvenirs several times, Sister Clark and I couldn't agree on how to get there. So we decided to ask someone. We stopped a young woman who wasn't sure how to get there herself, but she volunteered to take us there the best she could. On the way she asked us about why we were here and when we were explaining to her, she almost started crying. We asked if she would like to meet with the sisters in Kiev and she said that she would love to. I love moments like those! They make me so happy to be a missionary!
Back in Billa- it is super hard here! Being away for so long, none of our old investigators want to meet with us and trying to find new people is so hard. Yesterday we went with the district to sing hymns at Park Alexandria. We sang for maybe 20 minutes and a few people stopped, but we didn't get any contacts out of it. This morning we wanted to stop by a temple referral, but we got on the wrong marshutka which took us way out in the wrong direction. We will try again at the next opportunity. I just hope that something works out for us here. But Sister Larica certainly is happy that we are back!

-Sister Howell

Monday, September 13, 2010

My crazy week in Odessa

Vika's Baptism

I think this has been the craziest week of my mission! Monday I had a lovely preparation day in Odessa, which started off with me losing my fake tooth down the drain (so if I come home with a tooth missing, it is not because I was malnourished in Ukraine) I was pretty upset about it. But then we went to a Pinocchio Restaurant in the center of the city that reminded me so much of Disneyland that I almost cried. They even played actual music from Disneyland! Tuesday we had combined district meeting in the morning but other then that, it was a normal day, but at night we got a phone call from the office asking us if we were supposed to be on a train that night. We had not heard anything, but we did end up going to the train station early Wednesday morning to get tickets for that night to go to Kiev so we could make it to zone conference. On Wednesday night it was raining cats and dogs when we were on our way to the train station, on the way, we got a call from my district leader who asked if I knew that our district was going to go to the temple after zone conference. I had a mini panic attack because my recommend is still in Billa Serkva, and there was no way we could go there to get it. Luckily on Thursday morning I was able to squeeze a few minutes out of President Steinagel's schedule and get a recommend. Zone conference was amazing like always. I gave my final testimony that I was determined not to cry for, but did anyway. The temple was beautiful and I felt the spirit strongly confirm to me that everything was going to be ok. Friday Sister Clark and I went to get her HIV test so she can go to Bulgaria next week. Then we hopped back on a train again to make it back to Odessa to support Vika at her baptism. Saturday morning we went to check the water and it was...not warm. Then we went to Vika's and she asked about the temperature of the water and said she would not get baptized if the water was cold. We told her it wasn't too bad... Sister Clark and I were worried that she wouldn't like the water. But when the time came for the baptism, we were so busy we forgot about it and she was baptized before we knew it. Sunday she received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Later, in Relief Society she shared her testimony about how special the experience was for her and I knew that it was worth it to have gone back to Odessa. Because last night we were on a train again to Kiev, and here we are, going to pick up Sis. Clark's results today so she can go to Bulgaria tomorrow, and I can pick up my mini missionary and go to back to Billa finally! I have been more stressed and lost and confused this week than at any other time on my mission, but it was all worth it. I am definitely not having a boring last transfer.

-Sister Howell

Monday, September 6, 2010


Sister Pack came back!
Sveta in her costume
Halina and her finace
At the sea
Birthday lunch


So I'm in Odessa now. I never thought my whole mission long that I would ever get to see this place. Now that I have, I don't want to leave. It is just too beautiful. The people here are a bit crazy, but that makes it all the more fun! We met with a lady the other day who has been meeting the missionaries on and off for 16 years! She was supposed to get baptized on the fourth, but we didn't know about it and everything was not ready, so now her date is the eleventh of this month. I asked her why she wants to get baptized now and she didn't 16 years ago. She said that the things of the world were too tempting for her, but now she realizes that they are nothing. She can not find true happiness without the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though I won't stay here for much longer, and probably won't be here to support her on her baptismal day. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve here for a little while.

-Sister Howell

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mission Photo

Culture Celebration and Temple Dedication

This weekend was one of the best of my life. Saturday night was the culture celebration. I loved it so much. Everyone was there at a grand auditorium. There was a storyline that followed the religious history of Ukraine, and the part where LDS missionaries entered the country, the choir sang, "Hark all ye Nations" and all of the missionaries walked down and onto the stage, singing and waving all the way. At first I thought that it was silly and unnecessary, then when all 100+ were up there, people started standing up and clapping. I saw people with tears in their eyes and I realized how much missionary work means to these people. The church has only been here for a short time, so every single member has been taught by missionaries, and they love us as much and maybe even more than we love them. Then the spot light was shown on the the balcony where President Monson, President Uchtdorf and Elder Nelson were standing up for us, and they were clapping and had tears in their eyes as well. I cannot describe the emotion I felt at that moment to feel a part of such a marvelous and wonderful work. Then each country surrounding Ukraine performed for their country, each as fun and exciting as the next, the last was Ukraine and there was such a roar from the audience and I knew that I was serving in the best mission on earth!
The next day was the temple dedication. One of my favorite parts was just being able to laugh with our prophet. During the cornerstone ceremony he was laughing and just being himself. He very easily transitioned from the humor to the spirit with out any difficulty. They almost went hand in hand for him. I am thankful for his example of lightheartedness and his dedication to the Lord in carrying out His will among everyone throughout the world. This has been an experience I will never forget.

-Sister Howell

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Life-changing Gospel

The temple open house is over. Visitors asked me when the next time the tours would be for the temple. I said there wouldn't be any more, that after the dedication, the temple would only be open for church members. They seemed very disappointed. Hopefully that will give them enough interest to meet with the missionaries and learn more about what the church is all about. Already so many people have been though and now want to be baptised. Hopefully it was not said in the spirit of the moment, but will be something that will stay with them for their lives and into eternity. For the entire two weeks of the dedication I have been looking forward into running into Halina, who was baptised last January in Voskresinsky. I knew she signed up to volunteer for six days, but, I didn't know when. It seemed that either she was there the hours that I wasn't or vice versa. Then, on my last day there, we were looking around for something random and Sister Garff comes up to me and she says that she saw Halina on her way out of the church and I better run in the rain to catch up to her. And I did. I finally caught up to her in the parking lot in front of the temple, and we were so happy to see each other. She was there with her fiance who was baptized last month - they are getting married in October, right before I go home. I sure hope that I can be there for their wedding. And next year, they will be sealed for eternity in the very temple that will be dedicated this week. I am so happy for her. After not having seen her since last January, I was pleasantly surprised to see how different a person she is inside and out. Having the Holy Spirit with a person really does change them from the natural man into the spiritual man. It is quite evident with her and other people that I have seen on my mission. Including missionaries. We come into the MTC all bright eyed and goofy- and at the end of our missions we have grown so much in the Spirit of Christ. Sister Garff and I were talking about that this morning. How just from serving a mission, how much better mothers we will be. Now that we have had experiences that have weighed us down, lifted us up, and made us stretch in ways that would have taken so much longer to do outside of a mission, if at all. I love this Gospel so much, I have no idea what I would do without it.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Back at the Temple Again

This has been quite a week trying to go back and forth to Kiev as quick as possible so we can still have our lessons and help bring people to Christ. It is so unfortunate when people don't show up for lessons after running to get on the marshutka back to Bila. We did have a few interesting lessons though. One in particular was about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it started off so splendidly, then she had a non-related to the lesson question, and after that we couldn't get her to stop talking about how "God is one". I still have hope for her though. I know that she has felt the spirit in previous lessons, we just need to help her realize what that means.
Working in the cultural hall, it is interesting to meet people from all over Europe. Sometimes when people from Russian speaking countries speak to me and I respond, it takes me a second to realize that they don't understand Ukrainian! So I have to use my best Russian-sergic with them.
I love to hear people's stories about coming to see the temple. We were talking to some people who came from Belarus, and had ridden in a bus for over 14 hours. When they finally saw the temple on the horizon, they all were overcome with tears and celebration. There was also a man from England who is investigating the church and when he heard that there was an open house in Ukraine, he made special plans to come and see it. He even made his trip a bit longer than needed just in case he ran into any problems. He loved the temple so much that he spent all day at the site, going on the tour more than three times, and sitting in the cultural hall for a while just to take it all in. This is definitely an experience of a lifetime and I am so grateful to be apart of it.

-Sister Howell

Monday, August 9, 2010

Temple Open House

Last Thursday we had just returned home from our morning walk-about, when we received a call from our district leader for us to get to Kiev- and to hurry like we had to be there thirty minutes ago. We had no idea what was going on. We knew that there was a special open house for the VIPs but we didn't think that they would need missionaries for that event. Because of the urgency of the call we called a taxi and got to Kiev in an hour and a half, to find that they needed us to replace sisters serving in the cultural hall who needed to go on a lunch break. I was kind of disappointed that it wasn't more exciting than that, oh well, I think eating is important too I guess, but I wanted to go in the temple! So we stayed in the cultural hall for the rest of that day and on Friday too. And on Saturday too. They just want us there to answer questions and help people if they ask for help. We are not allowed to hand out literature or to proselyte. The VIPs had a catered buffet, and when the temple opened for the public, they get a mini pie/cookie and a juice box. No one has asked me very much, usually they ask for a Book of Mormon, that we can not give them, only if they fill out on the comment card and request for one, then some time in the near future, missionaries in their area can deliver it to them. The most interesting question I received was from non-members who asked about polygamy. I simply replied that that was a long time ago and we do not practice it anymore. It has been fun to try to spot the Americans from the Ukrainians or the non-members from the members. And then try to find out if I'm right or not. Can you tell I get kinda bored? But I don't care because this is what I have been waiting for my entire mission! The temple open house and dedication! So if I get to be a part of it in just a little way, I am grateful. I will be working there every day this week except for today and Wednesday. So that is a two hour hot marshutka ride to and from every day. I was telling a visiting American couple this, and they were amazed, and said that I would be blessed. I can see the blessings already. Finally after our shift on Saturday, we waited around a little bit longer for our Billa Serkva branches to arrive so we could go on the temple tour with them. I am so glad we waited because along with some of them, my former companion, Sis. Visotska, and her son were on the tour with us, as were Lena, Ira, and Tonya from my first area. The temple was more beautiful than I had imagined. They had a hard time finding carpet in Ukraine, so most of the flooring is stone, there are so many hand painted details and classic Ukrainian hints in the design as well. For example, patterns of wheat on the walls, blue and yellow in the stained glass, and even a little bit of the Ukrainian cross stitch shown in a few places. My absolute favorite part of the tour (that was unexpected) were the member volunteers who stood at several places on the route of the tour so that people don't wander off. They stand so reverently with smiles on their faces and a sparkle in their eye. They nod their heads when you say diyakoyou (thank you) and I feel the spirit so strong from them. They love their temple so much and I am so, so happy for them.
Back to Billa! On Sunday a lady who had come to church with her member-friend last week came again and this time, without her friend. I sat by her during Sacrament Meeting and during one of the talks, where the member was reading from the Book of Mormon, she leaned over to me and asked, "Can I read that book?" Of course! Right after the meeting I ran and got her one and set up a meeting to tell her more about it tonight! Pray for her please!

-Sister Howell

Monday, August 2, 2010

Devine Guidance

Last Wednesday we were going to give a lesson on the Restoration. Without even thinking about it, I started leaning more to the Plan of Salvation, how God is our Loving Heavenly Father, how we lived with Him before this Earth, and how we are given families as a blessing to help us learn and grow. Sister Garff barely started teaching about prophets, when our investigator said that her husband passed away two years ago from heart complications. Then we were able to easily talk about Christ and His Resurrection and how we will all be resurrected and through Him, we can live together as families. I think that she felt the Spirit and she wants to learn more. Before I came to Billa tSerkva, the sisters had an English lesson with her seven year old daughter, then showed some clips from an info video on missionary work and the temple. The daughter said that she was interested, and the sisters thought that it was about family history work that she was interested in (when it probably was about the eternal nature of the family). How sad it would have been if we had only presented a pedigree chart and taught her daughter how to make a family tree. I'm thankful that we are led by God, and not by our own understanding. He helped us share the correct lesson that she needed to help her feel His love in her life.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Sister Larica

I really wanted to end my mission in Khmelnitsky, but having one visit with Babushka Larica in Billa tSerkva makes me very thankful for the opportunity to serve here. She has multiple sclerosis and is in so much pain, that you can tell by the way she rocks back and forth as she is talking with you, but you can not tell by the smile on her face and the words of peace and hope from her lips. How can I complain about the heat, or about a pain in my stomach- such temporary ills, when she has a permanent, deathly sickness of which she says, "If it happens, then it was God's will that it happen." When I first heard that I would have to help clean and wash and elderly lady, I was scared and apprehensive, but now that I have met the angel that she is, I will consider it a privilege until the end of my service.

-Sister Howell

Monday, July 19, 2010

Circle of Life

This week I have had the song Circle of Life from the Lion King in my head as missionaries are leaving for home and new missionaries are coming in. I am being transferred out of Khmelnitsky- the city that I love. And have been saying a lot of goodbyes. Come Thursday I will be saying a lot of hellos as a new area welcomes me. I am very thankful for the opportunity that I have had to serve here and look forward for the memories that await me in my next area. I just hope that I have done something good that will remain with the people here, that I love. My cousin just had a baby boy, and my grandpa is facing a major life threatening operation. And the world goes round and round with endings and new beginnings, just like the circle of life.

-Sister Howell

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This has not been a fun week for my leg

On Tuesday night I got two insect bites on my ankle. Wednesday they hurt and there was a lot of red around them, so I put some tea tree oil on, hoping that they would get better. On Thursday my ankle was very red and swollen and the muscles on my ankle were very sore. By Thursday night I could barely walk. On Friday my entire ankle was bright red and still swollen. I bought hydro cortisone cream to see if that would do anything. Friday night I was inspecting it, fearing that I might have to go to the hospital if it didn't get better soon. Then somewhere in my mind I decided that the redness looked more like a sunburn than insect bites. Then it dawned on me. I remembered that Wednesday night as I slept while I was tossing and turning, I hit my ankle really hard on a metal bar near my bed. That was the cause of the soreness and swelling. Then I realized that I had been putting oil on my ankle for the past several days and it was a sunburn! Looking at the bites again, they didn't look bad at all! I had been the one to cause me so much pain! Of course I was relieved and mad at myself for not realizing this sooner. But I put some aloe-vera on the sunburn and started stretching out the ankle, and by Saturday morning I was playing basketball for sport's day with no problems. Later on, I was at a member's house doing service. Elder Demke was messing around with Sister Loubov's cats. He said he hates cats because one bit his brother when he was four, and has been scared of cats ever since. I said that I was scared of dogs- and my companion joined in and told how the night before I had run away from a dog that was barking at me. After the service project, my companion and I were walking down a quiet street and a dog walked up along side of us. I looked down at it, but thought nothing of it because wild dogs often follow us around. Then, out of nowhere, he leaned his head over and BIT ME! I let out a little scream of shock and two ladies nearby and I think even my companion laughed at me. At first I didn't think that he had broken the skin, but I went and stoped to examine more closely, and there was a little blood. We asked the ladies if he was their dog, and they said no. My companion is convinced otherwise. The dog was just sitting next to them in the shade, calm as ever like nothing had happened. I would have SHOT HIM with my camera, but I didn't have it with me. I called Sister Steinagel and followed her instructions on how to clean the bite. She made some calls and found out that there have been no rabies victims in Ukraine for the past two years, and before that, it was only from wild rodents like raccoons. So I'm not worried. I asked the elders for a blessing just to make sure. Plus, Sister Loubov said that it is a Ukrainian saying that if a girl gets bit by a dog, it means she will get married soon! That is a Ukrainian superstition that I'll agree with!
On a more spiritual note, we invited three people to get baptized this week. All of them said that they are not ready. I do agree that you should be ready before baptism, because it is serious, but how worth it, it will be if it is sooner rather then later. I was telling this to a church member yesterday and the thought came to my mind- what things does the Lord want me to do right now, that I am putting off for fear of not being ready. This is something I am still thinking about.

-Sister Howell

Monday, July 5, 2010

I love baptisms!

On Saturday, Oleksey and Nadia were baptized! They are the first married couple in Khmelnistsky to be baptized! We now have a family! They will be such a strength to this little branch.
From what I have heard, when Oleksey was only 12 years old, he saw a commercial for the Book of Mormon, ordered it, and read it all the way through and knew it was true. Somehow later on in life he became an Orthodox priest, and some time later, he left the priesthood. He married Nadia and they have the cutest little girl Nastia. They were searching the Internet and he remembered the Book of Mormon and wanted to read it again. They fasted and prayed for two months before ordering a copy. Elders Demke and Obring got a call from the office giving a name and address to deliver the book to. Then they all met, and the couple pretty much taught themselves. The Lord really does prepare people to receive the Restored Gospel. We have already planned a Relief Society activity with Nadia to get together and sew handkerchiefs for the temple dedication!
My brother Ryan was baptized on the same day! Thanks to missionaries who taught our ancestors generations ago. I wonder how many generations this family will bless?

-Sister Howell

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I should have studied piano more

New idea on how to get investigators to church--- transfer away Sister Murphy- the pianist for the branch and have me attempt to play the piano for Sunday. After that lovely experience I ran out as fast as I could to find someone from our little branch who could play! Luckily enough, we have been teaching someone who is a professional musician. She said she felt better about coming to church, because she was needed and had something to do, rather than to just sit and gawk at everything around her. When I called Elder Demke to tell him that I wasn't playing, I think he got a little offended. He said something like, "singing is a spiritual experience for me" and he did not want to play the piano. Then I told him that I was not going to play....because Tanya was going to play instead- I could hear the relief in his chuckle. So Tanya came and all was well. President Molonose was visiting from L'viv and shared a spiritual talk about his conversion and what it means to him today. I'm excited to meet with Tanya soon and hear what she has to say!
-Sister Howell

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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Temple Miracle

We just had a wonderful zone conference in L'viv! President Steinagel shared with us some stories from his mission. And related it to how we can search for more. It was motivational.
Sister Steinagel shared story about the temple. The other Sunday, the new grass on the temple grounds was dying because of the heat, so workers had to work on Sunday to keep the grounds wet. The members of the church were concerned and started praying that everything would turn out ok. Just a few hours later, dark clouds rolled in and there was a torrential rainstorm for the rest of the day and into the night. Ever since then, the weather has been fairly cool and the grass is as green as can be. The Lord truly does answer our prayers.

-Sister Howell

Monday, June 14, 2010

I bought a kilo of strawberries today!

It is now officially summer!
The temperature is 100 degrees outside with an almost 100% humidity, or so it feels. Wasn't Ukraine supposed to be cold?? Our apartment is a sauna. No air conditioning, and if we open a window for some air, a swarm of mosquitoes fly in and attack! I sleep with a fan on me all night- to breath and to keep the mosquitoes off me. But that's a mission for ya! I think I'll sweat off about 10 more pounds before the end of my mission.

The other day we had a lesson with a lady who we have been teaching for a while, but I think that just now she is beginning to understand. Sister Visotska brought a little wooden puzzle of the Plan of Salvation and our investigator was obsessed with the 3 kingdoms of glory. She kept saying over and over, "this is very interesting" at the end of the lesson she remarked that our church is on a higher level of Christianity. I never thought about that before, but I like it!

Yesterday at church the Thatchers came in to visit. One of our members had a question about temple clothing and asked for me to translate. The member speaks only Russian and Sister Thatcher speaks very very little Ukrainian. And somehow, they didn't really need me to communicate with each other. It was beautiful to see the bond of sisterhood stretch beyond languages.

-Sister Howell

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Me in Kmelnitsky

Me and Sister Visotska
The Temple

Meeting with Elder Scott

Wow, what a wonderful meeting with Elder Scott. I don't know what I was expecting to see when he walked in, maybe glowing, floating, like the images of the apostles in the orthodox churches. I know that is not real, but I was somewhat disappointed because when I saw him the first thought that popped into my head was, "he's a lot shorter than I thought. He's just a man." But then when I went up to shake his hand and looked into his eyes, I felt the spirit confirm to me that he is a true disciple of the Lord. I thought it was interesting that later in the day, he mentioned something like, "In and of myself I am nothing, but I have been called as one of the Lord's appointed."(not a direct quote) This experience helped me to realize my own divine appointing. I sometimes do feel like I am nothing and all that I do does not matter. But it does matter. I have been called of God to be His servant and through me, He can do great things! I just need to be willing to let Him!

Here is what President Steinagel wrote us in his e-mail (quotes from Elder Scott):

What were some things that you want to remember, and to apply in your work? Here are some which I want to do:
-Throughout the course of my life, I will diligently seek to learn by what I hear, see, and feel. I will write down the important things I learn, and I will do them.
-Today’s instruction will include how to have an increase in convert baptisms who are well retained as members of the church.
-Always seek the Spirit, particularly when you are going to invite someone, such as to be baptized. Don’t go alone.
-To have faith, we must act! Follow the Spirit, even if promptings aren’t consistent with your expectations.
-How can we remember Christ in all that we do? Study His life through the scriptures, and do what He would do.
-The yardstick the Lord will use to measure our mortal life will be the personal character we’ve created.
-“I learned about accepting the Lords will more through personal trials than anything else.”

-Sister Howell

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bulgaria Pictures

President's palace
Sofia Statue
MTC group!
Right before we jumped in the water
Skipping down the yellow brick road
I skipped too close to the camera

English Service

Last week we met a lady for English practice, when we got to her house she said that she "knew what we are all about" that we just want to baptize her and make her a member of our church. She said we were falsely advertising English as a way to get into people's homes and convert them. She was very aggressive and not polite at all. I almost wanted to say, that's right and if you don't want it, then I'm out of here! Luckily, Sister Murphy spoke before I could and she said that of course we would love to share our beliefs with people, but if you just want English, then that is our service to you. The lady then changed the subject and arranged for another meeting the next week. When the next week came around, I really didn't want to go back, but because we are honest, we went to the meeting. When we got there, she had a coworker there that stayed in the background and didn't really participate. After some time the first lady actually picked up a Book of Mormon and started looking through it while asking questions. Then her coworker started telling us that she had met with the missionaries before when she lived in Italy, and she liked us a lot. She said the only problem she has is that she really loves Mary the mother of Christ, and she doesn't understand why we do not worship her. We talked a little more and left feeling very good. We don't know if there is any potential right now for either of these women, but we felt that we were supposed to be there and to have had that meeting. So something that we thought we were dreading, turned into something uplifting! The Lord really does have His hand in this work.

-Sister Howell

Monday, May 24, 2010


This has been one of the fastest weeks of my mission! Probably because I wasn't in my mission for almost three days on my visa renewal trip to Bulgaria.
We made all our trains and planes and buses on time with no big problems. I was delighted to meet so many people from all over the world at the airports. It was interesting to hear the Bulgarian language that sounds like Russian, but is still not understandable. We traveled with two missionaries from a different mission in Ukraine and I felt almost guilty that I would be apart of the Temple opening and they wouldn't. Even in the Bulgarian mission office, they have a big picture of the Kiev Temple and updates underneath. I am so blessed to be in the best mission on Earth! I was afraid that the trip might make me "trunky", but it turned out just the opposite, being away from my area, my mission, my Ukraine, and knowing that I still have some months left, made me super eager to jump right back in and get to work!

Yesterday all the missionaries in Khmelnitsky set up a table of books for about an hour. Sister Murphy and I talked to a very nice babushka who we almost got a referral from. Then a woman from another faith came up to us and started telling us what she believes and didn't want to listen to us. We tried to offer her some brochures, but she wouldn't accept them, then Sister Murphy testified of Jesus Christ and she agreed with everything, then she got so wound up that when a young man came up to us, the lady started preaching repentance to him! It was hilarious! I'm grateful that he still stuck around long enough for us to get his number, he seems really cool. After they both left a man came up and started telling us the history of Ukraine and his views on religion. It didn't seem like he would ever go away, so we got helped out by some rain that allowed us to pack up our stuff and run out of there! I haven't done book stands very often on my mission, and I'm not sure they are the most effective, but you sure do meet some very interesting people.
I love missionary work. I'm so happy that I will never ever have to stop being a missionary.

-Sister Howell

Monday, May 17, 2010

My traditional dress!

I hate needles!

Welcome to rainy season in Ukraine! I have been pretty good at controlling the weather. Whenever I bring my umbrella, it doesn't rain. Whenever I don't bring my umbrella, it does.
As was the case when Sister Murphy and I went in to have our blood tested for "Sneed" (HIV), for out trip to Bulgaria to re-new our Ukrainian visa. It was one of the most frightening experiences. We were already drenched like dogs when we walked into the small facility. There were three very skinny men sitting on a bench inside making loud comments about us, then we were taken into an office and tried to explain what we wanted. Then they figured it out, or so we hoped and took us into the medical room where there was lots of plastic and pointy objects. Sister Murphy went first and after the needle was in, the nurse accidentally knocked it and it went sideways. I'm rocking back and forth just thinking about it. Then it was my turn. If it wasn't for the sake of missionary work I would have ran out of there as fast as I could! But I sat down and stuck out my arm, squeezed my eyes shut and it was over before I knew it. Sister Murphy and I left running and said that if we did not have aids before, we did now. We had to wait three days before returning and were dreading it the whole time. When we went back it was a bright beautiful sunny day because I was carrying an umbrella. We slowly opened the door to the facility and saw a six year old girl skipping happily about and a cleaning lady who was very friendly. We had to wait about five minutes before the nurse was ready to meet with us. We talked to the little girl, and her mother when she came out, and gave them a family proclamation. Then we were invited into the office, and when the nurse was filling out our certificates another nurse and the head doctor came in and they were all smiling and asking us questions about why we are here- super friendly. I think maybe they were so impressed that two young American girls both were HIV free, they wanted to how we do it and more about our message! We gave them all family proclamations that explain why! So after all, it turned out to be a good experience. I even want to go back there to check up on our new friends!

-Sister Howell

Monday, May 10, 2010

Finding Families

Well, I think that I went from the largest ward in Ukraine to the smallest branch.
There were only four members in church on Sunday. This branch needs a lot of help.
We did a service project planting potatoes so that other potatoes would grow.
I was thinking... You know how in the pioneering days, families were called to go settle an area of land so that that place would grow and flourish?
Maybe that would work for Kmilnitsky! Call a strong family from one of those big wards and plant them here so that other families will grow! And we can reap the harvest!
It could work!
We need families so bad. That is what it really is all about. It is the second principle we teach, just right after "God is our loving Heavenly Father." So it must be important. The gospel is supposed to strengthen families. So why is it so difficult for a family to be baptised? Sister Murphy and I really want to focus on families. We are thinking and thinking about a good approach that isn't scary, and also intriguing. I hate giving English lesson, but I know it is a good recourse for finding people. In the Voscresinsky ward, the last five baptisms were all from English. But that is only targeting a small amount of English speakers. I can see how that works, because people normally run from religious people running up and down the streets, knocking on doors and forcing religious brochures into their hands. So English is a way for people to meet us, get to know us, and find out that we are not super scary people and then they want to hear about what we believe. How can we do something that all the choice, elect, righteous, people will be interested in? I think if we found that answer, the world would be baptised by now, at least the good half.

Let me know if you have any ideas!!!

-Sister Howell

Monday, May 3, 2010


I got transferred to Khmilnitsky! And Sister Murphy (my MTC companion) is my companion again! It is a beautiful place in Mid-west Ukraine. Where about 50 percent of the people speak Ukrainian! It is so much cleaner then Kiev. And greener too! There are so many trees and grass and flowers all over! There is no traffic and the buses are not over-crowded. I love small towns!
The down side is that the branch here is soo small. There were only 15 people at church on Sunday and that is more then usual. And 6 of them were missionaries! Crazy!
Working in a branch is so interesting. The branch's building is located right next to a soccer stadium. And right below us is a sport's bar, so in sacrament meeting on Sunday, I heard Elvis in the background. Not very conductive to the Spirit, but an experience I won't soon forget. The members are great though, I love it already.
It is interesting to be serving with Sister Murphy again. It is similar to our MTC experience, except for the cooking together part. We are both semi-picky eaters, but we will just have to figure out what foods work for both of us.
I'll see if I can send some pictures next week.

-Sister Howell

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm going to be here!

The Kiev Temple is going to be open and dedicated in August! Hooray!
I feel so bad for the group before me who are going to be leaving just days before the dedication. I am so blessed.
In other news, president Schwitzer of the Area Presidency came to our Stake Conference this weekend and I was privileged to listen to three of his talks. The one for missionaries was about true conversion and sanctification. He said that we need to help people to remember what they knew was true before this life. I think sometimes I forget that, that everyone chose to follow Christ before this life and they all agreed to come to Earth and choose to follow Him again. The talk for adults was about teaching in the home, (and how one of the best places to teach teenage boys is what is posted on the refrigerator) The one for everyone was about the blessing of having commandments and how commandments are all about relationships. The talks were so wonderful, they helped me to invigorate my zeal for missionary work and to strengthen my testimony that this work is true.
The last piece of news is that I am getting transferred out of Kiev. I don't know whether to be happy or sad. I love Kiev. I love my companion Sister Walker. I wanted to stay at least one more transfer with her. But, I'm out to new adventures with a new city and a new companion. It is what the Lord wants me to do, so why should I fear?


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today, Meagen has been out in the mission field for a whole year! Only 6 more months left till she is home!

Feel free to leave comments and I will get them to her!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Well, the boy from the in-active family that we thought had some potential is of the opinion that people don't need to go to church, if they need it, then ok, but not all people need church to help them be good people. He is a very smart kid, hopefully if we continue to teach his family, he will eventually see the truth.
We had an eye-opening lesson last night. What we thought would be a normal potential lesson turned out to be a lesson with an active member who has a world of challenges and difficulties in her life and there is really nothing we can do to help her except show her love. The member is still very happy though. One of the happiest people I know. What is it that brings her such happiness in a world of sadness and fear? After the lesson, Sister Walker and I were talking to each other about how we are so blessed when the world around us seems do be falling and falling into tragedy and despair. Is it because the Gospel is such a big part of our lives? Would we be this happy without it? Those are some questions I've been pondering lately. I know the answer. That is why I am here.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Beautiful Temple!

Zone Conference

General Conference

I loved watching General Conference! I want to absorb all of it like a sponge! I took notice on how so many talks were about families and parenting. At first, I thought, I don't need this! I want them to speak about missionary work and how I can help my investigators progress! Then I realized that I can substitute investigators every time they say children! It works! For example, when Elder Bednar was talking about how to bear testimony frequently and to invite children to bring questions to study together, that is very applicable with missionary work!
During our weekly planning session we made cinnamon rolls and afterward, delivered them to investigators that we thought needed a reminder to come to conference. We even wrote a note on a little elephant sticky that said, "Elephants don't forget" It was cute. But even after the deliciousness of the rolls and the cuteness of the note, no one that we stopped by came. But, the Assistants told us to call a girl they had passed to us, who we didn't even think of inviting, and she came for the last session!
We realized this week that we need to drop a lot of the people we have been working with, because they just do not have the desire. That very same day, we looked through our area book and found a potential investigator who lived close by. This is what it said about her, "She has a Book of Mormon and she read it and felt peace." So we went by her apartment and she came outside and was very nice. But she said that she did not have a Book of Mormon and never heard of it. She said that she met with missionaries before, but they only talked about the Bible. Huh? Anyway, we testified of the Book of Mormon and committed her to read it and meet with us again the next week and she agreed! Blessings do come from letting go of investigators!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Easter!

So here in Ukraine, instead of saying, "Happy Easter" people say, "Christ was resurrected" and the response is, "It's true, He was resurrected" I like that a lot more than just happy Easter. For tradition, Ukrainians make sweet bread and color eggs, wrap them up and put them in a basket, then take it to a church to be blessed. What the symbolism is, I don't know, but I think it is interesting how traditions carry on. On Easter we went to church, then went home and ate some sweet bread. It was Sister Walker's birthday so she baked a carrot cake. Then we passed out "The Living Christ" papers on the streets, and even on Easter, people would not take them, but some families did, and hopefully they will call. We also did some stop-bys to less-active members. We found a less-active family who say they can not come to church, because they work every Sunday, but their 16 year old son, who has not been baptized, sat on the lesson with us and wants to learn more.
News on the Temple- the scaffolding is almost all the way down and work is progressing on the grounds in front of the temple. It is so fun every time I come to church to see little changes here and there that are working up to the big beautiful day of dedication! I hope that I am here!!!


Monday, March 29, 2010


The other day Sister Walker and I were handing out English advertisements in the along the street market and I saw a lady walking by with a chocolate ice-cream cone! Summer is finally here! I was so happy, I had to celebrate by purchasing one for myself! Delicious!
All of the snow is off the streets and it is almost too hot to wear my coat. When there were still a few patches of snow here and there, I would inwardly point and laugh because I knew I would never have to walk on it again on my mission! Unless there is a freak storm or something.
We had a good lesson with one of our investigators the other day. We talked about prayer and she said that she feels like she has done too much wrong for Heavenly Father to want to listen to her. We talked about her granddaughter and if she ever did anything wrong, would she still love her? I think this helped her to see just a little bit of Gods love for her. The spirit was very strong and she was willing to pray at the end of our lesson. This morning I was reading in 2 Nephi 19:21"...For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." I love that image. Even though we know that God is not happy when we choose to do wrong. He still has his hand outreached to us, wanting and waiting for us to repent and return to Him. He loves us that much. This week I will try especially hard to show my love for Him by extending a hand to those in need and helping them to feel the love that God has for them.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Yeah! Sister Walker is my new companion! I knew we would get along just fine when I was looking through her pictures and saw a photo of her sister with Dole Whip! She loves that I love Dole Whip too! It's only the best ice-cream ever!
So back when Sister Morton was on exchanges with me, I apologized that the water wasn't warm on Sundays because no one was taking showers in the mornings. I told her it was not my fault that the people in our building were not going to church! And she asked if I had invited them. Well, I hadn't, so when we had a lesson that got canceled the other night we decided to go to our neighbors and get acquainted. We even introduced ourselves as there neighbors and people were still rude to us, until....we went to the apartment right above us and the lady came to the door and invited us in. She fed us a little food and asked if we were Mormon. We said yes, and she said that one of her favorite authors is Orson Scott Card. We had a very good conversation and ended up sharing with her the Book of Mormon and invited her to come to church. She said she was busy this week, but maybe next week! Knocking on doors really does work!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rest in Peace

Well, Sister Movchanyuk ended her mission on Thursday, but she didn't get her visa to go back to Italy, so she is staying with her friend here for a week and then going to go visit her grandma in Harkiv. It was really strange to see her at our activity on Saturday and again at church on Sunday and to call her by her first name. Our activity on Saturday was to celebrate Woman's Day and for one part of it, some of the men in the ward put on wigs and did a skit for us about how they think we hold Relief Society meetings. It was very entertaining. We had three of our investigators come, and I think they had fun.
This week I am with Sister Morton until transfers. It has been fun being with her again, and it is interesting to see how we fall back into the same roles that we had with each other before. I still don't feel like I know this area very well. But I've only had to ask for directions twice! We've had a lot of people cancel lessons on us recently. I hope it is not just because Sister Movchanyuk is not here anymore, but if that really is the reason, then they are not ready anyway.
Something I've been studying in the scriptures lately is the need to be constantly nourished by the word of God. It is important for us as missionaries to be enlightened and inspired by the scriptures, so that we may know what it is that we need to share with our investigators and help them progress. We also need to make sure that the members and our investigators are studying everyday so that their testimony's may be strengthened and they will be able to feel the spirit to help them know what is truth and what is not. I know that I have always known this, but I love how true it is and want to focus more with helping those we work with understand the importance of scriptures as well.
Have a magical day!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy Woman's Day!

Woman's day is a national holiday in Ukraine. I like this holiday. I guess it is comparable to Mother's day, but this holiday does not exclude those who are not a mothers. Everywhere on the streets I see people walking around with flowers, they are all so beautiful. Almost like spring were here, but it's coming soon, I hope! I will probably buy myself a flower and chocolate today to celebrate. We kind of hinted to the elders yesterday to get us some, but they probably won't. That's ok, they are great anyway. They do things for us all the time, so we don't feel deprived. It is so much more fun to go tracting with the elders. They take one floor and we take the next, then share stories at the end before we moving on. The other day we were going with the elders to do a stop-by and the man that we were going to go see was not at home, but his son was, so we started talking to him. We found out that he is a priest of a popular Christian church here. We shared a short lesson on the Restoration and asked him from whom he received his authority to preach. He said one of the other priests. We asked where did he receive the authority. He said the leader of their church. And we asked where did the leader of their church receive it, and he said......."I don't know" That didn't make much sense to us. We testified that "we believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof"(Articles of Faith 1:5) I am so grateful for this knowledge, that we have a living Prophet on the Earth today who leads and guides this church under the divine direction of God. The man wasn't very interested in hearing more, but maybe he will in the future we hope.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Sister's conference, all of my lovely companions! I am happy to say that I love each and every one!

My cool hair a member did before the conference.

A giant fish at the supermarket. This is why we don't eat the fish in Ukraine.

Ice covered steps! Oh boy!

See how close our chapel is to the temple?!

It looks like it says Ceres!

I don't remember what the temple looked like the last time I sent a picture of it, but it is coming right along.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


This has been quite an interesting week. It started off with a pizza party at the office elders' apartment on Monday. Then Monday night I went back to my old area on an exchange. I thought it would be a sweet reunion, because I love that place so much. But it was actually bitter and depressing. A twilight zone experience almost. Not many things had changed, but it wasn't the same. It wasn't my area anymore. I did get to see Halina, and Lena and Sveta though, so that made me happy. Halina is having a difficult time as I'm sure many recent converts do- they really are tested in their faith. But Halina is a champion, I know she'll be great.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Sister's Conference was so much fun! We started out by having a talk on virtue by Sister Stienagel, then Pres. Stienagel spoke on the first Sister Missionaries and the strength of women. Then we had a presentation on the history of Ukrainian cross-stitch and all the symbols and what they mean. They also gave us a little kit to start our own. Although I don't think I'll have enough time on my mission to start it. Then we were taught about the bandura, Ukraine's tradition musical instrument which is like a cross between a guitar and a harp. Then we took turns playing for a little bit! After that we had some closing remarks, then ate some taco salad! I hadn't had Mexican food since the MTC, so it was a real treat. Then off to the ballet! We saw Romeo and Juliet again, which I love! I had a much better seat this time so I was happy!
I found the great missionary secret! Last night we were teaching an investigator with her member neighbor. She wasn't really progressing much, and we thought that it would be our last lesson with her. Then at the end the member's little kids invited her to come with them to church next week. Before then, she had always had an excuse why she could not come. But when the little kids invited her, she asked when and where and more questions about the service and what she needs to bring! Hooray for little kids and their sweet smiling faces. I really hope she comes next Sunday, because I wouldn't want to see those angels sad!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bad traffic!

The work has been fun this week! We got a new investigator through private English. After our lesson, she pointed to the painting on the wall. the one with Moroni and the plates, and said, tell me about that picture! She was eager to read the Book of Mormon. We'll see how it goes at our next meeting.
I almost fainted the other day! A marshutka ride that usually takes 30 minutes took 2 hours and after the first hour I got overheated and really sick. Thankfully, when a man saw me, he stood up and let me sit down, my companion gave me some water to drink and the lady sitting behind me gave me a candy to suck on and then I felt much better!
I can't wait for sister's conference tomorrow, we are going to go to the ballet afterward!

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's all true!

I am now in Borshahivsky! I have now traveled the heights of all the sisters. Starting with Sister pack who is a few inches shorter than myself, then to Sister Garff who is a few shorter, then to Sister Morton, shorter still, now I am with Sister Movchanyuk, the shortest sister in the mission! What a fun photo that will be if I can get us all together!

My new apartment is one of the nicest I've seen! My bed is so comfortable I sleep like a rock! It is also so much warmer than my old apartment and the best part is- no cockroaches!!!

I am very happy to be in the same district as the Temple. But with Sister Movchanyuk going home so soon, I hope that I will learn all that I can to carry on the area. She is one of the hardest working sisters I know and I will learn so much from her. She is also one of the fastest walking sisters I know- sometimes when we walk outside, I look down to be cautious of where I am stepping, when I look up again, she is nearly 20 feet away from me and I have to run to catch up with her! So much for caution!

We met with a girl last night and taught her the Plan of Salvation. She has already determined that she will end up in the Terrestrial (middle) kingdom. She said that she doesn't believe in happy endings. Sad. We testified that she can be happy if she will only accept God's hand in her life. She said she would read, so we'll see how she is doing at our next lesson.

Today I started doing the Alma 5 test. Writing out the questions and answering them. I only got through the first four, but it is quite the spiritual activity! I recommend this activity to anyone who needs some good scripture study!

We had Mission Conference last Friday was great! President Steinagel spoke on the Book of Mormon and how, when it was first published critics found many faults trying to prove that it could not be true. But over the years, with historical discoveries more and more facts point to the reality of the Book of Mormon. Why? Because it is the most true and correct book on the face of the planet! I love how true the Book of Mormon is! I would love to just slap a list down of all the facts at all of my lessons, but I know that that is not the true converter, the spirit is. Even if there were numerous facts proving the Book of Mormon to be false, if the Spirit still says it is true- it is true! I love the Spirit, I love the Book of Mormon, I love my Savior, and I love my knowledge that it is all true!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Church Pictures

This is my church building that I am leaving because I'm getting transfered. :(
These are my some of my favorite people from my ward, I love them!

Halina rocks. I hate wet socks. I'm sending home a box.

Halina rocks.
On Saturday we had an activity with the Relief Society. When we got there, Halina was helping prepare the food, and after that she picked up a mop and started cleaning! She is so cool. Someone said it is like she has been a member for 100 years. Yesterday she got a calling to be on the Enrichment activities committee, which is perfect for her! She has so many ideas including holding a photography class and decorating picture frames. We asked her yesterday if she would like to serve a mini mission and she is all for it!

I hate wet socks.
It has been warmer these past couple of days, and the snow is melting. It was even raining today. The ground outside is one giant puddle. I would be happy if it was really warming up for good, but they say that February is the coldest month of the year. So the weather is just teasing me. :p

I'm sending home a box.
I am getting transferred on Thursday! To...Kiev....most likely...and with my first native companion. I cried yesterday during sacrament meeting, knowing that it was the last time I would be there. But of course I will still see them around Kiev I hope, and at the temple dedication for sure, if it happens before I go home. I just don't like goodbyes. So today for my preparation fun, I get to stay home and pack! Hooray. There is no way I'm going to fit all the stuff I've accumulated over these past seven months into three pieces of luggage. It's going to be fun fun fun! I'll probably send home some stuff that I don't need, but want to keep.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Halina's Baptism!

Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful blue sky and sunshine! Do you know what that means? Cold! No cloud cover and wind brought the temp to -18 degrees Celsius! When it's cold Sister Morton's eyes water, so they got her eyelashes wet and they were freezing together! We got to the chapel to start the water running and to finish working on our talks. The other missionaries got there early and started talking to us so I was only able to finish preparing right before the service! There was a healthy turn out of people and Halina was so happy she was glowing! When I gave my talk only Sister Morton and Halina were smiling at me. Everyone else's faces were contorted- trying to figure out what I was trying to say. All in all it was a beautiful baptism and I want to have many more just like it! Halina is a shining example of what all members need to be more like. She is full of charity and love, she participates in all of the lessons, she loves studying the scriptures and she is introducing all of her friends to the missionaries! We are meeting with her and her boyfriend tonight because she wants him to get baptized too!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Halina is getting baptized on Saturday!

Last Tuesday we taught her the Restoration again and asked if she wanted to be baptized, and she said, of course! She is so wonderful. Sometimes lessons fall through and we are not able to meet with her and Sister Morton and I start to get worried, then we meet with her again and she dissolves all worry like a warm summer's day melts ice-cream! She is so excited about Relief Society and has a bunch of ideas for the sisters to do.
Well, she just arrived, and we are all going to a members house for a lesson!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Let me tell you about Halina

We met her at the end of last month, when the Borshahivky sisters and us went to sing to her at the hospital. But we couldn't teach her until she was back home because the hospital was under quarantine. Last Monday we went over to her house to become acquainted, and right away she pulled out her copy of The Book of Mormon and said she had a question about this verse- Alma 3:19 - "Now I would that ye should see that they brought upon themselves the curse; and even so doth every man that is cursed bring upon himself his own condemnation."
Then she asked why people would want to do that, and why people do not want to change. We answered by saying it is hard sometimes to change and to follow Christ. Then she asked, why then does Jesus say, '' my yoke is easy, and my burden is light'' Good question!
The next time we met with her she told us that the day before, her boyfriend had been over and brought all his stuff and wanted to move in with her. She was shocked and didn't know what to do. Then we talked about how we can receive answers from The Book of Mormon and she said, yes, I know, then she brought out Alma 5:16- ''I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?'' Then we shared the Plan of Salvation with her including talking a little about eternal marriage and what that means. Then she said that she sees now that she could not let him move in with her. I love that we were able to help her come to make her own decision, by listening to the spirit.
She came to church yesterday and it was perfect, because in all our lessons we were talking about the Plan of Salvation, so when the teachers asked questions to the class, she was able to participate and testify of what she has learned. By the end of Relief Society, she was overflowing with the spirit. It was probably the best day at church in my life!
We're meeting with her again tomorrow, and we hope that she will accept a baptismal date! Please pray for her!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

We love the snow!!!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

On New Year's Eve, we went to the Center Sister's apartment to celebrate with all eight sisters in Kiev, and have a slumber party! We played Bonanza, watched "It's a wonderful live” again, and Sister Movchanyk made some super awesome pizza! Sveta stopped by and dropped off her guitar before she left for Germany- which Sister Morton was very excited about. Then we played Phase 10 'till midnight! The next morning we made pancakes for breakfast and watched Ben-Hur, then a BYU 1984 football game. Then we went home and Sister's Pack and Garff called and we talked to them, then I worked on a puzzle. We did some weekly planning then the day was over.

On Tuesday we had a Christmas party for our English group and we were running late to go set up for it. I had a backpack full of party supplies, my arms were carrying a large hot cookie sheet(in which the cookies were not even done all the way) snow had fallen into my boots and my feet were getting wet, and the trolley bus that we had been waiting for stopped very far away so that we had to cross a river full of ice and slush to get to it. I was not happy. I remember asking the trolley bus in a not so quiet voice why it had stopped so far away, and I also informed my companion that I was never making cookies again!
Then, out of the crowds of darkness, stood a man in a yellow coat who offered me his hand and lead me across the icy river and onto the already packed trolley bus, just barely finding enough room for himself before the doors shut. He spoke some kind words to me that I didn't quite understand, then he helped me off at the next stop- to get out of the way of all the people who needed to exit, then he helped me back on again. There were less people this time so that I was able to hold onto the railing to keep myself up, then I looked around and the man was gone.
Whether this man was an angel sent from God, or just an ordinary Ukrainian who took pity on an angry American girl- it's all the same to me. I felt God's love as I was left in awe at the kindness of a stranger. In the scriptures, the common message of angels is...fear not, God loves you. The message I received that night was...stress not, God loves you.