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