Sunday, December 18, 2011

Goodbye Voronezh!

Well this is the last blog post that will be sent from Voronezh, Russia! I wasn't sure if I was going to be okay living in a new country, but this has been such a wonderful experience! I am so grateful for it!
Saying goodbye is never a fun thing- just saying!

But here it goes:
Goodbye to FHE at the church on Mondays! We have had a blast having FHE with the missionaries. :) It has been so much fun and something to look forward to each week! This week we said goodbye as we ate ice cream and brownies and played Mafia! Missionaries are the best! They work so hard and do it all for the Lord- the missionaries here in Voronezh work soo hard too, all to tell people about Jesus Christ and his church here on the earth! (Ps- updated my prolife on Check it out!)
We will miss Elder and Sister Frost so much- they showed us so much love and kindness! :) Thank you 2 so much and good luck with the rest of your mission!!

Goodbye to teaching! This week was seriously the last week that I will hand out tokens and have kids repeat English phrases! I will miss our kiddos- they are buckets of cuteness! The older ones knew we were leaving- they are used to saying goodbye because they know how the program works, however, the newer ones I don’t think they really understood, :( But I hope one day I can miraculously come back to Voronezh and see how they are progressing! :)
 Timor and Yaromir being crazy!
Teaching! We are going on a treasure hunt!
 This is Christina's mom and Christina! Her mom helped us a lot in class!! We will miss both of them!!

We had a lot of fun this week at school! We played old maid, played with mr. potato head, grabbed items, and took lots of pictures. Just trying to document the whole experience!
Christmas tree at the school! (Find the Furby) 
*Answer below*

On our last day (Thursday) of teaching we did shorter classes and had a party for 30 minutes! Russian kids all bring candy and we just give it out! They had a lot of fun and they were all hyper from the candy! It was a good way to say goodbye! We let them speak in Russian and they just about went crazy! One of the girl’s had a birthday and so we ate cake and some of the kids dressed up, which was something we weren’t expecting, but just made it so much cuter and harder to say goodbye!
 Fedya in his jester costume!
 Artium looking classy in his suit!
 It was Varya's birthday and her mom brought cake! We love Varya and her mom very much!
 If words could describe how much I am going to miss this girl!
 Bogdon in his blazer! He is such a cutie!
 SVETA! She is so shy but so much fun!
 Vova dressed up like a rabbit and carried around a sword!
 This is our trouble maker- and yes he did dress up like a clown. I just love this picture of him, because it is so him!
 Paulina, Liza, and Dasha all in fancy dresses! They are so so cute! :) They each bought me, Luke, and Sami a picture of Voronezh! :) They are so well behaved! I will miss them so much!
 Vanya and Gleb! Vanya is so cute in his little bowtie! He is one of my favorites. He is so smart! He came into class not knowing anything, and his language has just exploded! He talks and talks! He is so silly too! Also he wins most luscious hair award!
Yaroslav is such a big talker! His language is awesome! He says the funniest things! His most famous
 "Miss Kelsee, Mr. Luke, and Miss Samantha, you have big legs." 
"What do you mean?"
"Look at them, THEY'RE BIG!!"
He is the coolest kid in the kindergarten- all the kids think so too! 

Goodbye to Mullets---- enough said! Russian boys (and adult men) have sweet mullets. No, I am not a supporter of Mullets, but man if you ever wanted to see legit mullets- come to Russia. They are very popular here!! Really!!
 Yaroslav's (It even has the "steps" on the side)
Nikita's mullet!

Goodbye to exploring in Voronezh! On Wednesday we went to the walking bridge to explore some more! It was really really cold though! However when we were taking a picture of Mikaela, a bird thought she had food in her hands and so it landed on her and she freaked out because she didn‘t know what was happening! Then we sat for like 15 minutes trying to take pictures of birds landing on our hands! We managed to get them! I felt like Giselle off of Enchanted!
 There is a bird in my hand!
 COLD! But fun! 
 Sami is also a bird whisperer! 

Goodbye to school lunch! Haha this week made me not miss school lunch! We had soggy poato meat mixture with noodles in milk one day, and then the next day we had buckwheat! GOOD BYE! :)
 Noodles in milk... Gag!

Nope, not going to miss that!

Goodbye to Daniel, Natasha, Nastia, and Timosha! Daniel and Natasha are our coordinators. They are the ones who took care of our visas and helped us get around and picked host families for us. We APPRECIATE THEM SO MUCH! We could have never done it without them! They left on Friday for America! Daniel is from Utah and Natasha lived in Utah for awhile. They are visiting Daniel’s parents who now live in Wisconson. I taught Nastia and Timosha in kindergarten. The whole last week Timosha kept saying “We’s a going to America!” So I am so excited for the kids to go there. I think their language will just explode!
Their family and me! :)
Goodbye to Friday night Volleyball! Although I admit I didn’t play really, I enjoyed the socialization with the sister missionaries, with English-speaking Russians, and with the other English speaking friends (2 were from Texas and 1 was from Belgium!). It was so fun to just get to know more different people are totally from a different lifestyle then you are!
 Me and Natalie! She is so great! Her English is so good too! She is a professional diver!
 Everyone loves Yulia! :)
 Me and Vadim! He is a legit Volleyball player! I was always so intimidated by him, but he is super friendly and has no accent at all when he speaks English!
Agia (from Belgium) and Josh (from Texas) 

Goodbye to Russian busses! I am officially done riding crazy Russian busses! I have gained a lot of arm strength from holding on to the rail while going over crazy bumps! I rode the bus 4 days a week. (Monday, Friday, and Sunday were all to the church and then Saturday was to the city center). There are so many crazy stories that happen on busses. Drunk guys acting like idiots, people falling down when the brakes are hit hard, babushkas yelling at people to give their seat up, passing money up and down the busses, and being crammed are just a few stories!  

Goodbye to delicious Russian cooking! I will miss Zhanna’s food! She cooked for us teachers on Friday because on Friday our coordinators had already left. She cooked delicious carbonara and good soup! Yum Yum Yum!
Here it is!!
Homemade Pizza with:
1) Sauce
2) Salami
3) hot dogs
4) Sausage
5) tomatoes
6) Cucumbers
7) Red bell pepper
8) Mushrooms
9) Cheese
Goodbye to elevators! I used the elevator every single day of my life. It just becomes a part of daily life. It is always awkward when people get on the elevator with you because it is DEAD silent. Someone in the ILP group usually gets stuck in the elevator once a semester, so unless we get stuck in the elevator tomorrow, we are free from problems!
Going up to floor 11!

Goodbye to my wonderful host family! Sure it has been awkward because you really don’t speak the same language, but they have been so kind and loving to me and have treated me like a Princess. I can never repay them! I have a comfortable room all to myself with a desk and closet. I have great meals provided all the time and yummy treats! Plus they talk to me all the time and try and make me feel welcome and happy! I have been- trust me! I am not saying it is still not awkward, because I believe it always will be, I mean we come from completely different lives and we don’t speak the same language! But it is not a bad awkward, just different! But I love them and hope they can come to America and meet all of you wonderful people!

 Daniel bought his mom a juicer for Christmas! It was so tasty!
Alina and Daniel! 
 Me and Zhanna! :)

 Daniel wanted to take a picture of me "flying"
Here is his picture! Hahaha! 
(I was supposed to be packing!)

Goodbye to the Voronezh Branch! That place has taught me a lot about a lot of different things, and I am grateful for it! The people here have made me want to be such a better person! They are all seriously wonderful! So loving and giving and sweet! :)

Goodbye to my fellow ILP teachers…. FRIENDS!! It is so weird to say goodbye to people you have seen EVERYDAY for 4 months. I really mean EVERYDAY!
Jallyn- Thanks for being the person you are and making everyone laugh so much! You are such a wonderful example of love, diligence, and acceptance!  You glow! Thanks for always giving me hugs! I will miss you, but I will see you are BYUI in the SPRING!!
Ryan- Thank you so much for being so thoughtful all the time! I love your weird random comments and questions, I will miss them! But we get to watch Transformers 6 times in a row together on the airplane! SWEET haha i’ve never even seen it! But really you are an awesome person and thank you so much for your testimony! PS- next time I see you, you will be a fluent Russian speaker- you are excelling so much!
Luke- Man kindergarten was wild right? It has been such a joy to work with you! You always made me laugh and were so kind and accepting! I will miss seeing you every week day! I will miss having crazy adventures in the kindergarten! You are so so kind and so talented- you will go far in your art, I love my paintings!!! Thank you!!
Alix- You are so so sweet! You never think of yourself, only others. You want to make everyone happy and never cause contention! You are someone who never gets mad and always does the right thing- thanks for your love and thanks for being you! You are such an EXAMPLE! Everyone wants to be around you!
Meee-ki-a-e-la (You know how to pronounce it)- You are so funny and wonderful to be around! You are always laughing and sharing your awesome stories. I don’t know how I will live without those stories, you will have to call me and tell me or something because I might die! I always looked forward to seeing you and hearing your laugh- you are such a wonderful person!
Sami- I have been so blessed to work with you in the kindergarten! You are so organized and so hard working and diligent! I would not have survived this experience without you! Thank you for accepting everyone and always laughing! You just love so much and that will make you the best missionary ever! Thanks for your love and support and kind spirit!
Tessa- You taught me everything I know- thank you! I have learned everything from you! You are such an inspiration! Thanks for helping me get through this! You are so sweet and thoughtful and everything you taught me, I am taking with me to use in my future! I love you perspective on life- it is so exciting!!! You have made such an impact! Thanks Ninja!
Me and Head Teacher Tessa! 

Goodbye Voronezh! Thank you for teaching me so many things in such a short time! I will miss you very very much and hope that in the future the opportunity will arise that I might come back and visit you. I have no idea why you only snowed like 5 total times, but that is okay, you kept me pretty dry and that was nice of you! Thank you for showing me how great Russia is and for letting me meet wonderful people! This experience will stay with me forever!
Lots of Love, Kelsee 

ps- some extra photos that didn't fit in the blog article itself!
 Christmas Tree in the mall! Christmas here isn't until January 7th so Christmas decorations are barely going up!
This is what packing looks like!

 Packing was depressing... but then I got an awesome letter from my friend that made me so so so so happy! 
Abish- this was what my face looked like the whole time I was reading your letter! I took a picture just for you! :) I will reply back to you (Probably not until I get to America though!) 

 We did a Secret Santa- This is me with my awesome drawings (and candy) that Luke gave to me!!! They are so cool! 
 Friday was a cleaning day- this is what our cupboards looked like! 
 American Sandwich bread! Not popular at all!
Did you find the furby?? hahaha
I guess one of the past groups made it!
Love it!!

 :) !See you soon! :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

1 week left- WHAT!!?!?!?!?!?!??!

Well the adventure ends shortly! I cannot believe how fast it has gone! 
Well, it’s pretty much time to wrap up!
This week I teach Monday-Thursday and then Friday is our cleaning day where we clean the school in preparation for next semester!

Only 4 more days of teaching… which means I only have 24 more lessons! That may seem like a TON still, but at one point I had over 400 to teach, so really I can do 24—piece of cake!! (So I teach 6-30 minute lessons a day plus opening and closing so I teach 4 hours every day).

The closer it gets, I realize how much I am going to miss the kids! I just hope they turn into good individuals and make good choices- that is all I want. I don’t care if their English is perfect or not, I just want them to be successful and happy :) . They have made an impact in my life. The 6 year olds try so so hard to try and speak to you! It is so much fun to watch them try and communicate with you! :)

Just an update about my life- things are about the same. I am just trying to make every moment count as my trip comes to a conclusion!
Things are great though!
Here is a simple update!

The weather here is so abnormally warm for Voronezh. All the people keep talking about how it is not normally like this. There has been so much rain, and roads and sidewalks in Russia are very "holey" and "bumpy" and so basically puddles are EVERYWHERE!!! 
This is one of the milder puddles. Man they are intense! It is a game to try and find places that aren't covered in water! So although there is no snow, there is still moisture in the form of rain! 

The food at lunch is still the same!
Here is a prime example! We have potato soup, a potato pancake, and potato fries! haha It's fun to dip the potato pancake in the potato soup- we never count carbs or calories while we eat lunch! 

I am still healthy! I have manage to not get sick for 4 months! I still wake up with a runny nose, but I thought it was all to do with me having a cold forever- but after talking to Tessa, I am pretty sure that I have allergies! I have never had allergies ever, but I am allergic to Russia! Haha I think it has to do with the old apartment buildings with dust mites as the heaters have been kicking on. So man to all of you who have suffered from allergies- I now feel why it is miserable! :) hehehe! Yay for hayfever! Colds don't usually last more than 10 days and I have been like this for a long time now. 
Because the heater is so hot and we have no control over it, we also sleep with our windows wide open, so who knows what I am allergic too! I guess bring on the rain!!! 

Life at the kindergarten is dandy! This is me and Sami chilling before classes start! Notice i'm repping the Erda shirt :)
I still don't love teaching, but I am understanding it so much better!

 Look at these cute kids!!!
This is me, Jallyn, an Tishoma playing a game with a bouncy ball. The ball fell in the toilet (we washed it off), and Timosha would run around and rub it on us yelling "TOILET BALL! TOILET BALL" Gross!! haha but it was fun playing with him!! We will all miss Timosha! He is a cutie! :)

 Daniel, Me, and Daniel. The one on the right is my host brother! I said I wanted a picture with them! I told them to smile... not sure they understood! But really not very many Russians smile for pictures. They are very reserved and serious in photos!

So it will crazy to have my own room back in Erda! This is my bed that has been so comfortable for me the past 4 months! There is my wall of happiness! Photos, quotes, goals, scriptures, and an awesome picture Daniel painted for me! I sleep so well every night! This Russian trip has been more like a vacation because I get 7.5-8 hours of sleep every night- when does that ever happen at home or especially at college?!?!
Good bye Voronezh bed!!! I shall miss you! (once the bedspread was of birds and hearts- I LOVED IT!)

 Here is a typical picture of the street! So across the street is a bus stop and there are so many busses going to and from different places. Like I said before I am blessed to get to walk to school. 4 of us can walk and the other 4 have to take busses to get to the school! I have to take a bus to get anywhere else though. (Church, city center, mall, etc.) 

We have started saying goodbye to all of our friends, and it is getting so sad because really I won't ever be here again nor see any of these wonderful people! 
Here are some pics of some of my friends from church!
This isn't all of them, but I want to share some:
 Me and Alla, she is my also singing buddy! :) She such a sweetheart!
 I love the sister missionaries!! Sister Williams, Sister Kuessling, Mikaela, Sister Dick, and me! These ladies are amazing!
 This is Yulia! She is our Relief Society translator, and just finished translating Jesus the Christ into Russian about a week ago! :) She is great!
 This is Yulia, she is the choir director and in charge of the primary also! She is so dedicated and wonderful!
This is me and Yorgi! He comes to our English Sunday School class! He is so incredible! He has done so so many of his ancestors temple work- he is the king of Family History!!

And of course the FROSTS!!! :) 
They are the BEST!!!!!!

Um so this past Saturday was Luke's 20th birthday- so to celebrate we went to the huge CITY GRAD PARK mall! It has an ocean-aquarium, an ice skating rink, a movie theater, a grocery store, a furniture store, an arcade, an amusement park, a sushi bar, a food court, and TONS OF STORES! It is the most intense mall I have ever ever been in! So to celebrate we went ice skating and shopping!
Here are some pics of the day:
 This was a Russian mime! He may or may not have spoken English to us!
"That Russian mime just spoke English"
 The grocery store had a giant stuffed cat!!! :)
Got my ice skates on!
For all of those who know me well, know that I am the world's worst ice skater. I may or may not have had a freak out on the ice! I never knew I was so scared of ice skating. However I lived through it, and did a slow lap around the ice rink without holding on to the wall! Hahahaha! Wahoo!
It's all about progress!!

Here are just some more pictures of the cute kids!
 Fedya and Yaromir!
 This is Vanya- Man I love this kid- he has the most luscious hair ever invented and the world's best personality! 
 Slava and Slavic!
Vladyk and Vova are brothers! Vova is always crying because he is only 3 but they are so cute together!!

So switching around again (this is the most sporadic blog entry yet- I apologize!!!)
After Church me, Mikalea, and Ryan went to find Baba Yaga! I heard there was a statue around and we found her! 
 Baba Yaga! AHHHHH!
 K is for Kelsee or Crocodile! 

So really that is all! I will miss Voronezh a ton, seriously- I have had the best experience here ever! What a blast this has been! I have had the best family, group, school, kids, branch, and adventure! I am so grateful for it! I have learned a lot and am so excited to go back to America, I have definitely gained a greater appreciation for it!

This time next week I will be packing to leave- it is going to be a long trip home! :)
Mixed emotions-
Love ya!


ps- check out this sweet brain my host mom created!