Well this week had been pretty mild compared to last! We officially hit our ½ way mark- which is pretty crazy to think about! 2 months in, 2 more to go. It has gone by so fast! I am just so grateful for this amazing amazing opportunity!
So it is crazy to think that in 2 months all these amazing people I have met will be gone out of my life. All the adorable kids who I teach and interact with, my host family who treats me so well, our coordinators who do so much for us, all the missionaries who speak English to us, all the ward members who have done nothing but made us feel included, and my amazing ILP friends!!
Wow! Even though the days may be a little crazy… Bahahahaha! I laugh because I don’t know if crazy even begins to describe it… it’s one of those things you have to really experience to be able to relate. We may or may not have a kid who has no ambition to learn and so he literally will take everything and a)throw it
b) rip it
c) hit someone with it
d) eat it
e) all of the above!
He does not sit in his seat and he runs around like a wild child, it is always an experience teaching the 2nd rotation! Luckily we have just learned to laugh, and when the day is over, we shout hallelujah and laugh about how insane it was! My group is filled with very optimistic people who hardly ever complain! We just have learned to be thankful for the experience and then laugh. Laughing cures all!
There is also a kid that seriously all he says is “What is this, it’s mom”. He doesn’t ask it like a question either, he just repeats that over and over and over and over and over and over and over in a monotone tone… “what is this, it’s mom”. It is his way of asking for his mom. There is another boy says “I want A my mom”. Like I mentioned before 14 of our 31 kids are new, and so they are still very new to the program and the routine. Second semesters Voronezh ILP group will see a lot of progress I believe!
Although some kids are easier to help and teach, really they all are amazing! We have learned which kids not to put in the same groups! :) The coolest thing about the teaching part of this Russia experience is to see the growth. We have seen some kids who came from the beginning (this being their first year), and they are learning how to answer some questions and not necessarily repeating everything that you say!
We had one student who we really didn’t see any hope for. He only spoke Russian and was kind of a pain- but he has been through a total turn around (yes he still speaks Russian, but he is speaking it a lot less, and interacting with us a lot more).
This is Daniel. He has a vocabulary of a 9 year old and uses big words and speaks in big sentences! He uses words like Minimal, and separation.... who is this kid???
We all love Tessa!
This is crazy Daniel- one of Jallyn's students!
My Host Family:
Like I have mentioned before, it really is good! Not to say that it is easy… but it is a good situation! My host mother is a single divorced mom (I know that her kids have different dads, and I know she was married to at least one of them). She just turned 40 on Tuesday. We celebrated her birthday! I made her a card and brownies, however I didn’t have any measuring cups at my house… so I really just guessed, I used a drinking glass, and went off that! They didn’t turn out 100% correct, I would say about 80% but they were edible and they did look like brownies! After school we went to Babushka and Dedushka’s (grandma and grandpa) apartment. It is the next apartment complex over so very very close. We ate delicious yogurt cake that had berries on the top and drank Champagne which, needless to say, I didn’t taste!
She is a very strong independent woman and she loves Ilena and Daniel very much and is very protective. You can tell that she is a momma bear. No one messes with her or her family! She is feisty! But she is very kind to me and feeds me lots of good food!
chicken, noodles, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers
She changes my sheets, washes and hangs my clothes to dry, and vacuums my room. We try and talk to each other- but holy cow language barriers are hard things! I never realized how blessed I am to be able to communicate with everyone where I am from! Seriously at the tower of Babel, that would have been a nightmare!
It is a really good home environment! Sometimes I just wish we could speak the same language because it is hard to express a lot of feelings and it is awkward a lot of the time, and that makes it hard, but we are both trying very hard to make it work, and it is going a lot better!
We are so grateful for them! Daniel and Natasha are amazing! She are in charge of helping us renew our visas and all those fun things ;). They also help restore order at the school, and feed us lunch every day! I am so grateful for them! They also are both bilingual. Natasha is from Voronezh and Daniel is from Utah.
The missionaries are so awesome! We have all become such good friends! We see them at church on Sunday, at FHE (family home evening) on Monday, and at volleyball on Friday- needless to say we see a lot of each other. They are so awesome! I am so grateful that they are dedicating 2 years of their life to serving the Lord and the people of Russia to bring them to a knowledge of the savior.
For FHE this week we had a lesson, and then played a crazy game of “French tomato” that involved hitting a volleyball while you were bent in half… needless to say I was not good at it, and might have been one of the first ones out! Here are some pictures:
Volleyball this week was again awesome! I spent most of my time talking to Sister Kuessling (a sister missionary from France who is serving there) but I love just interacting with the people there. We have made some friends with students from the US who are doing a semester of studying abroad, and it is fun to talk with them! Also this week the AP’s (assistants to the Mission President) visited the branch and they were really nice. One of them was a past ILP student who went to Ukraine, he translated sacrament meeting for us, and his translation was flawless. The other AP was a Semi-pro Russian basketball player who took time off to serve a mission! They were also playing volleyball.
The Ward Members:
Yes, I cannot quit talking about the branch. If you came here for even for just a week, you would understand why!
So this Saturday we had a Relief Society activity where every sister prepared a dish of food for the other sisters to try. It was so awesome!! It was just like an activity that you would find at my home ward! I got to try a lot of interesting Russian dishes. Mushrooms and dill are very popular here!
Sister Frost made chips and salsa and then creamy chicken noodle soup and it was delicious. A lot of the sisters didn’t finish their salsa! It is definitely more common in North America! :) But the desserts consisted of a lot of different Blini!
I made brownies for this again and again forgot to grab the measuring cups that are at the school!!! So yes, I guessed again. And my host family doesn’t have a cake pan, so I lined the edges of a cookie sheet in foil (thanks to Tessa’s idea). These weren’t 100% either, They were probably a 81%!
But the story is funny of how I got the eggs. So I had all the ingredients for the brownies, expect I needed 3 eggs. So I walked to the nearby store (which is very very close to my apartment complex). I went in and in this particular store you have to ask for what you want and then they give it to you and you pay for it. I saw they were selling eggs individually, but I didn’t really want to deal with trying to explain what I needed, I just wanted the simple store of “yourself” picking what you need, and then going to a regular cash register, where talking is limited.
So I walked in the first store and saw that they were selling individually and so I walked out and decided that I would go to the other store which was not as close, but was still pretty close. I got there, and it was closed!! So I decided to go back to the other store, because if it all failed, I could always run away!
So I walked back, and I noticed the cleaning lady was sitting outside smoking (I pass here pretty much every day on my way to school. She is probably in her 50s and has stringy hair. When I see her she is either cleaning the floor, sweeping the sidewalk, or smoking) She recognized me as the girl that had just left a while ago and (in Russian) asked if I was just walking around. I decided that I would just go for it and explain my situation (that I needed to buy 3 eggs but I didn’t know how, and I only spoke a little Russian.) She asked me where I was from and got all excited to help me. She took me and in and helped me buy them- I was very grateful!
So then I went home and somehow miraculously made brownies again with no measuring cups or spoons! Then when I was walking out to meet up with Jallyn, I passed her and she was outside smoking again. I asked if she wanted one, and she took one, and then took a bite out of it. She then immediately grabbed into my bag and grabbed another one! Haha it made me laugh so hard! J Her name is Galiya she is awesome- it made my day!
Anywho at the Relief Society activity Alix had made cookies from a mix that she brought from home, but they don’t have cookie mixes here. So when people tried her cookies, everyone was asking her for a recipie! Baahahah so she went home and went online and found just a chocolate chip cookie recipie. Her cookies were the rave! Way to go Betty Crocker- you are popular in Russia!
The activity was so much fun! I very much enjoyed it!
these were some of the things that I tried!
The ward members don’t speak English and we don’t speak Russian, but we are one big family! :) They all smile at us (which is uncommon because Russians hardly ever smile) and we smile back and we feel of their love! They are awesome!
Today for sacrament meeting, the people who got the opportunity to go to the temple came up and bore their testimonies! It was amazing! These people have to travel more than 17 hours to get to the temple. They take a whole week and go to the temple about 3-4 times a day that week! They stay in a dormitory that is just for people visiting the temple.
Their testimonies were so pure, and they were so happy! There was a man named Yorgi who did 610 baptisims from his family! :) I tell you, these people are so dedicated and love the Lord. Their testimonies of the temple were filled with the spirit.
Go to the temple as often as you can! :) Which, for these people, may be only once a year!
Yes I have made amazing friends with this adventure! I love spending time with all of them!
Before the activity, Jallyn, Me, and her host brother Artiom went to an awesome park and played!
This sign is self-explanatory!
On Saturday after the activity, Ryan, Luke, Mikaela, Sami, and myself walked across the walking bridge to the other side of the river. We then took fun pictures, found large mushrooms, and visited a bookstore. (At the bookstore we ran into one of our fellow ward members, Yorgi (the one who did 610 baptisims)! Then on the way out, we ran into another ward member, who wasn’t with Yorgi! So it is a small town (even though it has a population of 900,000!)
She makes me so happy!
Then after the bookstore, us ILPs went to McDonalds and laughed till we were sick! Who knew that McDonalds would ever be a comfort? The McDonalds here are popular places to hang! All the teenagers to, and a lot of students because it has free wi-fi! The McDonalds are usually fancy, very clean, and have cool infrastructure!
McDonalds is comfort food!
And that sums up my week!
:) Hope everything in America is going awesome!
Thanks for you support!
:) Love ya, Kelsee
ps- email me! kelseeg@hotmail