(And so just a little FYI~ it''ll be sort of hard to concentrate on this e-mail because there's this fellow beside me in the internet cafe is listening to this Britt Spears trance-dance mix... that sounds really good...)
Okies... Let's start from the top. Tuesday and Wednesday of last week was full of plane rides. (But the plane ride from DC to Vienna was claaasssaayyyyyy mmhm~ Austrian Air is super fab. I recommend that airline to anyone thinking about flying to Germany or Austria or whatever. :)
Anyway. Got to Ukraine Wednesday afternoon -- and let me just say THAT WE DIDN'T LOSE ANYONE! There were 13 people in my travel group and not one sheep from our little flock was lost. We made it to the Dnepropetrovsk airport, which was about the same size of the airport in Laredo, haha. And as soon as we made it through customs, our mission president, his wife and the two Area Leader missionaries were waiting for us. It was nice to finally be able to meet them. And one long van ride later, we arrived at the meeting house in Dnepropetrovsk... and one-by-one, we were taken upstairs to meet our trainers. faekjjewakjrwakjawthawrwa
So a week earlier, I had received an e-mail from my dad and without tagging his message as spoiler alert or something, told me that my companion was going to be Sister Dickinson... so as soon as the elevator opened, after they called me upstairs... and lo and behold THERE WAS MY TRAINER! :D It was so weird. I think it was in that moment when I realized like... dang. I'm actually a missionary. This isn't the MTC. I'm in Ukraine. Sister Garff and Sister Patterson aren't going to be my companions anymore. Nothing will ever be the same ever again... okay, so maybe not that deep of thoughts. But it was weird, having a different companion. And pretty much right after I met and talked with Sister Dickinson for a little bit, we had a short, brief introduction meeting with President van Bruggen and they kicked us out into the streets of Dnepropetrovks -- the "New York City" of the mission -- and with a few Book of Mormons (in Russian) in our hands, told us to go contact people. I wasn't surprised when this happened. I heard of a rumor of this happening to missionaries as soon as they got to their missions... so I felt ready. Moderately speaking. The only problem was that I didn't know a lick of what anyone was saying to me. I'm just gonna say this once -- but Russian was NOT the language that I learned in the MTC. It was craazzyyyy...
So after working the street (not in that way) for a few hours, we ended up placing not one, not two... but FOUR Books of Mormon! Which is a SCORE in my book.
(Ahhhh I'm getting into too much detail, so I might skip over some parts just for the sake of time!)
We ended up staying in Dnepropetrovsk for another day and a half, until we could be taken down to our area -- Mykolayiv. (Which is like in the southern-ish part of Ukraine, for those of you who are curious.)
So -- it's Friday afternoon and after a looonnnngggggggg BUMPY(!!!) car ride later, we FINALLY get to our area. FINALLY. The apartment where we stay is pretty nice... it looks totally retro 80s or something -- there's wood decor everywhere and everything's a 80s-shade of brown. But it's totally legit and cool. I ain't complainin'~
Ukraine is crazy though. Seriously. It reminds me of Mexico... so I almost feel right at home. The only difference is that instead of Spanish, everyone talks in Japanese or something... or maybe Russian? I literally have no idea what anyone is saying. I maybe catch one or two words or a phrase here and there... but for the most part, I'm totally clueless. But I try and pay attention when people are talking, so I can understand them. Sister Dickinson is a SAINT for being so patient towards me. I feel so bad for not really being able to contribute very much to the lessons and street conversations that we have. Sure, I can walk up to someone and just start asking questions and talking to them... but when they start talking full sentences, I have no idea what to do. But the language will take time. I know... I just have to learn to be patient... bleh.
And now... to my food adventures. (I think that I might have a weekly section about the food adventures I get into...) There are these cookies here called... Супир something -- I can't remember what it said on the wrapper. BUT THOSE THINGS ARE SUPER LEGIT! OH MY GOSH. Apparently they're this super awesome Ukrainian cookie and Sister Dickinson made sure to introduce them to me on my first night in Mykolayiv. They're this cookie that's like, dipped in chocolate and there's this little hole on one of the sides. And what you do is on the other side of the cookie, you bite a hole and put the cookie in milk... and DRINK MILK FROM THE HOLES LIKE A STRAW which makes the insides all nice and wet and moist and then you eat it. Ugh it's so freaking good. I'm def gonna have to send some home to share with peeps.
Okay. Five minutes of internet time left. Short run-down of shout-outs:
- We met three drunk ladies on the street, which Sister Dickinson said is a record. Apparently there aren't very many drunk women. There are just drunk men.
- Crazy street parties, with creepy-looking clowns. Our branch meets in this building, and above them is a daycare. When we were walking up to the meetinghouse, it turns out that the daycare was throwing a party. Right in front of the church's doors. We literally had to make our way through the crowd of parents and kids to get to the doors to get to church. That's Ukraine for you.
And okay. That's it for right now, friends. Ukraine is crazy. But I know that it's the place for me. I'm going to do some good here and change some people's lives by sharing the gospel with them.
Sister Mariah McCrea