Monday, June 30, 2014

Strasvuitsya! I would put it in the cyrillic alphabet but I'm honestly too lazy.  Because let's be honest, I'm practically fluent in Russian already. 
I wish I wasn't kidding. But the language is actually coming along well.  I've been grasping it slowly but surely.  Yesterday my companion and I taught our third lesson in Russian to our first "investigator," Anya.  I've been saying short, simple prayers in Russian and can pretty much create my own sentences as long as I have a verb conjugation and declination chart handy.  For those of you who don't know much about Russian, they not only conjugate their werbs, but their nouns and adjectives are "declined," or changed to fit the meaning of the sentence based on what role they play.  It's weird. Don't worry abou it.  But I have AWESOME teachers who help me in every way possible... in Russian of course.  My Russian cursive is getting TONS better, and it's hard to not write in Russian/English.  But I must say, my English handwriting has improve drastically.  Haha I'm forgetting how to speak properly in English sometimes, so forgive any awkward phrasing... I'm pretty sure it's all downhill from here.  And it's only been a week.  Crazy, right? I'm sure everyone back home is probably way too busy with their lives to even notice the time passing, but I'm telling you, last Wednesday through Saturday were the LONGEST DAYS OF MY LIFE.  No big deal.
Despite that, this week has made up for lost time.  It's already hump day.  And yes, my p-days are on Wednesdays, just so everyone knows. 
I LOVE my district, even though I'm the oldest and most of them are 19.  My companion is 20, Sister Roy, so I guess it's nice to have someone a littler closer to my age.  But really, we're all the same here in the MTC.  I can't tell a difference in maturity level, something I was honestly concerned about.  We're all really focused on being the best we can, and helping each other to get there.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the organization of the mission field, each mission is lead by a mission president.  He has several zones, which have Zone leaders (more experienced missionaries that the mission president calls to those positions).  For the sisters, we have sister training leaders that serve pretty much the same purpose.  Then within each zone there are a certain number of districts, each with its own district leader.  My zone only has two districts.  The elder called to be our disctrict leader (Elder Wixom) is pretty much amazing.  I'm humbled by how much faith and how determined these boys (men?) are.  I'm not sure how I should see them yet haha.  I kind of feel like mama bear sometimes.  But I love them to death.  It's split half and half in my district.  3 sister companionships, and 3 elder companionships.  The Sisters are awesome, too.  I room with them and we have way too much fun at night.  I feel like I'm in high school again sometimes.  (or at EFY, for those of you who feel me)  No but they inspire me, too. 
This past week has been a HUGE humbling experience, just realizing how much the next 18 months of my life is going to change me for the better and how much of a difference I'm going to make in peoples lives, and how much responsibility I have for that influence.  If I don't work as hard as I can, and be the best missionary I can be, there are people who will miss out on life changing experiences.  Sometimes the pressure is a little overwhelming, but then I stop and remember that I need to give all of that over to the Lord, and only worry about what I can do right now, today.  And today, it's p-day. And I'm going to write letters, and do my hair for the first time all week haha. 
Really, though.  Family and friends, don't forget the Lord in your life.  Don't forget what He's done for you, and how you can use that to you advantage as you strive to be better every day.  It's not all on us, it's a teamwork effort.  That's one thing that having a companion has helped me to see.  As independent as I've been for the past four years, that's not what life is about.  It's not just me I have to worry about.  And how selfish of me to assume that.  We are all here for each other, and when you feel like you have no one, you still have Christ. 
We were especially blessed with the opportunity this past week to be taught directly by one of the seventy general authorities Sunday morning.  The Russians (this is how I will always refer to us Russian speaking missionaries), always get up early to sing Russian hymns at 7 and then go on to our other church meetings.  however, this past week we've had all of the new mission presidents for the BAZILLION new missions that have opened here at the MTC, and have been blessed with the presence of the prophet, Thomas S Monson, and his two counselors, as well as all but two of the apostles.  The Spirit has been so strong.  They're all leaving within the next 24 hours and it's so crazy how tangible that is.  But anyway, Elder Bennet of the seventy and his wife randomly dropped in on our singing session in the morning (I guess he's a good friend of our Branch President, President Harrison).  He gave us a lot of good advice about our purpose as missionaries (to invite others to Christ, to help them receive the restored gospel through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) and how we can use that to inspire our work and study as we prepare to enter the mission field.  The Elders had to leave at 8 for their church meeting, so the sisters stayed behind and Elder Bennet offered to hold a question and answer session with us, so that we could ask him things that may be bothering us or that we need advice on.  I was able to ask him a question of my own, and the answer I received will strengthen me throughout the rest of my mission.   He was very inspired.  I love the MTC. 
Some funny things that have happened: 
So the first night I noticed that I still had my missionary tag on before I jumped into bed so I was joking with the sisters in my district about how funny it would be if we slept with our missionary badges on.  Guess who wore hers to bed?  Yep. Sister McDiarmid. The next morning I woke up and I definitely had my tag on.  I'm already one of "those" missionaries.  You may think I'm crazy, but there is a STRIKING difference when I do and don't have my badge on.  It doesn't just bear my name, it bears the name of Jesus Christ, and the weight and resposibility of being one of His ministers on Earth.  It's extremely powerful, and something I'm still trying to adjust to.
Also, I have already had nights where I'm pretty sure I dreamed in Russian.  Not only that, but I woke up in the middle of the night and one of the sisters ( I won't point fingers) was SLEEP TALKING in Russian. We've had some good laughs about that.  The same sister keeps saying she wishes she would fall asleep while teaching lessons becase apparently that's the only time she can draw upon the language. 
Last night we had a devtional with Janice Kapp Perry, she's an LDS artist and is really big for writing church songs and such.  But anyway, her husband was there with her and she was talking about how they met.  She was playing the flute or something at the time and said his pick up line was "Those lips look like they would be put to better use doing something else!"  Mind you, this was said in front of 7500 missionaries.  We all cracked up, and then her husband got up from his chair and headed for the podium, we all figured he was going to try to salvage some sense of dignity by defending himself with his side of the story... but he just grabbed his wife's face and laid one on her.  Mind you, this is like the cutest old couple I've ever seen in my life.  I wanted to adopt them as my grandparents.  Here's the best part.  He not only did it once, but TWICE.  Haha, it was the best devotional ever.  Sister Perry was careful to remind us not to get too distracted thinking about that kind of thing.  No offense, Sister Perry, but old people kissing isn't the sort of thing that really gets me going.  Funny stuff, though. 
This is FAR too long and I have less than eight minutes left to write, so I'll end here for now!  I'd love to hear from you guys if you ever get the chance!  anything you feel inspired to tell me or something funny you think of.  I'm just an e-mail away! Love you all!
Sister McDizzle

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Priviet! I know last week's e-mail was kind of short and lame, but I figure most of you don't want to read super long e-mails anyway. Besides you, Ma.  A month of my mission is officially GONE. It's a bitter sweet feeling.  I have less than five weeks left to learn as much of the gospel and Russian as humanly (and spiritually) possible bfore I get thrown out into the wilderness.  Ah!  I don't know how anyone ever wanted to leave sooner than their departure date, I need as much time as I can get!  And the MTC is so great, honestly.  Hard, but great.  The speaker at our devotional last night shared a really cool quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "You want something from life? Pay the price and get it." He changed that for us and asked us "You want something from your mission? Pay the price (follow the Spirit), and GET it." It's so true. You can see it with the different levels of commitment amongst all the missionaries. You get out of this what you put in, and if you are willing to give everything that you are, everything that you THINK you are, the Lord makes you into something you could never see for yourself. I'm seeing myself and others in such a new perspective these days.  I already feel years wiser.  I'll probably change my mind once I re-enter the real world ha. 
My district continues to grow closer and closer. We're really working on being unified in obedience to everything that we're asked to do.  On time to study hours, on time to devotionals, meetings, etc.  Studying when we're supposed to be studying, studying WHAT we're supposed to be studying, and doing our best to be more and more Christlike.  We've struggled with our focus a bit, just because we all love having fun and enjoy each other so much, but there is a time and season for everything. And here in the MTC, it's the season for preparation. I think now that we're practically halfway through, we're all starting to feel the heat a little more.  There are some of us who are more advanced in the language, but I've seen more and more that those who don't struggle with certain things struggle with others.  For example, the language is coming so fast for me, but I struggle with lotsss of other things. Like focusing outside of myself, trusting the Lord and my companion, the list goes on.  I am extremely imperfect.  Unbelievably flawed. And I'm servin with such amazing examples.  The Lord knows WHO and what we need in our lives.
So today, we officially become the "old" Russians.  We're getting a group of newbies, two FULL districts (of 11 and 12).  Only four sisters, though. And none of them going to the Baltics.  I guess the Baltics is one of the smallest out of all the Russian speaking missions.  There were only two older sisters speaking Russian going to the Baltics that left last week (so sad), and there's actually a really good chance that one of them will be training me once I go out to the field. Which is terrifying, because apparently Baltic sisters have been training by their third (sometimes second) transfer, apparently.  WHAT!  Sister Stone is one of the older sisters that could be training me, and I sure hope that happens. She's awesome and her Russian was already amazing here in the MTC.  ANYWAY. Back to the newbies.  Our district got pretty serious in our weekly meeting on Sunday, and last night at our devotional review. We really want to be the best examples possible, and help them all feel welcome, but also inspire them to be the best missionaries they can be.  The Russian districts here are really focused on EXACT obedience, staying a bar above the rest, and working the hardest.  We have some crazy Italian elders down the hall from our classrooms that just make us roll our eyes.  And don't even get me started on the Spanski (Spanish) Elders.  Eye roll. 
To get things started, we're doing three days in a row of what we call Gah-Sa-Ya (гся) which stands for (phonetically) gavarit c yazuik, or speak your language.  All day, all Russian, OH DA. We've already done about four days so far. Today we're taking a break since it's preparation day, but it's back to business tomorrow.  It's seriously the biggest miracle for progressing with the language. The missionaries who don't commit to гся are the ones that fall behind, and the gap continues to grow.  It's SO HARD, but I've learned SO MUCH. Wish me luck!  I love hearing from all of you! and thanks for all the e-mails of support and love, I DO read them I'm just not the best at responding.  I only get about an hour on the computers so it's actually easier for me to write handwritten letters.  ask my mom for my address if you don't have it and want to hear back from me about all my sweet stories and experiences :))
Love you all!  бог жив!
сестра  макдёрмид 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hey guys! 
Everything's great here at the REAL Hogwarts.  No really, though.  Magic happens everyday.  We just give the credit to the Lord.  And I just found out that there are staff here with the title of "prefect".... suspicious?  For all the muggles out there, be patient. Your letter will come.
Okay sorry, being surrounded by teenagers... young adults? has really taken a toll on me.  I fear my sense of humor may be crippled.  Speaking of which, I've been thinking about this for the past week or so.. but the people I meet in the Baltics are going to think I'm some kind of robot.  How am I supposed to be funny?? I'm trying my best to pick up Russian humor from listening to my teachers talk with each other and some of the older Russians in the hallways.  It's cool when I can carry on a conversation with one of them.  Some days I'm in the zone, some days.. I don't wanna talk about it.  Haha but really! Russian is so CRAZY.  cool crazy. a good crazy.  And I continue to lose Angliski as the days go by.  As my mouth adjusts to all the Russian sounds it has to make, I forget that English words are a lot less complicated and contorted, so most of the time I go around adding syllables to words and shoving nine consonants all together.  Really though, it's amazing what they can do without vowels. 
One of my teachers, Brat Villiams (note the "V"), is all about challenging us as a class.  I swear, every time he has a new idea for teaching we all want to run and hide. Whenever we protest ("niet, niet!!!" (Russian for no), he responds with, "OOOOOOHHHHH DAAAAAAA!"  (Russian for OHHHH YEAHHHHH).  It's become a district theme. 
So I've been thinking...  I feel like I've been learning Russian for an eternity.  I already know SO much, so I looked back and tried to account for the total hours that I've actually been in a formal Russian class setting.... I was surprised, and honestly felt a little jipped at first. We've only been doing about an hour a day of Russian instruction from our teachers.  EVERYTHING else is centered around the gospel, learning from the scriptures, manuals, etc in English.  But guys!  The Lord is truly a part of this place.  There is no way on Earth that I could have learned as much as I have, that I could be teaching full lessons in Russian, praying in Russian, memorizing scriptures and READING Russian in just two weeks without some kind of outside help.  And I feel extremely inadequate in every way.  Why should I deserve so much help when others in my district are struggling so much?  I have never learned so quickly or so efficiently in my entire life, and it's all because of the Lord's help. So now, my biggest challenge is to slow down, turn outside of myself, and help others in my district (including my companion) to catch up. 
The biggest thing I learned this past week was the need to be unified in all things.  To be unified in purpose with the Lord, with my companion, with my district, and with my leaders here and my future leaders when I get out to the Baltics.  Unity in obedience and purpose makes it that much easier for the Lord to bless us with opportunities to grow, and trust me, He's stretching me farther than I ever could have imagined.  it's only the first two weeks!!! It is beyond what I can imagine to think of who I can potentially become if I continue to invite change and growth in my life as the months go by. 
That's another thing. the first few days here, I was really fighting the change. I was comfortable. I knew stuff, and I had been just fine on my own for the past four years. I knew how to take care of myself, and I DEFINITELY didn't need a companion to string along 24/7.  Yeah, I was a gem, wasn't I?   Silly.  I knew NOTHING.  Comfortable is the LAST thing I want to be.  And it's the last thing that any of us should want in our lives. Why settle for comfortable when we can be so much more than what we are now?  And that process is never-ending! As long as we continue to challenge ourselves, and allow the Lord to lead us to new and exciting purposes in our lives, we can keep growing and progressing until our very last day. Can you tell I've got a little missionary fever?  I pity my first trainer :) 
Until next time! 
Sister McDiarmid
Oh, ps, the pictures are kind of random but I figured I should send some.  They would only let me attach a few so hopefully more next week. I kind of suck at making sure I document all the craziness that happens here, sorry Ma......
The first one ( I think?) is me and Sestra GOOOOOOCH. She's the bomb.

Then there are a couple of the Worldwide missionary broadcast from a Sunday ago or so? I can't remember? And then there are district pictrures from our Temple walk on Sunday. woooo