Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fwd: Response to Nettie

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <elizabeth.montgomery@myldsmail.net>
Date: Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 8:08 AM
Subject: Response to Nettie
To: Christine Montgomery <chrismont9@gmail.com>

Nettie send me some questions awhile ago, and I thought y'all would be interested in the answers too. Mom, pass this out to the fam and put it on the blog too if you want. Thanks!
  • Where are you serving?  What is the city like?
    • I'm serving in the northeast corner of Kiev, Ukraine, an area called Voskresensky. The city is probably like most big cities -- very busy. Center Kiev is where most of the touristy stuff is (it's really neat there), but where I live is almost all high rise apartment buildings, with stores and parks and whatnot scattered around. There's a big river that runs through the middle of the city. We get around on public transportation -- buses, trolleybuses, marshutka's (like small buses / big vans), trams, the metro -- and a lot on foot.
  • What are the people like?
    • It's hard to group everyone into "the people," because like in every place, there's a lot of variety. You hear from people that Eastern Eurpoeans are "hard on the outside and soft on the inside," and it's true. Many are closed at first meeting, but if you're genuine with them and they return the kindness, they are SO genuine. In Kiev people are pretty busy, but I've traveled to some other towns that are less fast-paced. There's lots of families in the place where I live. I remember once seeing this tough-looking man in all black walking his little daughter to school while wearing her cute little pink backpack -- I think I laughed out loud. :)
  • What is every day life like for a Ukranian? (i.e. home, school, work, food, leisure)
    • With some details aside, life for a Ukrainian (at least in Kiev) is much like life for an American. There's school for the kids and work for the adults, leisure in parks and malls and get-togethers with friends and family. Food comes from the grocery store, food markets on the side of streets, or occasionally from people's cottage houses (it's called a dacha; lots of people have dachas located outside of Kiev where they spend summers or weekends). Transportation is certainly different, like I explained earlier. Technology seems to be rather similar to technology in America (though it might take a little longer to get here)-- lots of smartphones and other gadgets.
  • What is every day life like for you?
    • I wake up at 6:30 and exercise (we run the stairs in our 22-floor apartment building), eat breakfast (cereal), and get ready for the day. In the morning I study the scriptures by myself and then with my companion, and we also have another hour in our day when we study Russian (either on our own or with a Ukrainian). The rest of our time is spent proselying -- we travel around our area meeting with people and teaching them principles of the gospel. The ward where I live has about 125 active members, so we spend plenty of time with them. We also do a free English practice for people who are interested in that (knowing English is very helpful for people here -- they study it in school but there's not a whole lot of practice available, so people really appreciate our free class). We talk with people everywhere we go and meet a lot of great people that way. If there's ever opportunities for service, we love doing that as well. We're home by 9:00 or 9:30 at the latest, plan our next day, have some time to relax, then bedtime at 10:30 until it starts all over at 6:30 the next day!
  • We hear a lot these days about the unrest and protests in Kiev b/c of the President's decision not to make trade deals with the EU. Does that affect the people in your city?  If so, what do they think?
    • Yeah, politics are a hot topic around here these days, though the craze has died down a bit the last few weeks. Honestly, I hardly know anything about it because we don't read the news here and we aren't allowed to discuss politics with anyone or go near the protest sites (in center Kiev). So I can't really say. It's always tempting for me to get the latest news about what's going on, but I've got different (better) things to focus on. :)
  • What do you like most about the Ukraine?  Least?
    • Oh, I could go on and on about the first half of this question. :) First and foremost, I love the people. Yes, they can be really closed and skeptical at first meeting (can you blame them considering the history of their country?), but once they open up to you, their sincerity is above and beyond what you typically even find in America. The members of the church especially are always just so nice to us, and it's rare to walk out of a home without some sort of treat from them. They are the most giving and generous people I know of.
    • I also really like their honesty; sometimes Americans will hold back negative comments and/or give compliments that aren't very sincere for the sake of being politically correct or something. Here, people just say things as they are. Sometimes it's hard for missionaries because they seem too honest (for example, they aren't shy about telling you how awful your Russian is), but I find it refreshing. I once asked a woman how she was doing, and she responded, "Do you want the American answer or the Ukrainian one?" implying that Americans would naturally say, "I'm doing great!" whereas Ukrainians would tell you how they're actually feeling.
    • There are some REALLY good foods here that I really like (including their famous soup, borsch). I couldn't even tell you the names of half of them, but yeah... great food here. :) Oh, and chocolate! So much better than in America!
  • What do you miss most about the U.S.?  Least?
    • What do I miss most? I'm not even sure... I don't ever think about that honestly. I miss having a dog, but there's plenty of dogs around here that I can fawn over. I think I probably miss certain foods, especially Mexican food. Right now I'm kind of missing the warmth... things have gotten quite nippy around here. I don't miss speaking English -- Russian is an awesome language that my brain thrives on, and sometimes it's even easier to express myself in Russian (I will really miss that when I come home). I suppose I miss my family a little bit... :) Oh, and I miss driving a car! And school. Nothing too specific about America though. And by the way, Ukraine totally beats America in firework usage -- there's a ton of holidays in December and January here, and fireworks have been everywhere.
Sister Montgomery