Dear family and friends,
I just wrote my very last letter to President Klebingat, and I feel like part of my heart just broke a little...
I guess while he's on my mind, I'll write first about the mission conference we had on Saturday. It was the last time our whole mission got together with the Klebingats -- they leave this Saturday, and President Packer and his family will take their place. The conference we had was absolutely amazing. Not only did I get to see SO many amazing missionaries who have become some of my best friends, but the Klebingats filled us from head to toe with post-mission life advice on all of the most important topics (and they were many). President gave us the homework to write a list of "things I will always do as a result of my mission" and "things I will no longer do as a result of my mission," and I can tell you right now that I will have a hefty list. My mission has changed me so deeply in so many ways, and I intend to have it completely change my life after the nametag comes off. In another letter, maybe toward the end, I'll share with you some of the greatest changes that I've noticed have happened within me; this last week especially I've been noticing so much. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am to serve a mission... what a blessing and honor to have this experience.
At the very end of the conference, President said that he wanted to say one-on-one goodbyes, and he asked permission to hug the Sisters (and Sister Klebingat to hug the Elders). And so we went through in a line, and he said some parting words to each of us. Sister Parish later said, "I don't think I've ever felt so much love and meaning in a single hug than I did then with President Klebingat," and I agreed 100%. I don't know what it's like in other missions, but I know that in this mission, President loves all his missionaries in such an unwavering and sincere way, and I will forever cherish the relationship I have with him. After his last words to me, I sat back down and realized that I was crying. I will miss him so much. In the letter I just wrote him, I ended with this:
Well, I won't say goodbye to you because it's not really a goodbye. And I won't say too many thank you's because they wouldn't really do justice to the gratitude I have for you. But I will say that I love you, and I thank our Heavenly Father for the opportunity I had to get to know you and learn from you. Thank you, President Klebingat, for everything! God be with you till we meet again!
Well enough on that (before I start crying again...) This last week was great. Investigators are doing a little better, members are still doing great (I have a hilarious story for you next week about one of them... stay tuned), and I had a wonderful birthday yesterday. So many people wished me the very best (and in Ukraine, that usually means that they come up to you, take you by the hand, look very sincerely at you, and then give you a whole long blessing in which they wish you all sorts of things like health, parents' health, a good future husband, his health, happiness, friends, their health and happiness, and so on and so forth... just a little different than the American "Hey, happy birthday! Have a great day!") :) I also got a lot of gifts, one of the greatest ones being two investigators at church! Yevgenia, the older lady from English, came for the first time, and it made me SO happy. Polya also came and loved it, which just added to my joy. Overall it was a wonderful day, and it feels good being 23!
Unfortunately, my time is up, so I'll have to end there. I hope you all have a wonderful week! Love you!
PS -- The picture of me in my "mission conference outfit" came about because Sister Parish and I were talking all week about what we were going to wear to mission conference, and as a joke, I got dressed up like that to show her what outfit I picked out. (Yes, friends, I know it's hideous... I'm getting a little better at this whole fashion thing) ;) The other picture is me with my MTC district over a year after we came here together (with my real mission conference outfit). Time flies! :)