Monday, February 28, 2011

"So....I left my passport in Vinnitsya!" 2/28/2011

Baptism day for an eight year old child in our Branch

Elder Carnes with "Shrek" playing the accordian in Kyiv

Our shower in Bila Tserkva is the best ever!

Graffiti by the church in Bila Tserkva

Just kidding about the title! But I do have a story to tell, and don't worry, it all ends well. So, I thought last week was chaotic..but this week was really a mess. I was running ragged everywhere this week. But now I do feel a little more settled here in Bila Tserkva. So, I guess it's not that unusual that I got transferred out of Vinnitsya. A lot of people told me that President doesn't usually keep missionaries in their first area for very long. Elder Munzer was in his first area for four transfers (six months) so I just thought I would be there for a little while longer. Well, I think I'm probably gonna be here in Bila Tserkva for a little while. I think about three transfers. I'm pretty sure I'll stick with Elder Carnes for about two transfers and then he will leave Bila Tserkva and I'll have another companion for one transfer and then I'll leave. That's what I'm guessing. It should be summer time by then, like the end of June.  I'd like to spend the summer in a big city like Kyiv or L'viv.

Anyways, this is Elder Carnes' ninth transfer in the mission field. He will hit his "year in the country mark" in a week or so. So, I am still junior companion. There is a term that missionaries use for your second companion, the one after your trainer. It is called a "weaner". So, your first companion is your "trainer", someone who trains you on how do do mission work in that specific field, how to speak the language better, how to relate to the people of the country, and etc. The "weaner" helps you to learn how to deal with different companions, since you kinda get use to doing missionary work a certain way with your trainer. They help you lean how to do missionary work with different people. Obviously, President doesn't use this term.  It's just a missionary term. It's a little bit of a change, going from serving with an Englishman to a guy from the dirty south. But I'm lovin' it, regardless. Elder Carnes is a lot of fun. Sometimes I do feel like the senior companion  though, cause Elder Carnes kinda just lets me do a lot of the work. He's not a big fan of Bila Tserkva.  He has served in the west his whole mission, in areas where they speak nice clean Ukrainian, and then he got transferred here where they speak a lot of what is called serjik.(Which is a mix of Ukrainian and Russian and really difficult to understand to most missionaries.) Bila Tserkva is the Serjik capital of Ukraine. I heard a little bit of Serjik while I was in Vinnitsya, but it wasn't this bad.  Somehow Ukrainians can understand it, but foreigners have a harder time. Elder Carnes isn't hesitate to admit that this isn't his favorite area, but he says he still has fun regardless. We definitely still have fun.

Alright, so this week the assistants (assistants to the president) called me and said that I had Visa problems, so I would have to go back to Vinnitsya and sort it out this week. They told me to go to Kyiv that night. This was on a Tuesday, and that I would be on exchanges with Elder Hill, who also had to go to Vinnitsya for his Visa.  Elder Carnes would stay in Kyiv with Elder Pulliam. So we left that night for Kyiv.  We left at about 8, got into Kyiv about 9/9:30. We got to the metor and got off the stop, but neither Elder Carnes nor I knew our way around Kyiv, so he called Elder Pulliam cause we were staying at their apartment that night. He told us which Marshrutka to take and we did take it. Well, the Marshrutka was crammed.  There were like a million people on that thing, and I got pushed to the front and Elder Carnes got pushed to the back. I just stared at the door waiting to see when Elder Carnes would get off. Well he got off and I failed to notice and the Marshrutka drove on by.  Half an hour passed and I finally realized that Elder Carnes was no longer on the Marshrutka. So I decided to get off and look around. I did and I basically realized what I already knew.... I had no idea where I was. I decided to take a video for fun.  It's too long to send to you, but basically it was me thinking out loud and I basically said "Well... it's 10:36 at night right now and  I've lost my companion.  I'm on the edge of Kyiv in the middle of nowhere and I have no idea what to do..... awesome."  A thought came to my mind to backtrack and just hope that I would either run into Elder Carnes or some missionaries that were, hopefully, looking for me. After twenty minutes of walking and constantly praying, I ran into Elder Hill and Elder Pulliam.  Apparently I got off six stops after Elder Carnes had gotten off.  So we walked back, met up with Elder Carnes and got to their apartment. It was midnight when we got there. Elder Hill and I had a taxi coming to pick us up for Vinnitsya at 4 in the morning. So I got, what felt like, half an hour of sleep before Elder Hill came and woke me up. We got dressed and got into the taxi. It wasn't really a taxi, just a member driving us.  Also in the car was the lady who was in charge of registering the missionaries in Ukraine, Lena Butsenko, who is also a member. Elder Hill and I were under the impression that we were gonna have a nice smooth car ride to Vinnitsya. Well to our surprise we got to the train station and the man said "Good luck, have a nice trip." We got on the train and arrived in Vinnitsya at like 7. Elder Hill had served in Vinnitsya before, for like 4 transfers. So we knew our way around fairly well. We got to the Registration Office and they said that they weren't handing out passports until ten,and it was now only nine. So we left and Sister Butsenko stayed at the office. We went to get breakfast. We got back at about ten. Come to find out, Lena Butsenko was the typical impatient Ukrainian lady and thought we were late and just told us to stand in line, and then got mad when we didn't go right into the office. We had to explain that there were a lot of people in there. So basically, the only reason I had to go to Vinnitsya was to pick up my passport. I gave it to Lena Butsenko so she could register me. (She could of sent it to me in Bila Tserkva.) We got our passports, She had to get a photo copy of our visas and then we got on a bus   back to Kyiv. We got in Kyiv at about 4:30 and Elder Hill and I both turned to each other and asked "What was the point of that trip?!" We met back up with Elder Carnes and Elder Pulliam and then we got packed and had some dinner at Visyvio's,  a pizza place in Kyiv. (Some of the best pizza I've ever had, so I'm not complaining.)  At least the trip ended on a good note. We headed back to Bila Tserkva, and I'm so glad to be back.

Alright, so the week ended with a baptism! It wasn't a missionary baptism. It was a Branch baptism of one of the young kids who had just turned eight.  It was good to see a baptism, even though it wasn't ours. The Sisters took a bunch of pictures and I forgot my camera so I'm having them e-mail some to me and then I'll send them to you.

So, yeah. I'm excited that February is over.  It's been a difficult and trying winter for sure. But I'm excited to see what March brings. It should be a good month. We have Zone Conference in Kyiv, Mission Conference, a couple of really good P-day trips to Kyiv planned, spring, and transfer meeting at the end of it all. Oh, and we got a baptismal date this week! His name is Vadim.  He is a real polite guy.  He's been coming to church like every week.  He used to live in Kyiv and met the missionaries there, but he got fired so he moved to Bila Tserkva and was passed to us. He has a date for April 30th.  He has a smoking problem, but we have a lot of time to work with him.
Love you!
Elder Zach McEntire 

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