So I promise I'll post up the Ukraine pictures and more detailed blog posts once we get to a steady internet connection at, say, a Moscow university for instance, but until then, I'll just give a few updates here and there.
Donetsk was awesome and other than sleeping and walking around, we were able to go over and meet with the Korzh family in my old greenie area. The Korzhes were the strong, salt-of-the-Earth member family that we had english with each week and met with each week more to build up our strength than theirs. Katya also served a mini-mission and was companions with Paige for 6 weeks in Kharkov. It was awesome and they are awesome.
After 2 short days in Donetsk, we trained it into Kharkov. I really don't like trains. I hear they have these "nice" trains around here that have 2 bunks to a coupe instead of 4 and I would like to see how "nice" they really are but whatever. Anyway, arriving in Kharkov again was interesting. It's one thing to know a city: for example, we got to Manhattan, and I always knew very generally where we were and which direction we were going, but it's another thing entirely when a city seems to know you. New York couldn't care less who the crap I was, and I could feel it the whole time I was there. Kharkov, on the other hand, knows me and is comfortable to let me exist and function as I want here. It is an amazing feeling to come home to a place that is so foriegn.
Anyway, we're renting an apartment in center for the few days we're here which is way nice. We're doing up our laundry and stuff like that, getting ready to move on to our final, Moskovski destination. While we've been here in Kharkov, we were able to meet with the Shmatov family on the good-ol' Cold Mountain. The Shmatovs were the "Korzhes" of the Cold Mountain and I enjoyed a great many Family Home Evenings over at their place. Nikolai was also the friend and coworker of one Lyona, the nice older man that I taught for so long here who struggled with deep addictions to cigarettes and espeially alcohol.
Among other things, I asked Alyona Shmatova about Lyona and Lyudmilla, who was that Ukrainian-speaking golden investigator that Vander Esch and I found tracting, who then essentially taught us the discussions, and was baptized. Now, most missionaries I think always wonder whether or not those people they "baptized" have gone inactive or not, and I wasn't sure about either of these 2 since Lyona was so deep into addiction and so programmed by the Soviet ideals of "no God, only your own will" that he once asked me if "it was ok to pray without faith" and Lyuda was so quick to jump on board that it could've either been meant to be or she just went with it because why not, and missionaries who've followed me hadn't ever really mentioned either of them, so I really had no idea what was up with them.
Some say that movies generate unrealistic expectations for life and set people up for disappointment when situations do not work out as ideally as they do in movies because "real life does not work that way." If you can wisely see past that, however, movies present situations that are so fantastical that if you do run across similar happenings in real life they are so much more compoundedly amazing because "it's just like in the movies!" In this way, I think movies can enhance and emphasize fantastical occurences in life when they do happen as one was presented to me at the Shmatov's last night:
No one in the branch had suspected a thing until Lyuda, the strong-willed and solid-in-testimony Ukrainian speaker and Lyona, the former alcoholic (but never really "cured") who held several callings including councillor in the branch presidency announced that they had been dating for months now and were planning to be married. Since then, they've been sealed in the Friberg, Germany temple, returned to the temple several times, Lyuda sold her apartment where we found and taught her, and has moved into Lyona's place where a couple of teenagers sat with an old man and challenged him to stop drinking and change his life.
You never know why you married who you've married until much later. You never understand why you make the choices you make until you see their outcomes. You never really know what the crap you're doing when you're doing it.