Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Happy Leif Ericksson Day?

If there's one thing that I love about Ukraine, it's that everyday is a holiday. Well, practically everyday. These people will use anything for an excuse to get hammered. In the last 10 days we've had three official holidays, and I've never seen so many drunk people staggering around on the streets in my life. It almost felt like a zombie movie.

Elder Heaps and I have definitely been taking advantage of the numerous holidays. We basically try to celebrate something everyday, usually with juice and cookies and copious guitar playing. I just figure that life would be so much more interesting and enjoyable if you always had a reason to celebrate, even if you have to invent it. I figure in the course of my life I can come up with a significant holiday for just about every day of the calendar year. Naturally this task will be gradual, but my mission has given me a good start.

For instance, September 9 is officially Wendy's Day, signifying the day we succeeded in coercing a janitor to do a Wendy's run for us while we were trapped in the MTC. Never did a Big Bacon Classic taste so incredible, not to mention that large Dr. Pepper, a beverage I have not tasted since that fateful "holiday." Naturally, a holiday really isn't much of a holiday unless you have someone to celebrate it with, and September 9 is dedicated to Elder Aaron Johnson, my old pal who ended up in the St. Petersburg mission. Besides Wendy's Day, I've also established November 22 as Scarlett Johannson day, to be celebrated with Elder Steven Skinner, with whom I served in my last district. February 18 is officially Chocolate Day, as founded with Nastya Bigun in an English class about the history of chocolate, back in my hometown of Mariupol. And the examples just continue, especially now that I'm with Elder Heaps. We even celebrated the day his American Husky gave birth. May 2!

So if you're ever sitting at home dying of boredom and routine, invent a holiday and go celebrate it, preferably in an alcohol-free fashion. Happy Kalai Day!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Training Wheels

So the last couple weeks I've had the awesome privilege of becoming a trainer to a greenie missionary. If that doesn't qualify me for greenie graduation I don't know what does.

I was a little apprehensive when I received a phone call from President Andersen that I was leaving my area to go whitewash with a greenie. Greenies by definition are naive and judgmental, and I was already fairly burned out from my last companion. I wasn't looking forward to the constant scrutiny and questions. Basically I didn't want some tenderfoot telling me I was a crappy missionary.

Thankfully all my worst fears didn't come true and President Anderson hooked up me with a young man named Austin Heaps, from Orem, Utah. Heaps and I have hit it off amazingly well and everyday is an absolute blast. I don't think I would be able to knock doors and talk to ornery Ukrainians all day if it wasn't for his unquenchable optimism and hilarious comments. We just roll on the same wavelength, and we can joke with each other basically every minute of the day.

And I think I've figured out the perfect formula for raising a greenie. First you need to love them, which includes keeping them well fed and flooding them with confidence. It also includes listening to them, because they are quite wise and innocent and haven't been corrupted or beaten down by the unpleasantries of mission life and the bad habits of other missionaries. They really do have all the answers, even if they don't know how to order in Russian and McDonalds. Second you need to work them to death so they are exhausted every single night. And third, you need to give them every possible headstart you wish your trainer had bestowed on you, and that means help them learn the language.

All in all I love training, I love Elder Heaps and I love my mission.

How To Save the World

After much deep thought I have determined that in order to save the world from its own self destruction we need three things:

1. The Shins

2. Vanilla Coke

3. The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Lather, rinse and repeat.