Luda is in her 70s, and she is the sweetest person you could ever meet. On the first night I got there, I was really homesick and I wasn't able to speak with anyone back home because we didn't have wifi. I had been crying, and I went out to the kitchen, she heard me and came in. She immediately understood and gave me the most empathetic, loving look. She hardly said anything, she only asked if I wanted tea. So she made me some tea and sat with me until I was done. That first experience with her touched my heart, and I knew then that she would take good care of me. And she certainly did. She made me feel so loved from the very beginning and never failed to understand how I was feeling, what I was thinking about, and what I needed. Even though we hardly spoke the same language, we understood each other perfectly. She speaks some English, and now I can say a small number of things in Russian, it was enough to get by. But we understood each other beyond the language barrier, it was like we were best friends that had known each other for years. The kind of friends that know, without asking, exactly what you want to eat, when you want to go do something or just watch a movie, that know when you need advice and when you just need a listener. Luda is one of my very best friends. She knows what tea I drink at any given time of the day, she knows when I need a nap, when I'm worried about something, when I need advice, and when I needed to spend time with her. She understood everything. I understood her, as well. I know what tea she drinks at any given time, when she is upset about something, what she needs that will make her happy, and when she really does want me to help with dishes even though she's insisting that I go rest. I'm so glad to have found a friend like her across the world. Who would've thought?
I've got endless stories about her. FAR too many to write. That I won't force myself to do, haha. I love all her silly phrases like "children garden" (playground) and "floor coats" (slippers). She was so willing to learn English for me and wasn't afraid to speak even though she made mistakes. And I'm glad because her cute mistakes made smile. She had some other phrases that she would always say. She told me to say some things out loud to myself every morning, and it ended up having a bigger impact on my life than I originally anticipated. In her happy, inspiring voice she'd say, "I am happy. I am glad. Every day you need say this! I am strong. I am beautiful. I all can!" Starting out my day with such positivity changed everything. In the mornings, we'd sit down for breakfast, and she'd look out the window then look at me and say, "Today is a good day." And every night we'd sit down for dinner and she'd look at me and say, "Tomorrow will be better." She just has the most amazing outlook on life. She taught me to trust God entirely with absolutely everything. She taught me that happiness really IS a choice! No matter what trials we face, she taught me that we can absolutely always be happy. She taught me so many life lessons. How to listen, how to be a good friend, how to be strong, how to adjust, how to trust God, how to let things happen, really too many to list. She made me laugh. She danced when her exercise music came on, she found it hilarious when she fell down, and she told me funny stories all the time. She sewed while I crocheted, we went for walks, we went to the ballet, and chatted over lots and lots of tea. My time spent with Luda was one of the highlights of my time in Ukraine. Of all the things I saw and did, Luda changed my life more than anything. I know now that she is the reason I needed to go. This post could never fully express my gratitude and love for her. I'm so glad I can keep in touch with her, and that I'll learn Russian on my mission and be able to speak more fluently with her. I love her. I will always hold her dear to my heart. So, there's a bit about my sweet Luda. <3
Me & Luda
This was at the ballet "Swan Lake." She was happier than anyone I've ever seen probably. It was the cutest.
"I will be beautiful babushka (grandma)! All people will fall when they look on me!" She was really excited about this cute apron my mom sent for her. :)
She insisted that I let her do her hair & makeup and change her shirt before I took a picture of her wearing it. "I need be beautiful."
This sweet lady sews boxers for men in the army. She was down to the last of her fabrics and thought this polka-dotted piece was absolutely hilarious when she found it.