Yulia Tymochko liked music growing up but didn’t actually discover her talent and love of singing until she was a teenager.
One day in school her teacher asked her to sing a Whitney Houston song and something remarkable happened.
“When I heard myself and others’ reaction to my rendition, I realized I had a talent to sing that not everyone has,” Tymochko wrote in an email to the Deseret News. “Since then it has been the passion of my life.”
Two decades later, the 37-year-old returned Latter-day Saint missionary has advanced to the semifinal round and top eight of “Voice of Ukraine,” a Ukrainian televised singing competition similar to “The Voice” in the United States.
Tymochko will compete again this Sunday and hopes to move on to the final round where she will have a chance to be crowned the winner. She is humbled by her success and grateful to be coached by Tina Karol, said to be one of Ukraine’s most influential singers.
“It has been amazing to get to work with and compete against other extremely talented singers from throughout the country and to continue to move forward,” she wrote from Kyiv, Ukraine, where the singer is preparing for her performance this weekend. “I have learned so much from my coach, Tina Karol. She has helped me learn so much not just as a singer but as an individual, to see and understand my true worth.”
Tymochko also feels overwhelmed by the opportunity to represent her home city of Rivne and western Ukraine.
“I love my city and country,” she wrote. “It has been so fun to read messages from people throughout Ukraine who are cheering me on and hoping that I will win the competition. When I sing in this competition, I compete not just for me, but for my family, my city and my country.”
Tymochko joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 16, along with her younger sister Aliona, who now lives in South Jordan, Utah.
“My faith and understanding of the gospel has been my rock throughout my life and this competition,” Tymochko wrote. “I know that my Heavenly Father is with me and helping to guide my path.”
For many years Tymochko worked to develop a singing career and had a good reputation and following in Rivne, but at age 36 she reached a point where she felt stuck. On many occasions her young sister Aliona suggested she consider serving a mission.
“I remember that I had a very compelling feeling that she needed to serve a mission. It took years before she made her decision. I told her so many times,” Aliona Teuscher said. “After having my own experience on the mission, I knew that it would greatly bless her life in ways that she wouldn’t expect.”
The idea scared Tymochko because she worried she might lose everything she had gained. After much soul-searching, she realized she needed a “positive change” in her life and made the decision serve a mission.
“I put all my faith and trust and love in my Heavenly Father,” she said. “I knew he had a plan for me.”
Yulia served in the Ukraine Dnipro Mission and returned home in September of 2019.
Following her mission, Tymochko struggled to renew her singing career. She prayed for guidance. An old friend recommended she audition on “Voice of Ukraine,” which she did. Now she’s in the semifinals.
“This experience has shown me how much my Heavenly Father cares and loves me,” wrote Yulia, who turns 38 in June. “He has given me an experience that I never expected.”
Across the world in Utah, Teuscher is cheering her sister on.
“For me, it is like a dream to see her be so successful on the show. She has bigger dreams than I have ever had,” her younger sister said. “Watching her succeed, it’s hard to believe that it’s real. I’m so proud of her and, most of all, it makes me so happy to see God’s love for her and the blessings that he so willingly pours out. I know that Yulia is destined for great things and I believe this is only the beginning.”