Sunday, August 2, 2015
Vazeni citatelia (Dear Readers), I hope that these letters please themselves to you! Here we are at the start of another amazing week in the life of a Slovak missionary, and I'm feeling that most important thing that I can write today to you is about the scriptures that have influenced my life and mission. But we'll get to that in a minute.
First, we have some sweet progressing investigators, first, M4...Haha, M4... He is the greatest of guys, he said a quote the other day that is just so him, I asked him what his childhood was like and he said, "I did not have a childhood, and so I am living it now." He really is such a child. But he had a really spiritual time talking to my companion the other day during a concert practice, and has decided to be baptized. We'll see what happens, but he put a deadline on it, that it needs to happen BEFORE September, so chances are I'll get to see it.
M1 is currently having a rough time, which has become pretty usual. She currently is wondering why the members gossip and keep secrets from each other if it's "Christ's church," which is fun because I think we all wonder the same thing at one time or another. The fact is, that no one is perfect, and we can't condemn a church because it let sinners come. He who hath no sin may cast the first stone, right? Worthiness does not require perfection, but honest and unceasing effort. She's doing really well, just not currently on a desirable path for us.
I. is awesome! She is so very honest, which is something I've come to value so much more here. Being honest is something where, when you're dealing with matters of a sensitive nature, for example, religion, is completely a must. Think about trying to lie directly to God. That's something which we all agree is less than appropriate e.g. Satan, Cain, etc. Anyway, back to the subject at hand, She doesn't believe in God STILL, however, we're trying something a little bit different with her. We just want her to talk to God, be as honest with him as she is with us. Like, if she hates him, tell him, if she doesn't believe in him, tell him, if she feels stupid about talking to him, let him know. The theory is, that no matter what she's saying, if she has a sincere heart and real intent, God will manifest himself to her. So now we just wait.
1.) Ok, now "to the nitty-gritty." I'd like to start with my mission plaque scripture: 1 Nephi 13:22. When you read that you might think I'm joking, but wait, there's more to it than just a sweet answer to JW's (they never want to read it, but you tell them they won't get an answer from God other than through the scriptures, it's so fun). So basically, imagine a slightly bigger but younger Elder Brousseau who's not an Elder yet. He is desperately scared to go on a mission. He has everything in life that he considers needed/good (e.g. Food, Parents, Piano, Girlfriend, Swimming, Xbox, Good High-Quality Friends), and doesn't see what he will gain going through two years without that stuff, talking about something he doesn't feel he understands. He tells his Mom he's scared, and she takes him to Apollo Burger during school (bloopbloopbloopbloop Level Up+1!) and she tells him that he doesn't really need anything other than a basis in testimony, and maybe it would be a good idea to read the Book that you're going to be talking about again. So I get there and realize something monumental: Nephi didn't understand the meaning of the [Bible]. Isn't that interesting? He was doing missionary work, essentially just trusting God that he would let him know what it was all about later. And God does! Really sweet. Fast forward a while. I'm so glad that I read that and allowed it to influence me the way it did, that is SO important to me. God hasn't revealed everything to me, in fact, the more I learn, the more I thirst to understand better, but I know that there is a sense to everything and that patience many times is more important than immediate results.
2.) 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 SOOO profound. I felt unsuccessful in much that I did as a missionary until I read this and realized what I was doing wrong. It's not wrong to be proud of being American, especially from Utah (I've never been more proud of that in my life), but it is wrong to be more proud of that than love the people of your mission. Missionary work changed for me when I started trying more than anything to be Slovak. People see, and people recognize your efforts. They feel your love more poignantly when you express it in their native way. You become more Christ-like trying to love people in the best way that they will understand. For me, being a consecrated missionary has been trying to be Slovak. Trying to be Slovak has deepened my love for God, and the scriptures, seeing them applied in the lives of more than just me and my family/friends. I love love love this application.
( 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.)
Hey, I don't have much time, so I'm going to just end, which is sorta awkward, but just know I'm so happy to be here, and I know the church is true. Be good!
Dang, well, I don't have much to say, I had a great week, and I am very tired. We're going to a BYU dance concert tonight, in which Cayel Tregagle is performing. I got to give him a tour of Blava earlier, and his group took first place in Praha last week, so that's cool. The dance group here is so full of life and energy, it is SO cool.
Monday: I already told you about Monday last week, but the fun thing is: in the last week, we've given 3 tours to big groups of Mormons in Blava, so I daresay I'm getting kind of good at it.
Tuesday: Nothing super big of note happened, other than our lesson with M1. We thought it was totally obvious that she prayed for us, but when I pointed it out during the lesson, it totally blew her mind. We'll hope that quickens her progress.
Wednesday: We had a really strange experience, where the lessons we thought were going to be absolutely terrible turned out amazing and the ones where we thought would be great turned out nasty. Haha, we taught a super flirty girl who we thought had bad expectations, but when we showed her the white handbook, she immediately took it as her mission to help us keep all of the rules. GREAT! We also taught a kid who we think might be a drug user, but he agreed to change and be baptized, we'll see what happens.
Thursday: Tried to contact the 2nd of the referrals Dad gave me. Turns out she moved a long time ago. Not sure what to do with that, but we got some great pizza. The first referral just sort of slammed their door in my face and yelled at me, then pretended like they weren't home, I'm not sure why, they just probably had a bad day.
Friday: We had a really fun day, the best part by far was heading up to the Batkovci to have dinner as a District. There's such a special spirit in the homes of the Branch Presidents here. They are all such elect men, I love it. Also, there's a return missionary who is staying with them while doing an internship here, in something that really interests me. Maybe I won't be majoring in computer science after all...
Saturday: We helped out S., and taught M1 again, then had a blow out at game night, there were 18 people there! So much fun, we almost didn't have enought activities!!!
Sunday: Wonderful as always, we taught W1 after church. The only hard thing is: M1 is still having a super rough time coping with the sacrament, and it's eating away at her resolve. Please pray for her, we know that if she doesn't take the step now, her life will go downhill really fast.
I'll tell you about today next week.
I love you guys, and I'm really proud of all of you.
Have a great week!
Well, in the words of an apostle, this week I think has been embodied by a phrase: "Go to the edge where miracles happen. Turn to the Lord in prayer, and go to the place where you will cry, "Without thy help I will fall. Help me fly." Welcome to the apostolic work." This week I feel like I appreciate the idea that the only Elders in the church are the apostles and the missionaries. Our mission president at training talked about how his job now for the church is to keep track of us for the rest of our lives, so we've been blessed/cursed with a young mission president who will live for quite a while, and one of my previous companions told me that, like it or not, coming to this mission in particular is training for us to be used later. Learning the things that we learn, seeing and feeling the culture and the church and the spirit here seem to be especially potent.
There's something special about serving a mission that really allows you to receive a deeper understanding of who you are, who you were, and who you're meant to be. I have found on my mission a real love for the gospel, and an appreciation for the connectivity of all things. I'll get to this more later.
So first in the week, I found out that I had been volunteered by my district to try and improve upon the gift of tongues. We had a "Meet the Mormons" night planned for Wednesday night, and previously in every other area, people who don't speak English have been presented with a paper that has a summary of the events in Slovak or whatever language they speak, just with main ideas so that they can continue to watch. In ours, they wanted something a little bit more, so I was volunteered to do a live translation into Slovak of the whole movie, so on Monday, we got ahold of a copy and watched it during language study and dinner so that I could write down the main ideas and remind myself of how to say certain things. It was one of the hardest things I've done on my whole mission, it was a lot more demanding than I thought it would be, but I got it done, and I'm really happy with the work I was able to do. I'm so grateful for the gift of tongues, and the abilities that the Lord has blessed the missionaries with throughout the world, this work would not be possible without his help and guidance. I really like a quote from a previous general authority, "If this church were not true, the missionaries would have destroyed it a long time ago."
We got to help out Brat V. last week, which is a special opportunity for us, he just barely moved into Bratislava, and he's not really one to ask for help, but it was really cool. We helped him clear a lot out behind his apartment.
We got to meed Elder Ferrell's family, who are really cool. I really like Elder Ferrell, he is a great man, and you can tell how much he loves his mission. I would greatly like to make a similar impression when I leave. His sister was really entertaining too, she had gone on her mission to San Antonio Texas right after the filming of the first District, so she got to tell us some funny stories about the missionaries we've been watching for our whole missions.
M1 has had a real roller-coaster of a week. She had her Birthday on the thirtieth, and on that day, her parents came to take her away and sever contact with us. Suffice it to say, she stayed, but she's pretty stressed. She was in fact, so stressed that she couldn't even answer the phone on Friday without crying, so she wouldn't even answer when we called. But Sunday was great, she came to church, where she had a pretty good experience, and tried to take the sacrament. The best though was teaching her with the entire Burton family. Uncle Ricky was really involved, making sure that she felt understood and comfortable, which he's really good at, and Johnny bore awesome testimony that she should be baptized. At the end of the meeting she was so happy, she has changed her attitude from No, I won't be baptized to, I want to be baptized. Isn't that a stark contrast?
The Burtons also helped out with M2. She has been kind of out of the loop the last little while, but this opened the door to keep talking to her, we're going to start trying to get her more integrated, specifically by making the decision to give her to the Sisters to teach. We hope that this will make her journey to baptism a whole lot shorter and more bearable.
On Thursday we had training, which was awesome, my favorite part was the AP's segment, where they went over extremely awkward contacting situations and how to deal with them. Mine was really great, I had to contact someone in a tram who would then yell at me to stop bothering everyone. It was so scary even in a practice, especially thinking of the memories I have of things like this happening before. It was a real spiritual builder to know there were other missionaries who have found ways to push through it and be truly fearless, and it's helped me to be better since then. The best part was, we were blessed to be put in cabins where there were people interested in the church who are often in Blava both to and from training, and we came out of it with a new investigator and an almost new investigator (she just needs to set up again).
On Friday we got to go with the Sisters to S's apartment, which was SWEET. She is an inactive member from really complicated reasons, because she is one of the most faithful people I've ever met. She just needs to come to church in BLAVA a little more often. She has a special talent of making everyone feel like they're the most important person in the world, which I am so jealous of, she's like Aunt Alisa and Aunt Karen.
We had a really cool fourth of July, where we celebrated in the building with sloppy joes and potatoe salad and soda and listened to traditional American music, super great. We also had a cool meeting with GM, a less active, who it seems doesn't really want to become active, but is slowly coming around. We'll continue to work with him. He came to church this week, so that's good.
Sunday was so special. After church, we tried to go out to Dlhe Diely to contact a referral, but the tramlines were closed that direction for some reason, so we ended up walking back to the building, and on that walk, I had a really bad feeling. It was HOT, I was not happy, I didn't think anyone would want to talk to us, and so of course, without us contacting anyone, a horde of people wanted to talk to us. Literally. It started with about 10 or 12 girls from Austria who came to Blava to as part of a dance group, then on the way back, a Tina Murphy from South Carolina who was part of a tour, and a couple of other women from the same tour group. Then a man stopped us in the heat of the sun on the main namestie where slowly a group gathered around us to talk to us. So cool. We almost missed the Burtons because we were talking to this group of people. Then we walked to Hviezdoslavovo, where we first saw Papa Johns and one of his daughters, and we got to talk to them for a little bit and the Cottles happened to walk by so we introduced them, and then the Burtons came up. I remember how absolutely surreal it was for a second, seeing my family in the place where I was serving, and not thinking it was real life, but that quickly went away. It was SO cool. We showed them a couple of cool little things here in Blava, and went to dinner at a really traditional Slovak place, it was cool, but the best part was sitting in the building for about an hour and teaching M1 with my family. Missionary work is by no means just for missionaries. Members are the best, if you're a member, help your missionaries, and if you're a missionary, put some trust in your members, they won't let you down.
Then today, just in time to practice for next week, we were taking a quick walking tour when of course out of the blue, about 12 people show up all happy to see the Elders. A couple of families in the Air Force stopped here in Blava on about a 4 hour lay-over, and we were able to show them around. Again, SO cool, I asked Sister Cottle after, why are Mormons just the best people ever? I don't know if I'll ever have an answer, but I think it's because of the gospel. I'm so excited as well, both families have oldest daughters about mission age, one of them has her call waiting for her right now while they travel, and the other one is trying to decide whether she should go. Elder Cahoon and I were able to help her get a little bit closer to the decided end of serving a mission, and that was cool. Also, I've been shown that missionaries have a much stronger taste for Halusky than normal people, about which I have mixed feelings.
Anyway, I'm so happy this week, it truly has been full of miracles. It's funny how the Lord works, on the weeks where you need absolutely no pick up, because you're working hard, and you feel good because you're working hard, he just sends you a whole lot of people just for kicks and giggles. So cool.
Lots of love,
Wow, I am so excited to still be able to write to you! This week has been quite bittersweet for me, but thankfully a lot more sweet than the former. We had the pleasure of entertaining Elder Cahoon (my new companion) and Elder Sherf (going home with Elder Ringger) in our apartment last Monday and Tuesday before they left for Prague, and we were all able to go teach M2 together. That meeting was kind of tough, it started out with her being super excited for baptism, like SUPER excited, we were planning everything out, and then we got to our lesson portion for the day: tithing. That was probably a poop decision, throughout the week she disappeared again, didn't show up for her baptismal interview and is being kind of hysterical, and I'm attributing it mostly to that bad timing. Too bad, now we're going to have to wait another month for her to calm down.
M1 is having a pretty hard time as well, her Mom when she went to Ziar nad Hronom left her standing on the doorstep at night, just because she hasn't completely split off contact with us. We love M1 so much, and she knows that, which is why she hasn't, after a year of meeting, she's finally starting to trust the missionaries, which means a lot to us, but now at this critical time (her date is on Tuesday) her parents have started to just kind of play with her feelings. Her mom sent her a letter saying that, "If you come back home and break off contact with the Mormons, then I will truly believe God is loving and good to us." She's an atheist, which can help us understand why that's hard for M1, who desperately wants her mom to believe in God, but at the same time wants to do what's right. Really interesting, but we're trying to be the best support we can be, and make sure she knows that we'll be her friends no matter what happens, but to listen to the Holy Ghost.
M4 is a little nutball. He just needs to be baptized. According to the things he says, he still doesn't completely understand what that means, and if he DID understand the cleansing and sanctifying power of christ manifest through baptism, he would have already been baptized a long time ago. He needs to let go of a lot of his pride, but that will come, no problem.
We randomly got like 9 referrals on Saturday night, and then I open my email, and what do you know? A couple more. It's like the Lord wants to make up for no referrals my whole mission here in my last little stretch. On a completely different note, M1 went to the hospital for a few days, but she still managed to pass her tests and is doing completely fine now. Also, suck it anti-material, we found out that part of the reason that W. decided to be baptized was watching the stupid temple video things online, and she's curious as to how it feels to actually go there. Instead of scaring her away, it made her want to join!
I'm doing great otherwise, things are going well with Elder Cahoon, and I'm having fun being a missionary. Thanks for your support and all you do. Steve, stop laughing.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Hey! So guess what? I only have 25 minutes to write all of my letters today, so we'll cut straight to everything, first, thanks MOM for sending me those essay questions, I'll think about what to write for them and respond when I can. LARS, That may have been the best question anyone has asked me on my mission, I'm sorry I don't currently have an answer. KENNEN, be a good Zone Leader! Remember to write in your journal, even though you don't have much time. Ok, on to the good stuff.
We've seen a lot of miracles this week, randomly things start to just be falling into place again, and we can only be grateful they're this way right now, and hope they stay in place long enough to see some more success and fruits. I really hope that I stay in Blava, seeing as we have transfers next week, and an area will need to close because no one new is coming in at the moment. Blava has the most missionaries in it right now, so my guess is that they close either an area here, or one in Nitra. On the very bright side, the missionaries here are going to be so much more well equipped spiritually, and I'm excited for the spirit to help us out a little more seeing that our numbers are going down even more. We were actually talking about this today, that there are probably less than 50 Americans in the whole world who actually know how to make Halusky in the traditional Slovak way from potatoes and everything. It's a pretty select group. :)
M1 had a cool experience this week, where she basically said goodbye because she was going to Ziar nad Hronom (Banska Bystrica district) to do some Catholic church stuff, and she felt like she wouldn't be coming back for a while, then she felt really badly there, and came back the next day. We're helping her right now to gain some spiritual confidence to take the next step on her own.
W. is getting closer and closer, we had a meeting with her today, where we had planned not to really bring up baptism at all, because she doesn't really want to talk about it, but the person we were teaching her with started in on her without any prompting from us at ALL. It was pretty great, he was all like, "When is YOUR baptism happening, I want to come and see." He's not even a member, so that was a pretty sweet experience.
M2 is back in contact with us, I hope that we'll be able to get an exception for her to be baptized and come to church in November, because her contract really is preventing her from visiting church pretty hardcore. Not fun. But she's still pretty positive about the whole thing, so that's great.
Elder Ringger and I have been eating Halusky almost every day this week. It has been heaven. On Monday, we made halusky for W. and the Cottles at the Cottles' apartment, and they said it was the best they had ever had. Later, a member took us to, "Help him move," even though he had no intention of moving, really really annoying, and a big waste of a day, but he did take us to 2 different restaurants and get us halusky, so that makes up for the one day we didn't have it.
Overall, I really don't have anything to complain about, which is nice. I don't like complaining very much. Also, about the title, Elder Ringger and I are thinking of making a T~Shirt/Bryndza import company. We're talking millions here. Or at least 12. It'll be pretty ok.
Well, I love you guys a lot, Thanks for telling me about your dream PAUL, That must have been pretty cool.
June 21, 2015
June 21, 2015
Ked ma ini kolac, zlato, blahobyt...Vedz, ze Pan nemoze od zmluv odstupit. (Google Translate did a horrible job with this one...)
So...First I need to thank you for your prayers in my behalf. They've been very helpful. This last week, we've had several miracles which make me want to laugh and cry at the same time.
Missionary work is such, that you will put all of your efforts into trying to find someone new who is interested and ready for baptism, while the Lord laughingly prepares someone behind your back who will come of their own volition.
I love my mission, it is literally everything to me. Elder Ringger decided with me that he could be trunky when he's dead (when his mission ends), and we stuck out our transfer together. We worked hard, we found, we taught, and we baptized. It was so special to me to see a real live "Best Two Years." The missionary about to go home, no girlfriend waiting for him, literally signing up for classes during emailing, who has lost his faith in finding because of a lack of perceived success decides to give it one last shot, and it pays off. W. got baptized last week on Saturday at 15:40 and was confirmed [a member of the church] yesterday, on Sunday. From the looks of things at the moment, in the next several weeks we should be having 3 more just like it as well.
I am still in Blava, still District Leader, and I have a pretty green companion, Elder Cahoon from Brigham City, Utah. He seems a like a missionary after my own heart, so we'll see how things go with him. He just came out of Nitra, and he's a happy guy so far.
M1 is getting ready for baptism, but she's still scared and really distrustful, which is totally understandable, considering she's living in an apartment with a girl who constantly looks up anti-mormon things, and is currently finishing up 6 years at Catholic school, so no one blames her. The date she's picked is June 30th.
M2 Is getting ready for her baptism next Monday on the 29th, which will be great, we're just working on getting her to church for her confirmation. Because of her contract with Devin Castle it could be a little bit harder than wanted.
M3 is M3, he's going to be baptized, it will be great. He's currently scheming as to how to marry a Mormon girl from Southern California once he's a Mormon too, which is pretty entertaining.
Anyway, I'm really quite content with this transfer, it's been really fun. Last week we got to go and watch a Flamenco guitar concert on a boat in the Dunai for Culture Night, which was pretty sweet. Heavy metal is so very boring compared to what a Classical guitarist can do.
I love you all so much, be Good!!!
Friday, June 12, 2015
June 8, 2015
June 1, 2015
Stastie je nieco tazko opisatelne, ale lahko pochopitelne. (Happiness is something hard to explain, but easy to understand.)
We have seen such great success this week, I just want to thank God first for the help he has given us. Our investigators all seem to be progressing, we're finding new ones, and our burdens are being made light. I love the gospel, and all of the things it contains. I love my family and everything they do for me. Well, off of the serious note, I'm sick of serious things.
Let's get right to it, yesterday at church M1 took the sacrament, and actually CAME, all because W. helped her come. A. and Y., two Thai girls that we found a little while back came also, and had really great experiences. We also had 2 pretty big visits from a former missionary, and a family from Arizona who used to live here. Needless to say, church was awesome. Elder R. and I were able to teach Young Men's during the 2nd hour, which was a great learning experience, I have trouble believing that I acted/act like these boys, but whatever, I'll just do better.
We have had a really interesting week full of different types of missionary work. We had contacting, teaching, and tracting of course, but we also had weird things that I haven't really done a lot of before, like randomly going on splits, giving baptismal interviews, and trusting investigators testimonies to stand the test. I know that that sounds really sad, but I just wanted to illustrate how different and great this week has been, I've been really stoked about it. Also, there's a good chance that M (future missionary) will come back this week in order to help me team-teach priesthood.
Well, Monday, I don't honestly remember a lot of what happened, mainly because we haven't really been doing super fun things as a District because none of us really have time and also it's REALLY hot, like yesterday it was about 30.5 degrees out, and I was in a suit. Not fun, that's why winter is better.
Tuesday, we got to start out by going and supporting one of our members who runs a kebab stand here, he's from Afghanistan, and his name is M4. The poor guy was gunned down for being a Christian in his home country, and then kicked out from Switzerland, where he found the church, and lives here now. He's so humble, it's great. We also had a meeting with M1, which went really well, she has become a whole lot more humble and accepting during the time I've taught her.
Wednesday we had a meeting with M5, this guy we've known for a while, and it went about how we expected it to go, but he's steadily showing more interest, which is a good thing. We also taught English, which is always a joy.
Thursday was where things started to get a little bit interesting if I remember correctly. We gave a heartfelt note from Sister Cottle to a member who has recently become less-active, which turned into a little bit of a fiasco, but that's fine, we're all ok now. The other portion of it was having a second meeting with M1, where we established a date for her AND W., who has been meeting with her outside of our lessons. We've been trying and are still trying to decide how to work with that situation, because sometimes, like on Sunday it looks good, but other times it looks like it could be a hurt to both of them. In any case, we're hugging it, and doing our best to help both of them come closer to Christ.
Friday I gave I. his baptismal interview, it was really spiritual. He doesn't feel ready yet, so we'll see what happens there, but his baptism will probably need to be pushed back a bit again.
Saturday was really cool, a former missionary here was visiting and helped us teach W., it was pretty cool.
Then Sunday happened, which I talked about earlier. So cool to have a full building again, and it wasn't even a conference or anything.
I love you all a lot, have a great week.
June 1, 2015
Stastie je nieco tazko opisatelne, ale lahko pochopitelne. (Happiness is something hard to explain, but easy to understand.)
You know, it seems that the Lord sends random stupid things that he knows are going to make me happy and keep me going more often than I ever seem to expect. It's a game he's been playing with me for a very long time, and I've decided I appreciate it. The example that's fresh in my mind today is this week. Last week, I was getting hit pretty hard with feeling inadequate because of the lack of results that came from last transfers hard work. I felt like it was because I had slacked off, or because I wasn't good enough, and then I began to see good things in other people and forgetting about good things in myself. In order to save me from my own self pity, the Lord decided that just because he knew I would appreciate it, even though it's stupid, he helped people to start complimenting my Slovak again. I know it's dumb, and I promise I'm not comparing myself to anyone except for myself, but He knew I would appreciate it during this weird time for me. So yeah, that's pretty cool, I've had several people in the last week tell me I'm from central Slovakia according to accent, so that's really nice.
I'm doing a lot better than last week, and I'm not just saying that because Elder R. was reading my letter last week and said that it sounded like I was in the depths of despair, and I guess I can see why he thought that. Also, I got like 90 emails from people thinking that I need some sort of encouragement. I wish that I sounded as happy in my letters as I actually am. Because I am SO happy. I really love being here. I love Slovaks so much. It astounds me how surprised people are to hear that. For example, this lady today at a bus stop refused to believe that we were here for so long because we loved Slovaks and wanted to help them. Admittedly, she had had a little bit of alcohol, but she just decided that that information didn't compute, and therefore didn't believe it. I wish that Slovaks weren't surprised in a bad way to find someone who loves them. I want their surprise to be more of a, "Wow! Thank you! What makes you love Slovaks? How do I get part of that love?" Instead of a, "No one loves Slovaks, go back to America." But I love it to death.
Well, our investigators are doing pretty ok. M1 is introducing us to her friends and growing in determination to come to church and understand the sacrament. I am so proud of the progress I've seen in her, last week we also had a really cool lesson, where we were able to actually teach her with W., which we're hoping helps both of them.
W. has done another weird, where she wanted to meet out of the blue, and then wanted a blessing, and then helped us teach, and now isn't really texting us back...not sure what to do with her other than wait.
M2 has come back into the picture, she has been texting us all week, and is hoping to start meeting again in order to work towards baptism. So great.
K. has also come back into the picture, I recognized him from a bus, and we immediately ran off the bus and after him. Turns out, he doesn't hate us or anything, in fact, he still wants to be baptized, his phone just hasn't worked since he came back from Turkey, and he couldn't remember where the new building was. We'll see what happens with him.
M3 is currently not meeting with us, which we are pretty ok with, mostly because she doesn't want to meet as a family as far as we can tell. Not usually a good sign.
On another note, where do [people] all get the same Anti-Material from? I've been having to debunk the same stupid papers like 4 times since I've come to Blava, and every time they are so convinced that everything in them is true. Dumb, but whatever, they're not hard to break.
I wanted to ask you to tell Elder Kearon thank you from me personally, I told him that he wasn't thanked enough for the work that he does, and then afterwards realized that I never actually did thank him for it. If you could do that for me, I would be grateful. Training was great, It gave me several pieces of inspiration I was really grateful for, a good example of which is: How can we help our investigators feel more cared about? Answer: Daily SPIRITUAL contact, give them little things to read and a nice note daily every day that you don't meet with them. I have high hopes for this, if that really is the main thing to be felt in conversion like Elder Kearon said, we should have several new converts soon.
Anyway, lots of love,
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
April 27, 2015
Hey everyone, I can't wait to tell you about how this week went! So first off, no one got baptized, but that almost makes it better in this case, we had 2 people that were supposed to! And what's better is that they both pushed their dates back, they're having some really faith-building experiences at the moment, so cool. Well, let's see, where are we since we talked last week?
First, last Monday we got to go see something quite amazing. We got to go see why Slovakia has such a close relationship with Russia, to the point that throughout this Ukrainian conflict, nearly all of the Slovaks that we talk to side with the Russians, and if a bigger war broke out, there would be no question whether Slovakia would go against the European Union. They would side with the Russians. Why? Because Russia is their savior from WWII. We went up to the highest point in Blava, to a place called Slavin, where we saw the Russian war monument. It was a super amazing spiritual experience to me, to walk around this cool building (which looks quite similar to a temple), and see the names and dates of cities that Russia freed from the German occupation, especially to find that every single one of the cities mentioned I have been in for missionary work. It actually makes me extremely grateful to Russia for the work they put forth to preserve the Slovaks, so that I could come here and serve. I love love love this people so much.
On a side note, on Monday we got 4 new investigators, how sweet is that?
We have had a bit of a rollercoaster, but it makes me really grateful that I have Elder R. as a companion at the moment, he's really good at rolling with the punches and just going with it. He is trying so very very hard to stay in the here and now, but goodness, he's excited to go home. It makes me a little bit sad, just because I feel the end coming, and it really makes me sad and scared, kind of the same sad and scared as when I was thinking about coming. Where, I feel like I'll go, and I won't know anyone, and everyone will think I'm weird and stupid, and pretty much all of the same fears, except an added one of not being able to see the wonderful Slovak members again. That scares me the most. But on a super positive note, I still have quite a lot of time, and on top of that, SUMMER'S FINALLY BACK!!! Haha, I used to think that winter was my favorite season, but it's totally not. All of the students come back to Blava for the summer, and this place just comes alive, whereas in the winter it's pretty dead.
Our investigators are in weird places. Like, lots of them want to be baptized, but some of them don't understand it, and others do self-destructive things that prevent it, and others zase (again) are muslims/JWs trying to convince us we're in some sect. I have an interesting thing for you to think about though. One of our investigators is staying in a student's dorm for theological studies. In her flat are at least: 2 Catholics, 1 Jehovah's Witness, 1 Adventist of the 7th Day, and 1 Lutheran, all studying religion. They don't get along concerning nearly anything, especially not doctrine, until the question of whether our investigator should join our church, they all suddenly unite in saying no. It just makes you think, you know?
We're doing really good things here though, we're really happy to be serving where we are. Our District is doing well on top of that, despite the fact that for some reason things that were previously viewed as going rain or shine, have had to be cancelled for various reasons. Attitudes are positive, and spirits are high.
Well, lots of love, send me questions if there's something you'd like to know more about, the more specific, the better.
May 4, 2015
Na Pleciach Kolosov (On the Shoulders of Kolosov)
I am very excited to tell you about this week, I've had some real growing experiences, which have been tough (as is to be expected), and extremely helpful. Elder R. and I are getting along quite well, and I actually just got an email from my boy Tomas Vasicek in the Alpine mission where he met Elder R's brother at a mission conference with Elder Bednar and Teixieraeireieiexirieiea. How cool is that? Well, on to the growth.
So last week on Monday, we went to Blava castle with a handful of investigators, and it went REALLY well. It was super fun as well, especially considering that M5 (one of our investigators) decided not to follow the rules, and drove his car right up to the castle doors and parked out in front of them. Somehow we didn't get in any sort of trouble for that. But we did a lot of teaching, and had a lot of fun, it was great.
Today is the first P~Day of the transfer in which we aren't getting together and doing a fun District Activity. It feels kind of poopy, but we'll fix that next week, our schedules are just so various.
Our investigators are doing pretty good, here's some stuff about the more prominent of them:
A. and J. (I'm not sure how they're actually spelled) are a couple of massage therapists from Thailand, and I had a little miracle in Brno concerning them. I hate talking about a mistake the office elders made, but they didn't remember to give us the Thai Books that we ordered, and I guessed that beforehand, so I went in Brno with Elder W. to the library to see if they had any that we could take, and guess what? They had exactly 2 super old Thai copies hidden somewhere in the back that we were able to take, it was SWEET.
A2 is back in the picture, he had his first anniversary last week and so he just took the whole week off to spend with his wife, and I honestly can't really blame him for that decision, even though I would have liked them both to be baptized on their anniversary instead, that would be quite a memory, right? But we have a meeting with him today, and we're going to try and get him and his wife to come to the Druzhkovci with us sometime, so that A2 can hear the parts that are harder for him to understand in his native Russian, and we'll finally be able to meet his wife.
M1 has a hard situation where no one is talking to her right now because last week she blurted out to her roommates that she went to church u nas (with us), and word got to her parents. As far as we know (she went to Banska Bystrica and met with the missionaries there) her parents have just sort of given up on controlling her, which would be really really great, but we'll find out at our meeting later today. She has been responding super well to the Book of Mormon, and we're going to build off of that.
M2 still wants to be baptized, and she's getting less and less high maintenance the more she realizes that we're nice people who actually care about her and we're willing to work with her schedule and not get super mad when she doesn't understand some things completely. It's really nice, BTR is something we've kind of neglected up to this point in her teaching, and now that she's getting it, she's even more willing (if that's possible) to continue in the church towards the goal of baptism.
W... her problems in the gospel all boil down to a fundamental refusing to understand the church. She refuses to understand despite missionaries and all sorts of members telling her in different ways that we are not members of the church to be part of some cool club, we're members to strengthen our relationship to God. On top of that, she says that she has a strong relationship and doesn't need to do anything to make it better while zavoren saying that she prays like once or twice a week, and never out loud. It's really quite depressing to work with, and I'm a little afraid that my frustration with her attitude has shown through in our meetings, which may have turned her off more.
So the biggest growing experiences for me though, were at training, where I realized and got a good picture for myself about how much I really just love the Slovak people. I really really just adore everything about them, even the stupid annoying little quirks that their culture gives them, which is funny for me because I know that they're stupid and annoying. Something that really helped me to start loving the people more was reading in 1st Corinthians 9:19 through like 23 a long while ago, back when I was with Elder G., and really just trying my very hardest to be as a Slovak to the Slovaks. It has been the biggest adventure to really just forget my own hardships in my love for another people, and I feel like it has really enlarged my spirit.
I've also had a big learning experience considering my own hypocrisy through teaching W. I have been holding things against people for a long time, and it's been a huge wake-up call to me, to teach someone who won't even admit that they're holding things against people. Grudges kill the spirit pretty hardcore, and "forgiving" but not forgetting doesn't help anyone. The biggest advice I can give to anyone who wants to feel better about themselves is LET IT GO, and start being grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who deals with only having imperfect people with which to work. I love him so much.
Here's a pretty good and effective baptismal invitation in Slovak in case anyone's curious, or has a place for it in their missionary work:
Naším cieľom ako misionárov je pomáhať ľuďom sa priblížiť ku Kristovi. Boh je Naším Otcom, a s týmto pohľadom, môžeme vidieť jasne, že nás miluje, a chce, aby sme aj jeho milovali. Jeden spôsob, ako môžeme ukázať tu svoju lásku k nemu je urobiť nejaký sľub, v podstate, že ideme nasledovať to prvé prikázanie, Milovať budeš svojho Boha, celým svojim srdcom, mocou, mysľou, a silou. Boli by ste ochotní sľúbiť Bohu, že to idete robiť? Vieme, že čim viac to zachovávate, tým viac budete cítiť Božiu prítomnosť vo vašom živote.
V našej cirkvi, verime tomu, že ten najefektívnejší spôsob urobiť s Bohom sľub, je robiť to čo Kristus učil. Ako sa dostaneme na tuto cestu je vlastne niečo čo tiež nám ukázal Kristus, a to je Krst. Date sa pokrstiť, aby ste mohli uzatvoriť ten sľub s Bohom? (Use Google Translate to see the English version of this invitation.)
So yeah I think that's everything, I'm excited to talk with my family this next Sunday, we'll see how that goes, It's a little bittersweet to think about how this is my last Skype call while I'm here, but I'll survive somehow.
Zo Slovenska S Laskou,
May 11, 2015
Den Matiek...Posledny (Mother's Day... Last One)
So...I'm not really sure what to write, I just talked to my family yesterday, so that's still just kind of floating around in my head at the moment. I think I'm going to have some really interesting and fun conversations with my parents later in life.
But really, I'm not sure what to write. Things are good here in Blava, the church is getting hit pretty hard here though. We had a visit from Elder Adler of the seventy on Tuesday, and we got to discuss things with him for about 2 hours, which was really cool, especially because during the time, we had 3 lessons on plan, but all of them cancelled so we got to stay and enjoy more of the surprise visit. But he expressed the exact same concerns that I have about Slovakia. Far too many young single adults are leaving. We know that it isn't just here, but the church is smaller here than in the surrounding areas, so it seems to hurt more.
The biggest thing that happened throughout the week...I'm not sure, there are 2 things sticking out in my head, so I'll say both of them. First, Elder Adler helped talk us through some of the harder points of missionary work here, and we came up with a really cool solution for the question of:
What to do when my investigators want to be baptized, but they're all waiting for someone else to go first? He told us, that all concerns are either an insufficiently strong testimony of Joseph Smith and the restored authority, or a fear of reaction, and that a concern like this could stem from either. Thus, we must teach our investigators how to bear their own testimonies without fear. If they get used to bearing their testimonies now, think of how much they could grow BEFORE they're baptized, and then how much it will strengthen their resolve afterwards. I also received a great idea from my family yesterday: go to the place where the baptism is going to happen, and give them a baptismal preview like we do at home with the 8 Year-Olds. We are going to try both of these later today, so we'll see how it goes.
Thing #2: M1 has started to consider who she wants to baptize her, and we had an almost perfect meeting with her and M. C. on Saturday night. I love our investigators. There aren't as many as there were last transfer (poor Elder R. thinks he's the grim reaper, but they just weren't ready for commitment), but the ones here are cooler than ever before.
Well, I think that's everything, I'm really tired and not thinking completely straight, so I'll just play it safe and finish before I say something chunky.
Lots of love,
May 18, 2015
Wow, this week has gone by really really fast, and a TON has happened. Basically, it seems like lots of things are unravelling really really fast, and it kind of scares me, and I'm hoping that the Lord has a specific plan of how things need to play out here, because it seems like a lot a lot of things are resting on the missionaries that shouldn't normally need to, even in such a small place.
News #1 M.C. has gone to Plzen in the Czech Republic to be closer to K. and to, "Perform God's Work." We're hoping and praying that he doesn't go too far over there, we really need him on a mission. In fact, it would just be better if he came back and ceased contact with K., it would solve a whole lot of problems we're having to deal with.
News #2 W. has decided it's her mission to get our other investigators to take "Breaks" from meeting with the missionaries. Kind of crazy, and I don't really appreciate it.
News #3 M1 is unusually happy and ready to be baptized, despite all of the opposition surrounding her. Pretty awesome.
News #4 A2 understands at long last why he should consider being baptized again. He is such a light to meet with.
News #5 Satan's plans have been very obvious to see ahead of time, which makes them easier to thwart (isn't that a good word? Thwart...)
All in all, we are teaching JW's over Halusky, eating borsch with the coolest double RM duo ever, Playing soccer with our District President, and doing the Lord's work.
I could not be happier here.
Lots of love,
P.S. News #6 we had a crazy cool Branch BBQ in a classic Slovak park. pretty cool, super good food, and entirely Slovak. So fun.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
Haha, you can ignore the title, my companion just got an email telling us some details about the release date and everything and we've decided to get a group together for the midnight showing. But that's a long time in the future. What's happening right now, is:
Here in Blava, there are a lot of missionary skills I'm finding that I still need to master. I really like that I actually had the experience that I did, which is pretty much the opposite of most missionaries in Slovakia, which is to start outside of Blava, and not go there until you've served almost everywhere else. Then you get a whole lot of the awkwardness of missionary work over with, and on top of that, you have an opportunity to learn a lot about why the people are the way they are, especially just in different areas in the mission FIRST, instead of just getting thrust in, and immediately frustrated, like seems to happen sometimes. One of these skills though, that I'm working on mastering at the moment, is bus/tram contacting. Man, it is a WHOLE lot different to contact someone on the street, or to ring someone's doorbell or zvoncek as the case may be, than to contact them on a bus, and it needs to be handled differently, especially because it seems Slovaks can only handle a certain level of awkward before they flip out and make the situation like 200x more awkward than it already was. The thing I'm grateful for though, is having seen the other types of missionary work before, which helps me build the faith to know that learning how to bus contact effectively is actually worth it. There are people who need to be found, and sometimes the Lord has them literally just sitting there in front of us, and we just need to speak up.
Well, Right now, there are 4 and a half people on date in my area, the half is K., a guy who I think if we were in contact, he would make it, but since we're not, he's probably not. The other 4 are in good positions though.
So W.: She didn't get baptized because she was sick last Saturday, and she's been sick the whole week. Something a little bit annoying about Slovaks is: when they get sick, they just completely shut down. Literally, I've had a cold for a few days and people have been yelling at me like, "Why are you outside? Call your boss and just tell him you need 3 days to just sit at home and don't do anything!" I keep thinking like, What the poop? Anyway, our plan with her is to tell her that whenever she's ready to be baptized, we'll just take her down to the river, she doesn't really need a socialna udalost...
A.: He still hasn't talked to his wife about baptism, but his date is this Saturday, so that may not be a problem. He still needs to learn a few more things like temples and eternal families, but according to what we think of him, he will make it.
M.: Finally on date! Haha, she's going to finish studying, and then she finally consented to be baptized because she knows it's true. So great.
M.: Next Monday... The clincher is whether she comes to church this Sunday, she can still make it, but most likely we'll have to move it back a little bit.
and that's about it. Our other investigators are doing great, but these 5 are doing really well with the exception of K. He's probably just still in Turkey, I hope he found the missionaries there.
I'm doing really well on top of that, about once every week it hits me again exactly where I am (Slovakia, not America), and what I'm doing (Serving a mission, which was always just sort of a dream in the back of my head, like, suuuure, yeeeeeaaaah, I'll do that...When I'm like 19, but that will never happen.) and it renews the original excitement of coming. I'm so grateful to be here. I'll write you all again next week, and hopefully I'll have 2 baptismal pictures to send as well, keep those investigators in your prayers.
Modlievam sa pre kazdeho z vas osobne denne. Mam vas velmi rad.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Haha, for those of you wondering about the title (That is...if Google translate does things like it should...) That's right. Transfers again. 1 Week early. So much radost (joy). I'm very happy to email you again from Blava, the biggest little city I've every been in. My new companion is Elder R., who's from Provo/Washington State, and actually went to Timpview for school. We're really excited to be together for his last transfer, he was the first missionary to be trained in Banska Bystrica, and I was the second, so that's pretty cool.
Our week last week was very bittersweet. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving every single second of my mission. I even love the seconds where things don't go the way I want them to. I'm sacrificing a lot of time trying to get all of these photos to you, not in the normal fashion, so SORRY TO ALL WHO DON'T ACTUALLY WANT TO SEE THE PHOTOS!!! But I think it's worth it.
Highlights real quick:
W. ALMOST got baptized, and then she got sick, but she passed her interview and everything.
We got to live through a Russian Easter, which was sick.
Conference was amazing, loved Elder Holland, and Uchtdorf, and I've heard that I actually got to understand President Packer better than all of the English listeners, so that's pretty cool.
M. is totally ready for baptism now too, and so it Andrew, so maybe that will be some motivation for our other investigators.
Love Brat P., he's so cool. Used to be the majster slovenska (Slovak Champion) in rowing, how sick is that?
Love you all, have a great week!
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Hey everyone, I am SO excited to tell you about Easter this year, it's been the best one of my life! Haha, I am in the funniest environment right now. People are being n00bs and playing random internet games and just swearing, and I am laughing my head off remembering how much I used to love those (minus the swearing, ask my friends, I don't do that). It is really really quite interesting to think of how empty a life filled with just a computer can be. Somebody really needs to find out how to combine the fun and entertainment of computer games, with life lessons and work, like make a fun, not stupid school game, where you like teach people calculus or something. Or teach Bible stories in an epic fashion, that would be pretty sweet, I'll probably do that. Well anyway,
Monday last week we went to Devinsky Hrad, which was pretty sweet, except the top portion has been closed for the last 5 years due to a lack of funds to repair it. How dumb is that?!? But we've become the district that does fun things together on P~Day, which is SWEET, I've been dreaming about that my whole mission, and it is just as fulfilling as I thought it would be. We went to Narnia pub afterwards, have I mentioned that they sell Kofola there in LITRES?!? So great...
We haven't really had a ton of lessons in the past week, which was pretty sad, but I think we needed it, as a little wake up call, not to sit back in a great area, that we still have to work to break 20. I think we got 17, and I have been thinking about this a TON. I don't know if I've already mentioned this, but when I first came here, Elder B. (his trainer) and I had one of the better areas in the mission, especially Slovakia, and we were fighting, FIGHTING every week for like 12 or 13 when the standard was 14. We were putting everything we had into it, and falling short all the time, at the same time when a lot of people were fighting for 4 or 5. Now we had a "bad week, where we only had 17 lessons and 3 baptismal dates." This mission has progressed so hardcore, and I think the main factor in it all is the attitude of the missionaries. Something I talked about with Elder K. a bit, is the whole, 97 no's and 3 yes's. You have to go through the no's to finally find the yes's, and it's so nice to go out with that attitude and then get like 16 yes's right in a row at the beginning. So nice.
We had our concert this week. I am so embarrassed, I feel like I'm worse at sight-reading than I was at home. That is definitely my weak point on the piano, however, Elder W. (current companion) and I KILLED it on the finale. We played a modified (both musically and lyrically) version of "Below my Feet" from Mumford and Sons THANKS MOM, and we're working on doing the same thing with Neon. It is amazing how these concerts can really bring people closer to Christ. We invited tons of people to it, and on top of that, we had T. R. (a less active member who happens to be a virtuoso) play with us, and he had a spiritual experience doing it. We even had a deaf member stay for most of it, just because he loved the spirit he felt there! I love music. Unfortunately I have no pictures nor video of the concert.
So, Easter, we had a very very interesting Saturday, but we got to make a velkonocna baba, which is a traditional Slovak Easter Food that I learned from Sister P. last year, and then today, we actually got to go and do the Easter visit, where we "whip" a girl and wish her to be healthy and pretty for her whole life. SO fun, also, we added spiritual to the list of good qualities. You tap the girl with a whip made out of reeds, and say a poem, and then you have the option of pouring water on them to give them beauty health and fruitfulness for their lives, and they give you eggs/money/chocolate, its pretty great. Then the girls get to do it to the boys the next day. I am TOTALLY making that a tradition in my family, it is so sweet. Also, highlight of everything, we went to the zoo today with FOUR investigators. So much fun, turns out they had a Dinopark right in the middle which was of course my favorite. It's just like Vernal but smaller. The animals also seemed to be really acting up just because all the missionaries came to see them, it was so great.
Well I'm pretty much out of time. Love you all, thanks for reading and being a part of my mission with me! Este, I apologize again for the lack of wifi, I am going to try my hardest to get pictures as quick as I can.