Tuesday, January 27, 2015
I'd like to apologize first off for not being able to email last week, there was some problems because the library where we normally email closed early for the holidays, so I only had like 15 minutes, and that's not enough to put everything across! So! Here we go, into the highlights of not one, but 2 weeks in a missionary's life.
Christmas Eve: Well nut dog elder, we had success during this day. We were able to get in contact with an inactive Philippino member who teaches English here in Zilina, and we shared the "He is the Gift" video with many more people than I had expected (I know, I need to raise my vision and faith). It was SO cool for some of them as well, for example, there was one family where the one guy who IS a member wouldn't even look at us, let alone talk to us while we were there, but his wife and family were extremely kind and happy with us. They loved the video and had all sorts of questions about the church, it was so fun to get that wholly unexpected teaching moment with yet another R. family (I swear, they are the most prepared people I've ever met). We ended the day with the S. family, where I got to experience a real live Slovak Christmas, it was EXACTLY as magical as had been expected. We had cabbage soup, and some (I think it really was carp, but I forgot to ask) fish, and some potatoe salad, just like tradition dictates. We had some of those sweet wafers with honey, again, straight out of tradition, and Sister S. even cut an apple in half to see how this next year will be, and we got a star, so great. The kids all opened the presents that they got for each other, and Jezisko (Santa) will bring them all gifts during the night, I'm totally stealing most of these traditions for my family in the future, it was the absolute best Christmas Eve I've ever had.
Christmas Day: Opened presents (sort of opened some of them before-hand if I'm honest, but a lot of them stayed until the day of), and I have some thanks to give. THANK YOU FOR THE TIES, THEY'RE AWESOME!!! Also, goodness, Grandma and Grandpa Brousseau have done it again, they got some Grade-A maple syrup all the way to Slovakia, so now I'm planning on how to use the good real stuff. Thank you Uncle David and Aunt Michelle and family, I really loved the card and the Christmas Orange! That story is so classic, thank you for taking the time and thought to send the pictures as well, that means a lot to me. Thank you Uncle Ricky and Aunt Karin and family, I love the ties, especially the blue one, and oh my goodness, that stocking is AWESOME! I may just use it for the rest of my life and give gifts to the missionaries wherever I am. Thank you Uncle Mark and Aunt Alisa and family, you don't know how much I've been missing Kool-Aid, I've already used it at 2 missionary District lunches, and it's a hit! Thank you to the rest of the family as well, I can sincerely feel your prayers, and I am so happy to be a part of your lives! I had maybe the best meal of my whole mission for lunch with the District at the other Elder's apartment, it was chicken that had been marinaded in Cinnamon Kofola with some grill spices in it, SO good, along with Brynzdove Pirohy, and some mashed potatoes, with some kid's champagne that we got at Billa. Mine had Winnie the Pooh on it, made my day. The highlight of the day of course was getting to Skype with my family at the building, thank you so much for being happy and willing to take time out of Disneyland for me, I am so glad I got to see you, it was really awesome.
Boxing Day: Well, we pretty much continued with the Christmas Eve visits, with again, monumental success, we got invited to 2 meal appointments in one day, which is a record in this area! Lunch with the S. family again (you'd think they'd be sick of the missionaries by now, but they keep inviting us over), and then dinner with A., that Phillippino member. It turns out, that he liked our surprise Christmas Eve visit so much, that he wanted to spend some more time with us and made a huge dinner, He's such a nice guy. My favorite visit though was to this super old former investigator lady. Slovak's most of the time have the opinion that once a person is like 55, they're just supposed to sit at home and slowly get more and more melancholy until they die, and she was TOTALLY in this state of mind, and it was really nice to actually spread some Christmas joy into her lonely life.
Saturday: We got invited to ANOTHER member's house for lunch, this time Brat Ď., who has been a member for about 6 years, and just turned 71, and he wanted the missionaries at his birthday. He is such a cute man, he's JUST like Grandpa Joe, if they spoke the same language, they would be as thick as thieves, and still probably could be WITH the language barrier. He's pretty cool too, his grandkids all came and he had them sit down and have a spiritual thought with the missionaries so that they could, "Get the spirit amidst their tomfoolery," and his daughter (who has served a mission) talked with us while his son gave us some great Bryndzove Halusky. Loved it, and this is seriously the most members houses I've visited in such a short time in the last year.
Sunday: I gave a talk about New Year's Resolutions, and it wasn't the best talk I've ever given, but goodness are the members here so happy to have missionaries speak. We had a "Branch Council Meeting" before church, to decide on our branch vision for the year. It was so cool, these members have such faith despite the difficulties we have in a war-torn socialist nation, it's amazing.
I'm just going to give some highlights until we get to the good stuff. First, we're working with a Recently Activated member named P. M., he's such a sweet guy, I love him to death, and we have been helping him to have the confidence and happiness to repent, and he told us something really cool on Monday, which was that that Christmas was the very best he has had in the last 14 years, it was so great to see some success in brightening someone's life that fully, I love it.
New Year's Eve: Well, we had burritos for District lunch because Elder F. had a recipe for some good stuff to put in it from Eastern Europe, and Elder S. splurged and spent 6 Euros to get us 8 tortillas. So worth it, probably better than Cafe Rio...maybe not, but still great. We did some good work until 5:30, when we went to our building and ate the brilliant pumpkin pie Elder S. and I made while we watched the Saratov Approach. I want to get kidnapped so bad, that movie was the bomb! Haha, I understand now why Maddie emailed me all scared though after watching it, that looked and sounded pretty much exactly like where I'm serving! It was even pretty cool to be able to understand some of the Russian, I really want to work on my Russian and get it as good as my Slovak. Elder S. and I then went home and watched the first installment of Work and the Glory, I forgot how good those movies are, but now we have a problem because I just want to see 2 and 3, but I have to wait a while. We stayed up to watch the fireworks, which I now wish I had done last year, I didn't last year because I was in a bad mood that the week wasn't going the way I had expected, so I went to bed early, but this year I got to see something astounding. The people here at midnight, nearly everyone that we could see out our windows set off fireworks from their windows and balconies, it. Was. Spectacular. We saw some of those paper lanterns go off as well, the wishes for the New Year. I wish I had taken some pictures, but the memories are probably going to satisfy my needs, it's an experience that you can't have in America or anywhere else for more reasons than just the legality of fireworks. This place truly is magical, and I love it.
New Year's Day: We got to take a P~Day today because No one was outside, so we went and hiked up the snowiest of mountains (I think the Lord heard my complaints about not having the whitest of Christmases) up to see a ruined castle with Brat S.. I feel like it wouldn't be tasteful to repeat exactly how much I love Slovakia, but gosh, while we were there it felt like I was living a real version of Skyrim, they really did put good graphics in that game, and I wouldn't be surprised if they used Slovakia as the basis for the country in which it's set. For those of you who know how much I like Skyrim, that's a huge compliment. Anyway, I need to go, it's a pleasure to know that everyone who I'm emailing supports the work I'm doing, and most of all is my friend and family. I love you all loads.
S laskou (Love)
Monday, January 26, 2015
Hey, I'm going to keep it pretty short and sweet today, I have been extremely humbled. It's not the bad kind of humbled either, I have just seen SO much kindness around me in the past week that it's pretty hard to keep all of my emotions together. I absolutely adore Christmas. Atheist, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, everyone is nicer during Christmas. But that's not the point. The point is, this holiday has an innate holiness about it, which pleases me greatly. If I could have followed one person around on that night more than 2,000 years ago, and talked to them about it, it would be the angel Gabriel. His perspective would be truly unique. I have a feeling that he had some trouble containing his excitement when he brought those good tidings to the shepherds.
Snap, where's my enthusiasm going?!? K, here's a really quick run-down of the awesome happenings of Zilina, Slovakia.
First of all, gosh, these members are SWEET! Haha, I'm finally serving around Sister Seidlova, who's daughter helped me with my Slovak in the MTC, and with whom I actually got to Skype before I came here. SO COOL, she's a true rock in Israel (not THE big one though, that's Jesus. But probably she's one of the little rocks who's pretty close to THE rock of Israel.), and it really shows whenever she's around, she refuses to speak with missionaries in English, despite the fact that her English is nearly perfect, just because she wants the missionaries to practice and truly be great at Slovak.
Second, Chrismas carolling in Slovakia=Success! Haha, we learned something very very important when we went, which I feel like if we apply to our missions hard-core, will improve our effectiveness monumentally. I noticed that at every door where we asked the people there whether we could sing for them, they said no, and it was super awkward, but then every door where we just started singing bez suhlasu (without asking), they loved us and it was an awesome experience for everyone. I feel like some missionaries are really just too scared of bothering people that they don't save anyone, and unfortunately, I can see myself in that group a lot of the time as well. AWESOME CHANCE TO IMPROVE!
Anyways, I'm so stocked, the Christmas markets truly are unbelievable, I can't wait to send pics, we got to go and see the Markets in Brno as well at the training, SO cool.
I love you all, and if you have any questions or comments, please forward them to my parents, who will promptly bring them up with me during our Skype session on Christmas.