Thursday, February 5, 2015
The Best Week Yet!
Hey everyone, I'm really excited to email you this week, I've got a little bit more time, and I'm going to try and make the best of it. First off, has anyone here heard this name before: Saint Irenaeus? If not, that's ok, but you should really read his stuff. If you have, good on you, you're a little bit ahead of me. Saint Irenaeus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irenaeus) is the first disciple of the original disciple of John the Revelator, and the Catholic church claims him as a Saint because of the miracles he performed, despite the fact that almost everything of what he teaches goes against their doctrine, especially concerning Adam and Eve, and Human Deification (Theosis Greek). We discovered him last week, and his words have made our lesson plans a lot more interesting. I have said this quite a bit last week, but throughout my mission, I have gained this THIRST for every bit of information I can find about the gospel. I've found here, that to every bit of anti-Mormon material (at least that to which I've been exposed) has answers, and more importantly, every bit of pro-Mormon material is backed throughout history, including the early Saints like this man Irenaeus. I love the words of President Uchtdorf, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." Well with that sort of boring pre-face, I'd like to get into the best week yet (besides Christmas and New Years).
So highlights: We started out the week with a bang by visiting Oravsky Hrad (http://www.oravskemuzeum.sk/), the castle in which the very first Black-and-White Silent Dracula was filmed!! It was SO cool. I now understand why I wanted to live in a castle when I was little. I understood a whole lot more then about living in style. Now all I need is to find a place to put my Jacuzzi when I get that castle. Favorite part of the castle? A wax figurine of the original actor: apparently this German guy was SO ugly that they hardly needed to put any make-up on him, and the nails? Totally his, he never cut them anyway. "I'm so nefarious, that means I'm evil!"-That guy.
Further than that, we went clipboarding for our Family History course, and boy, you wouldn't believe what happened. I had absolutely no success, and I was getting kind of bored of clipboarding and wanted to contact instead about something people actually want to hear about, like the gospel, so I went to find my companion and I find him helping Elder B. to talk to a man. I walk up, and within 60 seconds, this man has me talking to his friend on the phone in French, and we've gone into this man's work for a meeting, we ended that hour with a solid new investigator, and two referrals with meetings set up (which they later showed up to, the man with French, is the leader of a Christian Community in Martin, a city a little south-east of Zilina). So cool.
M. is doing awesome, she is STOKED for her baptism on February 14, which is right at the end of the transfer. What a good way to end a transfer, right? She has completely stopped smoking (going from 10-15 cigarettes daily), and is loving the blessings of living all of the higher laws. I really wish that we would be able to be there, or at least see it, but we've been told by our 70 that we aren't allowed to Skype into a baptism, even though we're the ones who taught her. We'll figure something out though, Probably the Sisters in Germany (Frankfurt mission) will just email us some good photos.
We had the best day ever on Friday... So we went to Martin (for that one meeting with the minister), and our meeting went extremely well, he had read the beginning of the Book of Mormon, and had some self-made anti-Mormon material, which we cleared up, and he decided to interview us to find out what we really believe. Really cool. He accepted a Book and committed himself to finding out if it was true. But then our second meeting cancelled. And we were stuck. In Martin. For more that an hour. What to do? Then Elder Brousseau had a plan:
Elder B: We should totally call D.
Elder S: What? No!
Elder B: What? Are you scared of being Kidnapped?
Elder S: Well, yeah, but more like being murdered.
Elder B: BUT WEEEE NEEEEED CLOOOOOSUUUUURE!
Elder S: Fine, but we don't know where he lives.
Explanation: D. is this dude who showed up here last transfer. I have never previously met him. He's from Nigeria, but lived in England for quite a while. He claimed he was a member, and the church was helping him a little bit, until some verification was done, and he's definitely not a member. After being told that we knew he wasn't a member, and offering to help him become one, he got ticked and stormed off. [The legend is that he has a very "checkered" past.]
We then called the other Elders to find where he lived and went and visited him. Turns out he was totally home, and really happy to meet with us. I don't personally think he was actually involved at all [in the legendary illegal activities], but he's definitely not a member.
Later, our train back was delayed half an hour because it DUMPED like 8 inches of snow in like three hours, which was really bad for the shoes I had picked to wear because when we left the apartment it was totally dry. I really wish we would get the technology we've been approved for already so that we can check the weather. But we eventually got back and guess what?!? We got to go to a professional orchestral concert playing music from Čajkavský (Tchaikovsky or however they spell it the wrong way in English). SOOO sick. I was very very impressed, especially with this violin soloist. If Lizabeth is half as good as he was, she's in for quite a career in music.
Our last couple of days were pretty good, but I'd rather end with this. Here's an excerpt from our weekly mission [president's] email this week:
I spent the weekend in Nitra with our wonderful members and missionaries there. Following the pattern set in Doctrine and Covenants 109, we dedicated a new space for the Nitra group. It is right on the main square and the space for sacrament meeting has two large windows that look down on the square and the people of the city.
Snow is everywhere and it is cold, but there was a sense of excitement and opportunity amongst the members and the missionaries. We expect great things from them. Good things are happening in Nitra and elsewhere in Slovakia and our mission.
Nitra is an area that has been open to missionary work for approximately two years. In that time, the missionary force there has grown from two to four, a local member has been installed as group leader, a brother baptized in Germany but lost in Slovakia is now active and was recently endowed, three individuals have been baptized and are active, two of those new converts have been to the temple for baptisms or their endowment, there is a strong priesthood base in the group, the group has a strong matriarch who has been a member for more than seventy years, and the group has moved from weekend space in a library to permanent space on the main square well suited to missionary work and sacrament services or other public gatherings. In all this we see God laying the foundation for a thriving branch. The first missionaries to work in Nitra likely never imagined a group this structurally sound and strong would be established this fast.
Sometimes the perspective that comes when we take a step back to see the bigger picture is important. We get caught up in the day to day of our work and fail to see the great blessings of our overall missions and lives. Lack of perspective can diminish our sense of gratitude and, as president Hinckley explained in Forget Yourself, "[t]here is nothing that dulls a personality so much as a negative outlook." Take the time today to consider ALL your blessings and those of the branches and groups in which you work.
We build branches. We do it with gratitude, perspective and faith. We do it with the kind of hard work and faith that makes of us collectively "an intelligent force . . . [that] is superior to and overrules all other forces of which we know." Elder Cook,Agency, Opposition and Faith, p. 6."
I love this mission. O. (one of the new members referenced in the email) was able to go to the temple, and sent me pictures. That building that I found and helped secure that was perfect for our vision, is now in place, Nitra has come so far, and in part the Lord was able to use me and give me an attitude of perseverance to create a place where missionary work can thrive. I love that area, and I love this mission.
Have a wonderful week,