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.
Monday, April 6, 2015
Well guess what?!? Haha, we have waded our way through all the Anti-Stuff finally!!! We told the Ex-member we were meeting with that we didn't want to meet anymore if he wasn't interested in anything other than "opening our eyes," and we told our Anti-Investigator that he needed to cool it or he would never become a member, which surprisingly enough worked. Special thanks to fairmormon.org for providing very useful, true, and respectful information. On another note, thank you (my family) for the birthday package! Yeah, I accidentally had no idea why I had a package and opened it. I appreciate the Hymn Book. Also the Mac and Cheese and Kool-Aid. I also loved your letter, I'm glad that I was an entertaining baby, because if I hadn't been, you probably wouldn't have had patience for me later in life.
Ok, on to the rest of the stuff. First, I finally finished writing about last transfer in my journal!!! Haha, yeah, that's February 15th, thank heavens for planners or that would never have gotten done, I'm doing my best to catch up as quick as possible without forgetting any important details. I will probably need a new journal and memory card soon. BTW, I found a fun thing to do to help people from getting trunky (I'll explain why this came up in a little bit). When you have 138 days left in the mission, start reading the Doctrine and Covenants, one section a day, backwards. It will keep you more and more focused in and grateful for serving a mission. President Holland said it best, "Don't you EVER let ANYONE take your mission away from you! My mission is EVERYTHING to me, and maybe you think I'm crazy, but it really is. Do not go home, and do NOT give it up for anything!" I really love that talk, it really gets me fired, up, especially when he speaks about loving the people. I have a strong testimony that the gift of tongues will NOT come in it's fulness until you really love the people you serve. I love these people here, and I have some very big news today.
1st, M. and M. are still going on missions. M. got her call to Salt Lake City, Utah, and she is still freaking out. I promised her that if she serves in Farmington, or near Skyline, that my grandparents would LOVE her to visit them. Story time! Satan didn't want her to go to the temple. How did he show this, you ask? He had the driver taking them to Frankfurt get in a car accident in the Czech Republic. Scared the living daylights out of everyone there, but no one was hurt, even though the car was totalled. But, as in 1 Nephi 3:7, God provided a way, and she went to the temple and loved it. M. hasn't gotten his mission call yet, and is currently in Germany, so I don't have new news on him.
We had Elders R. and B in our apartment ALL WEEK, it was prettty fun. Everyone came down Tuesday night for the training, and we thought it would be easier to have them just stay with us all week, rather than take the 10 our train back, and then have to come back for the conference on Sunday. So they helped us work in our area, which was pretty sweet. It was really fun to be with them the whole week too. Also, my companion Elder W. was able to teach S. the Deaf member with Sister McConkie on Tuesday! He's so great, and they just had a blast.
Neither W., nor I. was baptized on Saturday unfortunately, we'll keep working with them, W. just needs to realize that Elder C. is leaving and she doesn't have time to procrastinate anymore. I. more needs to realize that he knows it's true. M. keeps flipping back and forth between all sorts of opinions, so we'll see where things head with her. We made contact with N. again. Teaching Muslims is SO fun, they kind of live in a little bubble, and it's great to see a light come on in their eyes. They make really really strong happy members as well.
I am getting better at Ping-Pong, and I hope to continue in that, that's one of the most entertaining activities I've ever participated in. I almost beat A. on Saturday, it ended 19-21, which is great considering normally it's like 7-21. The Zone Leaders are practicing all the time, which makes it really fun to have super good (better than me) people to play against whenever we have time for it.
|Members from the Nitra Branch at the Slovak reorganization!|
Ok, big news. On Sunday it was announced that Slovakia is being re-organized. We are no longer part of the Brno District, but instead the Bratislava District has been created. That means, no more traveling to Brno for conferences, or Youth activities (Trainings will still happen there), or anything like that, but that Bratislava will be in charge of things like that. This means enormous progress for the church here. I was crying so hard when they made the announcement, this means we are one giant step closer to Slovakia being it's own Stake and it's own Mission. I can't wait, these members are so strong, and they work so hard. I can't believe how much the church has grown here, just in the time that I've been here. At the beginning of my mission, we were fighting every week to have 13 lessons when standards were 14, and we were in the best area in the Zone, most were fighting for 4 or 5. Now we are sad and disappointed when we haven't had at least 20. I am SO proud to be a Slovak missionary during this pivotal time for the church here, it is AMAZING to witness the courage and dedication of the members. I love this place.
I don't really have anything more to add, have a wonderful week, thank you Grandma Burton for supporting me so much, I love you to pieces! Also, thank you Mom and Dad for keeping me so informed. I am so grateful for my family. BE EXCITED FOR CONFERENCE!
Zo Slovenska s Laskou,
Saturday, April 4, 2015
Cau, ja som priliz lenivy momentalne, aby som si vytvoril nejaky nazov... (Hi, I'm much too lazy right now, so I created a title...)
Hey everyone, I'm really sorry I wasn't able to email last week, and I'm double sorry for not being able to send pictures this week either. We recently moved into a bigger, much nicer, space for church, and it's still not completely finished, but we've already started using it, and have vacated the old space, which means that there's no computer there, nor wi-fi to try and send things like that. Sorry, I'll get it to you as soon as I can, there's quite a lot of stuff that is really really great. So, the last 2 weeks have been very eventful, but my memory and concept of time have both really sunk to embarrassing degrees of effectiveness while I've been in Slovakia, so I apologize in advance as well for not being able to inform you about everything as much as I would like to. But I'll do my best.
Well, in the past 2 weeks, I've been able to go see both Bratislava and Devin's castle here, but I'm starting to get really annoyed at the decision to have P~Days on Monday. Everything is closed on Monday...We'll walk up to a castle, and just see this sign that says, "Otvorene kazdodenne od 09:00-20:00 okrem pondelky" (Open from 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., except Monday) and then just take pictures outside and walk back home. We usually have to pull the card of, "We're American and we're not going to be here for very long, is there any way you can open it up just for us just this once?" but that only works when two important conditions are present. 1.) There must be people there, who have the ability to open the castle up, and 2.) They must not be able to recognize that you're not Catholic (Or not care, that's usually better, and more common when you go visit castles in small towns). I don't feel like I've ever really experienced racism, but this has got to feel pretty similar. But I'm still bugged, like, not even museums or anything are open then. Oh well, I guess this will give me some reasons to come back.
On a MUCH more positive note, we have been finding SO many people lately, and it's been really nice, because the majority of them are really really cool. I have been constantly impressed with a growing appreciation for what the Lord seems to just sort of "give us" as missionaries. Honestly, it didn't even feel like we needed to try all that hard in order to find people to teach, they just kind of started coming to us. For example, the Sisters tracting the other week, found an ex-member that some people here had been wondering about. Or we, looking for a member for a couple of weeks, discovered that he was actually in our English class, and we just hadn't known what he was looking like.
Another plus of serving in a big city (my respect for those who serve in New York, and Chicago, and Los Angeles, and other big cities has really grown), is that I have gained a very good knowledge of church history. There are people who have taken it upon themselves to research in detail every single thing prophets and apostles have done, and are determined to make them look bad. Something else I've discovered is the importance of Preach My Gospel and the Standard Works in these instances. Preach My Gospel has been worded to carefully so as to make it extremely difficult to prove any of the points of our doctrine false. It's really nice, and the Topical Guide is a blessing straight from God.
I'll give an example:
People will ask, "Why haven't Mormons ever had a Prophetess?" Look up Prophetess in the TG, and follow some footnotes, and you get straight to Exodus 15:20, which describes the Sister of Moses as being a prophetess. Follow some more, and you get to Numbers 12, the whole chapter, where the prophetess, and the head of the Aaronic priesthood say to the prophet that, "hasn't god spoken to us as well?" It's a fair question, but Jehovah, to prove his point (That the head of the church is the Prophet), comes down in a cloud and curses the prophetess with leprosy. Then, despite the pleas for forgiveness from the prophet himself, The Lord in his anger (which btw helps us see him as a being of parts and passions) makes her deal with being that way for a week, and to add embarrassment to the punishment, doesn't allow Israel to move during that time period. So the answer to the question is: We have had prophetesses, however, even these do not have the authority and keys granted unto the Lord's Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, which is why we don't follow them first and foremost. Isn't that cool?
I gave a talk in church, that I was told my mother would be very proud of, so I'll tell you a little bit about it. I was given the topic of, "Mission" so I decided to speak a little bit about my decision to come on a mission, which included the car-ride where my Mom burst out crying in October 2012. I was told after the meeting, by the sweetest little angel-sister Sestra H. that, "It's obvious your mother knows everything. She would be very grateful to hear you speak today." The main point of it all though was how I have never regretted, nor think that I ever will regret the decision to come. It has been the best year and a half I've ever had, not because It's been fun and happy and I've been in a new place and learned a new language. I have learned to laugh and be happy when there's nothing to be happy about, and to love people when they're sassy and rude to me, and to be ready to do absolutely anything to help out a priesthood leader, because I know how much they sacrifice. These are things that I know will and have shaped my life for the better.
I've noticed that Google Translate has been having a little bit of a hard time translating for you guys when I say things in Slovak. I'm not sure why, but I'll explain a couple of things real quick. first, Blava=Bratislava. I don't know where they're getting blue, that's Modrá. Nebo means Heaven/The Sky, and I totally understand the problem, but at the same time it's hard. You see, nebo in Czech means or/because. So I get it, but I wonder why it thinks it's Czech and not Slovak. I've been giving a lot of thought to what I might be able to do for GoogleTranslate and Slovak when I get back...
Well, I feel like I've talked a lot and still not said a whole bunch, I'm really quite glad with how busy we are, and I like being a missionary a lot. It's considerably satisfactory. Haha, well, I think it's about time for me to stop writing, Thanks to GoogleTranslate for helping my English vocabulary out a little bit.
Mimoriadné kopci požehnaní vám všetkým prajem,
(I wish you all special blessings,)
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Hey so cutting right to it, W. didn't get baptized this week, and D, and her family are not getting baptized next week. It's too bad, just because we got so close this time, but the good news is: they all still WANT to have that happen because they know it's right, so we're going to continue working with them towards that goal. I was SO, SO, SO stressed last week because our investigators were having some trouble communicating with us. My great companion Elder Z. W. probably hates me at this point just because of how much I was stressing out, but you know, I'm totally ok with that, haha. Just kidding, we have a really good relationship, which is super nice, and he's really really helpful as a companion. Here's our week, I hope you like it as much as I did:
Pondelok (Monday): We went on a tour of Bratislava, the same one we went on last year, because the same lady (E.) still comes to English, and invited us to come again. She's so great, and man does she know a lot about Slovak history. We also taught S. I'm not quite sure if I've mentioned him before, but he's the coolest guy ever. He's a less-active member here, who is deaf, and slightly mentally handicapped as well, and he's the funnest ever to teach (Thank you Elder J. for teaching me ASL!!!). We also got a new investigator named H., who's from Vietnam. Speaking Slovak is a little harder in Blava (Bratislava), because there are so so many people that you meet who don't speak Slovak or any language similar to it, so you just kind of have to speak English...
Utorok(Tuesday): We had District lunch at the Narnia Pub. Pretty much the similarity with Narnia ends after you walk through the cloaks to get into the restaurant, but they do have one thing going for them: They serve capovana Kofola in liters. So very sick nasty cool. Later in the day, we taught D., who is very prepared, but very not married, so we're figuring out how to help her best at the moment.
Streda (Wednesday): Exchange in Centrum with Elder J. Something that really helped my mood though was teaching T. This kid makes me SO jealous of American missionaries. He's absolutely golden, he even defends us to his roommates and friends outside of lessons, and he and his twin brother are planning on getting baptized...in the U.S....That's right. He doesn't want to right now, even though he already knows it's true, and reads church sites and magazines and stuff, he's going to just make some missionaries in Philadelphia so happy. Dang you American missionaries, this isn't the first time I've run into this sort of thing...
Stvrtok (Thursday): We found the coolest people today, and I can't wait to get in contact again. One of them, when we contacted them said, "You know, I was just thinking about Adam and Eve, and that snake. If God knows everything, how didn't he know about that?" She was fascinated by our answer that indeed he did, and is excited to meet with us this week. I also was presented with one of the anti-material pieces of literature floating around in Slovakia trying to convince people not to talk to us. It's really not very good either, most of it is just fallacious information presented in a way that implies the wrong thing. The good news is, now one of our investigators has a whole lot of answers, and a faith destroying attempt was turned into a faith-building exercise.
Piatok (Friday): M. is not happy with us...Today we talked about the apostasy, and she was not happy with our claim that it had to happen. The good news is, she's still really really happy to meet with us, and we brighten her day every time, but she is just scared of new doctrine. It's completely understandable, if I were confronted with the idea that what I believe isn't founded upon scripture and the teachings of Christ, I would be a little bit disgruntled as well to say the least. We'll continue to work with her, and she's agreed to study and make sure she does her part to know God's will. K. is totally progressing too, he's so fun, he has a totally different attitude. He's a little Deist from Turkey, and his attitude towards the gospel is that it agrees with and adds to everything he already believes. It is so refreshing, he commits himself to do everything before we even ask, and then he keeps commitments like nobody's business. W. had her interview today as well, which she didn't pass, but we'll keep working to make 100% sure she's prepared.
Sobota (Saturday): We had a sort of scattered day today. Highlights: Ping-pong with A., he's a Ukrainian beast at the game. T.R. was apparently so impressed with me last time that he brought two dictionaries of Music and Musical Terms for me today, he's a really sweet guy. And we met another Turkish guy named M.A. Super sick, he's a real Muslim, you know, not the terrorist type lots of people THINK are Muslims. He's also really open to new ideas.
Nedela (Sunday): Finally had dinner at the D. family. They are an amazing family of Russian Angels here in Blava. Both parents have served missions, and they have 3 beautiful adorable kids. I really hope that some of the people that I've helped here turn out in a similar way as them, they are seriously just the coolest. Later, we finally got to meet with W., and gosh, she was sad to not be able to be baptized on the 7th, but she is very very ready to work hard and get a new date fixed. I'm so grateful to be working with her.
I love you guys so much. CONGRATULATIONS ALEXIS!!! I'm really grateful to be here serving, even though I can't see awesome things like Maddie performing, or Steve stuffing people, or Sarah dancing, or friends getting engaged.