Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Uz som zfanatizovany! (I Had A Fanatic!)
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.