Enjoying the Ride

Slovakia in bloom! The streets of the town are lined with flowering trees.

Slovakia in bloom! The streets of the town are lined with flowering trees.

6 May 2013

Ahoj! It’s been another roller-coaster of a week: the lows have been low, but it was worth it to ride the highs! =)

It’s been another week of miracles: despite an agonising few days of lessons falling through and near-fruitless contacting, somehow we were able to feel successful and reach many of our goals. Best of all, Renata (a Church member, and friend of Sestra Py’s family) and Sestra Py’s grandparents came to Church yesterday – all the way from Ostrava! Although Sestra Py’s grandparents are not members of the Church, they stayed for all 3 hours, and participated very graciously in all the meetings.  Sestra Py and I unexpectedly ended up teaching a Sunday school class (Gospel Principles; we taught the Plan of Salvation), so they got to see their missionary granddaughter in action, which was marvellous.

Then the S family invited us all to lunch, and we had goulash in the sunny garden. They were absolutely lovely (and so was the food).  After the meal, we shared a  spiritual thought to top it off, so we feasted in both body and spirit. Oh, and out of the blue we had two phone calls with people asking us to teach them! What a day!

We attended the Trencin Open House this past Wednesday;  it was an uplifting and enlightening event. It warmed my heart to see how much effort the members had invested, regardless of immediate or visible results. The V family outdid themselves as hosts, and a whole crew came all the way from Uherské Hradiště  to provide a wonderful musical programme. Sister Py and I went contacting with President D’s daughter (her first time street contacting with missionaries). It was a huge blessing for us to have a fluent Czech-speaker there, and she really caught the spirit of fearlessly inviting people to come and see.  We actually found a man who agreed to join us for the afternoon: Anton, who is acquainted with the V family, and whose brother is a member of the Church (now living in England).  It felt like a miracle! But to be honest I had expected the turn-out to be a lot better, and we encountered an unusual amount of opposition in talking to people that day.

I’ve learned a difficult lesson: we had a first meeting with a potential investigator that just fell to pieces and went all over the place. I felt that we had done all that we could to prepare: we had a member of the Church there to support him, and had invested time and prayer in preparing his lesson. Surprisingly, both Sestra Py and I felt we should start by teaching him the Gospel of Christ. We practised, but neither of us had taught it as a first lesson before and were unsure how it would turn out. We started all right, but then chased tangents in trying to answer questions and ran out of time … I was so disappointed in myself, but tried to be grateful for the humbling experience. Moral of the story: be committed to the lesson plan. If we’ve been inspired to teach something, then the least we can do is act on the guidance we’ve received. I’m so grateful to Sister Py in situations like this: she is such an example of picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, and going back to work. Mistakes are there to be learned from, not to drag us down to despair.

Editor’s note: Some may wonder why  Sestra Jones would be so impacted by having just one “off” lesson;  others who have worked in similar mission areas will be able to relate completely! We all know that Sestra Jones generally does approach life with an “any job worth doing is a job worth doing well” attitude, but that is not all there is to it.

Sestra Jones and her companions are likely to converse with thousands of  fine people during their 18 months in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but they may be privileged to teach just a precious few. Of  those people who do express an interest in hearing their message, many will listen to only one lesson. So as a missionary in that situation, you are very aware that every lesson you share with someone is most likely your one chance to bless that person; to share something meaningful that will really help and uplift them, and hopefully inspire them to catch a glimpse of something far greater. You feel a tremendous desire to get things “right”.

If  you feel like you’ve done your best, and your student says, “Wow, that is beautiful! I felt something special, but I’m not prepared to act upon those feelings.”, you can walk away just respecting that person’s choice. But if you feel like you didn’t communicate effectively, or somehow “bungled” the lesson, it’s like being a football (soccer) player who missed a penalty kick; you feel like you’ve really let your student down, and can’t help but wonder what would have happened if you’d just angled the ball left instead of right.

As a missionary becomes more seasoned (like Sestra Py), they learn to just chalk things up to experience and trust that everything will work out all right for their student in the end. It may be the missionary’s “one chance” to share their message with that person, but it is probably not that person’s “one chance”  in life to hear the message.

We’ve been seeing real miracles recently with asking both members of the Church and those not of our faith alike for referrals. It softens hearts and open doors beyond imagining when the person being taught already has a member friend. Please continue to invite as many of your friends and neighbours as possible to meet your missionaries there – your missionaries need your help! =)

Also, a plea for your suggestions: we teach an adults’ English class each week (all conversational levels),  but we are running out of ideas for fun games! Ideas, anyone?

Last thing: there’s a *YSA Convention for all of Europe here in Slovakia July 31 to Aug 3 – all welcome! =)   http://2013.ysac.eu/en/home/  *Young Single Adults is a programme of the Church specifically devoted to single adults aged 18-30. Good, clean fun and awesome friendships!

I know that this is the Lord’s work, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that when we sincerely study and apply the message it contains we will draw closer to the Saviour and in time become the people God would have us be. There is no greater feeling than God’s love and approval – His Spirit which enters our lives when we access the converting power of the scriptures.

Much love,
Sestra Jones

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