15 July 2013
Here’s a fun little fact: I found out that my first name sounds an awful lot like “bathtub” in Slovak. Well, that’s embarrassing! 😛 Good thing it’s not on my nametag…
We bid a fond farewell to President and Sister Irwin at the end of June; some members of our Branch made them a fabulous cake and gave them a nice send-off. President Irwin also actually rang us before they left, to say a personal goodbye, and give some words of loving encouragement. I’ll miss them both so much!
This week wasn’t nearly as successful as last week, but I honestly think my energy and efforts flagged a bit after our exertions last week. We only got two phone numbers all week – one of whom was a grandma who afterwards explained she had only stood and listened because she was bored while waiting for her bus. The other was a professional model on his way to Paris for Fashion Week. He’s then spending the rest of the summer abroad before returning for his studies – but not to Z, to Ostrava (in the Czech Republic). So close! 🙂
We need to pick ourselves back up and keep moving; Transfers is coming up again in a fortnight (can you believe it?! That was quick…), and we want to make sure that if there are new sisters coming in next month, they will have a good pool of investigators to work with.
Some of it did feel like it was outside of our control, though: the bottom seemed to fall out of our teaching pool when Ma’k said his parents have forbidden him to keep meeting with us (we’re hoping we can come to a better understanding with them – he says he knows we’re all right, but his parents don’t yet see it that way). A couple of our other beloved investigators have decided that while they have really enjoyed the spiritual discussions we’ve shared up to this point, they don’t feel the desire or need to learn more. It’s not easy being dropped face to face; usually when investigators start rejecting our phone calls we just kind of get the message, but I’ve never before had them straight out tell me „thanks but I’ve had enough“.
While the choices of our investigators are not under our control, still they are always within our influence: from that standpoint, I wish I could have taught these wonderful people better – the gospel has so much potential to bless their lives, and to allow them so much influence for good on others around them, especially their loved ones. But it’s not easy to show people who are already satisfied with life how only the gospel will meet all their needs fully and eternally. And sometimes those who are dissatisfied with life find it difficult to envision, too – they’re often too stressed and distracted to try something new! But as an authorised servant of Jesus Christ, we sometimes have to be bold and trust the Spirit to open people’s hearts and eyes. We never give up on anyone. The Lord can soften hearts, and some people just need time.
Our week has had its highlights: we taught M (he’s into Buddhism) the Plan of Salvation, and his comment was, “Yeah, I like it! I guess the next step would be for me to attend your worship service. May I?” Oh, I guess so, M… yes, of course!! 🙂 That sure brightened our day.
Wednesday was AMAZING! Sestra Py and her 2 companions stayed the night with us on Tuesday for our Specialised Training with the McConkies. President McConkie is our new Mission President, and has been at the helm of the Czech/Slovak Mission from the beginning of this month. President served a mission in the old Prague Czech Mission in the early 1990s, and speaks fluent Czech. We met him, and his wife and family of 4 children (from teens down to primary school age). They are wonderful! They have given up so much to move an entire family across an ocean, to support the work of God’s kingdom here.
Our training was about being the Lord’s builders: the Czech/Slovak Mission may just have the foundations laid so far, so as we build, we must look to the plans of the Lord, who is our Architect. We have the reassurance of knowing that we are not left alone to figure everything out ourselves, but nor should we be too hasty to impose our own, limited vision of what our area can or should be.
As an illustration of this point, we were told of a recent experience of the Elders in Nitra: Nitra is an area that was just opened for work last transfer. Last week the Elders there were told that there was someone who might be interested in hearing their message. It seemed like a longshot, and they had to travel 2 hours to find the gentleman in question. But travel they did, and discovered that not only was this gentleman interested in hearing their message, but that he had already read all the standard works, and several other publications of the Church (even lesson manuals) and can’t wait to be baptised! He just happens to be a minister of a church in another faith, and has been sharing what he is learning with members of his congregation… Wow!
Our Saturday felt like an unintentional field trip to Babylon: we went to visit a member of the Branch in a neighbouring town (this sister is my hero! She has faced the challenges of divorce and unemployment, but is still 100% active in the Church. She is so dedicated and faithful…). We had an appointment to teach one of our investigators in that town afterwards, but he called and cancelled at the last minute, so we had an hour to kill before our next train home. The city was deserted, I mean really deserted – I started hallucinating, and thought I saw tumbleweed blowing across our path 😉 – so contacting was out. We decided to have lunch, and found a nice restaurant with reasonable prices and gorgeous spinach risotto. The only issue was the music they had playing in the background, which was definitely not on the mission approved list. Upon our return to Z, we were fired up to do some proper finding on the main Namestie when to our surprise the big screen that usually plays advertisements lights up with Shrek 4 in Slovak! Sooooo tempting to fall under the spell of animated ogres and talking donkey side-kicks, and so very distracting. We retreated to our fallback position at a smaller namestie for a second try, but what did we find going on there, but a jazz concert in full swing! Ah well, that’s the summer holidays for you.
Luckily the day was topped off with a lesson and a fantastic YSA FHE at the Wr’s! (*Ok, “YSA FHE”: a whole lot of letters that just stand for a crackin’ good time! Good friends, clean fun, and usually some great food in the mix, too). We taught Rin, a young man we met last month. He is so much fun! He loves Yu-Gi-Oh, World of Warcraft, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings; and he carries a Gameboy with him everywhere. When we met him in the street and asked if he believes in God he said „Of course, but I believe in the Viking gods. My friends and I are going to honour them with a huge party on Friday night – it’s going to be massive!“ Since then he’s started praying to Heavenly Father (at least in our lessons – daily prayer is his challenge this week), and he’s super friendly, and gets along with the YSA so well (*YSA = Young Single Adults = unmarried members of the Church aged 18-30. They get together often for sports, merriment, learning, service, and just to share the joy of being young and full of life!) . He joined us for FHE and seemed to really enjoy it. (*Again with the Church acronyms! FHE = Family Home Evening. A fun, informal evening meeting. Think family members or groups of friends gathering to play and study the gospel together).
Have a happy summer, everyone! You’re all in my thoughts and prayers as always.