“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…” William Shakespeare, from the St. Crispin’s Day Speech of Henry V
5 August 2013
It’s a sizzling summer’s day here: most days this week will hover around 36 degrees! (That’s 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit, folks. Yeah, yeah… it’s hotter where you are… but that’s probably dry heat. Try it with 84% humidity! 😉 ).
Anyway, this first week has been marvellous! I love Sister Johns, my companion from Kansas, she’s an absolutely STELLAR companion (her favourite word). She plays the piano and viola, loves to sing, wears pencils in her hair or behind her ear, bakes brilliant brownies, and the only downside in our companionship is how chatty we both get – we would be content to talk the time away for hours if our hectic schedule wasn’t there to keep us on-task! 😀
Monday was so precious: I got one more day working alongside my dear trainer Sestra Pyšňáková, who was working miracles to the last and broken-hearted that her mission was over. I want to be like that: to love the people here so much that I live every moment of my mission fully, and dread the thought of ever being released from the Lord’s service – that it actually hurts when I remove my tag for the last time. Sestra Johns and I feel the same way: our trainer is a powerful missionary, and a perfect example of the attributes we can and must develop: efficient, determined, loving, positive, and filled with the Spirit.
The three Sisters here last transfer truly worked wonders: they were teaching the most lessons in the entire mission (a record 26 lessons in a week!!), had investigators at church and aiming for baptism – they expected miracles and worked so hard to realise them, talking with everyone, being good examples, never giving up. It’s such a tough act to follow, and we’re still finding our feet contacting and teaching together (we’re still leaning a lot on each other for the language), but it’s a blessing to serve here, in what we’re doing our best to see as a city of miracles.
Our Church building is beautiful and sunny, and there’s a special Spirit here. Church yesterday was lovely, though there were a total of 10 people there (5 Branch members, 1 investigator, 4 missionaries). The members of the Church here are Saints in name, and in nature: President Van D (Dutch) is retired, but makes himself available every hour of the day to teach with us – he is so kind and dedicated and understanding and never thinks a bad thing of anyone. Sestra Van D (Slovak) is beautiful and giving, and either firm or gentle depending on the need. She also bakes delicious marhuľový koláč (apricot cheesecake)! L is a beautiful young lady with such a lovely testimony, she is friendly and confident despite opposition from family and friends. Dear Sestra B’gova is such a trouper – she hobbles in with a huge smile on her face, rain or shine, and showers us in kisses calling us ‘moje zlate’ (my golden one). She tells riveting tales and shares the gospel with everyone, as do they all.
We’re just afraid they will start to lose hope after trying for so long with little result. It would be understandable, with 30 members on the less-active list, at least 6 of whom were baptised in just the last 3 years! Where did they all go? It’s devastating, and makes me want to do all I can to help people understand that being baptised is a commitment to contribute. It’s tempting to baptise anyone who agrees to it, and not want to scare them away by spelling out just how much will be expected (nay, needed) of them for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. But it’s a missionary’s duty to ensure they’re truly ready for it.
This area needs kingdom builders, and we were overjoyed on Wednesday after English class when a lovely young family invited us into their home. They were contacted shortly before transfers, and the first words out of the father’s mouth were “You mentioned you believe in eternal families. Does that have anything to do with Matt. 18:18 (“Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven”)?” We taught them about the Restoration, and they will read the Book of Mormon. They are so sincere, we can’t wait to go back and continue on to teach them about the Plan of Salvation!
Also, we have a miracle investigator: there’s no time to tell the full story, but he’s a Slovak scholar who grew up in England. He contacted the sister missionaries (!) and read the Book of Mormon in three days. He will be going back home to another town shortly, but he’s fantastic and intends to be baptised. He has such a great hunger to learn the Restored gospel and says, “the more I learn about the Saints, the more I love it”. We taught him about repentance at his own request (he’s been taught practically everything else already, so this was a repeat); it really clicked and there was such a sweet Spirit of wonder and awe. He said, “I’ve always thought of repentance in the secular sense – correct the math problem and get a higher mark next time. But it’s more: it’s living up to the standard of divine behaviour, preparing to be co-creators with God!”. Wow.
And that’s exactly what our Christ-centred lifestyle is all about. We’ve got Zion to establish, our hearts to purify, and the gospel light to proclaim. I know this is the Lord’s work, that his true church is re-established on the earth, and that nothing compares with the peace and happiness of knowing our lives are acceptable to God.
I love you all! Until next week,