Dreamlike Days

16 September 2013

I feel like this week has been so uneventful…every day passes as if in a dream and the weeks stack up far too quickly. Transfers are just around the corner, and I am acutely aware that I may only have a fortnight left to work with the lovely Sestra Johns. We’re making the most of it: we both absolutely went to town this morning on deep cleaning the flat and felt SO good afterwards (we’re both orderly souls). 🙂

Anyway, Monday was our trip to Spišský hrad as I mentioned last week, after which we had *FHE at the Mil’s. Two of our investigators came: M and V – it was great! The Elders took their turn doing the spiritual thought: a beautiful analogy of prayer using a candle (keep a prayer burning in your heart kind of thing), then the game “two truths and a lie” had us all in stitches, and Sestra Mil served watermelon as a final taste of summer sunshine.  *(FHE stands for Family Home Evening: an informal, fun gathering for the purpose of learning together and strengthening relationships, typically accompanied by good eats. A weekly custom of many families and groups of friends throughout the Church, worldwide!)

A "panelák" is a pre-fab, concrete apartment block, a fairly common form of housing in the Slovak Republic. According to Wikipedia, the largest concentration of paneláks in Central Europe can be found in Petržalka, a borough of the Slovak capital city Bratislava, as the ones pictured here. photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A “panelák” is a pre-fab, concrete apartment block, and is a fairly common form of housing in the Slovak Republic. According to Wikipedia, the largest concentration of paneláks in Central Europe can be found in Petržalka, a borough of the Slovak capital city Bratislava, as are the ones pictured here.
photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday was packed: we wanted to go visit the B family, one of our less active families, but turned out Sestra B was at work so we turned to our backup plan and went to visit a less-active member of the Branch who seldom responds to calls or texts. A nice old lady let us in the front door of the panelák (that’s step 1 when tracting housing estates – get past the “zvončeks” or little intercoms at the front gate so you can actually knock doors). Our Branch sister actually opened the door, but was stand-offish, “Thanks, I’m busy, I’ll call you when I have time, say hello to the members for me…” And that was that. Door closed, turned down; I don’t understand it. If only she would let us understand how to help her…

Anyway, we hustled to our next appointment: a first meeting we’d set up with S, a Potential Investigator whose phone number was in the Area Book. The only information about S noted was “YSA” (Young Single Adult). A note like “M-A S-D A P” would have been pretty confusing, but far more accurate, as it turns out that he is a middle-aged Seventh-day Adventist preacher! A bit more than we bargained for perhaps, but very kind and respectful and he said he’ll read and pray about the Book of Mormon, so who knows?

Other lessons that day were taught in homes: the best setting possible, people feel the difference when we bring the Spirit into their home, but also more difficult sometimes because we’re on their territory, so to speak. First Val and S, a couple with 4 children, I’m not sure if I’ve told you about them. Val believes in God but doesn’t go to any church. S seems only mildly interested, but Val is up to Alma in the Book of Mormon, and came to the Branch BBQ last month. Val keeps his commitments to read which is great, but seems to view our lessons as interesting theoretical discussions rather than searching to change his life. We’ve extended baptismal dates to work towards, to get an answer about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, but he says “I’m already a good Christian, and a good person without that covenant. Every church thinks they’re right – my parents baptised me Catholic but that doesn’t mean anything. Besides, why do I have to pray about the Book of Mormon, I see no reason why it wouldn’t be true.” We’re not sure how to address his concerns, but are hoping to get their family to come to Church and actually participate in our worship services and feel the power of the Spirit present, rather than observe us from a distance.

Then we had our third lesson with our lovely V, who asks great questions and is so sweet and sincere. She goes home to visit her parents every weekend, so getting her to Church may be a challenge, but she said that if she knew it was true and right, she’d join the Church. I love that faithful attitude! 🙂  She is just such a beautiful person, inside and out.

Wednesday, we took a tram south of the city to visit Sestra B’gova and her 3 little white dogs (she calls them her “monkeys”). She gets a bit lonely, and we’re happy to try to brighten her day, let her know she is needed (she coaches our Slovak), and encourage her in sharing the gospel. She tells everyone she knows about the Book of Mormon, gives the best advice, and is such a sweetie.

Then we came back to town to teach English, and what should the Mil’s bring with them but post from Prague! 😀 Thank you mom for the sweet note,the juicy (and sometimes hilarious!) Facebook updates from family and friends, and the final installment of the Martha Toronto autobiography – I’m so sad it’s over! She is such an inspiring woman, it is an account to be read again and again. Most of all, thank you for the articles about the Sheffield Slovak branch. I thought it was nice news when I heard about it, but actually reading the account filled my heart and mind with such a Spirit of gratitude, and affected me deeply.

Thursday, we helped President Van D weed his garden, then went with the Mil’s to teach English at a club for disabled children and young adults. They love the song “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain”!

I’m running short on time now, so to quickly finish my little report: Friday we had a rainstorm, and met with P.K. (she was a dear and brought us chocolates – I love free food!). She knows the Book of Mormon is true and enjoyed the Plan of Salvation lesson.

Saturday’s výlet (an excursion we organised for the Branch) saw a couple of funny but harmless mishaps (I have no time to expand upon that, but might remember to share the comical details next week!), and D from Žilina has moved in – yay!

A singing display from Spring of 2013: a group of missionaries form a little choir and sing hymns in public, while a few missionaries speak to passers-by.

A singing display from Spring of 2013: a group of missionaries form a little choir and sing hymns on the town square, while a few of them take turns sharing a gospel message with interested members of the public, and inviting them to learn more.
photo courtesy of Sestra Pyšňáková. Ďakujem!

This week we’re really looking forward to catching up with our dear missionary and member friends from around the two Republics. On Wednesday the Zone Leaders are coming out here for a day, and will stay for District Meeting after one of this area’s missionary traditions: having lunch together at the junkiest restaurant in town, “Big Burger” (apparently, the Elders used to eat there together every week, until Sestra Pyšňáková put her foot down last transfer, and we’ve now branched out to places that actually serve vegetables). Our ZLs Elders Pet and Bat are just fantastic! They were meant to come last week, but they’d worn their brake pads out (they’re the only ones with a car excepting senior missionaries) and called to sheepishly break the news that they wouldn’t be coming. Luckily for them, they’ve got the car back in working order – Sestra Johns and I aren’t sure we would have forgiven them for dashing our hopes of a decent singing display again! We get those opportunities so rarely. 🙂

In addition, we’re traveling up to the Czech Republic this weekend for District Conference (the equivalent of Stake Conference) with a training for us missionaries to be held right after. It’s an 8-hour train ride for us, so we’ve no chance of returning the same night, and we have no idea yet where we’ll be staying, but it’s sure to be a fun time meeting with other missionaries we haven’t seen for awhile. Sleepover time! It’s one of the nicest compensations for having to travel the farthest to get to meetings.

Love you all to bits! Big hugs, God bless,
Sestra Jones

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