Shipwrecks and Scuttlebutt

scut•tle•butt – A nautical reference meaning: 1. An open cask of drinking water, for use of the crew of a ship 2. The news (or rumours) circulated by those who are gathered there to drink

30 September 2013

Yes, it’s Transfer time again! That time when missionary hearts swell with tender feelings of gratitude for friendships made and blessings received, missionary nerves jangle with anticipation and suspense, missionary brains churn with thoughts of possibilities ahead, and missionary tongues wag with speculations regarding new assignments!

First things first with the latest mission headlines: Sestra Johns and I are BOTH staying right where we are in our beloved little branch! 😀 We had some exciting theories about Sestra Johns going to Žilina and Sestra K coming here from Bratislava, but in the end it was our second-best guess that proved accurate: none of the Slovak sisters have moved.

More exciting news is that Starší Guy is coming from Bratislava, as Starší Bar has been assigned to another area and will serve as a Zone Leader! (We totally called that one – he´ll do a wonderful job!).

Most exciting is the news that 4 new Elders (all Utah boys, apparently) are arriving from the MTC! (Missionary Training Center)

The most common cities to train new missionaries in have previously been Bratislava, Žilina, and Košice, but this transfer has seen some thrilling new developments. A second area has finally opened in Trenčín, meaning there will be 4 missionaries serving in that little city (Hallelujah! Amazing!). The new elders will be training there, in recently-opened Nitra, and – you´ll never guess where – in Zvolen (!) by Zone Leader Elder Pet. Our fearless Zone Leaders won´t even be serving in the same city, let alone being companions! President apparently told Elder Bar: “It´ll take some creativity to do exchanges and plan trainings, but you´ll figure it out”! I love that about President, he always says: “The Lord trusts you, so I trust you. Pray about it and then do as you think is best”. Wow!

It’s interesting and inspiring to see how President McConkie is managing trainings and transfers thusfar: breathing new life into the missionaries by taking us to see the dedication sites, and fuelling our contacting by emphasizing creativity. The most recent Brno conference was a focus on powerfully expounding doctrine, and teaching our investigators as the Saviour would, once we’ve found them.

Bratislava used to be in the Brno Zone (no idea why – it was the only Slovak city grouped with Czech Districts), but has now re-joined the Slovakia Zone. Yay! Also, border-hopping has effectively come to an end, and we expect that from now on missionaries ordained to speak Czech or Slovak will stay in their respective native fields of labour.

One of my little sisters recently asked me if I think I’ll serve in a country other than Slovakia. All things considered, the answer is: No, I don’t think so (not on this mission, at least – I’m aiming to start a mission fund for my senior years just as soon as I get a job 🙂 )!

Ok, now I’m running out of time, but there is still so much to tell!

Kitchen adventures: We were trying to make soup, but overcooked the lentils to mush. I saved them to make a gorgeous dahl curry (if I do say so myself). Plus, last week in a fit of madness I bought a leek at Lidl (yes, we have that supermarket chain here, as well as Tesco), and I made a pot of Welsh rarebit. Mňam mňam as we Slovaci say! Sestra Johns and I are super excited that we´ll be together for Thanksgiving! Recipes from home for stuffing and pies and dinner rolls would be much appreciated. We’ll need them ASAP so we can stock up on ingredients 😀 (I wanted that to be a winky face, but my keyboard´s being stubborn and I´m having to think twice as hard while typing on the Slovak letters! I’ve tried set it to US keyboard as I normally do, but to no avail… )

grandpa rog

Young bride and groom:
Sestra Jones’ great-grandparents

Our Family History class was a fabulously (and mercifully!) successful event: we had Val and S bring their whole family (4 children), and two of our English students came, along with another three former or potential investigators. I got to share the story of Grandpa Roger being shipwrecked when the Hornet went down. I felt the Spirit of Elijah, and got to share my most precious testimony of the sacred nature of families. Hopefully this week’s Family History presentation will be just as successful.

The USS Hornet (CV-8)

The USS Hornet (CV-8)

*One of Sestra Jones’ great-grandfathers served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8), the last American fleet carrier ever sunk by enemy fire.

Grandpa Roger worked under decks, in the sweltering boiler rooms, where his coppery hair and constantly flushed face earned him the nickname “Pinky”. In October of 1942, the Hornet and her crew engaged Japanese naval forces in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, and the Hornet sustained 5 bomb hits, and considerable damage from 2 planes that took dives into her island, and port side. The electrical systems had taken a severe blow, and she had lost power to her engines.

For the 19-year-old sailor Pinky and his buddies, the scene below decks must have been one of great stress and peril, as they heard the eerie and distorted sounds of the battle raging above; the screaming of the diving planes, the thunder of their own anti-aircraft fire, the terrible shrieking of metal being torn asunder, the wailing of sirens, and the pounding of feet and shouts of men. They were rocked by the shocks and reverberations as each bomb hit its mark, and smelled the smoke and burning fuel from the crashed planes above, as all the while they worked feverishly in the dim light to repair the engines and electrical systems. They were just on the verge of restoring power, when the Hornet took a torpedo in her starboard side, causing a 14-degree list.

The ship was taking on water, and the order was given to abandon ship. Sailors scrambled over the side and into the drink. In the bowels of the ship, Pinky and his mates escaped through ventilation shafts, clambering and crawling along the ropes that had been installed within them for just such an emergency.

After fighting to escape the listing and smoke-filled vessel, and then casting themselves upon the mercy of a vast ocean, the sailors then tread water for their lives, hour after hour through the long night.

Sestra Jones’ young ancestor struggled to keep his head above water, and  fought to find the strength to keep his burning muscles moving. He clung to his will to live by thinking of the future he hoped to have, and by telling himself that if he could just stay afloat until the sun’s first rays lit up the sky, he could live to walk into that future. As he floated in the darkness, he promised himself, “If I live through this night to see the morning light, I will name my first daughter after the rising dawn.”

Pinky did survive the night; you might say his hope saved his life. After a number of hours adrift upon the waves, he and his ship-mates were rescued, and picked up by a “tin can” (destroyer).

After the war, Pinky returned home, married his sweetheart, and they eventually became the parents of 7 children, including a daughter named “Dawn Rose”.

“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalms 30:5

Both PH and PK’ova (our investigators who are preparing for baptism) were at church yesterday, it was an enormous blessing to be able to share that with them, and see them reach that goal.

This transfer we NEED new investigators to refresh our teaching pool – we can´t continue to wring out the last drops of possible interest from the last two transfers. We have plans to put on a concert to teach about the Restoration in music and the spoken word, and host a lecture on the theme of “Mormons in the Media”, sharing the facts about our standards / lifestyle. Weŕe hoping to create a buzz! 🙂

I feel that I need to learn to work in more complete harmony with my companion and focus on helping her excel in her language acquisition, so we’ve set the lofty companionship goal of speaking in Slovak for 100 hours this week – that´s just about every waking hour! We’ve also got General Conference coming up (yay!), which is always a great experience to look forward to.

I must close now but I love you all dearly! Have a great week, and know that you´re in my prayers all the time.
Big hugs,
Sestra Jones ❤

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