05 May 2014
I’m so happy to be a missionary! Just wanted to get that out there first, before the time comes that I can’t say it any longer. 🙂 This week is looking to be fantastic! We actually had time to bake a HUGE batch of banana bread for Family Home Evening with the Val family tonight, and I made Welsh rarebit. We’ll be having exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders this Friday (we were going to work with them last week, but it had to be postponed), which I am SO excited for! Then on Saturday we’ll be in Trenčín, to once again commemorate the *Slovak dedication by Prezident Uchtdorf. It will be fantastic! 😀
*President Dieter F. Uchtdorf dedicated the land of the Slovak Republic for the preaching of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on May 12, 2006 in Trenčín.
We’re having another concert on the 15th, and this time I translated two of the songs into Slovak from English! I’m so grateful for the gift of tongues. We’re seeing miracles all across the mission with more than 10 baptisms this transfer so far! We had some great miracles as well as learning moments this week.
I guess I’ll start with the learning moments 🙂 . For me, it’s been one of those mid-transfer weeks: re-evaluating goals and wondering why we’re not achieving all we had hoped to by this point. I feel that I’ve allowed opposition to frustrate me and stunt my efforts this week. Nearly half of our investigators didn’t make the time to meet with us, and some less-active members of the Church that have been open to meeting with us in the past are resisting our efforts to contact and re-commit them.
Sestra W and I feel that we have yet to learn to plan lessons as efficiently as we could, and teach with as much unity as we want to. We’re struggling to overcome my tendency to dominate in teaching and contacting, so that we can fortify Sestra W with the opportunity and confidence to open her mouth and put her Slovak to use. The Zone Leaders committed us to count how many people we contacted all day on Tuesday. Despite having a miraculous bench lesson, we contacted only 30 people that day. What a devastating realisation! Being busy simply does not equal productivity.
*(Ok, just a little note from the editor: I am sitting here thinking that 30 people contacted in a day, times 7 days a week, times 4 weeks in a month, times 16 months (18 months minus language training time), equals 13, 440 people contacted over the course of a mission. Wow. So maybe a missionary was sick for a few days, and had some days that they were in meetings or travelling all day, so they actually only contacted 10,000 people. Still, WOW!! Way to go Sestra Jones and Sestra W! Keep up the great work!)
Our feelings of inadequacy hit rock-bottom on Saturday, when we lost track of time practicing piano at the Church building (for the concert) and were late getting home. Oh my goodness, we felt like absolute failures! Like, we can’t even succeed in getting home on time!
You’ll be happy to know that we haven’t taken up permanent residence in the land of Woe is Me; no missionary would last a week in the field without learning to pick themselves up (hope), dust themselves off (repent), and try, try again (faith). This is the whole message we are sharing with the world, that our loving Father in Heaven has prepared a way for our happiness in this life, a way to experience peace, joy, and growth despite our limitations and daily challenges. After some reflection, repenting, and receiving Priesthood blessings from the Elders, we’ve resolved to re-commit to our vision of growth in Bratislava. It’s an uphill climb, but exercising the Atonement afresh has given me a better appreciation for what we’re inviting our investigators to do and know and feel.
Well, our week was by no means all doom and gloom! 🙂 The Lord has showed us countless tender mercies this week. Our return to the Foreign Police on Friday was meant to be: we met a fantastic family from South Africa waiting in line with us there. We’ve been praying and fasting for a family to teach all transfer! They are very interested in family history, and I hope and pray they will get in touch with us as they promised. Not only that, but incredibly we received ticket number 1 that morning and were out of the police office by 08:15! Compare that to last week, when it took 9 hours for us to conduct our business there.
Another great blessing is our new investigator, J. He was contacted by Sestry B and K back in November, and then resurfaced to attend our Easter concert in March. Now we’ve taught him the first half of the Plan of Salvation and he wants to be baptised the 31st of May! He’s such a humble, good person. When we taught him the Atonement you could see in his eyes that it was like coming home: the answer to his unspoken questions and private dreams. I feel the Lord has big things in store for Bratislava that will in part be accomplished through J.
Brat M called US this week to relate a miracle: he found his Gospel Principles book and wants to start having lessons with us regularly again. Yay! He wants to go to the temple the next chance he gets. I hope he’ll keep that resolve strong; I know that he can get there!
Finally, we were reminded yesterday of just how valiant all our Branch members are. Sestra Val put her family’s Sunday schedule on hold to go out teaching with us after church. We hit a bump in the road when our investigator expressed his feelings that he wasn’t getting anything out of the lesson, that the subject matter wasn’t reaching him and furthermore our Slovak was too poor to allow for a proper exploration of ideas. My mind was blank, and I felt powerless to teach and minister to him the way he needs and deserves. It was a bit of a sticky moment. But Sestra Val, who is actually quite well-acquainted with this person, took it all in stride and asked the most inspired question I’ve ever heard: “Brother, what’s your favourite verse in the scriptures?” He was still annoyed at first, but explained how physics proves that John 1:1 is true, and finally the Spirit came in when he felt understood and appreciated. Thank goodness for our heroic Church members! We missionaries may not be able to complement every investigator’s personality and learning style, but with the members’ help we don’t have to.
I know that this is the Lord’s work and I am grateful for this week’s reminders that we have no time to waste. I want to experience a change of heart so that my only desire will be to bring salvation to God’s precious children. I want to exercise the faith and courage to invest every ounce of my strength into furthering the cause of the Saviour. I want to be more spiritual and deliberate in setting and carrying out goals. I want Sestra W to be very, very happy and successful on her mission. I want Bratislava to blossom so that Prezident B has counsellors, and the children have friends in Primary, and the YSA have potential eternal companions. I know that the Lord answers prayers and will grant these desires according to my faith in His will and timing.
Wishing you all a beautiful Lásky čas! (In Slovakia May is considered the month of love) ❤