04 August 2014
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap , if we faint not.” Gal 6:9
“Holding aloft our colors,
We march in the glorious dawn.
O youth of the noble birthright,
Carry on, carry on, carry on!”
– Ruth May Fox, 1853-1958
Čaute, ludia! *(rough translation: “Hey, peeps!”) 🙂
Here comes the penultimate instalment of my marvellous mid-European ministry!
Fun news from Žilina Branch: P got her mission call to London South! She leaves for the Preston MTC (that’s the Missionary Training Centre in England) in November.
I’m absolutely exhausted but can’t afford to slow down. I feel like normal life is reaching out its odd-job tentacles prematurely to pollute my glorious last week of missionary service. There’s so much I still want to do and contribute: Slovak tips and concert scripts to gather and submit to the mission office, farewell notes and catch-up journal entries to write, etc. Plus Sestra B and I are still drowning in paperwork from the Jurassic period of our transfer together! Packing is bitter-sweet, and not just because it makes my departure real; countless nostalgic memories have resurfaced, accompanied by reminders of some unrealised goals. It’s easy to get sidetracked with “good” and find oneself robbed of the “best” one sets out to accomplish. Really trying to avoid that death-trap!
The touring concert (Žilina/Trenčín) was great. Everything came together at literally the last minute. B and E (an investigator who shared her talents), Sestra Se, and the Wrightsons were indispensable as always, and we were blessed with 7 non-members present. B even accompanied us to Trenčín, where a sudden and violent cloudburst prevented all but members from coming. Still so worth it though: the most rewarding thing was on the train home B started singing the song I’d translated, and you could just tell he was SO happy. He seems so at peace with himself and is practically a missionary already. While the concerts over in our corner of Slovakia did not produce the amazing turn-out we were shooting for, the Košice concert kind of made up for it with 19 guests attending. 😉
Good times on exchange in Košice. Photo courtesy of Sestra B, ďakujem!
Our exchange in Košice was very positive. Our meetings with investigators fell through, but Sestra Seni and I had wonderful experiences contacting and trying to get back in touch with a few key former investigators. It was fun to work with Sestra Seni again, and see how we have both changed since being companions. We had a cool experience together, of being led by the Spirit to contact a young lady of the exact description we had planned for – in the very time and place we had planned to do so. Sestra Seni has good command of the language and asks very inspired questions in contacts. She is bold and hard-working and loves the people she teaches – especially the Church members. She and Sestra K are happy as companions (and their District seems very united). Those two are keeping their vision, effort, and spirits high; Sestra B and I were slightly at a loss with what they could possibly do better!
Our own lesson count was rather low last week (we barely managed Slovak standard of excellence: 14 lessons), but those investigators we taught are all progressing. D is fantastic and practically a member of the branch already! He’s the man we found last week; he accepted a baptismal date in his bench lesson.*(for those unfamiliar with the term “bench lesson”, it refers to a lesson that is taught while seated on a park bench. Teaching al fresco seems to be fairly commonplace in the Czech/Slovak Mission!). Sestra Se joined us for a great lesson with him on Monday, in which HE taught US half the Restoration (had looked it up online, and got most of his facts right!). Then we had a combined lesson with our other investigator L, and member P to study the Book of Mormon. It felt like an Institute class, and both investigators have continued reading consistently on their own since then! D also came to the concert and English class and even church: when he walked in in his suit and tie I was filled with joy, and the members loved him. I really feel that he will make it to baptism – and soon. He’s taking charge of his own learning and marking on the Teaching Record what he’s learned and the lesson up next.
It seems to me that the W family enjoy discussing the gospel even more than they like our English lessons 😀 They are exactly the family the Žilina Branch needs right now, so I pray we get the chance to leave the entire family with a lasting spiritual experience to smooth any changes that happen with transfers. I fear that I may not have been bold enough with this beautiful family from the beginning and hope that we haven’t wasted an opportunity to bring them to Christ sooner rather than later. One VERY encouraging sign is that Pani W asked us first chance she got: “what is the difference between your church and the church I was raised in?” We testified of living prophets and the Book of Mormon.
Yesterday (fasting!) we were struggling. We’d been blessed with many investigators at church and had successfully recruited Z’s help to teach Relief Society from Preach My Gospel (what a success!). But after a few hours of contacting families on the námestie (town square) and tracting a row of paneláks (apartment blocks) we had physically hit rock bottom and gratefully counted the minutes until a well-deserved meal. After dinner we dragged ourselves back out the door to visit the Se family. Call me a Prezident McConkie copycat, but we went around the table telling each member of the family how much we loved and appreciated them, and specifically WHY. The Spirit in that home was beautiful, and we floated out. Sestra B remarked: “That was SO much better than taking a nap.” It’s wonderful to physically experience just how much we need the church members: the change we felt was tangible. One good miracle deserves another: we regained contact with M by showing up at her door right as she got home. She had fasted, just like we taught her! 🙂 We’re still unsure how to help her overcome her concerns with church, but it occurred to us that we might try focusing our teaching on her exuberant daughter T for now. If M had an example of how to interest her daughter in the gospel, that may be a greater help to her than any other.
This week will be showstopping – I just know it! Mission Leadership Council is on Thursday in Prague, so once again we’ll have a day outside our area. Plus D really wants to go to Trenčín on Saturday to witness the baptism the sisters there are having. 🙂 I REALLY want to hit standards of excellence in all areas (if I’m not mistaken it will be the first time my entire mission): 2 baptismal dates (we have one: D), 2 investigators at church (we had a high of 3 this week), 4 lessons with members present (we had 5 last week), 2 new investigators (none last week, ouch!), and at least 14 lessons in total (although we hope to beat that). Prayers much appreciated! I hope that all of these wonderful people will continue to progress even if Sestra B and I are not around to teach and support them next transfer.
I know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and is essential to help each person to understand their part in His plan of salvation. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s kingdom on the earth, as led by His authorised representative, Thomas S. Monson.
I love you all! Until the next (and last) report from the mission field, Sestra Jones x