Tuesday, September 28, 2010

co je to za tento tyžden! (What is with this week?!)

Tue, September 28, 2010 2:50:05 PM

It's email time!

Man oh man, what a week. It has probably been the worst week I've had so far. Not sure why. The rest of the district felt that way too. I think we're just tired, scratch that, exhausted. BUT we all talked about it last night during Family Home Evening and we have reevauluated and we're going to try a little harder to get all we can out of this experience. Elder Freeman (from now on to be known as the FHE Master) had an activity for us where we followed the Anti-Lehi-Nephites' example and "buried our swords". Those people gave up their weapons of war and promised to never fight again. Instead they would put their trust in the Lord that He would recognize their sacrifice and bless them. So we each had our own sword, as well as a district sword, and buried it. As a district we decided to bury negativity. We're just going to roll with the punches and make these last 4 weeks (ugh....) the best we've ever had! And personally I'm going to give up judgments on others. It might be too hard for me... but I'll try. lol
Despite the crappy week the past couple days I have managed to find some motivation for getting this language down. As you can see from my new favorite phrase: "čo je to, za" (Cho ye toe za) Meaning "what is with -insert whatever is ticking you off" (I feel like Slovaks would like Jerry Seinfeld. "Whats the deal with....?!" or whatever he says)
We're teaching the first lesson IN SLOVAK on Thursday (which might be the source of this new found motivation) I'm really nervous about it. But I've learned that fasting and praying really works when we feel we're inadequate for the challenges in front of us.
As far as updates goes: Elder Bacon is singing in the Priesthood choir on Saturday for General Conference, so that's pretty cool. I'm jealous I don't get to go to Conference with him but I'll manage to live through it. We also got two new roommates on Wednesday. Elder Truman and Tuimongua are pretty cool -- despite taking all my extra closet and desk space...-- and so far I've really enjoyed rooming with them. They are going to Minnesota and leave a week before me. I'm a little bitter about that....
Hope everyone is doing well at home. Sorry for the short emails, but life just isn't that exciting here at the MTC.

Starši Williams

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Another week in...Paradise?

Dear Family, et al
Hey everyone! It's email time! Yes!

This week, like every other week here, has been a blur. I guess I should start to get used to it. I can't even remember what week this is but I know that I'm almost at the halfway point for my MTC stay. almost...
The District (I really need to come up with a cooler name for us, any suggestions?) has been slowly recovering from the loss of Elder Meiling. But no one has gotten lost or missed a meeting since he left so I guess we're doing better than we thought. We're all getting a little stir crazy just want to get out of here! I'm willing to carry all of my bags to the Salt Lake City Airport tonight and buy my own ticket to Prague. Only 5 more weeks....

This week I'm trying to not stress out so much. Our Branch President chastised us a little for being so worried about our performance. He assured us that we are all doing fine and reminded us that this work is the Lord's and it should be performed with love and patience. And then we watched a talk by Elder Holland titled "Miracle of a Mission" and it really hit home to me how important this is and that I need to be putting my focus on the people. Not the lessons or the language. If I put my efforts in communicating by the spirit the rest will come. One day I'll get it....

I should tell you that I'm still loving it here. I wish I was able to describe the amount of fun I'm having with my district. No matter what it is that we're doing; be it during gym, meal time, or cleaning our classrooms, we are just always in good spirits and enjoying ourselves. Whenever someone is struggling or having a bad day it's great to have 5 other people standing by to lend a hand. I just wish we could all serve together in Slovakia.

Here's a funny story that happened this past week: On either Wednesday or Thursday (they all just blur together) Elder Freeman and Nichol were both called to the front desk during a meal. When they returned, extremely seriously, they said they had talked to President Smith (the President of the MTC) and that they weren't able to tell us what it was about until Sunday. Then they went to talk to some District leaders-still in serious mode. Sister Anderson, Bartholomew, Elder Bacon and I were going CRAZY wanting to know what it was going on. I was convinced that the Prophet or someone was coming and they were going to administer the sacrament to him (It happens sometimes). On Sunday the Sisters, Elder Bacon and I waited for them to get out of their Zone Leader meeting and they stood on the picnic tables to announce that the secret was that there was no secret! They only saw President Smith in the hall. It took us a minute for it to sink in that they were serious that there was really nothing going on. So now the rest of us are trying to come up with something to trick them... (okay, I promise that this story is really funny. I guess you had to be there?) Our new favorite thing to do as a district is come up with the dumbest jokes. So far its Elder Bacon's tie joke. (It's one of those visual jokes that are always super lame)

Oh! Before I forget, I saw Matt Bird (my cousin) at the Temple this morning! How wild is that? He's doing good, working at the MTC actually, but mostly with the senior couples so I won't really see him. But I'll have to keep an eye out for him.

To answer your questions mom (sorry they are a week late) I'm warm enough at night, but I still want that long underwear before I leave for Prague. My p days are on Tuesdays and we don't have a set time to check our email, mostly whenever we get a chance. We tend check it around 3:00-3:30. I don't really need anything right now. Some good food would be nice. I'm starting to see why some people hate the food....

Well, I will write you all again in a week!

Starsi Williams

ps Some people have written me and said to forward thanks to whoever updates the blog, they're liking it. So... THANKS MOM! :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Have You Gone to the Edge Where Miracles Occur?

This arrived today in the mail from Adam. He spoke of sending it a few weeks ago.

This is the story of how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became recognized as an official religion in Slovakia. Before Czechoslovakia split, the church had an official presence. When the country split in 1993, the Czech Republic maintained the church’s status. Slovakia, however, did not. They had a rule that there must be at least 20,000 members of a church for it to be recognized. Without this recognition, the Church was unable to own land or rent buildings in the Church’s name. Individual members had to own the property rights and rent out the buildings in their names. With less than 200 members, it was difficult to get people who were willing to do that. Instead, meetings were held in the missionaries’ apartment or in members’ homes. Seeing as there were only 3 or 4 active members in a branch, it wasn’t much of a problem.
Around 2004, a lawyer, who served in Slovakia in the mid-90’s, did some research on this law.  He and the mission president made a proposal to the Slovak government that they recognize the Church if they could gain the support of 20,000 native Slovaks. The government agreed and with the blessing of the 1st Presidency the missionaries got to work. (By the time they reached this agreement it was now 2006.) The mission president held a mission conference in Brno in the Czech Republic and presented the plan. Half the missionaries, in the entire mission, would be stationed in Bratislava, Slovakia and take care of all the western cities. The other half would be based in Kosice and take care of the Eastern half. They were led by returned missionaries and native Slovak members. They were required to collect the names, addresses, and the equivalent of a social security number of 20,000 people. In a former communist nation no less! ( many people, especially the older ones, are not trusting of any government dealings and foreigners) The mission had tried hiring a professional signature company consisting of young Slovaks, about the age of us missionaries. In 3 days they collected only a handful of signatures--about a hundred. The mission cancelled that and after the first day that the mission went in to do the work a couple thousand signatures were collected by about 80 missionaries! By the 3rd day, they were well into the teens. The mission president let everyone sleep until 8:00 am and gave them a “day off”. They had been out by 8:00 am and didn’t stop until around 9:00 pm those first three days, so they definitely deserved a rest. By the end of the 5th day over 23,000 signatures were collected! The Czech missionaries went back to Czech Republic and resumed missionary work while those stationed in Slovakia continued to collect signatures. The second week they collected about 10,000 extra signatures. More than enough to cover any mistakes or false entries. The missionaries and members witnessed a miracle. It was answer to many prayers. One member, who is now my teacher here in the MTC, remembers a man there who had fasted every month since the mid-90’s for the church to enjoy the benefits of being recognized. I have no doubt that great faith was required of the members for this miracle to happen. They've received incredible blessings as a result. The church can grow unrestrained, buildings can now be built and stakes can be organized.
How sweet is that? It’s even cooler if you think of what’s happening in Slovakia while reading Alma 23:1-5:

1 Behold, now it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites sent a aproclamation among all his people, that they should not lay their hands on Ammon, or Aaron, or Omner, or Himni, nor either of their brethren who should go forth preaching the word of God, in whatsoever place they should be, in any part of their land.
2 Yea, he sent a decree among them, that they should not lay their hands on them to bind them, or to cast them into prison; neither should they spit upon them, nor smite them, nor cast them out of their asynagogues, nor scourge them; neither should they cast stones at them, but that they should have free access to their houses, and also their temples, and their bsanctuaries.
3 And thus they might go forth and preach the word according to their desires, for the king had been converted unto the Lord, and aall his bhousehold; therefore he sent his proclamation throughout the land unto his people, that the word of God might have no obstruction, but that it might go forth throughout all the land, that his people might be convinced concerning the wicked ctraditions of their fathers, and that they might be convinced that they were all brethren, and that they ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness.
4 And now it came to pass that when the king had sent forth this proclamation, that Aaron and his brethren went forth from acity to city, and from one house of worship to another, establishing churches, and consecrating bpriests and teachers throughout the land among the Lamanites, to preach and to teach the word of God among them; and thus they began to have great success.
5 And athousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the btraditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the crecords and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time.

I’m just waiting for it all to take off.
Another miracle we just found out about is that the Church just finished its Slovak edition of the Book of Mormon! They have been using the Czech translation. (Many people in Slovakia have no problem reading or listening in Czech, but are not comfortable with the Czech language of scripture Apparently it's strange.) Prophecy is being fulfilled and the Gospel is being taught in one’s own tongue! One day we will have native missionaries serving.

A Note from Adam's mom: A Slovak Book of Mormon is so exciting! I am glad my son will be able to use it! I was worried about that. One thing hindering missionaries is the lack of written material in Slovak. There is also very little online about the church in the Slovak language, so when younger people there who are interested start searching, they don't find much. Hopefully, this will start to change as more native Slovaks and Slovak speakers begin to post more online.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ahoj Rodina

Well another P-day is here and I can't believe I'm pushing 4 weeks. It feels like months already. The monotonous schedule of the MTC has finally set in. I'm ready to just get out of here! I'm trying to stay focused and pay attention in class but everyday around 2:30 I have this overwhelming urge to just run out of the classroom and away from Provo. We've started to repeat meals here and I drown everything in Cholulu sauce to get some kind of flavor. I'm hoping there will be hot sauce readily available in Slovakia. Some of the Elders here are starting to drive me crazy. Sometimes I'm very impressed with them- other times I'm reminded that they are just fresh out of high school. (And I can say that because I'm SOOOOOO much older and mature than than that ;)
Good news! Elder Meiling got his visa a couple days ago (it's actually been sitting on someones desk this entire time. whoops!) and he is en route to Prague as of 5:00 this morning!! He should just be leaving Chicago for London right about now, then Prague. We're very excited that he's able to finally get out here but we're sad that he has to leave us. Hopefully we'll run into him in Prague.
Elder Bacon got sick a couple days ago but has made a whole recovery. He just had a slight fever and a little achy. He went to bed early a couple nights and I made sure he's been drinking plenty of fluids. You can't miss one day here at the MTC. On Sunday all of the Elders in the district wore matching ties- courtesy of Elder Freeman's mom and on Friday we had "missionary part" day where we all parted our hair like old school missionaries. I'll send pictures if I ever get around to the photo developer. That's about as exciting as things get around here.
Tonight we have our Tuesday night devotional where a General Authority comes and speaks. It's my favorite part of being here at the MTC. Last week Lowell Snow and his wife spoke and first off, I want Elder Snow's job. He got his masters in Counseling or something and went on to Law School. He made a career out of legal consultation for companies. Anyways, they spoke to us about choices and how they all lead us somewhere. Pretty basic stuff, but they asked us to really think about what kinds of choices have we, as missionaries, have made that lead us to the MTC and to make sure that those choices were made for the right reasons. After really thinking about it over the week it feels so good to know that I am here primarily because I love the Gospel. And after hearing mission stories from our teachers I can say that I love how the Gospel changes people's lives and I am working hard at honing in on my teaching skills that I may more effectively be able to teach those that want to learn so that their lives and relationships can be better! All of us has to live, and love, the Gospel so well that it's contagious!
Hope everything is good at home and that Dad had a great birthday!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Until next week!

Starši Williams

here are my demands: I need two pieces of sheet music. How Great Thou Art, it has a blue cover and I Stand All Amazed arranged by Spencer Magnum. They should both be around the piano. (duh..) you can just copy it, that way I don't have to worry about it coming back in one piece. Sister Anderson is our Music Coordinator and needs someone to do a musical number during sacrament meeting. Don't worry, no rush. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Lot of Learning

Hey Family!
Sorry this might be brief- they don't give us a whole lot of time. Which is frustrating, but oh well. Sorry to hear about the cat found in the pool. I guess he (mistakenly) thought he would find a good home with you guys :)
All is well here at the MTC, it's hard to believe that I've ONLY spent two weeks here. It feels like an eternity. Busy busy busy. Our teachers have been sharing stories about their experiences in Slovakia and we have been getting so pumped up as a result. I'll post the one about how the church got recognized (two of them were there when it happened) if I have time at the end, if not, just wait for a letter!
I got your package today, thank you! Just what I needed. And thank you Aaron for not letting my ring get scratched. I'll let you know if there is anything I need. My P-Days are on Tuesdays and it pretty much consists of going to the temple, laundry, and writing to family. I was able to take a nap today, which was SO good.
My past week here has consisted of a lot of workshops and "teaching appointments" or TEs. There we pretty much apply what we've learned in the classroom with "professional investigators". At first I thought the TEs were going to be unrealistic and a waste of time. But they are some of the most nerve racking and best experiences I have had here so far. The teachers are so good and challenge us in so many different ways. They are definitely heavy hitters and I feel like I'll have more luck with the people in Slovakia than at the MTC! Last Thursday we had our first TRC (not sure what it stands for) where we meet with RMs or Native Slovaks and they check on our progress. We have a list of "Missionary Tasks" that we need to get through each week. (Kind of sounds like a video game eh?) last week we had to meet someone and schedule an appointment. ALL IN SLOVAK! Surprisingly I knew more than I thought. The guy I spoke to drove a bus and thought the "park" we ran into each other at was pretty. He doesn't have a family but I managed to schedule an appt for a Saturday at 6:00! Then we had to teach the first lesson, in English, thank goodness. That was nerve racking. But we got through the lesson. I have a love/hate relationship with these appointments. I get so nervous about it, but I come out with the best feedback and everyday Elder Bacon and I get better and better.
There are some Elders that got in last week that are going to the Tempe, AZ mission and the Boise, ID mission! How cool is that! I gave them your names and Grandma and Grandpa. I'm glad that you're doing more "member missionary" work mom. I loved being a ward missionary and I'm sad that Slovakia has so few members for us to work with. They really make all the difference.
Elder Meiling is still here. Not sure what is going on yet. No Visa but he's staying here until it comes. He met with the Branch President today so we'll see. I'm sure you'll find out on his blog. lol
I miss you guys and think about you all the time. But don't worry, I'm not homesick or anything (big surprise, I know). It just feels like I'm in Tucson being my usual busy self. It'll sink in around Christmas time I'm sure. :) I'm working as hard as I can and I'm having a great time with my District. They are seriously the best group of people I have ever met. Elder Nichol and Freeman definitely keep it classy. We pretty much just make fun of the indie kids and the guys that flirt with sister missionaries here. And Sister Anderson keeps us in line. We've grown so close and I'll be sad when we all have to leave.
Keep it fo-rizz-el!
ps get me the address of the grandparents. Thanks!