Monday, November 29, 2010

Castles, the first snow and movie stars?


First up, a thousand apologies for neglecting you last week. Our Pday was moved to Thursday in honor of Thanksgiving and we took the opportunity to visit Bojnice Castle about an hour and half away. Most of the fun things to do in Slovakia likecastles, art museums etc are closed on Monday. Totally unfair. The castle is beautiful, the best of Slovakia I'm told. I got a couple pictures of the outside but my camera died just as we got inside. We took a great walking tour. I didn't understand any of it, of course.... I gathered that it had quite the exciting history though. It was probably the first tour I went on where I didn't ask questions!

After the tour I needed some cash to get home, I had just exhausted my mission funds for the month (I budgeted in dollars, they use Euors here....) so I used my personal card. No big deal. Just 10 Euros. However, the ATM ("bankomat") ate my card. To be more specific, the receipt said that it had "captured" my card. Fantastic. I turned to Bodily and said, "We are going into this bank and getting my card back. Promise to interpret everything I say?" The gal behind the desk said that they didn't accept foreign accounts. Which is ridiculous. Its the largest bank in Slovakia. I think Bodily was a little embarrassed inside the bank when I insisted to see the manager to get this sorted out. The manager said that it took the card because there was no signature and reprimanded me for not signing it. I am positive the card has a signature. Anyway, she said there was absolutely no way that I could get my card that day, strictly against policy. My card would be shipped to Bratislava to the bank's headquarters then shipped to my bank where they would contact me about where to send it. She said it would be faster just to request a new card from my bank. I told them I would no longer use their ATMs for the remainder of my stay in Europe and left. I don't think Bodily translated that for me. So I've been bumming off my companion for the past couple days. Our cards are getting more money on them today so that's a relief. The moral of the story is to always listen to your mother. Heres why: almost two months ago Mom told me to make sure I copy the front and back of all of my cards and send a copy home and keep one. Every pday I forgot and planned to do it the next week. Well, here I am halfway around the world without my debit card and I don't have any of its information. Please don't be mad at me mom.

The rest of my week and a half as been pretty much the same with a couple major confidence boosters. The first was last Saturday. We sat down and talked with this woman Katka. We were having a good lesson and she was taking everything pretty well. Then she stops, looks at me and asks if she knows me. I told her that I had only been in the country for 3 weeks and there was no way she could have met me before. She then asked if I was a Hollywood movie star. Whaaaat?? I thanked her for the compliment (of course I took it as one) Bodily rolled his eyes and continued with the lesson. Then on Monday I had an exchange with Elder Bacon (missionaries sometimes pair up with other missionaries for training purposes. I think its to get away from their companion for a while) You might remember Elder Bacon from the MTC. I thought it was an awful idea and was a little upset that they expected two newcomers to talk to people. Totally lacked the faith. Turns out we had a fantastic time! I was so impressed by our ability to talk to everyone we met and explain who we were. We exchanged telephone numbers with two people and even set up an appointment for the next day! I could hear the words of my old branch president  "Wherefore canst thou doubt!" I was even more impressed by the amount of personal and language growth Elder Bacon has had since arriving in the country.

I felt like a real missionary this week. We stopped to help some older ladies rake leaves. There were three of them out there working and were a little confused why two guys in suits wanted to help. But I had just learned the phrase, "Can we help you?" and was dying to use it. They tried to thank us with a jug of wine. Awkward.... And then yesterday I tried my hand at tortillas. (not sure why that made me feel like a missionary, but it did) I miss tortillas so much. They taste more like scones and so I'm trying to just accept it as a sacrifice that I just have to make for two years.

This morning was the first snow and it was kind of anti climatic. Not sure what I was expecting, but my hatred for the snow is still strong. However, I am warm. I now wear two layers of Underarmor, thermals, and another long shirt. All before I put on my white shirt and tie. Then I have a sweater and my jacket. I would like another coat so that Slovaks stop telling me I'm going to catch a disease. I guess I don't look warm without a big winter coat, but I let them know that I have 6 or 7 layers on and am plenty warm.

I am a little stressed and frustrated (what else is new) but I am happy and healthy and loving Slovakia more and more. Glad to hear Thanksgiving on the beach was a success. I had a frozen pizza.....

Love you!

Oh and thanks for finding the Skrlecs! Alžbeta will be so happy! Ill be sure to let the branch know and send you an update on all of them!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thurs. Nov. 25

I dont have time for an email this week. Our pday was moved to today in honor of Thanksgiving and we are going to a castle. So I willl send a full report this coming Monday. :) Hope everyone had fun for Thanksgiving, so jealous! And send my congrats to the Bucks!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thinking about how I would write my email this week I think I'm going to change things up and make it a little easier to write and easier for you to read (I always have my readers in mind :). (I might have stole this set up from Nicole... :)

Something Missionary: This experience happened a little over a week ago and forgot to mention it last week, so a little catch up: Bodily and I were tracting in a pannelok (I'm never sure how to spell that word, I've seen 3 different spellings...) and after 3 floors of NO ONE answering we decided to just come back another day. On the way out we ran into Mia who was walking her dog. Not wanting to pass anyone up we strike up a conversation with her. She is a very strong Catholic but liked what we were saying. I cant remember exactly what was said but she expressed some concern. I followed up with a testimony about prayer and the blessings of knowing God is our Heavenly Father who wants to help and communicate with us. My grammar was jumbled, I mispronounced the words everywhere but after I finished she said that she felt this overwhelming feeling of warmth and comfort. Through my butchered Slovak the Spirit was able to rearrange the word order and make me sound coherent in her ears. I learned that the most important thing is just opening my mouth and let the words come the best as I can form them, the spirit will do the rest. Nothing came out of that contact, no appointment set up, no numbers exchanged, but it was definitely a miracle. Had we stayed in that pannelok we would have missed her. I would have missed out on that experience and she would have missed out on hearing a testimony and feeling something she, no doubt, needed to hear and feel.

Something Slovak: Last week Bodily and I went to Tesco, which is Europes Walmart. Only its a little nicer and doesn't have the connotation Walmart has in the States... So I guess it's like Target.. Anyways, we went to get a cart and I noticed that all of the carts were chained together and the only way to unlock the chain is to insert a 50 cent or a 1 euro coin into it. This is genius. Here's why: When you are finished with the cart you bring it back to the cart return, put the chain back on and out spits your coin. not returning the cart=not getting your money back. The result is a parking lot clear of carts and there are always carts ready to be used.

Something with the Branch: On Sunday Bodily and I unveiled the Branch Mission Plan with the Branch and got everyone's feedback. While I have NO idea what was said or discussed I could tell that it was a lively discussion and everyone was really excited to participate. We made little cards that had reminders for them to pray for missionary opportunities.  Later I learned that they all talked about experiences they had where the opportunities to share the gospel, BUT they didn't take it. Something we could all relate to. Every week we are going to take 5 minutes before Sunday school and let them share any experiences they had throughout the week. We are really excited to see the plan at work. Hopefully I can see the fruits of it before I have to leave Trenčin.

Questions: Some of you sent me some questions to answer, Ill just answer them all here:
-Whats the food like? HEAVY. But good. They have bread with EVERYTHING. (Its definitely a mission for Logan...)
-Whats your companion like? Bodily is so great. So patient and just wants everyone to hear the gospel. Hes been a great teacher, not much to complain about. :D
-Whats your apartment like? Its pretty small, but works for us. I was actually surprised by how nice it was. I would just make a bigger bathroom. The toilet is in a room literally the size of a small closet.
-Weird Customs? There are mostly just two, take your shoes off at the door of someones house and never EVER put anything on the floor. These two seem conflicting to me. The ground it considered the most filthy place for something. Yet the first thing you do in someones house is take off your shoes. My branch president is always on my case about putting my scriptures on the floor. One day I'll learn.
-Can I knit you a scarf for Christmas? Of course! Good suggestions for any package include: Hot sauce (something like Franks mmm), appropriate music (cant go wrong with Mo-Tab), but I really wouldn't turn anything down.

Until next week, Ahoj!

Starši Williams

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Day in Slovak Paradise

Remember a little while back when I was still in the MTC and I said I had just experienced my hardest week ever? I wish for those days again.... lol But no worries, I am slowly making progress. Slowly... Sometimes I feel that my progress is not where the Lord expects me to be at. But I feel that He has been patient with me as I've had to rework my personal language goals. I know that the language isn't the MOST important thing to worry about, but I want to talk to Slovaks SO bad!
This past week we had to go to Brno for new missionary training. I was excited to get together with the old crew again and it definitely gave me a reality check on my own progress. Elder Nichol and Bacon are struggling just as much as I am and expressed the same concerns I've been having. I almost felt silly in expecting that they would be masters at the language already. However, the sisters are pretty much fluent, but that didn't come as a surprise. lol Parting was difficult  mostly because I had a 4 hour train ride back to Trenčin. Those train rides are def an adventure. You never know what it will be like. This time we had to stand the entire time. Nie je dobre.
The reality of "actual" missionary work has become clear to me. A lot of frustrating lessons where we have no idea what a particular individual needs or how to teach them clearly so they understand. Finding is also probably the most spirit breaking activity there is. lol But when we find an investigator somehow its all worth it. We found two this past week who are really open to our message and can really benefit from it.
We went back to the store today and I no longer feel like crying there. I guess I've moved past that stage to apathy maybe? I'm still not sure how to measure the value of the Euro yet, but I'm hoping with time I'll get it. Which seems to be a common theme around here. Time, time, time. A friend of mine, (here comes a shoutout:) Julie, sent me a copy of Uchtdorf's talk on patience while I was in the MTC and I've been going back to it again and again... Thanks gf
The branch is great, still small, but we are going to change that. A year ago the branch President made a goal to have 100 people in church in a year. And they are still at 7.... So I am taking a page out of my University Ward's mission plan and do a similar thing here. We are asking the branch to talk about their faith and tell someone about it, (though the website, church, or English class etc) once a week. Then we're asking them to invite one person to church every month. (I would like that to happen every week, but we gotta start small) We're hoping that this will get the members thinking about missionary work and help break down the negative stereotypes people have here about Mormons.
I'm determined to see miracles here in Trenčin. Both in myself, the branch and the city.

Thank you in advance for the Christmas package family! And for everyone's continued support and prayers. When I feel helpless I just think about the support I have and feel lifted up.
I hope everyone is doing well, always great to get the update, thanks Mom. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010


I finally made it to Trencin, ps I cannot figure out this keyboard, no exclaimation points or other forms of puncuation, but just know that I really am excited1 Also every word shows up misspelled, so please excuse the spelling errors....
We finished up in Blava on Friday, we had to get our medical clearances or something. That was quite the experience. The doctor's office was fine and I wondered what the deal was with sociallized-Eastern European medicine. Then we had to go get X-rays done, don§t ask me why, and that was SKETCH. No hospital gowns, instead they give you bath robes and slippers. Gross. But I survived and managed not to get hepatitis  On Friday we weren§t able to get our foreign police work done so we have to go back this week. Not terribly excited about it. Travelling takes up so much of our time.
My MTC district was finally split up for good. Elder Nichol stazed in Blava and Bacon and I got on a train with our companions. I got off at Trencin, and the train station is EXACTLY what I pictured an Eastern Europe train station to look like. Kinda abandoned looking. Loved it. I got a picture that I§ll send eventually. We got to the apartment which is really nice actually. So don§t worry mom about my living situation. There§s a stand up shower and a full kitchen1 Sweet. We then went to the store and I felt like a dumb child. I have no concept of how much a Euro is and everything is in Slovak. In time Ill find what works Im sure. We went again today and I felt like crying.--I feel like crying a lot here. lol
I love it here when we tract or contact, maybe because I cant really say anything.... lol Slovaks are just great. I did run into my first drunk Slovak1 It was about 9 oclock Saturday morning. Fantastic. AND the very first pannelok, aka apartment building, I went tracting in we got escorted out by a very drunk, and very disgruntled man. He actually shoved us into the elevator and went down with us. Okay, these elevators are about the size of a refrigerator. I dont think he even lived there. It was a first for both me and Elder Bodily.
On Sunday I met the branch, its a small group of people but a family from Germany visited and we had an investigator and an inactive show up! Sweet! --ps I found the exclaimation point....--I just love our branch. I introduced myself and bore my testimony. Everyone is really nice and encouraging. One woman asked if I cry at night yet. I responded that Ive been crying night and day. lol Another one, the branch presidents mom got really excited I was from AZ. Her missionaries were from Mesa. Shes been a member for about 20 years now and has lost contact with them. After church we taught two lessons to our two very-slowly-progressing investigators. They both knew a little English so I wasnt completely lost. The language is the hardest part of being here. It seems that my retention is that of a fish. Bodily will quiz me on something and Ill forget it 5 minutes later. Its so discouraging and I feel like an idiot. But Ive been blessed with the most patient and loving companion there is. I cant imagine ever speaking this language but heres hoping itll come.

As far as letter/packages go send packages to the mission home, there someone will always be there to pick them up. Be sure to put the name of the Church on the first line otherwise they wont leave it there. (has to be delivered to the person..) but letters are fine to send to my apartment in Trencin. My address is-

Elder Adam Williams
Kapitana Nalepku 31
911 01
Trenčin, Slovakia

If you could update the blog and facebook that would be great.

I no longer have a time limit for email, and I can print out emails at this cafe, but it costs money, so I just read them. I don§t need anything specific, but thanks. And little pictures of Christ would be great. And the CTR rings would have to be in Czech. But there are not really a lot of kids here to give them too. But I can call the mission home for stuff like that.

I§m glad everyone is doing fine. I love you all and think about everyone often!

Elder Williams