Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Service project

Hey all!It was so good to talk to you on Sunday! It really hasn't felt like it's been that long since I last talked to you. Just 6 months. Looking forward to Mother's Day! This has been a relatively slow week. The highlight being Prague. Of course. I hope I can go to Prague when it's not cold someday. We had a great conference/talent show. The talent portion lasted about an hour and a half longer than we had planned so everything else was a little rushed. But the afternoon part of the conference was good as well. We got another big group photo too so I'll try to send that home asap. (Meaning it will probably go home with me on the plane...)Yesterday was "service day" and we spent the majority of the day in the building organizing everything. It looks so good! We're almost done. We recently got the walls painted and the got the pictures hung and more should be coming soon. We're starting to look like a real church building now. I'm please. We've discovered boxes and boxes of random brochures, magazines and manuals that no one uses. Even if EVERY member of the church in Slovakia took one and used it we would still have too many. Not sure what to do with it all--seeing as this is the only country that would use Slovak materials. How was everyone's Christmas? I hope it was perfect and you got what you wanted. I'm going to enjoy the tortilla soup tonight--thanks for that. :) And I love the CDs you sent. They really were a life saver.Sorry for the quick email, but I don't have a whole lot to report. Elder Tomlinson and I are going to give it our all this week to make sure we come out with something. (This is his second to last week, but don't tell him-- I don't think he realizes it yet.. :) Love you, miss you, have a great New Year!Elder Williams

Monday, December 19, 2011

Black Tie

Hey everyone!

First up I thought I would let you know that I am wearing a black tie in mourning. This morning Elder Walker, Milot and Wilcox left to Prague. They finished their missions and have left me. Those missionaries have kind of been around forever in my mind and it's hard to imagine going on without them. A shout out to all of them! :) Good luck in school/life--don't forget to write!

Second thing to report--my second week conducting church went much better--I really need to practice more, though. I'll have down by the time I have to leave I think. We had a little Christmas program. With singing, scripture reading, and everything. We're alomst like a real ward. We had an investigator there and everyone loved it! I was going a little crazy before hand hoping it would go all right. I managed to get teenagers involved init so I'm pretty pleased. (vďaka my Friendly Pines experience. That just keeps coming in handy) Saturday night we had our Christmas activity--the highlight being the white elephant and minute-to-win-it games. (ps can anyone send me some more group activity ideas? The branch is dying to do more and we can't use google.) Everyone showed up in their ugly Christmas sweaters (some things are just universal) and that was a huge success. I learned some things too. Number One (1) Plan way in advance. Number Two (2) delegate way in advance and Number Three (3) never paint the day of the party. Luckily everyone had ugly sweaters.

Thanks for all the Christmas cards by the way--they ALL said they would be late. But I got them. Mine will def be late. My apologies.

Our area is finally starting to look like an area with missionaries working in it. We found three new investigators last week and we have a stack of potentials that we'll weed through in January. I'm trying not to look forward too much to the next transfer, but it gets me excited to have a "fresh start". New year, new companion (nothing against elder Tomlinson-- I'll miss him almost as much as I miss Elder Zabriskie... almost) and all new missionaries in the city. We'll be able to really hit the ground running and hit this city like it's never been hit before. 2012!! Huzzah!

We got a busy week ahead of us-- couple lessons on the plan and then off to Prague for the Christmas Conference! I'm really looking forward to it. Last year was great and I think this year will be even better.

Not much else going one. Hope everything is good at home. I'll hear from you all next week! :)
Merry Christmas!!!

Elder Williams

December 12, 2011

Hey everyone!
This week we passed the 1/2 way point for the transfer. Something I can't believe. It feels like transfers should have already happened. Elder Tomlinson and I are doing great together-there is just a ton of work that we are trying to get done, as well as be missionaries. There is still a loooong list of things I want to get done, but I'm waiting until after Christmas-- it's a slow week in missionary work anyway.
Yesterday was my first day conducting church. Like everything else in this country it was an adventure. We (meaning I--there are no counselors yet) called a new Branch Missionary, who is SO excited for her new calling, and together with the Branch Mission Leader we will met and develop a Branch Mission Plan. I'm determined to turn this branch into a missionary minded branch if it kills me.

Let me tell you about the last conference:
We had a district training in Brno on Saturday and there we learned that this district, with 1100 members, has only about 400 who are actually active. Ouch.... So what I got out of it (it was all in Czech mind you...) is that our focus as a District is working with the missionaries to find solid members and bring the lost ones into activity. The church did a study where if the missionaries, acting alone, teach 1000 lessons they will get ONE baptism. If missionaries have 1000 lessons with a member present 78 baptisms are the result. But if the missionaries receive 1000 referrals and teach with the members the end result is over 600 baptisms. So we got to be open about the church and share what we know and work with those Elders. (me) :)
We also had a stand-up presentation from the National Director of Public Affairs. She is the first woman to serve in that capacity. Basically we learned that the Church is open about who we are and we as members need to be open to. I can't tell you how many times people ask if we practice polygamy, use electricity and why our prophet is in jail. (a lot think Warren Jeff is a mormon... sigh...)
At the end we had a 4 hour training on the new financial system. Something that was useless for the 4 Slovak branch presidents. They announced that the program won't start on the 1st of the year like the Czech Republic and they would have a separate training for us in Slovakia. The training was a little glimpse in how the church really runs. It's amazing. There really is no room for mistakes. The church, well, really the Lord has set it up in a way that no matter where you serve in this Church you have to really try to fail. The Lord's program is literally set up for success. It's perfect!

Hope everything is going well. Thank you for the letters Julie and Catherine! You're the best! My only question is what did Casey Anthony and Conrad Murphy do? Should I know these people?

Please pray that this week will see some more action. I feel like I'm boring you all with my letters!

-Elder Williams

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are you ready for this?

Hey family

This has been an interesting week. We managed to teach one lesson (yes, just one) and not feel like going home. So that's good! Elder Tomlinson and I are happy and that's most important.

Yesterday President Irwin came to Zilina for church to release Elder Tomlinson as Branch President and then I was called to fill his place. It's something that I had know since the beginning of the transfer--but I thought that maaaaybe, just maybe, it wouldn't work out and President would change his mind. Nope. It's official. All the members already knew the change was happening just because Elder Tomlinson is leaving pretty soon. They have been calling me "buduci Prezident" since I got here. Takes a lot of humility to call a 22 year old "Prezident" I think. I've been thinking a lot about the new responsibility and trying not to get too overwhelmed. I'm expected to keep up a healthy area which has been hard enough (remember how many lessons we taught?) and then be the ecclesiastical leader of a group of Slovaks here in Zilina and Banska. (which reminds me, I really need to learn this language....) But I'm ready to hit the ground running--it's about the only thing I know how to do at this point. I have some exciting plans for my area and this branch and I'm looking forward to what will happen in the next 9 months or so. It will be nice not having to worry about transfers, ever. I'm here til the end pretty much. Lord knows I hate packing. :)

That's pretty much all the news from this side of world.I have some travelling this weekend so I'm hoping I can write some letters. I have a training in Brno on the new financial system- all the Branch Presidents are invited.....

I love you all and I'm praying and thinking about you all the time! I hope you're doing the same for me! ;)
Hope everything is perfect!

Elder Williams

Monday, November 28, 2011


I got these pictures off John and Carol Stiles blog. They are a senior missionary couple serving in Kosice and doing humanitarian projects. They include the young missionaries in some of their projects and feed them at holidays, and do English classes with them etc. They take a lot of photos, so I found some of Adam and things he was involved in and posted them here.

Adam painting kindergarten room

John and Carol Stiles Halloween

Thanksgiving with the Stiles

Adam learning to sew rice bags

Missionaries at a project closing ceremony

All Saints day flowers

At a castle

Branch barbeque

Yvetta baptism
Slovak missionaries June 2011
Lenka baptism

Marek baptism
Yvetta baptism

Zilina hopeful

Hello family,

This week has been a quick couple of days. Thanksgiving was a feast that I was really thankful for. We went over to a members house for dinner. Then we had an English class and someone came! Zilina's English class is usually empty. We show up at 5 and then if no one comes, we leave. But this week a woman came to learn English! It was a good class (the secret is the charm ;) and she'll be back with friends. English was one of my favorite activities in Kosice, we had a good, big class that came every week. But we're going to do our best to see Zilina's class grow. Along with our teaching pool.

On Saturday we had Specialized Training--no more travelling for me! Most of the conferences are in Zilina from now on :) It was really good--as always. President talked about the Doctrine of Christ. We pretty much read and discussed 2 Nephi 31. I really enjoyed it. The Zone Leaders talked about unity within companionships (using the usual sport analogies that are inevitable with our ZLs) And the Assistants trained us on using better questions. I love when we have conferences and trainings. I always come out ready to work a little smarter. Next month we won't have any because we'll have the Christmas conference. I am SO excited for another Christmas in Prague!

Have I ever expressed how thankful I am to be in Slovakia as a missionary?? Elder Tomlinson and I ran into an American girl-it had been a long time since I had talked to an American on the street about religion. She had such an American attitude. "Oh, I already know all about you Mormons", "I've done a lot of research". "I believe in 'inclusiveness' ", "No, I've never read the Book of Mormon", etc etc. I got a little frustrated afterwards how the conversation went nowhere. Americans would be the hardest people to talk to I think. I always get a little disappointed when people flat out refuse to do some honest looking and are content with their superficial "understanding" on Mormonism. If people truly took the time to look at it objectively they would see that God's plan of salvation is about as inclusive as it gets! The idea that EVERY person who has ever lived, or will ever live, has an equal chance to hear the Gospel and an equal standing before God is unique to His church. But I guess you can't look at in objectively. You have to look at it prayerfully and faithfully that fairness actually exists in this world. I love that this all makes sense. Sometimes it's hard to keep going, but that's usually because we forget what the Doctrine of Christ means for us. In short, I just love Slovaks and the fact that no one knows who we are. We have a little bit of an advantage.:)

I hope everything is perfect for you all. I love you and I'll talk to you next week! Hope you enjoyed the pictures. I'll try to send more next week.

Elder Williams

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Me and "The Kids"

First Elder Z companion pic

Elder Zabriskis and ja

Marek and ja

Leaving Kosice. How could I leave?

Hello family,

That's all for now. I'll try to take more pictures and not forget my camera at baptisms and special events. But no promises....

Love you!

Thanksgiving! Round 2!

First up, apologies for not emailing on Monday-our pday got moved to Thanksgiving and I forgot to let you know. Oops. We have some things on plan that I'm pretty excited about. We are going over to a member's house for a big Thanksgiving dinner. We're all pitching in and having a feast. I made sweet potatoes this morning (shout out to Sister Stiles in Kosice for the help :) and I am just so excited to eat. My companion is from England and doesn't quite get the holiday. "So do you, like, exchange gifts or something??" "Is it really just food? Like, that's all you do, is eat?" He's willing to celebrate though and is thankful with the rest of us Americans for the chance to chow down. :) It should be better than last Thanksgiving when all we had to eat was frozen pizza.

I think I mentioned last week that my area here has been really slow. This last week and a half has seen some interesting results and we're starting to recognize success everywhere around us. The investigators we have are making exciting progress and I am regaining some fire over the work. It is so humbling and exhilarating to be a first hand witness of someone coming to know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that this whole thing that we're doing is true. That God actually has a plan laid out for us so that we can be happy! It's amazing to see the light that illuminates a person when they bear testimony for the first time, or give a prayer for the first time. I'm convinced that we're going to see some cool things in the upcoming transfer.

On Sunday a member of the District Presidency came down for church and he and his wife spoke. It is was welcome relief for this little branch. They got to hear from someone new for a change. Afterwards he spoke to the missionaries privately and just thanked us for the work that we have been doing in Zilina. The District cares a lot about this city (they care about every branch I'm sure) and he just passed a message of thanks from the District Presidency. Sometimes I think too small. Like the work I do will only affect the city I'm in. But in reality, I'm helping to grow the church on every level. Missionary work is hard. :)

Shout outs to the Mowers on the baby announcement! I am so excited to meet baby Blair! And I'm glad Jet hasn't forgotten me ;) And a congrats to Jesse for a job well done. Can you believe he's home already? I can. It feels like he has been gone FOREVER. lol annnnnnd HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY! I had an exchange with Elder Walker on your birthday and in the morning I announced that you had turned 21 and he says, "My sister has her birthday today too!" I wish we could say we celebrated for your birthday, but we spent the whole day tracting. :)

I love you all and I am so grateful for all of your support. It means so much to me. I promise I think about you all constantly-even if I never write you letters. :)
s Laskou,
Starsi Williams

ps how did you do on your senior comp project, Logan? Can you believe you're graduating in May? I can't. Then you'll be a missionary like me. :) (Except probably better)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hello from....

Zilina!!! (Sh-e-lee-na)Sunday night I got a call that I would be moving to Zilina today! I left this morning and I've already gotten settled in. I am serving with Elder Tomlinson from England! (Interesting tidbit: Our Fathers served in the same mission at the same time in Scotland. Say what?!?) He served about half of his mission on the Czech side, but came down here about 9 months ago to be the Branch President in Zilina. This is his last transfer.
Here's the make-up to the new District (I love them already)

-Elder Walker-- you should already be familiar with him. He's one of my fav missionaries :)
-Elder McCellan-- He's from Las Vegas and this is his second transfer. He was trained by Elder Walker and they stuck together
-Elder Gibson-- he hails from Blackfoot, Idaho. Since Elder Walker is leaving 6 weeks into the transfer he'll be with Elder McCellan for the last 3. He's been serving in the Czech Republic most of his mission.
and in Trencin, we have:
-Elder Romero-- from Utah. We served with each othe rin Blava. He likes to make comic books.
-Elder Sell-- he's from Wisconsin. (Exotic, right?) He just got trained last transfer.

I was crushed to leave Kosice, I already miss Elder Zabriskie. The "kids" Marek, Lenka and Ivett, all came to the station to see me off. But I am so excited to come to Zilina and see what we can do here! There is just a good energy here and I've always heard that the members here are wonderful! It was about time for me to move and I'll probably stay in Zilina for a little bit. Uvidime.

Shoutouts: Congrats Karen on finishing school! Can't believe you graduated already! And a Masters program while pregnant? Girl, you crazy!

Elder Zabriskie and I had a good last week. We went to the Zoo last Monday as a district and had a fantastic time. It's HUGE! The biggest in central Europe "in terms of size". Not a lot of animals, but lots of walking! It's up in the middle of hills covered with trees and it was just a chill day walking around seeing the fall colors with the odd lion and monkey here and there.

Glad to hear that everyone is doing well back home. I am sorry that Aaron pulled a muscle. I was enjoying the sports update.

I love you all and I'll talk to you next Monday! Soon!

Elder Williams

ps here's the new address-

čajakova 15
010 01

I expect more letters. :p

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Game of Catch Up

Hey everyone!
Hope everything is good back home, where ever you are. It feels like a tone has happened that I need to catch you up on.

October 11- A Canadian Thanksgiving. Apparently Canadians celebrate their Thanksgiving at the beginning of October and think it;s silly to wait til the end of November. Lucky for us Americans, the Stiles cooked us a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving. (It looks EXACTLY like an American one) Turkey, cranberry sauce, yams, the works. I actually had yams this year and they were SO good. Grandma, I'm SO sorry I never had your yams before. I was truly missing out.

There, I think you're all caught up. Last night the Stiles made their famous enchiladas for us. They are my favorite. (ps I think I've gained some weight since arriving in Kosice).

This past week we had some contacting focuses. We had a lot of fun and really wore ourselves out finding specific people to teach. Not a whole lot of immediate success though... :( On Saturday we bussed out to a little village outside of Kosice where there is ONE church that EVERYONE (except for one Jehovah's Witness family) attends throughout the week. Elder Zabriskie and I got a lot of hard rejections, a few nice people, but no one was really willing to learn more. Elder Williams usually does not get rejections ALL day.... But Elder Tenney and Hicken found a couple people that invited them back. We talked to a lot of people and left a lot of info about us. So they at least know who we are. No effort is wasted, right? I'm sure the village got the "Mormon talk" in church yesterday at church. Its unfortunate that the only info they hear about is that we're all polygamists and a big cult. "Vy ste sekta!" I love when they actually ask about the things they hear about us. A different feeling just enters the conversation. A light pops into their eyes when they hear that everything, EVERYTHING, they heard about us was way off base. I hate to consider my work as "planting seeds" but some days you plant and other days you REAP. Right?

We're all excited for you call Emily! Here are some guesses so far from other missionaries: Elder Nichol and Wilcox: Budapest Hungary, Elder Zabriskie: South Korea, Elder Tenney: Albania, Elder Hicken: Taiwan, Me: Vancouver Canada. Uvidime!!

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week! Can anyone else believe we're getting to the end of October? We have an exciting week with a Meet the Mormons presentation and a Halloween party! Tesim sa!

Starsi Williams

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

P-day on Tueday?

Hello everyone,

Apparently I forgot to mention last week that our p-day was moved to Tuesday this week because we had a conference in Zilina yesterday.

Elder Zabriskie and I had a stellar week this week. It was "Our Week" and we stretched ourselves to speak 100 hours of Slovak and develop some Christlike attributes. I'm excited to carry the energy over to this week!

Shout outs:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!! 51! Whew! I gave a talk on "Love" that Sunday and I gave you a shout out for the branch. They love you, and I love you!
Congrats Carter Sorenson on the marriage not to long ago. I'm a little hurt I never heard about the engagement, but what can you do. (thank you Sis. Halbert for relaying that tidbit of info:) All the best!
ps I got a bunch of letters from the conference, (catherine, no worries, I got your typed letter:) But know that you can continue sending letters to my Kosice address. I get them faster. Only packages need to be sent to the mission home in Prague. And as far as packages go I like Doritos and music ;)

Our people are doing great. The new converts are getting ready for the temple trip this weekend. Everyone is SO excited! They are going to grow so much as a result.
We've recently found some new young people that we're excited about meeting this week. More on them later, too soon to tell.

The conference was fantastic (as always) and it was amazing to me that President, the APs and the ZLs all hit the nail on the head in terms of what I felt I needed to hear. The work is definitely inspired.
Among other things, President shared a story that I think is worth repeating. It's one about coincidences (or, how he puts it, an instance where God wants to remain anonymous) and I LOVE stories about coincidences. I'll tell it like he did, because it made sense that way:
There are 4 major players in the story.
1) The mission President in the London South Mission. President Irwin has served as a counselor in that mission for 7 years under 3 presidents. He happens to be very good friends with this President. Put him on the shelf, we'll get back to him.
2) one young man from Malaysia who speaks Malaysian, Chinese and English. A little over two years ago he put in his papers to serve a mission. He got called to serve in the London South Mission speaking Chinese. He's visa work was delayed and the missionary department shifted his date back several weeks. When his visa for England finally ar5rived it was for 25 months, not the usual 24. Put him on the back burner, we'll get back to him.
3) Sister Anderson (remember her from the MTC days??) had spent the last 5 years studying Mandarin Chinese in high school and later at BYU. She was a little confused and a little disappointed that she was called to a Czech speaking mission, not a Chinese one. But she's put in all of her effort to learn Czech. She just got transferred to Prague, leaving a city she feel in love with. Put her to the side. We'll come back to her.
and finally
4) a young man from China who moved to Prague to help at his parents restaurant. He speaks no English and no Czech. Just Mandarin Chinese.

Who's put all the pieces together yet?

The young man from China was working in the restaurant and he wanted to learn English. Someone told him that if he wants to learn English, go to the Mormons. (We have free classes everywhere.) The young guy goes to English where he meets Sister Anderson. She knows just enough Chinese to talk to him, get to know him and put him at ease. Over time they give him Chinese church materials. He becomes obsessed and asks for more and more. The Sisters don't know what to do with him, as they can't really teach him. President Irwin hears about it, and knowing the London South mission has Chinese speaking missionaries, decides to call his friend in London. That Mission President has a home way out in the country. Away from the city and mission office. Enter the missionary from Malaysia. He had a meeting with his President at his house. He was nearing his 2 year mark, but he was meeting with his President because he just felt that he should stay til the end of his visa, one extra month. He said he didn't know why, but thought he should. Cue President Irwin's phone call. They decide that this Elder from Malaysia would "meet" with this guy from China via Skype. Over the next couple weeks they met over skype where this young man learned and was able to communicate and bear his testimony to people who understood him. When the Elder's visa was up after 4 weeks after the initial meeting his Mom came from Malaysia to pick him up and they stopped in Prague where the Elder baptized this young man from China last Saturday.
I love coincidences.

We're doing good, working hard and trying to wrap our heads around how quickly this transfer has flown by. The entire district is terrified of transfers- we don't want to leave. But I know that the Lord will put me where he needs me. I just have to work hard and be willing to do His will. Then the miracles happen.

I love you all!
elder williams

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Conference Just for Me :)

To those who read Adam's blog....I am sorry I did not post the last two weeks...our computer was being difficult and I didn't get back in and post them right away....all is here now. Sorry!! Thanks for reading, supporting him, and thinking about the people in Slovakia!

Hey everyone!!!
It was conference weekend for us here in Kosice and it was definitely a boost that I needed. It's amazing, really. I tell people everyday, literally everyday that living prophets walk the earth and we just heard from them. They truly are inspired leaders and it felt like they were speaking to me. Almost the entire active branch came to watch conference. We had an English room for the missionaries and a Czech room for the members. (Slovak is still a little hazy for me. And Czech? forget it.) They LOVED it. Esp. our new members. It was def a good experience for them. Coupled with my reading of the Book of Mormon I feel like I have some added strength to keep on pushing and keep working hard. I know that the Lord truly loves me and he gives me help that I need.
This past week was the start of "Outrageous October". In an effort to boost our faith and our depleted teaching pools we're having some special weeks. Last week was all about conference and living prophets. We found some cool people with focusing on that and we're excited to meet with them this week. This week it's "Our Week". We're focusing on developing some Christlike Attributes and our Slovak. I'm def. excited to see the effects a good dedicated week like this will do for us personally as missionaries and then the affect it will undoubtedly have on Kosice.

I am SO pumped for Emily! Let the countdown begin! Missionaries here ask me all the time how the process is for the papers and they will all be excited to hear that it's almost here!!

I love you all so much, sorry this email is so brief, but know that I am ok and that I love you!

Elder Williams

3.Octobra 2011

Hello everyone!
This has been a quick week! (Seeing as I just emailed) Not much to report, sadly. I always feel bad when I have nothing exciting or nothing long to send you. I imagine that my emails are the highlight of your week and you cannot wait til the next one. And throughout the week I'm all you ever talk about. If that is not the case, please don't ruin the fantasy.

This morning we had the first church sponsored marathon in Kosice!! Attendance: 7 Distance: Maybe 3 miles, max. Yesterday was the Kosice marathon, the 2nd oldest marathon in the world (right behind Boston). And because it was on Sunday Ivett couldn't run in it. So we ran with her this morning. At the end Lenka made a little medallion for her and we sang We are the Champions and the end. This whole running thing is great, despite the running. ;) But I'm looking forward to doing something different next week.

Saturday night was Biele Noc (White Night) where the whole town gets ready for the marathon. The park had an interesting light exhibit. I would love to come back to Kosice during the marathon season. The city is full of festivities that I really can't take apart in as a missionary. Mostly because they all start after 9..... Yea, we're getting ready for bed then.

Our "people" here are doing pretty well. Still reading and praying about the Book of the Mormon and our two dates are still slated for their baptisms. Have I ever said that it's an exciting time to be in Kosice? I literally never want to leave this city.

As a mission we have been reading from the Book of Mormon 10 pages a day and marking whenever we see references to the atonement. We were all given clean books and pencils to do our marking and it has been a great experience. I always knew that the BofM had some pretty powerful passages about the atonement and helped us understand what it means for us, but as I have been reading with the purpose to find those other smaller references to the atonement I've discovered that it is littered with references to Christ and his sacrifice. There really is no argument that the BofM testifies of Christ. We've been at it for about 2 weeks now and should all finish together in a couple weeks. This challenge came at the perfect time, I had just lost my scriptures (I think I left them at a bus stop! :( ) and then I got a new Book of Mormon! But I really miss a bible dictionary etc. I'll be ordering some new scriptures, so no worries parents.

Other then that, Elder Zabriskie and I are doing well. He embarrasses me sometimes when he refuses to eat. (Sister Zabriskie, I'm trying to make sure your son eats! I promise) But he just likes bread and chocolate milk. (I swear, it's like serving with one of my brothers!) We get along great and I'm terrified for transfers. I don't want him to leave me.

I hope everyone is doing well today. I think about you often and you're always in my prays!

Elder Williams

September 26th Sorry About the Wait

But you still have to wait.

We had a crazy pday (nothing goes right for us) and today was full of meetings. (new baptismal date story!!!) We will have more time to email you tomorrow morning/afternoonish. So talk to you then. Hope the blog readers aren't freaking out. :)

Love you!!

September 27th Your Wait is Over

Hello family! (And other readers! :)

Hope everything is perfect for you. It's been the same ol' same ol' around here in Kosice, meaning INSANE. On Monday we went running with Ivett, one of our members. I'm still sore. Next week president van Dalen is going to organize a mini-marathon for her. She had been training for the Kosice Marathon for months, then she met the missionaries, was baptized and decided that she would not run in the marathon because it is on Sunday. What a testimony. So we're going to organize a mini-marathon for her. After our warm-up run on Monday I am NOT excited for it. I'm not a runner. After our workout we went to Spissky Hrad (pictures to come when we have more time. PROMISE) Which is about an hour and half away. It was my second time there and it really is a sweet castle. We made a new friend on the trip named Alex from Canada. He's been backpacking around Eastern Europe and we he joined us for a little bit of our excursion. Love new friends. There is supposed to be a bus that would take us back to Kosice with plenty of time to email--- but of course, it only runs on Sunday. So we got in a little late and we were booked with meetings the rest of the night. Then yesterday was the same thing, we haven't had a second to catch up. But yesterday Elder Zabriskie and I committed a new investigator to be baptized and he accepted! Nov 5! He's a young guy, about 19 and def. a future missionary! (he doesn't know it yet...) And just hours before Elder Tenney and Hicken committed one of their investigators to baptism and he accepted! Kosice has three baptisms on the line and we're brimming with excitement.

Last Wednesday, the 21, we had "progression training" where I learned how to be a trainer and Elder Zabriskie learned how to call me out. It was a great training opportunity and we watched Elder Holland's MTC devotional talk again that is SO good. I am dying for a transcription of it. I gained so much more out of it the second time around. I realized during the training how much of a blessing it is to be serving with Elder Zabriskie. I am learning more from him everyday. (Here's a secret: HE'S coaching ME on my skolovanie! (declension)) We are a good team and I'm not looking forward to the day when we'll be split up.

Other than that it's been just a good week. Our new members are all excited for a new member temple trip where they'll be doing baptisms for the dead. The missionaries couldn't be more pleased. When we fix our eye to the temple, man, there ain't nothing that will stop us. Yesterday we had FHE with them at the Stiles where we watched Elder Oaks CES Fireside. (Which was fantastic) We committed them all to think of questions they need answer to, to prepare for General Conference and described this fireside as a warm-up. Ivett made the comment afterwards that she received an answer that she had during the fireside. She said that she didn't have to wait for Gen. Conf! I am still amazed at the spiritual growth these converts are making. It's been a ton of work, worry and prayers, but the dividends are definitely paying off.

Our Porac story continues: On Saturday President van Dalen took us to the little village, much faster, but still an hour and half. The same crowd wasn't there. Just the main guy, Vladimir, his wife, grandma and a cousin from Zvolen who was taught by the missionaries there. She already has a testimony of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, ect. Vladimir explained the Book of Mormon was really difficult to understand but he liked what he was hearing. He is going to England to work there for a couple of weeks so we will go back up there when he returns. His parents are working there and as far as I understand it are members. So maybe they can help explain some things and share their testimony. We're taking it slow with them because they are so isolated, but we're confident that things will turn up with them, especially after we get the Book of Mormon in Slovak. So more on that later!

Thank you for you love an support everyone! I think and pray about you all everyday!

s Laskou,
Starsi Williams

Monday, September 19, 2011

Brno Burn and the Porac Miracle

What. A. Week.
Elder Zabriskie and I are still coming to our senses about what just happened. Poor guy, he hasn't had one normal week since arriving in the mission, and I don't see one coming for awhile. That's just what happens when you serve with me I guess. :)

We started off the week kind of rough. We are scheduled for a baptism this Saturday, but our investigator still has a lot of concerns so we've had to postpone it a little bit. We're meeting with her tonight so we hope to get things straightened out. She loves the church, the Book of Mormon, and the members, but has a few problems with doctrine. But if she keeps reading the Book of Mormon, coming to church and praying all of those concerns will go away. It can be so easy to build and strengthen a testimony. Just read the Word, pray about it, and go to church. On the other hand, it is so easy to lose a testimony by neglecting those vitally important things. Our other baptismal date is doing well, we're excited about what's happening here!

On Tuesday Elder Hicken and I had an exchange, Elder Zabriskie and Elder Tenney had a successful time without the two old missionaries. New people to teach! :)

Then our adventures began on Wednesday. We had a conference in Brno that we needed to be at on Thursday. We decided to take a straight shot to Brno, from Kosice Wednesday afternoon. around 1:30. We would get in Brno around 8:30. It was the perfect plan. We had two connections to make, but we gave ourselves plenty of time. On the way there was an accident on the tracks and we just sat there on the rails for 70 minutes. There was a guy there who didn't understand what was said on the intercom and while he was passing by asked if we knew what was happening. We told him what we knew and like good missionaries jumped at this easy opportunity to share with this man what we're doing here. Turns out he is a pilot from Germany. He wasn't really familiar with the church until we mentioned the Book of Mormon. "Oh, you're Mormons?? I had a boss that was a Mormon. He's a bishop now, or something". Elder Tenney, without missing a beat, asks for the boss's name. "Uchtdorf, do you know him?" Ya, we know who he is. We took the chance to talk to him about the restoration and about Prophets and apostles and that his former boss is now a special witness of Christ. Like the disciples of the new testament. He made a comment that I thought was interesting. "That's kind of strange, because Dieter was just a normal guy, you know? I can't believe that he is who you say he is." I never thought about our church leaders like that before. The Prophet and the 12 Apostles are just that, normal men with families who worked normal jobs before. The original 12 were the same kind of men. But God somehow accomplishes his work through us. Normal, everyday people. There is nothing especially spectacular about me, but if I allow myself, as an individual, to be a tool for the Lord there is no limit to what I can accomplish. Our potential is literally limitless! Right??

Anyways, he was just an interesting guy who I would love to sit down and talk to again.
So we obviously miss our connection in Bratislava, but we found a bus that would get us to Brno by 10:15. Great. A little later, but that's fine. We wait for the bus and it's 20 minutes late. And then some. We finally roll into Brno around 10:40 and try to figure out how to get to this apartment that I've never been to. We're told to get on a number 8 tram to Osova. We get to the stop and there are two number 8s going in two different directions. We jump on one of them and ask the driver if it takes us to Osova. We got an affirmative reply so off we go, a little annoyed that it's so late, but we're kept pretty entertained by the drunk homeless man who is shouting at Elder Tenney in drunken Czech. Elder Hicken talks to some people next to him (because he's a good missionary who talks to EVERYONE) and he finds out that Osova is the other direction! The tram stops and we ask again if it goes to Osova, the driver said, "Oh, I thought you something else, ya you want to go on the other side..." Great. So we jump off the tram and get to the other side where we wait for the next one. We are POSITIVE that this tram will take us where we want it to go. In 16 minutes to be exact. 15 minutes into the tram ride it stops at the "final destination". Excuse me?? We are in a city where we have never been and it's 11:00 at night. We get to a tram/bus stop with a map and we call the Brno elders to help us figure out where we are. (Keep in mind that those missionaries were brand new to the area and were of zero help) We found where we were on the map and and realized that we could not but further from our destination. And the next bus was coming in 30 minutes. So we wait for what feels like forever, for a long bus ride, and then finally jump into bed. 12:30 am. Still recovering.

The conference was fantastic and I really didn't want it to end. I'll tell you all about it later maybe.
The trip back was just as exciting. We missed our train because the conference ended late, so we got into Zilina late, around 10:30. As all of us, 4 missionaries from Koscie and Elder Walker and McCellen from Zilina, were outside the door of the apartment waiting to go in Elder Walker's key breaks. BREAKS! He holds up the round part of the key to show us and the teeth part of the key is in the key hole. fantastic. Where is the other set, you might ask? Elder Romero had them still in Trencin. So we give the other Zilina elders a call and they come to get us. They had two missionaries from Banska staying over there already so it was a full house. 10 of us slept over in that tiny and OLD apartment. Kosice was on the very next train home in the morning.

And then Saturday Elder Zabriskie and I went out to Porac, a tiny, tiny little village 2 hours away to catch up on a referral. It was in the Roma part of Porac, but they were very well off for Roma. Car and everything. We started teaching just 3 people. The son and mom of the guy who referred us to them and one other woman. Then more came in, and then some more and little by little about 17 people were there, crowded in that little kitchen hearing the message of the restoration. I never imagined that I would teach to a roomful of people who were literally hanging on to every word that was said. Elder Zabriskie and I taught really well together and we are scheduled to come back on Saturday. This time with more Book of Mormons and other info for them. We are going to take it slow with them all. Make sure we don't leave anyone behind. Half the zone has been texting us where our investigators came from (we definitely got a highlight in the newsletter :) Just doing our job. :)

While our travels were full of set backs and was extremely frustrating, every time something went wrong we ran into someone we could talk to and in some small way, help. Every hold up opened up a new opportunity to slow down and focus on what it most important--the people of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Instead of getting worked up or annoyed, I was filled with peace that everything would be ok. As we do what we're supposed to do we're promised that peace. I just love being a missionary! if nothing else, you never know what will happen next! :)

I hope everyone is doing well and I'll keep you posted on any new adventures this week. We have to go to Zilina on Wednesday for new missionary/trainer training. I'm excited to get some more direction, but Elder Zabriskie is a pro already. He'll be a better missionary than me, that's for sure!

Love you all! Thank you for the letters and the emails! I appreciate them all, even if I can't find the time to respond individually! :)

-Starsi Williams

Monday, September 5, 2011

Early Transfer and a Trip to Prague

What an intriguing subject line, no?

Hope everyone is doing well! I am doing super! As you may know already, we had to end transfers a little early as President Irwin has some conferences next week. He's shaken some things up. Thursday afternoon I get a phone call from President Irwin. He says, "Elder Williams, you're training next transfer!" followed by a "You need to be in Prague tomorrow night!" Uhhh..... So I'm training now. I am with Elder Zabriskie who hails from the Great Salt Lake. He's a fantastic missionary and I am really excited to serve with him. I remember how awful I was to my trainer and I had nightmares that it would be a similar experience. I keep asking if he's happy. So far he is. :) **I apologize in advance to the Zabriskie family. I will do my best to make sure he does well. But thank you for sending your son/brother on a mission. I appreciate what he brings to the district** In the other area we have Elder Tenney, who I served with in Bratislava when he was being trained, and he is with Elder Hicken, who has been serving in the Czech Republic his whole mission. All of us are stoked to serve together and I am just so excited to see what will happen. Mark my words, last transfer's miracles were only a warm-up. :) Elder Zabriskie's FIRST time contacting in the city ended with us setting up a meeting and getting a phone number. The meeting was great and we're going to see him tmrw at FHE. ......And then baptism! :)

The transfer call kind of messed me up, I was on a train for 18 hours, to and from Prague. Elder Wilcox (who trained in Kosice last year) said that it was "the WORST experience of his life." But I got some letters written, per usual.

The branch is totally in love with these three new missionaries, and our new converts are still glowing. Last week Ivet gave a stellar talk and Marek said that he has been preparing his own talk! I just love these people.

I am just so excited that we have a full district again, Elder Stansfield and I were kind of running around with our heads cut off. We had to do everything on our own- and Elder Hicken and Tenney kind of feel like reinforcements.

I don't have a ton of time, but a shout out: Morgan is engaged! Excuuuuuuse meeee???? I had no idea! Letter please.

I love you all and I appreciate the words of support, they are needed. Now I just need your prayers. Elder Zabriskie asks a ton of Slovak questions (which is SO good) and I'm forced to actually recall grammar principles now. Gift of tongues would be oh-so-nice. But he's doing well, and might pass me up pretty soon. And he already loves Kofola. I'm so proud. I'm sure we'll have some adventures this week. I'll keep you posted!

Love you!
Elder Williams

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August 29, 2011

Hey everyone!

Can you believe that I left a year ago? My year mark (the 25) was kind of anti-climatic. Which is good I guess-- nothing too dramatic. We had specialized training in Zilina and we spent all day there, we got back just in time for bed. But it was a fantastic conference. Lately, whenever I have been working on something or trying to improve in a specific area of my work it's talked about at conference. This past week we talked about planning (huge focus) and member relationships. We really need to work on making sure the members see us as missionaries who were sent to grow and establish the church, not there to merely support them. At the end of the conference President Irwin showed us the full MTC devotional Elder Holland gave in January. We were shown a little clip of it at Elder Pearson's conference, but the whole thing was really spectacular. I have been worrying a lot about my post-mission life (such a silly thing to worry about really, as I have neither control nor the time to do anything about it). But Elder Holland talked a lot about what the choice to go on a mission means, or ought to mean, for those who serve. He spoke a lot about discipleship and what it takes. All of us must pay a price to come to know our Savior. He paid so much to know us. His price was everything, and as a result He knows us perfectly. We don't have to pay what he did, but he definitely asks us for sacrifices. To follow Him where ever He needs us to go. Discipleship is a concept I'm having a difficult time in understanding. Granted, I know what the word implies, but I don't think I quite get the full import of what it really means. Yet. Until then I will keep doing what I'm doing, trying constantly to improve and see where it leads me.

On Saturday we saw our 2nd baptismal service! Lenka was just glowing and giddy the entire morning leading up to the service. She has this perpetual smile that everyone loves. I really never thought that I would see THREE people baptized in a single transfer. All of them was found, taught and baptized this transfer. It's all a miracle. Naturally, I forgot my camera for this wonderful occasion, but Elder Stansfield took some pics and I'll forward them on. :) The branch just loves Lenka (as well as Ivet and Marek) and on Sunday, when she walked into the chapel everyone just lit up. The branch's faith has been higher then it has in a long time as these new converts are already speaking in sacrament meeting, participating in Sunday school and not falling away like so many converts they've seen do in the past. They have really brought new life into the branch and have enthusiasm for the gospel that is contagious! Ivet never ceases to amaze me, she wants to learn to play the piano for church and we'll be going through the keyboard program the church has. She'll get her own keyboard and I'll teach her how to play some simple hymns. I'm looking forward to the day when it's not a "missionary show" at church. So far we do everything.

Such as teaching.....

The past three weeks in a row I have been teaching either Priesthood or Sunday School. All in Slovak. It's a miracle anyone ever understands me. But it's definitely good practice and I hope (not really though) that I will continue getting opportunities like that to practice. At the very least the members are entertained. Som zlate. :)

Food update: Hot wings at the Stiles last night. 'nough said. All that was missing was Frank's Hot Sauce :( (which would be a nice gift ;)

Fashion update: Because it's been so hot last week (still got nothing on AZ) I've noticed a trend with old, heavy, men; we'll call them gentlemen. They love button up shirts but only with the last two or three buttons done up. Then they just sit with their chests/bellies out in the open as they sit in a restaurant or on the bus. So chic.

Things are doing well here in Kosice. Everyone is enjoying FHE that we do and we are working on geting our next baptismal date, a lovely woman named Viera, all prepped for her baptism at the end of September. We're hoping for a new investigator in the form of a referral from West Virginia. Here's the story:

Arthur was riding his bike when he saw a couple missionaries hanging out on the porch of a house. He went up to them and started asking who they were and what they were doing. You know, the questions missionaries LOVE. They got to know him and started teaching him, turns out he is from Slovakia! We know about Arthur because Elder LeSuer (obvi from AZ), the missionary who taught Arthur is cousins with Elder Tenny, a missionary serving in Bratislava! So when Arthur moved back we were able to get his info and this week will be a "find Arthur" week before transfers. (<--more on that) So far, no luck, but we have good ol' Sister Curtis in the mission home hunting for some more information on Arthur. The news that Arthur is also a young adult made us even more excited about him.

Transfers are ending this Saturday! President Irwin is out of the country all week next week so the new missionaries (4 of them) are coming a little early. The zone is all excited for them, especially because it means we will have more missionaries to help us out. :)

Pday will be on the normal Monday so I will talk to you all there!

Hope everyone is good!

Elder Williams

Sunday, August 21, 2011

No Fear August 15

Hello family! Hope all is well, this has been one of those weeks where I'm kind of glad to be over with. It was the last full week for Elder Bodily and McGowan and they dubbed it "No Fear Week!" (Shark Week aint got nothing on them) They were two big, bold missionaries all week and saw some amazing results. Elder Stansfield and I did our best to be fearless- but we are still pretty timid missionaries. Step by step and we will get there. It really is amazing to see what happens when we hit the streets having no shame in who we are or what we believe. This upcoming week I want to study the way Christ taught and how I can apply that. He was a pretty bold teacher--still is. he had no shame in who he was and what he was called to do. Every week needs to be No Fear Week. Elder McGowan asked that I bring that vision to the rest of the mission- I will do my best.

Everyone in Kosice is doing well. The other Elders each gave a farewell talk in church and Elder Stansfield and I taught Sunday School-kind of a "missionary show", but we will have to do less and less now that we're getting more and more members :) On Saturday we had our Annual Kosice Branch BBQ that was quite a success. About 40 people came. (not bad for an active branch of 6, eh?) It didn't hurt that the Stiles family from England came over to add 6 to our group. It was so nice to have a family at church. We actually had a primary! It was a trip to hear little kids speak in English. I've always thought I just couldn't understand children's Slovak, turns out I just can't understand/hear children. :)

Speaking of kids, thank you Brookie for the update on your sister. Can't wait to see Lewis. He'll be a one year old by the time I get back! Weird....

Here's a story y'all might appreciate. Saturday night Elder Bodily and Elder McGowan left their apartment to grab some things for lunch on Sunday-we were all going to eat together. They come back and unlock the door, but it doesn't open. Uhhh.... They keep trying the lock and it's budging but the bottom of the door isn't opening at all. They spend the next hour and half trying to bust down the door. They try kicking it, body slamming it, even sliding coins under the door as a way to wedge it open or something (I don't get it either....) They prayed (a couple times) and kept at it. They are making all this noise and no one, NO ONE ever comes out of their apartment to see what's going on. They tape a note on their neighbor's door to call them asap. (The plan was to climb over thought the balcony). They finally give me a call around 10:30 to ask if Elder Stansfield and I could pray for them. So we prayed. I thought it was a cool thought that both companionships were uniting in prayer, asking for divine help in getting this door open. No luck. So they call us back to tell us that they are on our way to our apartment. About 11 I get a text saying, "Wrong bus. Long story. Be there soon" Finally at 11:30 they arrive. They told us the story, we laughed and went to bed. It was amazing to me when I thought about it. Here they are, on the other side of the world, 4 days away from seeing their families and on their last Sunday this happens. And despite that, they maintained an attitude that I wish I could have whenever anything goes wrong. While our prayers didn't get them into their apartment it helped us feel that everything would be fine.
The next morning though, presented another problem. Because they had been home writing talks and then ran to the store they were in gym shorts and t shirts. Any other day and it wouldn't be an issue, but we had to get to church and they had NO appropriate clothes with them. Miraculously Elder Bodily fit into one of my suits and Elder McGowan into Elder Stansfield's. Granted, they definitely were not the best fit, but they got away with it. Shoes and all. Elder Bodily didn't even have a nametag so there were two Elder Williams at church :) The Elders gave some good talks, despite having their prepared materials inside the apartment....
After church we went over to the apartment and the landlady was there and a locksmith who, with a crowbar, was trying to get into the corner of that door. Slovaks are serious about security and these doors are solid. The problem was that all along the sides of this door there are pins that jut out when you lock the door and go into hole along the doorjam. One of the pins was stuck down, which was the problem. He left and got a tiny little saw and spent a good 15 minutes sawing away. Finally, after a big mess and a ton of noise we got into the apartment! And throughout this entire ordeal NO ONE ever came out of their apartment. It's no joke when they say Europeans like to keep to themselves.

I'm looking forward to the week ahead. We're absorbing the other area and their investigators/potentials. It will definitely be exciting. district meetings will be interesting with just Elder Stansfield and the Stiles. I'll keep you posted.

Last Tuesday the Stiles fed us, sort of a last supper for Elder Bodily and McGowan. What was on the menu? RIBS! omg... It was amazing. Even better then the first time they cooked us ribs. (That's right, I've had ribs twice on my mission so far) And after that Sister Stiles saved me a piece of the cheesecake she made when I was in Brno. Hands down, some of the best cheesecake I've ever had. Apparently she has a website where she posts all her recipes.

Well, that's about the run down of our week, hope you enjoyed the pictures I sent last week. :) I'll try to take/send more. Wish you all a fantastic week and that school isn't stressing anyone out yet.

Love you all and can't wait to hear from you!
Elder Williams

Monday, August 8, 2011


They say that baptism is central to a missionaries purpose. (It's part of the doctrine of Christ, duh) if so, that means the both areas of the Kosice district are fulfilling their purpose!! :) Both Ivet and Marek were baptized on Saturday!! It was such a beautiful experience and the whole branch really grew together as a result. I'm looking forward to the 27th when we will add another member to the branch!
And yesterday was just another fantastic day. I confirmed Marek a member of the church and let me tell you, the priesthood is a pretty cool thing. I'm so thankful that it's been restored to the earth and that we can enjoy so many blessings as a result. The Kosice branch hit a pretty big milestone. We had more members at church than missionaries! First time that has ever happened, according to anyones memory. And I know that the branch will continue to grow. We had another investigator at church (which as far as the missionaries were concerned, that in of itself was a miracle) and right away our new converts were fellow shipping and even swapped numbers! Look at these members doing missionary work. Couldn't be prouder! It was one of the most powerful fast and testimony meetings I've ever attended and I am amazed at the our pouring of blessings the Lord has given us. Even to such an inadequate missionary that I am.

I think the secret has been getting these investigators integrated into the branch from the get-go. Pretty much from the beginning we told them that they were the future of the Church. True pioneers. And they accepted that reality because they received an answer and they were not going to let anything get in the way. I'm learning so much from their courage and their example.

The week leading up to the baptism has been a pretty rough one for Elder Stansfeild and me. Beside the baptism nothing really happened in our area. We dropped a ton of potentials and a couple meetings fell through. All week I was telling myself to just get to Saturday. We're praying for some miracle this week. It is the last full week for Elder Bodily and Elder McGowan and so we're doing an all-day finding day. We're waking up a little earlier, getting our studies done and getting out the door and going non-stop all day. I am so excited. I haven't worn myself out doing missionary work since Awesome April. It should do the trick at restarting this district.

Thank you all for the continued love and support. We have a lot to do by the end of the transfer. And next week it will be just Elder Stansfield and I in the outpost of Kosice. Upside is that we get all of the Sister Stiles cooking to ourselves!

Love you and miss you all!

Elder Williams

Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm a little off my groove today, as I don't have my planner to help me remember what I did this past week. It felt like a loooong one.

As well, today is Elder Bodily's birthday! My trainer is 21 today! Elder Bodily, do you remember when we went bowling and went out for pizza for your birthday??

The districts three baptismal dates (Here on known as "BD"s to protect their identities) have continued to progress and we missionaries have been scheming of ways that we can make them become friends with each other. Operation Friendship started on Tuesday when Elder McGowan and I had an exchange. Elder Bodily and Stansfield met with our baptismal dates (BD1). They taught him about tithing and he accepted everything, no problem (I'm telling you, these people the Lord sent us are amazing). They also penned down a date that works for everyone. The 6th. This coming Saturday! After their meeting Elder McGowan and I met with their first baptismal date (BD2), a young woman who is just so prepared. She is just eager to help and to do things that will bring her closer to God. We had a combined meeting with her and BD1. BD1 helped us teach the plan of salvation. He was such a pro! Sharing testimony and even scriptures! It was so amazing. We decided that we would move BD2 date up to the 6th so that they could be baptized together! (Furthering our sneaky plan to get these people to bond with each other) Then we met with the other date, BD3. This time BD1 and BD2 helped us teach her. We were going over the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what it means for us. At one point Elder McGowan and I just had to sit back and let them talk and share amongst themselves. Then something I didn't expect to happen, Elder McGowan and I shared our favorite passages of the Book of Mormon, (FYI-- I shared 2 Nephi 4:27 to the end:) and then asked if anyone else had a favorite scripture. ALL of them had a verse that they said was their favorite. All 3 of them have been reading the Book of Mormon for less than a month and in BD3's case, about a week, and already they found something that spoke to them. It was such a cool experience and the best 2 and half hours of my mission. It was such a testimony builder for me that the Book of Mormon truly is a book that will bring people closer to their Savior. His hand has been in all of this. Elder McGowan and I ended that session with a prayer of gratitude. We just felt we needed to. We want them to form a solid support system between themselves, independent of missionaries and we're on the way. We had a little game night with them and went bowling together for pday, Operation Friendship is well underway. :)

Today we did have kind of a bombshell, especially after the experience I just described. BD1 told us that his father does NOT want him to be baptized. Right now, we are not exactly sure what will happen. I'm worried that if he doesn't get baptized this week he will never be baptized. He has to respect his family, for sure. But at the same time he has to do what he needs to do. I'm grateful for parents that support me, even when they would have rather I do something different (is that proper English?). We will see what happens with him this weekend. Til then, the other two are on track. One for the 6th and the other for the 27!

It's amazing how difficult this experience of "the mission" has been, and how all of those difficulties melt away into nothing when I consider the miracles that I see everyday. I am slowly growing with more confidence in my my God, that through Him, truly anything is possible.

Except when it comes to cell phones, apparently.
A couple days ago our phones stopped working. We can receive calls, however, we cannot send texts or outgoing calls. It sounds like someone forgot to pay a bill. Whoops. We've been managing without it but today we just got a text from the APs (this is just a Slovak phone problem, the Czechs are fine) saying that it'll be about another week.... so we're going to have buy our own SIM card and buy our own credit. Which definitely makes things interesting... It feels like I am a missionary in the 80s or something ( I guess even the 90s). Setting up meetings and just hoping that they will come having no way of cancelling or confirming...

Thanks for all the updates friends and family! So excited for you Michelle! And I'm glad you had a successful move Catherine. I hope the deathly humidity up in Ames wasn't too bad! As well, congrats to the team at the USAO for a job well done! I was flattered that I was on the thank you list! (Still waiting on that t-shirt from Danny....)

Miss you all and love you more!

Elder Williams

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hey everyone!

How is everyone doing?? It has been quite the week. Maybe too much for one email, but I will try.

On Tuesday we had a specialized training and I spent my final moments in Brno before having the head back out to Slovakia. I really hope I get to spend at least a transfer on the Czech side of the mission, it was definitely a cool experience. Specialized Training was really good. President talked all about church and the importance of getting our investigators there. It's been something that I've been trying to focus on the last transfer- and my new missionaries have embraced the goal to always have an investigator at church every week. I was glad that that concept was reinforced at the training. I've realized that we need to challenge the people we teach more. Not in an obnoxious, radical sort of way, but challenging in a way that gets them to understand WHY all the things we teach are important. After the training we spent the night in Bratislava, had possibly the best halusky ever, props to Elder Tenney, and in the morning Elder Stansfield and I began the trek east to Kosice. 7 and a half hours later (we got on the slow train.... never again...) we arrived in Kosice. Right behind was President and Sister Irwin for interviews! (they were scheduled to come for the big wheelchair ceremony, more on that later) The APs tagged along and we did some finding together. Always fun.

It never ceases to amaze me how much President Irwin knows his missionaries personally. He lives over 600 kilometers away, and has over 70 other missionaries to take care of, act as the ecclesiastical leader of 2000 members in 2 different countries, and yet, he manages to remember the problems and concerns of me in my tiny little branch and district. Wednesday night we also held our North American Party for our English class. Huge hit. I'm sure sister Stiles has more on that on her blog....
The next day was the long anticipated Wheelchair ceremony. The church gave 500 wheelchairs to this organization and they held a little ceremony for us. Our job was to smile for the camera and "present" some of the wheelchairs. It was something different and enjoyable. Do I have pictures? Of course not. I'm sorry. :( I'm awful with pics, už vieš...

The work here in Slovakia is picking up. An experience was shared at training from the Elders in Banksa. (Elders Andersen, Nichol and Wilcox) It goes like this: President Irwin had given them a referral to check out. He was someone who was recently baptized in England while he was working there (along with 12 other Slovaks!) and wanted the missionaries to teach his three sisters. They went out to meet him, as he lives a little outside of town, and when they walked in the house they found 17 people who were waiting for them. They were mostly family and some friends who had noticed the change in this young man after he returned from England. They knew that what the missionaries were teaching could have a real effect in all of their lives. As Elder Andersen put it, "They were waiting to be taught by representatives of Jesus Christ". So far 9 of them are slated to be baptized. It was an experience that those elders will never forget. And that happened here! In Europe!
In Kosice, we have three miracles ourselves. All young adults who have readily accepted the message we share and are so excited to follow their Savior and be baptized. By the end of August we will have 3 new solid members. Each of them are inspiring to me and I am so impressed by their willingness and their faith. Getting to the actual baptism for my investigator has been quite the ordeal with conflicting schedules, but it will happen and I am trying to be patient. He wants it to happen soon!

The prophet Daniel described a stone cut out of the mountain without hands that gradually filled the whole earth, we are witnessing that happen here. I am so excited and so blessed to see it happening before my eyes. I know that it is only a result of the Lords hand. He truly is preparing people, we missionaries just have to worthy and willing to put in the work to find them all. My testimony of this work is increasing. I am so impressed with anyone who is willing to open their mouth and challenge people to learn for themselves the truth that we have. It's hard, I didn't do it before, but it truly can make all the difference for those who are truly seeking answers.

The upcoming week will be a normal one. No travels, thank goodness. Excited to see what happens....

Some shoutouts: Congrats Brooke Steinpries (I used to know how spell that last name...) on the wedding announcement! I expect an announcement in the mail.... And to the successful delivery of the newest member of the Morris' family. Wish I knew his name..... (an update would be nice guys) And to Mara for the successful move to St. Louis, LOVE the apartment! As well, an apology for not getting letters out. I know its been awhile but know that I love you and I'll get them out. (I have like three for you Catherine... whoops)

Hope everyone is doing well, thanks for the love and support!

Elder Williams

Monday, July 18, 2011

Greetings from Brno!

Say what? I have been in Brno for the past week working here. Let me explain: We had a leadership training on Wednesday (more on that) and we have another "Specialized Training" tomorrow here- all in Brno. Because it takes about a day and a half to travel President ok'ed me staying in Brno so I can spend more time working and less time on a train. I saved myself 30 euros and about 14 hours on a train. Elder Williams does not like trains.

Not sure where to begin with this past week. On Wednesday Elder Bodily and I taught a sweet lesson, then I had to literally run to the train station and get on a train to Bratislava for the night. I met up with Elder Walker in Zlina. He's doing well being back in Zlina-he'll have been there for 10 months by the time this transfer ends. He's a good travel companion and I am sorry I am no longer in his District. He's been with me since the beginning! In Bratislava we met up with Elder Durrant and went to his apartment- it took us forever because we needed to find food and our temporary bus passes expired so we had to walk from the store. We went to bed absolutely exhausted. We woke up at around 4:30 to catch our train at 6 only to be 3 minutes late for the bus that would get us there in time! When another bus came we ran the entire way from the stop to the station only to see our train pull away from the platform! So we return the tickets we had impatiently bought and ran over to the bus station to see if there was a bus we could take. Miraculously there was one that left at 7:30 that would get us there just in time! When we got to Brno our tram broke down! BUT we were able to hop on another one and we were only 8 minutes late. Did I mention that none of us had our phones on us?? I am never traveling without a phone again.

The Leadership conference was great. The last one I went to was really specific on the ins and outs of being a mission leader. This one was more like a conference. We talked about the Doctrine of Christ and applying it more into our work. It's a theme that's been hit on again and again-but every time we talk about it I gain a new insight into what the doctrine of Christ means for me. It's obvious to me now that the Book of Mormon is essential if you want to have any sort of personal relationship with God or our Savior. And any relationship that is already had with them can be made that much stronger when applying the teachings of the BofM. After the training I was tossed around a little bit between the Brno Elders as everyone was trying to hook back up with their companion. They've made me an honorary member of the Brno District. My companions are Elder Bailey from Snowflake, AZ and Elder Pearson from Mt. Shasta, CA. They are fantastic missionaries and I've really loved working with them. They've taught me a lot and I'll be applying what they do here to my work in Slovakia. We've spent the past couple days meeting with members here (I had my first knedlicky... so good!), tracking down referrals, teaching and finding, and quoting "The District" as often as we could. They've included me in virtually everything from lesson planning, weekly planning, to their Zone Leader Training. I was going to be a part of their presentation but I figured it would be kind of strange if I wasn't at my own Zone Training. (Seeing as we are not even in the same zone!) The rest of my district includes Elder Monk from CT, Elder Gabrielson from New Harmony, UT (it's his first transfer here!), Elder Bown from Switerland, Elder Uremovich from Layton, UT, Elder Dietrich from Germany, Sister Bartholomew (she was SO excited I was staying in Brno!), Sister Smith Idaho Falls, and Sister Martsoff from Colorado. HUGE district, right?? Mine has 4 Elders and in 5 weeks it will just be Elder Stansfield and me! They are definitely a tight knit district and it's great to see and be a part of--even for a little bit.

Not a lot news to share-- seeing as I've been out of my area all week, not sure what's been going on.... But I am ready for specialized training and to jump start this week some Brno energy! Love you all and hope to hear from you all soon! Send me some pics of Lake Powell!

Elder Williams

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 11, 2011

This has been a loooong 5 days. Funny because Elder Stansfield and I started off the transfer saying to each other, "This is going to be the shortest transfer yet!"

The mission has really cracked down on some of the nitty gritty rules of missionary life, mainly email stuff. We get an hour to do our emailing and it's only to immediate family. Not much will change for me. But I could always be a little more willing to be more obedient, right? Anyone can still email me, I just won't be able to email back-- just make sure I have your address and I'll send you a card. :)

The new Zone Leaders have really started to push us to make some goals and work to make them happen. We ended the week without anyone new people in our teaching pool and I asked Elder Andersen what our problem is (I figure he has all the answers, he used to be an AP after all....). I used to be able to find new investigators every single week. It was never a big problem with finding someone new. (They wouldn't progress, but that's another issue...) Elder Andersen just asked if it's something that I've prayed for. It hit me like a truck. I've been saying I want to teach more people and see new people progress-and I have been working for it-but I've failed big time to ask God for them and more importantly to ask WHERE THEY ARE SO WE CAN TALK TO THEM! Missionary work would be a breeze if it wasn't so hard to remember all the little things... I want a lot of things: more patience, faith, hope, language and teaching skills, etc etc and they will be things I'll be praying for more specifically as time goes on. I know that by continuing to put the work I have been putting into acquiring those things, coupled with simply asking God for them, one day I will have them.

Our baptismal date went to church yesterday and LOVED it. The Ženy loved him as well and I think he felt right at home. We're working on making him feel more ready for baptism. He's progressing so much and gets so excited about what he's been reading in the Book of Mormon. That book is so true and it's such a blessing to see someones life change for the better as a result of applying its teaching. July 30 is coming up!

Elder Bodily and Elder McGowan have been a huge boost in this district. They only have 6 weeks left before they go home and they have been putting in their all. I've resolved to live up to their example and start working like they are. Work as if I only had 6 weeks left. Work as if I had all the skills they have. Be what I want to become in essence. I regret how I handled my first transfer with Elder Bodily, he really is one of the best I've worked alongside with and I'm grateful for the chance to be around him again and try to learn the things I missed.

Today we're going to check out some of the kostels around town. It's full of them and I might as well check out some centuries old architecture while I'm here, right? This week it's back to Brno for Leadership Training! I'll be doing another slew of letters on that 8 hour haul. At least there is always a good lunch on the other end :)

Love you all and hope you have a fantastic time at Lake Powell. Don't worry, no jealousies here- just send me some pictures!

-Elder Williams

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lets switch things up...

Or not!

Transfers were today, we get our "transfer calls" Monday night and Elder Stansfield and I got the call that we were both staying in Kosice, together! A little anti-climatic... Every transfer I've had so far there have been big changes, so I get the feeling that by the time Elder Stansfield and I do go our separate ways it will feel like one, loooong transfer. We're very excited though. We got some big stuff in the works. Elder Walker and Milot have been transfered out. Both will be District Leaders! I've taken credit for getting them ready. :) They called me yesterday and asked if I could teach them to be district leaders. lol I did a similar thing that Elder Doxey did with Elder Nichol and I. I was flattered. To replace them Elder Bodily and Elder McGowan will be coming. They are going home in 6 weeks so Elder Stansfield and I will be taking over their area for the last 3 weeks and we will be the lone wolves in the outpost of the mission. Some exciting news from transfers: good ol' Elder Nichol is one of the new Zone Leaders!

This last week of the transfer we managed to reach most of our goals! We reached our 1000 hours of SOL, found 5 new investigators (one short), got someone to church and yesterday Elder Stansfield and I might have found our family! I testify to you all that miracles happen after you've put in most of the work! This family, at least the wife and grandma, are super nice and were really excited to see us when we knocked on the door. Something we don't get most of the time. She started asking about church, loved the Book of Mormon and the fact that we have the priesthood. They are coming to the building tomorrow to get a grand tour of the building. We're hoping the whole family comes. The husband left the room when we came in... but it's a family nonetheless.

As well as finding our family, we found a young guy who has a agreed to be baptized on July 30! We found him the day we left for our Zone Conference and while we've only had two meetings with him he's really soaked up what we've taught. He's been reading the Book of Mormon and so far he just "gets it". We showed him the Restoration film and afterwards told him, "Through this restoration God has given man the authority to baptize. Do you want to be baptized?" And with tears in everyone's eyes, he said "Of course! I've already been baptized, but that doesn't matter now." **Future missionaries: the most effective way to teach is definitely by testifying** We're meeting him again tonight to go over some more stuff on what baptism means and what he's getting into. lol He's really excited about it all and really has an attitude of "If it's true, what else matters?" Something we all need.

Some shout outs: Happy (belated) birthday Brother Baughman!

I'm really excited about this upcoming transfer. Elder Stansfield and I talked a little but and we came up with some things that we want to work on and what we want to see happen. I've renewed my determination to be the missionary that the Lord needs me to be. I have to continue to develop and push myself. Sometimes I wonder if I put too much pressure on myself to grow, so I'm going to try to take all the focus off of me, and instead focus on my missionaries. Get them to see the potential that they have and motivate them to reach it. The pickle is, how do I give missionaries who have been in leadership roles longer then I have been on a mission a fresh look at how they can reach even greater heights? I love a challenge.

Hope everything has been good with you all. The weather here is NOT summer weather. I have been cold all week. COLD IN JULY! It's absurd. It has not stopped raining. But it definitely beats 115 with no end in sight.

I'll talk to you all on Monday-our regular email time.


Friday, July 1, 2011

A Day of Revelations!

Hey everyone!

Quite a busy week this week. Chock full of experiences that make this week one of those weeks where I will be able to pin point down the road and say, "That's when I changed" But more on that later...

We started the week off with a great District meeting. Everyone was really pumped and really excited. I challenged all of us to be more bold and put ourselves out there more. We figured that if we step up the boldness factor we'll get some harsher rejections, but we'll reap some better rewards than what we've been getting. So far it's paying off. We had a little zone competition where we took 2 days to collect as many numbers as we could. The second day Elder Walker and I (had an exchange with him) collected 6 numbers. A third of the Zone total. Lets just say I'm a champ at getting numbers now. (Where was this skill before the mission?? Kidding mom...) Because we had a conference in Brno that would take us out of our area for 3 days we were determined to make the most out of this week.

Thursday afternoon we shipped out to Olomouc in the Czech Republic for the night. We got there around 6 and got to do some contacting time. I was with Elder Blair for the evening. A way cool missionary that we've stayed with before. I did my best speaking Czech but Elder Blair just turned to me and said, "You can just speak Slovak to them, they'll understand." Moj slovenčinu je velmi zla, a moj čeština je ešte horšie! :) The next morning we went off to Brno for a fantastic conference with Elder Kerr. An Area Seventy from Scotland. Very good. He started the conference out telling us that this could be a day of revelation, if you let it be. And so the first thing I wrote down was to make every day a day for revelations! Elder Kerr was extremely energetic and exciting, it was contagious really. Unlike past zone conferences he really encouraged us, the missionaries, to speak and teach each other. Some things that really stood out to me was: the importance of a journal. A place where we record the spiritual experiences we have. No "large plates of Nephi" we won't care about the weather, or what song our companion would not stop singing, that won't edify us down the road, right? He taught about our purpose as missionaries: we aren't trying to get people to do things, we are trying to get them to become something. And for that to happen we have to already be in the process of becoming what the Lord wants us to be. I realized on the trip home, it was a long enough one, that I truly wanted to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. For the first time I looked at my name tag and I didn't want to take it off. For the first time I got a step closer to understanding what it means to be a disciple of Christ. There are tons of things that are standing in my way. I still have so much to overcome, in terms of desires, "natural man" type of stuff, but I for the first time I really saw myself being the person that I wanted to be. I was chatting with Elder Nichol after the conference and he summed it up this way, "I just want to choose the right from now on." I feel like I have a "spiritual creation" of what I want my life to be. And since all things were created spiritually first, (see Alma 32) my next step is to make it a reality. I thought it was interesting that both President Irwin, and Elder Kerr encouraged us to be bold-since that was a main topic of our district meeting earlier that week. Heavenly Father is definitely telling us as missionaries to step it up and be bold! He also taught about the Book the Mormon. We really don't use it enough in our work. I know that that book can and will, change the world. People just got to read it and find out if its true. If it's true then it means that God has called another Prophet and that that he has provided us a way to come to know Him, in a more intimate way than we thought possible before. Why wouldn't people want to know about that? I get so confused why people would be against it. But I'm looking forward to going through my notes again and thinking about how I can apply more of what I learned into my work and the rest of my life.

We were teaching a man this week, Gelu, I think I talked about him before. He has this incredible faith in Jesus Christ, but rejects the idea of a one true path. We managed to get him to church (quite the ordeal really) and it was great. I thought he really enjoyed it. Sunday School was a great lesson from the New testament and I taught the Elders Quorum lesson from President Uchtdorf's talk, "Waiting on the Road to Damascus". I thought everything was going perfectly. But when church was over he told us that he was on his own "road to Damascus". I've never been more crushed by an investigator. I want Slovaks, everyone really, to see and understand how this book can fit into their lives. One day I hope that I can boldly testify about the Book of Mormon. I don't know how else to say it then "I know the Book of Mormon is true". But really, what else needs to be said?? :)

On Saturday, as we were pulling into the Kosice station we were surprised by Martin and Sara from Bratislava! They were doing some sightseeing on the other side of Slovakia. We had dinner with them and it was a great time to catch up and see how things were doing in good ol' Bratislava. Sara was looking fabulous as she was nearing the end of her 21 day water fast. Something that I got extremely upset over. 21 days with no food, only water and citrus?!? That can't be healthy, right?? But it should be ending today, and in honor of it I will be having my own feast! :) I'm looking forward to the next time I see those two again.

Hope everyone is doing well at home. Even though I had a long train ride I didn't get any letters written, or sent off. So you all gotta wait.

Next week is transfers. AH! So soon, I know. So I will email you all on Wednesday, not Monday. Talk to you then!

Elder Williams

Monday, June 20, 2011

**side note: I started writing January for the date-- can you believe it's the end of June?!**

This week was a good week. They all are really. I guess I should start off where I left off:
The dinner with our new deaf friends was a lot of fun. It was Miška and her friends Zolo and Petr. There was some American, Universal and Slovak sign language going on as well as the rest of the cafe yapping in Slovak, my brain was mush with all the languages! But they are a lot of fun-definitely not interested in the gospel. (They said there are no interpreters at churches. Except the Jehovah's Witnesses, and Slovaks HATE JWs) But we hope to see them at our game nights that we're trying to start up.

Yesterday was Father's Day so happy Father's Day to all you dads! I've been especially lucky to have the dad that I have. Wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. Love you!

As well as it being Father's Day we had a closing ceremony in a little village outside Kosice. (I always forget these names) It wasn't the usual project we do but we did it because a couple of villages benefited. You can read all about the humanitarian work we do from the Stiles' blog. Good luck finding it, I've never seen it.

The week was a strange one. The Zone Leaders came up for a little exchange so that was a fun switch up. I was back with my old trainer Elder Bodily for the day. At the end we sat and talked about a couple of the issues we've been facing out here in Kosice and I came away from that exchange pumped, ready to change and learn more about my calling as a missionary. :)
Along with the slow weeks we've been having I got some sad news that Junie from the USAO passed away a couple weeks ago now. I figured it was coming having heard about her tumors etc. But it was still a little shock. I read President Monson's talk from last conference and stumbled on another he gave called a couple years ago titled "Mrs Patton-the Story Continues". And I thought how amazing it is to know that this isn't it. That this life, however brief or long, continues on and on. I'm grateful for a Heavenly Father who knows how, and does, help us. That he has sent us prophets to help guide us back to Him. I was only sorry that I never sent another note or another card out to Junie. Maybe it would have made her day. She had a way of always making my day whenever I was not in the mood to be working.

As slow as the week has been we have some investigators that I am kind of excited about. I will get really excited about them when they start coming to church. One girl was born in the Ukraine and is really curious to know more about us and the church. The best part is that coupled with that curiosity is a willingness to try the things out that we've been teaching! She's been on a trip all weekend, but said that she'll make it to church next week. Another guy we're teaching is a person who has more faith in Jesus Christ than me! We're hoping that he'll be able to recognize the need for a prophet and develop more of a desire to know if he is called by Christ. We will see with time....

The week ahead looks like a busy one. We have a little branch activity, an exchange, and a Zone Conference in Brno on the plan! Elder Kerr will be visiting us from Scotland, my dad's old tromping grounds. What's the phrase? "His little footsteps are there!" It'll be good!

Love you all and hope all is well!

Elder Williams

The Stiles blog has great photos of places Adam has been and great description of their work and the sights there. Here is the address--I have also posted it on the side with the other blogs from his mission we are following.