This was quite the week for us here in Slovakia. Heres why:
Saturday my mission had the first baptism of the year in Bratislava!! (first of many, so get used to these kinds of emails... :) Elder Taylor spent about 16 weeks teaching him so we were both able to attend. His name is Peter and is from Latvia. He is about 21 and has not had very many opportunities. Currently he's trying to find work and is technically homeless. He does live in an abandoned building and apparently has rigged up quite the set up. The gas is still running in that building so he tore a pipe from the wall and figured out how to turn it on. He´ll light it for warmth and heat water for baths. I picture it looking like a blow torch sticking out of the wall. Sometimes the flame goes out in the night but instead of dying from carbon monocide poisoning like a regular person Peter just wakes up. "Ya, I just wake up with a little headache and I light the gas again and go back to sleep."
The baptism was great. I got to meet more of the members in Slovakia. We actually have children here! Who knew! They are all so great. I assigned myself to sit near the kids because Ive heard horror stories of these "demon children", as they are affectionately known by some members. Especially at baptisms. Jumping in after the ordinance, etc. I wasnt about to have the first baptism ruined by some kids. (and you all know how much I LOVE kids....) When they were starting to get rowdy during some talks I looked at the mom and pointed at me and the kids. She gave me the go ahead and I separated those that needed to be separated and started a quiet game of tic tac toe with the row of "demons". Following the baptism the mom thanked me as well as some other members. I have been dubbed "The Child Whisperer" Greeeaaaat.... I guess Friendly Pines trained me well.
I've found that the church here is full of these young 20-30 something women who have no one around them who they want to date and literally no one who can take them to the temple. Ive never thought of being the only Mormon and my appreciation for these modern day pioneers has really grown. Im adding young Melch. Priesthood holders to my "to baptize list" along with bishops, stake presidents, primaries, patriarchs, YW/YM groups, etc etc. A lot to do.
Yesterday we had to go to Bratislava because Elder Taylors girlfriend sent him a package to his address there. I wasnt sure how I felt about the situation. My entire p day would be sucked up in Blava and I wouldnt have time to clean or take a nap. But I would be able to hang out with some other missionaries and do some actual shopping. So I decided to have a good attitude and just enjoy myself. Sometimes that is hard for me.... I finally got an acceptable bag. I can carry all of my necessities and I still look chic. Look at me, being all "euro".
Taylor and I are realizing the importance of planning specifically and witnessing the results. Last week we planned on finding a mom with two kids with an iffy relationship with her husband. When we met with Sister Prachárova we asked if she knew anyone we could teach. She described a family exactly as we described. Weird, right? We wouldnt have time to find them that night as it was getting late, but we gave Sis. P a copy of the Family Proclamation and challenged her to share it with this family. She said that she didnt have a close relationship with this family but that she would try to get closer to them so that she could share it with them. Look at that: an inactive doing so much missionary work!
A second experience worked similarly. We both planned on where we would tract the time we would be there and who we would teach. We imagined another family, a potential Melch. Priesthood holder especially, and planned what we would teach. Low and behold we tracted into this near perfect family. They werent going to let us in, but I wouldnt shut up and continued testifing that the things we teach help families grow in unity. We sat down, talked about the Book of Mormon and family prayer. The husband is very interested in learning more and the wife is just pleased that her husband is looking into religion. We set an a return appt. and it was just as good as the first. We explained the temple and family history. He loves the focus on the family and told us about his research about our church hes done. Hes even done some family history work using our website a couple years ago! In the four days that we had last met he read all the way to Jacob and prayed with us for the first time. It was definitely a miracle find and definitely a fantastic way to start off this week.
We actually had an English class this past week as well. 4 people showed up! Thats 4 times as much that usually comes! I taught the advanced class which usually means we sit and talk and I help them say things a more "english-y" and less "slovak-y". I love it!
I heard about the shooting that happened in Tucson. My heart and prayers go out to the Giffords family and especially to Judge Rolls family and the other victims of the shooting. Hearing about it made my stomach churn. It was a strange feeling. I have spent the last 4 months totally immersed in learning and teaching the hope of the gospel and being constantly on the look out for those who might need our help in any way. It was a little bit of a wake-up call that there are those who dont care about the well being of anyone but themselves and resort to violence when disagreements arise. I'm renewing my own determination to understand the people of this country and their needs. I am confident that between the message missionaries have to share, our own listening ears and willingness to serve we can meet every need of the entire world. I just love it!
Love ya ya´ll!!