Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hospitals and Sign Language

This has been a surprisingly great week. Last week I had some pain in my ear and I went to the hospital with one of the members and her son, Gabriel (Gabko). Gabko has ear problems like me and so they completely understood the necessity of getting this checked out asap. Elder Nichol went with me while Bacon stayed behind on exchanges with the District leader. unfortunatly, Gabko's doctor wouldn't look at me as I was an adult. So Nichol and I went off to the Stary Nemonica to find one that would. We quickly leanred that when you need to go to the Dr. you just show up by their office. No check-in, no form to fill out my health history, nič! When the Dr. is free his nurse pokes her head and accpets the next person in line. They check out my Visa and get to work. The Dr. got really annoyed that we couldn't really speak Slovak and that he couldn't see in my ear. He tries to blast the excess wax with a large syringe, something that I've had done before-very painful. Elder Nichol was pretty traumatized by the experience and couldn't watch. He did that a couple times and had no luck. So he gave me a tube of peroxide and directions to put that in twice a day and come back on Thursday. We "recovered" back at the apartment for a couple hours. Both of us were getting pretty sick. Cough, fever, the works. Bacon and Nichol would make fun of me when I put the peroxide in. I couldn't hear a thing with that stuff in. Went back on Thursday and success! He was able to clear out the wax through the same, painful process. My ears still hurt and so he stuffed a strip of gauze that was soaked in vinegar inside my ear and told me to leave that for 3 hours and if I still had trouble go to a doctor in another part of town. I couldn't hear anything as it was in my good ear, so we just kind of sat around for 3 hours waiting. Luckily my ears did stop hurting and I didn't need to go. No infection! And at Specialized Training Sister Irwin gave me some good medicine that got rid of whatever I had. But despite all the time we spent going to the hospital and staying in for sick missionaries we had a very good week and looking at our numbers, it was no different from the average week. Goes to show that when you work with what you got, you can still achieve what you set out to achieve. :)
I finally meet Šaňo, our deaf member. He is really only active if there is a missionary who can interpret for him. I met him at game night and he had a lot of fun playing Uno. The next day at Church he showed up for priesthood and I did my best to interpret. luckily, the lesson was taught in English as we only had one native Slovak there. (We just changed clocks for daylight savings so we are blaming that for no one being at church) I still got my sign language skills, but man, it's RUSTY. And I know zero church vocabulary. But he understood pretty well and as time went on I felt more comfortable. I'm glad to have met him finally, and I hope he comes more often to church!
Our investigators are doing fine, progressing as best they can. Bratislava has a baptism on Saturday! Gabriel moved up his date a week as he would be out of town next week. We get to watch General Conference next week (they get the dvds of conference dubbed in Slovak a week after) so Gabriel's baptism will be a nice way to get ready for it.

That's all I got for you now.
peace from the east,
Starsi Williams

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baptisms, dates and the color purple

Hello all!
Hope everyone is doing well. On Saturday Bratislava had it's second baptism of the year! Martyn, from Poland, was finally baptized after being taught for over 7 months by the missionaries. He will definitely be a strong member for the church in Eastern Europe. I have pictures to send, but as usual I forgot my camera again. I promise I am still in Slovakia and doing fine.

Erik, the young guy we met last week, is still at the hospital, his mom has been trying to get him out, but for some reason or another they won't release him. Anyway, we've still been meeting with him and he agreed to be baptized on April 23! Here's how it went down: Erik is a pretty loud guy, curses, and likes fist bumps. But amongst all of that it was one of the most spiritual meetings I've had with an investigator. Before we actually started teaching we extended him a baptismal date, to which he enthusiastically accepted. We laid out the story of the restoration again, more simply. When we told him about Joseph Smith reading James 1:5 we asked what he thought Joseph Smith did. Erik says, "He prayed! Money in the bank, he prayed!" Followed by a round of fist bumps. We explained how we got the Book of Mormon and he just told us, "I know this book is true, man. In fact, you can open up to any page and you'll get an answer." He grabbed my copy out of my hand and just opened up and randomly started reading, "Behold, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized?" and then said, "Told you, shake and bake! This book is true, Shake and bake! Pound it!" Another round of fist bumps. Never in my life have I seen someone with that much faith. To just open up the book and receive an answer like that. I told him that this was definitely a sign. That God was shouting at us that he needs to be baptized. We're going to continue meeting with him and get him fully prepared for baptism. :)

We also, finally, met with his mom, Heni. Who, in short, is a firecracker. She talks just as much as Erik and is out to change the world. She loves what we're doing to "Wake up Slovakia!" and is trying to do the same herself. She first admonished us for wearing blue ties (idk why we all happened to wear blue) and NOT purple. She informed us that purple is the color of unity and oneness. I made a mental note to buy a purple tie. She loves Oprah Winfey and is disgusted that most Slovaks don't know who she is. I also made a note to come up with a contact about Oprah. "Poznáte Oprah?" We told her about Erik's decision to be baptized and thinks it's wonderful. She loves the Book of Mormon and told us that she and Erik had read a little from it. Alma 29 about how Alma wishes he were an angel with a trump to cry repentance to the people. Which pretty much describes Heni. (Why have I never had these kinds of amazing experiences with the Book of Mormon??) We than invited her to be baptized that same day with him- as a way of starting with a clean slate with each other and God. However, she does not want to be baptized third time in Bratislava. She was baptized as a Catholic and then again when she was older, because she wanted to make the decision herself. She now plans on a third baptism in the River Jordan, just like Christ. (say what?) Apparently we need to practice teaching authority.... But she really wants us to baptize her 11 yr. old daughter, Athenia. We explained that we will have to teach her daughter before we can baptize her and she agreed to be apart of that process. We hope that she will be converted as she listens in on the lessons with Athenia and as they read the Book of Mormon together. We've been brainstorming on how our lessons can be a little more reverent with these people, but I'm beginning to see that every person will respond to the spirit and truths a little differently and we shouldn't force something that wouldn't be natural or comfortable for them. So far she LOVES the church. Especially Relief Society. (Are you kidding, why wouldn't she love the world's oldest and largest organization for women who just want to help people??) She came to church just far that. I'm definintley looking forward to more experiences with this family.

Besides all that excitement we had a pretty slow week. Our Zone made a goal to break the record in number of investigators found in one week (17). Our companionship only found 1 (dismal). In our defence I was sick yesterday so we lost about 7 hours of good finding time. No worries, the rest did me good and I'm feeling much better, but I'm afraid I might be getting an ear infection. Luckily a woman in the branch has a kid who has ear problems like me and is going to the ear doctor tomorrow and I'm going to tag along. At worst I'll be able to get a referral to an ear doctor. But the zone did do extremely well over all with 13 new investigators; the best we've done since October. But this week we've blocked off a ton of finding time and we are determined to rejuvenate our teaching pool. But we have it pretty good. People are sticking pretty well from last week.

Til next week!

Elder Williams

Monday, March 14, 2011



Hope everyone is doing great where ever you are. We've had a pretty fantastic week in Bratislava.
There was a leadership/new missionary training in Brno and most Elders that go stayed a night in Bratislava before going the rest of the way to Brno. These things pull a lot of missionaries out of there area, but it was great for Bratislava to have 11+ missionaries working. It was an exchange frenzy switching companions every two hours or so. Our focus was to get 30 phone numbers that day, sadly we didn't make our goal, BUT we did find some very cool/interesting people who we hope will fill up our teaching pool. One young guy was found by Elder Bacon and Elder Bodily (remember him?). They were out contacting and stopped this woman who said, "Wait, you two are missionaries, here to help people right? Come with me." She explained that her son was in the pysch ward and lost his faith in God and she wanted us to help him. Bacon and Bodily had a good meeting with him, gave him a Book of Mormon and met with his Mom afterwards. They don't have the best relationship with each other, but in our subsequent meeting in the ward (I'm hoping that I find some investigators that don't need to go the the pysch ward anymore....) he told us his story and how he really wants a better relationship with his mom more than anything. After that, rebuild his faith in God. He read a little of the Book of Mormon and really believes that it can help him. We promised that if he do the things that we ask those things will happen. He's about 20 years old and threw more pop culture and movie references in our hour long meeting than I have ever heard from ANYONE. I mean, if you can tie in the movie Blank Check and Hollywood relationships into a conversation I could never question your trivia knowledge. We have high hopes for him, as well as his mom this upcoming week.

We have been teaching another woman, Zita, for the past two weeks who has really asorbed our message. She really wants a change in her life, mainly in a professional sense, starting a business, etc, but she really feels that a change spiritually is essential first. She always comes to our meetings with a page of notes and questions and if it wasn't for our member, Jana, we would never be able to handle it with all the Slovak. Zita does know a little English so that always helps when we can't understand or describe something in Slovak. We asked if she would be baptized and she asked if our Church could talk to the Catholic Church about coming to an agreement. we explained that that is not possible and a little about why and she really expressed a desire to do things right, and so she told us she would explore a little more into what we're teaching and go from there. She really is the first investigator that I will get a chance to see from start to finish. Our first meeting was 2 weeks ago. Already I have been impressed with her development by just reading the Book of Mormon. That book is really true and it is remarkable to see a person change by just reading it. I'm convinced that there is no other book that has that kind of power.

Adventures in Bro-tislava
Being in a tri-ship has been a blast, especially with Bacon and Nichol. Occasionally we get a little distracted. Reverting back into our MTC days. But we are trying to encourage each other in every way. The other night we had our first experience tracting together. I am a seasoned pro at tracting seeing as that is ALL we did in Trencin. Quite the opposite here. The ponneloks are fortresses that literally are impossible to get into. Most of the time the person can't just ring you in but they have to open every door themselves. EVERYTHING is locked. So we spent about two hours tracting and managed to only get into two. Both times as someone was leaving. Lucky us. The last one we went to I am sorry to admit that we just picked up and left half way through. The set up of the ponnelok was just awkward, half the stairway doors were locked, (fire hazard anyone??) and everyone was mean. One guy chewed us out for being there and told us to leave because he would be able to hear us if we kept going. We blew him off because how could he be able to hear us on another floor, right? We the next floor everyone SLAMMED their doors shut and the last doorbell we rang was this looong LOUD ring. We just stood there terrified praying that no one was home so we could just leave. No one answered and we silently got out there. We'll be back. Eventually. Til then, it will be house tracting for us.

No shout-outs this week, seeing as no one has sent me any news. (Achem...) But thank you all for the letters I've gotten already. I loved them all! And please be patient with me as I try to write back. :)

Til next week, Peace from the East,
Starší Williams

Bro-tislava West


Hello again everyone,

The past couple days have been a trip. As you know I'm in a tri-ship with Bacon and Nichol, my MTC missionaries, and this entire transfer will be one big flashback- just with better food and actual missionary work (kidding, the MTC is great).

Working in Bratislava so far has been fantastic. People have been willing to listen to us and we've managed to actually teach people on the streets. One of which was all by myself. Because there are 3 of us one goes "lone wolf" and splits off and contacts in the same area with the other two. We're going to try to contact as a group through- I don't feel right with someone by themselves. But on the other hand my language skills are apparently adequate enough to teach a Slovak about the gospel. Whodda thunk! Being in a "young" district is really forcing me to get out there and talk to these people. Which is good!

In my district there is:
Elder Doxey- he is from CA-- Bay area. He has been serving in the Czech Republic his whole mission and goes home at the end of this transfer. He is an extremely focused missionary and it looks like he has been doing this for 5 years. He is pushing us a lot as District Leader. Now we never get on a tram or bus without talking to someone. It's been great. He encourages us to just talk to be like a normal person. Letting the gospel come up naturally, but mostly to get comfortable talking to and getting to know Slovaks.

Elder Romero- He is being follow-up trained by Doxey. He started his mission in Kosice, on the other side of the country. He is from UT and has a fresh attitude about being here. He is eager to just get out there and do what he can. Something I can learn from for sure. :)

Elder Walker- He was in my district last transfer. His Slovak is extremely good and he is an excellent teacher. He runs our district language studies every week. He is training Elder Tenney-great match.

Elder Tenney- He is another AZ boy. Shiloh I think. (Sholow?) He reminds me a lot of me. He's way nervous about his language skills, but he really has nothing to be nervous about. He's already a great speaker. We get along great and he and Durrant, the other new missionary, apparently found my blog so they knew everything about me. I'm a little embarressed. (But I actually love that some other missionaries did the whole lurking thing I did before my mission....)

Yesterday was my first day in the Bratislava Branch. It's a ton larger than Trencin. With children. (You all know how much I enjoy working with children..... not). But it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Really just one problem child. It would be a completly different story if I could understand him and vica versa. But Elder Bacon, Robo, (a member) and I were in charge of teaching him in primary. 3 to 1. We still lost. It'll be a challenge. I'm hoping I can have a turn in Sunday School with the adults.

Walking into this area has been great. We have a baptism on the 19 that we are all so excited about and have made a goal to make baptism a central theme in our lessons. We want people to know that this is what we are here to do. That that is the best way to bring them closer to Christ. It will really be an amazing transfer and I am way excited to see what happens. I will say that I miss Trencin a lot sometimes. I really hope to serve there again. Highly unlikely, but stranger things are happening during transfers these days.

Hope all is well and everyone is enjoying the warmer weather. I know I am! Talk to you in a week!

Starsi Williams

Shoutouts: Happy Brithday to Catherine on Saturday! (thanks for the reminder...) ps any word on Purdue??

Friday, March 4, 2011

Transfer season!

What an exciting week everyone. I am writing you all from Bratislava! I am flanked by my new companions Elder Nichol and Elder Bacon!! If these names sound familar it is because they were the missionaries I entered the field with. It's like the MTC all over again! We are SO excited for this transfer here's why:
-We are completly unified in how we want to accomplish our goals
-We have a brand new missionary (I hate the word "green")
-Elder Doxey is our District Leader. He has been serving in the Czech Republic and will finish his mission here. I've heard that he is one of the best missionaries here
-Elder Romero is in our district, this is his second transfer
-Elder Walker is also serving here. His Slovak is excellent and he's an even better teacher.
We have a lot of fresh blood here in the city and we are all ready to see it take off to different heights. Our missionary skills will be refined under Doxey's leadership and our Slovak will improve with Walker's help. I'll be keeping you all posted of course. :)
I will miss Trencin a lot. The members there are just so wonderful, but I feel that I need to be here right now and really learn how to be a missionary. lol We will see.
This past week and a half has been pretty busy. It was "transfer season". Pretty much like March Madness with everyone posting there guesses for whos going where. Just a little bit of the missionary culture. We spent a lot of time in the pych ward. I won't say names to protect the innocent. But one of our friends has to stay there for treatment for the next two weeks. Nothing serious, just a minor thing I'm told. He's definitely not crazy, but man, everyone else there is. I loved it. It felt like walking on the set of Girl, Interrupted. We've made a lot of friends there and everyone wants a Book of Mormon! lol One man walks up and down the hall and whenever he gets to us he yells whatever simple phrase he can in English/Slovak to us. For example: "America and Slovakia, friends!" "Rano, obed, vecer. dinner!", "Barack Hussien Obama!" or my favorite, "White House, black man, good combination!" He usually repeats it a couple times then walks away. When he comes back he'll do it again. The best part about seeing people in the hospital is seeing how they dress. Normally hospitals give you hospital gowns, right? In Slovakia they wear bathrobes and slippers. It looks like everyone is getting ready for bed! My kind of people.
Besides the adventures in the hospital it was a pretty slow week. I will keep this short as I will be back on Monday emailing. But here is the new address!

Jamnic Keho 2
84105 Bratislava

Don't worry if you've sent something to the old Trencin address. There are still missionaries there and I will get them... eventually.....

Talk to you all on Monday!!
Elder Williams

ps a loooong over due shout out to Mara Petrovsky who had a birthday in February!!