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