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

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