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