Monday, February 27, 2012

Isn't Today a Holiday?

Hello everyone! Hope all is well, where ever you are.

Things, as always, are exciting here in Žilina and its going to get more exciting soon. Our investigators are making some awesome progress and we are looking forward to seeing some new members in the near future! We had an exchange with our Zone Leaders on Friday and Elder Nichol and I were back together for the day. It was a fantastic exchange and we got 9 phone numbers, met a future missionary and I feel a little more rejuvenated to continue giving it all I got. We all went to bed completely exhausted, which feels SO nice as a missionary. I love looking back on my day satisfied that I did my very best.
On Wednesday we had possibly the best Specialized Training I have ever had. First off, I love my mission president. He has a vision. We talked about the Elder Causse conference and the survey that we took, we learned that we need to improve just a little in a couple areas, but Elder Causse said that of the 31 missions he has toured we were one of the most obedient and that we are now in a position to grow. Elder Causse, when he was here pounded on the need to have a vision. With no vision we cannot go anywhere. We cannot reach the end if we do not have an end in mind. (ps, this keyboard cannot do apostrophes...) Then he admonished us to have the faith to see that vision materialize and go out and do it! So President Irwin presented the Czech-Slovak Mission Vision for 2012. Basically the goal and vision is to see a stake within the next 5 years! Can you imagine a stake here in 5 years?!? (I can, because I have a vision ;) It is definitely an exciting time to be serving here as a missionary, it also means that we need to step it up to another level. Teach at least 21 lessons a week by December, a majority of that with members, of course, and maintaining our retention rate above 80 percent. I spoke in church yesterday and shared the plan with the members. The response was kind of shaky. They are thrilled at the possibility of a stake with the mission, but it will likely be in the Czech Republic and not directly affect them- but a stake will definitely bless the lives of every member within the mission. And we all got to work towards that end. The mission vision came at a good time- Ive been pushing our branch mission plan and this gives us all another source of motivation.
I just love this work that we are engaged in. Its been far from smooth sailing for me, but I am beginning to see what it is that is required of me and what the Lord has in store for me should my faith and persistence continue to grow. I was reading in Alma ch 13 today and I learned that God is willing to give us anything we ask- as long as our faith matches what it is that He has in store for us. He is perfectly fair.

Hope everyone is doing well! Talk to you next week!

Elder Williams

ps hope you all have been getting my letters. I sent one back in December to Catherine and I just got it returned to me. Know that I love all of you!

Busy Week February 20, 2012

Howdy everyone! Hope all has been well since last week. Elder Robison and I had a busy busy week. We had about 3 exchanges this week so we haven't really been working together. This week we have another exchange--one day we will learn how to work together.... I did have an excellent exchange with Elder Romero on Tuesday-- he's been a great district leader for me and I feel loads better about the future. Elder Robison and Peterson had to go to Bratislava on Thursday for visa so we were separated again, and then Saturday I went to Banksa Bystrica with Elder Peterson for church. It was a good time, as always. Met with a few members I had missed my first time around--still missing a few. We really don't have that many members, but it is impossible to get EVERYONE to come to church at once. Elder Romero led church in Zilina so he has something to write home about :p
Big news in the mission! Remember that story I told last summer about the huge family who were taught by the missionaries? Well, they are unable to get to church in Banksa Bystrica and one of the members of the family, who was baptized in Sheffield, England, is moving back to Slovakia and President has decided to form a group for them in Zvolen!! Elder Nichol and Durrant, our Zone Leaders, are moving down to Zvolen pretty soon and they will hold Sacrament Meeting there every week. We are all pretty excited about it. A little confused how it will work out--but we know it will. It will be the new "group" under the Banksa Bystica "Unit" under the Zilina Branch. That's how small it is. But I'm guessing that they will have better attendance than the Zilina Branch. We will see.
On Thursday we were supposed to have Specialized Training, but it got cancelled because we got an obscene amount of snow. Just as it was going away. But it's been really warm the past couple of days so it's melting fast. I'm dying for spring and summer. I was looking back in my journal for the summer and I wrote, "I am kind of looking forward to winter--just got a change in scenery" I take that back.
This week will have specialized training-- which is something I am excited for. I love trainings. As well we are going to try to look for our inactive members. I've allowed myself to be a little frustrated at the rate things are going out here-- I know that I'll have only been here for 2 years, which will be such a small sliver of the history of the church here, but I just want to see some BIG progress. But like the Book of Mormon teaches, great things come as the result of simple things. So I'm trying to be a little more simple. We finally had our first mutual of the year-- it was a success-- meaning that no arguments ensued between siblings and everyone cooperated. We wrote collage letters to the two missionaries from the branch. We're going to finish it up next time. I'll be trying to come up with some other brilliant youth activities for the futue. Any ideas?
Thank you all for the Valentines! I got nearly all of them ON Valentine's Day. I have to say, it was a good day. :) Thanks Kate Mower for the picture of the cutest baby in the entire world! You lucked out. As well as all the scoop going on over there. There are just too many weddings and babies that happened for one email shout out. You will all have to wait until I come home and I can congratulate you to your face.
Things are well here in Zilina and I hope things are perfect for you, where ever you are! :)

Elder Williams

V-Day! February 13,2012

I heard Valentine's Day is tomorrow-- hope you all have one! I don't-- so don't worry Mom. (Elder Romero told me I probably won't have one next year either, I wasn't too worried about it anyway ;)

This was another slower week. We started off the week with some super goals that we wanted to see accomplished. We failed, but we failed gloriously. I'm really looking forward to the day when my area is hopping. It will. (Probably in September.) The truth is that we have some really great investigators that we are excited about. (counting TWO potential families) It's my dream to find a family. That's who the gospel blesses the most anyways and I don't want to the Seidlovci to sit by themselves anymore. We're making some progress with some inactives and the branch as a whole is in a better position than before. I'm trying to remind myself of how far we've come. Whenever I do it gets me more excited for the future. :)

Sister Seidlová tells us every week to write a long letter home--not like her son who writes about 5 lines every week. But I don't have very much to say this week. I'm sorry Sister Seidlova.

Shoutouts: HAPPY (blelated) BIRTHDAY MARA! Love you!!

I have an exchange with Elder Romero this week along with Specialized Training and a trip to Banksa for church--so I'm sure there will be some more fodder next week.
But I love you all! Keep reading your scriptures and saying your prayers.

Elder Williams

ps How are you all getting along without Whitney?? An investigator called me last night to tell me if I heard. The members were all talking about it at church. I didn't even like Whitney Houston that much-- but now I'm sorry I didn't buy her comeback album. If only I had known....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Another Februa'r?!

Hey everyone!
Thank you for the emails you sent last week! I thoroughly enjoyed them all. Know that I love and miss you!

The highlight this week was definitely the Elder Causse conference we had on Thursday. It's been bitter cold (around -20 - -30C... ridiculous) so it was nice to be inside for a day. ;) As well it was one of those "mission changing" moments for me. The last one was when Elder Kerr came. Next week I'll bring my Top favorite quotes. He promised that if we start teaching 20 lessons a week we will find more people to teach and double our baptisms. Last transfer I taught about 20 lessons total. 20 lessons in 9 weeks.... It'll be a challenge to teach that frequently, but Elder Robison and I left that meeting on fire and I'd say we are determined to do it. He told us about raising our faith so we can look "past the veil" and see the vision that the Lord has for this part of the world. When we can "see" our goal we can really start to work at accomplishing it. He told us more about the Slovak branch in Sheffield, England. As soon as more of the men get the Melchizedek Priesthood they'll become a ward! They're thinking of opening another Slovak speaking branch in Leeds. Isn't that amazing?! The Lord is gathering his Slovaks--- in England!
Elder Robison and I have been slowly building up our teaching pool and have found some people that we are really excited about, finally saw some investigators at church and are making progress with some inactives. I've been thinking a lot lately about the commitment that we all make when we decide to follow Christ. Discipleship certainly isn't easy, but it's the one sure path where we can be happy and find help. We're trying to make that more clear to the people we teach. Allowing them to really become converted to the gospel before they make a commitment like baptism. As a Branch President I have headaches and lose a lot of sleep over those inactives. I don't want to find more headaches for future leaders. ;)
I love this work-- it's hard, but incredibly rewarding. I'm grateful for a missionary sister and a brother who is getting ready. Their example is inspiring! And I am sure they will be better missionaries than I ever was! :)

This week will be a little interesting-- we have some meetings, but we might have an emergency trip to Bratislava for visa work. I'm always up for a train ride.

Love you all and I'll talk to you next week!
Starsi Williams
ps did I ever thank Grandma and the Wood family for the packages? The doritos and double stuffed oreos were a beautiful sight and the scarf is perfect! :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Preach My Gospel

January 30, 2012

Hello family!
This has been quite the week. We took a little hit in terms of missionaries week with two conferences so nothing too new or exciting to report. We had Specialized Training-which is always a hit. I love trainings. Then on Thursday we had Progression Training for new missionaries and their trainers. I loved it. We watched the Elder Holland talk that blows me away every time. I missed my favorite part though, when he tells the story of Peter, because I had an interview with President. Oh well, next time. ;) Elder Shumway, one of the APs had a little segment with just the trainers. He said he wanted to talk about the doctrine of Christ and pg 10 of Preach My Gospel (the page on what it means to be a "successful missionary") We started on pg 10 and went through each bullet point and it was an open discussion of when we felt that we were successful with that particular bullet point. We ran out of time and couldn't even finish all of them. It was great to hear and to share the times when we felt successful. Especially now. If I didn't know any better I would think that what I'm doing out here is useless. We have gotten one phone this transfer so far and yesterday he told me not to call him any more. But I know that success comes from our desire to serve and our willingness to learn and to mold into the people that the Lord needs us to become. I want more time to just soak in Preach My Gospel (it's an amazing book) and the scriptures. I don't know them near enough. And everything I need to know is in them!
But I have the rest of my life to study those--isn't that great??

some shoutouts: Katie S. on the engagement! Congrats!!!

That's about all I got for you all. We have another conference in Brno with Elder Causse of the 70. It'll be tight and I'm so excited.
Love you all and I hope everything is perfect for you!

Elder Williams

Zero Time January 23, 2012

Lets talk about how there is zero time to do anything.

Elder Robison and I had a blur of a week. We have been running around trying to get everything done. Im positive (ps this keyboard has no apostrophes) that we got everything accomplished. But a lot of time has been wasted I think in downtime. Its been easy to go a little slower than normal with these 2 hour companionship studies. Add the snow and lack of sunshine and its a little depressing. But we are happy (most important) and healthy and ready for another week!!

President Irwin sends out a "Faith to Roar" (he wants lion-like missionaries) every week and I thought I would attach some of what he said, because it kind of sums up a lot of the feelings that I have

The famous author and lecturer Helen Keller was blind and deaf from the age of two. And, late in life, when a reporter asked her what could be worse than being blind, she responded: “Having eyes to see........ and no vision.”

The lack of vision, or purposeful imagining and creating, has marked the decline of civilizations, organizations, and individuals throughout time. The Proverbs explained thousands of years ago that “where there is no vision, the people perish.”

If we fail to see the forest for the trees, if we lose the big picture to the consuming details before us, we concern ourselves with quick-fix solutions and never recognize deep-seated problems. We put Band-Aids on terminal wounds and replace lifelong dreams with daily demands. We engage in short-sighted planning and seldom accomplish long-term goals. We see ourselves as we are today and lose sight of whom we can become tomorrow.

But, because we are human, we can do more than just see; we can envision our future as we want it to be. We can imagine, dream, and visualize all of the great possibilities of life. All great accomplishments were first conceived in the mind. Technology is subordinate to human imagination. “We went to the moon not because of our technology but because of our imagination,” said Norman Cousins. “The technology became successful only through the application not just of human intelligence but of willpower and aspiration as well. “ (The Celebration of Life).

When we have a sense of vision, we see ourselves and others as capable, changing people – worthy of all the blessings and benefits that life has to offer. We bless other people’s lives by sincerely believing and encouraging them. Ultimately we do all that we are capable of doing and become all that we are meant to become when we turn to God for personal vision. It is my prayer that we will find our personal vision for the future and that we will work on it now.

I absolutely love this time that I have to be out and devote all I have to the Lord and work at becoming the man that he needs me to be. Who my family needs me to be. Ive got to be a lot better than I was. Have a broader vision than I had before, and work harder at achieving it than I did before. It has been an interesting week to say the least-between meetings in the home of real live "hoarders", interviews, another trip to Banksa Bystrica, chats with my companion, etc Ive gained a better picture of what it is that I need to do here to make things at least a little better than they were before. Its exciting and Im def. looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.

Im also looking forward to spring. Im so over the winter look.

ps Letters should be going out to most of you reading. Keep an eye out! Family: I sent you a package!! (Its full of my old clothes, dont get too excited. It can just go with all my other stuff) :)

Shout outs to Zach and Matt for the mission calls! Australia and Nashville dont know what kind of storm is coming! Im looking forward to your call Logan. Let me know so you can get your own shout out. (You know, that would also mean that you would need to write me every once in a while.... just sayin)

I hope everything is good at home. I love you and I miss you all. Talk to you next week!

Elder Williams

The Family Tree Expands January 12, 2012

Hey family!
Sorry this email is even later than expected, we got in a little late yesterday and we the library closed before we had a chance to email-- we chose to have a last minute lesson that was SWEET. Might have a baptism on our hands pretty soon.

So story: Sunday night we were going over to Zuzka's (a member here) for the last supper. Elder Tomlinson was going home. (I don't miss you that much-- but thanks for the notes) On the way there President Irwin gave me a call. I said "Hey President, how did you know I wanted to call you tonight?" He was a little confused and I explained that I had done tithing settlements in Banksa that day and I had some questions.
Then he says, "Ok, ya we can do that-- but what were we talking about?"
"I don't know President, you called me."
"Right. I need you to come to Prague. You're training."

I could hardly eat and I only sleep thanks to Nyquil. (that's not against the word of wisdom, is it?)

Flash forward two days and I'm sitting in Prague getting introduced to Elder Robison (without an "n") from Payson, UT. I should also note that Elder Zabriskie is also training! (I guess I didn't mess him up too bad. Elder Bodily, you're a great-grandpa!) It was kind of weird being in the same "trainer training" as he was. I made it clear at the beginning that we did not have the program we do now WAY back when I trained him. We're now on the 12 training program. It's intense and all about practicing and really using Preach My Gospel the way the prophet wants us to. It's absolutely brilliant. The only downside is an extra hour of studies. But Elder Robison has a lot of fire and he's pumped to be here. He did a good job in our member lesson yesterday-bore some good testimony po slovensky and everything. I am just SO excited for the magic that will be our companionship. Elder Tomlinson, you may quickly become my 3rd favorite companion. (No one can replace my first-born though)
It's been quite the rush this past week. I wanted to focus on taking things one at a time and try to really get a handle of everything--but it seems that life is just throwing me more and more things to do. Clearly I'm meant to keep going at the pace that I have been going, right? I love it and it's definitely exciting. With that said, I can't wait until naps get reintroduced to my life. By the way, President told me that my date of departure is September 20. Save the date!

New transfer, new district!
Elder Robison- with me, duh

Elder Romero-fearless District Leader- from somewhere in UT
Elder Peterson-new missionary--from SLC

Elder Lyones- from England
Elder Sell- from Wisconsin

Elder Tomlinson had a fantastic finish to the transfer and finished with our most successful week in the transfer. I am proud of the work that we did and Elder Robison and I will be continuing it all. On our last full day together we book the pool for March 17. We will have a baptism in Zilina my friends! .... we just need to find out who....FAITH IS THE POWER

I'm glad that everything went well with the weddings/setting aparts/departures. I miss you all and looking forward to the reunions! The pictures didn't work so I don't feel apart of any of it.

Love you all and I will email you on Monday! (The normal day/time)

Elder Williams