Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 23, 2013 - Košice


       Okay quite honestly I feel like I can not remember what happened this week. But conferences tend to do I'll give it my best shot!
     So the beginning of the week was really rainy and on our way to Family Home Evening (FHE), we got down poured on!! Of course I didn't bring my umbrella with me that day and I went to FHE soaking! (okay, I exaggerate. It wasn't that cardigan was soaked and the front of my skirt and my socks and shoes. Only about half of me.;) Mostly I just need to remember to take my gear with me and invest in a pair of boots. Honestly though it was really fun. Surprises are the best!

     Our investigators are great! This week we started teaching this really cool kid named P. His uncle is a member and referred him. Our first lesson with him was fantastic! He has already been to church a few times and told us he believes the church is true so...he has a baptismal date! Also this past week another investigator, PK, who has told us she knows the KM is true also accepted a baptismal date! I'm so excited for them! Of course there's is still a lot for them to learn, but the fact that they are trying, and reading, and searching speaks volumes.

     This week we had a singing display!! I absolutely adore singing displays! It was so wonderful. Being a missionary is just grand. For me, it's perfectly normal to sing hymns loudly on the namestie and stop people to talk about Jesus Christ.  It is the best thing ever.

     Conference was grand! First it was Brno District Conference (like stake conference).  [Stake conference is where many congregations gather together for a meeting.]   Brno District is all of Slovakia and part of the Czech Republic) and then we had specialized training (only for missionaries). Brno conference was so cool! First off b/c of all the members there. These members are just so beautiful and strong. The entire thing was in Czech (which was a little difficult....I don't understand Slovak too well and Czech even more so), even President McConkie's talk! My mission president is the coolest. And of course it is great to see all the missionaries.

    This conference I lived up to my new status as kitchen fairy.  I made 3 batches of brownies for conference. Originally I was making brownies for thank yous and bribes. The bribe brownies went to the APs. We missionaries have this awesome tradition of pamätniks (memory books) and I still had Elder Simcock's. I served with him last transfer but now he's in Prague and I had no way of getting him his I made brownies to bribe the APs. They actually probably would have taken it either way but I wanted to do something nice (involving food of course). This conference was also a little sad because Elder Bateman and Elder Johnson leave for home at the end of the transfer. Elder Bateman is one of our Zone Leaders. He's really cool and so much fun. He's a great missionary and role model. Elder Johnson is just amazing. He always figured out travel arrangements for everyone! Pretty much we're all going to get lost in Slovakia without him. ;) It's sad to see missionaries go but that's how life is.

      Okay Mom, just so you know it takes 8 hours to get to Brno. this time we first went to Bratislava by train (6 hrs) and the next morning took a bus to Brno (2 hrs). On these awesomely long rides we do lots. Sometimes we'll text/call people to set up appointments, write letters (if it's pday), read, write in journal, plan activities...whatever really. And of course chat with our fellow missionaries--especially with those who are not in our area. It's really wonderful to see how everyone is doing/growing. [pday=abbreviation for preparation day - this is the day she prepares for the rest of the week by doing her laundry, shopping, writing letters, etc.]
     I don't know if I've told you but ever Friday our district has group language study. We call it Ladovy Medved or Polar Bear. (I simply adore this's cute and super silly!) I've been told that we have this particular name because polar bears adapt quickly to new environments and we should be like polar bears and adapt quickly to Slovak! Last Friday I made an awesome Jeopardy game!  It was really fun plus I always learn a lot (of Slovak obviously) when I focus on something specific like that.
     Mom thanks for the card btws. We get mail at conferences and I just love your cards. Also thank you for the laughs from friends... A sure is a character!
      And Jac thanks for the pics. Can I just say good job! You all made the yard look gorgeous!
      Al-Elder Knapp says hi and I've mailed your should get it soon, I hope.
     Well that's everything for now, though I feel like I'm missing something...oh well. I love you all!
S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

September 2013 - Spissky Hrad

The Spis Castle was build some 900 years ago, in the 12th century, on the site of an earlier castle. As an important political, economic and cultural center for this part of Kingdom of Hungary, several kings and families owned the castle. Now, a property of state of Slovakia, 'Spissky Hrad' (in Slovak), one of the largest castles in Europe, is living vividly as a tourist's favorite spot. (as found on

According to the internet, it takes about 1 hour to hike to the castle.


Depending upon how many pictures they take, the journey may take a little more than an hour (I hope longer as I'm always grateful for the photos).

 These photos make me want to take a trip!


This last picture is for those who truly know Whitney--this should give you a smile for the day...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 16, 2013 - Košice

Hello Everyone!!

     Okay. So this week was an adventure week!! Monday we went to Spišsky Hrad and it was awesome! It made life super rushed but it was totes worth it. We took a bus from Kosice and then had to hike up to the castle (which was a killer. Dad, please don't disown me 'cause of my inability to hike up a mountain w/out being winded. I will now repent and stop eating so much.) But it was really fun with nice, cool weather. On the way back we seemed to catch every single bus just in time to get us home in a timely manner.

 This week we did SERVICE!! It was super great! We helped President van Dalen in his yard with weeding and what not...things I was raised doing (every single Saturday of my life. Thanks Mom and Dad. ;) ). It was really fun and a nice relief to actually do some manual labor.

And we also had a missionary organized vylet! As a finding tool, to boost our teaching pool and to help introduce non members and investigators to members and missionaries, we do vylets. On Saturday, we went to Slancsky Hrad...well that was the plan at least. We met in the morning at the Church building, which is a stones throw away from the train station. It was us four proselyting missionaries, the humanitarian couple, Pres. van Dalen and one of the elders investigators.
Sadly, the weather was overcast with chance of rain so a few people canceled. The train ride wasn't very long and when we arrived at our stop we couldn't get the doors open!! So at the next stop we jumped off. Unfortunately for us the next train didn't come for another 2 hours so we decided to walk back to Slanec. Which took most of our time. By the time we got to the town, it was time to head back to Kosice (we had other things we needed to see to) and everyone was tuckered from our cross country walk across Slovakia! But it was a good experience for the Elders'  investigator.
I've been learning more and more hymns for church. It's fun and awful at the same time. But I really love being able to help the branch out.

 Okay so about a few of my investigators...
One of them, V, is just amazing. She is really open to our message, asks good questions and said she would be baptized if she knew the Book of Mormon is true! Our problem though, is when we tried to set a specific date, she'll be out of town! But that's okay and an easy concern to work through. V is super sweet and really enjoys our visits. She also speaks English (and actually teaches English) but always lets us talk in Slovak.

Pani K (Pani means Mrs and her last name is long so I'm just gonna leave it at K) is a really nice lady we contacted last transfer. She is Catholic (like most of the country). She's reading in the KM (Kniha Mormonova) and told us she believes it's the word of God. And she told us that if she knew the Church was true she would be baptized. She has something holding her back though and she's missed the connection between authority and KM. She really likes visiting with us and we've been able to help resolve a few of her concerns (such as what happens after death).

K and H and baby D are a really nice Catholic family. They sometimes are hard to commit. They might just be meeting with us because we talk about religious but they are very sensitive to the Spirit and they feel a difference with us in their home.

Well this isn't quite a long letter but I've mailed one off to you. Quick question...have you gotten my other letters? That's pretty much it. I love you all and wish you a beautiful day!

S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

September 16, 2013 - Czech/Slovak Mission Song

So Mom I told you I'd send you the lyrics of our mission here you go! It's so very beautiful and so powerful to here all the missionaries sing it. You could probably youtube it to find the tune.
We Are Called of God
Czech Prague Mission Song (Or should I say Czech/Slovak Mission Song)

We come from places far and near
To find the Lord's elect.
With faith to work His miracles,
Our souls with strength are blessed.
We are called of God
To a land once cold,
Bringing forth His wondrous light.
And with us the Lord labors here
Past martyrs of the land we place
In rev'rance and respect.
They died for freedoms we hold dear.
And we will not forget.
The seeds are sown, the field is white
In Czech and Slovak tongue.
Come join the harvest of men's souls,
Until God's work is done.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 2013 - Košice walking tour #2

We received a tremendous amount of photos this week...and it has been hard deciding what to put out - one of the main problems is that Whitney didn't provide, here goes...

This is Sister Johnson's second walking tour with President van Dalen - also pictured: Sister Jones, Elder Ferrell, Elder Barber, Sister & Elder Miller.

You don't find awesome mail boxes like this in the US!

Coat of arms of Košice


The following pictures were taken at The St. Elisabeth Cathedral (Slovak: Dóm svätej Alžbety); for  additional pictures see July 2013 post.

Going up the tower stairs.

She and her earlier companions bought matching pants....I'm guessing we are now seeing them...

Coming down....

 ...time to go back to work.

September 9, 2013 - Kosice

Good Morning!!

    Okay so this week I was on top of things and since some people won't stop commenting on my short emails (you know who you are...and I've already told you-I type soooo slow!), I actually wrote down a few notes so I know what to write!  [So true! Whitney use to pay/bribe her younger sister into typing her school papers--just don't tell her I told you that!]

     So first off, this last Monday we went on Kosice walk with the Millers and the Elders so I'm sending a bunch of pics home. We also climbed Alzbeta which was so great especially because we wore pants this time. :)  We also had FHE (Family Home Evening) at the Millers and Sis Jones a I taught a super awesome object lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On our way to FHE we actually ran into one of our investigators, which was such a blessing! He wasn't able to come to FHE but at least we were able to talk and set up w/him.

     Another funny thing that happened Monday involved Tesco! (Our grocery store). So we have a penny jar at home and it had like 8 euros in it so we decided to use them up by going through the self check out...We got about 3 euros in the machine before we were told we needed to leave because we were holding up the line. oops.. Such is life...we might try again in the near future

     Okay so on Tuesday Sis Jones wasn't feeling well and so she got a blessing from the Elders and Pres. van Dalen. It was really cool b/c they did it in SLOVAK!! I was trying to record for her but it was difficult. It was really beautiful though. And even if I couldn't understand everything, it was exactly what she needed to hear at that point.

     Afterward we went home (she didn't really feel up to tracting/contacting) and did a deep clean/ organization of our area book and made plans of how to contact people who haven't been contacted yet. (We have piles of numbers from last's a bit overwhelming. But now we have a solid plan which has been working really well so far.) Then Sis Jones went to bed early and I made peanut butter fudge (Thank you so much for the recipe Mom!).

    The next morning was a bit different b/c Sis Jones was under orders to get a good rest and sleep in so I started my morning alone and trying my best to be quiet. (I'm not actually sure how successful I was...Sis Jones woke up about 1.5 hrs later. Not really sleeping in much). Then the rest of the day was normal.
 So here are a few answers to questions...We teach English every Wednesday night for 1 hour at the church building. We have three levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced/conversational. Sis J a I teach advanced. We do have a regular crowd and for my class about 8 or so regulars. After we teach English, we always have a spiritual thought.


   So on to Thursday!! I loved Thursday b/c we made halušky!! It's a traditional potato type dish.

 You make a paste out of potatoes....

and use a special pan to make pasta pieces which you boil.

Then you add bryndza cheese, sour cream and bacon. I love it soooo velmi much!! Also when you have halusky you have to drink Kofola (the communist version of root beer)! Making  halušky is super fun but it takes strong wrists!!


So we also made a pear crisp b/c one of the elder's investigators gave us soooo much fresh fruit!

     Also on Thursday one of our investigators who we've been unable to meet with for a super long time because her mom is dying invited us over. It was wonderful to finally meet again. And we'll be able to serve her soon b/c she's doing some remodeling (and I know all about that. ;) ).

     Friday was super interesting...we had contacting exchanges w/elders so I got to go with Elder Ferrell. He is just magic at Slovak! Afterward while Sis Jones and I were riding the bus home it stopped like 4 stops before ours and everyone on the bus had to get off! There weren't enough people on the bus so the driver told us we had to wait for a trolley bus (which is cheaper)!   So standing at the bus stop I realized I made a huge mistake...I left our keys in the building!! Luckily for us I always have a spare set to our apartment but we were unable to retrieve our keys from the church until Sunday. But it was a good learning experience with no lasting consequences.

     So then Saturday was crazy busy but pretty normal except for the fact that I made bublanina and muffins. I have another Slovak recipe from Sister van Dalen!! I'm slowly building a recipe book. :) [If you haven't figured it out yet, Whitney loves to be in the kitchen - lucky for her, they are responsible for their own meals (unlike the missionaries in our ward where members sign up to feed them every evening).]

    And Sunday was so awesome! First church was interesting because Elder Barber forgot to tell us Sisters that we had the Sunday School lesson. We winged it and it was awesome. Also I got to translate a little bit for Sister Miller in Relief Society. Not much and not very well b/c I really only understand general ideas but it was fun and I really enjoyed it. It made me think really hard!! And after church we went and visited a girl who has been out of town the entire summer. She was so cool! We went to her house and she just asked us what we were going to teach her. Plus even though she knows English (she's an English teacher), she let us just speak in Slovak.Well that's mostly it.

     This week I've really been working on opening my mouth and it went pretty well...I've been trying to keep a great scripture in mind (Mosiah 7:12) which talks about speaking with boldness. I have no problem being bold in English but I chicken out sometimes cause my Slovak isn't as good. But I know my weakness and how to fix it. Plus the Lord is helping me turn my weaknesses into strengths so I suppose it's fine for now. Well I really must go but I love you all so much.
S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 2, 2013 - Kosice

     This week has been great! The beginning of the week was sooo long! But on Thursday we had a conference in Trencin which was beautiful and amazing. I'm always so spiritually uplifted after conferences. The Zone Leaders, Elder Bateman and Elder Peterson, gave a wonderful presentation about the sacredness of our calling as missionaries. It was a good reminder that we are here on the Lord's errand and that we can have divine help.

      When I arrived in the field, I received a card (like every missionary in our mission) that has My Commission by Elder Bruce R McConkie on it. It says 
"I am called of God. My authority is above that of kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my master and He has chosen me to represent Him--to stand in his place, to say and do what He Himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My voice is His voice, and my acts are his acts: my words are His words, and my doctrine is His doctrine-for I am His agent. My Commission is to do what He wants done; to say what He wants said; to be a living, modern witness-in word and in deed-of the divinity of His great and marvelous Latter-day work. And he that receiveth me, receiveth Him, while he that rejecteth me, rejecteth Him that sent me. How great is my calling!" 
      This is something I've been working on...trying to remember that I was sent here to Slovakia, here to Kosice by the Lord. As a servant of the Lord, I have great power and responsibilities. And I need to act accordingly. I need to open my mouth so it will be filled and so I can find those who are ready to accept this message and be baptized.

       President McConkie helped out with this a little bit. He gave the most wonderful presentation and in such a clean, clear, and concise manner. First he said that finding principles are the same in every mission, all over the world. (Sound familiar, Dad?) Then he said that finding techniques need to be adapted to area and circumstance. President then gave us 8 finding techniques. I absolutely adore President's teaching style.[Whitney had mentioned before that his style reminds her of her dad's teaching style.]

       An interesting side note: you know how you told me that Jac and Dad did temple work for people from Slovakia? Well now I know of at least 5 other missionaries whose families have also been doing temple work for Slovakians!!

       Then Friday (the day after the conference), Sestra Jones and I went out contacting in the morning and someone approached us and asked for a card!! We of course rapidly set up a meeting instead. This man, M, had met the elders on the street about a month ago and recognized our badges. He's pretty amazing-He wants to have "a firm foundation of faith" (yes that's a quote from him!) and he's so engaged during lessons, asking questions and reading from the Book of Mormon! As Starsi Fredrickson put it, he is "Miracle M." It seems like we have amazing success with those whose names start with M.

       Just a little update about M [she's referring to the gentleman who was baptized last week]: The week after his baptism and confirmation, he went home and as far as I know, received the Priesthood yesterday in Bratislava.

       Our humanitarian couple arrived this week too. The Millers are super cool and a little over whelmed but have started off with "all energy of heart." It's great to have a senior couple and such a help and blessing!

        Church this week was great and I taught Relief Society. Dad I hope you're proud...I used an airplane analogy. My lesson was on the conference talk "Beautiful Mornings" and I used your phrase "your attitude dictates your altitude." Also I learned 2 new hymns this past week. I'm the permanent pianist for our branch. Sometimes its super stressful but it's really fun. Plus I just know Heavenly Father is helping me learn the hymns for church. D&C 25:12.

        My Slovak is coming slowly but surely. I know it will get there eventually.
        I sadly have run out of time but I love you all very much!
Love, Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

August 26, 2013 - Kosice

Hello, hello everyone!!

    I need to tell you all about M's baptism. (and of course send pics). Because we're just a baby branch and don't have a font, we have our baptisms in a pool at a hotel. (It's a super classy hotel too.)  
yes, we are all wearing slippers...
The service was great. I gave a talk on baptism and luckily for me the service was in English. Sister Jones and I sang Savior Redeemer of My Soul. Sister Jones sang soprano and I sang alto and played the piano....I'm so glad M was baptized but I'm a little sad he won't be staying in Kosice to help build the branch. On the other hand though, I'm sure he'll be a great help where ever. 

     So my week was pretty normal other than the baptism.  We had contacting exchanges this past week. Once a transfer, we have an exchange with the district leader, Elder Barber. It was my turn first and it's really cool to see other missionaries' contacting techniques. Plus it's great because Elder Barber is super nice and while we were contacting he pointed out that my language has improved a lot since last transfer! 
      One funny story about contacting: We contacted a man who started speaking to us in English (with a British accent, might I add). He said he was Czech and that he knew about us so of course we asked him what he knows and he said, "You're basically Christian with a huge emphasis on families." It was really cool that someone said something other than calling us a sect! The man didn't want to hear our message, in fact he was looking for a "good bar" and asked for our help. (we politely declined). He was really funny too and kept making comments about how he'd never seen such a tall person before (Elder Barber is well over 6 foot and it probably didn't help that my 5'2" self was standing next to him).

     This week we have a conference in Trencin and I'm super stoked!! I love seeing all the missionaries gathered-it's so powerful. Also I'm looking forward to it because I will finally meet Elder Knapp!! (President Knapp's son. He's a Czech missionary but now he's an AP so I'll actually get to see him!)  [Too fill the rest of you in - Whitney's sister attends college at Kansas State University and the CES (Church Education System) director is President Knapp - so now two of our girls knows Elder Knapp.]

     Also just so you all know, I celebrated my half birthday this past week! I'm now officially 19.5!

     I don't really anything else to say...I love you all and want to hear how everything is going.
     Also, (Mom & Dad) the scripture I was talking about in my letter is my mission scripture--it's Alma 29:8-9.
S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson