Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 28, 2013 - Košice

Hello Everyone!!

      So this week has flown by and once again I'm sitting here trying to think if anything happened. ;)  Don't worry though because I do have some news.

     So I've the most exciting news ever!!! WE'RE GETTING A NEW SISTER!!!! We weren't supposed to get new sisters until Sister Jones and Sister Belibi Minya leave (that's in like another 10 months) but a sister was slated to come earlier and we're all sooooo happy! This means we'll have a grand total of 7 Slovak Sisters!!!! YAY!!!! She'll be coming at the beginning of December!

     This week we have Zone Conference in Brno and our district is super excited because we'll be doing a musical number! We'll be singing "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" in Slovak (well, I'll be playing the piano) and we're hoping President McConkie will play his violin with us! I'm going to get someone to record it so you'll be able to enjoy it as well. ;)

     Our investigators have had some challenges this week...there's opposition in all things. P was going to be baptized but his mom has some concerns so she hasn't signed the permission form. It's so disappointing. He really wants to be baptized and said he'll just wait 1.5 yrs until he's old enough. We have a girl, D, in our branch who was in the same situation so we're going to ask her to share her story with him.  P is taking it very well and told us that this just means he'll know everything by the time he's old enough to be baptized. He's such a cool kid.

     We taught PK about the word of wisdom  this week and she asked if she were to be baptized if she had to follow it so of course we said yes. Then she said she would. We called her later in the week and she was struggling. She really likes coffee and said the first day she went without coffee was the worst day at work and she had a huge headache. But another sister told her about an experience she had when detoxing and said that's how she'd felt the first week of a detox but after that first week she felt great. So we're hoping she'll be strong and stick with it.

     Our district has been doing a lot together this past week. We did some singing displays to advertise for our Musical Night. It's a little unnerving because there's only 4 of us so that means 3 missionaries sing while the other one contacts and we rotate out after 2 or 3 songs. Once, a member came and contacted for us while we were singing. It was such a great help. Also we've been doing some group contacting for Family History Class (which is struggling a bit). We pick a spot/section of the Namestie and all split up and contact in that area (staying within sight and sound, of course ;)) for an hour or two. It's really cool as it gives an extra boost of confidence knowing you have the other companionship there as well. It's been really effective thus far...we've gotten lots of names and numbers.

     Well our district went on a diet. Starsi Guymon follows this diet and one day, we sisters were complaining about being fat (okay we know we're not but still it would be nice to be thinner) so Starsi Guymon suggested we all go on a diet. There are a few rules...
       1. No Sugars
       2. No Whites (this means no starches or milk)
       3. No Fruit
       4. Eat the same 3 meals
       5. Go crazy on cheat day (once a week you have a day where you can eat anything! Our is on monday b/c we never really take time to eat...we just eat bread or something on the go. It gives us more time.)
       6. You're not allowed to starve.
       7. Everytime you break the diet, you eat a beet. (Basically this wipes your system clean and thus counteracts the sugar/starch/fruit/dairy you just ate.)
       8. Once you hit your target weight you're done.
So I'm not particularly good at dieting and to say the least I've eaten a lot of beets. But they don't actually taste that bad and this week I promise to be good and actually follow the diet.

       So I've run out of time but I love you all and wish you a beautiful day!
      I love you!!

S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 21, 2013 - Košice


Hello, hello!!

        Okay so I don't really know where the time went this week...I feel like I did so much and yet nothing at all! but here are a few things from this past week.  Monday we went on another Košice Walk (my third one!) and it was amazing. There are beautiful buildings and lots of  history here. I love it sooo much! Plus the weather was wonderful and I got a bunch of cool pics!   
Pres van Dalen
     Sister Jones and I went and helped Sister van Dalen (the branch president's wife) clean up their home. Her family was in visiting for a month and she needed a little help getting everything under wraps. It was really fun! We listened to a John Bytheway talk while we worked and the van Dalens fed us lunch. They are the nicest people ever! 
     On Friday, we went as a district to serve a less active member named R. He is super cool! He's remodeling his house and we helped him remove all the cabinets from the kitchen. It was really great to do some manual labor and quite honestly reminded me of home! It's been forever since I handled a hammer! ;)  Afterwards the elders gave a powerful spiritual thought and then we had to sprint through the village to catch our bus! We made it just in time though!
     On Sunday, our sweet investigator, PK came to church. It was really great to that she was able to come. She has difficulties coming--she works so she normally spends Sundays with her family. Also she lives outside of Kosice in one of the surrounding towns (there's bunches of little villages not too far off) and the bus schedule is tricky on Sundays. This Sunday I also taught Relief Society. It was a really cool lesson and I think it went really well. The lesson was from Lorenzo Snow manual lesson 20. 
   Our investigators are amazing as usual! We've had some difficulties with P's baptismal date...He was supposed to be baptized this past Saturday but we've had to push it back a couple of weeks.  He wants to be baptized and recognizes that it is a good thing and he agrees with what we've taught and believes the KM is true and we have prophets today, atd (a tak d'alej--etc po slovensky). We're going to meet with him and his mom this week and hopefully he'll be baptized now later than November 2.
     So you (Mom) have asked about the language. We sadly haven't made our goal of 100 sol hours but we'll try again. I found I generally understand about half of what everyone says and can follow conversations (partly cause I'm really good at reading body language). I struggle with my studies. I don't feel like I'm effectively studying the language or honestly really know how to continue to progress. But I'll keep trying. 
     This past week has been interesting because I've noticed a lot of my inadequacies and shortcomings. Some I know how to fix, others I still need to ponder on a little more. I know that Heavenly Father wants me to be better and right now I'm working/learning on how to really pray. I know I need help, and lots of it. Quite honestly the only way for me to succeed is with Divine help. But "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." (1 Nephi 11:17). I know that sometimes we have trials and sometimes life is difficult and that's okay because "it must needs be, that there is an opposition is all things" but "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things" (1 Nephi 11:17). I know that as I learn to trust and rely on the Lord more I will become better and have more success. He has sent me here to do His work. And the work will always move forward. I suppose I'll end with something I shared in Relief Society this past sunday... "The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done" (Joesph Smith). [If you would like to understand more about the things Sister Johnson is teaching, visit this website and find answers to your questions.]
   As usual and as always, I love you all and wish you the very best week!

S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

A couple of more photos...we went out on the day of the Kosice marathon to find origami around the  city.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 14, 2013 - Košice

side note....her letter is dated 14.10.2013 -just goes to show she is becoming more acclimated every day.

       Well my week was amazing. Mostly because of GENERAL CONFERENCE!!  But first I'll tell you about the beginning of my week:  

   Monday we (the Millers, Elders and us) went to the Zoo! It was really cool (and super cheap too--like 3 euros!) but a little tiny. They had adorable seals though! I think our zoo needs some. A funny story though...we had walked away from the Lion pen when we heard them start to roar! So our elders, like any boy would do, turned to their companion and took off at a run to see the lions. But just as they arrived the lions stopped! This happened three times!! Sadly, they never saw the lions roar...I told them that the lions just sense that the elders bring a message of hope and peace and feel calm with the elders around. The Elders were a little disappointed but Sister Jones and I were super amused! ;)  Also there were swarms of ladybugs. everywhere. And they kept landing on us all. It was so bizarre.

Another cool thing from this preparation day was the huge slide!! It was really cool. You sit in these little carts (totally reminded me of Mario Cart on the N64). It's almost like a ski lift where it takes you to the top of the hill (except you're on the slide) and then you go! The slide is 800 meters long [1/2 mile] and kinda reminds me of a luge. The carts have brakes on them so you can control your speed. It was really fun!

       Okay so I watched General Conference  this weekend and OH MY!!! IT WAS SUPER AWESOME!! We watch it a week later because of the time difference and because we are sent DVDs of Conference with Slovak dubbing. We had two rooms, a Slovak and English room, so I was able to watch it in English. Between sessions of conference we had lunch with the branch and it was super yummy. Sister van Dalen made really yummy potato salad--bringing the kinds of potato salad I actually like to two.
 So this week we're preparing for a baptism for P. We've had some interesting lessons this past week...One thing that happened was that he expressed desires to serve a mission!  He's super prepared for baptism/membership.  He's a really good kid.
  We're also prepping for a's going to be super cool. Sister Jones wrote an amazing script (I helped a little but not much). She's a really talented writer! It's a restoration lesson with music thrown in. We've been practicing a little and a side note for Jaclyn...You play "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" soooo well! Do you want to fly here and play it for our koncert? ;) [No, she hasn't spelled that incorrectly - just put in a Slovakian word. :) ]

     Well I don't have too much to say but I'll take a page from President McConkie's book...He promised that at the end of every conference, he would end on Christ. It's such a good idea so I'm borrowing it. "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." (3 Nephi 5:13)

     I feel so blessed to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I see the blessings of it everyday in my life and in my work. I KNOW that happiness, true lasting happiness--everlasting life, comes as we follow the Savior, His teachings, and the instructions of His servants. We have the opportunity to listen to a LIVING PROPHET!! We've just watched General Conference--12 hours (including the Relief Society Broadcast) of direct instruction from God. I know as we take what we have learned, ponder and pray about it, and (most importantly!!) apply it, we will have blessings, we will have help through our trials, we will have happiness! "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise" (D&C 83:10). I love this assurance. Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants to help and bless us. That's why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, that's why He gives us prophets, so we may know what we need to do and so we may have happiness as we do it!

I love you all!
S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 7, 2013 - Košice

Hello all you lovely people!

    So this week was super grand and missionaries work always is! Sadly, I can't quite remember everything I wanted to I'm just slightly blonde and forgot my list of things to write about at home!! That's okay though...that's what companions are for. ;)

    First off, some of our investigators:
    P is progressing so well...his baptism is 2 weeks away and he's so excited. We talked about his baptismal program this week...who will give talks, who will pray, who will perform the actually ordinance. And it looks like I'll be giving another talk, this time in Slovak. I'm only a little more stressed now. ;) But honestly, it's cool because I always learn, especially when under pressure.

    PK had a few setbacks. Namely because she only meets with us once a week due to her work schedule and she didn't attend church yesterday. We have to push her baptismal date back. Something else that is preventing her baptism (and is not necessarily a bad thing) is that she wants to read the KM [Book of Mormon] all the way through before baptism. She is a wonderful sweet spirit and so patient with us and our Slovak (or lack thereof). I think she'll be ready soon...she just needs a nudge in the right direction.

     Another girl we've been teaching, V, is sooo awesome! She knows how the Spirit works with her and just really loves and understands what we've been teaching! She is so prepared but sadly will be leaving for a month!! It's so frustrating when prepared people leave for a long time!

      We've (Sis Jones and I) have been thinking that we have to drop K and H. They just aren't progressing and told us that they have no interest in reading the KM. Plus they always talk about  how "their faith/beliefs are different than our faith/beliefs." It's really sad...they are such a beautiful family and would benefit so much from the Gospel.

    Okay now our first district meeting with Starsi Guymon was excellent. He was very honest and point blank talked about the status of the branch...we aren't retaining converts and in fact dwindling in numbers. He has some excellent ideas for building the branch and of course for reactivation. One of our goals is to have 10 active members by the end of the transfer. One of the ways we are trying to reach that goal is by visiting everyone, every week who is inactive and willing to meet with us. I'm really excited to see how this will turn out and what results it will yield (I'm thinking the reactivation of many!).

     So a couple of really cool things our district is doing right now:
      Rodinna Historia (Family History)! We started a family history class which is super fun. The first day we had a big turn out but not as big as the next week. We showed how to start a family tree by using familysearch. [Check it out...this is a free site with millions of records of people from all over the world.]  It's really difficult sometimes...the vocab is brand new to us!  [Watch a short  video on why others are interested in family history.]

      Anglictina (English) we teach English every week. We have 3 different levels...Sis Jones and I teach the highest level. It's pretty cool...I just prefer not to teach. My English isn't that great
anyway! ;)  It's helpful though because we've meet a few people through it who have become investigators.

      Hudobny Vecer (Musical Night!). We are putting on a concert at the end of the month (Mom, that's why I needed the piano music). I'm really excited because other areas have performed a musical night and had great success. Plus I will never pass up an opportunity to sing. ;)  We plan on having the missionaries sing songs outlining the Restoration Lesson from Preach My Gospel, while someone narrates.  We also plan on having guest musicians, such as members or investigators. It will be grand!!

     And now a few fun/different things that happened to us this week....
    First a little background...the Kosice Marathon was this past week and it's the oldest marathon in Central Europe and the prized money is a hefty sum so there were many, many people here from all over. Sister Jones and I were on our way to lunch at the Millers and these two guys from West Africa passed us and one of them said, "Well Good Morning Ladies" and Sister Jones and I about died laughing. I love it when people wish me a good morning. ;)

   We were on our way to Sister Burdigova's and all the sudden the tram stopped. We were told we had to get off so people slowly got off and we stood just waiting for another tram. When a new one
came it was a little one car and already full but people started piling in and it was just smashed full of people. Naturally, Sis J and I waited for the next one.

     We had some cool visitors at church. Brad M. (he was a here missionary a few years ago) and his friend (who served in Norway) were backpacking through Europe!

      So I started reading Jesus the Christ and can I just say, that book is intense! It's so eye opening and just mind blowing. I really love how the Gospel just makes sense!

    Well all in all my week was great. I love you all and wish you a beautiful day! Now I'm going to go play at the ZOO!! :D 
S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

And, one more picture of their 
visit to a "really yummy chocolate place"!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September 30, 2013 - GUESS WHERE!

To those who want to know:
Hello! so it is transfer day and guess where I am?!?  My birth place!! I am staying in Košice! And with Sister Jones!! President McConkie says that we (the sisters) are doing so well and he doesn't want to move us (at least not yet!). I'm super glad that I'm staying. Of course I really want to serve in other cities but I really love my city! Funny thing the end of this transfer I will have served here for 6 months. For those who are a little mathematically challenged, that's a third of my mission! I just can't believe it's going by so fast!! I really hope I'm doing everything I can to be a productive, efficient missionary at all times and in all things and in all places. ;) Well let me do my best to remember this past week...

Well honestly this week has been really difficult for me. I haven't felt like I've been progressing all that much whether in the language or in spirituality or anything really. In fact I sorta felt like I'd regressed. But you know I've figured out the problems, so I know where and what to fix. Not much happened this week besides some self-evaluation.

Sunday was just grand! We have two people on date for baptism (PK and PH) and they both came to church!! We met with PH after church and he's progressing really well. We only have a few things to teach him before he's completely ready for baptism. Our district sang "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" and it was amazing. I'm really perfecting my ability to sing and play at the same time. It was a little sad because it was Starsi Barber's last Sunday in Košice but it's okay as we'll see him again soon...he's the new Zone Leader! (more about that later.)
So the mission (or at least those in Slovakia) was buzzing that something new and different would be happening at transfers and here it is...
First off, Trencin is getting a new area! This means we have 3 in Bratislava (2 elder areas, 1 sister), 2 in Zilina (1 elder, 1 sister), 2 in Trencin, 2 in Nitra, 1 in Zvolen, 1 in Banska Bystrice, 2 in Kosice (1 elder, 1 sister).
Bratislava is back in the Slovak zone (before it was in Brno zone). [If you are lost...The numbers refer to the number of companionships in a given city.  By the numbers, we can tell there are 6 sisters (3 sets) and 20 elders (10 sets) serving in Slovakia.  Also, some elders have been assigned to a new area (Trencin) to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.]
Then a new missionary is being trained in Zvolen (typically where the Zone Leaders are) and actually the Zone Leaders are NOT companions! Elder Peterson is staying in Zvolen and training while Elder Barber is going to Banska and provide follow up training. I'm not sure how it will work out exactly but it's pretty cool. Plus I'm excited that Elder Barber will be one of the Zone Leaders because that means he can come do SINGING DISPLAYS with us!! (I always trying to get him to sing solos but he doesn't particularly like to sing in front of people.)

In my area, Sister Jones and I are staying and so is Elder Ferrell. Elder Guymon (he only has 2 transfers left) is coming to Košice! I'm really excited...Elder Guymon is really awesome and pretty much insists on only speaking Slovak.

I guess I'll just wrap up by saying that our Heavenly Father is the best! This week every time I had a question or concern, my companion was having the same thoughts. And most importantly, our questions and concerns were always answered. Some of them through the scriptures, others through our mission president and fellow missionaries, and others through letters from home (such as the Manual...Thanks Dad! The Law of the Harvest is pretty awesome! And thank you Brat Fish! You're letter was so encouraging!). I just KNOW Heavenly Father is mindful of me, His daughter who is in a strange place, doing strange things and He is supporting me and helping me with this. I'm so grateful to Him for the way He loves and the way He guides and the way He helps. Like sending His Son. "I am the way, the truth, and the light."  [Click on God Is Our Father  to see a video about our relationship with God.]

I love you all so very much!! Have a beautiful day!
S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3