Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 27, 2014 - Zilina

Hello Everyone!!

   Just so you know, I am soooo tired!!! This week was super busy and full of adventures!! 
On Monday, we made Halusky with help from Na (one of the members here)! It was sooo good and now I have one more recipe! YAY!! Also Sister Krauel and I went to Al's (Na's little sister) piano recital. It brought back so many memories of my own recitals. It was super cute and it also made me miss hearing my favorite pianists (Allison and Jaclyn! Love you!). 
Tuesday was our koncert in Trencin. We traveled there early to practice and help set up. The koncert went really well! It was the first lesson in Preach My Gospel (Restoration). There was a script read by members and missionaries and of course MUSIC!!
This was the program: 
1. God is Our Loving, Heavenly Father-I Am a Child of God (everyone singing accompanied with guitars), A Child's Prayer
2. Gospel Blesses Families-Love is Spoken Here
3. Prophets and Dispensations-Hark All Ye Nations (my district and Tibor, my uke), The Spirit of God
4. Saviors Earthly Ministry-I Heard Him Come (E. Hammond, S. Krauel and I sang and S. Kane accompanied us), Savior Redeemer of My Soul (I played and everyone else sang), Consider the Lilies (Sestry Kane a Belibi Minya)
5. Joseph Smith-Joseph Smith's 1st Prayer (the first vision video was muted and we sang starting with some of the elders soloing! It was sooo good!)
7. Testimony- I Know that My Redeemer Lives (I played and everyone sang)
Then on Wednesday we did the same thing!! It went really well even though some missionaries were starting to get sick. Luckily everyone is fine now! One of our members here, Ba, was our host. He read most of the script and bore his testimony at the end. It was amazing! He's prepping to leave on a mission this year so it was good practice! ;)
Thursday was super exciting because we had exchanges with the sister training leader and her companion! Sestry Graham and Huggard arrived here in the morning and then Sister Huggard and I went to Uherške Hradište in the Czech Republic! I was a Czech missionary for a day!! So much fun. Czech was different from Slovak but not by too much so I understood a lot of what was going on, which was good because we taught a few lessons and I taught advanced English there. The next day Sister Krauel came and got me and we returned to our beautiful city of Zilina! It was fun to be on exchanges but I really love being in my own area.
The rest of the week was normal...busy, busy, busy! The one difference in the weather. IT'S SO COLD! I'm wearing my fat coat and my thickest scarf and multiple pairs of socks and tights and leggings!! And I'm still cold! According to our elders it was negative 10 (in celcius, of course) this past week. I'm hoping it warms up soon but it will probably be like this for a little while.
I think that's all I've got for you this week! I love you all so much and wish you a warm week!
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 20, 2014 - Zilina

Hello, hello!

This past week was pretty awesome and of course super busy!!

This week, Sister Krauel and I taught our investigator Fi. He's really cool but busy so we only meet once a week. Which means he's not progressing very quickly.
We spent lots of time traveling this past week: we have some members who live in villages/towns outside of Zilina so we take the train to visit them. We also had a conference this week!! We had a crazy cleaning kick night before conference...right after planning Sister Krauel and I deep cleaned our apartment, which may have not been the best idea, we really should have gone to bed early because we woke up the next morning at 4:00!! But that's okay. We were still full of pep and step for conference! ;)  And conference was the best! President changed our schedule a bit on Saturdays and Sundays so we'll have more proselyting time. We also received new mission vision statement cards. Our vision statement for 2014 is: "With vision and a sense of urgency, we will build towards a stake of Zion in the Czech-Slovak Mission as we trust in God, see His hand in our work and love the people". President challenged us to have 10 meaningful conversations daily. It was an amazing, spiritual conference and it was awesome to see everyone in the zone. (which means all of the missionaries from Slovakia!!) Also I've been working on my Slovak levels and both Sister Krauel and I received our 1st level at conference!!! YAY!!!

We have a koncert this week (two of them really-one in Trencin and one in Zilina) so the Trencin district came to practice and advertise with us. And of course it was the same day the Zone Leaders came for exchanges with the elders! More or less that means we had a lot of amazing singers in town! ;) We all went to lunch and our group was HUGE!! It was us from Zilina (Elders Hammond and Clark, Sister Krauel and I, and Elder and Sister Wrightson), the Trencin district (Elders Ellingson and Lamb and Sisters Kane and Belibi Minya), and the Zone Leaders (Elders Utley and Barber). Afterward had a singing display and it was such a sight to see all 14 of us singing, passing out flyers and talking to people.

Sunday was crazy stressful because I had a talk!!! It is terrifying every single time I have to speak in Slovak in front of people and sometimes frustrating because I know what I want to say and I know what needs to be said but often times I don't have the vocabulary for it! My talk was about potential and member missionary work. I used President Uchtdorf's talk from April 2011 General Conference, "Your Potential, Your Privileges" and Elder Anderson's talk from April 2013, "It's a Miracle!". I think it was pretty good but the awesome thing about speaking in church was that I learned something too! You see, I was really nervous and normally that means my mind goes blank, I get really red, my voice and hands sometimes shake, and I just can't formulate normal sentences or read normally but before (and during) my talk I prayed so hard that I could say what the members needed to hear. All through my talk I was fine, calm, understandable (even if I did repeat myself) and the instant I sat down afterwards I flushed bright red and my hands started to shake! It just shows that Heavenly Father can help us overcome every little thing if we need the help!

Well I think that's more or less it! This past week was busy and this coming week will be even busier!
So to end this letter I'll just tell you a little about the Relief Society lesson Sister Krauel taught. It was about our Savior and His Gospel. She shared the scripture  Helaman 5:12 and it's so true!! In this crazy world we have one sure foundation, our Savior, Jesus Christ! I know that as we center our lives on Him, live as He would have us live, and become who He wants us to be, we will find true and lasting happiness. We will have a sense of direction and we will understand what we need to do! It's the great and glorious plan of our    Heavenly Father! So remember the church is true and I love you!!!

S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 13, 2014 - Zilina

Hello Everyone!!

      So this week was crazy busy and fun!

Tuesday: We traveled to Trencin to practice for our upcoming concert. It's about 1.5 hrs by train. We first had a singing display and then went to their building to practice. It's going to be a great concert...there are some really talented people singing/performing! Also President McConkie was in Trencin doing interviews! I love being interviewed. President McConkie is an amazing person and he gives the best advice and help. I'm just in awe of the amazing, spiritual people I meet here. That trip pretty much took all day but it was the best.

Wednesday: We clipboarded for English and spent forever at city hall (we were trying to find service opportunities and they finally told us the person we would need to talk to wasn't in). Then we taught K, practiced for our concert with some of the members and ate dinner with a member, Zu. She's really cool and one of the Slovak translators (they all live in Zilina). We went to Habibi, an Arabic restaurant (Zu's favorite place). It was sooo yummy!  [Sister Johnson is referring to those members who helped translate the Book of Mormon to Slovak-these young people from Eastern Europe share  what they have learned from reading the Book of Mormon.]

Thursday: We returned to city hall, only to be told that in order to do service, certain guidelines need to be met and they don't give service out to individuals. We also taught English class and had more people than we normally do because a few people came back! They stopped coming because english was on the same day as salsa classes but now salsa is over! Yay for us!

Friday: Probably why my week was the day started normal-we did studies, visited a member but in the evening before Polar Bear (our district language study) I was injured!! Elder Hammond was making himself some herbal tea and was pouring out the extra (boiling) hot water and he accidentally dumped it on my hand! It hurt soo much (almost like when the grill lit me on fire ;)). I felt bad for Elder Hammond because he felt so bad about the incident. It was fine though cause Sister Krauel had burn cream at home. Then the next day Elder Hammond gave me a chocolate bar wrapped in gauze and wrote "get well soon" on it! I'm fine and the next day it was completely normal so all's well that ends well. 

Saturday: We went tracting and it was super great! Actually it's super duper hard but it's fun trying to improve. You only have a short time to catch someones attention. I'm not super great at it but I'm doing better I think, after all practice makes perfect!

Sunday: A normal Sunday more or less. And we ate over at the Wrightsons! It's wonderful to have a senior couple in town, kinda like having a set of grandparents in town!

Today: So we went on a hike to a castle!! We went with Pet'ka, Natalia, the Wrightsons and the elders. It was fun and I have some boss pics! [enjoy the pictures at end of this post]
So have to go-- I love you all lots!!

S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

Lietavsky Hrad 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

6.1.2014 (6 January 2014) - Zilina

Hello Everyone!!

      This week has been fun!! Of course we had the brand New Year! We missionaries went over to the Wrightsons for dinner and made Halusky!! There was a ridiculous amount of food and it was amazing. Then we were given to watch a movie. We had to be in by 7 (for our safety) and we also could stay up to watch fireworks if we wanted. Which we didn't. We were so tired and went to bed and I woke up when the fireworks started but was way too tired/lazy to get out of bed.  

       Both Sister Krauel and I were sick this week (not anything bad, though). On Tuesday, Sister Krauel was just not feeling well and was sorta dizzy so instead of clipboard for English we practiced for our up coming concert and on Thursday, I had a huge migraine and upset stomach. We were suppose to go clipboarding (this time for Family history) but instead I took a nap on the floor of the primary room while Sister Krauel did some calls. In the end everything turned out well and we're healthy and happy!
      To answer a few questions: 
       The weather here is beautiful...not really cold!! What do we do when it's cold?...CONTACT!! Thus far the weather is pretty mild and hasn't been hindering our contacting or tracting. We try to do service but we don't find many opportunities.
      The branch here is much bigger than in Kosice. The branch has been here for close to 20 years but there's only 12ish active members, half of which are one family. It's very hard/depressing for them to see little progress and sometimes they feel they've exhausted all their resources/options. We don't do too much less active work here, but we are trying to get a hold of one sister.
      So our investigator, E, is not taking the lessons anymore. She doesn't have a desire to know if it's true. She feels good when she's with us but likes her church group (more for the social aspect I think).  She's still coming to English Class. 
       We have a really cool investigator, Fi. He's a YSA and has been making pretty good progress lately. He told us he has desire/intents to read the Book of Mormon and find out if it's true. We committed him to read every day and he's been doing really well. There is one problem though...he can't meet very often because he's busy with school and scouting. 

        The work is super slow. Sister Krauel and I are really struggling to find investigators. We tract and contact a lot. We are preparing to do a joint concert with the Trencin district in a couple weeks (not gonna's super stressful trying to coordinate a concert with another city!). We teach an English class (Sister Krauel and I teach conversational). I'm content to just let Sister Krauel teach (it was her profession before the mission) but sometimes she forces me to participate. ;) We also teach a family history class and hold a weekly game night. We clipboard for our classes and do singing displays too. Mostly we're super busy, as we should be. :)  
        Well I've been thinking a lot lately about faith and diligence and I've been reading in Alma (I think from the 12th to the 26th chapters). It's so interesting that as members and missionaries, the progress/success of this work hinges upon our faith and our diligence. As we show the Lord, we trust in Him and will do all that's required of us (and more!), He will bless us with strength to accomplish everything so that we may have success. I also just really admire those missionaries [she is referring to those spoken of in Alma]. They endured so much and yet kept their faith and stayed in a good mood (after all, your attitude dictates your altitude). Right now we struggle to find people to teach but I  know I'm learning lots here in Zilina. I'm learning to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and of faith. I'm so grateful to be serving here in this beautiful country and I'm so grateful to be a part of the missionary work for this area. So I wrote down a scripture I want you to look up. I thought it was pretty cool.  Alma 17:11. Now remember I love you all and you're awesome! 

S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

Thursday, January 2, 2014

December 30, 2013 - Zilina

First, a family note...
With her sisters at the Kansas City Temple.

The end of December marks the halfway point (9 months) for Sister Johnson. We look forward to the many adventures awaiting her as she serves and shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with those in Slovakia.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Everyone!!

So I guess I'm supposed to cover how the last two weeks went but honestly I don't think I remember that far! It's been crazy here...traveling all over and what not. 
This is what happened this past week...
Sunday 22.12.2013: We went to church and then afterward caught a train to Praha! The elders from Kosice were traveling with us and it was super fun. Elder Christensen (he's in his 1st transfer) and Elder Ferrell.  We stayed with Sister Rosenvall (she's from my MTC group) and Sister Smith (she's new!!) and also the Trencin sisters stayed over (Sisters Kane and Belibi Minya). I love sleepovers!! ;)
 Monday 23.12.2013: In the morning, we went to the church building and practiced for the talent show! My district (Elder Clark, Sister Krauel and I...Elder Hammond didn't want to sing with us) and the Kosice district (Sisters Barney and Jones and Elders Guymon, Ferrell, and Christensen) sang the song Sister Jones and I wrote! Other missionaries and the McConkie kids performed (and yes I recorded stuff;)). Then we all ate lunch and then had a devotional from President and Sister McConkie and President's parents. I loved training!! It was great to see everyone, especially missionaries from my MTC group I hadn't seen since we arrived! After the conference ended Sister Krauel and I went to the Christmas Market in Prague (yes mom I bought something).

Tuesday 24.12.2013: We woke up early and caught a train to Zilina. We dropped everything off at home then went out to spread some Christmas Cheer! We stopped by an investigator's house and dropped off sweets. Then went to visit a member (sadly she wasn't home but at least we got a good workout;)). Sister Krauel and I were invited over for Christmas Eve Dinner by the Se family (Slovaks celebrate Christmas on Chrismas Eve). It was really cool! We ate the traditional dinner: fried carp (actually we didn't eat carp because the Se don't like it. I think we had trout instead) and potato salad. Then all the kids (us sisters included) left the room and sang Christmas songs while Jezisko brought presents. 
Wednesday 25.12.2013: We had dinner (an amazing, american dinner) at the Wrightsons. Zu, one of the members, came also. Of course I skyped with my beautiful family! :D 
Thursday 26.12.2013: BOXING DAY! We did singing displays around lunch time. From Thursday through the rest of the weekend, we did lots of tracting and contacting and lots of walking! This past week the city has been like a ghost town because nothing is open and everyone is with their families. 
Sunday 29.12.2013: We had church, of course! There were a lot more people there because everyone was home for the holidays. Sister Krauel and I created a vision for our area. We also ate at the Wrightsons again. One sad thing though about Sunday was that Starsi Guymon came through Zilina on his way to Praha. He flys home on Tuesday. 
So that was more or less what I did!  It's been a great week. Thank you for the Christmas Cards and presents! I love you all so much and wish you a  wonderful new year!!
S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson<3