Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 24, 2014 - Zilina

Ahoj everyone!! 

So there were some ups, and some downs, and some miracles this week...

This week to shake up our kontakting/trakting, Sister Baird and I went to another city, Kysucke Nove Mesto. It was an adventure! It's only 15 or so minutes away from Zilina by train and we had a really great day of trakting. 

The Zone Leaders came to do exchanges with the elders which means we did a singing display! I love it when we have big group singing displays (okay there were 6 of us...but real quality). One of the ZLs (Starsi Utley) has a beautiful voice. He's an amazing tenor so we always sound good when Starsi Utley sings with us! After the singing display, Sister Baird and I caught a train to Brno--conference was the next day and we had interviews with Prezident that night. We arrived before Prezident so we did some kontakting (in Czech, of course!). Unfortunately, Prezident was a little late plus we didn't have keys to the church building so we couldn't get interviewed that night. 

The next day was conference. I loved it! Conference was focused a lot on finding. It was really helpful because our area is struggling with that (though it is doing much better than before). 

So time for a miracle story: After conference, I really needed an interview but the time was approaching for us to catch a tram to the train station. Prezident thought we could squeeze a short interview in. Afterward we were gathering our things and realized we had no crowns for a tram ticket so Starsi Burton, one of the APs gave us all his change but didn't know if it was enough. We ran to the tram stop and on the tram realized we were 1 crown short! Luckily for us the tram driver didn't mind-he just laughed and let us on. I was watching the time and I called Starsi Clark (who was already at the train station) to ask about the train time. The train would leave in 7 minutes! I told him that there was no way that we'd make it, we weren't at the station yet and still had to buy tickets and the lines are always long, and he replied, "Sister Johnson, we will see you on the train. You can make it. I have faith." Now, if we didn't make this train, we'd have to stay the night in Brativslava and the sisters from Kosice (who were staying the night with least that was the plan) would be slightly stranded. The rest of the tram ride I was praying sooooo hard that we'd make it. Right as the tram was pulling up to the stop, I turned to Sister Baird and asked, "Maš vieru?" (Do you have faith?). She said yes and as soon as the doors opened we ran to the train station and to the ticket counter and amazingly there was NO ONE THERE!! We bought tickets, ran to the platform that Starsi Clark told us (yelling hellos and goodbyes to the Bratislava missionaries we past), and jumped on a train. Then we slightly panicked cause we weren't sure if it was the right train! We quickly got off to talk to a train person (not really sure what their title is...) and as we approached one, a voice called out, "Sestry, get on!" It was our wonderful district leader, Starsi Clark! Right as we got on, the train started moving! We made it just in time!! It was one of those moments when you realize a few things: 1. Heavenly Fathers listens and answers prayers, 2. Heavenly Father loves His missionaries, 3. Heavenly Father does AMAZING things for His children. More or less that was one of the most exciting and stressful moments of my mission!

So the rest of the week was busy, we found our investigator was in the hospital (see below), we did lots of kontaking and traking, and of course celebrated my birthday! Sister Baird did the best thing ever! She asked each of the missionaries in Slovakia to send a strength or good attribute I have and then she wrote it all down in a card for me! It was an amazing present! A few other wonderful moments from my birthday: at church, I complimented a member's scarf and she immediately took it off and wrapped it around my neck with a "Happy Birthday!" I just love the sweet, giving members of my branch! They're so kind! Also Sister and Elder Wrightson fed us dinner and they made me a birthday cake! (Chocolate too! I was a happy girl ;)!)

So to answer a few questions: 
Q:  What do the branches do for music for Sunday meetings?  Do they have any of the hymns from the songbook?
A. We have a small Slovak hymnbook. Maybe 30-40 songs.

Q:  How is Mi progressing? 
A. Well, pretty good--the only problem is that he was hospitalized this past week! ....we can always go and visit him and he has plenty of time to read the Book of Mormon and the General Conference we left with him. 

Q:   Have you done anything out of the ordinary on P-days? 
A. Not really. We've made halusky with a member and today we're making burritos (the district is on a mexcian food kick...a rarity here.) We don't have too much time and often have to plan very carefully if we want to do a vylet. 

I think my testimony of potential has really grown. If only people would understand who they are and more importantly than that, ACT upon that knowledge. We ARE sons and daughters of God and we qualify for many blessings as we follow His commandments. Another thing I think about often is the real power God has in our lives. We live in a time of miracles, we should expect miracles. Our Heavenly Father wants to grant all the righteous desires of our hearts but is limited by our lack of faith. The first step in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so important. Faith is action and with faith we can do all things. 

Well I've rapidly ran out of time! So until next week, I love you all so very much!

S Laskou,
Sestra WhitneySarah Johnson<3

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 17, 2014 - Zilina

Hello everyone!! 
 Thank you soooo much for the birthday wishes! 

I'm really excited!! There's lots going on...I've been coordinating all of this with the zone and what not and I'm just hoping all goes well! (editor's note: Although there use to be much  more stated here; apparently it is somewhat of a surprise! Yikes...hope we haven't ruined it for the recipients - Sister Johnson forgot to mention we weren't to share it with everyone - with a little more passage of time, you too will know what the surprise is.)

Slovakia Transport Company employs electric double deck units 671 - preview 
Another wonderful thing about this week was that I rode the double decker train!!! I'm so HAPPY!!! It's a regional train, just between small cities and I've wanted to ride it for ages and now I finally have!! YAY!!

Another funny thing (for other people at least) was that I got us stuck in Vrutky. It's a town outside of Zilina and we went to visit a member and it was on a Saturday which means the train times were weird and quite honestly Sister Krauel was the one who always knew everything. I messed up and we missed our train back and were stuck there for 2 hours. But we made it back safely and we only had to change one thing in our schedule. But it was super stressful and not anything I want to repeat!

Now time for questions which I was suppose to answer:
1. How did your Family Home Evening event turn out?  Exactly what did you do?
A. It was okay. We started off with a spiritual thought from the Elders about ways to strengthen your family (such as through family prayer), then we sisters took over with the activities and we all made Valentine Hearts and then played do you love your neighbor, which is crazy hard in Slovak when you don't know what people are always saying ;). Then we had sugar cookies and what not. Funny story the elders baked good sugar cookies (they were a bit bland and dry but we won't tell them). Honestly they were probably better than mine because I couldn't find cream of tartar here so I tried substituting (didn't work-my cookies were super flat; tasted delicious though!). But the Elders also made a frosting (not following my advice) which didn't turn out (They used margarine instead of butter and it didn't mix properly so it was a sugar mix with chunks of margarine). So we didn't frost the cookies. About half the branch came and 2 other people came. It wasn't a failure but it wasn't quite successful like we wanted. Both of those who came enjoys our company and coming to activities but has no interest in taking the lessons. 

2. Were you able to turn any of your phone number contacts into investigators? Tell me about them.
A. Yes! 1 so far (Mi, see below). We haven't been able to get a hold of some of them and we also have a meeting later on today with another. :)

3. Is Pa still meeting with you?  What about Fi?
Pa isn't meeting with us anymore. He just seems very busy but we'll keep inviting him.
Fi hasn't met with us in weeks now. The other day I was on the phone with him and I asked if he still wanted to meet with us and learn about our message/the Gospel. He said yes but he's really busy so we'll see.
Ka. Well Karol still likes it when we come by and visit but is staunch Catholic. Mostly he's just lonely so we go occasionally but not often since he's not willing to commit to anything really. 
Mi is a new investigator. The first of the transfer!! We've met with him twice now and he's really great. He has an amazing testimony of Jesus Christ.
Pa isn't really an investigator but more like an honorable mention. She was given as a referral 4 or 5 transfers ago but doesn't have any interest. She lives near us and is a super sweet and cool older lady. She's an honorable mention because today we went over to her byt and she made us AMAZING soup. She has awesome stories and is just super friendly. Plus she's got a cute dog.

4. What did you do for the bake-off and, did you win?
A. OF COURSE I WON! I made smores brownies (thanks for the marshmallows at Christmas!) and sugar cookies, which may have not looked pretty but tasted good.

5. What miracles did you see this week?  
A. I don't really know...I think I have a testimony of the little things. That every little effort counts and that the biggest blessings in life are the little things. That even when things go wrong it's going to be okay and everything will work out eventually. 

I guess I'll close with a brief thought. I've been reading in Alma and I just love Alma 38. I think those verses apply to everyone as members (or missionaries). The chapter defines qualities that we as missionaries and member missionaries must develop. My favorite verse from the chapter is verse 2: "And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end." I think the little everyday things we do are important in building the Kingdom of God. So let us be steady and faithful in our endeavors. 

I love you all and once again thanks for the birthday wishes!! 
S Laskou,
Sestra Whiney Sarah Johnson<3

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 10, 2014 - Zilina

Ahoj everyone!!
    So this week has been soo tiring. I'm just worn out. We were busy as usual and a few hectic things happened...

    A lot of this week was introducing Sister Baird to Zilina. She met members, she learned about the area and the plans we have for the branch and of course, we worked hard!

    We've gotten lots of numbers this past week so hopefully in the coming week we'll have lots of new investigators. That's one thing our area struggled with in the past is having a teaching pool but Sister Baird is awesome at contacting so we'll be doing fine soon!

   We'll have a Rodina Domaci Večer ( family home evening), RoDoVečko for short. We are really excited for it and we're baking a bunch of sugar cookies to decorate for it also!  This activity was so hard to set a date for because our schedules kept changing like when zone conference was and when it wouldn't interfere with other activities. Luckily it's all set now! (Quick side note: We're having a bake-off with the elders this transfer. I might possibly be known for my cooking ;). I'm pretty confident I'll win. Never mess with a kitchen fairy.)
     Another activity we're having is a Storytelling workshop. Our family history class is struggling and so in an effort to get people excited about family history we're having a workshop on stories. It starts with your story and then leads to the stories of your ancestors! Sister Baird and Sister Kane created it a few transfers ago. It's lots of work though getting all of the activities and classes planned and executed!
    We've so many plans for this new transfer and it's going to be so much work but it's worth it! D&C 18:10-"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God".

     I love you all so much and hope you have an amazing week!
S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson <3

**Learn more about researching your family at

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February 2, 2014 - Zilina


Together during 1st transfer in Slovakia with trainer.
   So I'm still in my beautiful city of Zilina!! And my new comp is....SISTER BAIRD!! I'm super stoked, we were trained together and now we're together again!! It's going to be awesome and even though I'll miss Sister Krauel bunches, Zilina really needs Sister Barid. She acts with such love and is just an amazing missionary! Elder Clark stayed here and Elder Garlick came from Nitra.
   Anyway this past week was a little crazy. It flew by and we accomplished lots. We've been planning some activities to do in this new transfer. In February, we'll have a giant FHE [Family Home Evening**] with all of Zilina (or at least that's the plan) and then in March we'll have a "Meet the Mormons." We've started planning, prepping, and advertising for it. Now that transfers have happened we'll fill everyone in and get to work!
   I love transfer because it's a new take on everything. Sometimes it's hard when missionaries leave or when things change but it okay because it's life. Honestly, it's sort of Heavenly Father's plan...this is progression!  We have the ability right now to start over with a clean slate, to improve ourselves, and more importantly, improve the area! This transfer is going to be wonderful and I'm really excited to see how everything plays out. It's crazy to think of how short 9 weeks is. I always feel like it's such a long time but in reality the weeks fly. This is one reason we're admonished to serve with all our heart, might, mind, and soul. I often think of the phrase "complacency kills". If we grow lazy or lax in our labor, we'll will not reach our potential as missionaries nor will we help those we've been sent here to help. I love beginnings, sometimes they're bittersweet but they always help us to grow and learn. I'm glad to be starting this new transfer here in Zilina with a new companion, a new district. We've been given so much information and advice in the previous trainings and now the only thing to do is to go and work. We raise our vision, we grow in faith, and we serve. It's a wonderful part of our Father's plan...we continue to improve. We continue to give all of our efforts. It's cool how this knowledge is so simple and so easy really but it's something that will never grow old or boring. It will just always exist and we'll always be able to grow. 
     A few good things from this past week:
  We have a new investigator.  His name is P'o and he's 17. We've only met with him once but we have a meeting again tomorrow and he's already read in the Book Of Mormon some! 
     Sister Krauel and I celebrated the transfer by having halusky twice this week. And even better it was home made! We may have made way too much and almost ate ourselves sick. But it was so worth it. It was delicious! 

More news this week...I don't have Tibor anymore. I have a guitar now. Sooooo here's what happened, Elder Hammond decided he didn't want his anymore and it's a beautiful instrument (made here and everything) so I sold Tibor to another missionary and bought Elder Hammond's guitar. It's different than the ukulele but not too terribly hard.  

    I'm sure I'll have great things to tell you next week so until then I love you!!
S Laskou,
Sestra Whitney Sarah Johnson<3
**Family Home Evening: Follow this  link  to learn how to hold your own family home evening.  This site has many resources to help you draw closer to your family.