Saturday, April 26, 2014

April 21, 2014 - Zilina

Hello Everyone!!

     Well, this past week was really quite hectic. The weather was swinging between beautiful, sunny days and cold, rainy days. Luckily Sunday was just gorgeous!

     This week I was sick (I'm blaming the drastic weather changes). It wasn't anything too horrible-just a fever and sore throat but it's never fun being sick as a missionary.

     On Saturday we had an Easter party. Not many came but it was really fun. We decorated eggs (Slovak style of course!) and cookies and had a mini egg hunt. To prepare for the party, the elders bought a flat of eggs (30 of them) and during dinner, we blew the yolk out of them! It was really fun and sorta messy. Easter traditions are really...interesting. There is one tradition in which today boys throw water on the girls and hit them with whips and then the girls make them food...  yup.  This past week in English, our class was explaining the reasoning behind this. Apparently it's really healthy for the girls. The cold water and the whips help the blood to pump and circulate better, thus ensuring a longer life. Sister Baird and I are hoping we'll be safe today. ;) (don't worry-it's actually not a big deal. Boys typically just do it to the girls they know, like family or classmates or girlfriends so we'll be fine).

M is awesome. Last night we had a great lesson with her about church and enduring to the end. I think she finally understands why church attendance is important and she'll start coming. We've also set up a meeting this week for her to meet Sister Se so hopefully as she's introduced to members it will be easier for her to come to activities and more importantly church.

You asked how exactly the piano on the namestie helped us to meet M'o...We contacted him and he didn't really want to talk...he was just on the namestie listening to the music. The girls who were playing left so Sister Baird mentioned I play the piano and he was curious so we went over and I played while Sister Baird talked to him and set up a meeting.  He's curious but won't read in the Book of Mormon. We haven't been able to meet this week (due to the holiday) but we'll meet this coming week.

We visited P and his mom yesterday after church. She is very sweet and likes the visits. P was too busy to meet this week but we had a couple of loooong phone conversations with him and set up for the coming week. He really desires answers and is sincere but he needs to just stop sometimes and apply it!
We probably won't meet with J for awhile...he is a futball player and went to Germany to train for at least a couple of weeks. 

Yes, Mom, I did see the new Easter video.   It was beautiful! It's wonderful that we have this time to remember our Savior. You asked how my testimony of the Savior has changed or strengthened. I think its just really evolved. I still know everything I did but it's just more solid. I know more deeply that Christ really did overcome everything for us and we can be clean and strong emotionally, physically and spiritually as we trust in Him and His Atonement. I really wish everyone could understand how important He is and how to apply His Atonement. Quite honestly, it's something I can't fully grasp myself but it is a beautiful gift to us and a beautiful opportunity for us to become who Our Heavenly Father wants us to be.

That's all I've got time for today. I love you all and hope you have a good week!

S Laskou,
Sestra WhitneySarah Johnson

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 14, 2014 - Zilina


     First off, conference was grand! The branch watches it together with lunch in between and it was great. There was an English room (for the Wrightsons, and us missionaries) but we sit with our investigators when they come which is why I watched this years conference in English, Slovak and Czech. (We didn't have all the sessions in Slovak thus Czech. It was harder to understand but I understood the general idea). I really enjoyed President Uchtdorf's talk and Elder Holland's. We're going to watch the sessions again (plus Priesthood!) during lunches probably.

    Mom: to (sorta) answer a question: Our district is boss awesome. We all sing different voice parts  so singing displays are wonderful. Plus we're all rather enthusiastic and fun. We have high goals for the branch and for our areas. I really enjoy Elder Garlick's district meetings-very inspiring and exactly what we need. He puts lots of thought into how to help and always gives wonderful advice.

Our investigators...
M: We had a wonderful lesson with her last night. She asks very insightful questions (like can the Holy Ghost really give warnings of danger and how do those warnings come?). This week we're focusing on fellow-shipping so she can build relationships with branch members. The Young Women are going to help us make quiet kits for her daughter. If you have any suggestions for the quiet kits, they'd be much appreciated.
We visited another investigator on Saturday (the first time that week!). She's been really busy with work but luckily her job has been more stable. We are going to start teaching Plan of Salvation soon. We've already taught an overview but now we're going more in-depth. 
M'o: This is a young man we met last week. I may have told you already but right now on the namestie is a piano. We met him and started teaching him because of that piano. He's really cool and is curious. He also is completely against the Book of Mormon (mostly because he read lots of anti-Mormon information online) but he's willing to meet and talk which is an excellent first step.

P: We met with another young man who has known the missionaries for a long time. He loves the Bible and wants to find a religion that is completely in harmony with it's teachings.  He does recognize he feels good while with us and enjoys our meetings. He also is super busy and hard to set up with.

J: He is a referral from P. We called P to schedule a meeting and he said he could maybe fit us in after a lunch date if his friend didn't mind coming. So P brought J to a meeting and J had lots of questions so now we're teaching J.

    Something cool: our ZLs started sending miracles texts. Every time an area sees/experiences a miracle, we text the entire zone. And it's the most uplifting thing ever to see how closely the Lord works with His missionaries. So here's a miracle* we had yesterday: While contacting we met this beautiful family (with  many children! That's super unique here.) We started chatting with them (oddly enough about English). We teach free English and offered them classes (along with a spiritual thought). They accepted and we have our first meeting tomorrow. They are just what the branch needs!

     Well that's more or less it for today. I love you all and hope your week is beautiful and full of miracles!

S Laskou,
Sestra WhitneySarah Johnson<3

*Enjoy this video on the greatest miracle of them all.

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 7, 2014 - Zilina!!!


     So I'm in Zilina again and with Sister Baird!! Our district changed slightly...Elder Clark went to Nitra and Elder Christensen is coming from Kosice!!  Transfers are so crazy this time...Prezident really switched things up. So first off, Sister Jones is training the new sister in Bratislava. We now have SLOVAK sister training leaders (Sisters Krauel and Sister Kane in Trencin). The Zone Leaders are now based out of Bratislava and are Elder Ferrell and Elder Boysen. Elder Boysen is a Czech missionary and was AP last transfer and the new AP is Elder Barber, who was our Zone leader for the last 3 transfers.

     We've had a miracle week...taught 21 lessons, found 4 new investigators, and now M has a baptismal date!! 

     This week we also got stuck in Vrutky. We were visiting a member and when we went to return the trains weren't running! We were told to take the buses instead but then the bus driver told us the bus wouldn't leave for another 40 minutes. Just then a train conductor came to the bus and said that they have one train which would be leaving in 10 minutes so we quickly hurried back inside the station. The train was packed and luckily we found seats but unfortently the train sat in the station for 45 minutes! 

     On Sunday, we celebrated one of the member's birthday. She turned 14! We made a (mormon) tiramisu for her (I got the recipe from Sister Belibi Minya). She is a really sweet girl and is so helpful. She brought someone to the concert and she's helping us find (or create)  service opportunities. 

     Sister Jones is in Zilina with us today because Sister Wilson arrives on Wednesday so we're in a threesome for a short while. It's wonderful having Sister Jones here! She's so great and of course speaks beautiful Slovak. It really makes me miss Kosice and my first couple transfers. But it's really cool to have her help here in Zilina, if only for a few days.

      Last preparation day we played football (real, American football) with the Elders and it was soo much fun! We're going to plan some amazing activities this transfer (like some hikes or what not). Preferably something outdoors and physical...the weather is beautiful right now! Not too hot nor too cold. Plus all the ice cream stands have opened...the other day I had ice cream 3 times. :D  Sister Baird and I go running in the mornings (it's awful) and this morning we ran to the train station to see Elder Clark off. 

Questions and Answers: 
1. YES!! M has has a baptismal date for the 10th of May. She's doing really well.
2. Ma is wonderful. We won't be able to meet with her for about a week but we had some really good solid lessons with her this past week. Other family members might be coming to English in the evenings They might be moving though to a village outside of Zilina, which is going to make teaching them hard (it's not on any main train or bus routes).  

3.Yes, we other investigators.  There's this awesome former investigator who set up to meet with us. He's very open with us and honest and really wants to choose the best path. He's so great and really prepared! The best thing is that he really understands what missionaries do (you know: find, teach, baptize) so he knows where our meetings are heading. I'm not sure exactly why he hasn't been baptized yet but hopeful (with the Lord's help) that will change this transfer.
4. It's weird to think of how much time has flown by and how little I have left! It's a little sad-sometimes I don't feel I'm at the level I should be (either with missionary work or the language) but other times I'm so amazed at what I've learned and how I've grown. 

This letter may have been lots of rambling but nothing's really organized in my head right now. I love you all and I'm hoping you all learned something from General Conference*. 

S Laskou,
 Sestra WhitneySarah Johnson <3

*Special meetings held every 6 months are referred to as General Conference.  At that time, we have the opportunity to hear from church leaders--our Prophet, President Monson, the apostles and others.  Follow this link to watch any of the talks given. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March 31, 2014 - Zilina


Hello Everyone!!

      Well the week went by so fast as did this transfer! This is the last week before transfers  and I can't believe it's here already. We're only getting one new Slovak (a sister to replace Sister Barney. Sister Wilson is her name. Thanks (you know who)!!)

       The Concert was awesome and possibly better than the one we did in Trencin. And I'm really happy with the solos (even if I messed up a few times). My favorites were I Stand All Amazed and Families Can Be Together Forever. Elder Brousseau played his guitar on both and created amazing arrangements. The first one I soloed a verse and then Sister Kane joined me on alto. It was beautiful! and the 2nd is just super upbeat and fun. I'll send you recordings soon.   

   This week we also had exchanges with the sister training leaders. Sister Baird went to UH with Sister G and Sister B came to Zilina for a day. We did a singing display which was sort of hard because Sister B wasn't used to singing in Slovak.

       Our investigators are doing pretty well too! They are so wonderful! We had an amazing lesson with one sister this past week. We talked about baptism and she said she'll be baptized!! We don't have a specific date... We taught an overview of the Plan of Salvation and she really desires to return to Heavenly Father and wanted to know what she had to do in order to live with God again. It was perfect! She's so amazing-she knows Joseph Smith was a prophet, she loves the Book of Mormon, and she really wants to know more.

     We saw another family only once this week. We stopped by her apartment another day but she and her girls were out. Another family member chatted with us for a while and said we could return in a couple hours but we didn't have the time.

     We also visited some of our members who live outside of Zilina (so much fun-I LOVE TRAINS!!). We always meet really cool people while traveling and this time we met 3 young men (originally I wrote boys but they were all probably 20ish). They were so nice and really interested in the church and our missions. We started teaching them but reached our stop shortly after. They actually are in the Trencin area so we gave them Trencin's number and hopefully they'll call.

    I taught Sunday School yesterday and it was super fun! We're doing marriage and family classes right now and my lesson was "Children are an heritage of the Lord." It was great cause I just taught everyone like I would my primary class... Simplicity is a wonderful thing! Especially when you don't speak the language very well!

     So thank you for all the pics! Rayna is so big and adorable! AND JAC!! YOUR HAIR IS SO SHORT! :O BUT BEAUTIFUL AS ALWAYS! ;) Be safe and be happy!!
S Laskou,
Sestra WhitneySarahJohnson <3