Monday, December 1, 2014

Celje, Slovenia: Hello from Celje!

Greetings from Slovenia!!! This has been one of the longest weeks of my life, but I am HAPPY, HEALTHY, and LOVING it here! I still feel a little in shock that this is my home for the next year and a half.. But it will sink in eventually :).  So after our flight from Germany to Croatia, we stopped at the mission home and met our mission president. They are two of the most loving people I know! Funny story for everyone... Apparently I had a reassignment mission - because of visa issues - to the New York, New York mission! (SHOUT OUT TO Z-WILS!!) I am not sure why no one told me this in the MTC, but apparently I had flight plans and everything and was supposed to be there for a transfer while I waited for my visa. That would've been quite the adventure - but I am happy to be here!! President Grant ended up calling a sister from Serbia to serve a mini mission while I would be in New York, and they were going to have to close down the Celje sister missionaries - so it is a big BLESSING that my visa came! Anyway, we then went straight into contacting... this place sorta looks like a dark scary disneyland... I don't know how else to describe it. My first day, everyone was speaking croatian.... I just felt like the guy off of the best two years - "elders.. thats not the langauge they taught me in the MTC..." AHHH.. Anyway, sleep was desperately needed that night - and the next morning I was on a train to Slovenia!!

My first area is Celje, Slovenia... which is the most darling town! We live right in the center. One side is super cute and pretty, the other side are these huge old communist looking buildings.. and we live next to a prison. HOWEVER they turned on all the Christmas lights yesterday too, which makes it feel very homey!! My companion is Sestra Cuthbert. She is from Riverton, Utah and this is her last transfer - so I am really trying to work hard and make it a good last transfer for her!  Slovenia is a BEAUTIFUL place. I remember seeing pictures before, but pictures for sure do not capture the beauty. It was dark during my train ride from Croatia to Slovenia.. so I didn't get to see much - but today we took a train to Ljubljana for my visa paperwork and I was in awe!! The trains here remind me of the Harry Potter train.. As you go through the mountains, you look out your window and see beautiful traditional Slovenian villages, long rivers, and then HUGE castle-listic churches poking out of trees on the top of the hill. And clouds and fog poke out everywhere. It is amazing!! And I hear it is even 10 times more beautiful when it isn't cold and wintery. So we will see in a few months! Celje has a huge castle that is on the top of the hill, and you can see it right out our window from our apartment! The food here is HEAVENLY. The fruit is so sweet, the chocolate is AMAZING. I have been trying a lot of the different Slovene food and I love it all. 

not sure what this was but it was heavenly 

There is so much work to be done in Celje - the members in this branch are strong and wonderful, but I sense may lack the unity that most wards have, so that is something we are really working on right now. We had about 15 members at church on Sunday, and two investigators. and I got to bear my testimony to them in Slovene when I was introduced. That was a wonderful experience. We have the cute ladies in the branch that were smiling and giving me thumbs up and mouthing "polpono... ti si polpono!" (You are perfect!!) Then we have the men who laugh and smile because I am not doing any of the grammar things correctly.. but I did my best to help invite the spirit :). My district consists of my companion and I, and then two elders. Most of the people here have heard of the Mormons, and aren't that interested, so we are trying to be more creative at how we can share the gospel. Lots of people smoke.. I say hi to them and then somehow they blow their smoke in my face and they seem to me gone by the time I try to speak to them after the air has cleared up!!! Saturday morning, we stood outside in the light rain, and sang hymns in Slovene and passed out pass-along cards! That was fun and we were able to pass out a few! It was also good practice for me to use the Slovene I know.

One thing my companion is amazing at is recognizing promptings of the spirit. So that is what I am currently trying to be better at. Elder Richard G. Scott says that we must always "treasure the promptings of the spirit." I love that. In the MTC we were often told that when you are on the Lord's mission, you are entitled to the Lord's help. Because of that, I am praying hard to understand the promptings and to be able to recognize them when they do come. I am learning to truly submit my mission to our Heavenly Father, and do what he would have me do. Ever since I have started praying for that, I have been seeing a huge difference in my life. For example, we were meeting with a member in the branch. And while my companion was talking with the father, I talked with the mother and tried to get to know her better. As we were talking, I felt strongly that I needed to share a scripture with her. I felt unsure how to bring it up exactly, but I did and after she had expressed to me that she needed to hear that. I was happy that I recognized that prompting and knew how to respond. Another example was this week on Saturday. We had been walking for a while and I felt cold and tired and was ready for bed. My companion had to answer the phone so we stopped and I was waiting while she talked on the phone. I saw three young teenage girls walking bye, and I decided to be brave and say hello to them. I did and they all just stared at me and kept walking, without saying hello back- or even a smile. The "natural man" then came in me and I felt embarrassed and was hurt that they did not say anything back. When my companion finished talking we continued walking home and we came to a stop-walk and I noticed that they were there waiting to cross. I immediately thought, "I don't want to talk to them.." And was thinking how I could avoid standing next to them. As we were walking closer - the spirit came very clearly to me and reminded me.. 

"You are a missionary and wearing Christ's name. Stop focusing on yourself, and turn outward to people as Christ would - even when people betrayed him." 

That struck me and I realized I was being very selfish and should not be feeling bad! My companion said 'hello', and I smiled and asked them how they were doing.. And we then asked them if they understood English. One of the girls responded that she did, and so then I started speaking English to her! She was so happy and so was I. (The Slovene's LOVE to practice the small amount of English they know.) We ended up walking with them and just talking with them about what they like to do for about 15 minutes :) We then gave them a pass along card and told them that we hope to see them around again!

I do not know if anything will come out of that with those girls, but I know that I learned a valuable lesson that day. I learned that it is important to ALWAYS follow promptings of the spirit. Our Heavenly Father can make us a better person and help us become the person He wants us to be, if we follow His simple promptings. I am grateful for the power of revelation and that we can too receive little promptings if we are worthy and able to receive them. I am so happy to be here and be a missionary in Slovenia. I am grateful for the simple lessons I am learning everyday! I know that if we work hard and do our best to submit our will completely to Heavenly Father, he will bless us in ways that we could never imagine. 

I love you all!! This week on Thanksgiving, I was reminded how grateful I am for the amazing people in my life. Thank you for loving me and supporting me!


THIS PLACE IS GREAT. I have a feeling I will fall in love with everything so fast and so soon. I AM SO HAPPY TO BE HERE - oh also.. I am freezing.. and haven't seen the sun yet... 

No comments:

Post a Comment