Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 2014 - In which the reality of departure hits

Dear family,

Last Wednesday the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United States came to visit our class! He was visiting in Utah for some reason and so the Governor's office set up the visit to the MTC. The MTC is probably one of the only (if not the only) non-university location in the United States that teaches Czech, so the ambassador apparently had an interest in coming to meet us! Though I didn't mention it before, we had been preparing for the visit for about a month. We pretended that they interrupted a grammar lesson (even though it was P-day...) and so our teacher showed them the Board Display on the TV, we introduced ourselves in Czech, we asked some questions (in English, thankfully), took a picture, and then they left. Though they're not in the picture, the MTC President and a Seventy and a whole host of people were also in our tiny (and unusually tidy) classroom. It was an exciting visit, and it was fun to meet real Czech people! It's too bad I couldn't understand them....

The visit went really well, though. The ambassador actually spoke to some of the new missionaries at their first devotional (I'm not sure how that happened) and he said how impressed he was with us. Also the consul general (who's in charge of visas) told President Nally (the MTC President) that he wants Mormon missionaries in his country and now he'll be a champion for granting visas to Mormon missionaries coming in to the Czech Republic! This is great because apparently the stereotype of Mormons in the Czech Republic is that we're crazy religious Americans who come and steal Czechs away into their communes in the countryside. We might be a little crazy, but the ambassador and consul general seemed to like us a lot. The ambassador even asked us if it was okay if he could post his picture with us on his Facebook! :)

On Monday we taught our second-to-last lesson with Pavel. We taught him the law of tithing. This seems like it'll be the most difficult thing for him to accept, but if he accepts it seems like he'll make his baptismal date! (Which we set as the day after we leave.) Our last lesson with him is on Friday. On Monday we also had our last lesson with Adela. We hadn't taught her in a while because Sister White (who plays Adela) was in Las Vegas half of last week to play in a BYU Rugby tournament. We had a great lesson, though! It's so fun to see her go from being just academically interested in the gospel to see her applying it and have her see that it's blessing her life. We all hope that we can meet the real Pavel and Adela that our teachers taught.

Last night Elder Martino of the Second Quorom of the Seventy and his wife spoke to us. Elder Martino gave a great practical training on working with members in our areas. He talked to us about quite a lot (all of which was valuable), but he told us at the end about receiving referrals from members. Instead of simply asking "Do you have any referrals for us?" Elder Martino told us that we should, for example, teach about the Plan of Salvation and then ask members if they can think of people who have recently lost a loved one, had a birth in the family, moved into the neighborhood, or going through other life changes or difficulties that we could be introduced (not referred) to. When the missionaries ask you about referrals, try thinking who you could introduce them to in that way!

We're quickly preparing to depart! On Friday we received our travel plans. I'm travel leader (my group is the eight missionaries traveling to the Czech/Slovak Mission). We report to the travel office at 4:30 am Monday morning, and we (eventually) land in Prague at 2 pm on Tuesday, which will be 6 am Tuesday morning here in Provo. Including getting our luggage and traveling to the mission home we have about 27 hours of travel time. When we get to the mission home, we still have a full day of things to do! The second day I have to visit the foreign police to do visa stuff, I meet with my mission president, I meet my companion, then I travel to my area! You'll be emailed some photos by the mission home when I arrive and when I meet my companion, but you won't hear from me until my next P-day on February 10th (or February 8th if my first area is in Prague).

We're also realizing how very little we'll understand in the Czech Republic. We did a listening activity in class the other day where we listened to the first minute of a conference talk. We listened to it almost ten times and we could only pick out random words; we didn't actually understand much. The first few months will be very hard, but I know I have heavenly help with the language.

I'm so excited to get out to the field! I'm excited to serve people and share the Spirit with them. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church, and I'm so happy to be a missionary. I really feel the love of the Savior as a missionary.

I love you all!

Elder Boyce
L to R; Elder Huffaker, Elder Nelson, the Ambassador's wife, Ambassador Petr Gandalovic, Elder Boyce, Elder prohaska and the Czech Consul General
The Ambassador and wife viewing our classroom

Note: Daniel flies from Salt Lake to Dallas, Dallas to London Heathrow and then Heathrow to Prauge. We get to talk to him for about 30-40 minutes during his Dallas layover---we can't wait!

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