Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014 - In Třebíč starts to melt

Dear family,

Quite the week! I think the simplest way to share it would be a day-by-day rundown.

Tuesday: Very long! We spent a long time contacting, and then we had a lesson with a member at the very outside edge of Třebíč. Our member lesson went a little long, and so we were kind of late to English class. I don't think I've mentioned my English class to you all yet, but I teach the "conversation class" while Elder Gilmore teaches the beginners' class. My class is a difficult bunch. The point of our English classes is to make it a finding opportunity and to share a spiritual thought, but no members come to my English class and so have getting my group of very nice, but disinterested atheists to hear much. I'm working on revamping my plans to help them :)

Wednesday: Taught a first lesson with a woman named I V! She's someone from Elder Gilmore's English class. She's very nice, and has some interest in the Gospel. She didn't come to church this Sunday, but we hope she comes next week. She's my first new investigator!

We taught M today also. As I mentioned last week, she didn't make her baptismal date for last Saturday, but we had a great lesson on Jesus Christ and how He is central to EVERYTHING about the Gospel. Her new baptismal date is 8 March.

(Funny side story about Wednesday: apparently there was an ice hockey final between the US and the Czech Republic during the Olympics that was a prime time event here. All of our appointments cancelled because of it! We were very disappointed to hear that the US won.)

Thursday: We had Zone Conference in Brno! It was a great training. It was a joint conference with the Brno and Slovak zones, and so there were a lot of missionaries (and a lot of pizza). The McConkies gave me a huge, 300-g Milka bar for my birthday. I attached a picture of it (next to my Preach My Gospel, for scale).

Friday: TODAY WAS A MIRACLE. First thing, we taught a lesson with Sister Š and Z P (a member who basically led our lesson in the greatest way possible). We invited Sister Š to set aside money as a practice for tithing, live the law of tithing after her baptism, and commit to a baptismal date, but SHE FINALLY AGREED TO! Tithing has really been the last thing she needs to agree to do before she can be baptized, and she finally did!

The second thing happened on our way back into town after the lesson with Sister Š. We were trying to talk with everyone we could and we came to this one woman. We were talking to her for a little bit, and then this really huge-looking guy came up and starting trying to escort her away! I didn't understand what was actually happening, but it seemed to me like we were about to get jumped for trying to talk to this lady, and it didn't seem to me like Elder Gilmore was helping the situation at all because even though the lady was getting escorted away by this huge guy he kept trying to give a card to her! What the man actually wanted, though, was for us to talk to his friend, J, down a little ways who had heard us earlier and wanted to know what our message was (and so that poor woman was just getting harrassed). We ended up talking to J for about an hour! At first he seemed to want to trip us up with his questions, but as we talked to him his attitude seemed to change because he really wanted answers to his questions and no one else seemed to have been able to answer them before. He wouldn't give us his phone number, but we left him with a card and a copy of the Book of Mormon and so we really hope that he calls us back.

Saturday: A good day! I called potential investigators on the phone for the first time today. I was really nervous to do this because members are a lot more understanding of how badly I speak Czech, and the first time (of two times) that someone picked up I forgot how to even say "Hello." It was super uncomfortable until the call was ended by either connection problems or some connection problems that the lady I was talking to fabricated. I tried calling some more people after this with no success, and we had time for one more call. I couldn't pick who to call on the list of potential investigators, and then Elder Gilmore said, "You are a spiritual person!" (because President McConkie says this to us constantly). Right when he said that a name popped out to me, I called him, he picked up, he was interested to meet, we have a meeting set up for tomorrow, and I even managed to speak some Czech! ANOTHER MIRACLE!

Sunday: Another good day. Church was hard to understand, but what really made the day was our visit with a recent convert, Sister M. She hadn't made it to church that day because she was sick (she has cancer), but she still took the time to make marble cake for us to take home. She's so kind. I certainly wouldn't have taken time to make someone cake if I were in her situation!

That about sums up the week, except for the fact that it has been bizarrely warm and sunny this week! All the members have mentioned what strange weather we're having, but it's nice. Spring is coming early, it seems!

There was probably a lot of unnecessary detail in this letter, so if it was too long and you didn't read it this is the summary: MIRACLES! IT'S WARM! And that's about the short form of it :)

Elder Boyce

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014 - In which I figure out Třebíč (and how to actually be a missionary) a bit more

Dear family,

I didn't mention in the last latter that I was feeling this way, but people are terrifying. As a missionary, I talk to a lot of people. As a missionary in the Czech Republic, I talk to a lot of people who speak Czech and not English. No matter what I may have informed you previously, I can't carry a meaningful conversation in Czech. You may see the problem. To be an effective missionary, there is no way at all that I can allow myself to be scared of people.

As you may imagine, overcoming this has been my primary focus this week! Everything this week seems to tie in to that.

On last Thursday we went into Brno for Progression Training, which is where are the new missionaries and their trainers meet with President McConkie, Sister McConkie, and one of the assistants to the president for training. One of the things that we talked about embracing everything about being a missionary, from discouragement to terror to the things that are actually good and exciting about being a missionary. President McConkie told us a story when he had had one of his worst days on the mission, he came back to his apartment at the end of the day and collapsed on his chair. His companion excitedly pointed out that it was Thanksgiving (President McConkie groaned at this point) and then their Thanksgiving dinner was just a bunch of sausage. Though at the time President McConkie wasn't happy, now that's one of his favorite memories now because he pushed through it and had a lot of great experiences continuing forward in his mission.

Though I can't really explain why this helped me (it doesn't seem to make sense on paper) this experience has helped me a lot because going through this period where I've been terrified of people has helped me to appreciate them more for some reason.

We've done a lot of contacting this week, which is basically where we stop people on the town square and ask if they're interested to hear our message. As I've been trying to contact EVERYONE and not shy away, I think somehow I've been learning to love the people here more and not be so terrified of them. And that's been great.

I'm learning more and more Czech, and that also helps me to understand and love people more.

On Saturday, M had her baptismal interview and we decided to push her date back a bit (we haven't set it again yet). I was a little disappointed, but it'll end up being for the best because it's probably what she needs (and even probably what the branch needs, too).

We taught Sister Š and had a great lesson on faith and miracles, because we need to help her develop the faith to pay tithing so she can be baptized. She's not quite there yet, but we're getting to that point and it's so uplifting to see her grow.

We taught a first lesson last night, and while it was hard to get this person to engage, the Spirit was still really strong and it was uplifting to me to see what I know and think how I could help this person to know things that have blessed my life.

I've rather gone overtime, and I wanted to talk a bit more about the branch (yes, Mom, someone plays the piano :)) but missionary work is great and is blessing my life.

I love you all,

Starší Boyce

More beautiful views of Třebíč:

The following pictures are views from St. Procopius Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The basilica site was part of a Benedictine monastery that was started in the early 12th century.  As the monastery became wealthier, the monastery was rebuilt and fortified starting in the year 1240.   The reconstruction of the monastery included the construction of the basilica which was completed in 1260.

The basilica tower.

Details of the castle gate surrounding the basilica.

The castle gate.

Entrance to the basilica.

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014 - In which we pray for a Stake of Zion and dishwashers in the Czech Republic

Dear family,

So many things have happened! Just a week ago I was in Utah at the MTC and now I am in the Czech Republic in Třebíč! Flying here was crazy and long. Departing was very stressful, as the MTC didn't give direction as to which bus we should get on, and it took us two whole hours to get our bags checked in. After that it was okay (for the most part). In Dallas I got to talk to family at home! That was really nice, but also bizarre, unreal, and overwhelming because I haven't talked to anyone over the phone recently. It was still nice, though. The London Heathrow airport is insane. I don't have time to describe it in detail, but there was a lot of buses inside the airport, and a lot of security, and everyone had a pleasant accent that basically made it feel like a Doctor Who episode.

Prague was a whirlwind! We were there for only about twenty-four hours, but during that time I met President McConkie and his family, walked around Prague, had my first real Czech food, dealt with the foreign police (which was a PAIN) and met my companion, Elder Gilmore.

Now I'm here in Třebíč! I love it here. Right now we have two progressing investigators, Sestra Š and M. M has a baptismal date for the 22nd! We also do a lot of work with the branch less-actives. Třebíč has the highest rate of active members in the mission, and there are about 30 members that come every week. This past week we've met with quite a few members, and have even more planned for this week.

I don't have time to go into details (I spent a lot of time sending photos), but I'm excited for the work here! The Lord is getting this place ready and I don't want to be the limiting reagent. Our mission vision statement says that we will work with a sense of urgency towards a Stake of Zion in the mission; we really want that and the Lord is getting Třebíč ready! I've already seen improvements in myself this week that I know are miracles.

I'm excited to have the chance to work here! The Czech people are interesting and I'm still learning to love them, but I'm so excited to be here.

Starší Boyce

Daniel on a hill overlooking Třebíč
We live basically right below the tower.

A close-up of the tower we live below.

This is a doener kebab. It is Turkish food that I haven't had since Detmold. IT IS DELICIOUS

The St. Procopius Basilica
The Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

A close-up of the Basilica.
A beautiful building in Třebíč "it can't be real either!"
This is what is left of Třebíč's look-out tower.
 This is communist-era housing! The Czech people, for the most part, actually like the communist housing because they need affordable housing and now that they're not grey anymore they like them quite a lot!
Our favorite Czech missionary!

Pictures from Prague!

A few pictures of the plane trip to Prague....
Ready to get on the plane at Heathrow

Flying over the English Channel
On approach to Prague

Finally landing in Prague after 27 hours of travel time!
These next pictures are from the walking tour that President and Sister McConkie took the missionaries on after they arrived at the mission home.  Most of the captions from Daniel included..."Prague can't be real at all."  It is such a beautiful city!  It was untouched by the bombing and fighting during both world wars because the Czech people surrendered during both wars and therefore did not suffer the destruction many of the other European countries suffered.

This is a view from the hill near the mission home where President McConkie told the missionaries about the Velvet Revolution. In the photo you can see Karlův Most (Charles's Bridge) and the National Theatre in the background.
Daniel touching the dog on Charles's Bridge - it means he will come back to Prague.

Changing of the guard at the castle in Prague.

The National Theatre in Prague

Just a few more beautiful views in Prague.

More MTC Pictures

Daniel sent quite a few pictures from the last few days at the MTC...(the computers at the MTC were so SLOW that he had a hard time sending very many pictures at a time!).
The Czech District - aren't they super cute in their matching shirts!
Daniel with his companions Elder Nelson, Elder Prohaska at the Provo Temple

Daniel's zone in front of the Provo Temple

The zone's missionary name tags - lots of languages!

The temple is reflected in their name tags!

One last visit with a good friend Elder Billings before Daniel left.

The missionaries with two of their teachers; Brother Tribe far left and Brother Mullen in the middle.

The missionaries with another teacher; Brother Thompson

The missionaries with Daniel's first teacher Sister White.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Elder Boyce has arrived in the Czech Republic!

Pension in Prague where the missionaries spent the first night

Daniel has arrived safely in the Czech Republic.  Monday were able to have a wonderful family conference call with Daniel during his Dallas layover.  It was so much fun to hear his voice!  After 27 hours of travel time he arrived in Prague about 2 p.m. (Prague time).  Below are the pictures that we received from the mission letting us know he had arrived safely.  The first day they did a walking tour of Prague (mainly to help the missionaries stay awake!) and then they spent the night in a small pension near the mission home.

A very tired but happy Elder Boyce with Mission President and Sister McConkie 

President and Sister McConkie with the 8 new missionaries

Today Daniel went to the police station to register as a missionary and then met his new companion, Elder Gilmore.  His first assignment is to serve in a small town called Třebíč.  The town has about 38,000 citizens and is a 3-hour bus ride from Prague.  There are 4 missionaries (including Daniel) serving in the town.  Daniel's P-days are Mondays so we look forward to hearing from him next week!
Elder Gilmore and Elder Boyce

Mission map, Třebíč is southwest of Prague.