Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014 - In which I just go insane!

Dear family,

We had quite the week! We had a wedding, interesting meetings on the street, and once again I don't know how much I'll be able to tell you all about it!

The wedding was on last Friday in a little town at the foot of the tallest mountain in the Czech Republic (which has the pititable elevation of 1602 m/5255 ft). I'm not allowed to say whose wedding it was unfortunately, because I've been sworn to secrecy concerning it! It was a really small ceremony, other than the couple only Elder Bushnell and I and two others were there. It was still quite nice, and they're excited to be able to get to the Temple in (an undisclosed amount of time because that would give away whose wedding it was!) Since I also can't send photos from the wedding itself, I sent some of the town and mountains :)

I've received some questions about P, V, P, and B. P is still on date for this Saturday! He still has to have his interview on Tuesday, so we don't know for sure if it will happen, but at the moment we're planning to have it at a pond or in one of the rivers that run through Hradec since it's getting quite warm now (even when we have spring rain and thunderstorms like today).

V is doing so well! When Elder Bushnell met her about six weeks ago, she didn't even really believe in God at all, but now she feels His presence when she tries to pray and is already about a third of the way into the Book of Mormon, which are all impressive. Her baptismal date was originally the same as P's. We've pushed it back three weeks to the 24th of May because of some complications with school, etc for her. She's making progress in leaps and bounds, though, and it's really exciting to see.

Unfortunately we haven't been able to meet with Pa and B over the past week due to some illness. We're not sure how P is doing exactly, but B has told us how she's always reading in the Book of Mormon, which is super exciting to hear! We're excited to be able to meet with them again.

We're doing quite well here in Hradec Králové. Unfortunately last week was abit slower, but we're excited to be able to work another week! One thing that I love about the gospel is that it's a gospel of giving it another try! We've set some good goals for our work and I have also personally so this will be a great week. (Have any of you seen the Christlike Attributes Self-Assessment inPreach My Gospel? That's FANTASTIC tool for self-improvement.)

Thank you so much for your prayers! I hope you have a great a week.

Elder Boyce

PS Also attached are some of the fabulous gifts that the Bells gave Elder Bushnell and I; we love having the Bells with us in HK.

Thank you, thank you Elder and Sister Bell!  Real American staples!

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21, 2014 - In which we have an 8:40 pm miracle

Dear family,

This week, as you all remember, was Easter! In the Czech Republic most of the traditions are Catholic-based (plus a bit of paganism), so they have Green Thursday (I had admittedly never heard of that before coming here), Good Friday, White Saturday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. It's a bit different than in America. Most of the religious associations are about the same as in America, but they certainly don't have an Easter Bunny. Here on Easter Monday they bring out braided whips that the boys carry around and then they can whip the girls in exchange for painted eggs! It's pretty different.

Easter here was very good, though. During Sacrament meeting yesterday the Bells both gave good talks and President McConkie visited HK for Sacrament Meeting, so he also gave a great talk.

We have been extremely busy this past week! This week we've been really striving to hit 20 lessons taught in a week, because we were promised by a member of the area presidency last year that if an area can teach 20 lessons in a week, their baptisms and success will hugely increase. Yesterday after church and correlation were over we had 19 lessons, and we really wanted to hit 20. We were out all day tracting and trying to visit less-active members. We had no success until 8:40 pm when we met this man in a park. We talked with him for a little bit, and he didn't seem particularly interested, but eventually we asked if we could take about ten minutes to explain the basics of our message. Surprisingly he agreed, we shared the message of the Restoration in ten minutes there in the middle of the park, left a brochure with him, and then were back in the apartment just on time! It was a miracle, but it was also a great reminder of the help we receive in trying to meet worthy goals. (Also for an important aspect is that we didn't just focus on the number; we wanted to help one more person come closer to Christ.)

Behind that we've also been quite busy trying to help our baptismal dates, P, B, P, and V prepare for baptism. I wish I had time to talk about each of them, but we had a particularly great lesson with V in trying to help her recognize the Spirit and answers to her prayers. It was great!

I feel terrible that I don't have time to write more about HK, the people here, more things that happen each day, and everything else, but please know that I do think about you! I hope you all have a happy week and know that I'm praying for you.

Elder Boyce

A view of (not the main) náměstí right outside our apartment and near the church building. The yellow is the Catholic Kostel Panny Maria and the big brown one in the background is the Catholic Kostel Ducha Svatého. The tower with scaffolding is called the White Tower; they're in the process of making it white again!
Detail of the Catholic Kostel Panny Maria
Detail of Kostel Ducha Svateho and White Tower. The process to repaint the White Tower is quite interesting; they appear to be deconstructing it a bit because when I arrived there was a top part (that filled in the scaffolding entirely) which is entirely gone now.
I don't know what this is but it was pretty cool!
This is a plague column. They have them in most cities in the Czech Republic, most of them have the same few saints on them, but they were built to ward the Black Plague away from the city.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14,2014 - In which we try to combine three areas' work into one

Dear family,

So busy this week! I was right to think we'd have a lot up ahead! There's no way I could include everything that's going on. I'll try to sum up, though.

The branch here has about 30-40 members, and geographically includes all of HK and the neighbouring town, Pardubice. There are six missionaries between HK and Pardubice; Elder Bushnell and I here in HK, the zone leaders that serve in Pardubice, and the Bells, who are humanitarian missionaries that bounce all over the Czech Republic but live about a five minute walk away from us here in HK. As I briefly mentioned last week, last transfer in HK there was another set of elders and a set of sister missionaries, whose work Elder Bushnell and I have now taken on (including everyone that we were already working with!)

Hradec Králové is quite the city. Třebíč is so much smaller! HK has a ton of squares, old churches, and one or two universities. We do a lot of contacting near the university.

This past week we had some really interesting first lessons, and we met some interest people that we have first lessons with this week. We've also added three baptismal dates! One, P, is someone we're hoping to have him prepared by the third of May. The other two new baptismal dates, B and P, are quite interesting because we set their date during their first lesson! They're two friends studying at the hotelová škola here in HK and are dead-set on being baptized. We're a little concerned, because despite how much we emphasized the great commitment of baptism, we're not sure how much they understand the commitment aspect of it. They're excited, though, so we're excited for them!

I don't have much time, and I wanted to talk about conference, but love you!

Have a great week,
Elder Boyce

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014 - In which I arrive in Hradec Králové

Dear family,

I'm no longer in Třebíč! I got transferred today to Hradec Králové, which is a larger city in the northern part of Bohemia, fairly close to the border of Poland. I'm getting follow-up trained by Elder Bushnell, who actually trained Elder Pitt last transfer. It sounds like we're going to be very busy this transfer; our area is taking on the work of two other areas and we're going to be very busy! I haven't met anyone here yet, but it will be fun.

Spring is starting to bloom here in the Czech Republic! For about two weeks I've noticed a few flowers were starting to pop up, but it appears that the avalanche of flowers is beginning to arrive. The trees are beginning to grow new leaves (or blossom!), there are bunches of wildflowers starting to pop up in the grass, and huge bushes of golden flowers are blooming. It's been getting gradually warmer, and this week I might even venture outside in short sleeves!

M's baptism went off almost without a hitch last Friday, and she's doing really well. We had it a hotel's jacuzzi in Jihlava. It was a nice service, but definitely different from Sister Š's. Quite a few members made it out for the baptism, which was great, but the space we had it in wasn't really designed for the amount of people that came! The room we rented with the jacuzzi was pretty cramped, and during the talks Elder Gilmore, Elder Neumann, and I had to actually stand in the rinse-off shower to the side. We came out to do a musical number and see the baptism itself, though! After the baptism we had some refreshments at the church building in Jihlava before heading home. Unfortunately most of the refreshments were provided by Elder Gilmore and I, but they ended up being edible (though we learned that vanilla extract is MUCH stronger in the Czech Republic than in America). We saw M yesterday after her confirmation at church, and she's really happy.

Sister Š is also doing well after her baptism and confirmation. When we've visited or called her this past week, she's seemed much happier and more upbeat. She's going to be a great member.

Truly the highlights of the past week have been M's baptism and confirmation and transfers, though we also had a Mormon Helping Hands project last Saturday where we cleaned up trash in the river park in Třebíč. That was mostly uneventful, but I mention it because at one point we turned around and there was a man wearing a black hooded robe in the distance behind us who appeared to be leading a large group of children along the path (or just happened to be waking in front of them). When we looked behind us a few minutes later, he and the children had entirely disappeared. It was spoookkyyyy!

I'm excited to be here in HK! It sounds like it'll be a busy time, but I'm excited. I'm learning how to study and teach more, and it will be great.

Elder Boyce