Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26, 2014 - In which we walk into WWII and we eat lunch with a nun

Dear family,

Over the weekend we had two of the funniest experiences of my life.

The first: Every two weeks Elder Bushnell, the Bells, and I clean the Catholic cathedral on the main square for service. We know the nicest old lady, Jana, there who's in charge of cleaning, and so we help every two weeks and then have a fruit tea and Czech cake afterwards. When we walked out of service on Saturday there were Nazis everywhere. Nazi vehicles with the flag of the Third Reich hanging from them, Nazi soldiers walking around, women wearing clothes from the 40s, you probably get the picture. Elder Bushnell and I were a bit shocked for a moment. Once we recovered, we realized that we were not being invaded again, but there was some sort of historical recreation. There was even a band playing in the background the General's theme from Bridge Over the River Kwai (which we got a kick out of). We walked slowly along the náměstí towards home, and got a pretty good look at all the Nazi vehicles (which were really cool). We were about to go into our apartment (which is on the náměstí) when we heard drums from the around the corner. We waited a second, and then bagpipes started playing. Around the corner came marching towards the Nazis a group of equally authentic British soldiers, carrying an enormous Union flag at the head. That was basically the greatest moment of my life. It was too bad that I didn't have my camera with me :)

The second: On Sunday Jana invited us, the Bells, and the missionaries from Pardubice to eat lunch at an activity put on by the Catholic church. We had really tasty guláš (made by nuns, so I'm told) in a Czech garden and it was the best day. It was much like a ward party at home except with guláš, nuns, and our members don't get drunk at parties! The picture attached is with us, one of the nuns, and Jana. Also a former missionary (the one not wearing a nametag on the far left) that served in Pardubice was invited. It was basically a party.

V is doing alright. She still has some pretty serious concerns about the law of chastity and still won't commit to live it. We're hoping to get that resolved this week... and teach the rest of the commandments! We'll be meeting a lot. Commandments are sometimes very difficult for people to accept. I'm really glad that we have commandments, though, because they are so important for us to be happy!

Anyway, I'm out of time! I wanted you to have those stories, though. The T's are also doing well. We'll see them again this week.

Elder Boyce

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014 - In which winter makes a nasty comeback

Dear family,

Quite the crazy week! And I have almost no time to talk about it! There are a couple of things I want to talk about quickly, though.

Last Wednesday we started teaching a family! They live in Chlumec nad Ciblinou, a little town about 25 km away from Hradec Králové. They're so nice! They're a couple with two adult children (though the children aren't very interested). The father, J, is one of the nicest people that we've met. He and his wife, M, are currently members of the Hussite church, but they aren't happy there. They say that they have a lot of spiritual problems, and they need help. We had a pretty great first meeting. J has a member friend in Olomouc who sent him a Book of Mormon a little bit ago. He had already started reading in it before we came and has researched a lot of the church's beliefs, so actually was able to explain to his wife the Joseph Smith story for us. We're super excited for them!

An update on V: In Preach My Gospel it describes concerns as sometimes being like icebergs, where you only see the tip of the problem at first, and that turned out to be quite the accurate analogy for V's concern with the law of chastity. We still haven't enitrely worked through her concern yet, but she's doing very well again. We've reset her baptismal date for 6 June (a date that she picked herself and the last Friday of the transfer) and genuinely wants to understand everything and become a member. We're so excited for her!

The weather has been insane her in HK this past week. Around Wednesday night a giant storm moved in and kind of sat over us through yesterday. It brought very strong wind and rain, and it was also freezing cold that entire time! It truly felt like a winter storm all over again. It started to break up yesterday, and today it's 68 degrees and sunny. The members tell us it's supposed to get up to 82 degrees this week! We're surviving.

So sorry for the short letter. Those are the main updates :)

Elder Boyce

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12, 2014 - In which we remember the dedication of Slovakia

  Dear family,

It was great to be able to talk to you on Skype yesterday! It was good to be able to see a fair few of you and talk!

We had a pretty great week last week! V is doing really well. She puts in a ton of effort into investigating the Church and it's so great to see somebody so sincere! We're still working towards the goal of her baptism on the 24th, though it's going to be pretty tight! We still have a bit to teach, and we want to make sure that she feels entirely prepared for baptism.

Last Thursday we had it approved to go on a short vylet (day trip) to an aquarium here in Hradec Králové with one of our investigators! It was a little bit of a shock for me, being used to the Aquarium of the Pacific and Sea World and other aquariums in California, but it was a lot of fun still. There was only one tank in the place, and it probably only held about 150 fish total. It's hard to do it justice, but just know that the photo I attached is about all of it! It's also the largest freshwater aquarium in Europe.

Saturday we had a pretty great service opportunity. We went out to Červený Kostelec and worked for much of the day in one of the member's garden. It was also a great missionary opportunity for us because the member's less-active daughters and non-member son-in-law were there. At the end of service (while we were roasting Czech sausage over a wheelbarrow fire, which is quite the experience in and of itself) we were able to share a short little spiritual thought with them and the member's son-in-law said that he'd be happy to talk more about the gospel with us next time! The member that we were helping was so excited :)

Today is the eighth anniversary of Slovakia being dedicated by President Uchtdorf for the preaching of the gospel there! In the weekly newsletter to missionaries, President McConkie talked a little bit about it. I thought that I'd include a bit:

At the time of the dedication, there were only three branches in Slovakia (Bratislava, Trencin and Zilina). Elder Uchtdorf promised more groups/branches in his blessing and pronounced a special blessing on the youth of the Church. Today we have branches and groups in many other cities (Nitra, Banska Bystrice, Kosice) and we have welcomed many good people into the Church. J.K., for example, was baptised a little over a year ago in Trencin and has now submitted his mission papers. He and B.S., and T.V. and P.V. will all enter the mission field this year.
In all this, we see God's hand in the work. Pres. Uchtdorf prayed that Slovakia would be blessed with "many congregations, many units, many branches" and that "the Church and the restored gospel will be instrumental to raise great leaders over the years." These new new congregations, new missionaries and the other young people (S.S., P.S.) who have already served and returned home represent answers to Pres. Uchtdorf's prayer.
I wanted to share this because it represents just a small portion of the miracles that are going on here in the Czech Republic (and Slovakia). I know that great things are happening here, and while I can't share everything that goes on throughout the mission (or do that well in communicating what goes on in HK!), I truly know that God is in the work that we do here. Miracles still continue, daily if we have the eyes to see it. I'm so grateful that I'm here in the Czech Republic! I'm still developing the eyes to see Him more clearly here, but I see enough to know that the work we do is true. In Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says that the Church is the "only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth." Before my mission I think I took that fact for granted! I truly know that now. Only through the church are we enabled to live as families forever and progress towards exaltation. We are the only church with priesthood authority and have a living prophet.

I'm so grateful for that knowledge! I'm out of time now, but I wanted to at least share that much with you.

Elder Boyce

Aquarium visit.
BBQ Czech style!
About to go into the library (Elder Bushnell is ahead). Our library is made of concrete
Swiss cheese. It looks slightly cool and ridiculous at the same time
Looking one way on the bridge over the river.
Looking the other. We go contacting this way a lot because a lot of students go to university this way and it's normally very busy.
Pretty view of the river; the White Chapel is in the background under construction.

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5, 2014 - In which P gets baptized!

Dear family,

Last week was good! Of course the main highlight was our baptism, which we had on Saturday. We had it at a pond just outside the main part of HK. It was a really beautiful place, but unfortunately it was EXTREMELY cold that day. On Friday it was a little chilly and rainy, and we were worried about how the baptism would turn out the next day, but when we woke up on Saturday it was freezing cold! It was basically early February weather; very cold, windy and cloudy. We were lucky enough that it didn't rain, but it was still cold enough that we had to talk P out of cancelling his own baptism :)

The service itself was quite short, but very nice. Quite a few members came. One of them, Sister S, gave a really solid talk on baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost before the baptism. Then Elder Bushnell baptized P in the (once again very cold) pond. It was a good thing that it was completely right the first time, because P wanted out of the water really fast. Then while they changed behind a sheet in the woods I led the group in singing Czech songs!

Other than that our week was alright. Unfortunately P and B aren't really progressing anymore, and aren't really answering our phone calls anymore. V is still doing really well, though! She's great. We also found a new investigator, M, who is Russian and hilarious (apparently I speak English much better than Elder Bushnell, who needs to follow my example). She's here in HK studying at the university and we teach her in English because she doesn't speak much Czech.

We're doing well here in HK! I'm excited to be able to Skype home on Sunday!

Elder Boyce

Note: Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints get to call home (or Skype) on Mother's Day and Christmas.  Otherwise their only contact with their families and friends are weekly e-mails home.