Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014 - In which we stumble into the people that we needed to meet

Dear family,

Last week was an improvement over the week before. This week we had a a really difficult time staying organized because we had run out of time to have weekly planning the week before, but we still managed to make a recovery and even saw some more miracles last week.

J and E are both doing well. We met with J a couple of times last week and have started teaching the commandments. He is accepting them really easily; so far we've taught the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom and we haven't run into any problems. He's still excited to get baptized on the thirteenth, and he also came to church for the first time yesterday! (He lives about an hour away, but we found some steady transport for him to get here on time every week.) He seemed to really enjoy Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School; he got out his laptop and started taking notes!

We were only able to meet E once last week because she was out of town for a work conference. We had a nice meeting in her home with Elder Žmolek and another member. There wasn't too much out of the ordinary with that lesson. Right now our main concern is her travel arrangements to church on Sundays. The first train into ČB from her village doesn't get her into church until 10:15 so she is not able to partake of the Sacrament and comes in late every week to the second hour (and we only have two hours in hour branch). The public transportation schedule has it's yearly adjustment in three weeks so we're praying that there will be some miracle and she'll be able to come into church every week on time.

We were blessed with some great finding experiences last week. On Wednesday we prayed just before we left the building to go contacting again to find someone that needed our help. We left our building and the second or third person we stopped was M. It was a pretty typical contact until she started crying randomly! She had apparently just left some of her friends who told her in a pretty vicious way that she wasn't cut out to study the piano (which is her dream), and two random foreigners being polite to her was too much. She soon collected herself, though, and asked us more about why we're here and what sort of message we have as missionaries. We sat in the entrance area of our building, and very soon J walked in. They (of course) knew each other from school and J started telling her how great it is that she met the missionaries. In short order after he walked in the Sisters, a member couple, and another member all walked into the building. I'm sure that it took Heavenly Father a lot of orchestrating to put this miracle together where M to be able to meet us, some of our most welcoming members, and J all at once!

We also had a miracle tracting out in a suburb of České Budějovice yesterday. We knocked on the door of this tiny tucked-away cottage on the outskirts and met J, who was outside getting his yard ready for winter. He invited us into his home, where he introduced us to his girlfriend J. They were very nice people, very interested in the gospel, and are excited for us to come back on Wednesday. I've never found a new investigator tracting ever before, but they were very pleased to meet us and will be great for the branch.

We are moving forward at a breakneck pace here in České Budějovice! V (the Ukrainian youth that walked into our building just before General Conference) has his baptism on this Saturday, our Christmas concert is Sunday, and we are already pretty packed with lessons this week. We are all really tired (and sometimes a little cranky) but we're doing well.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving this week! Saturday marks a year since I left Camarillo! That's really difficult to believe. IT HAS FLOWN!!!!!!!!

Enjoy the chocolate pie!

Elder Boyce

Note: Chocolate pie is our family's traditional Thanksgiving Day pie.  Daniel has asked for me to send him the recipe as he is planning on making it for a dessert for their concert on Sunday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014 - In which the Czechs celebrate the Velvet Revolution

Dear family,

Last week was interesting, as always! We had some great meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday with the Ř and with the Š last week, who are both less actives. Sister Ř has a smoking problem that we were able to talk to her about (she's been working on this for about two months now). She and brother Ř are raising their grandchildren, none of whom are baptized. Last week was the first time that we had a conversation about helping them to prepare to be baptized. They weren't very anxious to have the oldest baptized, but he is enjoying primary when he comes and also praying with us. I think he would be excited to prepare for baptism.

We had a great day on Wednesday visiting the Š. They are an older couple that that were active in Prague for many years. They moved to a village that's an hour away from ČB and they've essentially been less-active since. They haven't had missionaries out there in a while until a couple of weeks ago, and have been slipping on some of the basic scripture study that they need. They were very strong members, and they've had some great spiritual experiences that they've told us about and so it has been great to meet with them and talk about what they can do to make that brighter in their lives again.

On the way home from the Š we stopped at a referral that we received. We met a mother (whose daughter referred us to them) and a grandmother who are both very spiritual people who seem like the type that do the best that they can with the light they have. We had a great first meeting and are excited to return later this week!

(I don't have anything firsthand to update you with concerning E and J. Our lessons with E and J were when I was on exchanges, but J still hasn't come to church and E seems to be doing well.)

We had great exchanges on Thursday night and Friday. I was in Plzeň with Elder Romrell. Plzeň is a great city. I got to see quite a lot of the members there, who were all really nice and welcoming. Pretty much everyone cancelled on us, but it was still a good exchange.

Today is a state holiday celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and the fall of Communism. Everything has been closed (including the library), except for the castle in Hluboká nad Vltavou :) We went to today to finally take a tour of the castle with the sisters. It was fabulous, but unfortunately photography was forbidden :) I don't really have photos to send! After the tour we had some Czech food (svičková) and Czech cola (Kofola) so we've had just a really Czech day.

I don't really have additional time since we are a little crunched, but love you and I'll try and catch up on writing others next week :)

Elder Boyce

November 10, 2014 - In which I have no time

Dear family,

Last week was good. Things have been going well with our investigators overall. J, our YSA, is still excited about his baptism. During one lesson last week we asked him what we should do to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ. The way he answered shows about how he's doing; he thought for a moment then said, "We should probably pray, definitely keep the commandments, and probably read the scriptures, also." The current concern with him is that he still hasn't made it to church. Another YSA, K, that we've met has also started to progress pretty well. He prayed probably the first in his life during our lesson this week and came to church on Sunday. We met with P P twice last week. She's not hysterical anymore, but she's repeating herself at every lesson with her same problems, and she can't seem to quite grasp that the gospel only works if she lives it. R and A have been dropped. They're not actually too interested in the gospel. E was sick last week so she couldn't meet or come to church. H was in Sweden, P has been unavailable, and we couldn't visit J and T (the couple in the littlest village in the world), so nothing to say about them.

The sisters had a baptism that went really well! There were a lot of things that went awry during the baptismal service, but the baptism itself was perfect and the sisters' investigator, R, is really well prepared to be a new member and she'll be amazing. She's a mom and some of her family is interested in the gospel, also.

I'm a little over time, but I wanted to send a quick update.

Lots of love,

Elder Boyce

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014 - In which we are inspired to find families

Dear family,

Last week was great! Elder Cowley and I both worked really hard and a lot of things went on. We had a really inspiring training on Tuesday. I loved pretty much everything about it, and we've been working hard this week to implement things from it, particularly about finding families.

We've had huge success this past week with putting a bigger focus on finding families and I'd say it's shown a different face to this area. I can hardly tell you all of the things that have had an impact but we have been having a lot of success! We were able to teach a less-active member's grandchildren, we have a return appointment at a family's home later this week, we were able to visit another less-active family, we've been inviting the Spirit into our contacts by talking to people about their families and our families, and on and on and it's been so wonderful! I think what really sums up our experiences with families this week is what one of the assistants to the president said at training that we are not trying to split up families (teach individuals and just hope that the family will be okay with it), but we are trying to seal them with restored priesthood power. Trying to find families opens opportunities for helping so many more people than just one individual at a time.

We were able to teach some really great lessons last, week, also. One YSA, J, was really great. He (somehow) found out about English a couple of weeks ago, came to our Intro to Mormonism class, was interested to find out more about the Plan of Salvation, and set up. We met with him twice last week, and he is excited to get baptized on the 20th of December! He just absorbs every minute detail of what we teach (or what he reads) and he (to borrow how Elder Cowley says it) glows during our meetings. He's very prepared to accept the gospel.

The miracle people from last week, R, A, and T, are doing alright. I'm not sure how R and T are related (and A isn't related by blood), but they introduce themselves as all being part of the same family. They have different levels of interest; R and A the most and T the least. R and A are very interesting because they are interested enough, but learn very simply and it's a big adjustment in our teaching style.

Last week we went really crazy and worked hard to try and teach twenty lessons. We had all of them set up, but at 5pm on Sunday the 20th lesson fell through and we were unable to find another. I feel pretty satisfied, though, because we worked until the very last second to try and find the last one.

I feel like in general I was quite a bit more diligent and excited last week, which I am glad about. I felt like I was keeping up with Elder Cowley much better, at least, and sometimes I was even able to be a good example.

I have lots more that I could talk to you about, because we saw even more miracles last week than I really have the chance to talk to you about. I had some great studies and I really felt my testimony grow over the past week. To make a long story short, I grew a lot this week and families are really great.

Elder Boyce

PS Today for P-day Elder Cowley and I visited Hluboká nad Vltavou! (I visited there last transfer with T and Elder Jaynes to see the Alphonse Mucha exhibit). The castle was closed today, but we didn't have a lot of time, anyway, and the fall colours and weather were great! There should be a lot of photos on the blog.

Views in town

Looking down on the back of the church above.
The next pictures are from the castle Hluboká nad Vltavou.

Elder Cowley and Daniel

The gardens of the castle

No, vengeance hasn't quite arrived! It's supposedly coming though.

Staircase on the porch of the castle.

I really like the above photo :) That's the porch on the castle.

I was really excited about the fall colours!! (True Southern CA boy having never really seen fall colours!)